As the east coast current travels south, it normally holds well offshore, allowing only the bigger boats to access its rich bounty of pelagic species. Well times are a changing, and we now get the cobalt blue water coming very close to the coastline and sometimes even into the harbour.
Recently we’ve been having a mad run of small black marlin inshore that are well and truly accessible to the small boat fisherman. Consequently, it wasn’t going to be long before a marlin was hooked in Sydney Harbour. Vic Levett and Nick Martin from Oceanhunter Sportfishing have nailed it, landing a black marlin between Sydney Heads! The boys landed 5 fish for the day trolling live slimy mackerel, all fish were hooked very close to shore, and all were released to do their thing again. Mahimahi were also caught at the local artificial reef just off South Head at the same time, which was also most unusual as these fish are generally confined to offshore waters only.
Further offshore, the warmer currents have been holding marlin to 100kg, with small skirted lures to 9” long being very successful. Brands like Marlin Magic, Billmark, Williamson, and Pakula Paua Hotheads and Phantoms have produced the goods. Some good mahimahi are still being hooked at local marker buoys and FADs. At this late stage in the season, most of the bigger models seem to have shot through, with medium to small fish taking the live baits.
Our inshore reefs are still holding good schools of bait, mostly yakkas, and the kings aren’t too far behind. Downrigging livies is a favourite method of getting under these schools to where the fish are. Beau Worthington had a field day on fish to 85cm, with multiple triple hookups using micro jigs, as when a hooked fish came up they had plenty of mates also showing interest. Mugs Reef off Manly Beach has been holding amberjacks all season and these guys also readily also take to the micro gear. Peter Roberts and myself landed a dozen fish to 58cm here on all types of jigs from 35-60g. The secret to this type of fishing is finding the fish on the sounder and then bombing the jig to the required depth.
Pittwater has had its ups and downs lately and like any body of water, as conditions change so must our methods. For instance, fish deeper for squid when it rains as the fresh sits atop the salt, or in the middle of the day most fish go deeper, so drop your baits down further. Making these small adjustments won’t guarantee you’ll catch more fish, but it will keep you in the zone longer. Longnose Point, Careel Bay and Scotland Island have been successful kingfish locations, with the ever-popular live squid being the bait of choice. I’m not a massive fan of frozen bait, but Californian squid has been killing it on the kings since October last year, and will certainly put you out there with a chance should you not be able to catch any live ones. Matt Schott had a great capture up there recently when a cobia latched on to his squid jig and was successfully landed; well angled, bud.
The rocks have been a little quiet lately, but once again adapting to conditions may prove more successful, Tom Bamforth targeted snapper in the wash by casting 7” Gulp soft plastics and landed a 5kg model, which is a cracker fish off the stones.
Sydney Harbour has been flooded with baitfish of late and the pelagics are running rampant on the outer edges of the schools. Bonito, kings, tailor, frigate mackerel and salmon have all been present and different types of lures will target these fish separately. Sinking stickbaits and topwater jobbies will land them all, except frigates and salmon, while small metals will catch all but the kings. With just these 2 styles of lures you might have enough to keep you going, but don’t just head out there with 1 of each. Some of these fellas have teeth and will bite you off in a heartbeat, so take a few spares.
On the east side, favourite locations include South Head to Clarke Island, while over on the west side, Clifton Gardens to Mosman Bay has been popular. If you find the birds you’ll find the fish.
Adam Polly and Janneke Verschure with a nice late season mahimahi.
Beau Worthington with quite a handful of kings.
Matt Schott with a rare Pittwater visitor — a cobia.
Nick Martin releasing a Sydney Harbour black marlin. That’s South Head in the background!
Tom Bamforth with a wash snapper caught on a soft plastic.Reads: 807