Blackfish in abundance
  |  First Published: August 2015

A great way to start the day is with some exercise — whether it’s a walk, swim, run, bike ride or preferably going for a fish. This especially applies to the land based fisho, which more often than not requires a hike to get out to those special locations. You get a combination of exercise and the rewards of a feed of fish. And that’s why you will keep on doing it, simply because of the non-repetitive nature fishing offers compared to other forms of exercise. And with it there’s a diversity of methods that takes more than a life time to master. In other words, you will never get bored with your exercise!

Let’s go straight to the report. Great catches of that entertaining and hard fighting sportfish, the rock blackfish, black drummer or pig, are occurring. They’re 1 of my favourite eating fish as well. Berley is a prerequisite when fishing for them, providing the current isn’t too powerful. Berleying up in a strong current/drift will only send fish away. Sometimes it’s best not to berley in those circumstances.

Thanks to pigs and other species liking bread, it makes a great cheap berley. Mix it with some prawn shells and prawn heads mulched up, and of course the bait that you are probably using, which are peeled prawns to match. Rig with light ball sinkers and double strength hooks like the Mustard 92554 in the 1/0 or the 540. These hooks are generally strong enough. Go up to a 2/0 to handle any pig that you may encounter on 12kg+ line in that nasty, boulder-strewn country where you have to not only extract a large fish, but possibly lift them up several metres. That line class is required to free lift or wind up 3+kg pigs.

Spots to try are at The Hat below the Quarantine Wall and Little Bluey right of Shelly Headland. Both these spots are in Manly. A mix of species like luderick, bream, some trevally, and small to medium silver drummer can be expected in amongst the pig bag. A few good tailor are being spun up at Little Bluey as well. Have your chrome lures like the 45-65g Snipers or Knights on standby when you see the signs of surface boils and splashes from marauding predators like tailor and salmon. For the salmon though, you may need to downsize your lure to a 25g metal.

North Curl Curl is producing a few trevally at the front ledge of the pool to about 100m north. There is the odd plate size (32-35cm) snapper being found by casting out wide 80-90m near the pool also.

Further north is the reliable and relatively safe (as far as rock fishing goes) Long Reef. It is producing luderick in the shallows on hair weed, and pigs on the north face a few hundred metres from the cleaning tables.

At North Narrabeen Head there are some nice pigs near the gutters and off the front during flat conditions. A few trevally are mixed in, along with the odd bream and nice tarwhine also.

Warriewood Headland on the north east face is producing great bags of pigs. One exceptional outing a client and I had produced 20 pigs from 1-2kg, with 14 fish released and 6 kept for fillets. Two nice tarwhine to 36cm were caught as well. I was privileged to have participated in this fine haul of fish, as normally when guiding clients I don’t fish much. They are schooling up, so expecting a bag similar to that may not be the case when you pursue them from here.

As I have mentioned on numerous occasions, only catch what you want to take home. If they’re on, catch more for the experience, keep them alive in a well-aerated cool pool, take some photos of your haul and put back what you don’t need. If you’re hooking fish deep and you want to release them, increase the hook size to a 2/0 so there will be a much better chance of mouth hookups.

There are a few luderick in the gutter near the Blowhole, with tailor, trevally and some small snapper in front of the gutter by casting wide. A spot that does not require too much effort and fishes okay is the rocks at South Palm Beach. There’s good luderick in the shallow gutter 70m from the swimming pool, and further along there is trevally, salmon and the odd snapper in the washes. Fish a pilchard/bread berley with half pillies, peeled large prawns, squid strips, and fish fillets like freshly caught tailor or slimy mackerel. You don’t need all these baits, but at least 2 different types. You will find 1 will be better than the other.

This month the dominant species off the beach is salmon. Virtually every beach from Manly to Palm Beach is producing. Fish a set of 3 ganged hooks from 3/0-4/0. It’s not necessary to use a larger hook size than that unless the pilchards are L-XL size. I would prefer to stick to the pillies of 130-150mm length.

Take along a small tackle box of metals. Those 25g Knights and Snipers are a good start and up-size them to 45-65g. There’s no need to have larger metals for salmon. Carry 2 rods as well, 1 for bait fishing and 1 for lures. An outfit I can recommend is the Blue Steel Surf Light. It’s suitable for line classes from 8-20lb, but best used with 5kg TD Sensor braid and 12lb fluorocarbon Sufix leader. A reel that marries well with this rod is the Daiwa Ballistic EX 3500. It’s light and an absolute dream to fish with.

Now to the other outfit suitable for casting pilchards for salmon/tailor fishing. The reel I recommend is the Daiwa Fream 4000 with 5-8kg mono or braid, or the Alvey 625B. Best rod is a 13’ Live Fibre 6-10kg. You will be able to fish a moderate swell with this rod and is suitable for weights up to approximately 150g.

There are still pockets of whiting and a few bream available this month, although it is the tail end of the season. Perhaps don’t expect the same volume as what was available in July, but it’s still worth pursuing these species. There are only a few tackle shops that have live bait, so it’s necessary to pump your own nippers or, if you can catch your own, beachworms.

Bloodworms can be pumped towards the back of Narrabeen Lagoon near Wimbledon Ave on the sandflat, but you require a kayak or small boat to get out there. It’s not bad for nippers as well. There are loads of spots in Pittwater.

So the beaches I suggest are the South Stein section of Manly Beach, towards the southern corner of Dee Why, Mona Vale Beach from the pool to Cooks Terrace, and in front of Mona Vale Hospital. Some great tarwhine are coming in here — up to 42cm, which are cracker fish and a blast on 3kg mono! These fish have soft flesh from the legal length of 20cm to about 27-28cm, but it becomes firmer and more flavoursome the larger they are.

If you have never caught a decent fish before, now’s your opportunity to have a crack at the salmon, which are a sensational fish to start on, especially off our ocean beaches. They are a strong fighting fish; they jump out of the water, they’re available in good numbers this month and for the next few. If bled, filleted, skinned and boned, the fillets thinned down and floured, fried in butter or olive oil, they’re just great. Release the stronger flavoured fish over 2kg and keep the smaller ones.

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