Catch ‘em before it’s cold
  |  First Published: May 2014

It’s not struggle time yet but the parking at the local boat ramps seems to be much less congested than even a few weeks ago. That means more places to fish and much less traffic at a time when the fishing is still quite good for most species and not too cold.

Offshore there should be some action on the yellowfin tuna front around the shelf as the water cools. Last season the place went crazy for a while as the wide offshore ‘fin were pushed close enough to the coast for many anglers to have a crack at these incredible fish. If this season is anything like that we should have some fun.

Yellowfin tuna are almost the ultimate sportfish, with blistering speed and staying power that can bring you to your knees. They also taste great and look sensational in the water. Not much looks better than the big golden flank of a solid yellowfin chugging on its side just below the surface, with its big yellow sickles flowing back to its tail.

If the water cools a bit quicker then we could see a few early albacore mix it with the ‘fin, making for some extra entertainment on light gear.

Don’t disregard marlin this month either, as it is big blue time. Many of the bigger fish of the season are hooked during May, with the often calm days allowing more time on the water chasing them.

Striped marlin are quite common this month too and you still have the chance of a black if the water temp stays up and there is plenty of bait to hold them.

The current should have backed off by now. If so, it will be worth a drop to the bottom for those deep water ooglies that won’t have had too much pressure over the warmer months, with the strong currents making getting a bait down to them very difficult.


Closer to shore there are the usual hordes of salmon in close to the headlands, bommies and islands. Casting ganged pilchards into the washes can be fun and very rewarding on the salmon. Tailor, a few kingfish and some nice snapper are on offer as well.

Smaller unweighted baits of prawns or pieces of pilchard will pull trevally, bream and some nice drummer.

If you want to concentrate on the snapper, pick your reef and berley. The Easter full moon was late this year so there should be a few reds still hanging about the shallows before they move to the slightly deeper reefs and start hunting the bait schools. Try larger soft plastics around the schools of baitfish you find on the sounder.

If you choose to use berley, beware – the small whaler sharks that are notorious for schooling at this time of year will be a pain. If they show up it’s time to move to another spot. Still, they are good tucker when they are in the 5-10kg range so you can always keep one for the BBQ before you move on.

A few kingfish are hanging around the recognised spots and some of them are a good size for this season, with fish over 10kg about. Live squid will be the key to success this month but a live slimy will be hard to pass up too. Bonito can be a problem, with some larger fish hanging around where the kings like to be, making a mess of hard-won live baits.

The bottom bouncers will score well this month. There are good numbers of sand flathead about and quite a few duskies in close after all the creeks and streams in the area were cleaned out by the big rains at the end of March, and they are still waiting for a big tide to try to get back in.

Trevally, morwong, snapper, pigfish and samsonfish along with the usual sweep and leatherjackets and even the odd teraglin over the reefs are making some of the boxes look pretty good.


The beaches fish well in May, and with bigger tides in the evenings it is a good time to target mulloway. Bombo in the south, Windang, Coniston, Corrimal and Thirroul will all be worth a look with fresh bait or big plastics.

Bream are on the move as well so target the deeper gutters next to the rocks. Beach worms are great bait but fresh mackerel fillets will score plenty as well. The bonus of the beach worms is you will pick up some of the whiting that hang about this late in the season. They are not great in numbers but they do make up for that in size, with some real elbow-slappers about at the moment.

The other usual culprits in the form of heaps of salmon are on almost every beach with a gutter, and some nice tailor are on the northern beaches during the evenings.

For the rock hoppers we are right between seasons as the drummer and trevally take hold, but not just yet as the bigger game species are very much a prime option off the deeper ledges.

Northern bluefin tuna are often taken in May and because they travel so close to shore they are always a chance encounter in some of the less fashionable live bait spots. Places like the Blowhole Point and Marsdens are prime locations. Cathedral Rocks, Windang Island and the south side of Bass Point are also worth a shot, as is the southern break wall at Port and Coalcliff rocks. Even in these places you will still get a few runs from kings and even more from bonito and salmon – you just have to put in the time. Top of the tide early morning sounds good.

Drummer will be the main target for many as the water cools. Whether you’re fishing with weed under a float or royal reds or cunjevoi cast unweighted into the wash, there is one thing for certain: you will get smashed if there are any big ones about.

I generally use 6kg tackle for drummer. Any heavier and the bites get less frequent, and anyway I go fishing not killing (if you’re that desperate for fish go to the fish market!). You will get dusted up a few times but if you’re skilled you will come out on top more often than not.

Blackfish are in the washes too so the weed is always a good choice, and bream and trevally don’t mind the royal reds.

Salmon and bonito will be cruising the deeper ledges as well, so a few casts with metals while waiting for the livey to get eaten will pass the time effectively.


In the lake there are still some nice flatties about after the March fresh pushed everything down to the entrance, and the same can be said for Minnamurra. It was very good fishing in the first few hundred metres of both these systems for a week or two but now there are mostly stragglers left behind, but stragglers are better than no fish at all.

Bream will be more active over the next few weeks before they move onto the weed beds around Primbee in the lake during June and get hammered by the pros. Good luck.

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