Leftovers and new beginnings
  |  First Published: May 2012

May is traditionally a calm month as winds go, so the ocean smooths off with the early morning crisp westerlies and can stay that way well into the day and you can fish in comfort and target all manner of species.

Bream in the shallow bays and coves all along the coast are willing to play in a well-laid berley trail. Fish with cubes of bonito, mackerel or tuna with little or no lead and you can catch your bag limit (20) very quickly and in the clear water you can see every fish take the bait.

Trevally usually show up first and compete with the bream for your offerings. A few salmon can turn up, too, so it can be well worth getting out of a warm bed to get some action.

The berley can drag in a few stray snapper but they if the water is clear usually are gone before the sun gets too high.

May is also a time of leftovers and new beginnings as the last of the warm water recedes north and those cold fingers start penetrating from the south.

The cooler-water fish are the ones to target this month on percentages but always be prepared for the odd northern visitor that has overstayed but is very welcome.

The rocks are always good value with plenty of salmon from the deeper ledges to the shallower platforms and breakwalls in the north. Pilchards on ganged hooks are hard to go past, while spinning with flashy chrome lures works well, too.

Don’t be too surprised if you get smashed up by big, fast fish because there are still plenty of solid kings and there is always the chance of a few longtail tuna slicing past this month.

Fish live yellowtail or slimy mackerel from the deeper ledges around Kiama, Bombo and Cathedral Rocks and you are in with a good chance of one of these rockets. They are usually good fish this far south, with most going over 20kg.

Your baits don’t have to be too far out because longtails usually hug the rocks.

Kings and big bonito like live bait, too, so you won’t get bored waiting but salmon can be nuisances.

There is nothing more frustrating than seeing a couple of longtails haring towards your bait and a bonito zips in and grabs it!

With the sea often calmer this month and the water cooling, drummer and bream come back into their own so fishing the washes with royal reds on just a hook with maybe a small split shot can pay big dividends.

The beaches can get a bit cold in the early morning and evening but there are some nice jewies about to makes cold fingers worth it. The first 10 days of May look good with extra-big tides just on or after dark so get big, fresh or live bait and pick a good gutter and see what happens.

Fat from a Summer of feeding, there are still some very nice whiting on the beaches with some big bream, the odd dart, a few flathead and more salmon.

Walking the beach casting slugs or slices at New Zealand and cranking them back at speed will get plenty of salmon and a few nice tailor, particularly just on dark. The tailor can be turned into No 1 jewfish baits.


The estuaries are slowing down but not stopped just yet. A few flathead can be found but you have to work a bit harder for them before they go into hibernation. Bream are more attractive options on lures and bait.

Working the rocky foreshores with very small hardbodies or blades works well as small baitfish become scarcer with each cooler day. The other option is working the edges of the weed beds around Primbee and the yacht club with bait or the same small lures, particularly towards the end of the month.

To find exactly where they are, check out where the pros are picking up their nets in the early hours and work these areas. They don’t get them all and more fish arrive daily to replace the ones taken by the nets until they catch so many that another shot is no longer viable.

Down around the entrance there are some whiting over the flats but you will work for them. The breakwalls have bream, tailor and salmon with a few small jewies. The big tides will help here.


Thing are starting to slow but not on all fronts – yellowfin tuna should start out around the continental shelf and, if we get lucky, in closer. A few strays find their way to Bandit and Wollongong reefs if there is food available.

There have been a few small fish about but nothing to get excited about just yet.

A few kings can be picked up on live bait at the islands and Bass Point but you need to hope there is a bit of current to get them going.

Snapper are in between, after hunting the shallows in April and getting ready for the cuttlefish in July. Most are spread out and in deeper water but there are always a few residents about.

Bream and trevally are in the shallows if you use berley.

If the currents are right we may get a few late dollies, they stayed until June last year.

The bait schools are thinning out so the surface action is slowing down but not entirely. Plenty of salmon with some rat kings and bonito to 4kg are around.

Over the reefs the mowies are improving with those tasty pigfish increasing in catches, too. A few small snapper and samson fish, the odd trag and heaps of sweep are enough to keep you interested.

Flathead are slowing but some good catches are still to be had on the right day.



I just had my manually inflating (pull-cord) PFD1 serviced – you know, those little units that are inconspicuous and just sit over your shoulders.

Did you know that if you wear a manually inflating PFD1 over a bar, and that is exactly what I use mine for, Maritime can book you because it is not classed as a PFD1 until it is inflated?

Mine is marked PFD 1 but nowhere could I find this in the regulations. But the fully accredited Maritime officers assured me this was so. I reckon you would be pretty hard done by if you were booked but it’s something to be considered.

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