Cracker season for dory
  |  First Published: July 2014

The last couple of seasons have been crackers for dory and this one is shaping up to be a beauty. I’m seeing a pattern emerging where the dory favour the La Nina cycles over the drought years of the El Niño. It seems that good rains really fire them up.

John dory are one of the classic winter immigrants. They live on the offshore reefs in summer and move into the bays and harbours when the water gets cold. They are mostly found around the lower reaches, and they have been known to roam upstream when the water quality is good. They like deep, still, clear water and congregate around structure that holds plenty of baitfish. Boat moorings, bridge pylons, jetties, reefs and drop-offs are all prime spots.

It’s very rare to catch dory on anything other than live baits. The best livies include yellowtail (with the tail trimmed) or any small reef fish like sweep or mado. Dory have an enormous mouth and will have no trouble swallowing a 15cm sweep.

They are not a good fighting fish but due to the possibility of picking up larger predatory fish on your live bait I would suggest using no less than 6kg line. The rig consists of a size 4 bean sinker on the main line terminated by a swivel. A 5ft foot nylon trace of about 10kg breaking strain is then tied to the swivel and finished off with a 4\0 to 6\0 Dynatec suicide hook. The bait is then suspended directly under the boat or jetty about 2m off the bottom.

The best time to catch dory is on the turn of the high tide, early morning or late afternoon.

Flatties have also continued well into winter. Water temps have been unseasonably high so it’s not surprising that some of the summer fish are still kicking on. We still have 22ºC as I write in late May.

The bigger flatties have been sitting in the deeper water and nailing large baits. You will pick them up on big soft plastics but they are sitting in 40-50ft of water so you are going to need a fairly weighty head to ensure that you stay in contact with the bottom. Something in 1/2oz to 3/4oz should do the trick. Good spots to try are up around the grounds off Double and Rushcutters Bay and over in North Harbour.

There are good numbers of smaller flatties and a few good flounder on the flats up the back of north harbour, Rose Bay and at the mouth of Rushcutters. They are jumping on smaller soft plastics like 4” Berkley minnows on 1/8oz to 1/4oz. It’s also worth a drift in these areas with whitebait on a set of two or three small ganged hooks. If you are after some quality flounder give this a go off Washaway Beach.

There is a bit of a gar invasion happening at the moment. There are swarms of them in the lower reaches around North Harbour, Sow and Pigs Reef and Fairlight Point. Get a bit of berley going and use pilchard gut on a no. 14 hook under a quill float. Once you have a tank full you have two choices. You can either roll them in egg and flour and deep fry them (they are absolutely delicious), or pin one under the lateral line, down near the tail, and see if a king wants it. Around North Head and Quarantine Bay the occasional big king still lingers at this time of year, and they can’t resist a live gar.

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