Consistency returns
  |  First Published: May 2012

The fishing has become a lot more consistent through the past month with many anglers getting back into some kind of routine.

The estuaries have slowed slightly from the Summer action but the fishing has been far less patchy.

There have been plenty of smaller bream keen for a chew but the larger specimens have been harder to come by in the estuaries. This should slowly improve this month as some of the larger bream come to play.

The estuaries will hopefully be settling into the predicted dry Winter, which should lead to more predictable fishing in the estuaries. We can expect to find the bream, flathead and whiting spread through the entire tidal reaches down to the river mouths.

Drifting a live yabby around the yabby and seagrass beds can be a sure-fire way to tempt any of the estuary species.

Soft plastics and hardbodies will be best for chasing bream around the snags in the upper estuary, with trevally and mangrove jack still a possibility.

The bass have already showed signs that they are on the move for Winter. This month they will make their way downstream to spawn.

During this migration the bass tend to be quite spread out. It’s at this time of year you can expect to catch the odd, lazy, large bass still well upstream in the tops of the catchments, while at the same time you can catch bream and bass together in the lower, tidal reaches.

The end of this month marks the end of the NSW bass season so now is the time to get out and enjoy some bass action before the three-month long spawning closure begins.

Spinnerbaits and larger-profile hardbodies will be best to tempt the bass higher up in the rivers, while smaller bream-size lures will be great on bream and bass in the lower ends of the systems.

We have slightly more time until the trout season closes but after May we will have only a matter of days left to drift a fly or throw a spinner in one of our beautiful highland streams.

This trout season has been sensational by all accounts, and if my recent trip up the mountain is anything to go by, the fishing will stay that way to the very end.

There have been plenty of active and willing fish in most of the streams. Most are typical smaller highland trout but there have been many large fish caught in some of the holes and deeper water and it will be well worth fishing some of the larger water this month in search of big browns and rainbows.

Spin gear is the easiest way to cover the deeper water with crankbaits and Celta-type spinners most effective.

In the shallower water there is nothing like drifting a dry fly down a gravel race in expectation of that surface strike.


Back down the hill and out to sea, the warm-water pelagics will be starting to slow down.

This time of year anglers usually begin to focus deeper in the water column.

Snapper are around at all times of year off Coffs but in the cooler months they really come on strong.

This will be the month to get in some snapper-on-plastics practice before the Dave Irvine Memorial Snapper Classic from June 9-11.

The snapper should be hanging around the shallow reefs where the 5’-7” shad-style plastics are the most popular lures.

There has been a move by many anglers (including myself) to fish plastics with more action for the snapper and I have found them to be very productive.

Things like the Damiki 4.5” Monster Miki and the Squid vicious by Berkley Gulp have been very effective.

I’ve even tried freshwater crayfish imitations that have worked well. It shows that it can pay to think outside the box when it comes to snapper.

There will usually be mackerel still around in May but they will most likely be in ever smaller numbers as the month progresses.

There are typically some larger specimens caught around this time of the year so those that put in the effort may be rewarded with a trophy fish. Even if you don’t score one, there will be plenty of snapper and kingfish to keep you fed and/or entertained.


On the beaches there should be schools of tailor in the gutters along with mulloway and bream.

Hopefully the salmon will be a little while off yet. They can be great sport fish but when the salmon schools turn up it can be flat out keeping them off your line.

Squid on a running sinker rig will be one of the best methods of getting some bream or mulloway out of a beach gutter.

Pilchards can be a great way to tempt a tailor if they are unseen but if you can see a school of tailor feeding then it’s best to throw a metal slug that you can retrieve through the school and incite a strike.

Remember to ‘match the hatch’ use a lure of similar size to the baitfish the tailor are eating.

I’m keenly looking forward this month to getting in a few ‘last fish’ of the summer season and some of the ‘first fish’ of the Winter to come. I hope you’re able to do the same.

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