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A great story of rags to riches
  |  First Published: March 2016



As forecast in last month’s issue, the entrance to the Georges River delivered the goods in the shape of outstanding catches. I also pointed out that this was the time to find new spots. Well, I found one in the shape of a reefy, shaly type of bottom right in the middle of the Georges River between Towra Point and Dolls Point. I tried this possie at least five times during February with surprising results. After losing fish after fish on light gear I decided to step up the tackle with heavier artillery, and this paid off. I got big flathead, bream, tailor, tarwhine, snapper, cobia and really good size kingfish. Yes, that’s right: kingfish in the Georges River. Unheard of!

The kings peaked at around 5kg. Few anglers in this neck of the woods would dispute that, pound for pound, these are the best fighting fish one could hope to get on the end of a line. When you get to my age, make sure you’re reasonably fit because as the tenacity of these brutes, combined with their power, will test you fully.

Quality bait is of paramount importance for these fish. I have found locally sourced squid to be the best enticer, making all the difference. Freshly cut strips around 10cm long by 2cm wide are ideal, with the slices cut diagonally. This exposes a larger portion of the squid with real flavour, and all of the above mentioned species absolutely love it. And if you can get your hands on some thin slices of frigate mackerel, they will produce the larger fish. The bloody texture is irresistible to most species.

Berley is useless here. It brings the toadfish and stingrays around in droves, and that results in loss of money, gear and fish as you need to check your traces for any abrasions or cuts.

In other news, the often ignored blue swimmer crabs are prolific in the bay and Georges River at this time of year, and make fantastic eating. The best areas to find crabs are between the Captain Cook and Tom Uglys bridges, along the northern and southern foreshores, up into Kogarah Bay on the weed beds, and Woolooware Bay down to Towra Point along its foreshore.

In the bay itself, just about the entire area will produce crabs, with the stretch off Ramsgate Baths and the end of the airstrip an excellent option to set your traps. Know the Fisheries rules because you never know when an inspector will pop up.

When selecting a bait, some of the most successful are fish frames of blackfish, mullet, trevally and tailor, with my preference being blackfish. Always set your traps out of boating channels or you’ll suffer heavy losses, and allow enough cord from your trap to the marker for tide variations. Check your traps about every half hour. If you haven’t gotten any crabs after an hour, move to another area and reset your traps.

Crabs are found in both slack and fast running water but they don’t like a fresh after rain. They disappear and only reappear when the water is clear again.

If you would like my recipe on how to cook the crabs please contact the magazine and I will forward the information.

The weather played a major role during the past few weeks, confining the fishing to the lower reaches of the system and Botany Bay itself with copious amounts of chocolate-coloured fresh water. At times the fishing can excel in these conditions. In Botany Bay, good catches of dusky flathead were taken on the drift in Yarra Bay between the sailing club and La Perouse, both on plastics and Hawkesbury prawns. The Squidgy Grasshopper has proven to be a real fish taker as well.

The drift between Molineaux Point and Bare Island produced larger fish during the outgoing tide, with strips of fresh mullet working well. Surprisingly, not a lot of lizards were taken on the southern shoreline but a few fish were taken on the northern side of the shoreline between San Souci and Dolls Point.

Bream have been taken from most of the recognised possies, no doubt flushed out by the fresh in the river. Peter Barrett and myself caught 33 (we kept 20), 19 and 14 over three outings between Towra and Dolls Point, and these fish would rank among the best conditioned specimens I’ve seen in my long career. Most of the fish ranged between 34-41cm and were caught on locally-sourced squid strips. At one point I saw a big bream skipping along the surface chased by a hammerhead shark, with the bream eventually winning.

Good fish have also been boated in front of Cook Park at Ramsgate. This less popular location can sometimes produce the goods when other options fail, particularly on weekends when there is too much traffic on more popular haunts. Nice fish were taken between the weed corridors in front of Bonna Point. This spot is also known as ‘The Patches’, and fishes best in the shallows after dark during the making tide. The best baits are live nippers and bloodworms.

The Cooks River break wall, as always, is a good standby, with a few good fish taken at night from the northern wall by anglers using nippers. I’m told a few of the fish have nudged the kilo mark. In all fairness, all this stretch between the Grand Parade on the entrance to the system has always been a great fish producer but you need live bait if you want good returns. A frozen packet of prawns will not yield you fish.

Nice flatties have been taken land-based between Brighton-Le-Sands and Dolls Point, particularly at first light, and the groynes on the southern side have been productive for tailor at night and the odd school mulloway.

The whiting have been slow. Although a few class fish were taken along the Caravan Head channel at night, no decent specimens have caught during the day – only the small trumpeters.

Offshore the usual haunts have produced reasonable catches. The 12 Mile Reef, although very heavily fished, has rewarded the live bait users with kings to 95cm. Big leatherjackets have also been on the prowl, destroying paternoster rigs. One well-known charter boat lost 65 sinkers in a morning session!

Mahimahi have been around the traps near the Nine Mile Reef, and that is about the only place that can be fished for them with a bit of optimism. The Peak has been hot and cold, with one day firing and quiet the next. I’ve heard of a few kings boated at the Wedding Cake off Coogee but nothing to write home about.

Flathead have been the mainstay but they seem to be feeding in deeper water than in previous weeks. The most consistent area has been around Botany Heads. The 40-50m drift has provided many lizards between 45-55cm, and there is always the added bonus of picking up a mowie or snapper when covering a patchy bottom. A few pan-size reds have been taken at anchor close to the Kurnell Peninsula on floating baits, while bonito have made a welcome appearance along the cliff faces, with the best lure by far being the 3.5” Yamashita white skirt trolled at about 6 knots.

Beach fishers have been doing well on the tailor on the southern side of Maroubra Beach in front of the Seals Club, and both Congwong and Little Congwong have provided excellent land-based catches of blurters.

MARCH PREDICTIONS

Over the last few years I’ve found March to be an excellent month to chase bream. The run can be quite prolific, and produce fish to 1.5kg. I usually park myself in front of the boat ramp at Kurnell, in line with the oil wharf in water approximately 4-4.5m deep, looking for scattered weed, sand and shoal patches. I nearly always return home with a good feed. I believe all this area between Towra and Kurnell produces at this time of year, and the action will continue until May. Simply look for a bit of structure which may interest the bream. Allow yourself a little extra time for your berley to work as this is a necessity. It may take up to half an hour to work but it will be worth it.

You’ll also find bream in the cockle bed in front of the old runway. One good way is to hook a few up when you’re fishing so you know you’re in the right spot.

Bream will be available in front of the sailing club at San Souci and should start to make an appearance on the rough terrain in front of Connells Point.

Trevally should be on the chew near the oil wharf at Kurnell. Make sure you fish the tide to suit the wind, otherwise you’ll miss out. The channel markers in front of the Port Botany reclamation wall will reward you with bigger blurters but once again, berley is a necessity. The same thing applies to the floating buoys in front of the runways – just pepper them until you find the schools. The second pylon on the southern side of Captain Cook Bridge is also worth a try for blurters as they school near the pylons looking for a feed.

School mulloway will be in force on the dropover in front of the new runway, and not too far away from the drum on the Kurnell oil wharf. You will also find them in front of the second pylon on the northern side of Como Bridge.

Whiting remain a mystery to me; these last few weeks have been very disappointing. My theory is that the bream have chased them away from the sand flats, and they may be lurking on the edge of the channels in the estuaries. I would suggest the stretch between Oatley Bay and Coronation Bay, the northern channel between Como Bridge and Gungah Head, the opposite side of Cranbrook and the wire fence and along the edges of Douglas Park flats.

I’m really excited about these challenges, which require a lot of passion and patience. I’ll keep you posted next issue.

By the way, the bass are still on at Douglas Park, Menangle Weir, the Grove Bridge, Cobbity Weir and Wallacia Bridge on the Nepean. You’ll catch them with Soft Shell Cicada lures.

• For all your fishing needs, as well as the latest info on what’s biting, drop into Gabe’s Boating and Fishing at Narellan (4/1A Somerset Ave), or Silvania (268/264-276 Princes Hwy). You can also call them on (02) 4647 8755 or (02) 9522 5100 respectively, or visit the website at [url=http://www.gbaf.com.au/].

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