Winter has seen a late run of luderick and tailor drawn out through the month of June and early July. The traditional run period of mullet was delayed and with it, the corresponding travels of other fish.
By far the most significant has been the decent run of blackfish along the walls and ocean rocks. The fish are there, but their numbers have been significantly less than previous years and I’m hopeful they will make up for it this month. I have no doubt, with a little exploring and extra effort the catches are available but they have been delayed by the long tailing season of warm water, no doubt.
Small reds have shown up close to shore around the shallow reefs and there are larger fish skirting the pan-sized snapper. Bouncing 5-7” soft plastics on 3/4-1oz jigheads with 5/0-7/0 hooks will sort the big girls out.
Strip and live baits will also attract the snapper, but also encourage a mixed bag like flathead, morwong and even kingfish. Salmon and tailor are often by-catch of bait fishing and can be targeted by slow trolling out to your favourite areas, like Blackhead (to the north), Latitude Rock and the Graveyards, to the south of Forster/Tuncurry.
The rocks have been fishing well, though not up to the expected best. By far the more prolific catch are the sizable bream that infest the ocean rocks this time of the year. The coast has been suffering from clear water that puts the pigs off a little and makes catching them a little more challenging. Deeper water ledges like Janies Corner or McBrides haven’t been too bad but a good, steady berley trail of bread is needed to encourage the fish over the shallower headlands like Bennetts Head or Black Head.
Tailor and salmon are targets that don’t seem to disappoint from the rocks with Blueys Beach at either end producing the goods. The tailor are not huge, around a kilo, though packs of fish in the 1.5-2kg mark are around with persistent spinning drawing results. Metal slices or poppers are my preference, especially if the fish are holed up in the coves and bays along the coast.
Seeing a big greenback tailor bursting behind a popper as it skids across the surface is too exciting to pass up. Rat kings also love to chase down poppers and there have been reports of small schools hunting the headlands, so be prepared for anything.
While the nights are cold and many are rugged up in their nice, warm homes, some anglers are hitting the break walls and managing good bags of decent bream. I fished it the other night on the run-out while I waited for the slack water and was surprised by the size of the bream. All the fish were between 500-900g and were taken on cooked prawns.
Live yabbies drifted with the tide will attract the resident and returning blackfish as well as the bream. Don’t discount the school mulloway from the wall either. Bouncing soft plastics or vibes to the base of the wall is well worth the effort half an hour either side of the run-in or out. If you need to kill some time while you wait for the tide to slow, try casting a bait or lure onto the Tuncurry Beach side. The mulloway and big bream for that matter will hold up toward the end of the wall while they too wait to move into the channel.
The lake is still surrendering good-sized flathead and this is most evident as by-catch while bream fishing the leases. I managed two 75cm fish in a section of the lake that drains water across a channel during the tidal run. I was targeting the bream that were bow waving across the shallow water and I guess the flathead were there feeding on the baitfish as well.
The racks are the spot to find the bream, though they may not be as prevalent as in summer, but the quality of the fish will more than compensate. Ultra slow rolling hardbodies along the racks has been doing the business in the cold conditions, and if you find racks with cross current, you’ll find the fish. Some of the bream are extra large, so 16lb leader on hardbodies in my minimum at the moment. Even with heavy leader and a locked drag, I managed to pull the lure out of one jumbo’s mouth by stretching out the split rings until they let go – never done that before!
So I guess this month is pretty much all about bream with a few other fish thrown in. Bream from the rocks, the wall, the lake and big pink bream on the reef!
Photo courtesy of Shane Crockett.Reads: 175