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Tides are the key
  |  First Published: September 2014



Tides play a more important part in ensuring good catches in Botany Bay than a lot of people may think. Almost all parts of the bay fish differently according to the run. Once the tide has a movement of more than 1m between high and low, the water moves at a fast clip and fish take baits more readily.

On the other hand, when there is minimum difference between high and low, fish feed more leisurely. This is when they become more choosey with baits.

When rigging for medium or fast water you’ll need to use heavier sinkers, and they have to be the running type such as ball or bean. The heaviest lead should never be more than 28g (1oz). When you’re fishing slow tides the water movement will be vastly reduced, allowing lighter lead to be used. On all occasions you should fish with 1m or so of trace.

During slack water it pays to use as little lead as possible, thus allowing your bait to sink and move very slowly. This is particularly important when using nippers or prawns as bait. Fish such as mulloway, flathead, trevally and the like will rise up to a bait so the action of a live nipper or prawn will catch their eye.

In a wide expanse of water, the movement of the tides will have a reduced effect on fishing. However, when you’re fishing the entrance to the Georges River, around the bridges and Bare Island, and shallow areas such as Watts Reef, the run is stronger. It pays to remember that the river has more run than the bay itself and even more the further upstream you travel. The tides also affect crabbing, with better results experienced during slow movements.

One area that fishes best during the last hour prior to full tide is along the northern side of the airstrip extension. This location can be fished from the shore or by boat. The water is fairly deep and the fish feed on worms or nippers, which are abundant here.

Another spot which needs a flood tide is between Towra Point and Bonna on the southern side of the bay. This spot will produce flathead, whiting, bream, leatherjackets, trevally and more, and can be fished day or night.

Tides that reach a peak of over 1.6m dropping off to around zero have a big effect on Georges River and Woolooware Bay. Fish will work up onto the shallows around leases and weed flats during a peak tide, and come off again into deeper water as the tide recedes. Savvy anglers fish the outgoing tide adjacent to the leases and do quite well, especially for bream and flathead.

In the river proper the water is very clear, especially during winter, and it is always wise to fish the deeper parts of the system. In most cases the last hour of the outgoing tide and the first hour of the incoming tide will produce excellent results.

Fishing in the bay has been very ordinary, with only the dedicated anglers trying the area, but the brave ones have been rewarded with good size trevally up to 50cm around Molineaux Point. The best method has been to anchor up and berley with bread and pilchard pieces, then fish lightly weighted rigs in the berley trail.

Flathead have been taken in reasonable numbers on the Kurnel Oil Wharf to Inscription Point drift, with double headers not uncommon. Shallow paternoster rigs armed with whole prawns and whitebait cocktail baits have proven to be a deadly combination during the last few hours of the run-out tide.

Bream have been replaced by whiting in the Georges River upstream of Tom Uglys bridge, with outstanding specimens to 45cm recorded. You’ll need the magic bloodworms, and line should be no heavier than 2kg if you want results. Stick to the bottom of the tide, especially if it coincides with dawn or dusk.

At the time of writing, the luderick have gone a little quiet with only a few taken from Bonnet Bay, Blackbutt and the Moons, but they’re of a good size – anywhere between 35-40cm. Weed is still at a premium and you’ll have to go down to lake Illawarra if you need a healthy supply (this is to be expected in September).

Bream will tend to congregate in the deeper water adjacent to oyster leases, waiting for the tide to ruse so they can move up into the racks. Bridge pylons will be a favourite haunt, with live nippers the prime bait. Whiting will be found over mussel beds with the bigger fish taken at night. The best spots are the Lugarno area, Woronora River, Caravan Head and Baldface Point down to Towra Point, with drifting often rewarding.

If you’re chasing tailor the Port Botany container area over to the hot water outlet just south of the oil refinery wharf at Kurnell is the place to be. Pencil garfish are the best bait.

Trevally will be around until the end of the month, along with the elusive mulloway. Bonus fish such as snapper, kingfish and leatherjackets will be found around structures and reefs near the heads.

All in all, September will be a trying time for the bay and its immediate tributaries. Next issue I’ll discuss how to catch bream in the bay.

For all your fishing needs, as well as the latest info on what’s biting, drop into Gabe’s Boating and Fishing at Narellan (4/1A Somerset Ave), or Silvania (268/264-276 Princes Hwy). You can also call them on (02) 4647 8755 or (02) 9522 5100 respectively, or visit the website at www.gbaf.com.au.

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