Hot holiday fishing
  |  First Published: February 2016

Over the last couple of weeks the fishing along Pittwater has been a little tricky for those chasing kingfish, but great if you are prepared to cover ground drifting and trying for flathead.

The size of the flathead this year has been great and I hope it will continue. Flathead are a great species because anyone can catch them without any fancy fishing gear or too much knowledge. All you have to know is that they prefer a sandy or muddy bottom to bury themselves into so they can ambush passing prey.

If you have a boat the areas to try at the moment are the sand bars in the bays along Pittwater. Cast soft plastics on the sand bar on the rising tide and into the holes at the front of the sand bars on the dropping tide. A great bay to start is Careel Bay towards the moorings.

If you want to drift an area, the better spot at the moment is the drop-off from Palm Beach ferry wharf to Mackerel Beach. This long drop-off is a large area to cover but is definitely worth the effort and time. The shallows in front of the Palm Beach Golf course is another cracker area for those who want shallow water to fish.

If you are going to try from the shore along Pittwater or one of its many wharves remember to bring some berley with you, and make sure that you wash down the wharf when you are finished. When fishing off a wharf it’s important to try to attract fish to where you are. Flathead and baitfish will be attracted to the berley. A soft plastic worked up the berley trail will see a few caught, as will a well-cast baited hook.

The kings along Pittwater have been fixated on the small, clear baitfish that seem to be abundant along the river at the moment. On flat mornings the schools of kings can be seen slurping baitfish off the surface and are hard to tempt with anything except a well-placed fly. The only other way we’ve had success in that situation is when downrigging live squid in the same area that the fish are working. The key is to downrig the squid in the upper section of water and to extend the drop back to about 8m behind the downrigger clip. The best depth has depended on water visibility, but as a general rule about 3m down will see your bait in the strike zone. This next week or two should see the kings starting to feed more readily on live squid and yellowtail as the small fry get eaten.

We have been catching most of our kings at Towlers Bay and Careel Bay. Once again, the birds give away the kings’ location but be careful not to deploy your squid bait too quickly. There are schools of small chopper tailor in the same areas so be careful what you send out to the feeding frenzy.

Catching a squid or two has been easier than in previous months, and most weed beds see a few squid actively chase jigs. The better colours to use at the moment seem to be orange or pink in the cloth jigs, and multi-coloured patterns in the hardbodied ones. Don’t forget to use a smear of scent on the jig if the squid are playing hard ball. It’s also important to have a jig in the 2g size in case the squid still won’t play the game.

The better areas this month are the same as last month. You can find a few squid at The Basin, Currawong Beach, Mackerel Beach and near the ferry wharf at Palm Beach.

Along the coast there are kingfish on most headlands south of Avalon. There has been the odd big kingfish encountered but they don’t seem to stay in the same area for long. Once again this month you’ll have to go through a lot of undersized kings before you encounter a larger model, but the fun is in the hunt!

The better bait has been live yellowtail, and when the kings are on you’ll find that monster yellowtail are needed to get past the small, greedy kings that are willing to choke on a bait almost half their size. On the flat mornings poppers have also worked, and I don’t know of a more exciting way to catch kingfish. Those surface takes are enough to get anyone’s adrenalin pumping for the morning.

I hope this report sees you grabbing the kids and getting out on the water to enjoy our wonderful part of the world.

• 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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