Cooler starts are worth it
  |  First Published: April 2010

I have to admit it’s harder getting out of bed to go fishing, especially now when you have to include a jumper. But it can be worth it and I love nothing better than fishing the washes at first light, especially when those offshore winds start to blow.

I generally launch my boat from the beach at this time of year, either from Fingal, Boat Harbour or Fishermans Bay, and head out to work the many washes.

First light is ideal to target greenback tailor, especially with ganged pilchards or garfish. But for something a little more exciting, try retrieving pencil poppers across the surface – the topwater smashes from the tailor can be something to behold.

Berleying with bread and chicken pellets and tossing in a lightly weighted, peeled prawn or cunje bait will definitely attract the attention of bream and black drummer.

The latter are one of my favourite species. Pigs, as they are affectionately known, are among the hardest fighting fish you will encounter and for that reason I use nothing lighter than 20lb to 30lb braid or mono with a locked up drag.

Any washes will hold pigs but the best need constant wave movement with deep cutters and holes.

Don’t be surprised if a decent snapper decides to join in the party. They, too, enjoy the washes and are ever willing to grab floating baits meant for tailor and drummer.

I can’t remember the number of times that I have caught decent reds in the washes and in some very shallow water. This occurrence will become more common as we head into Winter and the water cools.


Further offshore, kingfish will be gathering in greater numbers in depths of 100m-plus and the jigging fanatics will be ready to get their arms stretched.

Over the marlin season I managed to find on the sounder some great reefy structure that should hold decent kingies and hopefully some other deep-water species such as bar cod and snapper.

If all else fails, there’s always the big run north to Allmark Mountain, where you can usually find a few decent kings and other deep ooglies.

I always sound around this area because the kings move during the day and you may find other interesting areas off the main peak, especially towards the north and west.

Beach and rock fishing are ideal at the moment and as the offshore winds become more prevalent, the stones and the sand will run hot.

Travelling bream will be hanging out in deeper gutters along the beaches from Seal Rocks to Stockton and at this time of year are hungry for a cube of mullet or fresh tailor.

Low-light periods are best and 6lb to 10lb fluorocarbon leaders encourage more bites.

Luderick will be turning up in most of the quiet bays around Fingal, Boulder Bay and Boat Harbour.

Green cabbage or weed are essential but make sure you only harvest what you need. Last year I found people became greedy, taking bucketloads and leaving none for later in the season.

I also had great times anchoring the boat and using ultra-light 9’ nibble-tip rods and coarse fishing floats. Some days the luderick were so thick that the float had hardly settled on the surface before disappearing.


Estuary fishing is all about travelling fish at the moment.

Bream can be found schooling in greater numbers in the lower half of the bay and can be easily targeted with bait and lures.

The incoming tide is by far the best bet with peeled prawns, cubes of mullet or mullet gut the best baits.

Areas such as the breakwall at Nelson Bay, the Torpedo Tubes and the Boulders at Hawks Nest are all great for bream.

Lure tossers will find rock walls, weed beds and oyster racks throughout the Bay prime bream real estate and many kilo-plus fish will fall victim to a soft plastic or hardbody.

Luderick fishers have been busy filling their keeper bags with bronze kilo-plus fish with most if the action along any of the deeper, current-licked walls.

Cabbage or horse hair weed neatly secured to a No 8 or No 10 hook tied to light fluorocarbon leader will be a deadly combination under a float.

There is still a chance to find a big lizard around the Bay. Local Greg Miles fished with the author in the recent Trailer Boat Tournament, resulting in his first flathead on a soft plastic – a 6.1kg fish which was the biggest ever weighed in the tournament. The big girl was released alive after weigh-in.

From the washes, beaches and inside the bay, bream can be targeted all over this month.

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