Pigs are there, hot or cold
  |  First Published: December 2011

January is a special time of the year for Sydney rock fishos. Exotic species like spangled emperor, samson fish and, some years, spotted mackerel become a reality for us.

That hot water is normally established from now until May.

On the flip side, January has also produced the coldest water. You may remember a few years back when the water temp was a frigid 13° and accompanied by sweltering hot days.

I remember saying to clients that the real danger of falling into the water was hyperthermia! Weird, eh? Well, it happens every few years in January.

For those anglers that don’t suffer from king, jewfish or snapper fever at this time of the year, the rock blackfish or pig is available. It seems like nothing else is worth pursuing, according to some.

Dave Penman and Andrew Morgan have been catching some ‘medicine ball’ pigs up to 4.5kg around North Head.

Kevin Nguyen, Phung Quoc Tran and How Loeung were on a guided trip a while back and caught a nice bag of pigs. They then pursued them independently and caught fish from 2kg to 4kg-plus.

Kevin says the power of a big pig is something he will never forget. They were caught from the Little Bluey area, the ledges between Shelly Headland and Bluefish Point. They used peeled endeavour prawns and bread burley was a must.

Some nice kings are about. Put in the effort with live bait, Slap Stick stickbaits, poppers and big metals.

Off the rocks, the freshest squid bait is probably the best option but big sweep, jackets, assorted wrasses and big bream will make short work of your precious squid. That’s the reality of some of the deep-water rock spots.

It’s important to have enough squid for the outing and the best place to catch them is from a safe location, like somewhere in the Harbour. Squid fishing in the dark off the ocean rocks is really only for the experienced.


Rob Marich had a great outing recently, catching three kings from 70cm to 81cm. Carrying down the live yakkas was a little difficult, especially on that 30°-plus day, but it was worth it. Rob generously parted with one of his kings, which I and several other people devoured with relish. Such a great table fish, raw and cooked.

Fishing the foamy suds at North Whale headland produced a nice bag for Peter Frier, with several snapper to 1.5kg, bream to nearly a kilo, bonito to a kilo and Salmon to 1.5kg.

The salmon have generally been small lately, with the occasional larger fish. I have been spinning up some bonito to 3.3kg from the same headland on Snipers and Knights from 45g to 65g. The blue or green reflective strips on the lures seemed to have no bearing on their success that day.

On our ocean beaches the run of whiting continues, with some nice salmon to boot.

South Australian father-and-son team Sam and Hamish had a ball on whiting to 33cm – not as large as the King George whiting they were more familiar with, but still a barrel of laughs.

The highlight of the day was when Hamish locked into a 2.5kg salmon that picked up the beach worm bait and high-tailed out on a blistering first run that had Hamish gobsmacked.

After nearly 10 minutes and some tense moments in the shore break, he had a crowd of onlookers cheering him on for his fine effort. The salmon was released after some quick pics.

It’s great to be there when a young angler catches his largest fish.

Dee Why Beach in front of the surf club was the spot although remember that whiting do move around, so be mobile.

Some nice flathead to nearly 60cm are in the by-catch for the whiting anglers. To target these fish, spinning with whitebait on a gang of two Mustad 7766D hooks works a treat.

Jewie anglers are experiencing plenty of by-catch in the form of big tailor, salmon and shark.

There are some jewies there but, as usual, you’ll need to put in the effort on consecutive outings. Best baits are live yellowtail, mullet and chopper tailor, the same butterflied or in strips and, of course, fresh squid.


Tony Davis and John Poole at Matraville Bait and Tackle like January as much as I do.

At the entrance to Botany Bay’s Cape Banks is a spot is called Shaky. It’s suitable for only the very experienced but distance casting has been producing some nice snapper.

Another great spot is Jolong, which is generally a low tide spot and only for the experienced. It’s also a good spot for a king.

The Trap at Little Bay has had numbers of bonito and kings but bear in mind that being pelagic species, this can be a day-to-day proposition.

At the south side of The Trap is the northern side of the local golf course, a producer of bream and big luderick. Burley a lot and use Hawkesbury prawns and bread baits. It’s also recommended to have a spin with sea gars there for a king.

Julians is firing for kings and bonito and there are also some big squid available, so up your jig size there.

At Donkeys, next to Julians, there are some big pigs and luderick, fish a cabbage/bread combo for best results.

On the southern tip of Little Bay, ‘Longy’ has luderick, bream and pelagics available for the spin and float angler.

Fish the wreck at the southern corner of Yellow Rock only in a northeast swell; it’s great for all-round action. Long casts have produced reds to a kilo, there are bream in the washes and Tony says that some of his customers have been getting annihilated by whopper kings.

Maroubra beach has plenty of salmon and whiting are in reasonable numbers. This beach also fishes well for flathead so take an extra spin outfit; try the ZMan 9” Grub on a paternoster, or ganged whitebait.

On Bronte beach there are some nice whiting and bream, with luderick in the rocky corners.

A sneaky spot to try is Little Bay beach. Fish the high tide to half-way out for a few stud whiting.



Unscrupulous anglers and people of particular cultures do not seem to care for the environment, particularly the stocks of crustaceans and fish stocks on Sydney rock platforms.

There are people decimating stocks of resident species, especially rock blackfish, groper, purple banded wrasse, silver drummer, low-fin drummer. These and semi-resident species like luderick, bream and snapper, and pelagics, especially kingfish, are being caught in numbers well bag limit and well bellow legal size.

There is also gross over-harvesting of cunjevoi, crabs, sea urchins, limpets and other marine creatures, and they are also being taken in restricted zones.

While this occurs on rocks mainly in the eastern and southern suburbs, it still happens to a lesser extent on the northern rocks and I see it for myself.

I understand that the Fisheries officers are few and far between but people like us plea for something to be done and time and time again, nothing is done.

When officers do turn up it’s several hours late or, more often, not at all.

It’s so obvious that there is nothing to deter unscrupulous or ignorant people from plundering our coastline.

Please put in a concerted effort to offer these persons some advice or better still, call the police before the infringers get back to the car park and let them deal with it. Something must be done! – AB

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