Mulloway, bream and snapper
  |  First Published: May 2012

What a mixed Autumn, with some days of 30°, others in the low 20°s, bright sunshine, scattered showers and torrential downpours.

It’s enough to get anyone confused and I can only imagine what the fish think of it. Let’s hope this month we get some consistent weather and enjoy some quality fishing without having to break out the wet-weather gear.

Regardless. the fishing has been pretty good, with mullet schooling in the lower reaches, bream getting ready to spawn and baitfish schools building in the estuaries and offshore.

May is shaping up to be a month of mulloway madness, sensational snapper and ballistic bream.

With cooler weather just around the corner, offshore angling will turn to the closer reefs and it will be time to target big reds.

Snapper have been in decent numbers with quality models already showing up and I wouldn’t be surprised if we see some nudge 10kg.

Squid will be the best bait although plenty will be caught on blue pilchards.

Among the lures, Bay Rubber, Octa or Lucanus-style slow jigs should prove irresistible but I like to throw 5” to 7” soft jerkbaits on 3/8oz or 1/4oz 5/0 jig heads, depending on the current.

This month the current in close off the golf course and Lake Cathie shouldn’t be too strong. Fish should be visible on your sounder suspended on the vast gravel and reef sections between these two locations.


If you’re into rock and beach fishing, this is a prime time to chase tailor off the stones and mulloway from the beaches, with bream in both locations.

Tailor numbers have been fair with choppers making up the bulk of the catch but this month bigger fish should move in and take lures, ganged pilchards and strip baits.

As always dawn and dusk will be the prime times, with spots north and south of Port Macquarie the best places to score bigger fish. A trip to Point Plomer or Point Perpendicular will be in your nest interests if your looking for XL tailor.

Off the beaches there should be plenty of bream. Garfish are exceptional bait for bream off the beach but if you want to keep your bases covered and land some good school mulloway as well, you can’t go past live beach worms.

North Beach should have some long gutters and if you fish the entrances and exits of these you should find both species.

Fish the tides, not necessarily the hour of the day. I like the last of the run out, when mulloway and bream will be feeding hard before they can’t access the gutters any more, and while their target food is trying to escape to deeper water.


The Hastings River is only just bouncing back after significant rain. With the amount of freshwater the estuary has seen, I’m surprised how well it has recovered.

Quality bream are still willing to crush surface lures and this month they should put on condition before heading to the lower reaches and schooling ready to go to sea to spawn.

I’ve found bream recently feeding in extremely shallow water. They aren’t hard to pick as they roll and feed in less than 30cm of water.

Soft plastics on hidden weights and slow sinking stickbaits or minnows have been highly successful. A cast within a metre of them and a slight twitch of the lure is enough to get them interested.

We have also seen a significant number of juvenile fish of many species, showing that the system is alive and healthy.

This month I expect a few bream nudging a kilo to show up, with the breakwalls getting serious attention from bait anglers. Best baits will be salted prawns, whitebait and yabbies rigged as light as possible. When the tidal flows hard, try a drift along the coal walls casting lightly weighted baits close to wall and allow them to slowly sink down. Those fish eager to feed will grab your bait as it sinks and swim back up the wall to escape the other hungry mouths waiting for a feed.

Packs of flathead should be found around Blackmans Point and Dennis Bridge. Live poddy mullet will give you the best chance of catching larger lizards. Soft plastics are being effective although you may need to upsize the plastic to weed out the smaller fish.

Start with 3” plastics and work your way to 5” models. I love a good session on flathead and as long as I’m catching plenty I don’t really mind what size they are.

Just remember to take what you need, not your limit. If you’re lucky enough to land a bigger female fish, make sure you handle it properly, take a few happy snaps and get it back into the water as quickly as possible.


Freshwater fishing this month should be good with bass starting to move to the brackish water to breed. Canoe or kayak trips are the best means to getting bass on the Hastings, with the stretch from Ellenborough to Koree Island good for short afternoon or early morning runs.

This month bass will also be found around Wauchope in King and Sarahs creeks. The Camden Haven River also has bass, and easy access at Kendall boat ramp. It’s a great place to launch a small tinny or kayak and cast surface lures or shallow-running minnows at the snags.

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