The seal of approval
  |  First Published: October 2012

At last we have seen a change in the weather patterns and finally have a decent chance at getting out to catch a fish or two.

The fishing along Pittwater has been very patchy, mainly due to a seal that has been enjoying our waterway. He has been popping up all over the place and surprising relaxed anglers when they least expect it.

Over the next couple of weeks we hope he moves on and the river can get back to normal.

The better fishing lately has been around Sand Point and Careel Bay for the pelagic species. The fish in the area seem to be mainly tailor but I have seen a few kingfish cruising over the weed beds.

Squid are a bit tricky inside Pittwater but around West Head and Barrenjoey they seem a bit easier to track down. Find a patch of baitfish close to the bottom and then send down your squid jigs.

The better colours at the moment seem to be the more natural ones but don’t discount jigs with orange or pink on them.


Those are after those elusive hairtail may want to get out on Cowan Creek before the water temperatures start to rise and the fish leave again.

We have been finding them along Coal and Candle Creek and Smiths Creek but it won’t be long until they’re back in Jerusalem Bay before heading out to sea again.

The hairtail rig that I have been using is simple: a single hook tied onto some knittable wire which this is tied to a swivel connected to your braid.

When the current picks, up just attach a small sinker so the bait still flutters to the bottom. A glow stick is a great idea on a few lines but keep a line or two with none to see what the fish prefer. The best bait has been a pilchard fillet just dangling off a single 5/0 hook.

The hairtail have been fussy feeders lately and those who haven’t fished for them before may struggle to feel the bite. A recent charter with the guys from Burwood RSL Fishing Club is a great example.

We headed up the Cowan Creek system and our first stop was Jerusalem Bay. We anchored, berleyed up and a few hairtail started to show on the sounder. With baits deployed, the wait begun.

After 15 minutes the first bait was solidly hit but unfortunately Paul missed the chance. To our dismay, the fish decided to go into tricky mode and only strip the sides off full pilchards, yet wouldn’t touch a live yellowtail or pilchard strip.

When hairtail get like this it can be extremely hard to know if you are getting a bite of not. I have noticed, especially this year, that when the hairtail feed they swim towards the surface, creating slack line. If you can notice this subtle angle change with your line you should start to wind very slowly so you can just feel a light, dull weight.

The fish should then turn and start to swallow the offering and move off. Drop your rod tip and point it at the fish, allowing it to run for about three seconds with no drag pressure and then hook the fish.

This is really hard to do as your first instinct is to hook the fish as soon as you feel a bite but if you can master this when they are tricky, you will catch them a lot more of your outings.

The guys ended the charter with two hairtail but they began to realise how many they had missed. The good news is that they are keen to use their new-found knowledge to catch a few on their own vessels in coming days.


Fishing along our coast has been patchy in the colder water but brilliant in the warmer stuff. It is definitely worth looking at the water charts before heading out.

Big morwong are about, as well as decent snapper, kingfish, trevally, nannygai and marbled flathead. The mowies are the biggest surprise, with a lot of them 55cm-60cm – which are quite a fight in 40m of water.

The snapper are also about in the same area and there have been quite a few that have taken fresh squid strips and heads.

The better areas for us have been Boultons Reef, Reggies, Newport Reef and the Foul Grounds. Check the water temp charts before going out to get an idea of where the warmer water is.

The blue-spot flathead are also starting to gather along the 50m contour. When these flatties hit the deck, the array of different fish that spew out of their mouths is amazing. Sand eels, small leatherjackets and a variety of mangled crushed creatures all end up on the floor.

This feeding only seems to last for a month at best so go out there and get a great feed of flatties.

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