Herald Fishing Report: Estuaries on the glow

FISH OF THE WEEK: Twins Henry and Hunter O'Neill with father Michael win the prize this week for twin snappers each caught off Broughton island recently.
FISH OF THE WEEK: Twins Henry and Hunter O'Neill with father Michael win the prize this week for twin snappers each caught off Broughton island recently.

This golden run of weather looks set to continue today and tomorrow with similarly glowing prospects of fishing success in local estuaries.

Sadly, last weekend it went quiet out on the shelf as anglers raced wide to track down tuna, but in Lake Macquarie and Port Stephens the tailor have been running rampant, gorging on bait schools and bringing in a plethora of species like jew, bream and flathead into the mix.

In another interesting development hinting at the great mystery that is the changing of our seasons, anglers have been reporting a prevalence of whiting around sand flats and on  the beaches, which is unusual this time of year.

But given the changing rhythm  of seasons in recent years, what is normal?

Jason “One For” Nunn, from Fishermans Warehouse at Marks Point, reports a lot of tailor in the lake, and when he says lots, he mean big too.

“I went out Tuesday and got my 10 in quick time,” Jason said.

“There’s a lot of bait around and the the reports were the same all week.

“Lots of tailor action on the western side of Pulbah Island, along with  jew up to the 70cm mark and some great flathead up to 80cm, plus some really big bream.

“All the tailor that were getting caught were reportedly spewing up white bait, 

 “That’s why the jew and bream, flathead and squire were there too – coming off everything the tailor were chewing up.”

Sweet weather

Conditions this weekend are looking pretty bright Friday and Saturday before the westerly kicks in Sunday with offshore winds up to 25 knots tipped.  

“Enjoy it while you can,” Jason said.

“Friday and Saturday are going to be great and then it’s going to be windy, which means it’ll be OK on the rocks, but if you’re fishing estuary, head west and seek a bit of cover.

“Offshore it’s been quiet, with a few barracouta reported, long fin perch on the 100m mark, some snapper off Broughton Island and a spread of trevally, kings and flathead on the inshore reefs.

“Sunday won’t be disastrous for fishing but it will be a wind shift from out of the west.”

Whiting sighting

Interesting development on the whiting front.

Marks Stansfield, brother of Luke, who Jason fishes with a lot, has his boat up in dry dock at the moment and so has been doing a bit of estuary fishing this week.

Mark decided to head over to the Swansea sand flats last Saturday and bagged half a dozen whiting, one of which went 450g.  

“That’s a very good whiting for this time of year,” Jason said.

“Mark was saying ‘Tell Nunny his tube worms work’ referring to the worms we get.

“A lot of guys don’t fish for whiting this time of year but Mark put the time in and there was a heap out there.

“Nice fish, all healthy and on song.”

Jason noted that they are starting to turn up on the beaches as well and are perhaps signalling an early spring.

“It’s all moving forward after the winter solstice,” Jason noted.

“I noticed it on Tuesday night cutting in behind Coon Island – the heat coming out of the vegetation,

“It was a bit Piccadilly [chilly] coming over the water but the heat gets trapped on the land  and it is warming up quickly.

“The lawns are dry, we’ve got this low humidity and high evaporation. You’d hate to be on the land.

“We’re just about to hit August and typically  you get a lot of wind out of the west.

“When you see the whiting moving so early in the estuary and beaches, makes you wonder if we’re going to have an early season.”   

Blood moon

Don’t forget we get a blood moon on Saturday morning from about 5.30am onwards for about two hours. During that time we’ll see the shadow of the earth on the moon as the sun rises. Saturday night will be a full moon.

Tuna blues

After excited reports of bluefin tuna on the Shelf last week, anticipation was high among those who ventured out.

Unfortunately it turned out to be all in vain.

“They were there for that week and that’s all she wrote,” said Jason, who missed out the week before and headed out last weekend looking to make up lost time.

”The water temperature was down, the current had shifted – looks like the fish turned around.

“We tagged a mako, which at first we thought/hoped might be an albacore, and we saw some yellowfin busting up the surface.

“But we didn’t have any pillies to cube. Instead we trolled for eight or nine hours without reward.”

Conditions were glorious and it just goes to show you need contingency plans whenever you fish.

“I reckon if we had pilchards we might have done all right because the yellowfin were hunting, they just weren’t conducive to lures for whatever reason,” Jason said. 

Send your fishing news, views, clues and reviews to fishing@theherald.com.au.