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Attention turning to the estuaries
  |  First Published: May 2016



May means we have hit the transition period between the hectic hot bites of summer and autumn and must now brace ourselves for the colder and slower more sedate activities that winter brings.

The fishing is still good, but not for fish that swim at incredible speed or leap out of the water or both at the same time while tearing your arms out of their sockets. Having said that, if the currents are in our favour there could still be some excellent yellowfin action over the coming weeks and not too far down the track we will be looking forward to the bluefin as they move up the coast.

In the meantime we have to make do with what we have and it isn’t all that shabby, with plenty of options to satisfy your fishing needs. Offshore, we still have a chance of a few mahimahi on the FADs as the past few seasons have seen them hang around right into June so you never know.

The marlin season has been a cracker this year and we may see a few stripes come back up the coast as the warm water recedes but they much prefer the warm water as it pushed down the coast rather than when it slides back up the coast.

A black is not out of the equation either, as the bigger ones will hang around in cooler water if there is plenty of food around. However, I wouldn’t go chasing them, as they would be more of a by-catch when chasing yellowfin tuna that like to sit on the cooler side of the temperature breaks.

A massive body of fish moved down the coast during March in the hot water of 26°C with fish from 50-90kg launching out of the water for kilometres in all directions. These were from the tropics and probably stayed with the hot water and moved on. Hopefully, the currents will be in our favour and the cooler water fin will move up the coast as the warm water retreats and they are well worth a look this month.

Back closer to shore, yellowtail kings will be around all the usual haunts this month, with live squid the go to bait. Yellowtail will pick up a few as the slimy mackerel become harder to find. A downrigger would be a very useful piece of equipment at the moment, as the fish lay lower in the water and are slightly less active. Some good fish to 15kg will be about but the majority will be in the 3-8kg bracket.

Big bonito will make a nuisance of themselves, particularly if you do find a few slimy mackerel for bait. They love them and knock them off at every opportunity, and they are one species that doesn’t slow down at this time of the year.

Like last month, they will probably be larger fish of 3kg or better and make for great fun on light tackle if you find a school of them.

Salmon numbers will be on the rise as they like the cooler water. They should start to gather in larger schools on the surface terrorising the baitfish. The schools won’t all be salmon with the bonito getting in on the action and some solid mackerel tuna will be looking to get in on the action as well.

So when you are casting lures into a school of boiling fish on the surface and one takes off at break neck speed on a screaming run, you will have a good idea of what is on the other end. Treat it with care when you get it as a large mac tuna can equate into lots of bream and snapper when used for bait. There are plenty of bream about in the shallows, so a mac tuna would be a godsend for bait and berley. Use small cubes of flesh for bait after berleying the area you intend to fish with the flesh on the frame.

The same method works on the snapper, too, in slightly deeper water over your chosen reef. They just can’t resist it and don’t be surprised if a stray red finds its way into the bream berley in the shallows either, particularly late in the evening.

The drifters are getting their feeds of flatties over the sand but they have slowed a little over the past few weeks with the drop in water temperature. To make up for it, the mowies have made a bit of a run. Throw in some pigfish and quite a few nice little reds and the pickings aren’t that bad.

On the rocks, the drummer are getting mobile and some of them are good fish with cunje and prawns working well, either fished in the wash with just a split shot to get the bait down or a bobby cork to let you know when you get a bite.

The blackfish are on the move along the coast with the harbours and headlands producing plenty of bronze beauties. There have been a few monumental bust ups as the drummer grab cabbage and green weed meant for the blackfish, making short work of the lighter gear.

Bream and snapper are on the chew as well, with a little berley needed to really get them on the chew. The deeper ledges down south and the more secluded spots up north are the places to be but most of the rock spots are worth a throw.

The live bait guys really need to concentrate around the deeper spots this month with the longtails and big mac tuna on the prowl. All the spots around the Kiama area are worth a look as they come past every year, you just have to be there and have a bait out. You could wear yourself out throwing metals to the horizon and ripping them back or even better, both.

Decent kings will be in the same area, so there are three large predators, and if you throw in all the salmon and bonito, there is plenty to keep you busy on the stones this month.

Just a reminder to be diligent on the rocks, with three more anglers getting washed in at Honeycomb during Easter, all on the same wave. The sea was running with a 2m ground swell with 3m sets and to fish Honeycomb was suicidal, but fish they did and got washed in with one suffering a compound fracture of the leg, which is getting off lightly.

The angel rings were again deployed and saved their lives and the close proximity of a local in a boat also went a long way to help.

In the estuaries, it is starting to get quite a bit slower with the flatties backing off. There are a few for the persistent but it is hard work. The bream on the other hand are in enough numbers to make a trip worthwhile, mainly in the evenings in the deeper spots or around the bridge pylons in both the local systems, or you could start looking in the feeder streams.

On the beaches there are good numbers of bream gathering in the deeper gutters, particularly around the edges of the rocky headlands. Salmon will keep you busy on most beaches and there are some nice tailor up to 2kg getting around just on dark.

The big draw card is the big mulloway are starting to get about and they will be even more prevalent if we get a bit of rain and some of the creeks break out. In the mean time, just work the deeper gutters during the evenings on the bigger tides and there are good numbers of schoolies to keep you keen along with the inevitable sharks and rays.

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