2014 estuary fishing highlights: Southern Fishing

BEST OF YEAR: Some of the highlights of Graham Fifield’s fishing year on South Coast estuaries.
BEST OF YEAR: Some of the highlights of Graham Fifield’s fishing year on South Coast estuaries.

2014 was a big year for fishing stories and there were also a few big changes for this fishing column.

Rob Paxevanos, who almost single-handedly kept these pages filled for 10 years, left Canberra last year for warmer climes.

So while the column has continued in written and online forms it is largely thanks to Rob’s work behind the scenes that myself and others have the opportunity to keep this legacy going.

So 12 months down the track and I am still very grateful – thanks Rob!

On the fishing front, it’s been fun to describe some amazing captures throughout 2014 and a few tips and techniques on how these great fish were caught.

As it is school holidays and everyone’s attention is down the coast, let’s focus on the highlights from the saltwater estuaries.

Flathead measuring 84cm and 92cm from the lakes at Tuross and Conjola were amongst the pick of the fish last year, both caught on hard-bodied lures in shallow water.

Of course there were the fish that were at least this big, the true Leviathans, but these tend to get away.

Soft plastics remain one of the most reliable ways to cover water and find a flathead.

60-80mm plastics in natural colours threaded onto jig heads ranging from 1/4 to 1/8oz weights are a safe bet.

On the off chance you might tangle with a big fish, 12-15lb line comes recommended from heart-breaking experience.

Whiting were abundant during the warmer months and are still biting at the moment. Once restricted to bait fishing, whiting are now readily catchable on lures.

One of the most exciting and visual ways is using poppers, such as the transparent Gomoku models.

Work them quickly over sandy flats to imitate a fleeing prawn. Whiting up to 43cm graced these pages during the year, with sessions up to a dozen fish not uncommon.

If 2015 is the year that you plan to give this a go, it comes with a caveat. Once you start fishing surface lures it can be difficult to stop.

From weekend warrior to tournament pro, bream remained a challenging and fun fish to catch along the coast.

At the Tuross flathead and bream competition for example, only one in five anglers managed to record a legal-sized bream.

Sometimes the perfect cast, with a perfectly weighted lure, tied to a light line, into snaggy and unforgiving environments is what it takes to catch one of these great sport fish.

Kayak fisherman might enjoy exploring Lake Meroo as I did, despite the flooding rains.  There were some beautiful black bream in this forgotten corner of the coast.

My personal estuary highlight from 2014 was catching and releasing a mulloway after many, many attempts.

Ironically it was caught on the ‘last cast’ of the day while trying for a flathead to take home to my partner for dinner.  Good fishing karma I suppose?

The handsome and strikingly coloured 70cm fish was caught on a small soft plastic in only three metres of water, not the typical spot for mulloway.  My advice for those trying to catch their first mulloway in 2015 is to find out as much as you can about their movements through the estuaries to increase the chances of crossing paths.

Or perhaps you will just get lucky one day as I did.

These are just a few snapshots of 2014. With a little luck there will be bigger and better things to come in 2015 including innovative new lures for anglers such as the Storm Stilleto.

Next week though, we will revisit some of the local freshwater options and highlights for the year. Until then, happy fishing!

Graham Fifield


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