Getting a little tougher
  |  First Published: May 2009

This month things just get a little tougher. After being spoilt for the past six months, now we have to do our homework and prepare just that bit more for any results, let alone good ones.

The rocks, however, do have some potential in just about all conditions.

The ocean can go from mirror-calm to a boiling cauldron in a few hours so we must fish to the conditions and when it is rough, the drummer, bream and blackfish come out to play.

Bellambi, Wollongong Harbour, Port Harbour the sheltered areas of Bass Point and the Bone Yard at Minnamurra all fish well on rough days.

When the sea settles, hit the deeper ledges and use the same bread-prawn method because the bream, drummer and blackfish all move back out into the open country to feed and mix it with the trevally and snapper.

The deeper ledges still hold their share of pelagic action even in June, with quite a few bonito along with plenty of salmon, tailor and a some legal kings for the lure tossers.

Live yellowtail and slimy mackerel will pick up any stray mackerel tuna or longtails that might still be about, while a big king is always on the cards, particularly if you can catch a live squid and get it out into deeper water.


If it gets too rough, try the estuaries but they are just about shot at this time of year except for bream. These can be touchy in the creeks but they seem to be more receptive around the rocky foreshores and islands.

The bridges in Minnamurra and Lake Illawarra are worth a look, with a light berley trail running into the pylons on a falling tide and unweighted pilchard fillets wafting down on light line producing results.

The beaches generally get wiped out by the big seas it is cold so it can be hard yakka but the ocean can be almost too calm if the westerlies get up and flatten the surf.

There are some big tides just after dark in the evenings this month and these are generally considered by those who chase big mulloway as the times to be on the beach.

Any good gutter on Coalcliff, Thirroul, East Corrimal and Fairy Meadow beaches to the north of the city and Coniston, Windang, Shellharbour South and Bombo in the southern areas are top spots. But a good gutter on just about any beach is worth a shot.

That is the nature of big jewies, you just never know where they will turn up, and by big we are looking at fish well over 20kg.

There will still be the nuisance little whalers about and plenty of picking bream and bait-stealing salmon and tailor.

Ganged hooks and pilchards will do the trick if you just want the salmon and tailor. Some of the tailor have been whoppers to 5kg, particularly on the northern beaches.


Offshore, it can be feast or famine this month.

If it is calm we can get into the shallow, rocky bays and berley up bream and trevally in good numbers, with a few snapper thrown in.

Get a little deeper over the inshore reefs and we have some nice snapper turning up early for the cuttlefish that start to spawn in a few weeks, if the water cools enough. Lightly weighted fresh cuttlefish or mackerel baits fished down a berley trail should do the trick.

Around the islands and Bass Point there are, as usual, salmon in the washes taking pilchards and lures. Some will be lucky to make a kilo while others are over 3kg and give you a going over on light tackle.

Kingfish are patchy and seem to be hanging around the headlands, much the same as the bonito.

For bottom bouncers it is even more scratchy, with flathead mostly tucked away safely into the sand. Although a few have been enticed to bite they are very patchy this month.

The masses of leatherjackets are still out there over the sand. Some anglers are using a combination of long-shanked hooks and very thin single-strand wire to land jackets up to 3kg but they are still losing rigs.

If there is any bait, weed or plankton caught on the main line, the jackets just snip it off and it’s time to rig up again.

There are plenty of sweep, a few pigfish and the odd mowie over the reefs.


If you head further offshore the yellowfin tuna are along the continental shelf but remember to watch the weather.

Trolling fast bibless lures or large minnows around the areas where the birds are circling will generally find fish, then start berleying with pilchard pieces to get the school to the boat.

There have already been fish to 60kg caught but they have been on the move so you just have to keep trying.

There have been plenty of striped tuna about and even a stray striped marlin so it could pay to take a few live baits with you.

With the tuna come the mako and blue sharks that you either love or loathe, depending on what you are chasing.

If all else fails and you are over the Stanwell Park or Kiama canyons, drop a bait to the bottom for gemfish, trevalla or other deep delicacies.

And if the wind blows and turns the sea into a mess, that’s a good time for some gear maintenance.

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