Follow the bait schools
  |  First Published: December 2007

It’s time to get ready for all the Summer pelagics and some leftover Winter species.

Kingfish should be inhabiting their Harbour haunts around the headlands, marker poles and moored boat or buoys. There also should be fish working the bait schools.

This was the first time that I have seen bait balls right through the Winter and into Summer and I put this down to the lack of professional netting of all the bait that comes into the Harbour.

There have also been plenty of salmon on the bite through November and we have been finding small schools all over the Harbour up as far as the Tunks Park boat ramp. These fish have been feeding on the bait balls along with tailor and kingfish. All three species have been working as far up as Goat Island.

Remember that you cannot stop and fish the area around the Harbour Bridge because there are now new restrictions in that area after the ferry collision incidents .

I have been catching Kingfish and Salmon on soft plastics and some Lucky Craft surface lures cast close to the fish when they on the surface.

This year I have been using some new rods, Loomis Greenwater GWR 930S 7’ 9” and GWR 901S 7’6”. I must admit when I first laid eyes on them I did not like the look green colour and nearly passed them by but after checking out their actions I decided to give them a go. They are probably the best rods I have used for casting small poppers, metals and smaller unweighted stickbaits. The 930S with its extra length and light action is perfect for casting light unweighted plastics yet still has enough hurt to land the fish.


Last Summer was a cracker with bait and fish busting up everywhere. I am not one to use bait normally but I could not resist scooping up baitfish in a small net, filling up the bait tank and then and casting unweighted live baits to the outside edges of the bait balls.

It did not take long to have the whole crew hooked up on a whole variety of fish including kings, bonito, salmon, tailor, trevally, bream and jewfish.

The best way to rig whitebait and small pilchards is with a No 4 live bait hook tied on a fluorocarbon leader around 5kg. A main line around 3kg to 4kg allows me to cast these small unweighted baits some distance.

John Bethune many years ago showed me a trick to cast unweighted soft plastics, small crankbaits and it also works on a soft bait to prevent it coming off the hook. It’s called a pendulum cast. You have about three-quarters of a rod length of line off the tip and use a pendulum motion to propel it smoothly without any great sudden pressure on the rod or line.

If you ever see John at a show or when he is demonstrating casting, ask him to show you the technique.

Another method that I found worked well during the kingfish season was to mix up the types of lures we use when we target an area.

We often would cast a surface lure first and watch for a strike. If we missed the strike with the popper, another angler would cast a weighted plastic close to where the strike was and would often hook up.

Often when fishing with my mate Tony Devine, he would lob his cast in where I had just pulled a strike with a surface popper and he would catch a king. I must admit that caused a few friendly insults but it certainly works!

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