I have been fishing Botany Bay on and off since I was at primary school, and over the years you get to know the area like the back of your hand. So over the years has the fishing improved or gotten harder? I would say that in the years up until the trawlers were banned from working the bay, it got slightly harder. Then, once the trawlers were banned, the fishing got better as the sea grass beds came back and the condition of the water improved.
Outside of the bay, the ban on kingfish traps saw kingie numbers increase ten-fold up and down the coast. This meant that the kingfish numbers increased in the bay so much that even bait anglers fishing with a few day old prawn were catching kingfish.
Then along came a few more changes to the bay. These included the addition of a number of groynes, a desal plant where pipes were laid from north Brighton to Kurnell, and a number of artificial reefs put in Yarra Bay by NSW Fisheries. There have also been a few places where the sand has increased, and the yellow markers indicating the no-go zone around the runways and Port Botany were expanded.
So do I think that these changes have affected the fishing in Botany Bay? I sure do.
One of the major things I believe has changed the fishing in the bay is the expansion of the Port Botany area and the back of the bay on the northern side of the airport runway. My theory is that it has definitely changed the way that the currents flow in and out of the bay.
Sure – the tide comes in and goes out every six hours, but in some places where the tide should be coming in it’s actually going in the opposite direction. For example, you can be anchored up just off the shoreline at Sutherland Point, just out from Cook’s landing place, and be fishing what is supposed to be an out-going tide. However, when you set yourself up at anchor and set your lines out you will find that the current is running in the opposite direction. It’s not just an eddy, it’s an incoming tide.
You only have to look at other boats that are around to see the ones that are drifting are going out, and the ones that are anchored up at either Watts Reef or the port marker just northwest of it are fishing an out-going tide.
So should this make any difference when fishing some of the spots in Botany Bay? I find that it does! If you have found that some of the places you have been fishing for a numbers of years have changed, you will have to re-think the way you fish them.
Over the years I’ve found that if you want to increase your catch rates you need to berley. It’s simple – if you anchor up and are baitfishing, you need to berley if you want to catch more fish. It doesn’t have to be some sophisticated berley mix; it can be as simple as a few handfuls of chicken pellets or soaked white bread.
Another place that I have fished a lot is the oil wharf at Kurnell. Depending on where you are anchored, the currents can be a bit tricky here. I have been on the northern side of the wharf when the tide was coming in on top, but the current was going out on the bottom. This caused my lightly weighted line to drift back towards the wharf, but as it got deeper it came back out. To compensate for this all I did was put on a slightly larger ball sinker.
As for the rig that was on the bottom with a long leader, sinker and swivel – it was coming up with the leader tangled back up the main line. To compensate for this I cast the bait way out to the side of the boat and let it drift back.
That’s enough of my theories for the bay. Let’s look at where should you fish during October.
Trevally Alley on the northern side is worth a shot for trevally, bream, flathead, leatherjackets and the odd kingfish or two during the day. Tailor should be on the chew during the night. Whether the tide is coming in or going out you could try anchoring up at least 100m out from the oil wharf for bream, trevally, pan-size snapper, flathead and the odd kingfish or two.
Another place you could try is the mooring drums in the middle of the bay, the end of the third runway and wide off Towra Point for bream, trevally, whiting, flathead and flounder. A few octopus should also start to show up at these spots as well.
If you would like to try fishing the NSW Fisheries artificial reef in Yarra Bay you will need to download the GPS spots onto your sounder and anchor up near them. If you don’t have a GPS or a sounder, try drifting the area and once you get snagged up take a couple of land-based marks and note it down for next time.
The Port Hacking has been firing on all fronts for luderick over the past couple of months, and even though it will start to quieten down a bit you will still be able to get amongst them. Whiting, bream, trevally, salmon, tailor and the odd kingfish would be worth a try off the sand bar at Lilly Pilly. If you’re landed-based you could try Lilly Pilly, Gymea and Gunnamatta Baths.
The beaches off Cronulla, Maroubra, Coogee and Bondi will be worth a shot for whiting, bream and the odd flathead or two. Early morning and late afternoon would be the best time on the weekend, and if you can fish during the week the time of day doesn’t seem to matter.
If you would like more information on the fishing in southern Sydney, or you have something to report or a photo you’d like to see in the magazine, send me an email at --e-mail address hidden--Reads: 707