More legal kings at last
  |  First Published: April 2014

Yellowtail kingfish should continue to prowl the Sydney rocks this month. If you speak to anyone who pursues kings regularly, they’ll tell you that undersized rats have been a real problem this season. However, in recent weeks there has been a steady increase in numbers over the 65cm legal length. Instead of walking away with no legal fish on at least 60% of outings, you can now reasonably expect to take home a feed.

Most headlands on the northern suburbs of Sydney have been producing kings from 65-82cm. The more reliable rock spots are Bluefish, South Curl Curl’s Flat Rock, South Whales’ Ovens and Barrenjoey Head. The favourite methods lately are using a white 9” Slap Stick, salted or unsalted sea gar, fresh squid strips and live yellowtail in the medium size suspended under a float.

Bonito, tailor, frigate mackerel and mac tuna are also around in reasonable numbers, the tailor more so during the night and just around that false dawn. The preferred method is to use ganged pillies virtually unweighted or under a float, while the tuna have been taking 15-45g Snipers and Knights. I have been using the ones with the green strip with good results.

If you have the gear, try throwing out a live frigate or mac tuna, especially one that’s in that half kilo size bracket. It will suit a 6kg fish while also being very enticing to a whopping 20kg+ king.

The bream are about in great numbers, and you can expect to get half a dozen fish to a bag on most outings if you fish the high tide in low light conditions. A light 2-4kg outfit, a selection of baits like small to medium sized pillies, fresh Hawkesbury prawns and some mullet or tuna fillet should see you on to some quality bream.

Some of the better locations include the ever green shallows of Long Reef, off Narrabeen Pool and the shallows of South Avalon. These spots are relatively safe as far as rock spots are concerned. Avoid fishing Narrabeen and South Avalon in a swell larger than 1.3m (Long Reef can still be OK even in a 2m sea).

Rock blackfish tend to be on the backburner throughout summer and autumn because of the kingfish hysteria. Still, they are in good numbers at the moment and range in size from 1kg to some stud 3kg+ fish. They’re on most rock spots, with the best reports coming from Little Bluey in Manly, North Curl Curl, Long Reef, Warriewood, and North Avalon. Luderick are still being caught at these locations as well, and also at Narrabeen Gutters and Bluefish. Use either hair or cabbage weed and fish very shallow at Long Reef, around 30-40cm under the float. At the other locations, a rod length to 2m is generally the preferred depth.

In the washes a mixture of snapper, trevally, bonito, tailor, kings and samsonfish have been showing up at some rock spots. The samsonfish are up to about 1.3-1.5kg. They are a great fighting fish and are really good tucker on the table. Fishing the washes of Bluefish, South Curl Curl and Turrametta are yielding mixed results.

Baits like large peeled prawns, half to full pilchards, and fillets of mac tuna, frigate mackerel and striped tuna work really well. I like to use a 6kg outfit but that can be a bad choice at times because some nasty kings from 3-5kg can turn up and make things a little difficult. An 8-10kg outfit with line to suit is a safer choice while still being light enough to not put off the smaller species.


I love this time of the year with the migrational movements of most species. Tailor are in good numbers on some beaches, and Manly is one of the best. It has some good numbers of fish to 1.2kg. Fish from the Queenscliff side of the beach to the volleyball courts.

Dee Why has quite a few fish as well along its entire length, from Dee Why to Long Reef end. Some salmon are there as well. Collaroy Beach from the pipe to the large block of flats called Flight Deck is consistent, with a few fish every evening.

Remember that Dee Why and Collaroy are notorious for kelp weed. This area can be inundated with this plague. When you arrive at a likely gutter before dark, take the time to look for the dark patches and the floating weed. Sometimes it is not visible on the surface and can only be seen as a darker patch of water. Making a visual check before casting out your lure or pilchard will help you avoid frustration.

The Pines at North Narrabeen to within 50m of the lagoon entrance has been performing well for tailor of late. All these locations produce well into the dark. Take a carry bag with you so you are not restricted to fishing near your bucket and gear. You may need to work several gutters in a vicinity of 200-300m.

Whiting continue to be caught in good numbers with a mix of other species like bream, tarwhine and some sizable dart. It is fairly common to catch at least 1 bream (often several) when you’re fishing for whiting. Manly, Curl Curl, Dee Why, Collaroy/Narrabeen, Warriewood, Mona Vale, Bungan and Bilgolah are the producers for anglers of late.

Bloodworms are the ultimate whiting bait. If you can obtain them from your local tackle shop you are in for a few fish (beachworms are a good substitute). Make sure these baits are alive and fresh. It may sound a little unusual to say alive and fresh, but just because a worm is alive doesn’t necessarily mean it is fresh. Make sure when you purchase the worms that they are relatively firm and active, i.e. wiggling around a lot.

Fewer bronze whaler sharks have been caught than in previous years; in past seasons you could often expect at least 4 hook-ups a night, occasionally up to a dozen. Mulloway have been tough to find all season as well. Fortunately, gummy sharks have been caught in better numbers than in previous years. Gummies are considered to be a bonus in this part of the country, and are highly regard as a fantastic tablefish. Some evenings you can get up to 3 in a session.

In summing up, this is my favourite time of the year for a mix of species. You could get up to half a dozen edible species in an outing. How great is that!

For rock and beach guided fishing or tuition in the northern Sydney region, visit www.bellissimocharters.com, email --e-mail address hidden-- or call Alex Bellissimo on 0408 283 616.

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