Pelagics top the list
  |  First Published: November 2007

All our Summer fish should be on the bite over the next few months, especially the pelagics in Broken Bay and Sydney Harbour be smashing into the bait schools.

Last November the waters of Broken Bay and Pittwater had warmed enough to host bait schools everywhere and large schools of tailor and smaller schools of salmon and kingfish were feeding on them. Most of the salmon and tailor were taken on small metals, small poppers and flies, while the kings ate live yellowtail, garfish and squid.

Soft stickbaits cast around marker posts, moored boats and buoys also accounted for a lot of kings. Amberjacks and samson fish were also caught in good numbers.

We also had a lot of success casting poppers around moored boats and marker poles. There’s nothing like fishing the surface for any type fish, whether it be kings or bass.

Over the past few weeks the first of the kingfish have turned up in Middle Harbour with a lot being caught around The Spit on live squid. The fish have also been up around Sugarloaf where they have been taking surface lures.

There have also been schools of salmon and tailor around the Harbour and near the Heads.

If you find a school fish working the surface, take the time to see what direction and speed the fish are travelling. Don’t rush into the middle of the feeding school because often this will put the fish down for the day.

Most schools work into the wind, so position the boat upwind and wait for the fish to come to you. Often your boat will become surrounded by fish.

On those days when the pelagics have not been working the top, I have been catching them by trolling small lures and soft plastics close the rocky washes.

Hopefully this year the bonito and small tuna will also turn up to add some variety and extra speed.


Bass become more active on the surface from now through Summer and surface lures work best in the early morning, late afternoon and at night. Cast them close to structure, skip them under overhanging trees, around ledges, pontoons, under wharfs and into caves or crevices.

I like to cast the lure or fly as close as possible to the bank, let it sit for a few seconds and twitch it with the rod tip so the lure moves a little. Then I let it sit a few more seconds before starting to retrieve, pausing every metre or so. Bass usually strike when the lure first hits the water or after the twitch, but will follow the lure out wider and strike.

Surface lures can catch fish all day long. Most anglers put their topwaters away after the sun gets higher but over the years I have watched a lot great bass fishers using surface lures and learnt how effective these can be in the middle of the day in the hands of someone who knows how to work them.

It is important that you can cast the lure on the spot, leave it in the strike zone for a long time and move it only slowly with plenty of pauses. The strike zone during the daytime can be as small as a square metre.


When chasing bass with surface flies I like to fish a rising tide early in the morning or late in the afternoon. I have found that the bass will be looking up on the rising tide for any small crabs or insects that inhabit the intertidal zone (the area between high and low water).

This does not mean that I fish only the rising tide; I have had plenty of great days on surface fly on a falling tide.

I use weight forward floating lines with 2m of 8kg leader and cast a small popper fly a close to the shore, near weed beds or snags or under any overhang. When the fly lands on the water let it sit for a second or three before retrieving and bass often strike just after it lands or at the first few strips.

Remember not to strike too early or you will pull the fly away before bass has taken it properly.

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