Bigger trevally coming
  |  First Published: August 2001

August usually means westerly winds and very clear water – unless we get more rain.

Trevally to about 35cm have been most prevalent in anglers’ bags in Botany Bay and Port Hacking. Many have been under the NSW size limit of 30cmbut this month bigger specimens should become more frequent.

Trevally are great little fighters that on the right gear will turn most anglers and their rods inside out.

They are also great on the plate, as long as you bleed them straight away, keep them cool and fillet and skin them. They also benefit from being cooked slowly and they are also great eaten raw with a few dipping sauces.

Trevally respond very well to a small but consistent berley trail of chicken pellets, bread, chopped prawn shells and even mashed pilchards.

I have found the best baits are pink nippers, peeled prawns and pilchard tails.

Best rigs are a small ball sinker running straight down to the hook or to a swivel and then a leader of 1m to 1.5m.

In Port Hacking try the drop-off at the Lilli Pilli sand flats, the entrance to Yowie Bay, the Ballast Heap and the flats at the entrance to Gunnamatta Bay.

The southern side of Botany Bay near the ‘goal post’, the oil wharf, Sutherland Point, the Drums and Towra Point are always worth a shot during August.

On the northern side of the bay there’s Trevally Alley, the end of the Third Runway and Henry Head.


Another great Winter target is the leatherjacket. These are found in a wide variety of habitats from deep offshore reefs to inshore bays, rocky foreshores, harbours, rivers, creeks and estuaries.

Jackets prefer areas with plenty of cover in the form of rocks, weed, kelp, wharf and bridge pilings, wrecks, cockle and mussel beds, boulders and breakwalls.

They are slow-swimming creatures that rely on camouflage and concealment to forage out their next meal.

You will also find leatherjackets hanging around broken sand, gravel and rocks with plenty of caves and overhangs. They don’t like fast current, preferring to shelter behind some sort of structure.

Leatherjackets have very small mouths surrounded by soft tissue that hides very hard teeth. This is why I use No 8 to No 12 long-shank hooks so that they can inhale the small piece of bait and the hook point and barb at the same time.

Jackets are mostly timid feeders and it will take all of an angler’s feel and skill to detect the bite and hook the fish.

You need a rod that with a fair amount of power in the butt and a medium to fast taper to allow you to keep the tension on the line at all times during the fight. Any slackness in the line will usually result in the leatherjacket releasing its grip of the hook and swimming away.

Light threadline reels spooled with 2kg to 4kg fluorocarbon and a single or double paternoster rig is the ideal outfit to catch estuary leatherjackets.

The bait need cover only the bend of the hook; don’t bother running it up the shank.

Keep the length of the rig about half the length of the rod and each hook snood no more than 12cm from the main line. Having it short will allow you to feel and/or see the bites much more easily.

When the sinker has hit bottom I wind up the slack and allow the sinker (now just off the bottom) to put a slight curve in the rod tip. It is then just a matter of waiting for the leatherjacket to bite and then striking upwards to hook the fish.

When you feel the weight of the leatherjacket you will need to keep the rod tip up, lowering it only when the leatherjacket tries to swim off.

If you have any questions, email me.

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