Feeding frenzy in Pittwater!
  |  First Published: January 2016

Over the last couple of weeks we’ve had some great days for fishing. Species that have fired up include flathead, kingfish, mulloway, and sharks. There’s been a lot of baitfish along Broken Bay and Pittwater, and these schools have made the areas primary targets for a variety of species.

With the water still warming, the pelagic species are not always at structure along Pittwater. They seem to be happy to move as the baitfish do and occasionally go into a short feeding frenzy on the surface. With this in mind downrigging is a good method, but casting out lures from the sides of your boat as you go will increase your chances. We regularly catch other species of fish such as tailor and salmon, depending on the lure choice.

To cover your bases it may be necessary to gather both squid and yellowtail. Most days squid work a treat but the slow days see the fussy fish preferring yellowtail. Both can be gathered at West Head and fringing kelp weed.

A few squid have started to show up in the bays along Pittwater. The best areas so far for squid are The Basin, Mackerel Beach and Palm Beach near the ferry wharves. The squid are favouring brighter coloured squid jigs of fluoro pink or orange and in hardbody squid jigs, flashy pilchard colours are working well. The better size has been 2.5g on most occasions but have a 2g jig ready for the fussy ones.

If you are drifting along while casting for squid, cast towards the area ahead of you. By doing this you’ll allow your squid jig to sink to the desired depth, which allows you to work the squid jig properly. The kings seem to be roaming Pittwater; unfortunately there aren’t big schools of fish, but the fish are quality.

Areas that are worth a try are Scotland Island, Careel Bay, and Longnose Point and if you can get out on the ocean side of Barrenjoey Head there are a few smaller fish to play with. For those that are after a flathead or two there are some nice dusky flathead showing up. These big fish can be targeted at Woody Point, Sand Point, Portuguese Beach, Careel Bay, Mackerel Beach and the drop-off in front of Palm Beach.

There is no best technique to catch one of these big girls but the most popular way is using the humble pilchard on a paternoster rig or a running rig.

Use soft plastics on the sand banks in the upper reaches of the bays on the high tide to track down and catch a few decent fish. If you are going to cast to the shallows, stealth is your key requirement. Not only do you have to be silent, you must also use a soft plastic that isn’t going to make too much disturbance on the surface. Work the fringes of the weed beds and you will also catch a few bream.

The deeper channels along Pittwater are also seeing a few mulloway caught. These aren’t monster mulloway, but fish between 75-85cm are still quality fish and go hard on lighter tackle. I have been amazed at how many mulloway like to eat micro jigs that are aggressively worked as you drift the channels. For those of you that like to use bait, it’s been a real lucky dip. We have caught mulloway on pilchard pieces, squid, and even prawns so I think it is really more about finding the school rather than trying to find the perfect bait. Areas to try include the channel that runs from Longnose Point though to Sinclair Point, Stokes Point, the drop-off out in front of Currawong Beach and near the outer moorings that run from Church Point towards Bayview.

Before drifting or anchoring, check that the area has baitfish close by. Target these fish on the change of the tide for your best chance. Even though there are times when they will eat everything, you should try to catch fresh bait if time allows.

Along our coast we are also finding kingfish to catch. Most days the better bait has been live yellowtail or slimy mackerel if you can find them. Downrigging live bait along the headlands and reefs catches kingfish. There are some areas that have a lot of smaller kings that are great fun on the lighter tackle. If you find yourself near a surface feeding frenzy don’t hesitate to work your lures or live baits a bit deeper. There have been a few bigger fish lurking under the smaller kings on the surface, you just have to find a lure that the smaller ones will leave alone.

Some areas to try are Barrenjoey Head, Avalon Headland, Newport Reef and the Turimetta Headland area. The birds working the surface will show you the areas to target and for those that love casting lures the standard 6” white soft plastic is the choice meal of most fish.

Reef fishing has been a bit of a struggle of late with the strong currents at 4 knots on some days. With this in mind we have still been able to find kingfish, small snapper, flathead and trevally in waters of 50m. There is the odd patch of leatherjacket showing up as well so have a few spots chosen that you can try before heading out. Micro jigs have been working well for most species and are a great way to stay active while fishing.

Hopefully we can all catch some fish over the next few weeks!

• Peter Le Blang operates Harbour and Estuary Fishing Charters, phone 02 9999 2574 or 0410 633 351, visit www.estuaryfishingcharters.com.au

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