It is not all over just yet, not by a long shot, because May can turn on some pretty good fishing but it all depends on the weather.
Light winds and sunny days keep the offshore species rolling along but the estuaries slow right down, while rain and wind shut down offshore but the fresh pushes all the estuary species down to the entrances for one last run before Winter closes in. So let’s see what Mother Nature throws at us this year.
So far the long-term weather looks good and the warmer water has stayed with us.
There is still the odd mahi mahi hanging about the FADs. No monsters, just schoolies and they are hit and miss but nonetheless an option.
The kings really made a decent show of it this year. They’re still not even 10% what they used to be before the traps but they are improving, about the only species in the country you could say that about.
Get some live baits and head out early to any of the recognised spots like the islands, Bass Point, Rangoon, Bellambi and Austinmer.
So you don’t have to waste time in the best fishing hours getting bait, catch your livies the night before and keep them alive in a washing basket anchored in a sheltered bay.
A live bait in the water while it is still dark usually gets the largest fish and you can keep them around longer if you get them going early.
The schools move about from reef to reef at this time of year so a bit of info on their whereabouts from day to day is essential.
Big bonito like live bait, too, and they like the same places as the kings so if you stumble onto the bonnies your precious live baits could disappear very quickly without even seeing a king.
Bonito up to 6kg have been about and they put up a good scrap. For some reason, they seem to be more popular as a table fish these days, too.
There are still some nice snapper about keen to take bait and plastics. More anglers are using plastics on local reds and some are having a fair success rate on quality fish.
I saw one catch of about 10 fish from 1kg to 4kg the other day and the guys were just working the shallows around the washes of the northern suburban reefs with Strike Pro Reaction Baits in some pretty wild colours. They seemed to work and the guys were very happy with their results.
The by-catch was a lot of calamari squid, which grabbed and followed the plastics to the boat, where they were picked off with squid jigs. It seemed the places where the squid were most prolific were where they hooked the most snapper. Makes sense to me!
Trevally are over most of the reefs and a little berley will really get them going, Most are under a kilo but a few better fish are there along with a few samson fish.
These guys don’t mind plastics either and can be a real nuisance when chasing snapper.
The bottom bouncers have been having a good time with plenty of variety. Mowies, pigfish, snapper, trevally, samson, sweep and even a few tailor and legal kings have been grabbing baits.
The flathead have slowed a bit but they generally make a late run this month if you can miss the leatherjackets that plague the reefs and sand patches.
Further offshore a few yellowfin tuna have showed up out on the continental shelf. I haven’t heard of any jumbos yet but that can change any day.
Striped marlin are about if you can find bait schools in mid water from 80 fathoms out to the shelf. Black marlin were noticeable by their lack of numbers this season with only a few captured, but May is a big blue marlin month.
Big lures and baits catch big fish and with many boats these days having downriggers, a big mackerel or striped tuna slowly trolled along or drifted down deep while cubing for yellowfin could pay dividends.
Closer to shore, the salmon are still schooling along the coast with bonito and rat kings and plenty of trevally under the schools.
Good bream are in all the shallow bays and responding well to berley and unweighted tuna baits.
The same goes for the rocky washes with a little berley getting the bream on the chew with plenty of trevally and drummer.
On the deeper ledges there are heaps of bonito being taken by casting bobby corks with saltwater flies trailing behind – it works brilliantly. Use larger lures for kings, salmon and mackerel tuna.
Live baits are scoring nice kings and should pick up longtails this month. If only a small portion of the longtails from the Mid North Coast and Central Coast over the past few months make it down here!
The beaches are well worth a throw in coming weeks with plenty of bream in all the good holes and gutters. Nice whiting are not all that numerous but certainly make up for it with some real elbow-slappers.
The usual salmon are about with some solid tailor during the evenings. The school jew are a bit hit and miss but there are enough about to be worth the effort.
I haven’t heard of any big jewies lately but one is always on the cards if you have a bait in the water. Whaler sharks as always are a problem after dark.
Lake Illawarra and the Minnamurra will fish better if we get a bit of fresh but if not, there are some nice bream gathering around the edges of the weed beds around Primbee and the rocks at Mt Warrigal. They are chasing lures in the feeder streams.
Flathead are a bit quiet but if you work hard in the main channel up to the drop-off you can still pick up a few. A few whiting are still taking worms around the entrances on the sand flats while the lake break walls are fishing well for tailor, salmon and a few nice jewies.Reads: 1221