Ready for anything
  |  First Published: November 2014

The run of silver drummer is still going but they will taper off with the rising temperatures, preferring the cooler water. They’re up to near 60cm or roughly 4kg, not huge fish but loads of fun on 5.5kg line.

Silver drummer generally feed on kelp and, unlike the rock blackfish, have sharp grazing teeth. This often results in the larger fish biting through your line during the fight, especially the larger fish. I recommend using a 15cm length of 6-10kg knottable steel leader from Technipeche to reduce the bite-offs.

Unlike the rock blackfish, the silver drummer is not a residential species. North Head in Manly has been producing lately, and Bangalley Head to the north of the peninsula is also a good producer. Pigs to roughly 3kg, luderick to the 1kg mark and groper are also part of the catches. Cunjevoi, peeled banana prawns or (if you can get them) blue tail prawns work the best. Fish very light ball sinkers, long shank Mustad red no. 1 to 1/0 for the silvers or a 92554 1/0 to 2/0 for luderick and groper. White sliced bread with a bread burley works well for the luderick, pigs, bream and some trevally but accounts for much less silver drummer and of course no groper.


The snapper are now on in close, either distance casting or on the wash zone. Bluefish, South Curl Curl’s northeast and eastern fronts, Mona Vale in front of the pool, Bangalley and South Avalon have been producing between one and six reddies from 32cm to better fish to 53cm for clients.

The ever reliable and un-reliable pilchard has been working well. Let me explain what I mean! Pilchards as far as convenience is one of the best baits for the revellers who don’t have time to get out and catch their own fresh bait like squid, slimy mackerel, tailor and so on (remember you don’t just need bait for a snapper fish, but the berley as well – especially for a wash fish). Using a pilchard under 145mm can be an agonising experience because 95% of the fish in the wash zone are small bait-vaporizing species that reduce your bait to a bare hook within seconds. Add a bit of extra length to a pilchard – say, 150-170mm – and that will increase firmness substantially. So definitely steer away from small pilchards when rock snapper fishing.

If you can get the volume, squid strip berley and bait or freshly salted slimy mackerel fillets work great. Fresh squid strips and whole bottle squid with a tube size of 3-6cm are deadly on the snapper. There’s the chance that a king might take your bait so I suggest 10kg mono which will give you a better chance at landing them, while still being light enough to catch reds, bream and trevally.


Salmon are still in large quantities throughout the day, with tailor and salmon in good numbers in the evenings or early morning. Lately 2oz Jet poppers and metals like the Sniper 45-65g in the green strip have been working well for both species.

It is optional whether or not you want to use light or heavier gear. The light option is great for the salmon and tailor but if the kings are around you could end up getting done. The 3-6kg line class is great but have either an extendable net or long handled gaff that can reach the fish without you risking yourself, or have a strategy in place where you’re going to wash up your fish. You will not be lifting out a 2kg+ fish on genuine 6kg tackle let alone 3kg, so make sure you have the contingency plans in place!


A few reports from locals have revealed some beach mulloway to 12kg. Spending lots of outings for this elusive species can account for not only a gold/silver prize one night but several over the next few months. It can also account for donuts!

If you’re going to put in the effort do yourself a favour by going out of your way to get the best, freshest bait or live bait which in turn can be the freshest butterfly, strip baits as well. Remember that jewfish are a predatory fish which generally eat live food. A great standby is the quality frozen whole squid that you can buy from a tackle shop that specializes in fresh frozen squid. Some even have whole frozen slimy mackerel which are also a great standby bait.

Try Manly/Queenscliff beach, DY/Long reef, Collaroy from the storm water pipe to a couple of hundred metres past flight deck which is the big block of flats, and the pines at Octavia Street to the North Narrabeen lagoon entrance. Use some common sense and fish it only if the conditions are suitable. Not too rough, not full of kelp and don’t forget to get there before your favourite beach gutter is inundated with anglers.

TAILOR, WHiting, Bream

Tailor numbers are increasing with the Aussie salmon still in good numbers on some beaches. The ganged pilchard is one of the very best ways to catch these species, and I recommend adding a surf popper with 60lb fluorocarbon on the top swivel. Double hook-ups can make things really entertaining. The heavy leader at the surf popper end is more for those tailor that take the surf popper. They often inhale the whole thing, and if you have a lighter leader you’ll probably get bitten off. Bear in mind though that 60lb leader will only stop the smaller tailor of around 1kg; bigger fish will still bite you off.

The whiting are on as well, with fish up to 40cm coming from Dee Why, North Narrabeen, and Palm Beach near Black Rock. The tailor and salmon are at Manly, Curl Curl, Colaroy/Narrabeen and Mona Vale. Bream are mixed in and are being caught on ganged pilchards whilst fishing for tailor or on the worm baits for a whiting.


Good anglers have good foresight! Have your gear ready – reels in good working order with smooth drags, good quality lines, mono to braid joins slim and neat, mono or braid spooled reels wound on tight and neat, premade rigs in good order, and sharp hooks with very little or no rust. Your lures should be in good order with no rust on the metals, rods with no damage to guides, carry bag, bait container, belt, scissors, filleting knife and gutting knife in pack. Purchase live or fresh frozen bait the day before from a reliable tackle shop.

However, by far the most important thing is check out the weather from two or three weather sites, and swell cams for accuracy reasons. It’s not just about safety – you also don’t want to waste your time if conditions aren’t suitable, especially if you are travelling from some distance away. I could add much more to this but this is a very basic check list.

As always, fish safe, use your common sense and enjoy this great month.

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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