This season generally seems to be running late and a glance at satellite water temp image shows 23ºC water still off Eden on the south coast. My bet is that that we are going to have good, mixed species fishing well into the early months of winter.
We have already started to pick up some early winter species like hairtail and dory but there is no shortage of warm water fish still in numbers. Samson, amberjack and kings are going strong at the moment. We have experienced good king bites well into June before so I wouldn’t put the heavy gear away just yet.
This season has also been one of the best in many years for school jew and they are no stranger to cooler waters, especially if we get a strong mullet run.
Good mulloway are being taken throughout middle harbour and the mid reaches of the harbour. Don’t discount shallow water, especially at night when there are high concentrations of mullet, like you might find at the weir at Lane Cove River (or creek junctions like the ones above Roseville Bridge).
Blues and Balls heads in the harbour and Seaforth bluff, Killarney Point and Pickering Point in Middle Harbour would be great places to sit with live squid on the turn of the high tide.
Bridges at night are top mulloway spots. Mulloway are an open water ambush predator, which means that they use dirty or dark water to hide in. This differs from structure-oriented predators like flathead, who bury in the sand, or bass, who hide in snags or weed beds. Lights on a road bridge throw light onto the water next to the bridge and cast a shadow off the bridge under it. This sets up three ideal situations for mulloway to feed. The light water attract bait like squid and mullet, while the shadow gives the mulloway a place to hide and mount their attack, and the pylons create a pressure wave for the mulloway to rest in while they are not attacking.
The scenario goes like this: bait swarms in the light water, while the mulloway hide in the dark water and every now and then burst into the light water to grab a feed. Both the mulloway and the bait always face into the current and the bait at night is generally on the surface.
From all this we can see that the best way to catch mulloway around a bridge at night is with surface lures/poppers on the side of the bridge that the current is flowing onto and right along the line where the bridge casts a shadow on the water.
Hairtail outside of Cowan creek are a complete enigma and totally unpredictable. We have had good runs of them in the harbour over the last few seasons but up until then we hadn’t seen one for 20 years. The Cowan run of fish is strictly winter but the harbour fish have been around Christmas except for a huge one we caught in late April. They are generally associated with cold water but I have seen them as far north as Cairns and heard of them in PNG. They are good fun to catch and great to eat but there is no point in targeting them in the harbour because they are so random. They like live baits but will also eat squid strips and pillies.
Numbers of smaller kingfish have started to thin out and move around, but based on previous years’ experience they will still be available for a while. The compensation for fewer fish will be an increase in average size.
Tactics need to change now, along with the kingies’ holding positions. You will still get them around places like the Wedding Cakes and other navigation markers but they have become fussy, requiring a bit of berley and smaller, lightly weighted baits. Their interest in lures is slowing down as well.
There are more fish concentrated around the heads and Sow and Pigs Reef as they commence their migration out to sea. The best bait is still squid but make good use of the prime baits like the heads and guts, and cut the tubes into smaller strips. Baits should be presented on lighter gear, lighter leaders, less sinker, smaller hooks and down a cube trail. Live gar work pretty well at this time of year as well.
If you want to target the larger kings use whole, live squid around the Spit bridge, north and south head and the deeper channel markers like Neilson Park, Clifton Gardens and Rose Bay.
There are some great flatties around at the moment. This is one species that seems to have really benefited from the removal of the pros from the harbour. Fish in the 80cm range are becoming quite common. The big fish do prefer the deeper water locations of either sand or mud bottom. They will take big plastics worked across the bottom on 3/8-1/2oz jigheads but really love big baits. Live baits are the best but we also pick up quite a few on our large squid baits aimed at mulloway.
Good spots are Clarke Island, Fairlight and Quarantine points, and the deep water in middle harbour and around the spit bridge.Reads: 2305