Reaching the peak
  |  First Published: May 2014

We’re at the peak time of the year and that will last for the next couple of months at least. Off the rocks virtually all species are on the bite. Kingfish are being caught to 82cm with some anglers catching them to 120cm. However, kings being kings, there are your good days and OK days. The mediocre days are still producing fish, but most are only just over legal with a few undersized fish. The very next day could be completely different, with a run of 70 to 80cm fish and larger.

The bonito are still sparse with the occasional day producing a few fish. A few frigate mackerel and mac tuna are being spun up as well. The kings are being spun up on salted and fresh sea gars and live baits like yellowtail. Alternatively, live slimy mackerel (if you’re fortunate enough to be able to catch them) account for reliable catches of kings. When fishing live baits off the ocean rocks I generally fish them under a float with a stopper set at about 3m with a leader of 60-80lb Suffix fluorocarbon with a 6/0 to 8/0 Mustad Big Gun hook.

Recently I have had clients doing well on poppers. The Williamson 2oz Jet Popper, especially in the mackerel pattern, has been a consistent lure. The Kokoda Rodger in the 85g size is also working really well. Remember that the Rodger has to be consistently worked otherwise it will sink, and you won’t get that water displacement on the surface.

Pilchard cubes in a berley trail and a well-presented pilchard on a 5/0 to 6/0 double strength hook could get you hooked on to a good king. Putting in the effort to catch a live squid, then throwing it back out suspended under a float with the hook just through the top of the hood is very successful on kings.

The tailor are smashing the gars, but that’s an expensive exercise. It’s better to target them on a set of three 4/0s and a whole pilchard.

For the tuna species, 15-45g Knights and Snipers have been doing the damage. When it comes to the outfit, a 6-8kg 10’ Live Fibre and a Daiwa Exceler 4000 with 20lb TD Sensor braid is robust, affordable and will last.

Snapper are being caught in the washes and distance casting. They are in the smaller size around that 30-35cm range with a few real tiddlers. If you are fishing a wash with numbers of really small snapper, you would be better off moving to another wash in search of larger fish. In the washes you can cube just pilchards, or add bread to the mix. 75% bread with just 25% pilchard cubes mashed in with water to make a thick mix is a good option. Consistently berley with a little at a time rather than liberally. Fish light sinkers and preferably a 2/0 to 3/0 92447 or 92554 Mustad with a 6-8kg outfit in a large wash and you should be in for some fun on the snapper, small kings, bonito, some bream and more.

For all of the above mentioned fish, try the Hat at the main ledge, Bluefish northeast and eastern front, North Curl Curl ledge about 70m north of the swimming pool and South Whale rocks at the Ovens about 1km walk past the southern side of the beach. The wash spots include Bluefish, South Curl Curl near the ramp, Turrametta near the pipe, and Bangalley at the main ledge. All these spots should be fished with extreme caution. Always have your spike boots and face the direction of where the ocean swell is coming from.

Just a quick mention that the rock blackfish are on as well as the luderick. Pigs up to 51cm and luderick to 950g are on at Little Bluey at Manly, Long Reef, and Barrenjoey at the south face. Peeled prawns and white sliced bread are the go for the drummer, and cabbage weed for the luderick.


Catches at the Northern Beaches have been varied. Manly Beach has some great whiting but in smaller numbers. Curl Curl Beach, Dee Why has reasonable numbers; half a dozen fish with some bream thrown in. Warriewood (a beach not so frequently fished by the masses) has been producing good bags of whiting, as well as Mona Vale about 100m south of the pool. You can also try Bungan Beach and Whale beaches.

Tailor are in reasonable numbers at Manly, Freshwater, Curl Curl beaches. Further north at North Narrabeen in front of and near the surf club, North Palm Beach is producing a few tailor also. The occasional good bream is being caught on whole ganged pilchards.

In recent weeks I have been using Flashing Gangs. They have tinsel on all three hook shanks, which acts an a attractor. They work well and have accounted for fish even when we’ve been baited, and you can check them out at your local tackle shop.

A few smaller mulloway to about 9.2kg are being caught and this will continue in the next month. The bronze whaler sharks are normally part of the by-catch and will be for another month or so. Salmon numbers are on the increase but will not dominate the beaches until the water temps drop at least a few degrees. There have been salmon catches at Manly, Dee Why, Narrabeen, the North Narrabeen end, and the rarely fished Mona Vale and Palm Beach.

With the migration of the mullet, whiting and bream, the bigger predators will be close by following the food trail up the coast. Go to your local wharf and use a light outfit, around that 2-3kg line class a split shot and a size 10 to 12 long-shank hook. Use small pilchard pieces, peeled prawns or just white bread. Have a good quality aerator and a bucket with a secure clip seal top.

When you go on your mulloway missions, use a live bait for a change of pace. It could make all the difference. Add it to your other baits that you may be using on the night – whole squid, squid strips, large squid heads and fish fillet like mullet or tailor. Go out of your way to using the freshest of baits. And if you purchase bait from a shop, use common sense when selecting what to buy. Is the skin of the fish shiny or dull? Are the eyes clear or sunken? It helps if you also know what colour the skin should be when that species is freshly caught. If you don’t know, hop on the ‘net and look at some photos.

Until next time, enjoy your fishing and take advantage of the diversity of species available.

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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