A bit of rough on the rocks
  |  First Published: August 2008

When will these East Coast low-pressure systems ever give up? It seems that every week for the past month or so, bad weather generates just in time for the weekend.

It’s not all doom and gloom; those of us who are prepared to brave the driving rain and cold winds find that the fish don’t mind one bit, in fact many species will feed freely in rough conditions.

Switched-on rock anglers know that rough, cloudy conditions will have drummer, luderick and bream hunting around many of the rock pools that flood with a high tide and rising swell.

On a recent outing in these conditions I managed a stack of beautiful bronzed luderick, a handful of bream plus many unstoppable drummer. All this action occurred in a frantic two-hour session one late afternoon on a rising tide with plenty of whitewater running into a knee-deep rock pool.

There is certainly no rocket science about this type of fishing, all you need is a light 12’ rod, 15lb line, size 4 to 6 baitholder-style hooks and a size 0 ball sinker running straight onto the hook. Bait is simply pieces of shelled green prawn or cunjevoi.

Many of these rock pool areas can be easily accessed if you don’t mind a walk. Some of my favourite locations include Fingal Bay, Rocky Point, Boat Harbour and Fishermans Bay.

On calm days luderick can be caught using more traditional methods such as green weed suspended under a float.

The only problem is finding the right type of weed, which can mean spending hours scouring the rocks.


There may be a solution in the form of green weed flies. They’re nothing new, many fly fishers had great success with green weed flies when the saltwater fly craze was at its peak a few years ago.

Recently I have been experimenting with these flies suspended under a traditional float and, believe it or not, the cunning luderick have found them irresistible.

Any good tackle shop should stock weed flies or if you prefer to tie your own, the best material to use is fluoro green Ice Dubbing.

Plenty of snapper to 6kg have been caught from the rocks. It seems that just after those heavy seas have abated, the snapper are found right in close in the washes.

Many anglers have had success with baits such squid heads, garfish and pilchards floated unweighted on the edges of the washes or cast on a simple paternoster rig.

If you’re keen to tackle a snapper from the rocks try locations such as Fingal Point, Boulder bay or Cemetery Point.


Our estuary system has seen plenty of rain over the past month with Nelsons Bay resembling a cup of tea.

Still, plenty of fish have been caught, with loads of bream and luderick along the rock walls towards the bottom half of the bay.

Nelson Bay breakwall has been the most popular spot while the Tubes at Tomaree headland are also worth a shot.

Flathead have been scattered in the shallows along Bagnalls Beach, Corlette groynes and Jimmys Beach at the northern end of the Port.

Winter flathead are more lethargic due to the cooler water so try working an area with baits or lures a little more thoroughly to encourage a bite.

The beaches have been hard to fish due to the constant heavy swells but this should change as the westerlies kick in.

Salmon can be found up and down Birubi Beach, along with the ever-present sharks that feed on them.

The northern beaches such as Hawks Nest and further towards Seal Rocks will still have the salmon but big bream and quality tailor have been in good numbers and should continue for the next month or so.


Offshore fishing has been hot when you can crack a hole in the weather.

On the continental shelf yellowfin tuna can be caught by trolling or cubing but it pays to read the sea surface temperature charts to find that all-important temperature break before making the long journey.

Wash-fishing around the islands is probably the most productive way of producing a feed. Thumping black drummer are cruising all the washy areas and be easily caught using royal red prawns, fresh bread or cunje.

Bream also compete for the same baits so don’t be surprised if a few big ones snaffle your bait.

Plenty of snapper are still eager to grab a soft plastic or fresh bait, especially in the shallow reefs around Fishermans Bay and Boat Harbour.

So if you can find a window in the weather, you will be rewarded with plenty of fish this month.

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