The South Coast awakens
  |  First Published: September 2003

WITH SPRING officially arrived, or only weeks away, depending on your method of calculation, the South Coast fish will be getting ready to fire on several fronts.

The arrival of warmer water over the next month will bring quite a few species back within reach of rock, estuary and boat anglers, so here’s a quick run-down on what to expect.

Rocks: Spring usually heralds the arrival of some big blackfish schools on the surface, along with slightly better drummer fishing. The drummer have been pretty good this Winter so if they improve, it will be mind-blowing. Also expect to see some pelagic action from salmon, bonito and striped tuna. Maybe there’ll even be a few southern bluefin and kingfish in close around Currarong and Jervis Bay.

Estuary: Some big flathead start to move in Spring so it’s worth putting in the time with lures. The Shoalhaven River and St Georges Basin will be hotting up with fish to 5kg keen to grab a lure. I’m fishing bigger lures this year after our success on flathead last season tossing 10cm and 15cm soft plastics. Now would also be a good time to target a jew with a soft plastic.

Outside: The Spring reddies will be a lot of fun over the next few months. Most of the inshore reefs will produce fish but you just need to find them and fish where there some current running. You can drift and fish bottom baits but you will usually do a lot better by anchoring off reef and fishing baits and berleying back to it.

There should also be some good kings about at this time of the year. Just about anywhere from Currarong Bommie, The Shallows, The Mud and The Banks will all be worth a go with live baits down deep, or even jigging. The first full moon in September usually heralds the start of the kings, with fish to 20kg common. Fish to 30kg get hooked regularly but it’s only the pros fishing with leadlines who usually stop them. Still, there is some great fishing to be had with stand-up tackle.

There may also be a few yellowfin tuna moving around so you could do worse than troll a few lures around The Canyons. The days of going out with a box of pilchards are long gone, with the price of pillies and the fact that yellowfin are a lot scarcer than they used to be.

Trolling small to medium pusher lures seems to be the most effective way of finding a few ’fin. You may need to cover a lot of water but fish to 30kg are there for those who put in the effort.


Some strange happenings going on down here at the moment. With the popularity of chasing jew on plastics, many anglers have been putting in some time during the colder months.

They were getting some good fish in the Shoalhaven River and St Georges Basin and they seemed to dwindle off in July and August. The funny thing was that some nice flathead were still getting caught on plastics right through the coldest months.

Some readers may think that’s a bit strange but during the Winter of 2002 I can remember hearing of some nice lizards being caught, which just goes to prove that they don’t vanish from the face of the earth when the weather turns cold. With Spring just around the corner, this flathead season is shaping up to be a ripper with the Shoalhaven River and St Georges Basin set to fire. No one would dispute that soft plastics are sure to play a major role in that area.

The past month or so has also seen some very nice bream falling to lures in St Georges Basin. The Basin is now commercial-free and it’s showing the benefits of not being dragged clean by nets. I’ve spoken to some anglers who had just about given up on fishing there until recently. Now they reckon it’s fishing as well as they can remember for bream, flathead and jew. Some of the feeder creeks have been producing some big bream to anglers fishing small Squidgies but the fish have still been grabbing hard-bodied lures as well.


The boat scene hasn’t been too shabby, either, with some nice reds taken from most of the inshore reefs. Fish to 5kg have been pretty common with most of the better catches going to anglers who anchor up and fish back down a berley trail.

Most baits, including pilchards, squid, cuttlefish and strip baits, have been working. We’ve been fishing with small ‘shelf squid’ which have proven to be a very good reddie bait. We’ve also been berleying with small cubes and prawns, etc. but we’ve been adding the odd handful of chook pellets soaked in tuna oil. I went out and bought a 10kg bag of pellets and mixed these with two litres of tuna oil in a 20-litre bucket. We just scoop up a cupful every five minutes and also drop small cubes over the side. It certainly seems to work.

The next few months will see the reds get better and better and the Finney boat is finally set up and ready. We’ve got everything sorted out, from a very easy anchoring set-up to berley and bait. I’ve got some GPS locations for well-known and obscure reefs, along with a freezer full of bait and berley, so all we need is some half-decent weather and we’ll be out there chasing one of my favourite species.

Of course, reds won’t be our only target. We’re keen to tackle some kings on The Mud and The Banks and I can’t see the coming Summer go past without a heap of trips chasing marlin at the Banks and even the canyons. My young bloke will make sure of that but he’s been told no shark fishing from the new boat, no matter how good he is or how much he complains. There’s no way some smelly shark is getting even near the new boat.

Most fishos down this way have been complaining about the atrocious weather over the past year, with an unbelievably high number of weekends blown out by wind or big seas. At one stage back in June and July we managed two boat trips in almost two months. In typical form, the weather during the week has often been great but you can put money on a westerly or southerly blowing up on a Thursday or Friday.

Despite the bad weather we have managed a few rock sessions chasing drummer, bream, groper and blackfish and the results have been well worth the effort. The smells of bread, cunje and abalone gut in the morning sure bring back some memories. The taste of fresh drummer fillets done in egg and breadcrumbs also bring back memories and make it all worthwhile.



Andrew Finney with a typical Winter drummer from the rocks at Currarong.


Some nice lizards have been caught right through Winter over the past few years, blowing away the theory that they disappear in colder weather. Geoff Taylor with an average fish taken in June.


The jew-on-plastics bus just keeps rolling, with increasing numbers of anglers climbing on board. Bob Russo with his first mulloway on a lure. He released it to fight another day.


Roger Morley with a typical Winter catch of drummer and blackfish.

Reads: 1986

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