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The weather’s cooling, but the fishing remains hot
  |  First Published: April 2015



The first of the sou’ westers have started to come though in recent weeks, making the mornings crispy cool and the ocean calm and flat. The water is still warmish, with some very good fishing still to be had over the coming weeks before the cold fingers of winter start to tighten their grip on the region.

The clear, calm mornings are great for a bit of fun chasing the frigates that are still around zipping along the backs of the beaches with the salmon and tailor. Small lures cast about the area where they are feeding is fun, and they can then be used as great snapper and bream bait, or popped out live and trolled around the nearest kingfish haunts for a big bandit.

The salmon and tailor will be the mainstay for the cooler months, providing a reliable backup when all else is a bit on the slow side, but for the moment things are anything but slow offshore. Having the added bonus of Easter right at the start of the month makes things look pretty good.

As always, snapper are the target on the Easter full moon and it is early this year, but that usually means you get a second bite of the cherry on the May full moon, so it’s not a bad thing.

Too close is not close enough for reds at this time of the year, but as always be aware of the swell and don't get swamped. Know the area you are fishing and don't take risks. The isolated shallow bommies, points and islands are all great spots to fish in the evenings.

Put the anchor down and use a steady berley trail and fish fresh fillets of mackerel, striped tuna or frigate mackerel, or if unavailable, the very best pilchards you can get your hands on. Get rid of the lead and just cast the bait into the back of the berley trail and let them float around naturally.

It won't take long for any snapper to find your bait. Up around the national park, Wombarra, Sandon Point and Bellambi in the north are good spots, while the south side of the big islands, One Tree, the Crankshaft at Bass Point and down at Rangoon and the bommies off Gerroa are all prime spots.

Now one little trick that can help is to wrap your anchor chain in rag or put some heat shrink over it to muffle the noise, making less clanging on the reef as you rise and fall on the small swells. It all helps when fishing shallow water.

It will not just be snapper that swim up the berley trail either, and it’s surprising how many sharks, particularly small whalers, that will venture into the shallow water during the evenings looking for a feed. Then there are those feral big stingrays that just hang around making a nuisance of themselves.

Daylight Savings is finished now, so it now gets dark pretty early, but you can fish a few hours into the night and still get home at a decent hour.

Salmon are always about, and as it gets dark the tailor will go wild for an hour or so, then maybe a mulloway will get interested and there are always plenty of bream in the shallows, particularly around the ANZAC Day weekend. Any shallow bay with a bit of rock and sand will hold heaps of bream early in the mornings, and right through the day if you keep a bit of berley going.

The snapper are not just confined to the shallows and there will be plenty of good fish over the reefs in 20m or so for those that like to drift around with soft plastics. You don't have to get up early or stay out late, as they tend to hold a bit deeper during the daylight hours anyway.

Further offshore should start to see a few yellowfin coming in around the shelf and even a bit closer if we get lucky. Bandit and Wollongong reefs used to be prime spots in April, but those days are sadly long gone. A few striped marlin and the odd black will be about, but becoming scarce, while the big blues out around the shelf and beyond are a good chance this month, particularly with the calm weather.

A better option for game fish in small craft would be kings. This month has always been kind to me, with all the regular spots worth putting a live bait down deep or slow trolled along the surface.

Then there are the whopper bonito that I love playing with in April. They can show up anywhere over the reefs, but the islands, Wollongong and Bandit reefs will be the top spots. They can be great fun on light tackle or a pain in the backside taking live baits aimed at kings, but a 5-6kg bonnie is a good fish no matter what.

In even closer there is a good chance of a longtail or 2, as they always come through but are rarely targeted as we have so much reef and they can spread out. It pays to have a live bait out, even on the bait grounds this month, as that is where the longtails hunt — in shallow water where there is bait.

Bass Point, right at the point, Sandon Point, even Wollongong's Flagstaff Point are good spots, and Kiama’s Blowhole Point is a standout. You won't get them every day, but if you hear they are about, these are the places to look.

If you are chasing a feed, then there are still plenty of flatties about over the sand patches, but it is the reef and gravel that is still fishing well. There are plenty of mowies on the move as the water cools, along with good numbers of pan sized snapper, small samsonfish, and for some reason the teraglin have made an appearance again over the past few months for those on the right reef. A couple of spangled emperor, a small cobia and a few pearl perch have even graced the filleting tables over the past few weeks, so anything is on the cards for the bottom bashers.

The beaches are still fishing consistently for just about everything except flathead, which seem to have slowed over the past few weeks, but that doesn't matter as the bream are starting to ramp up in numbers. They are hungry as they move through the surf zone and travel along the coast.

The mullet are on the move too, so that means the mulloway will be out looking as well, so just about any good deep gutter on a high tide during the evenings is worth a look. Little whaler sharks will make it tough in many places, but they fight hard and aren't too bad on the barbecue in their own right.

Whiting are slowing but getting bigger, and are more than worth the effort this month. Port and Windang beaches are the top areas to target, but most beaches will still have a few hanging around.

As always, there are plenty of salmon about in the mornings and afternoons, with some very solid tailor hunting during the evenings.

On the stones, you could try the deeper ledges for snapper and the shallower bays for plenty of bream. If you choose the deeper ledges, there are plenty of options other than snapper, so put out a live mackerel or yellowtail for some nice kings, longtails and mac tuna to 8kg that will be travelling along the coast this month.

The ever-present salmon will make keeping a live bait out tough, but a small salmon makes a good big king bait and the other sambos won't touch it.

Now the water has cooled a bit, the drummer will be getting more energetic, so the washes are worth fishing with cunje or royal reds. The blackfish are making a move as well, so a bit of weed under a float should stir up a few big bronzies this month.

In the estuaries, the shallows can get pretty cool during the nights, so the baitfish are starting to thin in numbers which puts the flatties back off the bite, but there are enough about to make the effort worthwhile.

Blackfish are on the move in the lake if you can score some good weed. The bream are gathering in numbers in the deeper holes, along the edges of the weed beds, and around the bridges in both the lake and Minnamurra. A few good sized whiting are available if you can get some worms, and there are plenty of chopper tailor of all sizes in the lake at the moment.

Finally, Leisure Coast Bait and Tackle has had a new owner for a few months now. Luke, who works there, is now the boss, so pop in and have a look at all the latest gear and bait. He has his finger on the pulse of what's happening fish-wise on a daily basis, and is only too happy to point you in the right direction. Happy fishing and on the 25th, lest we forget.

Clar0415_1

Not always big, but a few kilos of snapper is always a nice way to start the evening.

Clar0415_2

There are chopper tailor of all sizes in the lake, but you don't want them grabbing your expensive little whiting poppers. There are better ways of catching them.

Clar0415_3

Longtail or bluefin, what's in a name? What does matter is having a live bait in the water at all times, as you just never know when 1 will swim past.

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