It’s getting cool, so plan your trips accordingly
  |  First Published: May 2015

It’s probably stating the obvious, but you can now sense the chilly nights and experience the occasional brisk day. The cause is not just the sou’ east and nor’ west winds that should be more dominant in May, but also the shorter days that will see roughly 3 hours less daylight for a few months.

It’s easy to lose enthusiasm, especially as it heads toward the last couple of weeks of May and onwards. I’m becoming less keen to hit the rocks, beach or the estuary. It is a pre-conceived idea simply because you may think that if I don’t go out for a very early fish or fish into the late arvo or evening period you’re going to miss out. This is partly true. The low light periods, crack of dawn to a little after sunrise, and then an hour or so before sunset and after dark are generally the best times, but only to an extent.

I get clients onto some ripper bags of fish during the late morning and even early to near mid-afternoon periods at this time of the year. If the tides are not at the right time of the day, don’t just bin the idea. A beach fish with a midday tide rising to the high doesn’t mean that you are going to miss out on your bag of whiting and bream.

Surface fish are often on the cards too, so a late morning spin can produce some great results on salmon and even tailor. Have an 8-10’ spin outfit rigged ready with a 45g Sniper or Knight. As an example, when you’re having a whiting fish and the tell tale signs of surface splashes appear, bolt back to your gear and grab the ready-rigged spin rod. Punch it out for some exciting pelagic action.

On a different note, off the rocks, have a late morning king spin or live bait. They’re often caught in the high light time of the day, so if there is a good midday-ish high or low tide, give it a go. How good is that! You can sleep in until 8.00am, get the gear ready, and go for a fish by 9.30-10.30am and fish until 3.00pm or even later.

The luderick are now a good option and so are the groper during the day, and of course don’t forget the pelagic action that can be on during this month. I am not saying this will replace the best tides and low light period tides that you would optimally fish, but I can confidently say that you are missing out on some cracker action if you only aim for the best time/tide options!

Okay, so now you’re all berleyed up! The action is good to great this month. Off the rocks, the trevally action has started, with some good activity at most rock locations. Starting south at Old Mans Hat at the bottom of the Quarantine wall, there are trevally being berleyed up in the wash at the main ledge from dawn until a little after sunrise. A few tailor are showing up, so have a set of gangs ready if you get bitten off on a single hook rig with a half pillie or peeled prawn. A few bream are also right in close.

Bluefish has a few trevally, with some bream and tailor, as does Flat Rock at South Curl Curl and Dee Why, 100m past the swimming pool. Further north, the Turrametta Head side of Warriewood Headland has trevally, with some good luderick action as well. The Hat, Bluefish and South Curl Curl also have good luderick.

Mona Vale Pool is a renowned spot and a short walk from the car for trevally.

Kingfish action this month is very good. Bluefish and Bangally Head’s main ledge has a few, as does South Whale, which is also known as the Inner Ovens. Ganged large to extra large sea gars, and 9” stickbaits like the Slap Sticks and iCatch stickbaits are working well. I like white stick baits, but the pink ones work well too.

Rock blackfish are on this month at all the locations above except for the front of Bluefish. It does produce pigs, but in selected areas only. Little Bluey in Manly, about 750m to the south, is good for this species, and South and North Curl Curl, Narrabeen Head, South Avalon and North Whale has been producing.

Sydney Harbour rocks at Middle Head has luderick, tailor, salmon and the odd king, while The Spit’s northern side of the bridge has luderick and some kings, and North Harbour off Fairlight Pool holds luderick. If you can get hair weed as well as cabbage, your results should greatly increase. Grab a couple of kilos of sand and grind some weed into it and berley regularly with small amounts for better results. Fish the mid to high tide and an hour or so afterwards.

The beaches are as on as the rocks at the moment. Starting at Manly, we had a fish on a recent film shoot, virtually in the middle of the day. It was only a short session of about 2 hours, but we caught 6 whiting to 35cm, 2 bream to 31cm and a tailor of 38cm. The conditions were not great, with a 25kt wind and a moderate swell of about 1.2-1.5m on the day, but good fish were caught regardless.

The reliable time for a tailor is normally in the evenings. There are some mulloway to 7kg from the Queenscliff side of the beach, and of course good whiting bags on the morning and late arvo high tides. Dee Why near the surf club up to the corner, the gutters out the front of the big block of flats called Flight Deck, Warriewood, and Bungan Beach are producing all the above species.

If you want to pursue a mulloway, the humble squid is often the bait of choice. Every mulloway that weighs more than a few kilos has eaten a squid, so it stands to reason to spend time pursuing them off your local jetty, the rocks in the estuary, or favourite ocean rocks that has kelp beds. Take into account that there are few, if any, squid on the ocean beaches unless there is a reef and it’s flat enough.

Using fish baits can be more practical in this situation for a couple of reasons. Sufficient squid can be hard to obtain for bait, and live yellowtail/mullet are far easier to source. Also, tailor over 30cm or whiting over 27cm are great as slab baits, Chrissy trees or live bait — a more practical option.

This month and June is good for a mulloway. Make sure you rug up and use quality footwear like surf boots. It gets cold in the evenings and don’t forget the raincoat, which makes a great wind shield.

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