With the commercial trawlers locked out of Pittwater for the next few months, we all may have a better chance of tracking down kingfish.
NSW Fisheries has a rule in place for Pittwater that stops the trawlers from operating after January 1 for about six months. This easement is supposed to let the fishery recover, so cross your fingers and hope for the best.
Having said that, we have been lucky enough to track down a few decent fish on each charter. The usual method of using our Walker downrigger camera to find baitfish near structure and using live squid to entice a strike is still the most successful method.
Most of our fish have come from Jacks, Jill’s and Peter’s wrecks. These wrecks are in quite deep water of about 15m. It has been necessary to place the live baits at 13m with a short drop-back to ensure that the live squid cannot try to surface to get out of harm’s way.
On the camera downrigger we are using short drop-backs of only 2m and watching the action is really unbelievable. The first evidence of something coming up is when the squid darts around on its short leash all over the place. The next thing you know is the squid is shooting ink all over the place and then, out of the darkness comes the predator.
If the fish doesn’t strike then we change the bait from a live squid to a yellowtail. I have been putting on a couple of drops of Glowbait and it is amazing how quickly the strike happens. The fluoro yellowtail is really easy to see on the monitor as well.
Squid are somewhat tricky at the moment but with a little patience and a fair amount of travelling you should find a few lurking in the shallow weed beds. Places to try include around the mouth of the river, Barrenjoey Head, West Head, West Head Beach and Palm Beach ferry wharf area. Pink or orange jigs have worked well but with the real fussy blighters blue has been the colour.
I have found that the more expensive jigs with two rows of spikes are more successful. The expensive jigs require no tuning or weight adjustment because they sink horizontally and, with the odd twitch, really do look like an injured prawn.
If you can afford only a cheaper model then take the time to tune it, especially if you are going to use it in the shallows.
Some very decent fish have come aboard recently. On one trip we had the Kelly family on board and the day started as usual and the Kelly boys, Aaron and Ben, having a ball catching squid. With the bait-catching out of the way, we headed for some of our less-fished wrecks such as The Big One, The Little Tacker and Aisle 10. I have not shown these wrecks to my customers before this season but with areas becoming crowded, I have had to introduce more people to other wrecks.
On the second run past The Little Tacker we spotted a fine arch on our sounder and dropped the downriggers to the correct depth to produce the first hook-up of the morning. The Kelly brothers are only 12 years old but the way they fought these fish, you would have thought that they were a lot older.
After a great battle on 20lb braid, Aaron was the conqueror of an 80cm king. We trolled the area for hours and picked up only the odd tailor. At the end of the charter with two tired boys the 10kg mono outfit finally howled. The fight was a classic kingfish stoush of screaming runs and dives near the boat but young Ben took it all in stride and boated the 86cm king that weighed just a mite under 6kg.
There are a few big bream around Salt Pan Bay and the Royal Motor Yacht Club moorings that are responding to bread at night with live nippers working after catching many smaller red bream.
Currawong Beach area is producing flathead and the odd jewfish is being caught by the beach haulers of a night. Fish the reefy area and use live squid on or near the bottom. Fish the last of the rising tide through to two hours into the run-out tide of a night for best results. The beach haulers don’t work weekends.
For flathead, try the drift across the mouth of Pittwater with pilchards or yellowtail to catch the bigger fish. There are a heap of small flathead about and it can be frustrating to catch so many undersized fish before a keeper.
• Tip of the month: Use the hard section on a squid’s flap as a stick-bait. Cut the hard section out of the flap and if you do it correctly the hook will sit in the V very naturally. Use a worm hook and if any kingies are around, don’t put your rod down.
If you would like to chase kingfish, call now. Kingfish, amberjack, samson, cobia and even jewfish are caught at this time of year in the warmer sections of Pittwater. You also get to see them strike on the downrigger camera.
• Peter Le Blang operates Harbour & Estuary Fishing Charters out of Pittwater, phone 02 9999 2574 or visit www.estuaryfishingcharters.com.au.Reads: 875