Dirty-water tactics succeed
  |  First Published: May 2013

The past month has turned up all sorts of bad weather with big seas and persistent dirty water but the fishing hasn’t suffered as much as it could have.

Along our coast we have still seen kingfish, big bonito and even a rainbow runner.

We have been scoring most of our fish inshore from Newport Reef down to Dee Why. The areas change from day to day, depending on where the clearer water is.

The murky green water still has fish but the visibility is poor and the fish have to be slapped in their face with your baits before they find them.

For this reason I have splashed Glow Bait on our live and dead baits and it is making a difference when I’ve had no other option than to fish the dirtier water.

The other tactic that has worked is to use lure that have rattles and, preferably, a thumping action that sends vibrations into the surrounding water.

Brighter colours also work well in the dirty water. I like to use a lure with a splash of fluoro-green whenever I am searching for kingfish.

The better areas recently have been around Mona Vale, Newport Reef, Long Reef and the wrecks off Narrabeen.

The kingfish have been fussy one day but hungry the next, so an early start is usually required to gather a variety of baits before heading to your chosen area. Don’t forget to take some pilchards and frozen squid because if you do find them hungry, they’ll eat just about anything, especially if it is white.

I have noticed over the years when catching kingfish with live squid that the fish quite often expel the squid or parts of it during the fight. It is amazing to see how quickly the live squid turns white after death and how often one of the fish’s mates is there to swallow it.

During this section of the fight, it’s wise to send in another offering and thawed frozen squid or strips fit the bill. Drifting bait down on an unweighted line is a very easy way of hooking up another fish and this also saves your live squid for when the kings go off the bite.


Reef fishing at the moment is patchy but with the warm water you can usually obtain a feed.

Some days are slower than others but you’ll usually encounter snapper, trevally, flathead, nannygai and bonito. The better baits are fillets of oily fish like bonito, slimies, pilchards or striped tuna, but squid is also working.

If you have a few prawns take the bigger ones with you as the mowies seem quite partial to them.

There have been some green toadies lurking over the sand in 47m so be careful to test an area with only one or two lines to save tackle.

And if you run a slimy mackerel under a balloon, there you might even still hook a baby black marlin.


Fishing along Pittwater over the past few weeks has been a non-event unless you want to catch bream. Since the last release of water from Warragamba Dam the kingfish have been missing in action.

Avid Pittwater king chasers have struggled in recent weeks but with clear skies and not much more rain, we should see the fish back in Pittwater as the fresh disperses.

The best news after the rain is that the jewfish have come on the chew.

The Hawkesbury is a difficult place to fish when fresh water is billowing out to sea because it causes a 24-hour run-out tide on the surface. Sometimes this run of fresh water is only 30cm deep but at other times it can be as much 2m.

When fishing the incoming tide you will find it difficult to stay anchored and, equally as annoying, lines cast well out the back of the boat usually end up plaited around your anchor rope.

In these conditions, try anchors off the bow and the stern but be careful if you do this across a strong current or tidal run, it can make the boat unstable.

The jewfish seem to be all over the river at the moment with fish of 45cm-85cm pouncing on Hawkesbury River prawns, especially around the road and rail bridges, The Vines, Bar Point, Elanoras Bluff, the Middle Ground and Flint and Steel, to name a few.

Bigger jewfish are also being caught and when the fresh clears mullet and yellowtail will score a few big ones. If the water stays murky, the oily baits with some fine berley fished around the tide changes will give you your best chance.

Be careful when travelling because as there are quite a few objects floating along the river.

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