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Fishing the Central Coast

PathFishing Report » Saltwater Reports » Lake

Article by Spooled ( Watch )
Posted19/04/07 10:00:00 (Australia/Sydney)
This arcticle has been viewed 8144 times.
from Rocky Point, NSW

▲TopFishing the Central Coast – North Entrance Beach, Tuggerah Lake & Wyong River

Flathead from the FeelFree Nomad Kayak
Fishing Trips – The thing that most of us with the bug live for! We try to squeeze as many hours out of the day as we can when we are on one, with the temptation for “One last cast” sometimes delaying our departure half, one, even two, three or four hours.

So when I arrived Wednesday evening leaving fishing to the following day wasn’t an option. With no time to lose (as is often the case when fishing is involved) we hit the North Entrance Beach. A southerly was threatened, but had only hit very mildly in the afternoon before petering out. Having perused the beach while it was still light for gutters, we arrived around 8.30pm with high tide at approximately 10pm. With a reasonable sized hole located we were hoping for a Jewfish. We had had no chance to get fresh bait, so pilchards would have to do. We are an optimistic lot though so we liked our chances.

▲TopNorth Entrance Beach – Day 1

A big heave put the bait out deep. The familiar tug on the line just before it cuts out of the top of the wave, as every patient bodies waited for the thump.

No Thump, Slack. As we wound in to confirm a missing pilchard, all bar the head, on a set of triple gang hooks. Taylor. More specifically little Taylor.

Chopper Taylor of the North Entrance Beach
Chopper Taylor of the North Entrance Beach

It is not uncommon for Taylor to pick up the bait and run into the shore with it. My theory on this behavior is that they are trying to avoid the rest of the school that are now chasing them. Much like Seagull’s with a hot chip. The beach being pretty featureless offers no shelter for the Taylor with his Pilchard prize, so they head for the shore and the only protection available, shallow water. Hooking fish that behave in this way is considerably more difficult then if they run either left, right or out to sea.

Wyong River Waterdragon
Some of the local wildlife - A Wyong River Waterdragon
This the first bite set the precedent for the night as the school of chopper Taylor hammered out baits. Continuing through until about 1am when the bites started to wane. All told we landed 8 and dropped more then twice that many. They were all around the same size, about the 40cm mark and all were released. With a couple of big days ahead of us we headed home.

Fishing the Wyong River

While we missed the jews or anything else of any size we still had a ball. By the time we ended up hitting the hay it was around 2.30pm so a 5am rise was completely out of the question.

▲TopWyong River, Tuggerah– Day 2

Shooting in the hills around Wyangala Dam was a normal part of my childhood. Receiving my first gun, a Lithgow Arms .22 calibre (www.powerhousemuseum.com) at 8 years of age. Our dogs were overcome with excitement every time we would begin to load the car for a shooting trip. They were always in the car like a shot, literally before we had even begun to pack it.

Jaye with a little flathead from Tuggerah Lake
If an inanimate object could have feelings surely our FeelFree Nomad kayaks were now chomping at the bit at the prospect of fishing the Wyong river.

Our aim was Estuary Perch (Macquaria colonorum). We had chosen a section about 4 – 5 km up river. There had been quite a bit of fresh enter the system over the past month, so we weren’t quite sure what to expect. The Wyong River drains into Tuggerah Lake so it is not affected by tidal flow as much as waterways that drain directly into the ocean. Tuggerah Lake also has a relatively small mouth so when it receives a big inflow (from rain) draining into the river, consequently the lake rises until the freshwater can eventually flow away.

After saddling up the Nomads we began to pepper the snags. Jaye (jiggler) and I generally leap frog each other in the yaks when we are fishing the same artificial. When we are working the same water with different lures though we generally follow one another. The latter was the case here. Jaye was using a Berkley Powerbait 3” minnow in watermelon with a 1/16 oz Gamakatzu jighead, I was fishing with fly and more specifically a pink clouser. We continued to fish for hours, with no success. There where a few little garfish around (which refused to take fly or soft plastics). Swapping to a 3” Squidgy Fish – Black Gold - T-tails, I still didn’t raise any interest so we called it a day. We headed back to town to get some lunch before an afternoon session in Tuggerah Lake and the mouth.

▲TopTuggerah Lake – Day 2 continued

Hooked up to a solid Flattie
Hooked up to a solid Flattie
Due to the fresh and the fact it was now a run-out tide we were optimistic of the flatties being on the chew. It wasn’t long at all until our first bite saw a little flathead splashing boatside. Surely the only time a little fish feels special is when they are captured by a journo. As you’re never quite sure what the rest of the trip is going to produce. As well as the hard reality, that an article isn’t an article without photos. When the first fish is a small fish they are usually snapped a few times before release, as was the case with this one. It turns out there were a million undersized fish in there and the hook-ups became down right frustrating as the bigger fish where out numbered 5 to 1.

They were definitely on though as a small prawn run was also in progress. This had brought the Snook (short finned sea pike) out too. So after having caught a couple on the Berkley Minnow. I took out the 6 wt Strudwick Explorer coupled with a Shimano - BioCraft 56 this was a new outfit and a pleasure to use. I was fishing a Cortland 444 Clear Sink Tip, with a fluorocarbon leader and tippet.

Tacoma Mar 07 388.jpg
So as the multitudes of bank fishermen watched on, half of them potential thinking “Look at these idiots!”. Hook-up after hook-up would definitely have changed their tune. In fact these land based bait fisho’s (approximately 10 – 12 in total) did not hook up once. You’ve got to love kayaks! While Jaye continued to fish the minnow (which out fished the fly) we both continued to hook and land fish after fish.

The crosswind meant that after being blown across the channel we could paddle back to the other side then repeat the process, each time moving a little further toward the mouth at just a nice speed. I would expect had we been bait fishing we would still have done better then the bank fishermen and that is purely due to covering more ground/water.

It would obviously also be a big ask to get any fish to leave its spot on the prawn conveyor belt for a measly frozen prawn, pilchard or piece of squid. Although drifting with it and having it pass by their noses would be tougher for them to turn down. While we did snaffle a few bigger fish there were no thumpers among them so we continued our drift across the flats toward the mouth. We pulled up on the north side dragging the yaks onto high ground to fish the run-out.

We continued to fish the mouth for around 40 minutes without a bite so decided to paddle back to the channel in the hope that the ensuing dark would have brought a few larger fish. The tide still running out the paddle back to the channel was a great workout. Considering the population (people not fish) I was a little surprised there weren’t more fishermen out. Commonly waterways close to major cities are overlooked as more remote or exotic locations are sort. Tuggerah Lake is an excellent producer as many lakes are, for they are generally the Crèche for juvenile species. This is due to the shelter and protection they provide. Shelter in the form of buffered tidal movement, shallower water levels then the ocean (which generally speaking means less/fewer predators) and slightly higher temperatures (promoting faster growth). However where there are small fish there are predators, not only in the water but above it. As Egrets/Herons, Cormorants/Shags and Pelicans frequent these bait rich breeding grounds.

Pelicans on Tuggerah Lake
Pelicans on Tuggerah Lake - A sign of a healthy fishery

A healthy population of predatory birds is often a good indication to the quality of the fishery.

Arriving back at the channel our theory was rewarded with flathead in the 30-40cm range more prevalent. We gave it until 9pm (end of the run-out) before heading off. Neither of us knew the score. Multitudes was the consensus with about six 35-40cm fish and four Snook thrown in for good measure.

Flathead caught on a 3
Flathead caught on a 3" Berkeley minnow watermelon
Early to bed as they say, meant that we were in a reasonable condition when a female voice with and English accent emanating from Jayes room said softly ”It’s time to get up.” Paused then repeated. If I didn’t know he’d gone to bed alone I would have thought – Lucky Bugger. Got to get me one of those phones….

▲TopWyong River, Tacoma – Day 3

Jaye with Wyong River Estuary Perch
Jaye with Wyong River Estuary Perch
Not satisfied by the original scorecard of nil at Wyong River we decided to fish the lower Wyong (where it drains into Tuggerah Lake). We were on the water before sunrise launching from Don Small Oval. We would drift with the tide and the river flow down to the mouth. We barely left the launch site before Jayes minnow was jumped on by a little Estuary Perch. I had decided to use a Producer torpedo style lure. Ignoring Jayes first fish I continued, after he landed another though and a few more hits I quickly changed. I too managed a few hits but they were very small fish.

Flathead caught in Wyong River off Don Small Oval
What was happening though, as the sun rose, was the Flathead would have to work a little harder for there dinner and were ambushing the baitfish on the edges. Our soft plastics were absolutely pounced on every five metres. Making our couple of hundred metre drift down to the mouth very pleasant. Seeing the Flathead so eager to bite I again took out the long wand and fish the fringe. I only managed another couple though and as the bites were more forthcoming on the plastics I ended up reverting once again.

It was quite evident the flathead where ambushing the bait as the snags and fallen timber produced more aggressive bites and bigger fish. Cast, wait, lift, lift, stop (wind up slack here on the pause), lift, lift pause, lift, BANG as another flattie fell to Jaye’s Berkeley watermelon softie. This is a standard retrieve but it is so successful for so many species.

The softies on and I was putting in a few last casts, I was eager for a bigger fish. So as my Squidgy hit the water I was optimistic, this snag just looked too good. The lure was allowed to hit the bottom, Lift, lift…….CRUNCH….. and the rod tip bounced. As a head shaking 55 - 60cm lizard made the little Shakespeare Explorer put in the most work it had done for the entire trip. It was a nice fish and an excellent note to end on. So as another Spooled Trip drew to a close and we began to head home we went over the catches and theorised about our up coming trip to Hinchenbrook Channel.

As the end of one trip always begets the count down to the next.

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