Rocks and Beach come up trumps
  |  First Published: June 2008

Now is the perfect time to target those bread and butter species like bream, drummer, luderick and tailor, especially fishing from the rocks and beach.

More than half of my fishing sessions would occur somewhere on a rock ledge around Port Stephens from now until early spring or until those winter westerlies die down. Rock fishing, although very dangerous can also be very rewarding.

When the southerly winds blow and the swell rises many species such as bream, luderick, drummer and snapper feed freely close into the wash ready to snaffle a well presented bait such cunje, royal red prawns, garfish and pilchards.

The heavy swells and a high tide just on dark get bream, drummer and especially luderick venturing into small shallow rocky areas protected by the white water. Believe it or not many of these rocky areas are just rock pools that fill with water on a rising tide and the surge of the swell. Often referred to as ‘pot holing’, this type of fishing can be very effective especially at this time of year when both bream and luderick are migrating along our coastline.

If rock fishing is not your cup of tea then the beaches can be just as good if not better for big snowy white bream, tailor and the ever-present Australian salmon. Early morning or evening are by far prime times for beach fishing for bream and tailor. Areas such as the northern side of Fingal spit can be fished in almost any condition. Whether it be a howling southerly or westerly, the spit is a prime location as long as you don’t mind a walk.

Those that prefer comfort can drive their 4WD to either Samurai or Birubi. Both of these locations have extensive gutters and can be fished in comfort in a westerly wind. I have found that fresh baits such as mullet fillets or garfish will constantly achieve results.

Inside the Port you will find luderick fishers lined up along the break wall at Nelson Bay marina. The last month has really fired, with many luderick to 1.8kg being captured. The same location is also fishing well for bream with baits such as mullet fillets and mullet gut being at the top of the menu. Remember to use as little if no weight at all, and try to present your bait as natural as possible.

The inside of Tomaree Headland is another prime location at this time of year and you can be sure of an easy feed of bream and luderick, with some quality tailor just over 1kg feeding on the incoming tide.

Fishing with soft plastics down deep along many of the rock walls in the port will have you connected to quality bream. Bream congregating in deeper water is a common pattern in June, making them easy targets with soft plastics. I like to use larger stickbait soft plastics, such as the 110mm Squidgy Flick Bait rigged on 1/8th jigheads. Don’t be surprised if a decent flathead or school jewfish decides to pounce on your plastic. These species can be caught through the winter months if you’re prepared to put the time in.

It is snapper time in the shallows and you can bet that many of these big breeding fish will be hooked, caught and lost on soft plastics over the next month or two. By now many offshore fishers have probably tried this deadly technique, it seems that a lot of anglers have realised their effectiveness.

It is sometimes very easy to rack up your bag limit of not only smaller fish but also the bigger breeding snapper. I would be a hypocrite to say that I have never kept a trophy sized snapper, everyone is entitled to a fresh feed of fish, but seeing the effectiveness of the soft plastic craze, I soon realised that we can not continue to kill too many of the larger breeding fish. Instead, taking a quality photo is more rewarding and more beneficial for the future.

As far as locations are concerned try any of the shallow reef areas behind Broughton Island plus the many reefs and washes from Fingal Bay to Birubi Point. It would take you a good solid month to fish all those areas.

Apart from snapper, plenty of pigs and bream can be caught from the washes plus the odd blue groper if you can stop them. Early mornings at the front of Tomaree headland can have you connected to quality tailor to 2kg, while the front of Fingal Island will also have tailor plus the odd kingfish. For a real buzz why not try large pencil poppers skipped across the edge of the washes – the surface strikes from large tailor and kingies will have you casting for hours.

It is set to be a fantastic few months for these typical winter species, so why not brave the cold and get out there to bag some sensational table fish?

Quality tailor such as this one, will be eager to gobble garfish, pilchards and lures in the washes in the early morning and late afternoon.

Bream can be targeted in deeper water with larger soft plastics at this time of year. If not try the beaches for those big snowy bream that hunt the gutters.

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