The water is still very clear inside Pittwater and Broken Bay but at it’s warming up and the baitfish schools are moving in, so fishing should be good over the next month.
There are already decent fish in Pittwater with kingfish being caught right up at Rowlands Reserve, where most people launch their boats. The kings there have been active at the top of the tide early in the morning, responding well to soft plastics but always seem to work the bait too far off the shore to cast to.
There are also a couple of bigger kings cruising the various bays along the river. I am sure they are cruising the edges of the weed looking for small squid. The other food in their bellies at this time of year are silverbellies, small-mouthed, large-bodied fish that are caught in bays such as The Basin and near Portuguese Beach. These would be a couple of areas to try next time you are on Pittwater.
The kings seem to follow the same early-season pattern each year and I am hoping that they will follow the script again. They seem to show up at Barrenjoey Head and hang around there for a week or two before moving to West Head. Most years these are not huge fish but most are over the legal 65cm.
Then the fish move into Pittwater and it’s game on. The western side sees most of the action for the first week or two and on most mornings you will see a bust-up or two anywhere from Mackeral Beach to Towlers Bay.
This is the time to use soft plastics and poppers. The fish on the edge of the school are normally the ones to target, as they seem to be the easiest to excite. Those in the centre often seem to look at the lures but won’t touch them.
Of course, matching the hatch is always good if they are fixated on one size of bait but there is another side to it as well.
I think I first read this next bit of wisdom from one of Steve Starling’s articles. He said that if you pull up next to a school of a million baitfish and match the size and colour of a lure to those fish and cast into the bait you are only a one in a million chance of catching a predator. Cast to the edge of the baitfish and your chances greatly increase, because the lure becomes a target.
This theory can also work by using a bigger lure or a different colour because it looks different from the rest and therefore becomes a target. This is also why Glow Bait works when applied to a baitfish and sent back to the school, glowing bright green and with a hook in its back.
If you are like me and prefer to use bait when the kingfish are frustratingly difficult and fussy, pull out a fresh-caught squid and cut its head off. Cast the head into the feeding frenzy and hang on.
I know it sounds weird to go to all the trouble to catch a wonderful fresh bait, only to kill it, chop it up and cast into a feeding frenzy, but that’s what works and who am I to argue?
Downrigging at this time of year comes into a league of its own, especially after the kingies have had their morning crash-and-bash session. When things start to go quiet and the fish are no longer rising to the surface, they can normally be targeted by trolling small squid, sometimes yellowtail or, of course, the same lures that you were casting to them when they were on the surface.
To find the kingfish again is as simple as locating balled-up baitfish on your sounder. Troll with baits or lures at the depth of the baitfish, again at the edge of the school so you don’t divide the bait ball.
You must remember the depth you lure will dive to because you don’t want to run your lures too deep and lose hang them up on structure.
The squid inside Pittwater seem to be plentiful lately but most are very small and no good for the table. The larger specimens are being caught at night from the wharfs at Palm Beach and Taylors Point.
For the boatie, most of our squid have been caught at West Head and West Head Beach. Mackeral Beach has been great one day but fruitless the next. The Sand Point area also has some squid but the area seems to be best fished at high tide.
The best jig colour lately has been orange, in 1.8g or 2.5g sizes.
Flathead are becoming easier targets again and with very clear water you can go sight fishing for them. Casting soft plastics along the drop-offs can be exciting and rewarding.
Mackeral Beach, the Portuguese Beach drop off and Towlers Bay will produce a lot of flathead on lures. For those who like to drift for flathead, the area between West Head and Barrenjoey Head should produce a feed.
Other grounds that should be explored include The Hill, which can be fished by drifting from the middle of the entrance to Towlers Bay across to Taylors Point in depths from 25m up to 5m at the end of the drift.
Bream are thankfully becoming a little more active and less fussy to feed. The area of shallow reef near the Royal Motor Yacht Club has some large bream which seem to be active on the rising tide. A heap of fine, oily berley is needed to get them on the chew.
The offshore fishing is also starting to pick up around the deeper reefs. There are still more leatherjackets than you can poke a stick at but other fish are being caught when you can keep your hooks and sinkers on.
There are still a few snapper about as well as the odd morwong, jewfish, nannygai and flathead on the 50m contour over sand.
The jigging charters are still showing good numbers of kingfish but the size is dropping. Most are around 75cm but smaller fish are now showing up.
The warmer water will soon bring mahi mahi, marlin and the odd big tuna – I can’t wait.
We will take clients out to the FADs in coming months to target mahi mahi. These fast and furious charters are among the highlights of the year and should be experienced. Mahi mahi can be easy to target, a challenge to catch and are wonderful on the plate.
• Peter Le Blang operates Harbour & Estuary Fishing Charters out of Pittwater, phone 0410 633 351 or visit www.estuaryfishingcharters.com.au.Reads: 760