Still plenty to play for
  |  First Published: May 2013

There is still a lot of fishing left before the cold weather sets in and the south-westerlies make life on the water less than inviting.

The rockhoppers do OK this month as the light westerlies calm the ocean, making it safer and easier to fish. And if there is a big blow then the fish get active after conditions settle.

Kings are a good target for the live-bait guys with some nice fish around the Kiama ledges. Live bait from the harbour is worth carting out to any of the deep-water points and a fresh squid jigged up before daylight and slipped back out could pay off.

Live slimy mackerel and yellowtail will get results on the kings as well as a lot of by-catch of solid salmon and bonito. They’re great on light tackle but a nuisance on 24kg outfits when chasing kings.

A small salmon or bonito makes a good live bait and larger specimens of the same species won’t pester you.

A few years back a little salmon that had taken my yellowtail was chased right to my feet by a decent king. I took the hook out of the salmon’s lip and put it back in its shoulder and it didn’t go 5m before a 14kg king monstered it.

There is other by-catch, like mackerel tuna to 9kg and solid longtail tuna that get down the coast at this time of year.

Few fish caught off the rocks are faster than the first run of a longtail. If you are casting out a pillie for a tailor and you get spooled or busted up in record time, you’ll know what it was.

Most of the headlands with any depth will have salmon, bonito and the odd mackerel tuna eager to grab metal lures and pillies.

The washes will hold more bream as May progresses so a little bread berley will get them going. Drummer will get going now that the water has cooled a bit, too.

Trevally will build in numbers and the big bronze blackfish will be all along the coast – and in the harbours if we get rough weather.


The beaches can get chilly during the evenings but the big night tides this month are prime to target jewfish. Just about any beach with a decent gutter is worth a look.

School jew have been plentiful but haven’t stayed on one beach for more than a few nights. Big fish can show up anywhere so if you have a bait in the water on the right tackle, you are in with a shot.

Tailor and salmon can be a nuisance to jewie anglers but are great fun and plentiful on most beaches late afternoon, evening and early morning. In the mornings the bite gets slower as the sun gets higher and vice-versa in the evenings.

Plentiful bream are picking up the scraps and if the guts keep getting picked out of your pillies, it’s time to put on a small bait and pull a few bream.

If you can get some beach worms, there are still a few big whiting about but they are getting a bit patchy.


In the estuaries the flathead are on the wane and bream are getting a move on.

Flatties are still worth a shot if we get a few warm days in a row but bream are the go on small hardbodies, blades and plastics – or you could use bait.

At the entrance to Lake Illawarra, blackfish are holding along the southern breakwall. Weed might be scarce but it’s worth getting some.

Salmon and tailor are coming in and out with the tides and taking metal lures and pilchards and in the there are a few jewies right up to the bridge and some thumping whiting on the flats around the entrance.

Minnamurra is going OK with bream and the odd solid trevally around the bridge pylons. Blackfish are along the ribbon weed edges in the big straight to the entrance and a few nice whiting are in these sandy shallows.


Offshore will decline rapidly as the month draws to a close and the cold water moves in.

Flathead have slowed a little but are well worth chasing with good catches all along the coast. Mowies are picking up, as are pigfish, and there seem to be enough small snapper to keep most anglers happy.

Those chasing snapper are having success anchoring and berleying, while the guys using plastics are going OK, too. The method is pretty simple, motor along in your chosen depth out to about 30m and look for the schools of bait and work your plastics in the immediate area.

While the kingies didn’t go berserk this season, they are still about in all the usual spots like the islands, Bellambi, Bass Point and Rangoon Island.

The big fish action should be further out with the yellowfin tuna hopefully showing. They get fewer each year and only 25 years ago sport fishos converged on Bandit, Wollongong Reef and the South East Grounds as schools of 30kg-80kg tuna smashed sauries. It was nothing to have up to five jumbos swimming in the berley.

My world record yellowfin of 97kg on 10kg tackle, caught back in 1981, has finally been knocked over by a South African fish of 110kg on 10kg. I don’t know the details but I wonder if he got his fishing solo in a 15’ tinnie!

If the tuna are not about, big blue marlin frequent the continental shelf at this time of year. Towing big skirts brings undone a few good fish out beyond the Kiama and Stanwell canyons.

There are a few striped marlin around and maybe even the odd black so a grand slam may be possible. We almost achieved that one May about 10 years back with a blue a striped but we lost the black.

If the current out wide has backed off, some bottom donging should produce trevalla, gemfish and other deep delights

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