A winter banquet
  |  First Published: July 2005

Those cold morning westerly winds that have been missing for the past couple of years arrived this year right on time.

They brought a good migration of mullet, bream and luderick and waiting for them were some quality jew and tailor at the river mouth. This has been some of the best fishing at the river mouth we have seen for many years.

All those luderick fishos using ‘black magic’ (black weed) in the lower reaches of the river were casting big spells over the fish. A couple of experienced Iluka fishos showed everyone how it was done by extracting quite a few large luderick while using the magic weed.

Many fish between 1.3kg and 1.7kg were taken last month with a good run of fish around 800g making up the rest of their bags. The best of the fishing was on the ocean headlands and around the mouth of the river.


This year there have been many small bream in the river from the mouth right up to Grafton. This has made fishing through the day very difficult for those using bait with the smaller bream stealing the bait before a quality bream found it.

But the traditional winter bream fisho, who has been braving the cold nights, has found a true bounty of bream. These fishos are regularly finding bream over a kilo using live herring and mullet gut as bait.

Those fishing the beaches and rocky headlands are also finding quality bream to 1.8kg. The secret in the river and on the beach is to fish at night if you really want big fish.

The hot spots to fish at night are Back Beach at Iluka, Shark Bay, Middle Wall, the Turkeys Nest and Browns Rocks.

Lure anglers need to use big lures for big fish. That’s the secret this time of year if you want to regularly catch bream over a kilo. I use lures like the 6”Atomic Finesse Worm, 4” Berkeley Power Minnow and 5” Juro Firebaits.

The lure must be very soft and flexible, which means long lures with a thin profile that a bream can bite, fold and swallow, or bite and then suck down. Bream have small mouths but they also have big bellies.


Unfortunately the school jew up to 8kg are becoming harder to find at the moment but the larger fish are now around in good numbers, with reports of jewies up to 25kg taken in the river.

Live mullet and big lures are standard for these big fish with some fishos spending all day catching bait just to fish for jew for one or two hours at night.

The real hot spot at the moment is the Iluka breakwall with reports of jew up to 30kg taken on those big night tides. This area allows fishos to use a variety of bait, including squid, octopus, tailor, mullet, luderick, bream, bonito, yellowtail and lures.

Best time is the slack high tide on the river side of the wall and the run out on the sea side of the wall.

Woody Head is famous among tailor fishos and so far this year they have good reason to get excited. With early-season tailor up to 6kg, this year we could see the magic 8kg mark reached.

July and August are the traditional months when really big tailor are caught and this year is looking good. Best baits are live mullet and live tailor but use big live baits so the small tailor leave them alone.

Back Beach at Iluka is the best spot to fish from the beach and strips of bonito for will do the job there. Best times to fish the beach are the first two hours of darkness and the last two, depending on the tide. Fishing from the rocks, the run-out tide is best, especially through the day.


Those 1kg to 2kg flathead showed up last month with the hot spots up-river between Woombah and the Broadwater. The lure fishos had the best of the fishing with the Atomic and Berkley ranges doing the damage.

The big secret to fishing the Broadwater for flathead is to beat the wind and fish early in the morning before it starts to blow. Once the wind is up, the flathead move back to the deep water and go of the bite.

The same principles apply to the shallow sandbanks in the North Arm and planning your trip accordingly will produce good catches.

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