Tarwhine: silver enigmas
  |  First Published: October 2013

Tarwhine are pretty much a hit-and-miss species but for whatever reason, there seems to be a lot of them around at the moment.

They spawn in the river mouths in Winter, which would go some way to explaining it.

You can go a couple of seasons without ever seeing one in the lower Harbour and them all of a sudden you will pick up 20 of them the next season.

If you look at their distribution map, they seem to be quite scattered, so maybe they move with the favourable currents or food supply.

The most reliable place you will get one is off the coastal beaches and Big Al Bellissimo tells me that there are a lot there now.

So it seems that they like the sandy, clear coastal water and this is in line with the type of environment that we find them in the Harbour.

I’ve never caught one upstream, even in the flooded valley scenarios like Middle Harbour, where the salinity and clarity remain suitable.

They have been found as far north as Townsville, so they don’t mind warm water, but they have also been caught near Melbourne, so they can handle the cold, too.

They allegedly grow to 3kg but any we have ever caught have been much smaller than that, mostly 10cm-30cm.

Being primarily scavengers, they take a wide range of baits but we have always done well on small squid strips and peeled prawns fished right on the bottom. They love beach worms, as does pretty much every fish.

Best spots in the Harbour are the sandy areas over near North Harbour, including Reef Beach, Centurion wreck, Flagstaff and Dobroyd. The south side is good, too, at places like Watsons Bay, just inside South Head near the channel marker and Vaucluse Bay. Best depth seems to be around 30’.


The silver trevally have started to come on the bite and will continue right through Spring and early Summer.

We have been getting a few fishing salted slimy mackerel baits in the deep water around Dobroyd Head and North Harbour.

We’ve also been picking up a few on small soft plastic jigs aimed at flathead up around Rushcutters Bay.

It’s worth keeping an eye out for them in the blue water around North Head. If conditions are right, that being the krill comes in, you will find them in vast schools, often in the same area as salmon.

They take lures with glee when they are like this and even if you can’t actually see the trevs, it’s worth letting your lure sink through the salmon schools because they are often under them.

The salmon have been around in vast numbers lately. The spawners are at North Head but there are all the usual difficulties in catching them, like dolphins and seals giving them a caning and the age-old ‘match the hatch’ problems.

More unusual is the schools that have moved upstream above the Harbour Bridge and into lower Middle Harbour.

We had a great session just off Grotto Point when we got double hook-ups on every pass and lure size made no difference. The interesting thing was that when the salmon started feeding on the surface, they wouldn’t take anything.

We got them only when we couldn’t see them.


John dory have continued with a great season, one of the best in many years, and I even heard of a few being caught in the tranquil waters of Bantry Bay.

They love live bait, preferably something spiky so they can’t regurgitate it when they realise their mistake.

Half on the dory we catch are caught on the spines of the baitfish and not the hook. For this reason, it pays to play the fish lightly to avoid ripping the bait from its mouth.

By mid-October the kings could have started their move into the Harbour.

The season often starts with some big fish, so now is the time to get the tackle sorted out.

These early season fish often head straight upstream, for reasons unknown, although I think it’s got something to do with the cuttlefish that are abundant at this time of year.

Around The Spit and further up into Middle Harbour would be a good spot to start looking.

Reads: 1999

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