It’s bream time
  |  First Published: May 2004

IT’S BREAM time in this part of the world with some solid fish gathering along the coast.

The boaties will be concentrating on the sheltered bays along the coast while the rockhoppers will be checking out any likely-looking washes along the headlands and points. The beach fishos will be looking for that deep hole at low tide to fish as the water rises.

Berley is the key for bream, as it is with most species, but a little can go a long way. Keep it little and often, just enough to keep the fish in the area and interested, but not enough to fill them up. Bread mixed with some tuna or pilchard oil and a few bits of pillie make a simple berley but many individuals have their own, secret, never-fail concoctions so don’t be afraid to experiment.

Don’t get too keen and try to nail the first fish that swims into the berley trail. Wait a while and let few more gather and start to compete. If you lose the first fish that turns up, it can put all the others off the bite.

If they are competing for the berley they often don’t even notice if one eludes capture, and they keep on feeding. Royal red prawns or fresh tuna are top baits, particularly around the rocks, while pipis and worms work a treat from the beach.

Lake Illawarra is worth a throw with bait or lures and don’t forget the Wollongong Sportfishing Club Bream Classic on Sunday, May 23, on Lake Illawarra. It is lure and fly only so for more information see Leisure Coast Bait and Tackle.

For the other fish in the lake it is slow down time as the flathead have almost ground to a halt and there are only a few large stray whiting down on the eastern side of the bridge and in the channel.

Minnamurra is much the same – as the water cools the fish have gone right off the bite. There are only a few bream and blackfish and the odd trevally.

On the rocks things are a little better with trevally mixing it with the bream and a few more decent drummer have started to show. There are still a few schools of good blackfish while the deeper ledges have plenty of salmon chasing lures and pilchards and the odd larger kingfish, mixed in with the rats, taking live baits.

May used to be northern bluefin and mackerel tuna time but they seem to be a bit of a rarity these days. But a live yellowtail or mackerel fished off the point at Bass Point, Honeycomb, Bombo, Kiama or Marsden’s could still turn up a stray.

The beaches are starting to slow for the warm-water species but not some beaches still hold a few whiting, although the flathead seem to have moved on.

Tailor and salmon are still on most beaches early and late in the day while the jewies have been spasmodic. There’s a fish here and there but they’re not consistently on one beach so you will have to work hard. But they are larger fish at this time of the year so the wait is worth it. You will still be kept busy, as there have been lots of small to medium whaler sharks during the evenings. They fight ten times harder than a jewie and aren’t bad tucker in their own right and I reckon they are better than nothing when things go quiet.

Offshore, the water cooled a bit quicker than it has over the past few years so the surface action has gone right off. It is probably your last chance for a marlin and it will be a blue out wide or a striped, as the blacks look like they have gone for another year.

A few mako and blue sharks have already started to turn up out wide. A few yellowfin tuna have been sighted chasing sauries in 80 fathoms but few reports of captures have filtered through.

In closer, the cooler water has slowed the flathead a little but there still seem to be plenty about for the drifters. Small snapper are being picked up on the gravel and the reef edges while there have been a few good fish still hanging around in close around the bommies and shallower reefs,

Also popular around the bommies and bumps have been yellowtail kings but you must have live baits. There are plenty of little rats coming up the berley trails but they are just nuisance value as they are undersized and you waste a lot of time getting them to the boat just to release them.

There are plenty of whaler sharks about in close, particularly during the evenings if you are chasing jewies or reds. Once they show up it is time to move unless you have plenty of hooks.

Trevally are showing up in increasing numbers and they make the cooler months at least tolerable. They are not everyone’s favourite but if it were not for these guys and a few reds, the Winter around these parts would get pretty boring – or you could chase a few groper.

May can be a strange month; it is at the crossroads of the seasons and it can throw up nasty, wet, windy, rough conditions not much good for anything. Or there can be millpond days just right for groper fishing over the shallow reefs. Crabs are the bait, if you can find some, and although groper are good tucker, letting them go never hurt anyone’s ego.


I read a disturbing piece in a paper a while back about how they want to fill in a bit more of Botany Bay for a container terminal.

Although it is out of my area, I still have concerns about this type of environmental destruction. We pay a hefty levy on everything that is associated with recreational angling, including a licence. They removed the pros from the Bay and the fishing has improved dramatically – and now they want to fill it in, or ‘reclaim’ it as they call it.

How can you ‘reclaim’ the land when it was always water? I suppose it sounds better than saying they will fill in a another piece of one of our beautiful waterways.

I thought some of our licence money was for habitat restoration but I can’t see the logic of spending money to restore the habitat on one side of Botany Bay and filling in the other. Some day these two worlds will collide – then what?

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