Cooler water has arrived
  |  First Published: August 2013

With the cooler water bumping our part of the coastline, the changeover of species has begun.

Early mornings along Broken Bay are seeing schools of tailor hitting the surface, and salmon have finally started to show. The schools aren’t huge but it seems that each day another school of predators shows up. Most of the action seems to be north of Lion Island and the schools aren’t hard to spot, just look for the working birds and 20 other boats.

Metal lures from 5-25g have been working for the hungry tailor, and small soft plastics seem to work well on the salmon when you can get close enough. If you are willing to drop over a bait and let it sink to the bottom, you may pick up a trevally. A small number of kingfish are lurking in the same areas and, although no monsters have been landed, they are down there for that lucky angler to catch.

Along Pittwater the fishing has slowed a little on some species, but on others the action has picked up. The big winter Pittwater kingfish have arrived so don’t put your rods away yet. We are seeing kingfish around the metre mark each charter but finding them hungry is a bit of a task. This year they seem to be focussed on small live cuttlefish more than ever. These little cuttlefish are found around the rocky fringes of Pittwater, and will attack a squid jig if it is presented close enough. If you can collect one or two cuttlefish, a big kingfish shouldn’t be too far away.

Catching squid on Pittwater is pretty difficult at the moment. Most of the time we have found squid at Palm Beach weed beds, Careel Bay and The Basin but on most occasions we have found only large squid and not the smaller ones. I shouldn’t complain though, as these large southern calamari make a great meal and the big fresh squid heads are a superb bait.

Other areas to gather squid are around Barrenjoey Headland and at West Head. Again, most of the squid are large but we have been getting a couple of smaller ones suitable for a downrigger bait. The size of the jig is unimportant with all of the large squid, but colour-wise the greens and blues seem to be working the best.

The areas to hit the kingfish are at the Palm Beach drop-off on the incoming tide and along the eastern side of Pittwater on the outgoing tide. Be wary and check your baits often, because along ‘The Highway’ there have been many leatherjackets and other pickers that like to strip hard-earned live baits in the blink of an eye.

For the luderick anglers, there have been great catches coming off the wharves along Pittwater. Palm Beach, Careel Bay, Bayview and Church Point wharves have all seen some decent fish caught. The blackfish seem to prefer local weed but it has been a little scarce due to all the fresh.

Trevally have been around in decent numbers this year, and can be caught in Pittwater and Broken Bay. On Pittwater the areas to try are at Towlers Bay, Palm Beach drop-off and on the Clareville side of Taylors Point. The better way to attract and catch them has been to anchor up, burley and send out unweighted peeled prawn pieces. On light tackle this is a great way to have some fun, and kids love to catch them and anything else that shows up the burley trail. Flint and Steel or Middle Grounds have been the areas to find them when out on Broken Bay. Both these areas suffer from a fair bit of current so the last hour and first hour of a tide change are the better times to try.

Cowan Creek has once again been blessed with some hairtail. The areas to try are vast, but if you scout out an area and find balls of baitfish along a drop-off, give it a go. The usual areas of Jerusalem Bay, Smiths Creek, Waratah Bay, and Illawong Bay are just a few areas that these fish haunt. Baits to try are yellowtail, pilchards and pilchard strips. I find that if you float the bait out so it slowly sinks, this will give you your best chance. Make sure that you do have a few rods set out around the boat at different depths so you can find where in the water column they are feeding. Once you’ve found a feeding depth, you can then fish all of your lines at that depth.

The great thing about hairtail fishing is that not only can you catch hairtail, but quite often jewfish as well. The downside about fishing Cowan Creek is the bitterly cold nights and the fog that rolls in after dark. Please, if you are going to fish these waters make sure you have a plotter and go slowly back to the ramp. Each year there are near misses during hairtail season and it’s only a matter of time before a tragedy will occur, so please be safe and travel slowly.

Along our coast, leatherjackets are once again dominating most reefs. It is a real shame when you hook a decent fish only to have it eaten on the way up, or snipped off. It is frustrating, but with a bit of luck and a lot of sinkers you can still catch some decent fish.

On the reefs less than 50m we are finding snapper, morwong, trevally and the odd lost flathead. Snapper season has started, and for those anglers who are willing to start early and set out a burley trail, the rewards will come. It has been important not to burley too hard though, as too much burley can attract leatherjackets. Once they’ve arrived, those critters won’t leave until you do.

The better baits to try are fresh squid or cuttlefish, fresh stripped yellowtail or your humble pillie. If you are after snapper you could also try a soft plastic or an octopus imitation jig such as a Lucanus. On more than one occasion I have seen snapper come over the side with soft plastics and jigs, ignoring the presented fresh baits. Fishing with soft plastics and octopus jigs is very rewarding and worth considering if you are finding it tough to get a fish on a bait.

I hope this report sees you rugging up, grabbing the kids and heading out to enjoy our wonderful part of the coast.

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