Big blues from the headlands
  |  First Published: September 2014

September is usually the slowest month for a lot of species, although that can vary from year to year. Off the ocean rocks the kings can make a surprise showing this month, but you can’t be sure if it will happen. Groper, silver drummer, rock blackfish, trevally and salmon are the safest bets, so they’re what I chase in September.


Groper are a tough advisory! It takes heavy gear and often smart tactics to extract these fish, especially in variable situations. The flat seas we generally get this month are great for targeting this species. Typically crabs are the best bait and the red crabs and scotchies top the list. The purple/black rock crab (the ones that are generally above the high tide mark) also catch their share of groper.

A client recently caught a nice fish just under 10kg, and that was his first groper ever off the rocks! It was in an area that had a lot of deep crevices and holes. It was a hard fish to land with the 18kg mono becoming very damaged.

After you land a prize fish you should look at the state of your line; sometimes you’ll realise the odds were way in the groper’s favour! Some anglers use 30-40kg line but that’s just skull dragging in my opinion. With the right tactics you can use lighter line and still come out on top. It makes fishing the rocks for these species that much more dynamic!

A few more fish from that 2-6kg range have been landed lately. There is a big blue on every headland. In some cases there are dozens of them or, on some larger headlands, hundreds of them! Just ask any diver – they’ll tell you the most common tablefish they see are red morwong and groper.

Try bluefish when it’s flat. South and North Curl Curl, Dee Why, Long Reef, Warriewood, South Avalon, South Palm Beach rocks and Barrenjoey have been producing for my clients, and for other anglers as well.

When groper fishing you’ll find that a well-presented, whole hard shell red crab won’t attract many pests other than leatherjackets. Most anglers fishing the ocean rocks don’t pursue leatherjackets; anglers are more acquainted with fishing for this species from the rocky shorelines of the harbour or a public wharf. Take a lighter 6-8kg outfit and use a no. 4 or 6 Mustad red long shank and get into the ‘jackets. You can use lighter gear but you may encounter a nice groper or a hefty pig! Use pieces of crab flesh, the segments. Otherwise you can use a durable bait like a limpet which is as tough as an octopus tentacle.


The pigs fishing has been good in some areas and great in others. It’s a matter of fishing the correct locations according to the sea conditions.

The difficult part is fishing spots correctly and timing areas that should be fished for optimum results. Some spots fish better when the tide is just flooding enough, while others fish better at half tide in and others tend to fish best at the top of the tide. I’m keeping this very basic; it’s actually pretty complex but a general tip is to be on the move!

Try Barrenjoey’s northeast face out of a medium southerly swell, North Whale headland on the south face, North Avalon’s south face, Warriewood and Little Bluey which is 750m south of Bluefish Point Manly. As a matter of fact, there are pigs on every headland. There are so many spots to fish!

Cunjevoi is a great bait but due to harvesting restrictions and a practical amount per person being 20 pieces it is best to use alternative baits. I like using a large peeled prawn or white sliced bread with the crust taken off. Use half a slice, mould it on the hook and always use bread berley to get the pigs activated on the bread.


The luderick are around in reasonable numbers from a few spots. Once again Little Bluey at the main ledge is a good spot, and it seems that the hair weed is working best there. Narrabeen gutters has a good population at the moment. Mona Vale pool at the front has a few luderick but it’s best fished when it’s flat. Mona Vale has plenty of cabbage and hair weed there so there is no need to bring in any bait. Bangalley Head below the climb and left about 40m has luderick in the gutter.


The fishing at this time of the year can be very quiet on a lot of the beaches, although some large salmon up to 3.5kg are being caught from Bilgola Beach. Try the northern corner for some bream and the odd whiting.

Bungan Beach has some bream and salmon, and Mona Vale and Warriewood have salmon and a couple of good tarwhine starting to turn up also. The tarwhine I saw were caught on peeled prawn baits. They were about 500-750g, which is a good size. Pink nippers also work great on this species.

Generally September is a quiet time for tailor. There is a short bite at the very first sliver of dawn light off Dee Why beach up towards the poll. At the northern end, long reef side of Dee Why Beach a few reasonable whiting have been caught near that honeycomb reef. A few salmon are there also.

Being keen is the most vital step to being successful on salmon and tailor, as these fish are always on the move. One day you may catch them on a particular section of beach, and on your next outing they may be towards the middle or on the opposite end. It’s also worth noting that if they’re not on during the daylight/dusk period they may be on the chew in the pitch black. If the fish don’t come on at the beach you’re fishing you can either move to another gutter or move to another beach altogether. Curl Curl is a fairly reliable beach for these species, and there’s the odd whiting still there as well.

When it comes to whiting, don’t expect too many fish until next month. Generally they are residential fish.

The salmon and some evening tailor are at Manly Beach and Queenscliff. Unusually there has been a population of whiting and bream there. More often these species are well and truly gone but it is worth having a throw for these fish. The Port Jackson shark (also known as the box head) can be a problem some nights and will be until the end of this month at least.

Collaroy Beach has had a few trevally in the evenings. If the current is not too strong try to berley them up but, as I always say, consistency is way better than quantity. Use half pilchards, pilly fillet, peeled prawns and a thick bread, pilly mush berley. The pipe about 200m north of the southern corner has a few on the high tide period. They like the structure.

Until next month happy fishing!

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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