Touchy about temperature
  |  First Published: February 2014

Many anglers fall into the trap of thinking that every time they go fishing they should catch a bag limit of fish to take home. When you think about it, if you were lucky or good enough to catch your NSW limit of 20 bream, 20 sand whiting or even 10 dusky flathead, that would be a lot of fish. Do you really need to keep that many? Fishing should be about more than just aiming to catch your limit, surely.

I certainly didn’t get my limit a couple of weeks ago. I took my sister-in-law’s partner Dennis out for a fish on Middle Harbour, and the idea was to only use soft plastics and blades to get a few flathead and bream for tea. Dennis and I worked the water to lather and we never caught a legal fish. We did catch a couple of undersized snapper, but nothing else. After talking to a number of other anglers that were out on the water, I found that they too had had very little success.

Not to be outdone, I invited Dennis out again 2 weeks later to do exactly the same thing, but in a different place. From the first drop Dennis was on and the fish just kept coming. We managed between us 14 bream to 38cm, 1 leatherjacket and a sand whiting that measured in at 40cm. Not bad for four hours’ fishing.

The only difference between the 2 days was the location that we fished. Nothing else was different. We went out at the same time, the tide was the same (a run-out), we used the same blades and soft plastics, the time of the tide was similar and the barometer was much the same as before. Even the techniques we used were the same.

So what made the difference? My guess is the water temperature. In Middle Harbour it was 19ºC and where we fished in the Lane Cove River the water temperature was a warm 23ºC. Since then I have been back out on Middle Harbour and the water temperature has risen to about 23 degrees and the fish have been on the chew.

In recent weeks the water temperature in Botany Bay has varied from 19 to 23 degrees. On some days the fishing was very hard, while on other days it seemed like the fish were jumping in the boat. February should see the water temperature in Botany Bay stay around 21 to 22 degrees, which is perfect if you want to target a few kingfish, tailor, salmon, bream and flathead.

As Scotty Lyons from Southern Sydney Fishing Tours has stated in his column, the kingfish season in Botany Bay over the past 2 seasons has been terrible, with only a few coming in on his boat. Maybe this is due to the reclaiming work for Port Botany that has been going on. Maybe it has changed the way the currents come in and circle around the bay. Maybe it has changed the water temperature. I don’t know, but one thing I do know is that the bream, trevally and flathead have been going extremely well of late.

To get myself ready for this season’s kingfish in the bay I have bought a small downrigging outfit and I am going to try downrigging a few live squid or yellowtail. Places worth a shot would be along the break wall in Yarra Bay, Bare Island, Henry Head, inside Kurnell Point, the mooring drums in the middle of the bay and at the end of the third runway.

One thing that I have found over the years of fishing in Botany Bay and the Georges River is that anchoring up and berleying is so much more productive than drifting the bay. Places worth a shot during February are: the end of the third runway, the artificial reef in Yarra Bay, the groynes off Silver beach at Kurnell, Dolls Point, Brighton-Lee Sands, the Captain Cook and Tom Uglys Bridge, Bald Face Point, Como Bridge and the stretch of waterway leading up to the 8 knot area near the Lugarno seafood restaurant. The area called the Moons and Soil Point is also worth a shot for bream, flounder and flathead.

The Port Hacking can be extremely hard to fish one day and very easy the next, and once again the best approach I have found when bait fishing here is to anchor up and have a small but consistent berley trail going.

From January through to April you will find that the kingfish have moved from the offshore reefs to a variety of areas in the Port Hacking. If you have never found where the kingfish hang out during these months in the Port Hacking, I would suggest that you get yourself a few squid (live or dead) and start trolling around points and drop-offs until you locate the fish. Store them in your memory bank so the next time you come back you can anchor up, start berleying and set those live baits out.

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