Fishing on the improve
  |  First Published: December 2015

In last month’s magazine I predicted that we would see vastly improved catches once the water temperature climbed up a few degrees. That has finally happened with bream, whiting, flathead, school mulloway and trevally being taken in good numbers. After an ordinary season fishing-wise, we can now look forward to making up for lost time. The Cooks River and its tributaries have been fishing particularly well, with school mulloway around the 7-8kg mark.

For a feed of bream, the Kurnell oil wharf is a great location which can be relied upon to provide a feed. I like fishing on the western side where the wharf makes a slight bend, and fish about 200-300m out. To maximise your chances for a bream, try using lines of 3-4kg and keep lead to a minimum. Slightly yo-yo your bait to attract the attention of the fish, then tease it until the bait is taken for a run. Pink nippers are one of the best baits.

We’ve had good reports of tailor being taken at night from the artificial reefs in Yarra Bay. These fish average around 55-60cm and will readily take unweighted pilchards or live yellowtail. If you’re going to fish this area I recommend taking a heavier outfit with you because big kingfish are always marauding these reefs. They can be quite a handful, so take a 10-15kg rod and a good Baitrunner-style reel spooled with 15kg braid and 40lb fluorocarbon leader and you should be OK.

If you are having difficulty finding live bait, try the cove behind the Port Botany wall. A steady stream of berley is all that’s required to bring yellowtail, slimy mackerel and tailor in around your boat. A slightly larger bait set down on the bottom will also attract some of the good bream and flathead that frequent the area.

Moving towards the western side of the bay, good size whiting and trevally have been taken land-based on the sand and weed patches just north of the Brighton-Le-Sands shark nets. The exact spot is in front of the Shell service station on the Grand Parade at Brighton. The best time has been on the low tide, when you can cast to the drop-off where it meets the deeper water. This is where you’ll find the fish. Make sure you’ve got bloodworms otherwise you’ll be wasting your time.

Another spot that has been fishing well is the canal in Sylvania Waters. This area features imposing waterfront homes and lots of swimming pools, and offers some of the best sneaky bream fishing in Sydney. This is night-time fishing so please do the right thing and keep the noise down. Use light gear, 2-3kg line, a nibble-tip type rod of around 2.1m, and just a pinch of lead behind the hook. Cast along the walls of the bank. The bite can be just the faintest touch on the line.

These bream are ultra-shy, but it’s nothing to catch fish over 1.5kg. You can also catch flathead and whiting.


The system is slowly improving but it hasn’t reached expectations. There are still thousands of juvenile bream and whiting taking baits meant for larger predators.

The whiting are there, but biting very timidly. I found them in the Caravan Head channel during the outgoing tide, and picked up some quality fish to 45cm. They’re not in peak condition, with the largest fish going a neat 750g dressed. All you could notice was a slight quiver on the rod, which indicated interest on the bait – then the only way to catch them was to allow at least 10m of slack line before turning the handle and applying pressure on the fish. This is what I call fishing at its very best; it requires a lot of skill and finesse. It’s important to use a fluorocarbon leader no heavier than 2kg. Bloodworms are a necessary evil if you want a good catch.

Further downstream, Como Bridge has delivered a few surprises in the shape of 60cm tailor and school mulloway to 80cm plus the added bonus of the occasional large mud crab. The first pylon on the northern or Sydney side is the place to be, with the slack low water period the best time to fish. Live yellowtail or fresh Hawkesbury squid have been providing the spoils.

The Woronora (or ‘Wonnie’ as the locals call it) has been solid, with better class luderick available. Boss Pits, Bonnet Bay and the Old Road Bridge have been the focal points. Whiting and bream to 800g have been taken on the edge of the channel on squirtworms and bloodworms. The Ranch, Red Rock, Washington Drive Reserve and Bottle and Glass at the entrance of the system are the gun possies. If you want to fish here you have to do it early in the morning or during the darker hours.

Chipping Norton Lake continues to surprise, with luderick to 500g falling for local weed baits at the reclamation wall in the middle of the lake. Salmon to 60cm have been schooling at the entrance to Prospect and Cabramatta creeks, and they’re showing a preference for 10g Lookalike silver lures. It’s actually a surprise to see these fish there, but apparently this is the time of year when they migrate to the upper reaches.

Good size prawns have been scooped along Lake Gillawarna Beach, Williams Creek, Burrawang, Cattle Duffers, Sandy Point Beach and the stretch between Alfords Point Bridge and Mickeys Point. It’s essential to keep your prawns cool. I recommend immersing them in local water cooled with frozen water bottles until you get home. I find that an aerator helps, and if you’re going to freeze them, please make sure you lay them flat in a freezer bag with at least two pages of newspaper covering them. Write the date on the package and use the older dates first. If done properly, these prawns will remain in good condition for 12 months!


The offshore fishing has been hit-and-miss, with excellent catches of kingfish one day and nothing the next. The 12 Mile Reef has been a happy medium, with kings to 10kg falling for the Shimano Butterfly jigs and slowly jigged Pirate Jigs in fluoro yellow. The Peak has longfin perch on offer on the drop-off, particularly on the eastern side, with fish to 1kg. At $28 per kilo in the shops, they are worth chasing and make excellent eating.

Flathead are still on the chew and have been taken on the drift off Mistral Point, the Tank, the 40m mark between Botany Bay Heads and wide of Boat Harbour.

Check out the prices of slimy mackerel at the markets – they’re $14-15 per kilo. The humble yellowtail is $10 per kilo, and whole bonito cost up to $22 per kilo. Hawkesbury squid will cost you up to $30 per kilo! With prices like these, it really is worthwhile spending a couple of hours getting your own live bait. Apart from saving a bucket load, you’ll have the best bait on offer.

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