Changeover times
  |  First Published: May 2012

The seasonal changes and the handover by the Summer species to the Winter ones is a strange time, with a few special moments thrown in the mix.

It seems to happen every year but never fails to excite me and make me a little hopeful. This year was no exception with giant herring in the lake, yellowfin tuna in the Keys and big, mean mangrove jacks and a spangled emperor hanging around the breakwall.

It’s amazing what can turn up and how it affects our expectations of particular situations.

I have it on good authority that there are a few big jacks lingering on the Tuncurry wall and one very confused spangled emperor has joined the school.

It is not all that common to catch the jacks from the breakwall, although their presence is known about.

Fishing the beach side of the Tuncurry breakwall one afternoon recently, two mates and I each caught one fish. I caught a 1m jew, Brian a 95cm flathead and Paul 4kg of snapping, angry mangrove jack – all on 7” Gulp Jerkshads.

The school jew have gathered along the walls again and the mullet charge has started, along with the bream and blackfish. It is like nature pulls the bath plug on species in the lake and they all flood out onto the coast.

From now until September or October bream, blackfish and pigs will be the target species from the rocks, with the tailor and salmon satisfying the lure- and pilchard-tossers.

The bream and blackfish that are making their spawning runs may take a month to make it out of the lake, so The Paddock area, the bridge and the breakwalls are all prime bait fishing spots in daylight or darkness.

Drifting peeled cooked prawns down around the trawlers is a good way to pick up a bag of bream and the odd blackfish of an evening on a run-out tide.


Wallis Lake is fishing well in spite of the mass exodus, with flathead still taking advantage of the thinning bait schools and new whiting young.

The effort/reward ratio for crabs is probably leaning more toward ‘too much effort’ from the end of this month so get in and set some nets and one crab pot per licensed person.

The Wallamba River has cleared up nicely and there are some good flathead on the shallow bends above Shalimar Caravan Park.

Bream to a kilo are still holding their ground on the snags and baits around heavy timber are almost a certainty. Plastics and small hardbodies are very effective and a good way to spend a day casting at the snags scattered along the river banks.

The headlands have a mix of mack tuna, bonito and tailor chasing the rafts of garfish holding close to the rocks.

Big longtail tuna are hanging around in good numbers and live-baiting anglers have been having mixed luck from the rock platforms. Hopefully this month the longtail tuna will be a little more consistent because the lead-up to May has been patchy at best.


The beaches have been fishing well with some great formations along Seven Mile and whiting are still a highlight. Beach worms and yabbies will interest the whiting, bream and dart but don’t be surprised to land a school jew or salmon on the same bait.

Spinning from the beach for tailor and salmon will be more productive towards the end of the month but is well worth prospecting from now.

Take care around Janies Corner because the washout at the north end of the beach is significant.

For those that have not been to Janies for a while, don’t expect to be able to drive on the end of the beach. The sand mass at the end of the beach is gone and I don’t imagine it will be replaced any time soon.

Offshore, the bottom bouncers are scratching up enough to cover the bottoms of their fish tubs with flathead, morwong and pan-sized snapper.

Those that have the time can chase the small black and striped marlin that are close to the coast. The marlin are in chasing the garfish and slimy mackerel that are holding on the coastal fringes and I have heard of a few cobia being taken on live bait drifted out while bottom-bouncing.

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