Blackfish starting to fire up
  |  First Published: July 2017

I’d like to start this month’s column by introducing myself. I’m Aaron Donaldson, and some readers would already know me from working in tackle shops for the last few years. I have been fishing the Central Coast all my life, and I enjoy all aspects of the sport from gamefishing to flyfishing and lurecasting. My aim with these reports is to provide up-to-date information that beginners and experts will find of interest. Here’s what’s been happening in recent weeks.

When it comes to offshore game fishing, things have been very quiet lately. We haven’t really seen the arrival of yellowfin tuna up this way at all, and the marlin have tapered off as well. Still, we’re hoping to see the start of the tuna run up this way this month. June-September is when we typically get the yellowfin.

Bottom fishers should be able to tangle with some kingfish this month, as they traditionally start biting in around 100m of water around this time of year. Jigging and live baiting are the most popular methods.

A few snapper are starting to be caught now. A lot of them are being taken in shallow water in close, in around 10-40m of water, try flicking 5 inch soft plastics on 1/4oz jigheads and you will see some action. There have also been a few big pearl perch mixed in with the snapper, with solid specimens weighing around the 2-3kg mark.


Things are cooling down in the estuary at the moment, with water temperatures dipping below 20°C at the time of writing. The winter species are starting to kick off, so we are starting to see some big winter bream around. Anglers have also been spotting some big kingfish in the estuary lately, which is very unusual. However, it’s one thing to spot a giant kingy, and quite another thing to actually land one. Some nasty bust-offs have occurred.

The blue swimmer crabs are starting to taper off at the moment. Over the coming month they’ll start to hibernate, and won’t come back on until around October or November. We’ve had a ripper season on the blue swimmers, with plenty of them caught, and hopefully the next season will be just as good.

Usually around now we start to see a lot of school-size mulloway get caught, and good areas to try are around any of the road bridges in Brisbane Waters. Generally with the colder weather they start to come on the bite a bit better on lures, mostly on soft plastics but also on some shallow diving hardbodies around 4-6”. Popular mulloway plastics at the moment include the Samaki Boom Bait Bomb Shad and ZMan Jerk ShadZ.

From now onwards we’ll start to see a lot of estuary perch in the estuaries. They are a really fun target around road bridges and moored boats. Normally you’ll catch them on any little lightly weighted soft plastics, particularly shrimp imitations. Just remember that it’s the closed season, so all estuary perch have to be handled with care and returned to the water immediately.

Anglers are starting to catch a lot of bream on blades and vibes, especially the Samaki Vibelicious and Ecogear VX blades. Most guys are spinning those in open water in depths of around 2-4m, as a lot of those fish are dropping down into the deeper water where the cockle beds are. Targeting these areas is a particularly good option at this time of year, not just because you can catch plenty of bream but because of the varied by-catch. You can encounter a wide range of species on blades in these locations, including whiting, flathead, silver trevally and even a big mulloway if you’re lucky. You can have a fight on your hands when fishing light leaders!

The freshwater has been very quiet. It hasn’t been a good year in the fresh; with all the rain we’ve had, the rivers have been dirty for a long time. They’re pretty much clear now, but once the bass are down below the weirs they’re very hard to target and find. Still, hopefully this all means the bass would have had a good spawn this year.


When it comes to fishing in July, there’s not a whole lot of variety to choose from when compared to other months of the year. Still, you can certainly catch a feed and have some fun.

One of the most reliable options is to chase blackfish, which are going to start to fire up both in the estuaries and on the rocks. The entrance is always a good place to catch a blackfish; it does get a bit crowded but there are always blackfish there to be caught. Wherever you choose to target these fish, try to use the bait that you find in the local area. For example, if you’re on the rocks you should use the bait that’s on those rocks. In the estuary, use the local estuary weed and you’ll always do better. Some anglers have also had great success on weed imitation flies, particularly off the ocean rocks.

Last year a few big schools of Australian salmon pushed in, providing a lot of fun on light tackle. They are in the Broken Bay area, which is a reliable location for big salmon schools in winter. These fish can get very fussy, fixating on very small baitfish, so you have to use small, clear soft plastics (from 2-4”) or 5-20g metal lures.

There are a lot of people hanging around here waiting for the bluefin and yellowfin tuna to show up offshore. The best two methods are to troll early in the morning, and to get a cube trail going in the afternoon and into the dark. A lot of fish are caught just on dark. Bluefin are very hard to target here because you might only see them for a couple of days before they move on. For that reason, it’s definitely worth keeping an eye out for reports, and to strike while the iron’s hot.

Good luck out there guys – I hope everyone enjoys their fishing.

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