Pleasant pelagics
  |  First Published: July 2011

This might be the heart of winter but there’s no better way to get warm than tussling with a few salmon and tailor as the sun creeps up and burns off the morning fog.

Motivation levels to pull you out of a comfortable bed and a warm house need to be quite high through the Winter but a morning of hot action on these species can make it all worthwhile.

Salmon are great sport and usually put on a good show once hooked, taking deep runs and then launching into the air to try to dislodge your lure, fly or bait.

They can be located around most rocky headlands, beach gutters and in large schools on the surface working bait schools in harbours and estuaries.

When beyond Juno Point, I constantly scan these surface schools, looking intently for any sign of bird activity.

Diving birds are a dead giveaway but don’t discount any birds sitting in numbers on the surface. They could well just be having a break while they wait for the school to resurface.

A prospective cast or troll in the area, without driving the boat straight through the middle of them, will usually reveal any feeding fish that are schooling below.

Tailor can be found feeding in with the salmon on occasion, or in schools devouring bait all to themselves.

It’s usually a good idea to cast metal slices, hard minnows or surface poppers for the tailor because these toothy fish can make mincemeat out of a packet of soft plastics in no time.

If you do locate a school of tailor, sinking metal slices below the school can turn up a few surprises from time to time. Silver trevally, bream and jewfish love lurking beneath the tailor to pick up the scraps these messy eaters leave when feeding.


Due to their northern migration bream numbers are down but there are still schools sitting deep below the bridges and rock walls towards the mouth of the system.

Working soft plastics and blades down to 12m using slow hops and shakes has been the most consistent approach. A good wipe of S-Factor every 10 or so casts is an advantage in the clear, cold conditions.

Anglers chasing bream along the rock walls are also in with a shot at an estuary perch or two as they make their way downstream to find good spawning conditions.

EPs are schooling fish so where you encounter one there are usually more. Please ensure that all fish are returned to the water unharmed during the closed season until September 1.

If you’re taking a quick photo for bragging rights, use a firm thumb grip on the lower jaw and remember to support the belly of the fish, which will be carrying additional weight in the form of eggs or milt.

For those thinking of doing the wrong thing, think twice because this is the only time of year that I regularly encounter NSW Fisheries officers doing the rounds in these partss.


Jewfish are still present and can be tempted with live and fresh baits as well as soft plastics and blades. With water temps as low as 12° in some parts this month, it usually pays to fish an incoming tide which will bring a slight temp rise and can turn the fish on.

Some big mulloway move inshore through the cooler months to take advantage of the bream, mullet and blackfish migrations so don’t be discouraged, get out there and jig a couple of squid, troll up a few tailor and berley a bunch of yakkas and you’re half-way to success.

Next is finding a likely spot to present your baits.

The bridges are always a good starting point for those not so sure on how to read a sounder.

For those more adventurous types, big reef structures such as Bar Point and Pumpkin Point are fish magnets.

I generally like to anchor upstream of the structure and present my baits to the front edge because this is where the active fish will likely be.

Berowra and Cowan can be good options when trying to track down jewies this month. The deeper, slow-flowing nature of these systems can hold some warmer water at times and in turn hold the bait and the predators.

I have heard only a few vague reports of hairtail in Cowan so far; I suspect these particular anglers are more secretive than jewie fishos! (Hairtail have been captured in plague numbers on the Queensland Sunshine coast and the Gold Coast in recent months. – Ed.)

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