If you are looking at going out on Pittwater then I don’t think that you could find a better month.
We normally get clear, warm water at this time of year and this clear water can really test your techniques. The fish are wary and it can be a challenge to track down easily-spooked fish.
Some people’s answer is to throw flies and use electric motors for a stealthy approach but we take a different approach and it works every year on our usual quarry of kingfish on downriggers.
We make heaps of noise! I will have the radio volume up and teasers out to make as much splash as I can. When conditions allow I have the wash-down hose spraying into the air to make splashes 4m away from the boat. The boat noise and the disturbance that the downriggers make combined to actually rouse the kingies’ attention. Kingfish are very curious creatures that will investigate strange noises, flashes and splashes.
A prime example of this happened last January. A mate who drives a barge on Pittwater had to knock off all the marine growth and some rust before painting the vessel. He pulled into a shallow bay out of earshot of any residences and started to use a rattle gun. This gun has a large nozzle and out of this nozzle pokes big, tough metal rods which smash the rust. You can imagine how very noisy it is.
After an hour using the gun a deckhand noticed a splash at the back of the boat and on investigation they saw a school of big kingfish just sitting there looking at the barge, obviously intrigued with the noise. This lasted for the two days the crew worked on the boat.
On another occasion we were travelling Pittwater when I spotted some of the local guys driving in poles for a new wharf. As we approached the noisiest area, both trolled squid were smashed by kingfish. We stopped and started casting poppers and soft plastics and nearly every cast had a follow or hit – as long as we cast towards the poles that were being driven in.
The guys were installing the wharf were friends so they put up with me casting in the area. If you are going to try your luck in the same scenario, please ask them whether they would mind. If they say no then they may have a diver in the water or have long anchors in a few directions. You should consider their safety and respect their decision.
My point here is that kingfish love to investigate noise and disturbance. If your downrigger hums and you can put up with it, then leave it – it will attract a kingie’s attention at some stage of the day.
The kingies are doing the same as over the past few years and are following bait schools. Places to start to troll are Soldiers Point, Longnose Point, West Head and Barrenjoey Head, all of which have had a fish show up at one time or another during the day. If you have only a short period to track them down, watch for the working birds.
Yellowtail is the bait to use at West Head and Barrenjoey Head with squid more popular inside the river.
Places to try for squid are the same areas where the kingfish are being caught. If you can’t raise a squid, try a yellowtail as the odd fish has been caught on one.
This is also the time when big soft plastics catch a lot of fish among the moorings at Palm Beach. White soft plastics seem to work best and I have found the new Anaconda Wave Worm to work a treat.
These 9” plastics need only to be cast and retrieved. No extra action needs to be applied by the angler so they are brilliant for children or beginners right through to serious anglers. The large white tail has attracted the attention of a heap of kingfish for us over the past month and I can’t recommend them highly enough.
Remember that you still will need to bring out other soft plastics but when things turn tough, you can trust one of these to turn things around. They also catch jewfish, snapper and most pelagic fish. (Wave Worm does not sponsor me!)
For those who would just like to dangle a line and catch a bream or flathead, you are in luck. Bream are eating prawns and whitebait in the upper reaches of McCarrs Creek and near the moorings at Bayview and at Newport. Small red bream are a pest at times. There are also some lovely bream to 38cm being caught at West Head at night.
Flathead are on the banks – if you can find a patch of sand. There is a heck of a lot of Caulerpa weed in the river so drift-fishing can be a real issue. The best method has been to cast soft plastics along the weed edges and check your lure for weed before recasting.
If you like drift fishing I suggest you try between West Head and Barrenjoey Head or even from Lion Island to Box Head. Fish baits are more popular with the flatties in these areas.
This month there will be some great fishing and if you want to learn of all the new areas to fish, book one of our guided fishing charters. Watch fish eating live squid on our camera system and if you have a video camera, ask us to tape the action for you. January bookings are filling quickly so book now.
• Peter Le Blang operates Harbour & Estuary Fishing Charters out of Pittwater, phone 02 9999 2574 or visit www.estuaryfishingcharters.com.au.
Anaconda lures work on jewfish as well as kingfish. Photo by Dylan Skinns.Reads: 1175