This is when we normally expect a changeover of species, when salmon and tailor become more prevalent if currents and baitfish schools are favourable. Secretly I hope for those big kingies around the schools of boiling fish when they venture into Broken Bay.
We still target kingfish in May inside Pittwater but you really do have to be single-minded with your approach. At this time of year I know that if I can find a small cuttlefish for the downrigger, I will get a decent kingfish. We call these hand-sized cuttlefish M&Ms because of their crunchy shell.
Finger-sized squid (‘kingfish Tic Tacs’) or hand-sized squid (‘Tim Tams’) also work but little cuttlefish are real ink machines and can really rub a predator up the wrong way. Sometimes this is the trigger these larger, more cunning fish need in the colder water.
In May it is important to find the baitfish that are balled up – the closer to structure, the better. Then we travel around the structure to cover all sides.
If you have a good sounder you will often mark decent fish arches but don’t get too excited because you may have to drop the bait on a fish’s nose before it gets eaten. Persistence and a downrigger really come into their own here.
Last May we consistently found kingfish quickly but had to travel over them for up to two hours before they could be tempted. This year we have our Walker Strike Vision downrigger camera that will give us a great view of what is really happening.
We will be able to see if what we are using really tempts the fish or whether we need to change tactics.
Recent kingfish captures have been pretty good. The fish are larger than last year and there seem to be more.
If we got a double hook-up we were able to catch quite a few more using the smaller Wave Worm Anacondas. Although big enough to gulp down a larger Anaconda, the kings have been happy just chasing them but they pounce on a small white or green one.
The areas to target these colder water kingfish are The Highway, Bunnings, Aisle 10 and Soldiers Point. These areas should provide a few decent arches on the sounder but it’s up to you to persist and hook up.
We have managed to catch a heap of big flathead around the river. ‘Cyclone Steve’ recently booked a charter for his nephew, Jordan, 6, and other family members. We didn’t do too well on the jewfish but Jordan came up with an 80cm flathead on 6kg mono which he released and we found kingfish.
We have recently been catching big breeder flathead at the entrances to many of the bays along the river. The best bait by far has been live yellowtail but only because big live mullet have been hard to get. Large soft plastics on jig heads will see quite a few more caught.
Last week at Taylors Point we caught a 78cm flathead that took a live yellowtail off the surface in 4m of water while we were playing a kingfish. It just goes to show that it is important to keep a bait in the water whenever possible.
Flounder are still being caught at the mouth of Pittwater on the drift using whitebait or prawns.
Bream are a little harder to track down due to the areas the commercial netters are targeting.
Most of the areas that have moorings in them have a few crab traps and their berley trail allows you to catch quite a few bream quickly. The traps are large and the baits are usually oily, so kingfish or jewfish can be in the same vicinity.
Whiting are thinning out along the river but the odd thumper is still being caught along the weed edges. Palm Beach area has been great of late for this late run of whiting. Bloodworms are the No 1 bait but the fish find it hard to leave a live pink nipper alone.
Remember to use traces of around a metre and red tubing above your hook as an attractor.
Remember, anchoring in this area is not permitted due to the risk of spreading Caulerpa weed.
After the media coverage given to the exploits of Kevin Gleed and other South Coast anglers, poppers are becoming a popular way to chase whiting. These guys are actively targeting whiting using small poppers cast at the weed edges or over shallow weed beds.
Whiting have been a by-catch of many bream popper enthusiasts for a fair while but now bream are becoming the by-catch. Practice, patience and the ability to find areas that hold whiting help, as do poppers around 30mm to 40mm. Gold, green and even clear colours work well in Pittwater at different times.
Whether you chase bream, pelagic fish or whiting, popper fishing is always exciting and you never get sick of those crashing surface strikes. Next time you only have a small amount of time to go fishing you could do worse than popper fishing.
• Peter Le Blang operates Harbour & Estuary Fishing Charters out of Pittwater, phone 02 9999 2574 or visit www.estuaryfishingcharters.com.au.Reads: 881