Blackfish rocking the winter fishing
  |  First Published: August 2016

There is an abundance of quality winter species available at the moment. It’s lovely to not have to deal with the heat of a summer day. You can get stuck into some great fish without being up two hours before dawn as well. Fish like trevally still require that low light or evening fishing and the tailor are more often caught in the dark though.

Flat Rock at South Curl Curl has a few tailor cruising after dark with some good salmon mixed in. Bluefish Point has a few just on and after dark as well. Remember at Bluefish there is a rope climb of about 5m, so I would only recommend going if you are acquainted with this area or are an advanced rock fisher. You have to fish fairly high up here, about 6-7m, so I recommend 10kg+ mono or braid to enable you to lift out a quality fish.

It’s a pig fest at the moment! The pugnacious rock blackfish are on and at all headlands along the northern beach suburbs. North Curl Curl Rocks (when fishable) produce some great bags up to 55cm. I caught a dozen good pigs with one big fish. They averaged between 1.3-1.8kg. Not bad considering that this headland gets a hammering from locals. Seven were released including the big pig and five kept for a delicious feed. No doubt in my top three favourite fish for the table. They were caught on peeled endeavour prawns and white sliced bread. Bread berley is a constant producer. When using bread berley, white sliced bread is preferred rather than just ripping white bread out of a white roll. It allows you to use a neater section, and it’s easier to bait up as well.

A client recently bagged another great result with seven pigs, two bream, and a salmon of about 3kg. We fished a few locations before locating the fish. And that’s just the way it goes. One day the preferred wash is in one area and the next day it could be in another. Some days you just pluck one or two out of each wash that you fish. I like the fact that you have to use your head to locate fish and decide to fish a specific wash rather than just randomly moving from one wash to another. Tactics, good techniques, the right gear and bait, the right time and tide are paramount to succeed!

Trevally are still in good numbers with fish to 1.5kg at some headlands. South Whale and the inner ovens have some good fish in the washes at the main ledge near the gutter. A few luderick have smashed bread up on the surface, so swap your pilchard bait for a prawn or bread. Using a 1/0 92554 will be good for both species and still just large enough for a maverick snapper to come along and smash your bait in the berley. Expect a few salmon as well.

By now the rock or land-based kingfish anglers is suffering the king DTs! That heavy gear that you use for spinning gars and lure casting your large poppers, stickbaits, live baits for a king is suitable for a groper. Harvest some red crabs, a 5/0 double strength Mustard hook and a deep water ledge. Most have a nasty big blue there or close by. Great way to cure the big fish cravings.

Try Little Bluey near the end of shelly headland, South or North Curl Curl, Long Reef, Warriewood’s NE face. Remember that there is a small steep climb there so take a spare rope. In fact it pays to have a 6- 10m rope at least if there is a climb simply because you don’t want to rely on an old rope on a climb! Once again Warriewood is more for the experienced person.

Check out the DPI site for legal harvesting of crustaceans and do the right thing!

Beach fishing

There has been a salmon party on the beaches lately with a few other species thrown in for fun. The salmon are on at Curl Curl Beach, Mona Vale, Bungan, Bilgolah and Avalon beaches. Every year I take a few salmon home for a feed. I find they taste good baked, made into fish cakes, with honey teriyaki sauce, and other such recipes.

Ganged pilchards are the traditional method to catch a few. Berley up, especially if you’re by yourself. They are a schooling species that don’t hang around once they have hunted the small fish of the beach gutter that you are fishing. So a pilchard chopped into half a dozen pieces and consistently buried, not liberally is the way to go. A surf popper combined with your ganged pilchard can make a very exciting combination. Have you ever hooked two salmon at once? The experience is off the hook – especially when they’re both over 2kg! Some tailor have been found at the crack of dawn and just around dark as well. Generally these are in chopper size, but they make for some great tucker.

The whiting fishing really tapers off at this time of the year. This could be because 99% of whiting fishers aren’t pursuing them, so it may be worth a shot at selected areas like Manly, Dee Why, and Avalon beaches. On some days there have been big whiting caught to 44cm. There are undersized whiting as well so don’t use up your precious live worms and nippers. Move to another gutter and try elsewhere along the beach. They can go off the bite quickly, as they are normally in smaller schools. If the water clarity is clear and relatively calm you should use a light fluorocarbon leader at 3-4kg max to encourage the more timid whiting.

It is best for an angler to be active all year. There are some refined techniques that can be learnt during the ‘difficult’ months when the fish are dormant, timid and not so prolific.

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