Adapt to the dirty water
  |  First Published: March 2012

As I sit typing rain is pouring down and the long-range forecasts up and down the eastern seaboard as far as May don’t seem much better.

Is that going to stop me fishing? Not on your Nelly.

I have found that after a lot of rain I have to change my techniques, rigs, how I berley and what types of baits and lures I use.

During March in Botany Bay and lower Port Hacking you should encounter bream, tailor, salmon, kingfish, flathead, whiting and jewfish. Further upstream in the Georges River you will mainly find flathead, bream, mulloway and luderick.

Silver trevally tend to prefer to feed more actively in the cleaner waters of the Bay. Many of the spots where I target trevally in Botany Bay fish well on the run-out tide but this is not to say that they don’t work on the run up.

It’s all about finding the cleaner water. To stay with this water I usually anchor three to four times and move my position during the run-out.

If there has been a lot of rain and the water is very discoloured I need to chase the cleaner water. This often means I have to move up to seven times, just to stay with the cleaner water.

So on the start of the run-out tide I might start near the drop-off at Towra Point, then move to The Sticks, the deep water at the Drums, then Trevally Alley, Bare Island and then finish off at Henry Head.

When chasing trevally I use a small ball sinker running all the way down to the bait, or I run a No 2 to No 4 sinker down to a swivel with a 1m to 2m fluorocarbon or mono leader.

Bream and flathead don’t mind a bit of colour in the water but they need a change of bait. I love using peeled Hawkesbury river prawns but when there is a fair amount of fresh in the water they go soft and turn pale, losing their natural texture, smell and looks.

This is the time I don’t peel my prawns. I leave them whole and do a couple of half hitches of line or trace around the tail to help keep them on the hook.

Other good baits in dirty include chicken and mullet gut that has been soaked in a small amount of tuna oil, chicken strips marinated in parmesan cheese and strips of fresh tuna and mullet.

When I am chasing bream and flathead with hard or soft lures in discoloured water I usually slow down the retrieve speed and I always apply a scent.

Try to work it the same as you would when using bait; I have sometimes cast a blade and just let it sit on the bottom, only to have a fish pick it up and swim off with it.


Whenever I am baiting from the shore or from a boat I always berley with whole chicken or dog pellets, mashed white bread or pilchard cubes.

But in dirty water I put a small amount of water into a bucket, drop in the chicken pellets and white bread and let them soak for a while. I then add mashed pilchards and mix this all together. I then form the mix into a ball somewhere between a tennis ball and a golf ball.

You need to get the mix to the right consistency where it doesn’t ooze through your fingers and doesn’t break up. Then just throw out a couple of balls every five minutes.

So the next time the weather is getting you down, get out there and change your techniques, rigs and baits for better results.

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