Time for a change
  |  First Published: April 2009

This will be the changeover month as the last of the warm water dissipates, taking the Summer pelagic fish back north and leaving anglers to fish for the more traditional winter species.

Still, you can expect to have some reasonably warm water lapping the shore early in the month and that last flurry of game fish inshore can often be fantastic.

It has been the best season on bonito since the turn of the century. Being able to head down to the rocks and spin metal lures and score half a dozen fish to 3kg nearly daily is something I haven’t been able to do since 1999.

I love crumbed bonnie fillets and one fish easily feeds the whole family, so anything else is quickly returned to the water because bonito are poor candidates for freezing.

Metal lures have been fairly productive on the bonito but big plastics like Slug-Gos and 7” Jerk Shads and shallow-running minnows like Rapala X-Raps have also been good choices when the metals have been drawing a blank.

The kingfish this season have still been mostly 40cm to 62cm, which is highly frustrating.

They still can quite easily cut you off on the bottom when spinning lures, making a day’s fishing expensive with no rewards of legal fish to bring home.

Ray Smith hasn’t let this deter him. He has been putting in so many long hours spinning this season he has been like a robot.

After untold hours and days he finally had a red-letter day spinning up eight kings to 89cm, together with five bonito, and managed to lose four kings in the metre class due to fishing solo and not having someone to work the gaff.

He also had a 3kg snapper take an 85g Raider! But, in classic here-today-gone-tomorrow fashion, following trips produced not even undersized kings.

Big kings generally have been almost non-existent most days, but I did manage to hook one leviathan that snatched a live frigate mackerel off the surface.

It was a short and torrid fight on 24kg tackle with the fish reefing me up twice. The 150lb leader held but the 150lb swivel inexplicably broke as the fish was deep at my feet.

I now will only run big baits like frigates and live squid on a long, heavy wind-on leader to a hook with no other connections.


Longtail tuna have made the odd appearance this year, but in typical longtail nature they quickly erupt and just as quickly disappear, not to be seen again for weeks.

Fish to 17kg have been landed on live baits and smaller fish around 7kg have been landed on lures.

Ray ‘the robot’ Smith hooked one on an oversized frigate lure on the drop that emptied his Stradic of all its braid at a frightening pace and never looked like even slowing when it hit the bottom of the spool.

If we are lucky we might see a school or two pass this month as the fish head back north.

Off the rocks and beaches there have been some of the biggest salmon the coast has ever seen.

During a recent jewfish sortie off the sand I hooked what felt like a decent jewie on a whole tailor fillet loaded with twin 8/0 hooks. With all the typical headshakes synonymous with the species, and losing close to 50m of 24kg braid on hook-up, we were gobsmacked when 4.8kg of salmon washed out after the third run.

A genuine 10lb South Coast salmon is pretty rare and the fact that it fought itself to death ruled out releasing, so I have decided to turn it into a wall mount.

Plenty of salmon close to 4kg have also been falling to big jewfish baits and lures as well as stealing live baits off the rocks.

It is also probably the best time of year to chase bream off the rocks and beaches, with most bream on the move from their estuarine Summer homes.

Bream migrate along the coast to do their breeding and the switched-on angler can take advantage of this by working some quality fresh baits around beach corners and small washy zones along the rocks.

Baits include striped tuna, slimy mackerel, prawns, beach worms and small crabs. Go light on sinkers, line and choose smallish hooks and fish a run up tide before dark and you should find a few willing takers.

Just remember that they are in procreation mode so don’t get carried away – keep only what you need for a meal or two.


This month should really see snapper kick into gear inshore with the Winter cuttlefish run not too far off.

Some really big snapper have been showing up already with numerous fish proving too powerful to subdue, resulting in shredded lines and dejected anglers, myself included!

Fish to 5kg have been taken from the shore and by boat on plastic and bait and I expect this to continue for the next few months. Fish the tide changes early and late in the day for best results.

Offshore will still be a chance for a last spurt of marlin and with acres of slimy mackerel and striped tuna, the fish won’t be small so give the light tackle a miss.

Yellowfin tuna numbers will certainly increase, with the first drop-off attracting most of the attention. Throughout the month there are a few tuna tournaments on, indicative of the expectation of healthy numbers of fish.

It can be a fantastic time of year to do a spot of cubing for tuna if you avoid any southerly storms.

Often very calm weather occurs in early Winter, which is vital to achieving a nice, slow drift. We plan to do plenty of cubing trips this season and hopefully less trolling if the weather gods read the script.

Peter Alkousis with another big South Coast salmon. This one stole a live bait meant for kingfish.

Bonito have made a huge comeback this season with fish most days taking all manner of lures. This one smashed a white Rapala X-Rap.

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