Pick the conditions and win
  |  First Published: September 2004

SITTING here typing this report, six days have passed since I lost the possibly the biggest snapper I have ever hooked and it still feels like there’s been a death in the family.

The fish snatched an octopus with a no-nonsense slamming down of the rod tip leg 45 minutes after the low tide change early in the afternoon off a favourite rock ledge. With the run around 80 metres and still going the 20kg trace popped due to the decreased line capacity and subsequently heavier drag. In hindsight, I should have backed off the drag. I’ve only ever seen a northern bluefin strip line from a reel faster; it was certainly an animal of a red.

The relevance of all this has to do with paying attention to the prevailing conditions. September is not a great month to catch heaps of fish but, by picking the best conditions, the odds can be tipped in the angler’s favour.

Despite my bold July predictions of minimum 16° water, Murphy’s law stepped in and plunged the water to nearly 12°, which shut down most of the fishing.

A big swell smashed the coast for a few days and the water rose to 16° and the snapper again bit well. Reds to 7.5kg were landed off the rocks and boaters took fish to 4.5kg. Dean Heycox always seems to do well on the reds in September when the rest have usually given the game away, so it pays to be persistent.

Drummer are a sure bet this month providing you pick your conditions. Flat and clear water is useless for catching pigs. If the swell gets big, the short window when the water flattens out but remains dirty provides white-knuckled action on rampaging pigs.


The unrelated silver drummer also get in on the act. Silvers are lousy on the plate but are one of the most underrated fighting fish. On my most recent session on the pigs I caught a 6.5kg silver, equalling my personal best. On four occasions I had to palm the direct wind Alvey – they are balls of muscle that never say die.

Normally I let every silver go but I decided to keep this one for jewfish bait. Silvers also go my the moniker ‘stinky’, due to their terrible diet of brown weed and kelp. After filleting the big silver and chopping the head and frame up with a tomahawk for berley, I realise where the name came from.

I am always on the lookout for a good back-up bait for my beach jew sorties and the smelly, oily and very firm flesh I reckon will hold up to freezing better than most fish fillets. If they work, you’ll be the first to know!

On the subject of jewfish, September is often one of the better months for chucking plastic at ’em but this year I’m not so sure, due to the ongoing professional effort in the Clyde River.

It would be great to see some of our licence dollars going towards mulloway stocking into our RFAs to compensate for places like the Clyde. Look at how well it has worked for Sydney estuaries. Browse a few internet sites and see for yourself, it’s jewie mania up there.

There has been just the odd beach jew here and there but far too many 1° nights through Winter has been the reason. My last beach sortie resulted in us leaving an hour before high tide – it was way too cold and no fun. Those frigid nights should be gone by the time you read this and the gloves and other woollies left in the drawer for another year.


The winner of the non-boater section of this year’s Clyde BREAM qualifier, Ben Roberts, has been expanding his boatless skills to the rocks for many months now, with staggering results. Benno has become yet another soft plastic addict, forgoing all other forms of fishing by taking his bream spinning to the ocean rocks.

In late Summer Ben was cleaning up on rat kingfish, bonito, frigates, salmon, tailor and trevally with the very same 2kg outfits used for estuary bream. The first big bream got him curious; the penny dropped with the second one.

The floodgates opened when Ben began targeting areas where migrating bream leaving the estuaries to breed were smashing his 3” Berkley stick baits as if he was in the racks. Day after day, Ben was averaging seven or eight bream well over 40cm in potholes, skinny gutters, around bommies – anywhere you’d expect to catch bream on bait. By-catch included countless salmon and trevally and he even fooled a 65cm groper into eating a stick bait!

We won’t see the yellowfin bream return to the estuaries until late October so no doubt Ben will be racking up the bream off the rocks for weeks to come. There seems to be no end to the versatility of softies and with innovative fishos like Ben trying new things, the rules will continue to be rewritten for some time yet.

September is a great time for bream off the rocks. Rex Medbury scored this one on abalone gut.

Groper are always on the cards during the cooler months. Murray Cooper puts a 9kg one back to do some more growing.

Another bream off the rocks for a young bait fisherman. Read this months report to find out how Broulee fisho Ben Roberts has been consistently catching quality bream on soft plastics from the rocks.

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