Baitfish in abundance
  |  First Published: May 2004

THIS TIME of year is characterised by cool mornings usually driven by a westerly breeze, stiffening at times, and bright still afternoons.

The ocean is blue, with warm water hanging around from the Summer. It’s a perfect time to go fishing.

Baitfish have been around in abundance this year. The season started with huge slimy mackerel taking residence on the local reefs. Many say they’re the biggest they’ve ever seen.

These were closely followed by massive schools of garfish hugging the coastline. Then came the yellowtail, millions upon millions, shoaling on the surface. The scene was set for a bumper season. We waited week upon week with little result. Sure, a few fish were caught but with all that bait in the water, wouldn’t you think something big might turn up?

I’ve studied the tide chart and the moon phases carefully and I predict that the fish will be at their peak around the time this magazine goes on sale – that is, the lead-up to the full moon.


This year has seen a smorgasbord set up on nearly all of the local inshore reefs, with the baitfish boiling the ocean around such places. All manner of predators have been taking this once-a-season opportunity to gorge themselves. Everything from snapper through to northern bluefin tuna have joined in on the feast. Trag and jew have also been plentiful this season. On reefs like The 21, The V, Looking Glass, Uralla and The Tank, fantastic catches have been reported.


May sees the big bream start to arrive in the Port. As they finish their spawning run they enter the Port to feed and become fat over the Winter. On some of the warmer days flathead can still be targeted in the shallows.

A variety of tuna species will also enter the Port to dine on the hardihead schools which have been congregating all Summer. You can expect northern bluefin and mackerel tuna to take plenty of line off you after they’re attacked a metal slug or soft plastic.

Tailor will also start to move in, with jewfish in tow.


For those who like to fish from the rocks this is also the best time of year. Great coloured water seems to be endless. This year a few nice snapper have been cruising in close after rough seas, as well as jewfish, tailor, some big kings and northern bluefin.

With the first hint of a cooler than average morning the drummer moved in and took over. Luderick have also taken up residence around most of the local rock platforms.

The big bream have moved in on the beaches. Tailor and salmon, which hung around for most of the year in the warm water, have also begun to thicken. Big jewfish are also in search of an easy meal as they cruise the gutters.

The thing about fish is they usually follow their stomachs; find the bait and you’ll find the fish. So the best thing you can do when trying to pick a spot is think to yourself, ‘What would I be doing if I was a fish today?’ and ‘Where would I be?’. Answer those two questions and you shouldn’t have much trouble catching fish.
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