Autumn adjusting
  |  First Published: May 2014

After a very long, hot and reasonably dry summer that extended well into autumn, things have finally cooled down and suddenly we’re staring down the barrel of winter. Even though we’re not quite there yet, we should still make some adjustments to fishing techniques and target species.

Ocean temperatures can remain quite warm at this time of year, so right now there is still a very good chance of fish like bonito being active close to shore, near headlands like Wybung or Terrigal. The bonnies have normally thinned out a lot by the time May rolls around, but on the other hand their smaller cousins the frigate mackerel can actually be peaking this month. Not that frigates are an exciting species by any means, but they do give younger anglers an opportunity to enjoy some great light tackle fun. As always, Terrigal Haven will be worth exploring by casting tiny metal lures, more so early or late in the day. If the frigates move in here the word quickly gets around and there will be plenty of younger and some not-so-young anglers scattered around the sheltered rocks, hoping to get in on the action.

Offshore anglers can still enjoy catching frigates on lighter gear, but they’ll most likely be looking to round up a few of these little pelagics to use as live bait for bigger predators, or to stock up on snapper bait for winter.

Speaking of predators, May is a top month to target inshore kingfish. If you’re going to try a big bait like a live frigate or small bonito, you’ll also need to send that bait out on heavy-duty tackle and have some patience to wait for a big kingfish. On the other hand, more conservative baits like a live yakka, garfish or squid will attract both big and small kings. Realistically, most inshore kingfish you’ll hook this month should be around 65-80cm. Not huge fish, but still challenging and great to eat as well.

The other large inshore predator that’s around during late autumn is the mulloway. Again, good quality live baits are the way to go, but one problem with using livies when fishing near headlands or reef is that calamari squid also love attacking them, especially around dawn or dusk. What to do? Catch a squid and use that for bait. You can’t go wrong!

Along our beaches too, mulloway are common through the month of May. Places like North Entrance Beach are very reliable for jewies, but you’ll have to expect some crowds over the weekends or if the weather is really good. Some very big jewfish have been caught from our southern beaches, like Pearl Beach in recent months, but most of the beaches from Wamberal right up to Catho are also good places to try your luck.

Tailor, bream and salmon are other fish that you’ll definitely run into when beach fishing at this time of year. The bream in particular should be out in good numbers as they move along our coastal strip to spawn. It may be an old fashioned way to go, but using good, fresh bait with light line can result in some very big bream being hooked from the beaches, as well as rocks, now and over the next few months.

In the lakes and Brisbane Waters it’s still a great time to be chasing bream with lures. This is probably the last month that you’ll find bream relatively easy to catch around our waterways, so if you enjoy lure casting you should try to spend as much time on the water as you can while the fun lasts. They’ll still respond to surface lures, although it’s probably better to start thinking about using deeper offerings like softies and vibes.

Although I’m not really into it myself, I did spy some awesome numbers of blackfish moving through The Entrance channel under the bridge recently. This is a known blackfish area and even though not many people are fishing for them now, as the weather gets colder The Entrance can certainly get packed with anglers when the fish are on. Hopefully all the fish I saw are a good indication of a great season ahead.

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