Rocking good fun in winter
  |  First Published: June 2016

While beach worming for a client trip recently, I noticed a lady also catching the odd worm. I introduced myself to her – Alissa – who had just taken up the art of beach worming. Her elderly father had recently lost the majority of his sight, and longed to get back into beach fishing for whiting. Alissa told me she had decided to learn how to catch worms and take him fishing.

After several attempts, with her Dad’s verbal tuition she now catches enough for her and her dad to go for a beach fish. I felt that Alissa’s beautiful story about getting her father back on the beach doing what he loves was so important to tell. Alissa says that now she loves joining him for the fish too!

Winter fishing

June has cold and mild days, but the water temperature is generally warmer than the atmosphere temperature. The whiting are still in good numbers, which will continue through the month. I have had cracker outings in June with other species featuring as by-catch on beach worm, bloodworm and pink nipper baits. Bream and silver trevally are part of the catch. Salmon often pick up bait intended for whiting. Manly, Curl Curl, Dee Why, Warriewod, Bungan, and mid Palm Beach are the current places to set up. Trevally have appeared on selected beaches.

There are good numbers of salmon and quality tailor after dark. They are picking up baits intended for mulloway, and some tailor are up to 2kg+. Fish a cubed pilchard trail with ganged pilchard before and into the dark on a run up to the high for tailor and salmon. This time of the year is notorious for southerly swells and winds, so try towards the southern sections of the beach like Collaroy from the pipe to Flight Deck apartment block, the south section of Dee Why and going back north to Bungan Beach. North Narrabeen in flatter seas will produce results from the lake entrance to Octavia St and even further south towards South Narrabeen Surf Life Saving Club. Because it is open, the area is subject to a southerly swell when it is over the 1m mark from the south.

On the rocks all the species except pelagics like smaller tuna species are on. The snapper have been caught in relatively good numbers by anglers casting distance. For those that are not acquainted with distance casting it is the practice of using sinker weights from 2-6oz. You use a single hook paternoster or a different rig like a sinker sliding in between a leader and two swivels with a 40cm leader at the bottom swivel with your 2/0-3/0 Mustad 92554 or 92247 hook.

Other hook varieties are fine provided that they are around 2x strong because of the strong jaws of a sizeable snapper. Find a sand patch, flat ledge or gravel-type bottom generally from 35-100m out and sit your bait on the bottom. Fishing in that 6-15m water depth should get you on to a snapper.

Success is subject to a lot of variables, such as swell size, water clarity, direction of the headland and more. A 4m+ rod with a medium taper and action like the 7177 from Wilson suitable for 10-15kg line class, a 650 Alvey with 25lb Platypus mono or Daiwa Surf Basia 25QD with 30lb TD Sensor braid will be a good set up to get you started. Salted slimy mackerel fillet, salted striped tuna fillet, squid or cuttlefish strips should see you on the right path to a good snapper.

I strongly advise that if you are a beginner to seek the right advice before you venture onto the rocks. Feel free to contact me and I will be able to instruct you on catching a snapper or any other rock or beach species with a guiding trip. Places to try are South Curl Curl‚ Flat Rock (only a short cast is required – 40-50m), Dee Why about 100m past the swimming pool, Narrabeen Head Point in front of the swimming pool, and Mona Vale in from the pool.

The trevally are on at the moment, with virtually all headlands producing numbers of this tasty species. Bluefish, Little Bluey near Shelly headland, Curl Curl south and north, Long Reef, Mona Vale in front of the pool, Banally Head platform north of the track, and North Whale point are great spots.

A great way to catch trevally, snapper, bream, and salmon is to mix a berley trail with pilchard pieces, bread, and some mashed up prawn heads soaked in water to form a mushy porridge-like mix, and consistently throw it into a white water trail. Use light ball sinkers, 1/0-2/0 size hooks, and a 4-8kg-line class with a whippy but sturdy 3.2-3.6m rod. When you’re using prawns for bait in the berley you’ll find leatherjacket, rock blackfish, and even groper. It’s a great way to fish; you never know what you are going to hook next!

Fishing is a sport that a percentage of the fishing population gives away during the winter months. Remember this isn’t necessary because the diversity of species that are caught during the cooler months is amazing.

• For rock and beach guided fishing or tuition in the northern Sydney region, visit www.bellissimocharters.com, email --e-mail address hidden-- or call Alex Bellissimo on 0408 283 616.
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