Prospects are warming up
  |  First Published: July 2009

Coming out of August, arguably the coldest month on the calendar, the fishing prospects start to warm up from here.

Bass become an ethical target after their Winter spawning closure at the end of this month and will be moving up the rivers to the upper reaches.

The Autumn and Winter rains ensured a packed upper estuary and the best possible spawning conditions for the local bass, which we will benefit from in the years to come.

Surface luring, even in the cooler months, will catch fish so don’t think it is all subsurface, though spinnerbaits are a great option during daylight hours.

Reports of a lot of school jew from the beaches have encouraged many anglers to get hold of beach worms and try their luck.

Seal Rocks and Janies Corner have been popular spots but it should be remembered that other beaches with good gutters and holes close to rocky headlands are worth a prospect. The worst that could happen is you will take home a few big bream, possible tailor and salmon.

A rising tide on dusk is prime time, but essentially low light periods work best.

With the seemingly constant fresh flushes we have had over Autumn and early Winter, it isn’t surprising that the jew have been on the breakwalls, too.

Flathead have been picking up baits meant for the jewfish and anglers have been getting plenty of big female flatties – sadly, most are being kept.


As expected, the pigs, bream and blackfish have loved the rough conditions and blackfish at night have been in almost plague proportions.

Good fish of around 800g to a kilo are worth the effort and can be caught on peeled cooked prawns or yabby baits.

Rock fishing at night is very dangerous and not something that should be done without complete confidence, or performed alone.

Check out the spot prior to sunset and be aware of the tidal movements to be safe. The water is cold and never fish in rough conditions.

A mate, Scott Saxby, hooked and lost a 2kg pig one afternoon recently. Less than half an hour later, the same fish was hooked and landed by another mate, Brian Everingham.

When I was cleaning the fish I noticed a tag of blue line in the fish’s mouth and inside the gills was Scott’s still baited hook.

In spite of being hooked and lost after a screaming run and consequent bust-off, the fish was still in feeding mode and took another prawn bait – now that is commitment!

Tailor and salmon are hunting the washes of the headlands and the southern end of Burgess Beach. Fishing back over the beach has produced some good-sized fish.

The secret is to move around a bit and find the schools, depending on the prevailing wind and sea.

Sheltered corners where baitfish might gather to avoid the rough water should the first choice.

The moored boats along the Tuncurry wall up to the bridge have been fishing well for bream and the odd blackfish at night when there’s been a little tidal flow.

Some bream are a kilo but most keepers are 500g to 600g. Flesh bait, live yabbies and worms are great baits to start with.


The majority of the bream are spent fish that are coming back into the estuary for the Summer, when surface action should be a cracker if the current run of fish is any indication.

One spot where the travelling bream hold is around the bridge and drifted baits close to the growth-covered pylons at the bottom of the run-out tide is always good.

Bream around the oyster leases are to be expected, with a few small flathead scattered in the catch

. Some of the bream are big and ugly so expect to lose lures or rigs if you intend to use bait.

Early mornings, the tailor can make nuisances of themselves on soft plastics but the odd kilo model can be very exciting on light line.

The leatherjackets, too, are a pain but are an option if you want a good feed of easy-to-clean fish.

Offshore, there have been reports of snapper and pearl perch with the stragglers of the late pelagic run on the cards.

The occasional cobia is turning up and so are the mackerel tuna.

Mixed boxes of flathead and jackets, with a few other assorted reef species, are keeping the bottom-bouncers optimistic and as we cycle back into the warmer weather, things should improve.

For those wondering what the fish was that I asked about a few issues back, it was a herring cale. Thanks to all who emailed, especially Raef at Daiwa Australia, who was so helpful with the identification. He wins the gold star and the two reels I need serviced, – thanks Raef!

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