Timing is everything
  |  First Published: May 2006

May is one of my favourite months. The water is starting to cool off and the seasonal changeover means a great overlap of species that add to the options available to us.

The coastal fringe is still fishing well with the live-baiting anglers scoring the odd cobia and longtail tuna from Flat Rock, Cape Hawke and Seagull. The washes right along the coastal strip have been surrendering good tailor and some bonito from the washes with pigs, bream and travelling luderick all there for those willing to target them.

There still seems to be a reasonable amount of bait off the stones, too, which can only be a good thing and provides the opportunity to take a few slimies or gars home for bait for use during a beach or cut-bait session. Big ocean bream love a slab of fresh or salted slimy fillet and whole gars and slimies work a treat on the tailor and inevitably the salmon that have been showing up more recently.

The travelling blackfish can be encouraged to school in potholes with a constant trickle of bread berley into the area and then can be caught on live or preserved yabbies. A small ball sinker over a No 1 Mustad 540 or 542 hook and you will be in the thick of it. Late afternoons and early evenings on a rising tide are the premium periods to get a bag of clean, tasty blackfish.

Given the time of year the blackfish will also be targets in the estuary along the lease boards and weedy drop-offs around the lower part of the lake. I much prefer the taste of the travelling blackfish before they get into the lake system; they just seem to have a more mild flavour.

Flathead have moved further up into their Winter hangouts of the rivers and river mouths. There are always some fish in the lower lake entrance, as there are always bream of varying sizes up the rivers, but the bulk of the flathead can be found further up the system.

The area around the Cut and up the Wallamba River have been fishing well for flatties and fish up to 80cm are common. Three-inch soft plastics or DOA Shrimps are the best way to fish the shallow areas and the reward will be a lot of small fish with the odd decent specimen.

The bream surface bite has waned and more traditional bait and lure techniques are certainly more productive. The floating leases at Mosquito Point always seem to hold fish although at the peak of the tidal run it is difficult to hold a bait or lure where it needs to be.

The floating leases behind Regatta Island also generally hold fish and for the hard-body lure chuckers the fixed racks on the south side of Regatta are worth a throw, especially with bream movement set to increase over the next month or so.


The leatherjackets are plentiful though I suspect they are plentiful year-round, it is just that we get distracted by other things.

I’ve said it before but jackets have to be one of the best eating fish in our estuaries. Cooked simply in a lightly buttered and oiled pan, you dust the fish with flour and cook it. The meat is sweet and, with care, boneless.

Whiting in the lake have slowed down but with yabbies the odd big sand whiting is still coming to the net. The general catches of whiting are more or less by-catch to other target species or non-descript tangles just soaking a bait.

Beach fishing will soon become a cold and lonely pastime with the evening temperatures requiring the doona and blanket cover in bed. So rug up for the cool nor’-easter and salt spray that attracts the after-hours beach fisho.

The tailor are getting a better size and, as mentioned, the salmon are making appearances but I don’t expect them to be in plague proportions for another month or two. At best the salmon are great fun but relatively poor eating compared with fresh tailor, bream or school jew that are also on offer from the sand.

While a marine park draft exclusion zone has been revealed, deadlines have prevented too much detail in this column. Suffice to say there will be people around Boomerang Beach not happy and a host of other locals just shaking their heads in disbelief.

I hear even beach closures are on the cards so how that affects anything but transient fish I don’t know. Time will tell what exclusions will be put in place and remember, this is only the start of things to come in the future. Interesting times indeed.

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