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Diamonds and dross
  |  First Published: February 2011



There have been some pretty average days to be out on the water lately but hopefully the coming month will be kinder to us all.

The water quality along our coast has been pretty ordinary, with flood runoff and green, lifeless water in close. But this water is in patches and by the time you read this, all should be back to normal.

However, there have been days that have been absolutely perfect between Broken Bay and Long Reef, with smooth seas, nil swell, zero wind and baitfish all on the surface as far as the eye can see.

These are the days when anyone can catch a pelagic fish with lures or bait and everyone is hoping they become more frequent in the weeks ahead.

The kingfish are in the cleaner water along the coast with hot bites experienced at the Hole in the Wall at Whale Beach, Newport Reef and all the way through to Sydney Heads.

A lot of kingfish have been caught on lures this year. The bonito are so thick in some areas that you can’t get a live yellowtail down to the kings because the bonnies are devouring them first.

The smarter anglers are starting to use the smaller bonito as live bait on downriggers.

Some very big kings have been encountered but as yet I haven’t heard of too many being landed.

The deeper areas are holding a lot of the bigger fish but there are still some big ones in close under the smaller kingfish.

BONITO GALORE

The bonnies are everywhere from Broken Bay to Botany Bay.

These fish are easily targeted by casting small metal lures to the boiling mass or you can simply troll your favourite small minnow around the school of deeper feeding fish.

Bonito are great for the table providing you bleed them on capture, preferably in a kill tank. A good flow of water will aid in releasing the blood from the flesh.

Another hint is to cut a small slot along the side at the tail, which will release a lot of blood from the lateral areas.

After the fish has been bled it is important to remove the gills and gut before wrapping it in a plastic bag to be placed in ice.

If you are lucky enough to have a chiller box, a good ice slurry will keep the fish in great condition and you won’t have to gut and gill before placing the fish in the slurry. You must still bleed the fish properly, though.

Catching a few of bonnies at the start of the day usually takes the pressure off and you can pursue bigger fish for fun instead of a feed.

Snapper and other reef fish are coming from anywhere from 30m through to 80m depths, depending on the day.

One day we will catch snapper from the first drop at 30m, yet the very next day we won’t find fish until the 60m mark.

The tops of the reefs seem to have smaller fish than those that are hanging around the edges, sometimes 50m away.

Soft plastics are a great way to catch snapper but I am still of the old school: When I go out I use fresh bait and as little weight as possible.

PITTWATER

Pittwater and Broken Bay are starting to fire up again.

There are still tailor throughout the Broken Bay-Pittwater area as well as bonito, kingfish, flathead, bream and the odd jewfish.

The kingfish can be better targeted first thing around Barrenjoey Headland and West Head.

Most of them are small but every now and then a bigger model smashes the bait.

Best baits in Broken Bay are slimy mackerel or yellowtail but dead squid are still picking up the odd fish.

It’s funny how just around the corner from Barrenjoey Head, in Pittwater, the kings’ preferences change so dramatically.

These spoilt fish request live squid please, and on 99% of our charters a live slimy mackerel or yellowtail will go untouched.

Luckily, most days squid and yellowtail or slimies can be caught at West Head. The squid are attacking most jigs in natural colours and as long as you try a slow, twitching retrieve you shouldn’t have trouble finding a cephalopod or two.

Most of the Pittwater kingfish action seems to be taking place along the various points.

Over the past month there has been no pattern to a bite so you have to cover ground to find the fish and hover around those spots that have a decent amount of baitfish.

There has been frequent surface activity, mostly from tailor and the odd bonito. These fish are getting a little shy now so a stealthy approach from upwind will help.

FLATHEAD, BREAM

The flathead in Pittwater can be caught at The Hill, the Mackerel Beach drop-off, the entrance to Pittwater and, a great area to target big flathead with soft plastics, up among the moorings at Bayview.

I find paddletail plastics very effective because the angler doesn’t need to apply too much rod action to catch fish.

Target the deeper holes in front of the sand banks on the last of the run-out tide. A lot of the time big flathead will lie in the sand waiting to attack a careless fish that strays too close.

Bream are back in the shallower water along Pittwater and the moorings towards the Royal Motor Yacht Club have quite a few big specimens.

Better baits have been fresh bonito strips and live nippers. Be prepared to lose a lot of nippers to baby snapper and other pickers.

• Peter Le Blang operates Harbour and Estuary Fishing Charters, phone 02 9999 2574 or 0410 633 351, visit www.estuaryfishingcharters.com.au.

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