Rack up the bream
  |  First Published: May 2015

Enjoy the mild and settled weather this month before we are plunged into the depths of winter and the cold mornings that will keep many anglers at home. With the change in season comes a change in fishing and species, or at least locations to find them. To say Flathead are a ‘summer’ species is fair if you want to catch them wading the flats with the warm trickle of current between your legs. The truth is, the fish have to eat year-round, and it is merely the location that changes for the best success.

For bream, the entrance to the estuaries and nearby ocean rocks are the best starting point to find quality fish this time of the year. Any structure near the entrance will hold fish and this includes oyster leases, bridge pylons, breakwalls, and even the gutters on the beach. The other advantage of this time of year is that the fish gather in reasonable schools, so there is increased competition for the limited food offerings around. Yabbies drifted on the outside of oyster rack wash boards or between racks will not last long, and combine a bait fishing session with a dark night and you’re in for a big show.

For flathead and whiting, it’s a fair bet to fish further up the tributaries to find the numbers. While there are always remnant fish left in summer areas, the bulk of the fish retreat to their winter hangouts. The Wallamba River is a great place to find a feed of winter flathead on the shallow bends and rock shoals scattered along its length. Both lures and bait will work for the flatties, and live yabbies and live or frozen beach worms for the whiting. The key to success with the whiting in the rivers is to feed out a little berley over a period of time and be patient; enjoy the sunshine and relax.With all the fish movement along the breakwall last month — and continuing this month — the number of school mulloway that are being caught is not surprising. There are a lot of undersize fish taking prawn and fish baits meant for the bream, so before you sink a gaff into the fish, make sure they are the required 70cm length and remember, only 2 fish in possession.

Blackfish and bream are the other 2 species making a mark on the wall, with fish around the 1kg mark being very common. After dark, the blackfish can lose their vegetarian ways and indulge in a yabby or 2, so they would be my choice of baits, covering 2 species; bream and blackfish. School mulloway are even partial to yabbies, but they are generally small fish, but don’t be surprised what picks 1 up.

The rocks will be fishing better from now on, with the passing schools of salmon and tailor migrating along the coast. Lagging schools of bonito make spinning from the stones a mixed bag, with salmon starting to show up along with the choppers. Traditionally, the big greenback tailor appear in late winter, but until then the handful of fish up to a kilo are more than welcome for those that love smoking them or fresh fillets.

The bulk of the rock blackfish will come out to play from this month and their size will increase as spring approaches. The best thing about winter rock fishing is the incredible mixed bag that anglers have access to. Bream, tailor, salmon, tailor, pigs, school mulloway and blackfish are all targets. Spots like the north end of Elizabeth Beach, the south end of One Mile and Janie’s Corner are all well worth a look.

The key to successful rockhopping is not to be scared to get back in the car and drive to another spot. Don’t just kill time catching rubbish; move and find the fish. Pick a few spots and see how the day’s conditions affect each, and pick an order of attack. It will save time in the long run and optimise your take home bag. Good luck, though this time of year luck plays little part in success.


It was with heavy hearts that we farewelled my Wild River Bass co-producer and good mate Dave Scarlett in March.

Dave passed away suddenly and was the epitome of a good bloke. He loved his fishing and through his role at NBN Taree, was involved with the promotion and support of everything fishing in the local area. He and I met when he covered the first ABT BREAM tournament at Forster more than a decade ago, and he continued to support and cover events in the local area since.

His creative passion and camera skills were evident in the WRB I and WRB II DVDs, and I would ask that you spare him a thought next time you watch them or the first time you watch them.

Dave was a good, decent and generous man that loved a joke and a laugh, but was happiest in a canoe fishing for bass. He is, and will be, an incredible loss to his family, friends and the local area. He is survived by his 2 sons.

See ya mate.

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