Mixed bags at crossover time
  |  First Published: May 2007

You should be able to catch Summer and Winter species this month as the last of the schools of kingfish, amberjacks and bonito mix with fish such as Australian salmon, tailor and trevally.

Kingfish and amberjacks should be holding deep around markers and other structure. The best way to catch them is on livebait dropped down to the depth they are holding. Another method is to jig using Slug-Go metal jigs or a combo of metal and plastic. But don’t give away the surface lures altogether, there will always be a kingfish looking up for tasty morsels. I always throw a few topwater lures at the structure before going deep.

When I approach the marker or structure I will cast the top water lure as close as I can and then work it back to the boat. Most of the time you will pull a strike in the first dozen casts. If I don’t get a strike or I miss a fish, I then work the deeper water.

I use my 97 Matrix sounder to locate the deeper fish, noting how deep they are holding. You can anchor or drift over them, depending on the wind and current. I then lower the jig to the bottom, keeping in contact with it on the descent because often fish strike on the drop.

When your lure hits bottom, wind it a few turns and jig it up and down with the rod a few times hoping for a strike. Then wind at high speed with a pause or two on the way up. On many occasions you will be nailed on the pause or just as you start to retrieve.

Often when we are jigging I cast an unweighted soft stickbait, put the rod into a holder and let the lure slowly sink, moving up and down with the boat movement from the waves. This will often hook up without any input by the angler. After 10 minutes, work it up slowly, putting action into it with the rod and then repeat the process.

It also pays to get a berley going and often baitfish and fish will follow it right back to the boat. I often pin a livebait and send it down as a back-up. Berley is also handy when deep-water fly fishing. Get a good trail going, cast your fly, let it sink and retrieve it through the trail.

I have upgraded all my rods on the boat to G Loomis and have been using a couple of pearlers for casting poppers, plastics and deeper jigs. These Pro Blue PBR843S are tough graphite rods and stand up to all the abuse that my clients can hand out. I usually break a few rods in the course of a season but I have not broken one of these, which I team up with Shimano Sustain 6000 reels with 20lb braid and 20lb to 30lb fluorocarbon leader.


Bass and estuary perch should be caught in good numbers in May; they should be schooled up in good numbers in the stretch from Sackville to Wisemans Ferry.

This is the time of year when a lot of bigger bass are caught. Soft plastics and flies worked around drop-offs and eddies should work well. Most of these fish will be hanging in the deeper water so make sure you get your lure down near the bottom.

Use coloured braid so you can see when your line has reached the bottom, then work your lure back with a lift-and-fall retrieve .

Winter is a good time to work surface lures in the back eddies where all the floating weeds, sticks and every other thing that floats in the river comes together.

On cold, frosty mornings John Bethune and I have cast surface lures and shallow jerkbaits in these areas and pulled some of the largest bass from under floating debris in these large back eddies.

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