by Byron Hill •
If you’ve heard of Lake Macquarie, you’ve probably heard of Swansea flats. It’s a must-fish location for kayakers in the Newcastle area and if the conditions are right, it can absolutely fire.
There are a number of spots to launch from, some hidden gutters in super shallow water and a very nice drop-off that lends itself to fish that are in ambush. Swansea is a place that will begin to fire in the coming months as the water heats up but is a great place for any angler who is starting out to have a great day on the water.
The flats are easily researched on Google and it’s easy to see why the area fires so well coming into the warmer months. There are some nice deep channels that have been cut in to allow vessels to transit and access the beach, but the key advantage for a kayak in the area is the ability to access the shallow areas other boats are unable to reach. It’s in these areas that some big fish lay in ambush with almost no fishing pressure.
In terms of depth, Swansea Flats starts at the beach and settles around 2-4ft for the majority of the flat. It drops to around 8ft prior to the step on the western side where it drops off into the deeper blue water. The weed can be thick in areas so if you get distracted you may end up fouling the Mirage Drive in weed or getting the hull stuck in weed. If that happens, no big deal – it’s shallow, just go for a walk in the water and cool off on a hot day.
Along the stretch, there are a few locations where you can launch your kayak. I recommend you assess the conditions of the day and launch upwind and take the ride with the wind/current across the flats. On a good day, you can start at one end and drift to the other. It’s ideal for a kayaker as you just need to either paddle at the start or the end of your session to get back to your car.
Suggested launch points include the Swansea Bay Beach, behind the caravan park, and the area around the Commercial Fishermans Co-op Swansea or the boat ramp at the end of Lake Road. There are some areas where rocks may mean a difficult launch but the majority of the shoreline is sand.
The flat has its fair share of weed and that is how I’d recommend you decide where to cast. In areas of weed, target the small sand patches where fish may be nesting. In areas of sand, target the edges of the weed, where a fish may be poking its head out waiting for bait to go past. In areas of blanket weed, work a lure across the blanket.
With this type of fishing I can’t emphasize how important it is to have a good pair of polarised sunglasses. Being able to see the where fish are moving and holding makes your job as an angler much easier. Whilst you drift I’d recommend having a look at the way the weed is laying, particularly if it is folding across the top on the surface of the water. The fish will be sitting under the fold and using it as a canopy from the sun. Work the lure adjacent to these little ‘awnings’ and you might just find a fish punch out and crunch your lure.
Working the shallows on the warmer days can be so much fun when you’re considering a surface bite session. Long casts will help you out here, and as the lure passes a hole in the weed, or a clump of weed on its own, stop the lure to tempt a fish out of its hidey hole. I would caution the use of surface lures in the deeper 3-5ft areas at Swansea though; there can be pockets of pike who like to collect mouth jewellery.
Fish on Swansea Flat seem to congregate in patches so keep moving. If you’re fishing an area and you’re getting nothing, let the wind take you another 50m and keep fishing along the way.
The flats have all the bread-and-butter species, and a live prawn on a hook will attract every one of them. Rigged on light line, it’s bound to breed success.
The drop-off on the western side will hold a snapper or two that sit about dinner plate size if you want a feed. I’d recommend using the boaters who anchor up to your advantage. Sit 100m downcurrent of them and throw a plastic into their berley trail. Be courteous of course, but if they’ve been there for an hour, that berley trail will be long.
Swansea Flats will start to fire in the coming months, and it’s a nice safe area to get your kayak out and have a fish. It’s easily accessible fishing but the fish are smart, so get the glasses out and target specific areas and you’ll end up with the goods.