Yellowtail the key to big kingies
  |  First Published: March 2007

My records from the last few years show that March is a great time for anglers as larger kingfish start to cruise Pittwater. Last year it was late March before the 80cm-plus models showed up while the year before it was the start of March. The timing of their arrival is usually dependent on favourable warm currents and the arrival of more baitfish.

This month we usually get a lot of big fish on yellowtail and large live squid. The most productive areas are Towlers Bay, The Supermarket and Kingfish Highway. Hopefully this year is a bonanza so that everyone has a chance to tangle with one of these hard-fighting fish.

The last month has seen schools of kingfish at West Head and Barrenjoey Head and nearly all baits have been eaten. Most fish are in the 60cm range but you catch a lot of undersized fish before a larger model is caught. These bigger fish are falling for white, 7-inch Anaconda soft plastics. Combined with an appropriate Knuckle Head jighead, the kingfish have been climbing all over them. These soft plastics are so easy to use, you can even let your kids try for a decent kingy. Just cast, allow it to sink and get the kids to wind it in, but make sure they have a good hold of the rod as the bigger fish can rip the rods out of their hands.

Bonito have also been on the chew in the river as well as in Broken Bay. These speedsters are chomping on most lures that pass in front of them but the best to date has been Rapala CD7S in green. A trolling speed of about 4 knots has created most of the strikes.

Inside Pittwater the smaller pockets of bonito have been moving very quickly so 25g metal lures are the way to go. To tangle with one of these river-run bonito you have to cast at the single splashes that occur from time to time. Because you need to land the lure right on their noses, this type of fishing really separates those who are lucky and those who are skilled.

Tailor are hanging around with the schools of bonito and have also taken up residence in the washes at Barrenjoey Head. To tempt a tailor it’s as simple as casting a 25g metal lure into the wash and cranking it back with a moderate speed. Most of these tailor are around 45-50cm and put up a great fight on the lighter tackle.

Over the last month we’ve been catching lots of samsonfish as well as the odd amberjack. The samsonfish have been up to 4kg, which is a great sized fish to catch in the river. We have been using the Walker Strike Vision downrigger with great success – samsonfish have been smashing our baits right in front of the camera for all of our customers to see. It is amazing to see these fish constantly attacking the live squid from the side and not from directly behind like kingfish. Samsonfish are made to be caught on downriggers as normally they feed pretty deep down and don’t often rise to chase bait. The last month has seen at least one samsonfish per charter being caught with the chance for others diminishing as the sun rises higher during the day. The samsonfish bite has been either an early morning or late afternoon affair. They are eating small yellowtail and squid.

Bream have shown up in areas along Newport and Bayview amongst the moorings. We have had most success using live nippers floated down a berley trail with no weight on the line. It may take a few minutes for the nipper to make its way to the sea floor but you know when touchdown has been achieved: the light line goes tight and you are on. The smaller fish are biting with gusto but the larger fish are happy to suck the baits in and spit out the hooks.

The best soft plastic is the WaveWorm paddletail coupled with a KnuckleHead jighead. These jigheads actually apply action to your soft plastics, turning a novice into a champion in no time flat. These products are brought into Australia by Flybridge and should be available at your local tackle store.

Whiting have made a brief appearance and there are some big fish in the small schools. The best areas to catch them are The Basin amongst the moorings, Towlers Bay and over the sand flats near Mackeral Beach. The most successful bait has been bloodworms but they are not knocking back a well-presented live nipper. Remember to use red tubing above the hook as an attracter when fishing for these tasty silver bullets.

We have had a busy month on our charter boat, chasing pelagic schools on the surface. We now run two Walker Camera Strike Vision Downriggers with two monitors so that if a fish appears anywhere near our baits we will see it. If you bring along your video camera we can plug it into the system and you can tape everything to watch it on your television at home.

March can be one of the most productive times of the year to fish Pittwater and big fish are the norm. If you would like to come out with us to catch some of the larger fish in Pittwater then give us a call on 02 9999 2574 or visit www.estuaryfishingcharters.com.au.


1) At this time of year a lot of big kingies are caught on yellowtail and large live squid.

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