Pelagics in full swing
  |  First Published: December 2012

The Summer run of pelagics will be in full swing this month, with some of our northern speedsters and tropical sport fish a real proposition for those trolling and live-baiting off the close reefs and headlands.

Small marlin, cobia and spotted mackerel are the most common but there is always the odd report of small GTs, tarpon, mangrove jacks and spangled emperor just to keep things interesting.

But the most common species encountered will be the mighty yellowtail kingfish. Downrigging, flatline trolling and drifting with bait will yield results. After locating a likely-looking stack of fish on the sounder, you could also try casting, jigging and ripping soft plastics and metal slices through the water column.

Kings fight hard and dirty so make sure all of your gear is up to scratch.

This is especially crucial for your terminal tackle. Hooks, swivels, crimps and traces/leaders need to be the best you can afford and knots need to be thoroughly tested.

I’m hopeful of a repeat of last January, when a stack of kings and cobia called Barrenjoey Headland home for a few days.

You had to be there on ‘the’ day, however, as they just disappeared overnight following the good water down the coast. If it remains dry they might just stick around a bit longer this time around…

Bonito showed up in early December, harassing every bait school they came across. They make for some great light-tackle fun, are quite good eating and exceptional bait for all manner of species.

Trolling a spread of diving minnows, small skirts and metal slices is most effective if no schools can be seen smashing into the bait on the surface.

Tailor and salmon have been mixed in with the bonito so it can be a real lucky dip which species will come to the boat next.


Back in the river proper, the flats have really started to fire.

Water temps are at their peak this month and so is the activity in the shallows.

Whiting, bream and flathead will all feature in bags when the correct techniques are used. Soft plastics, hardbodies, vibes and surface lures all have their places on the flats; it’s just a matter of seeing what the fish will respond to on the day.

Some of the better flats include Palm Beach inside Pittwater, Bobbin Head and Jerusalem Bay in Cowan, Calabash Bay and the Cross lands above Berowra Ferry.

Early and late in the day are prime times but the bite can continue if the day stays heavily overcast or windy, giving the fish added security.

Jewfish have still been quite spread throughout the system but the better quality fish are in the lower reaches around Broken Bay. The fish farther up river are in good numbers but anglers are struggling to find a decent one above 60cm.

Flathead are sitting on the sand bars and drop-offs from the Windsock to Windsor. It will pay to move from bar to bar to find where the concentrations of fish are; they move with the school prawns.

Some of my charters have yielded 40-plus flatties, with a fish a cast possible at times. They are not huge, 36cm-55cm, but make up for it by being super-competitive and they are the best size to take home for a feed.


Bass fishing has been a bit tough up the Nepean above Penrith Weir due to low flows from a very dry season. The bulk of the fish didn’t make it past the first major rapid at Yarramundi and I suspect quite a few actually came back into the tidal water to feed on the abundant school prawns.

There are still fish up there to be caught, so don’t completely write it off.

Estuary perch are generally pretty quiet at this time of year but I suspect this is due to them hanging in the sections where the most ski boat activity occurs – Windsor to Wisemans Ferry.

You will find them schooled in the back eddies along rock walls and weed beds. Soft plastics are the top lures for searching for these awesome little predators, make sure you are making regular contact with the bottom and wait for that telltale tap, then strike briskly.

If you’re looking at taking the kids out for a quick fish, there are many parks and reserves with access to the water where you can get a berley trail of bread going and get stuck into some mullet, carp and herring.

Keep it light and simple and the results should come.

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