Waiting for warm water
  |  First Published: November 2013

If the huge influx of baitfish and early pelagic action is anything to go by, we are in for a big season.

Winter seemed to die very abruptly this year and we jumped straight into a very warm early Spring.

This has been a little disorienting for some anglers, raising expectations ahead of time. A quick check of water temps will restore reality.

Out wide there is an unusually warm current but it hasn’t quite touched the coast and water temps on the beaches, bays and rivers are still at their Spring norms.

No matter how quickly it warms up on land, fish operate on water temps.

The promising signs include lots of good-sized kings on the close offshore reefs and some headlands, acres of baitfish in the Harbour and an early intrusion of salmon and tailor.

We expect salmon at the Heads at this time of year but a lot of them have ventured well inside the Harbour and can be found anywhere from Garden Island to Goat Island.

There have been some good tailor working with them on the surface, something that we usually don’t expect until late October.

This month we should see the kingfish and bonito settle into the Harbour along with other pelagics.

The kings just seem to be getting bigger and better every year and it will be interesting to see what this season brings.

This is a good time to find smaller kings on the surface and stacked up around the channel markers.

They are usually pretty keen to take a lure, with unweighted stickbaits and flies the best choices.

A quick tour of the channel markers with half a dozen casts at each one will usually reveal whether they are on the chew.

If you find kings following your lures but not taking them, at least you have a good idea of where to go back to when you have caught some fresh squid bait.

The bigger kings will be in the deeper water. Good spots include Shark Island, Watsons Bay and Middle Harbour.

Bonito are boom-or-bust fish – they either show up in millions or not at all. The past few seasons have been boom years, which I hope will continue.

They are suckers for nearly any lure, from minnows trolled off the headlands to metal slugs cast at surface-feeding schools.

North Head, South Head and Dobroyd are good troll spots if you can’t see them on the surface elsewhere.

Washaway Beach can go absolutely nuts sometimes if the baitfish have been forced into the shallows. If you find bonito or any pelagic fish on the chew here, it is also well worth working the bottom with lures for flatties and flounder.

The pelagics force the bait into tight concentrations in the shallows, making them easy pickings for the flatfish.

When this occurs it can be mind-blowing fishing in there with pelagics on tap should you choose to keep winding and abundant flatfish if you let your lure sink to the bottom.


It’s time to get the squid jigs warmed up. There is no better bait, whether you are chasing jewfish or kings, and they are great on the plate as well.

Squid at this time of year will be relatively small and will be found in the shallower areas.

Best jig selection is a slow-sinking No 1 or No 1.5.

Moving slowly along the shore you can often spot large concentrations of small squid and sight-fish for them. This presents a good opportunity to test any theories you might have on the use of the various ‘egi’ type scents available for spicing up your jigs.

You can see the squid, so you know that they are there, an advantage not available when deep-water fishing.

Try starting off with no scent on your jig. When the bite slows down, douse your jigs in scent and see if it makes any difference.

Reverse the experiment on the next school by starting with a scented jig and then changing to an unscented one. You are in for some surprising results.

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