Going gar-gar over tailor and kings
  |  First Published: March 2015

I have been documenting my fishing outings since the 1980s. Consistently since the early 1990s, I have noticed regular trends, and in some cases some not so regular! As an example, saying that the snapper or kings are going to be really on is something you cannot count on for that specific month. Within a 2-3 month period it will come to fruition though.

We have all heard anglers in the know say that the whiting run is late this year, or the mulloway have arrived unusually early. I like to look at it this way; a little like checking out the weather. For a more accurate decision on what to do on the day, check out 2 or preferably 3 weather sites so your assessment is closer to being correct. The same applies to fishing reports. NSW Fishing Monthly of course, Facebook, the 2SM High Tide Fishing Show, and various fishing forums can give you a handle on what is current, but more importantly, how to do it correctly. So by documenting your outings accurately and checking out other information mediums, it will give you better, more consistent results.

This month kingfish, pelagics like bonito, mac tuna and frigate mackerel, bream, snapper, tailor, snapper, rock blackfish, and a species that most rock fishos are not so acquainted with, the samsonfish, will be available. The garfish run is approaching its peak, so spinning or live baiting eastern sea gars is a great choice for kings. Get yourself a set of ganging pliers, strong Mustad swivels, and hooks like the Mustard 7766D in 5/0-7/0 and make up a set of 4 gangs (5 for the larger gars). The Slap-Stick stickbaits are also working well, especially the 9” in white. The Sure Catch 12” stickbaits are great too.

Kings are on in Sydney Harbour, along the ocean rocks, and in Pittwater, at Balls Head, Clifton Gardens, Obelisk Rocks and Middle Head (treat the Obelisk and Middle Head platforms like an ocean rock spot and take the necessary precautions). Off the ocean rocks, The Hat near the Quarantine Wall, Bluefish Point, South Curl Curl’s Flat Rock, The Ovens, South Whale and North Whale are all worth checking out.

The run of samsonfish will continue for another couple of months yet. South Curl Curl, Dee Why and Long Reef are some of the better locations, with every headland producing the occasional specimen.

Snapper are coming in from Bluefish, North Curl Curl, Long Reef and Bangally Head. For the samsons and reddies, large bottle squid, cuttlefish, striped tuna fillet, pillies and large prawns are working well.

Luderick, pigs and groper are available from Little Bluey, Long Reef, Warriewood and the Barrenjoey rocks. Try peeled prawns, white sliced bread, cabbage for the pigs, while for luderick hair and cabbage weed with white sliced bread as berley is working. Try red crabs and scotchies for the groper.

There’s a mixture of species on the beaches this month, and it would be difficult to walk away without a feed. In the evenings there are reasonable numbers of tailor, and some good fish at that. These are often by-catch of the mulloway/shark angler, so fishing for them with the appropriate techniques is more productive. In saying that though, in the surf a live bait is hard to beat for a tailor.

Back in the day, ah yes, back in the day when a 2kg block of pillies was $4 (and we were not happy when it went to $5), the eastern sea gar was worth $5 a kilo and it was viable to use them as baits for tailor. At about $15-17/kg now, they’re expensive compared to pilchards, but longer lasting. Apart from being sensational spinning baits for tailor and also kings, they are a top bait for a number of species off the rocks and beaches.

Going back to tailor, if you can acquire gars at a cheap price when there is a glut (which can occur this month), you will occasionally get them for as little as $9-$10/kg. Purchase a few kilos and Cryovac them if you can. Alternatively, wrap 6-8 together in cling wrap and squeeze all the air out before freezing. Also have your kilo pack of Individually Quick Frozen (IQF) pilchards on hand as additional bait.

Use gars as a prober bait, then swap to the less expensive pilchards when you have located the tailor. A kilo bag will represent 15-20 baits. They are also cheap enough to use for berley if necessary.

Swapping to a half pillie and presenting it on a 1/0 can produce good results on bream. Use a hard fluorocarbon leader like Sufix or Sure Catch 15lb to reduce bite-offs if you encounter tailor or flathead. The latter have been on the chew in amongst the choppers. Fish to 65cm are about, with salmon thrown in as well. The beaches that are producing tailor recently are Manly/Queenscliff, Curl Curl, Dee Why, Narrabeen mid and north, Mona Vale, Newport and Bilgola.

On the whiting front, virtually every beach has reasonable to good numbers of this succulent fish. Starting at Palm Beach, the northern end to a couple of hundred metres past Black Rock has fish to 36cm, with some bream thrown in. More bream are available after dark and not only on worm baits; use mullet fillets, tailor or slimy mackerel.

At Bilgola Beach, good whiting and bream to near 40cm are available from the middle of the beach to the southern corner. This beach is subject to kelp invasion, so don’t waste your time if the weed is there. This also applies to Warriewood Beach, which is producing good bream and whiting. There’s tailor about in the low light to evening period.

The Pines at Octavia St has whiting, with a large dusky flathead of 90cm reported there by one of my sources, caught on a ganged pillie meant for tailor. Fortunately, it was released. Heading further south, the Collaroy side of Dee Why Beach is fishing fairly well for whiting and some tailor before and after dark. Pink nippers pumped from Narrabeen Lagoon or Pittwater work very well, and at times are better than beachworms. The southern side from the surf club to the corner is fishing nicely in a moderate southerly swell, especially if the weed is at a minimum.

Freshwater Beach is fishing okay for bream and tailor in the evening. The bream are up towards and parallel with the southern corner rocks. Manly Beach has seen good hauls of whiting to over 40cm, bream, and some flathead. An evening fish here for whiting is quite good on the calmer nights. It is well lit and accessible from the beach car park, so you can park only 50m from where you fish.

There is still 4 months left for the warmer water species off the rocks and beaches. If you haven’t taken up fishing before or if you have fished for years and think that you have missed out on most of the fun, think otherwise. There are still plenty of good months left.


Allen Irving with a 65cm flathead caught off the beach of an evening. Flatties are often bycatch of anglers fishing for mulloway or tailor.


Charlie Wood with his best king of 95cm, taken spinning with ganged garfish. This fish was caught in some nasty terrain and he did really well to land it.


Daniel Coote was cheering about this king. You can expect a couple this month, and for the next few at least.


Even though you target a specific species, in this case whiting, the catch on the day consisted of 2 whiting, 2 bream, a flathead and a big tarwhine for Sabina Ziolkouski and Mat Graham. All were caught on live beachworms.

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