Set up for the season
  |  First Published: August 2007

Over the past few months things have been a bit wet and although it’s a pain at the time, it augurs well for the future.

Cycles can start happening again: Rivers get flooded and disgorge food into the estuaries; predators come to hunt and the food chain reverts to normality. As a rule fishing improves with more consistent catches kicking off a domino effect, with retailers, boat dealers and tackle shops all benefiting from the rise in activity.

It’s all good, productive stuff and the bottom line is that those outings which used to produce zilch are now showing promise and once again you can bring back fresh fish for the family to eat.

It fascinates me the number of jewfish taken from the beaches in the cold season. In fact, I am starting to believe the best time for catching a jew from the sand is not Summer, as most pundits believe, but the colder months.

As squid are hard to come by after the rains, mullet are now the favourite tucker for mulloway. In fact squid will probably get shunned because the jew are used to a diet of oily mullet in Winter.

A shortish trace, a sinker trapped between two swivels a metre apart and a couple of 8/0 to 10/0 hooks to pin the whole mullet and you have a jew rig. My choice of line is 18lb test Schneider Fine with a 24kg trace.

Although Alveys are a favourite off the beach, I love my big 9000 Series eggbeater reel. It has wound me countless jews up the beach, is easy to cast and has never let me down.

Sure, it’s cold spending a night on some deserted sand but let me assure you, when you get tangled with one of these bronze freight trains, you will forget the cold and the adrenalin rush will keep you warm for hours.

Another Winter hot spot is Narrabeen Lake. I love working plastics or bait around the weed patches, waking up sleepy flathead and getting fat Winter bream to hit my offerings. Because the lake is so shallow, don’t be afraid to wade around, casting to all the likely-looking spots.


Let’s look at what’s been happening around my beloved home patch. Plenty of john dory are at all the known bait stations such as Mackerel Beach, McCarrs Creek, the port marker off Palm Beach wharf and West Head. Live bait is the key and use heaps of berley to rev up the bait; the dory won’t be far behind.

Fat bream are scoffing live offerings; the pick of which are fresh-pumped nippers. Don’t say you don’t know where nippers are! There are plenty in Pittwater; try Church Point and Careel Bay flats.

Fish into dusk because those pesky cockney bream (small snapper) will grab those hard-won baits in daylight hours. The rig is a minute pea sinker with at least a metre of trace. Keep line light (3kg to 4kg) and a 1/0 suicide hook is ideal.

Fast-travelling salmon schools often hit the beach, especially when there’s a bit of a swell running. Jay Abrahams had a ball at South Curl Curl using gang-hooked pillies. Big tailor are also giving drags a workout, with some fish close to 4kg.

Where are those hairtail? After a few unconfirmed reports of fish taken in America and Jerusalem bays, I hoped this was the year when they would come back in force. Maybe next Winter.

That popular Winter fish, the silver trevally, is on all reefs mingled with unwelcome sweep. Add an armada of chinaman leatherjackets plus that snotty weed that clings to line like a baby to its mother and you can see why some offshore anglers are tearing their hair out.

Thank God for the ever-faithful squid. These rubbery entrées are everywhere in Pittwater. Nights are best but give it away immediately after rain because they go AWOL. Try Taylors Point, Palm Beach and Careel Bay wharves.

Make sure you take at least a choice of three colours in squid jigs because they can be very fussy.

This is a great time to target mullet in Narrabeen Lagoon. Take a loaf of fresh white bread and another stale loaf to use as berley. Chuck in wetted stale bread (try not to get too angry with the ducks) and then fashion a ball of the fresh bread on a No 16 hook under a small quill or bubble float.

Chuck the rig in near the berley. Now don’t those mullet pull? They’re a great and underestimated sports fish and, bled, filleted and barbecued, they’re absolutely delicious.


One of the to-do things in August is to visit the Sydney Boat Show at Darling Harbour. We may already own boats but we fishos are always in the market for an update – am I right or am I right? It’s therapeutic to kick a few tyres, drool over electronics, shake the head at the gadgetry and salivate over some very equipped fishing platforms.

If you do go to the show, when having lunch, chuck some bread or even fries in the water and check out the size of the yellowfin bream domiciled in the confines of Cockle Bay.

Monthly Tip: When fishing offshore, hold the bait in one hand and let the sinker drift down to the bottom. Now release the bait to float down naturally. It’s a great way to catch very big snapper.

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