Early starts aren’t essential
  |  First Published: August 2007

Cool starts are hard to face as you side out from under the bed covers and the icy westerly breeze cuts deep as your boat shoots across Botany Bay heading to your first fishing spot.

However, I find this time of the year very consistent: There are plenty of species to target, the weather is usually stable and the days can provide top fishing conditions.

I start many days at 8am or even 9am. Other than tailor, most species that I target at this time of year will feed later in the morning as long as there is tidal flow. The movement in the water is when fish feed on these Winter days.

But if I’m chasing tailor they seem to feed better just on first light and will respond well to a berley trail of chopped pilchards.

I anchor in deeper water around structure like the Oil Wharf. This is a top spot on the run-out tide. I make shore that I am set up with my berley trail running before it gets light.

Small cubes of pilchards are about the best berley you can use for tailor but it has to keep flowing. I use two 4/0 4200 Mustad hooks ganged together and no sinker, allowing the bait to float back with the berley.

Tailor go off as the sun hits the sky so if I’m not chasing them, I forgo the early start and turn up at gentleman’s hours.


One species that loves the cooler water is trevally, which hold in deeper water around structure in large schools. Berley is the key and they respond well to pellets and bread as well as pilchard cubes.

Once a good school moves in, remember to keep the berley flowing or the fish will move off. Trevally numbers have come ahead in leaps and bounds since the ban on commercial fishing a few years ago and most fish are around 500g to a kilo with the odd larger specimen.

Trevally will take small soft plastics, metal slices as well as many types of bait. They are a great sport on light tackle and rather good on the plate.

Salmon schools will be moving along the coast. The westerlies normally keep the seas flat, allowing smaller boats to poke around the entrance in search of feeding fish.

Cast small metal lures or soft plastics around the feeding fish and retrieve fast with the metal slice just on the surface. Working a plastic with small twitches into a feeding school is another way to take salmon.


You can head out for blackfish at any time of the day, you just need to try different spots to see which tide suits. All our waterways hold big numbers of blackfish.

Port Hacking is a favourite of mine, just anchor along one of the rocky shores that provide a long straight run to fish. Two anchors will help keep your boat in the right spot.

Green weed is required as bait and berley. A small amount is kept for bait while the rest is cut up finely and mixed into a bucket of sand, which helps the weed sink down into the 3m to 5m strike zone.

The rig consists of a long, soft rod and light line and No 8 or No 10 short-shank hooks, while a long-stemmed float keeps the bait off the bottom. Set the float stopper about 50cm off the bottom and allow it to drift with the tide keeping slack line out of the equation. Strike once the float is pulled under and the long rod will act as a cushion and help in the fight.

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