The coming month should see some great fishing along our coast and in the rivers. We have been lucky enough to have calm conditions, warm water, and blue skies but unfortunately the rivers have been pretty quiet. Thankfully it won’t stay like this for much longer. We should shortly start to see a changing of the guard.
The summer species of fish will start to thin out and slowly disappear as the water becomes colder. In their place we will start to see the winter species show up and make their presence known. The currents that push along our coast and the baitfish and predators that are carried by them dictate the winter action.
We should start to see kingfish disappear along Pittwater, but there will be some larger fish left behind. Each year on Pittwater from late April through to September we do run into some hoodlum kingfish, all of which seem to be fixated on eating either small fry baitfish or very small cuttlefish. Once again, the best way to target and find these kingfish is to downrig Pittwater. Covering ground with the correct bait is a must at this time of the year as the fishing slows. I’m amazed at how these kingfish become so fixated on eating a particular prey each year and will turn away from anything that does not resemble their chosen food.
Areas to find the big bruisers tend to vary from day to day, but if you start off fishing structure you should be able to find your targets. Try around Scotland Island, the Supermarket, the Kingfish Highway, West Head and Barrenjoey Head.
To catch small cuttlefish head to areas that have rocks and weed. Cuttlefish can be difficult to catch because of their size, their environment and how closely they sit to the bottom. Quite often cuttlefish will not move more than 1m off the bottom, which means that small slow-sinking squid jigs work a lot better than the larger, faster sinking jigs. I find at this time of the year that natural colours seem to work better than the fluorescent green or blue jigs. Areas to try for cuttlefish are the rocky shoreline on the western side of Pittwater from Towers Bay through to The Basin area.
Other species to target at this time of the year are tailor, bonito, trevally, bream, flathead and salmon. Once again, the best time to target these species seems to be first thing in the morning. Look for working seagulls and mutton-birds. There are few things that excite fishers more than seeing working schools of fish smash their prey on the surface. To get among the melee, cast lures to the side of the schools to see the quickest hook-ups. Matching baitfish with a correct size lure can be a task at times, but if you start off with a smaller lure and work your way up through the sizes I’m sure that you will find the perfect match. If you are lucky enough to come across fish exploding on the surface don’t forget there will be fish underneath these schools that can also be targeted.
Salmon often feed freely on the surface. Directly underneath them can be trevally, flathead and tailor. For a chance at one of these other species simply let your lures sink towards the bottom before you retrieve. If you are after some bread-and-butter species, drifting and covering ground is the best way to find your chosen species while fishing on Pittwater. If you are going to fish on Broken Bay at areas such as Flint and Steel, the use of berley will put you in with a real chance of catching some decent fish.
If you are going to fish structure around Broken Bay at this time of year make sure that you fish as light as possible, with the freshest bait and during the prime times. The better times to fish a lot of structure along Broken Bay is one hour before and after the change of tides.
Offshore, the reef fishing has been brilliant once you find the baitfish. A lot of the reefs have been bare of any baitfish or activity, but when you find a reef where baitfish congregate, the predators won’t be far away. A depth of 40m is the place to start, and if you can’t find baitfish here continue to wider grounds. Species that can be found offshore presently are morwong, snapper, tailor, kingfish, reef flathead, teraglin and trevally. The better baits to use have been pilchard, squid and yellowtail fillets.
If you tie your own paternoster rigs, try using pink lumo beads on one of your loops. Over the last couple of months it has not been uncommon for fish to swim past bait on a normal hook to attack a baited hook using a pink lumo bead.
As you can see, there are still a lot of fish to be caught even though both the water temperature and air temperature are becoming cooler. In the next month or two we may be lucky enough to once again get a good run of hairtail venturing into Cowan Creek, the Hawkesbury River and Pittwater.
I hope this report sees you excited and grabbing your fishing gear 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.auReads: 375