Winter is well and truly here and so is the start of the no-take season for bass and estuary perch.
This means that on capture both species must be returned to the water immediately without harm.
It’s common to capture these two species well down-river, as far as Juno Point, where bream fishos regularly get surprised each year with trophy-sized perch.
They are quite fond of structure and can be encountered around the many rock walls, boat hulls, bridge pylons, jetties and pontoons where anglers target bream on hard and especially soft lures.
Foggy mornings are part and parcel of this time of year and anglers venturing out around dawn should take caution when navigating. Be aware of any boat wash you may encounter and keep an ear out for sound signals from other vessels.
A GPS with a track recorded in good clear conditions can be a real saviour in this situation but it doesn’t take away your responsibility to keep a proper lookout at the same time.
Winter species such as john dory and the mysterious hairtail will start to filter into the systems this month.
John dory love deep, clear water, good bait supplies and structure and for this reason Pittwater is their preferred locale. With its daunting amount of moorings one can only wonder where to start.
Any water around 10m deep with boat moorings, public moorings such as at the Basin, or illuminated jetties after dark are all worth a shot.
The critical element is that bait must be live. Small yellowtail are a favourite, suspended a metre or two off the bottom with a single fine gauge hook through the back.
Dory aren’t dirty fighters and they won’t take large amounts of line once hooked, but they make a great feed and are worth the effort.
Cowan Creek has long been known as the home of the hairtail, but unfortunately every time I have come knocking no one was home!
I have spent many a long Winter’s night over the past few years in Cowan, with dew forming on the eyelashes, for a few half-hearted takes and some could-have-been stories.
But don’t let this put you off because there are still many hairtail caught each season. Jerusalem Bay, Waratah Bay, Coal and Candle Creek and Smiths Creek are names that regularly pop up when anglers recount their hairtail captures.
There are numerous ways to target these fish and the most popular is to berley and fish live bait and strips of fish flesh suspended at different levels of the water column. Floats, glow sticks, ganged hooks and wire traces are all part of the hairtail battle kit and don’t forget a great deal of patience and a hot cuppa!
Bream have been in good numbers around Broken Bay, staging before they make their way north on their spawning run.
The abundant rock walls and washy headlands all have hungry bream wanting an easy meal and they will eat most soft and hard lures worked past their noses. Remember to slow down your retrieves and fish as light as the conditions will allow.
If you’re venturing beyond Juno Point don’t forget to keep your eyes peeled for any surface activity.
Salmon and tailor become more prolific as the water cools and can be located by birds diving and feeding on the bait being pushed up by the predatory fish below.
Light bream tackle offers the best approach because the pelagics can be quite fussy with the size of the bait present. A light 4lb outfit is a great way to cast the necessarily small soft plastics and metal slices far enough to get a bite.
The jewfish have showed up in good numbers and are feeding on the prevalent bait as it moves down the system.
Live bait can be a little tougher to acquire as the water temps drop but poddy mullet and yakkas will be reliable. Squid should also be available around West Head and into Pittwater.
Lure fishing for jewies will hit its straps as the bait starts to get scarce. Sounding out major reef complexes and drop-offs is all part of finding jewies, as well as being prepared to put in the hours casting and chasing tides up and down the river to get the vital slack water period at as many spots as possible.
Anglers should take a few witches’ hat traps if they’re heading down to Brooklyn because there have been a few blue swimmer crabs lurking about and they can be a great consolation prize if the fish aren’t on the chew.
• To experience the excellent sport fishing Sydney has to offer book a day on the water with Sydney Sportfishing Adventures. Contact Dan Selby on 0405 196 253 or email --e-mail address hidden--Reads: 2006