Its been a lousy Winter with back-to-back bad weather, colder than average in the water and out and relentless big seas. Fortunately, on the occasional good day when we have got out, the fishing has been exceptionally good.
Blackfish have been around in good numbers but getting a decent supply of weed for bait has been difficult. All the rain, combined with the big swell pounding the rocks, has left most of our usually reliable spots bare of the preferred cabbage weed. The best spots for the luderick have been in the lower reaches near Manly and on the south side near Vaucluse.
It’s a little-known secret that morwong move into the lower Harbour in the cooler months and can often be taken in good numbers with the right technique. They particularly like the deep rocky points right on the spot where the rocks hit the sand. A couple of reliable spots are Flagstaff, Fairlight Point, Dobroyd Reef and Bottle and Glass Point.
Mowies are suckers for prawns or fresh squid fished near or on the bottom. I first discovered them while fishing for leatherjackets with a two-dropper paternoster rig baited with small bits of prawn. This technique still remains the most successful.
Because you will be using small hooks, you need to go very lightly when fighting them and you are guaranteed a great fight on the light gear required to catch them. The bonus of this technique is that you will also snare plenty of jackets, bream and trevally. Iced quickly, filleted and skinned and then pan fried, they make a delicious feed.
Salmon have been the big surprise of this season with good numbers continuing to feed on the surface throughout Middle Harbour and Rushcutters Bay. These are fish that have stayed in Middle Harbour from Summer, I can only assume to take advantage of the unusually large quantities of baitfish.
Salmon are common near the Heads at this time of year but this is the first time I have encountered them in large numbers so far upstream. They are taking metals, trolled minnows and flies around the general area of Seaforth.
Also unusual for this time of year are numbers of kings that have hung around in the cold water. You will always pick up a few kings this time of year fishing deep but these fish are feeding right up on the surface and over the flats in water cooler than 14°. We have picked up a few while bouncing plastics along the sand for flatties in less than 1m of water.
Flathead have been responding well to plastics bounced along the bottom on most of the lower Harbour flats. Rushcutters, Balmoral, North Harbour and Tailors Bay flats have been the hot spots.
If you find yourself stuck inside with the bad weather, you could do a lot worse than get yourself a copy of Al McGlashan’s new DVD Strikezone Billfishing. For me, the outstanding feature was the underwater footage of blue, black and striped marlin and even a sailfish belting baits and teasers. It presents a whole new perspective on how billfish behave before and during taking a bait or lure.
All the action takes place off Port Stephens and is loaded with action below and above the water. Aside from the hot action, the program contains a wealth of tips and information, including working the baits, fighting techniques and the use of the latest technology like GPS and sounders. Definitely worth a look.Reads: 1171