Anything goes
  |  First Published: May 2006

May is the last month of what I regard as the best time of year for fishing on the Central Coast.

This is a bit of an ‘anything goes’ period, which means we could still be fishing the warm blue currents for marlin one day and locking ourselves indoors away from the first real Winter blast the next. Although May weather is generally quite stable and comfortable, expect at least a few days of freezing weather soon.

Rock and beach fishing is a reliable option at this time of year. Salmon have still dominated the beaches over the past few months and as the water cools we will see only increasing numbers of salmon. This can be seen as good or bad, depending on how you look at it. At least the high salmon population along the east coast means that we’ve always got something to catch and we would all agree that salmon are a top light-line sport fish.

Those of us who like chucking fancy lures or flies on novelty tackle and hearing the drag of little reels scream have at least got a target to cast at. The average bloke who just wants to wet a line in the surf over the weekend can always rely on a few sambos to snatch a pilchard on ganged hooks.

Hooking into an acrobatic, hard-fighting salmon is also a great way to get the kids interested in fishing. Surely two or three kilos of real, live jumping fish on the end of a line is better for a young mind than sitting in front of a TV screen playing games that aren’t real.

There is also room for debate that ever-increasing salmon numbers could have a slightly negative side. One point to consider is that salmon are now the most abundant small, inshore east coast predator, overtaking species like tailor, bonito and striped tuna that all appeared in much greater numbers in the past.

One chap I spoke to recently said he almost considered salmon to be the carp or cockroaches of the sea, meaning that they are a very hardy and adaptable species that flourish while others are on the decline. Another point the bloke raised is that the more common and easier to catch salmon become, the status they have as a light tackle sport fish will also diminish.

When fish are more elusive we tend to raise their status as an angling proposition and sambos sure ain’t elusive!

If you’re lucky enough to hook something else in the surf this month it will probably be a tailor, bream or jewfish. The good-sized tailor I mentioned last month have continued to be caught along the beaches but not in any great numbers. Most of the time less than half a dozen are caught but chances are they’ll be a kilo a piece or more.


I’ve caught a number of tailor around 2.5kg in recent weeks and lost a couple of bigger fish in the shore dump. It’s been about 10 years since we’ve seen a good run of mega-choppers between 4kg and 8kg.

Pelican Point was perhaps the best big tailor spot and while those big fish are rare these days, it’s still possible to target larger tailor by using whole garfish on a set of 6/0 ganged hooks or live pike or mullet with a wire trace. Try it and see what happens. At worst you’ll catch a couple of reasonable tailor or a shark.

Rock fishos enjoyed a good run of frigate mackerel around Norah Head and Terrigal a month or so back and there were also a few short bursts of bonito at Wybung and Avoca. By now most of these pocket rockets would have moved on and the focus starts to shift more towards drummer and blackfish from now on.

Although these fish have been active over the past few months, early Winter is prime time to drift cabbage baits under a float or lob out a lump of cunje or ab gut for pigs. Good results come when bread-based berley is thrown in the drink. Bream and silver trevally also respond well to berley at this time of year so a mixed bag of table fish is on the cards.

Offshore we’ll see the water temps start to fall from now on. This month the average sea surface temperature should hover around 21°, which is good for most species including a few leftover mahi mahi, kings and bonito.

We had a bit of a cobia run a while back and just after that I heard of a few half-decent kingfish lurking around the inshore reefs. Kings from 3kg to 11kg were caught off Norah Head, which is a hell of a lot better than those hordes of baby rats in Summer.

Apart from surface fish, this month it shouldn’t be too hard to catch a feed of table fish. Trevally, morwong, snapper and flathead are the main players with a chance of bream, jewies, samson fish, big leatherjackets and perhaps a few pearl perch out wide.

Estuary fishing should remain good and while flathead, whiting and blue swimmer crabs will start to slow down, blackfish activity will increase. Bream and jewfish are also generally active this month.

If jewies are on your hit list, now is the time to put in some effort for them as they normally slow up by the end of May or early June.

Although May is a good all-round month on our angling calendar, results may depend on what the weather and ocean currents do. Too much of an early cold snap can put some fish off but if we have stable Autumn weather the fishing should be good.


The ongoing saga of the Tumbi Creek mess could start to be resolved at last. Tumbi, at the southern end of Tuggerah Lake, has endured major siltation problems over recent years, rendering the creek an environmental tragedy. The cost of cleaning it up, bickering over who’s paying for the work and environmental concerns for too long have been applying the brakes to actually tackling the problem.

Now a trial clean-up is taking place with the dredged bog being carted to nearby land to dry out before being trucked away. This is the alternative to simply pumping the waste back into Tuggerah Lake.

If this trial is a success then further work will go ahead and finally we may see the creek bounce back to life by the end of the year.

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