MAY 2020


Offshore, waters are cooling, but the more settled weather of May typically heralds some of the year’s hottest action on yellowfin tuna, albacore and mako sharks. A few marlin may still be present, especially further north, as well as large Spanish mackerel and some smaller spotties. Anglers targeting broadbill swordfish should be deep-dropping big baits on heavy tackle. Kingfish numbers decline a little now, but their sizes often increases. Good snapper and morwong are biting on the reefs. Salmon, tailor and bream are available in the surf, while drummer, groper, bream, blackfish (luderick) and trevally dominate rock fishing catches. Flathead, bream and tailor should still be biting well in the estuaries, and some bigger mulloway (jewfish) are also on tap.


The snapper bite slows noticeably now and many fish leave the bays and gulfs to head offshore, but some of the year’s biggest snapper are typically caught this month. Salmon fishing continues to improve on most surf beaches. Kingfish and Samsons and are available offshore, especially in SA and southern WA, while increasing numbers of southern bluefin tuna (including the odd jumbo) are present in many waters. This is often the best tuna month in Tasmania. Some big swordfish will also be landed this month. The larger winter run of King George whiting are coming on the bite now, bream are hitting well in the estuaries and flathead are still available on many beaches and in the SA’s gulfs, as well as around Kangaroo Island.


Weather and winds generally settle this month. Good snapper are biting on the inshore reefs, along with dhufish, Samson fish and kings offshore. The annual salmon run is now in full swing, sometimes reaching Perth metro’ waters and beyond. Abundant herring (tommy ruff) are also on tap. Further north, mid-west waters are fishing especially well. Ballooning for mackerel from the shore becomes a very good option in easterly breezes. This is also prime time for giant trevally in the far north.


The annual run-off has slowed or stopped, but barra continue to bite well throughout the north, along with black jewfish, fingermark (golden snapper), mangrove jacks and threadfin. The two biggest barra tournaments of the year (the Barra Classic and Barra Nationals) are usually staged this month in Top End waters. Mackerel and tuna are increasingly available offshore, along with some smaller black marlin, sailfish and a full range of reef species.


The first major frosts of late April or early May often herald some of the year’s finest Murray cod fishing, especially for larger specimens. Golden perch and other native species are slowing down now, but trout are still biting well in many lakes and those rivers that remain open (check local regulations). The brown trout spawning run is well underway in many cooler waters.

1 MAY: Bass & estuary perch season CLOSES in NSW (zero take in rivers & estuaries).

1 MAY: Banded morwong season OPENS in Tasmanian waters.

Second Sun in MAY: Mothers’ Day

MAY: The Barra Classic and Barra Nationals are held during this month in NT

* PLEASE NOTE: At the time of publication, restrictions on outdoor activities (including fishing) due to the COVID-19 pandemic were still current in all Australian jurisdictions, but varied between states and territories. Check the current local regulations before planning a trip and, if fishing is permitted, strictly observe all social distancing guidelines and other recommendations.