It’s whiting time in the Georges
  |  First Published: June 2016

The bay continues to fire on all cylinders, as we would expect at this time of year. However, there is one standout location that makes you stand up and take notice. I am referring to Bare Island. This landmark, located just inside Botany Heads, is a hotspot. It’s produced a wide variety of species including mulloway, kingfish, trevally, snapper, groper, luderick, leatherjacket and tailor. The odd salmon school also converges on the area when there are baitfish about.

This area has a nasty bombora and must be treated with great caution and respect. I like fishing this position during the afternoon into the dark with a top tide peaking at around 8-9pm.

Mulloway up to 12kg can be taken from this spot, but the school variety are more prevalent.

If you’re chasing kings, you’ll get them around the 3-5kg mark on live yakkas or locally-sourced squid.

Trevally are around in droves and have become a bit of a nuisance, as they don’t give other species a chance. Be careful with your berley as the blurters respond to this passionately.

Red morwong, groper and calamari squid are also found in this spot, and will take peeled prawns, red crabs and worms.

Elsewhere in the bay, the channel markers between the new runway and the Port Botany reclamation wall have fished well for trevally, tailor and bream. Always carry a spare rod with a little heavier gear, as it is common to hook a big mulloway here on fresh squid or live yellowtail on the top and bottom of the tide.

The centre moorings haven’t lived up to the expected visit from kingfish schools, with only moderate catches reported and no size among the rats. You are better off anchoring about 200m west of the centre buoy and fishing the runout tide for bream, flathead and flounder. The best baits are live nippers and pilchard fillets.

Watts Reef has been fishing well at night for tailor, trevally and bream with some nice fish landed. For some unknown reason, anglers tend to fish this location with heavier than necessary sinkers, and consequently miss out. I have fished this spot for over 50 years and have found that a size 0 sinker right on a size 1, Mustad 9555B bait keeper hook the ideal combination. And if you get yourself live nippers, you will find it very hard to miss out.

Elsewhere in the bay, flathead have been on the chew on the old runway to Towra Point drift, with 40-50cm fish the common size. I would suggest a running rig, but place a second leader above the sinker and arm it with 4 x 1/0 Mustad 7766 ganged hooks. This is a deadly combination if you’re using salted or fresh whitebait.

Bream have been schooling around in good numbers, and it hasn’t been uncommon to bag out in a typical four-hour session. The manmade trenches near the sticks have been the prime spots. Try to get there just on daybreak because they will be gone by 8:30. The artificial reefs, Cooks River break wall and the manmade break walls between Kyeemagh and Dolls Point have also yielded a few fish during the first of the outgoing tide.

Luderick catches have started to filter through. I’m told good weed is only in moderate supply but growing longer daily. Good catches have been taken from the dog leg on the southern break wall of Cooks River, the eastern side of Bare Island, the main wharf on Captain Cook Landing Place at Kurnell, and the small groynes nearby.

Mulloway catches have been a little below expectations, but a few good fish have also been lost at the boat. Bob ‘The Jewfish Guru’ Dean has been doing well, with fish around 80-90cm taken from the northern side of Como Bridge on fresh local squid. Other catches include a couple of good schoolies from Bald Face Point and one 13kg fish taken land-based from Fitzpatrick Park at Picnic Point.


I thought now would be a good time to share some of my whiting knowledge. I am very passionate about catching whiting and still hold two Australian records as credit.

Contrary to many anglers’ opinion, my whiting season starts on the long weekend in June. In this period, between Captain Cook Bridge and Como Bridge, you’ll see many elbow-slappers caught if you’re fishing for them correctly. The reason for this is that the fish move upstream from the lower reaches and feed on the many cockle beds looking for nippers, worms and the like.

While you can get some whiting during the day, night-time will always produce the larger fish, with elbow-slappers to 48cm.

Tide and moon phases

I’ve found the last few hours of the outgoing tide and the first few hours of the rising tide the best. You can also get them near the top of the tide but they’ll be smaller.

The whiting tend to bite best one or two days before and after the new moon and full moon, so mark your calendar accordingly.

Bottom formation

You must look for a wave-like configuration if you want to catch these big fish; you won’t get them on flat surfaces. It really pays to find these particular locations, because that’s where the whiting are.


I use a very light 7’6” rod. The Shimano Whiting series by Bushy is excellent coupled with a 4000 series Baitrunner. This style of reel is vital as it allows the fish to bite without feeling any weight.

The line I use is 3.6kg Sunline Siglon V, and I’ve found that 2.2kg FC Rock fluorocarbon leader works a treat. Size 10 swivels and size 4 Mustad Aberdeen hooks complete the tackle. And don’t forget size 2 or size 3 ball sinkers.


If you are the driver simply cast to your left as far as possible and engage Baitrunner mode. Your rig will normally form an arc and settle down in a desired position. Place your rod in a holder and make sure the rod is parallel to the water. When you get a bite, don’t strike or you’ll lose the fish. Simply open your bail arm and allow up to 10m free line. I know this sounds weird, but it works with 99% of fish deep hooked.


Live bloodworms are the best bait, followed closely by pickled bloodworms. If you’re using live bloodworms and have any left over, marinate them with methylated spirits and aniseed oil. You’ll be surprised at how well they work.

Nippers account for the larger fish. You’ll rarely catch an undersized whiting on a nipper.


Apart from the whiting you’ll see school mulloway chasing schools of mullet all the way to Liverpool Weir. They will also be found on the deeper drop-offs in front of the new runway, the Marsh Street bridge at Tempe, and Captain Cook Bridge under the lights.

Luderick will have moved into their winter destinations. Bonnet Bay, the Woronora Bridge, Boss Pits, Cranbrook, Bakers Rick at Lugarno, Bigmoon Bay, Blackbutt and Ironstones Wall will all have visitors in quest of these underrated fish.

Bream will still be around but in reduced numbers. We will definitely see better quality fish though, which will make up for the lack of quantity. I recommend fishing the pylons of Captain Cook Bridge, Kangaroo Point, Watts Reef, the front wall of Point Botany, and the artificial reefs in the bay. These are all likely locations to snare these fish.

If you’re after flathead, between Captain Cook and Tom Uglys bridges will be an excellent choice. Fish around 500g are the norm, and whitebait or prawns will do the job.


There hasn’t been too much action owing to the inclement weather. However, the anglers that have managed to get out wide have managed good catches of blue-eye trevally and hake from Browns Mountain. The kings, although scattered have been on the chew on the 12-Mile Reef. Maroubra Wide has yielded good catches of flathead to the charter boat brigade, and the tank has provided mixed catches of morwong, snapper and blue-spot flathead.

The drift between Botany Heads continues to provide excellent catches of sandies, and it has to be the most consistent position around Sydney. The Banks Reef has pannies, kingies and mowies on offer as well.

All in all, there is a bit for everyone this month. And don’t forget those whiting – if you have any questions I’m happy to discuss the best method for you.

• 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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