Since becoming a Recreational Fishing Haven, St Georges Basin has developed into a trophy fishery. Not only has it become famous for its goliath dusky flathead, there is also a chance of landing big bream, tailor and whiting in the Basin.
In addition to making it a Recreational Fishing Haven, NSW DPI has installed a series of artificial reefs in the Basin. These reefs provide habitat for fish and are a great structure to fish around, particularly if you want to anchor up, get a burley trail going and float lightly weighted baits down for bream and snapper.
Because of the variety of species on offer and different techniques that can be used, I’ve roped in local fishing identity Wal Balzan to share his knowledge about fishing the Basin.
Part of the reason why St Georges Basin is such as a good fishery is the amount of food on offer for fish to feed on. Fish that travel the coast line looking for an estuary to move into and feed are greeted by copious amounts of bait schools that hold in there all year round. The Basin also holds a healthy prawn population from September to April, it's these 2 different prey items that I base lure selection on.
Small bait fish and prawn limitations will tempt any fish in the Basin, hard-body or soft plastic lures both work well. It’s important to use fluorocarbon leaders of at least 2 rod lengths (12ft to 14ft) long, especially if targeting schooled fish in deeper sections. Use the lightest leader you can, depending on your target species.
A good sounder is also very beneficial; look for structures like the artificial reefs, weed edge or drop offs to fish. If you can locate a bait school, seemingly in the middle of nowhere, you will find that with the right lure choice you will catch quality fish. Use any wind to your advantage, line up an edge, a flat or a bay and let the wind control your drift. Some of the best fishing can be had in the Basin when conditions are a little blowy, as the wind creates surface noise, offering the fish cover. It also masks any noise made by the anglers or their boat.
Be on the water early. The Basin can fish really well just after first light and before 8am, especially throughout the warmer months when there are more boats on the water. If you can wrangle it, weekdays can be an entirely different experience to a weekend.
If you are looking for the "trophy" sized fish out of the Basin my advice is to be prepared for it. Large tailor, flathead and jewfish are all targetable species providing you are using the right gear to handle them. A reel in the 2500 to 3000 range on a rod to suit 8 to 10 pound braid with 8 to 14 pound leaders and lures from 80 to 120mm will maximise your chances of catching something special.
Personally my go to lure for targeting big estuary species is the 100mm Squidgy Fish in the black and gold colour. From there it's just patience and a decent sized landing net and that fish you are looking for could be only one cast away.
Next week will have a look at NSW DPI’s Trophy Fish concept for St Georges Basin which is designed to ensure that everyone gets a chance of catching a giant dusky flathead and also a variety of techniques for catching different species in the Basin.