Drifting for rewards
  |  First Published: November 2014

Botany Bay, unlike many other locations on the east coast, is not regarded as a prime flathead spot. However, It does turn on some good fish for those who go after them.

I often pick up flatties when fishing for bream, especially in the Towra Point area, but the most productive way to catch them is by drifting. Yarra Bay right over on the La Perouse side is a renowned flathead ground. Drift this bay both tides at various distances from the beach until you find the lizards. They feed all along this stretch. Prawns, whitebait and pilchards are the top baits.

Another good drift is on the ebbing tide, from the bell buoy out from Kurnell Reserve to halfway out on the southern shore between the heads. The fish are not large but double hook-ups are common when you come across them, and all are over the legal length.

Try using a double rig, one hook above and one below the sinker, 28g barrel lead and 3/0 Mustad 92647 long shank bait keeper hooks. There’s no need to fish too heavy. I like a 3-6kg rod with a reel capable of holding 200m of 6kg line and a variety of sinkers to suit the drift. Let the bait go to the bottom then jerk it up and down. This action grabs the attention of the lizards.

The drift from the Kurnell Refinery wharf is another good option to try on a making tide. Please ensure you keep 100m out from the wharf. This drift is started at the administration block on the wharf and will take you along Silver Beach towards Quibray Bay. A northeast sea breeze is ideal for this drift and if you can get some blood worms, you have the added chance of hooking into good bream and the odd school mulloway.

Drifting over from the end of the air strip right to Towra is another top drift on the making tide, but it must be done in good weather conditions. A westerly is the worst wind. A north to northeast breeze is best on this drift and it pays to have your bream and whiting gear as well.

Being the old fashioned fisherman that I am, I’ve found it very difficult to accept alternatives. However, during the last few years soft plastics have become commonplace. While I think that bait will catch more fish, plastics may account for larger specimens. I have tested this theory and found it to be correct.

I’ve found the 65mm and 70mm Squidgy Fish in the grasshopper colour to be excellent on flatties. Coupled with a 9g jighead and 2/0 hook it’s a deadly combination, and the S-Factor lure additive which comes in the packet is essential for top results. The Gary Glitter 80mm Fish pattern Squidgy also works well if you’re fishing over a muddier bottom.

The other method I use is very simple: simply cast where the boat is heading, then place the rod in the holder and let the lizards hook themselves. The action of the ripples on the water will do the work for you.

On the south side of the bay, I like Towra wide. This is a definite out tide spot, half out to the bottom of the tide slack water. This location doesn’t product large bags of flathead but it does offer quality fish.

Excellent catches are also taken in the Georges River between Captain Cook and Tom Uglys bridges, with the making tide the best. The run of fish usually tips the scales around the 0.5kg mark, with the odd fish nudging 1kg. It is best to fish this drift with a shallow paternoster rig and two hooks, which gives you a better chance for double hook-ups! Prawns and whitebait are both taken freely but keep the bait moving at all times. Give this are a miss during weekends as there is too much water traffic.


At the time of writing the water temperature in the bay has climbed past the 18°C mark. The Georges River is surprisingly warmer by the odd degree. I don’t anticipate any major changes in November, and we should see stabilized fish feeding patterns and increased catches.

The full moon period will see the first seasonal run of school mulloway in the system with fish around 3-4kg the norm, biting best around the high water mark. The deeper holes of the bay are where you will find them. The eastern side of the oil wharf at Kurnell, Molineaux Point, the green marker on the south side of Bare Island, and the dropover off the new airport runway are all likely possies.

In the Georges River, between the second and third pylons on the northern side of Captain Cook Bridge, Tom Uglys Bridge, Bald Face Point, Kangaroo Point, Caravan Head channel, Como Bridge, Aurora Point and the Princes Highway Bridge at Tempe will produce fish. Their sizes will increase as the season progresses.

Kingfish will start to show up in numbers and will be targeted around the cans in the middle of the bay, along the Port Botany reclamation wall, Bare Island bommie and Henrys Head, with live baits the best enticer. Live squid downrigged along the cliff faces close to Cape Banks, Sharky, Tabbigai and Cape Bailey will produce the bigger fish.

Whiting schools will congregate on the shallow sand flats at the entrance to the tributaries and bite best on the making tide. Blood worms, nippers and Rebel Pop-Rs in red and white will be the popular choices at The Patches, The Logs, Towra Close, Douglas Park, The Moons and Soily Bottom.

Bream will be found on the cockle beds at the entrance to the Georges River, with the stretch between Towra and Captain Cook Bridge the prime possies. Fish between the rid channel markers in the middle of the system. A sneaky place to try at night is Watts Reef at Kurnell using nippers. I have found the rising tide to be best here, with school bream in the 28-33cm class plentiful.

Bass and estuary perch can be targeted at The Needles or Shackles in the upper reaches of the Woronora River and between Liverpool and Cambridge weirs further west. Live freshwater worms are all the go now, with lures taking over this role later on.

In the next issue of Fishing Monthly I’ll be detailing how some of the bigger mulloway can be caught over the next few months.

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