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Alex's Fishing Column 28 May 2020

There’s no doubt the dry season has well and truly set in.

It’s chilly but, if you’re after some terrific bluewater fishing this weekend, you’ll do okay if you plan carefully.

We’ve had some fairly strong winds of late, but this weekend the forecast is for light winds and sunny conditions.

Mind you, you won’t have to go far anyway to catch quality Spanish and broadbar mackerel because Lee Point is producing the goods at the moment.

The beauty of Lee Point is that you’ll mainly be out of the wind anyway as the easterlies will be blowing from onshore.

I particularly like the morning making tides, especially on Saturday.

A good trick is to anchor and berley with crushed pilchards, but keep the berley trail to a mere trickle – and with no big chunks – as you want your macs to smell the feed but not have anything big enough to chew until you float back your whole ganged pilchard.

There’ve been plenty of longtail tuna about, and the schools have been coming close inshore.

Again, the 6.1m tide this Saturday at around 11.30am is spot on for chasing inshore tuna schools.

If there is one thing that annually coincides with the arrival of these chilly Darwin mornings, it is the northern pikey bream congregation along our coastal bays and up the saltwater creeks.

Both Darwin Harbour and Shoal Bay are as good a place as any to experience this annual bream run.

With this cooler weather, it’s a fair bet that bream will be starting to move in around Larrakeyah, up Pioneer Creek and all around the Rock in Shoal Bay.

If you have a boat, catching them is quite easy.

At Larrakeyah, just anchor in any of the little bays from the point back towards the Naval Patrol Boat Base, preferably at night on the last half of the rising tide.

It’s best to use a light line on a suitable rod and reel — a thin braid line, in about 5-6kg breaking strain, is perfect.

With braid, you’ll need a light mono leader. I’d suggest about 7kg breaking strain.

Use just enough lead running on the line to get the rig to the bottom, and bait up onto about a No 4 hook with small, whole prawns.

Lure casters should look to small plastic shads, grubs and prawn imitations.

Often the bream are quite small and should be thrown back, but there are plenty of good ones as well, along with the occasional solid ock-ock.

The Rock can be fished on any tides for bream, but I rather fancy a rising tide in the evening.

Shore-based anglers will have success wherever a rising tide covers rocky foreshore areas.

The pikey bream is found only in the tropics.

It ranges from Shark Bay in WA, right across northern Australia and as far down the QLD coast as Rockhampton.

Pikey bream are extremely aggressive little predators, readily taking lures and flies meant for other, often much bigger, species in the saltwater creeks.

According to Grant’s Fishes Of Australia, the pikey bream grows to 560mm, which would put it over the 3kg mark!

I’d love to hear from anyone who’s caught one that big because the biggest I’ve ever seen was about 1.5kg and half that size is more typical.

The pikey bream is a terrific family fish — kids love to catch them.

Along the harbour during the dry season, you can catch dozens in one session, but it’s best to take only what you and your family need for a feed.

One good way to prepare and cook them is to gill and gut your fish, scale them, score the sides and then grill them whole, basting with a mixture of lemon juice, lemon pepper and olive oil.


With neap tides this weekend, expect more big threadfin salmon on the Mary River … AJ’s Classic 120 accounted for this beauty.

With the onset of chilly weather, it’s pikey bream time in Darwin Harbour; this one was caught last weekend on a soft plastic.


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