Drifting sees success
  |  First Published: May 2016

With the sporadic weather of late, it has been hard to find a day to get out on the water for most people. There are still fish to catch, you just have to try a few more things to get a reaction from your targets. Once you find what works, stay with it until the bite stops.

For instance, lately we have been finding that drifting has seen more fish being caught than downrigging once the kings have been found. We have been finding one or two fish while downrigging, but after that they go shy until you drift the same area using a simple running rig or paternoster rig. Pilchards have been the preferred bait for most of the fish caught, with fresh squid strips and pieces coming in a close second.

Over the last month, kings along Pittwater have been heading into deep water because of the warmer water that was present, but after recent rains they have been more active and on the hunt most mornings. The better way to target them at the moment is to start near Longnose Point and watch for surface activity. If you are going to downrig this area near the point and into the first bay heading north, be careful to watch out for the mesh netters’ nets. There will be a buoy signifying one end of the net, so stay clear and preferably try another area such as Stokes Point or Taylors Point.

Fish have been recently caught along the Kingfish Highway, The Supermarket, Currawong Beach area and the odd fish has shown up around Scotland Island. The better bait to use is squid, but there is the odd fish being caught on yellowtail.

There should be the odd school of frigate mackerel starting to show up, so make sure that you have something to catch them and a rig to put them out live to target a big king. If you don’t run into a school of those frustrating frigates, try to catch a cuttlefish. Each year around April and May, bigger kings seem to materialise out of nowhere to smash a small live cuttlefish.

With this in mind, it is also an opportunity to try around structure with micro-jigs. These jigs aren’t small like their name suggests, and are in fact a very effective fishing lure. I use the 90-120g micro-jigs and I get the customers to work them aggressively. I don’t mean to wind it quickly through the water column, but instead keep it near the bottom and lift the rod 3-4 times like you we trying to hook a monster fish. Then, I ask them to let it sit just on the bottom for 5-10 seconds before doing it again.

This method has not only caught a great variety of decent fish, but they seem to excite the fish while it is being worked along the bottom. If you see fish higher in the water column, these lures can be raised and the same scenario repeated as if fishing on the bottom. If you are fishing an area with a sea, place it in the rod holder, but just make sure that the rod holder is up to the task.

Other species to target at the moment seems to vary from day to day, but there still are a few flathead about lurking in the shallows and around the weed edges, and some mulloway are still present around deeper water structures.

If you are going to try for a mulloway, pilchard pieces and fresh squid heads and strips are attracting some attention. There are a few smaller pickers about, so check your baits regularly if you are not holding onto the rod.

Squid are being caught in the bays such as Creel Bay, Towlers Bay, The Basin and in front of Portuguese Beach. There are also some big squid coming from the Barrenjoey Headland area. Most of the squid seem more receptive to the flashy hardbodied jigs rather than the fluoro colours. My suggestion is to take a few different colours and change them over after trying a variety of retrieves.

Confidence in your jig is essential, as is watching your jig all the way back to your boat. Quite often squid will follow your jig all the way back to your feet without striking at the jig. If this happens, don’t take your jig out of the water. Let the jig slowly sink towards the bottom and on most occasions they will at least have a strike. If they aren’t interested, hop the jig along the surface away from the squid as if the jig was a fleeing prawn. The squid will normally fire up and start to be aggressive after being teased.

Squid can also be caught at many of the wharves along Pittwater, especially at night. The wharves with the lights shining into the water attract baitfish into the lit area and squid are lurking deeper in the dark waiting to pounce. Please remember to clean the ink off the wharves, there really is no excuse not to at least try. Take a bucket with you to wet the area and rubbing your shoe over the top will often see most inkwashed off if done promptly.

The wharves to try are Careel Bay, Palm Beach, Newport and Church Point, and you can use the same hardbodied jigs mentioned above.

Along our coast there are some great reef species to be caught if you find the baitfish first. Areas that we have recently targeted are The Container, Boultons reef, Newport Reef and Long Reef with all these reefs seeing a variety of species caught. Morwong, snapper, trevally, trag and flathead have all taken a liking to pilly pieces and squid. If you do catch a large sergeant baker, they are a great fillet bait for snapper.

I hope this report sees you grabbing the rods and kids to enjoy our wonderful part of the coast.

• 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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