The big bream gather
  |  First Published: May 2013

This month we will see water temps dropping in the Hawkesbury, triggering fish to feed and migrate before the leaner times of Winter.

Big bream are common as they make their way to the headlands and then move up the coast.

Along the rock walls in the lower reaches, lure fishers will have a ball casting small soft plastic grubs and vibrating blades.

The washes at West Head, Lion Island and Barrenjoey are also good places to throw lures for stud bream as they start to school. I recently had a huge school of prime bream to well over a kilo at the back of the boat while deploying a bread berley to catch yellowtail at West Head.

Bait fishers should fare well when the fish are switched on like this. A steady berley of bread, tuna oil and chook pellets should have them champing at the bit behind your boat.

Make sure you keep your rig light or even unweighted in the clear water around the washes. Peeled Hawkesbury prawns, chicken breast, nippers and pilchard halves fished on 1/0 baitkeeper hooks are all that required to get into a few blue-nosed beauties.

With the dropping water temps the flathead have made a last-ditch effort to put on condition and there have been some highly respectable catches. On one great day my clients caught and released 42 fish.

Most flathead are 40cm-45cm with the odd model to 65cm. These are prime eating size and are great sport on light spinning outfits and lures.

You will find decent numbers of fish on the drop-offs in the lower reaches around Broken Bay, Berowra and Cowan.

Towards the end of the month anglers should fish the top of the tide and the start of the run out on drop-offs next to adjacent flats. The water will warm up on the flats and increase the activity levels of the fish. Cast onto the flats and hop the lures over the edge of the drop-off.

Bait fishers can have similar success with lightly weighted baits slowly retrieved in the same areas.

If you get your anchoring correct, you could have a live or dead bait soaking in the deep water at the base of the drop-off for a jewie while you stand near the bow and cover the top edge of the drop-off with your lightly weighted baits.


This is prime time for lure fishing for mulloway in our estuaries. The best locations will be determined by water quality, salinity and the presence of bait.

It can take a session or two to initially work out where the fish will hold for the season but once they’re found, they can be caught consistently throughout Winter and into Spring.

A lot of anglers starting out chasing jewfish on lures have a ‘big lure, big fish’ mentality. This isn’t necessarily the case, especially in hard-fished waters around Sydney.

Big fish eat small offerings more readily and suck them in with one hit. Big lures (6”-7”) will catch you jewies when they are on the job but when the fish are shut down, a small prawn imitation will seldom be refused.

When the water temps are down, a jewie’s metabolism is slow and digesting a large meal is quite a task, so the fish look for smaller, more abundant, food.

Live and dead baits are good propositions. The big southern calamari will be starting to harass the baitfish along the coastal fringes this month and they make exceptional jewie bait alive or in part.

Cast brightly coloured jigs in size 3.5 around the shallow kelp beds and headlands to get a few nice baits (or dinners). The pilchard spike is also a good way to secure a few squid you drift and cast, just suspend it 1m off the bottom and place the rod in a holder with the drag set nice and light.

This is your last chance to get stuck into the bass and estuary perch before the closed season. They will be schooling lower in the system again this year, probably around Lower Portland to Wisemans Ferry where their preferred salinity levels and bait aggregations should be.

The releases from Warragamba Dam in recent months have freshened the upper reaches and brown and rainbow trout will be on offer as the water cools in the Nepean Gorge.

There have been some absolute crackers to 2.6kg caught and they are great on the dinner plate.

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