Time for Mr Big
  |  First Published: May 2005

With the water starting to cool down it’s time to target Mr Big of the sea, the yellowfin tuna.

In my books they are the hardest-fighting fish that have fins and anyone who has been lucky enough to tangle with a 60kg-plus fish I’m sure will agree with me.

May is traditionally the month to target these bruisers, especially the big fish. Montague Island and the continental shelf beyond will hold fish, as will the various reefs like the Four Mile and the Twelve Mile off Bermagui.

If the bait is there and the water is right, the tuna won’t be too far behind.

To consistently catch these torpedos a lot of patience is required. They are certainly not around in the same numbers as the late 1980s and early 1990s, but this season more yellowfin has been caught than over previous seasons.

Most fish have fallen to trolled lures, but May is a great month to berley and cube. A few mates and I have had good success by trolling first, hooking up and then reverting to berley and cubes while still fighting the original fish. This works well on school fish to 30kg and albacore but you never know when Mr Big will turn up.

Mako sharks can still be expected with the cooler water and it’s not uncommon to have a fish or two swim up to the back of the boat while berleying for tuna. These guys are great fun and will certainly give the back a workout.

It’s possible that the odd striped marlin is still around; it really depends on the water quality but beakies have been caught in May in years gone by.

Montague Island’s kingfish population will still be around. Live bait and squid will get results, as will jigs.

The kingies’ size usually increases this month with fish around 7kg the norm. Bigger fish are certainly there, it’s just a matter of stopping them from reefing you.

Both bonito and mack tuna can be expected and respond well to trolled skirted lures and bibbed minnows.

The bottom-bouncing brigade will still get a feed with snapper, mowies and leatherjackets making up the majority of the bags. We should start to see a few more john dory get caught this month, with the flatties tapering off a bit.

The southern end of Montague has been the place to fish and a few guys doing well are anchoring up and berleying. This should only be practised in good weather as things can change pretty quickly down there with tides and currents.

Fresh squid has been the top bait and can be caught in most of the bays on the western side of the island.


Wagonga Inlet has been fishing slowly of late with a lot of hard work to get consistent results.

Some good bream are being caught in the main channel and fresh bait has been the key to success. The whiting have tapered off with the cooler water but the fish that are being caught are large.

Flathead are still around but not in any numbers, although the fish are averaging 50cm to 55cm.

The guys fishing for mullet have been having a ball with bag limits caught quite easily. The best place has been the main town wharf and the rocks on the eastern side of the channel going towards the South Wall.

Dough, mixed with tuna oil and Ultra Bite, has been the gun bait. Some good blackfish are turning up with fish up 1.5kg common, while the tailor in the main basin will be more than willing to hit a lure or two.

The golf course rocks have been fishing well for salmon and tailor, with lures and ganged pillies getting results.

Some big drummer have been caught and they will only get better as we head into Winter. Red crabs and cunjevoi are the pick of the baits.

The guys spinning from this platform, as well as High Rock at Mystery Bay, have a good chance of mack tuna this month. I had a flick through my diary the other day and all the good mack tuna that I have caught and seen caught have been in May. Some early morning spin sessions could be on the cards.

The beaches are firing for all the usuals. Some whopping big salmon are patrolling the gutters at Tilba at present, with fish up to 4kg taken.

There are still some nice bream around; find a gutter close to rocks and a feed won’t be far away.

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