Snapper, bream head the list
  |  First Published: May 2005

Cooler water returning from the south has anglers are turning their thoughts to inshore snapper and big migrating schools of bream.

This year I suspect that we may see a noticeable increase in straggling pelagic fish because the warm water arrived late. There have been more than a few sightings of big black marlin close to the rocks as well as rampaging pods of northern bluefin annihilating schools of garfish and frog-mouthed pilchards. Four out of the past five seasons there have been reasonable numbers of northern blues around the Bay with the odd fish to 15kg captured.

Kingfish, too, seem happy with the temperature at this time of year and make sporadic appearances.

Fish on the reefs have been generally smaller than last season and the bite has been unpredictable due to fluctuating currents and water temps. Still, the odd larger fish has been testing anglers as Malua Bay resident Matt Harris recently found when he scored a lovely kingie around 13kg on a live yakka off Burrie Point. The reefs off Moruya have been occasionally yielding similar sized fish for those putting in a consistent effort.

Those same reefs are really starting to fire for snapper. Local fisho Justin Lake is already starting to string together a bunch of quality reddies. Justin has the inshore snapper run well and truly sussed out, consistently coming home with reds better than 4kg and often over 7kg. Various charter boats have also been regularly finding good snapper numbers.

May is often regarded as the best month to nail a big red off the stones on the South Coast but if the warm water lingers those reds might not truly fire until next month.

As I type, the water is still hovering around 21°. Once the gauge starts showing 18° we’ll see Old Man Red move in from the offshore reefs to the rocks to fatten up for Winter.

Also expect the first wave of cuttlefish to arrive later this month. Once the dolphins start to inflict their savagery you can bet the snapper will be hanging directly below. Bring it on!


Rock blackfish, or black drummer, have come on strong early this season despite the warm water. Loads of fish over 4kg have been caught and spearfishermen have been telling me that they are seeing vast schools of big fish in many locations.

Washy rock platforms covered in green cabbage weed and cunjevoi are the places to fish a lightly-weighted bait of cunje, abalone gut or peeled prawn. A 2x strong 1/0 hook on 10kg line and a locked-down drag will bring these brutes undone – sometimes!

And those big blue-nose bream will be prowling the wash zone with big appetites as they fatten up for their Winter procreation. Beach corners and washy rock gutters are the places to fish various cut baits of fish fillets, beachworms or small black crabs. A lightly weighted 5kg line is ample to knock over any bream and still be able to play out any salmon that takes a fancy to a flesh bait, providing you’re patient and let them run to tire themselves out a bit before you try and land them.

Bass fishing of late has really been firing with numerous reports of 50cm fish being released. Due to the lack of rain, most fish will be confined to the pools that they have been in for months.

With much cooler conditions these fish will not bite too often but the diehards know that the fish haven’t magically disappeared. Slow and deep presentations may do the trick.

If we do get some decent rain those fish will be looking to head to the salt to find that brackish zone that they need to successfully breed in. Wade Eaton has been finding a few willing bass in the salt already, sharing the same stretch with some nice black bream.

It might be beanie and woollens time on the land but the fish still have some lingering warmth in the water to keep them fired up. Get out there and make the most of it, the cold and miserable fishing is just around the corner.

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