In January the crowds on the water in Sydney tend to ease off a bit, so it is a great time to get out on the southern waterways of Sydney and target kingfish, bream, flathead, whiting, tailor, Australian salmon, bonito, bass and snapper.
It doesn’t matter whether you want to bait fish or chase them with lures, as long as you are well prepared and always have a plan B and maybe even a plan C to fall back on.
If I have decided to target kingfish with lures, I always bring a half a kilo of prawns and a small bucket of chicken pellets to berley and catch a few live yellowtail. These hardy live baits can be easily trolled at 3-5 knots. I also have a few squid jigs to hopefully catch a couple which can also be trolled.
When targeting kingfish in Botany Bay, I follow a predetermined trolling plan that has start and finish points. I usually start my trolling run at the western side of the second runway, just on the outside of the yellow markers, slowly working my way east to the end of the third runway, then I follow a straight line to the entrance to Port Botany. From there I work my way over to the western end of the Port Botany wall and along to Monilex Point, turning left and travelling parallel to the end of Yarra Bay. This location is a great place to anchor and berley up yellowtail and squid.
From here I troll the drop-off in Yarra Bay until I come to Bare Island, and I then skirt the outside of the bombora and head over to Henry Head. You could then turn around and follow the same route back. If not you could work your way over to the Kurnell side and work the Kurnell Peninsula and over to the end of the Oil Wharf (remember you have to be at least 100m away). From here you could try circumnavigating the mooring drums and work your way along the eastern channel markers.
During January I like to target bream on bait. I go to main bar in the Port Hacking and pump my limit (100 per person) of pink nippers, take them home and putting them into a fish tank to keep them alive for the next day’s outing. If you don’t have a set up like mine you could always buy a small battery-operated aerator and run it overnight. The following day, replace the water in the bucket with fresh saltwater.
If the bream are not readily taking the live nippers (yes, this has happened a few times) I use back-up baits like Hawkesbury River prawns, salted fillets of bonito or slimy mackerel and a few pilchards cut into half or fillet. I also like to bring a big container of berley.
When it comes to targeting flathead in January, I always start with soft plastics and/or blades, but once again I have a plan B. In this case, it’s the ability to get a few live baits. My main live bait for chasing dusky flathead is poddy mullet, and all you need to catch a few is a poddy mullet trap and a loaf of bread.
Good flathead locations in Botany Bay include Towra Point, Silver Beach at Kurnell, the back bay in Yarra Bay, the end of the third runway, and the stretch of beach from the entrance to the Cooks River to the Captain Cook Bridge. You could also try the stretch of water from the Como Bridge to Lugarno in the George River. In the Woronora River you could try the area near Bonnet Bay.
Port Hacking has a number of bays, and in the back of many of these you’ll usually find a stretch of sand leading to a drop-off to deeper water. These areas are a great place to target flathead at high tide and right to the bottom of the tide.
You could also try working along the main channel from the entrance to Gunnamatta Bay to the sand flats at Lilly Pilly. Another stretch of water in the Port Hacking that is worth a shot is from Greys Point to the Audley weir.
When trolling or casting for bonito, tailor and Australian salmon, I always have a selection of metal lures that range from 20-100g. My back up plan is to use plastics, and to that effect I always carry a few jigheads and minnow-styled soft plastics.Reads: 813