The bait ‘trough’ is open
  |  First Published: June 2005

The beginning of Winter is typically the start of the pig-hunting season and while the black drummer (AKA pigs) have been around over the past few months, they only get better from here.

The cold water thins out a lot of the pickers that can congregate in the washes off the rocks and gives the big pigs a free go at the bait ‘trough’.

Traditional tackle consists of a large Alvey, long rod and about 10kg mono line.

If you want a real thrill or want to add a change to your wash-fishing tactics try a high-modulus graphite rod of 2.7 metres-plus, 20lb braid and a short trace of 10kg mono. You’ll find out just how hard pigs pull for the first 20 seconds or so and the sensitive braid will also reduce the numbers of snags you will encounter.

The first thing you will learn to do is modify your striking habits. The slightest bite can be felt through such an outfit and with no stretch in the line, hooking a big fish can be a painful experience.

When you consider the fight is over in less than a minute, much less in most cases, it is no surprise that the fish go hard from the hook up.

I use a pea-sized running ball sinker on a leader one metre long and around 10kg in strength. The hooks are 1/0 542 Mustads, just in case I find a crab and want to catch a groper which, by the way, if your drag is too tight will perform a rod-butt enema for you at no cost.

Bait and berley are pretty simple. I tear out the soft centres of sliced bread, ball it around the hook and throw the crusts in the water for berley. It is a lot less messy than ab gut, a lot less work than cutting cunje and a whole lot cheaper than cooked or green prawns.

All you need now is a rising tide, a deep wash that holds foam or surface disturbance between waves and you’re away. I’m lucky; I have a few spots five minutes from my front door so after-work sessions will become a regular thing every soon.


The blackfish are making their presence felt in and around the structures of the lower lake. Green weed is the best bait but yabbies at the bottom of the tide have been producing fish, along with the intended species, bream.

The breakwalls fished well for a lot of soapies over the past month and with a bit of luck there should be the odd bigger jewfish lurking this month.

Soft plastics, squid and pike baits have been doing the trick on fish up to 8kg with some reports of larger fish being lost or landed.

Tailor in the channel have persisted along with plenty of bait in the estuaries and along the coast.

It is looking very healthy out there and the amount of bait in the mouth of the lake has kept the flathead interested. The flatties are not huge, with fish up to a kilo or so being commonly being taken on baits also meant for bream.

If all the reports I’m receiving about the numbers of bream in the lake are true you should be able to walk across their backs from Tuncurry to Forster.

Sadly, I think the bream are smarter than we give them credit for. The pressure of plastics fishing on the bream fisheries, I believe, has made them harder to catch, even though (or because) most practise catch and release. Thank God flathead are dumb!


The amount of bait hugging the coast at times is ridiculous. The surface ripple of bait, then the shower of silver as a passing predator comes too close, has been a great sight from the headlands.

At one stage the bonito were so thick you couldn’t get a bait or lure past them and the frustration of the live-baiters showed.

Heaps of good mackerel tuna up to 10kg have been caught, with northern blues making a few welcome appearances from Flat Rock at Booti and from Seagull at the Palms.

To date there has been no overwhelming number of cobia but I guess you can’t have everything.

Scott Saxby and Brian Everingham went potholing the rocks from Charlottes Head to the Tuncurry breakwall, shot-gunning various spot over eight hours, and found big bream at every spot.

Their intended target species were blackfish and pigs but when 32cm to 40cm bream swipe the bread berley off the surface there is no chance a yabby will get too far into the water.

The lads reckon they landed 50-plus bream, a few blackfish, one pig and a 43cm sand whiting. Thanks for the invite, guys!

Beaches right along the coast have been producing bream and a few school jew with tailor and the mighty salmon mixed in to keep things interesting.

Many who visit Sand Bar are more than happy with their beach hauls but beaches closer to town are also producing. Tuncurry Beach towards Blackhead has had some good formations and some quality fishing.

Generally, this is a slow fishing month, including offshore, but there is enough to keep the reels ticking over.

Hopefully between now and next issue I’ll have a few pig stories and may even share a few secret spots.

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