Elbow slapper out in force
  |  First Published: August 2016

Even though it has been bitterly cold, with plenty of rain to dampen enthusiasm and flush out systems. Diehard fishos that have braved the conditions have been rewarded with outstanding catches.

The water temperature has been hovering around the 12-13°C mark in the middle reaches of the Georges River, with slightly higher readings in Botany Bay.

As mentioned last month, luderick have been all the rage, with bag limits of luderick to 43cm coming from all the recognised spots. I can’t stress enough the importance of berley and would suggest a sugarbag full of dry sand, about 1kg of green weed cut very finely, and about a third of a loaf of stale bread. Mix all this together while dry for easy carrying to the spot you are going to fish, then add water to the mixture.

The luderick should be around for another few months and increase in size and numbers.

If fishing the Georges River, it’s very hard to go past Blackbutt Point, both as a land-based and boat proposition. This location has been very consistent and excellent catches have been recorded.

The whiting run has started with some outstanding specimens up to 45cm landed. I have been fishing the cockle beds in front of Oatley Bay during the last two hours of the outgoing tide and the first hour of the rising tide for top catches, using bloodworms. Big fish are not easy to catch and require finesse and considerable skill, as only the slightest movement of your rod tip is detected. It is imperative not to strike, but to allow up to 20m of free line for the fish to get the bait into its mouth before applying any pressure. It’s not easy, but this is the only method you can use to consistently catch them. The effort is all worth it when you see a dozen or so elbow slappers over 40cm on the bottom of you esky.

These whiting prefer the deeper water of the system before venturing onto the sand flats at night on the rising tide.

Another great location that has been fishing well has been the Captain Cook bridge. I have found this time of year to be the best for bream, trevally and school mulloway. As a matter of fact, the sounder has been blackened by the number of blurters feeding on the bridge pylons.

You are not allowed to fish on top of the bridge platform itself, but from a boat is fine. A good method is to let your rig run along the pylons the full length of the pylon. Live nipper pumped nearby work best.

Berley works a treat one hour before a high to one hour after the change, but be careful not to over do it, as the fish can go off the bite.

For bream and trevally, I like to use 6kg of wheat, 1kg of plain flour, 2kg of bran and 4oz of fish oil. Mix it all together in a plastics garbage container, then cover it with boiling water. By this time, the wheat will begin to swell and the flour will stiffen and hold it together.

When berleying, drop it over the side in tight handballs, and it will go straight down and gradually dissolve on the bottom and thus bring fish to the area.

There have been plenty of good-sized trevally scattered throughout the bay and the estuaries providing plenty of fun for the family as well as being not too bad for the table if bled immediately. I have found trevally to be excellent tasting if smoked with a hickory mixture.

Fish over the kilo mark have been taken from the artificial reefs in Yarra Bay, Congwong Bay, Molineaux Point, the cockle bed in front of the Novotel at Brighton-Le-Sands and just upstream of the Cooks River bridge at Kyeemagh. Peeled prawns, live nippers and bloodworms work particularly well with a small 00 split shots placed just behind a size 2 baitkeeper hooks.

Flathead have been on the quiet side, with only a handful of fish taken on the drift on plastics or salted pilchard. The entrance of the Georges River at Towra to Ramsgate has been the best option.

School of tailor have been working between Botany Head and the drums in the middle of the bay, feeding on small whitebait. Metal slices around the 20g size have been accounting for some good catches of choppers to 40cm.

I guess the best news is coming from Browns Mountain. As customary for this time of year, it is not unusual to see up to 30 boats fishing this underwater mountain 50km off Botany Headlands. Electric reels or big Alvey Reefmasters are a necessity. Bianca Fishing Charters out from Cronulla landed eight blue-eye trevalla to 26kg as well as bagging out on big gemfish, keeping the customers on their toes.

We’ve heard of similar catches right through the month from the small boat brigade, but not heard a lot on yellowfin or bluefin tuna catches.

The Peak continues to fish very well for kingfish to 85cm, both on live baits and Californian squid, while big trevally have been keeping the bottom bashers happy.

Both the 9 and 12-mile reefs have been quiet with not much reported.

Pan-sized reddies are showing up in catches with the 3-Mile Reef off Coogee being the top contributor. Mowies and flathead have made up the bulk of the catches. Blue-spot flathead continue to provide reasonable catches on the close grounds, with lizards to 45cm taken off Mistral Point, the 40m mark between Botany Heads, Cape Bailey and the southern end of Big Marley Beach.

The beaches have been providing tailor, salmon and winter whiting along with the odd dart and bream.

South Maroubra in front of the Seals Club is a sure bet in the late afternoon as well as the big gutter in front of the Elouera Surf Club at Cronulla.

If fishing the rocks, the Terrace between Inscription Point and Yena Gap has been fishing particularly well for drummer and bream, especially when there is a fair wash working out from the rocks. Crabs, cunje and cabbage baits providing the spoils. Some tailor have been taken on unweighted pilchards rigs.

Just south from Tabbigai has also been fishing well and offers a very long fishing ledge tucked under the Cliff Tops, which is perfectly protected from bad weather. A few groper, drummer, luderick and leatherjackets have been taken on red crabs, prawns and cunje. As with other rock possie, make sure that PFDs and sensible footwear are worn at all times.

August will see prevailing westerly winds throughout with Woolooware Bay the best place to fish when the westerlies show up. The area produces excellent catches of flathead, bream and whiting. The main time to fish for bream is on the big tides, with the immediate surrounds of the oyster leases the place to be. Flathead can be taken by drifting close to the mangroves behind Shark Park, both with bait or plastics. It’s very comfortable fishing in this area, and usually sheltered from the wind. If chasing whiting, I would suggest the channel markers at the entrance to the bay.

The bay itself is normally very quiet at this time of year, probably the most consistent bet in this area is along the channel parallel to the new runway. This area is protected from the wind, very close to the foreshore boat ramp and offers various options if you use your sounder as a guideline. There are a number of deep holes all along this stretch, which produce good fish. Alternatively, you can troll with small metal lures for tailor and salmon.

Cooks River will produce big whiting and is an excellent land-based location. The northern upstream side of the bridge is the pick during the run-out, while the southern wall produces during the run-in.

I will be concentrating mainly on the tide changes, especially the last two hours of the outgoing tide for big whiting. The Caravan Head channel, the deep hole at Como Bridge and the cockle beds in front of Connells Point are sure bets to produce a thumper fish. I’ve found that time is not important, but understanding the tidal movements are of paramount importance.

Luderick will still be around and weed will become easier to get, as it will get longer with the seasonal changes.

All in all, it’s going to be a little harder to what we’ve become accustomed too. Stay safe this month!

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