Bay of plenty
  |  First Published: May 2016

First of all, apologies for omitting last month’s column; I was in hospital for three weeks with pneumonia. I’m back on track now though, and I can report that the bay has been firing on all cylinders.

There are plenty of trevally about, and most boats are getting their bag limits. There’s no size amongst them – they’re mostly around 33cm – but they provide good sport and they’re not bad on the chew if they’re bled and cooked fresh. I’ve found the best way to keep them in good condition is to cut their throat, turn them upside down and bleed them, then place them on a bag of ice.

Trevally respond very well to berley, and a simple keeper net hanging behind the transom filled with stale bread will do the job. As a rig I would use around 4kg line with a size 0 sinker right behind a size 2 bait keeper hook and let the trevs take it. They are easy to catch this way, and you can get your bag limit in quick time. You’ll find the trevs around structures, pinnacles, shoal patches, drop-offs and cockle beds.

The artificial reefs in Gongwong Bay and Yarra Bay are good starting points and have been very consistent with larger fish. Molineaux Point and Trevally Alley have been congested with up to 30 boats fishing a small area, and it’s hard work getting through the crowd. Sutherland Point, just off the Captain Cook landing place at Kurnell, is a good option as other species such as bream, snapper and tailor can be taken in good numbers. I’ve found the first few hours of the incoming tide to be the best period.

Watts Reef, the hot water outlet at Kurnell, and the drop-off in front of the Novotel at Brighton-Le-Sands are all reliable fish producers.

Bream are scattered throughout the bay, with fish up to 40cm not uncommon. They are the blue-nose variety and are armed with sets of good teeth. I’ve found the best method to catch them is to anchor on a cockle or shoal bed in around 4m of water (Silver Beach is a great place) and berley heavily for 15 minutes. Sure, it takes a bit of time, but the fish eventually turn up. I use a long trace of 1.8m from the swivel to the hooks, armed with FC Rock 6lb fluorocarbon. I’ve found this line to be the best for this particular application. It will not let you down. Size 4 hooks in the Mustad Aberdeen pattern are excellent and, although they’re a bit on the small side, they account for more fish. A size 10 crane swivel and size 2 or 3 ball sinker sliding down the line completes my rig, and it works. Nippers, bloodworms and prawns are the best baits.

I believe Watts Reef is the best bream spot in the bay, and I recommend fishing it at night. During the day you’ll get mainly rubbish fish, but at night it’s not uncommon to catch bream up to 1.5kg. Sure, it’s not as good as it was 10 years ago, but it still produces the goods. Place a small split shot right behind the hook and allow the bream to run with it. You will lose a few fish on the rough terrain, but that’s to be expected.

A light northeasterly with a rising tide is ideal for this spot. I try to stay away from the northern side of the bay if I’m chasing bream, and have found the stretch between Towra Point and Bonna Point to be ideal, with patches of weed and sand providing food and shelter for the bream. One spot which has been providing good bags is the manmade trench in front of the Novotel. This is only a small area, but it has been dredged by around 2m with manmade structures on it. It has been yielding bream and school mulloway. Other areas to try are the Middle Ground, Akeds Hole, Erics Reef and Barton Street Reef off Ramsgate for quality fish.

Whiting have been on the quiet side and hard to find. You’ll get the odd thumper now and then, but schools have been hard to locate – and believe me, there is no more passionate whiting fisho than myself! My theory is that they move into the lower reaches of Georges River before making their way upriver when the water cools.

Flathead have been very consistent. Some of the old timers have been getting their bag limit of duskies in a couple of hours. Soft plastics are all the rage, and two of the most popular are the Squidgy Fish 80 in Garry Glitter and Squidgy Pro Fish 70mm in grasshopper rigged on a 3/8oz jighead. The old school anglers, however, believe that livebait like a small poddy mullet will always out-fish lures.

The fish have been congregating in between Ramsgate and Quibray Bay. This particular expanse of water is ideal for drifting and provides the lizards with an ideal environment.

Schools of pelagics have been working near the heads, especially at first light. They are mainly salmon, with the odd tailor and bonito. They are not easy to catch as there is plenty of food available, but if you catch one, have a look at its stomach contents and see what they are feeding on, then change your lure to suit. In most cases anglers use lures too big. Slices around 10g are usually a good start. These fish can be very frustrating until you find the right lure.

Bonito have been taken on white 3.5 Yamashita skirts slowly trolled between Yena Gorge and Tabbigai on the southern Kurnell peninsula. Smoked bonito is a delicacy and well worth the effort.

Elsewhere in the bay, there’s not much to report. There are blue-spot flathead around 2km straight out between the heads, but anglers are keeping the results to themselves as they don’t want any trawlers in the area. I don’t blame them. There is also a small pinnacle in 53m straight off Cape Banks which has been producing kingfish and pan-size snapper. A good tip is to conclude your drift over the sand and then move on the edge of the reef.

Georges River has been very popular, with most boat ramps filled to capacity. No doubt the congenial weather and festivities have contributed to this, with up to 100 boats fishing the river.

School mulloway have been active at Captain Cook Bridge during the slack water period, with fish up to 5kg, but the better class fish have been taken on the upstream side of Como Bridge, around 50-60m from the second northern pylon. This area is blessed with a fair water depth and sits on the edge of a channel. Fish up to 10kg have been taken on fresh whole squid. Don’t forget to insert some styrofoam inside the squid to avoid it sitting on the bottom, otherwise you’ll only get vermin fish.


I expect the fishing to continue in a similar fashion right throughout May, but we should see a sprinkling of luderick make their presence felt. This very underrated fish provides an excellent feed and is very much in demand, particularly from the older brigade. Places like the Captain Cook pylons, San Souci Wharf, the northern side of Tom Uglys Bridge, and Bald Face Point are usually the luderick’s first port of call before making their journey all the way to Chipping Norton Lake. Because they are vegetarians and feed mainly on green weed, they are highly sought after because they taste great and are inexpensive to catch.

Weed can be scarce at times, and freshwater substitutes may be used in its place. You can also get synthetic weed from most tackle shops, and it works a treat.

Good fresh weed can be obtained from the stormwater drain in Yarra Bay and Frenchmans Bay, Little River at San Souci, Roxburgh Park, Kelso Park and Deepwater Park, just to name a few. You can also get weed from most rocks along the Kurnell Peninsula.

Improve your skill by discussing new techniques with your local tackle shop, who may suggest that you try changing your pattern. Some of the new lines, floats, rods and so on are excellent value for money.

Bream will be schooling on the edge of the channel and will bite best on the incoming tide. Live nippers are definitely the best bait for them. Use a long leader which will keep the bait moving.

The Caravan Head channel, Connells Point Close, Kangaroo Point and the Moons will be very popular with anglers chasing them. Remember that first light or dusk is best.

I’ve heard the odd salmon is filtering through the system, and working their way up to Prospect Creek and Warwick Farm, so if you get busted up there is a good chance it’s one of those.

Apart from that, take advantage of May because conditions are always good with light winds, favourable weather and plenty of fish.

• 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 www.gbaf.com.au.

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