Off the rocks is off it’s chops!
  |  First Published: July 2016

The seas are very cool this month, but don't be overly concerned. The winter species we catch off our diverse range of rock and beach platforms means you should keep those rods out! Let’s check out what’s biting and what you can expect this month!

On the ocean beaches, the Australian salmon are thick as the crowd at a tackle shop’s 50% off everything sale. Every beach along Sydney has produced these hard fighting, leaping fish. There are several ways to target salmon. A lazier approach is to cast out a heavy sinker with about 60cm of heavier mono as leader and then your three hook 2/0-4/0 gangs. There are several variations of rigs. Vary your sinker weights according to the current and you will be in for a better result. The bait looks more natural in this manner.

Another method is to use metal lures. Some of my favourites at a reasonable price are the Sniper and Knights from 25g. When the salmon are feeding on whitebait-sized fish, step up to the 45g size similar to large whitebait and small pilchards. When they’re feeding on small to medium pilchard size fish, use the 65g size. I recommend moving from gutter to gutter. All you need is a carry bag, a small tackle box full of metals, braid scissors, and suffix or SureCatch floor carbon leader in 12-20lb. Go back to the ganged pilchard rig and tie a 20cm length of leader on the top section of the swivel then the on a surf popper. At times the popper gets a hook-up and the pilchard nothing – other times you could be at the end of a double hook-up!

If you want to learn how to catch salmon off the beach with comprehensive tips and techniques, or to learn how to target particular species off the beach and rocks then give me a call.

Like last season’s whiting run, it appears these fish have not gone off the bite yet. Although they are in more selected areas compared to the warmer months. Manly, Dee Why near the southern corner, Warriewood and Bungan beaches all have a few. There are some bream mixed in with the whiting as well as a chance of a rogue salmon pick up that make for fantastic sport on 3-4kg mono. As the whiting are few in numbers you have every reason to use the very best bait. Typically, live are best, and beach worms, tubeworms, and bloodworms are the supreme choices. Because of the clearer water at this time of the year I recommend a lighter leader for your rig. Instead of using 10-12lb fluorocarbon leader, drop down to 6lb – especially if the seas are quite flat.

Sea Saw

At this time of the year the swell size is often extreme or flat. During the colder months the swell often comes from a southerly direction and the southern oceans normally generate a ground swell. This term is used to describe the depth of the swell energy that can be sensed from the ocean floor up and visually seen on the surface. The swell has a lot more thickness in comparison to a wind wave. Also, the waves normally come from much farther away than a wind wave, which gives the wave more substance and strength.

The reason why I am mentioning this is when you're facing out to sea look more so to the right (south-southeast) to determine if you will be battling the swell I’ve described. The other extreme is the westerly winds. When they are blowing at more than 15knots and consistently for more than a couple of days it is normally going to make the seas very flat, generally below the 0.7 of a metre mark or less. When you look out to sea towards the horizon you will note a very tumultuous undulated sea. When the westerly backs off substantially or if there is just a few degrees of wind direction change from the west to southwest or south/southeast then beware! When I sense the breeze change from the west and feel it on the right hand side of my face, I know there is a change and I high-tail it out of there – especially if I am night fishing. This is more in regards to the deep-water fronts. I could go into more detail as far as rock fishing safety is concerned. I teach preventative measures to my clients when rock fishing. I feel safer on the rocks than driving on our busy Sydney roads!

When it’s flat you can get to areas that you would not attempt to go regularly. I am only suggesting this to the more advanced angler. Places like the western section of the Hat at Manly, the southeast point of Dobroyd Head in the harbour, further North to the front of North Curl Curl (approximately 150m past the swimming pool), the eastern point of Warriewood to name a few. Remember, this is more for the advance angler not the adventurous! For the regular spots when the swell is a little larger try Little Bluey at Manly, the southeast section of North Curl Curl, Long Reefs in the southwest/south area and Bungan Head.

There you can catch the much sought after rock blackfish (pigs), groper, luderick, and other species like silver drummer, leatherjackets, bream (generally in smaller quantities at this time of the year), salmon and some tailer too. Take a couple of outfits at least with you so you can either have a spin for the smaller pelagics like tailor and salmon, and a robust rod for the pigs. Also keep a heavy one at hand to tackle a groper.

Fishing for me is an adventure, a test of skill, patience, and with the limited resources us land-based anglers have, and the reward is in going out of your way to do it all as correctly as possible. I have been rock and beach fishing for decades now and still get really excited about all the species that we have on our Sydney rocks.

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