Bread and butter
  |  First Published: June 2011

The fishing starts to get a little tougher now with most of the warm-water species heading north, so we have to lower our sights a bit and start targeting the bread-and-butter fish. Gone are the days when you just throw a lure out the back of the boat, or of the rocks or beach and hope something grabs it.

When the water is hot you stand a chance but now you have to get back to bait and berley if you are going to be successful on most species.

Trevally are the popular choice at the moment with heaps over the shallow reefs and around the bommies and islands. They showed up early, in April, and have been getting bigger as the season progresses.

The key to blurters is a good berley trail. If they are in the area it won’t be long before they are right behind the boat.

Little and often is the way to go with the berley. Bread is good but only a few slices at a time in the pot and just twist the muncher handle, don’t pound it because a great cloud of berley will fill them up quickly and take them away if there is any current.

In the bread there will need to be some fish – old pilchards left over from last trip are great – along with tuna, mackerel, bonito and a bit of tuna oil. This will really get them on the chew.

The next key to success is fish light – 2kg line or 3kg if you must go ‘heavy’. They will then take every bait without hesitation and they fight better on the light line.

Hook size is usually determined by fish size and because they have very soft mouths you need something that hooks in snug. I use No 3 hooks for fish up to a kilo, then over that a 1/0 will do unless you are into those big silvers up to 3kg that live down around The Sir John Young Banks. For them you need a 3/0 and half a pilchard as bait.

For the smaller fish, a fillet of pillie hooked through the end just once will do the job. If you can get away with it, fish with no weight or if necessary just a small split shot to get your bait down into the berley zone.

As always, take only what you need because you can catch a lot of trevally very quickly when they get going.


Now you have a good berley trail running out over the reef, other critters will not be far away. Bream should show up in the berley, particularly if you are in a shallow, protected bay.

They will fall for the same bait fished in the same manner and on some days will outnumber the trevally.

Some of the better spots to anchor and berley are on the broken reef just off Rangoon Island, ‘The Crankshaft’ at Bass Point (and Beaky Bay), the north side of Gap Island, the shallow reef in front of MM Beach, the north side of Pig Island and all around Toothbrush, Coniston Reef, Towradgi Reef, behind Bellambi Pool just off the boat ramp and the north side of Sandon Point just out from the boat sheds. That should give you options in any weather all along the coast.

So when you have enough trevally and bream, it’s time to up the line class and cast out beyond the blurters behind the boat or farther out from the rocks with slightly larger baits, say half-pilchards.

The snapper are about and should not be far away from the berley, if they have not already picked up one of your baits among the trevally and given you a hurry-up on the light tackle.

It is now not long until the cuttlefish start gathering over the reefs and many are gathering already but they are not ready to spawn until mid-July, when the water temp drops a little more.

Schools of snapper often arrive early and they still have to eat, so a piece of pilchard is as good as anything.

Soft plastics in the berley work to some degree but they have to be fairly large because anything less than 100mm will get trevallied every cast and the berley often attracts leatherjackets as well – and we know what they do to plastics.

Snapper to 4kg have been improving over recent weeks and will get even better as the month progresses. There are good numbers of pan-sized fish over most of the reefs already.

A few small samson fish are hanging about, making you think you have the mother of all reds for a short while.

There have been quite a few big bonito hanging around because the warm water lasted for a long time this year. They make great bait and berley and are becoming more popular as table fish these days.


Farther offshore, all eyes will be on the water temperature charts and following reports from the tuna fleet as to where, when and if the big southern bluefin show up.

Last year was outstanding with many monster fish hitting the scales and records tumbled, but for the moment it is wait and see.

Smaller yellowfin to 60kg have already been taken. Quite a few have been taken trolling but the majority have been caught on live bait and cubes.

A few striped and even the odd blue marlin are about after the sensational blue marlin run in the autumn, with dozens of fish between 150kg and 250kg and heaps of fish to 400kg lost through bust-offs and spool jobs.

Closer to shore, the flatties had a bit of a late surge with a few still hanging around but they should slow right down now.

But the mowies are hanging about and pigfish seem to have made a run over the past few weeks so all is not lost for the bottom-bouncers.


On the rocks, the drummer are getting better with fish schooling in all the usual whitewater areas with deeper water close by.

Remember, while drummer like the rough water that often means the rough water might get you!

The local angel rings saved another two lives in recent weeks, bringing the NSW total to over 40, so don’t become a statistic for a fish. It is too cold to go in for a swim in June so if the sea looks bad, it is – so find somewhere safe to fish.

Along with the bream and trevally in the washes, bonito and salmon are grabbing lures and ganged pilchards and live baits are getting a few hook-ups on kingfish. Longtail and big mackerel tuna are also still possible.

The beaches are an excellent proposition this month with kilo-plus bream common in the gutters on most beaches. Throw in the ever-reliable salmon and a few solid tailor and there are good reasons to hit the sand.

And this month often turns up some of the biggest jewies of the year. A settling westerly after rough weather is a great time to pick a deep gutter on your favourite beach and soak fresh bait during and evening high tide.

Plenty of 20kg to 30kg fish fall along the beaches each year to those putting in the time on chilly evenings.

The estuaries have slowed right down unless you would like to try for a few bream around the rocky shorelines and among the bridge pylons. A flathead would be a bonus.

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