Great fish coming up
  |  First Published: October 2016

With winter behind us and warm weather on the way, our waterways will again become a hive of activity. This year we’ve been lucky that over the winter, along our coast, the warm water didn’t disappear. This unseasonably warm water will be a benefit this season ahead.

This will be especially so for those chasing offshore pelagic species, but will be also be a big benefit to our rivers. With the warmer water we should also see a lot more surface activity when species such as kingfish, bonito, salmon, trevally and tailor show up.

Over the last month, fishing has improved along Pittwater and Broken Bay. The biggest problem we’ve had has been greatly fluctuating water temperatures. On the run out tide, surface temperatures have dropped as low as 14°C, yet on the incoming tide, the water temperature has risen to 18°C on occasions.

There are fish to be caught and spot on the sounder, but a bit of work has to be done to get them active. This month, if you fish in Pittwater, have a few plans for targeting different species. That way, you can roll with the punches. If your chosen species isn’t biting, you can target another. When I take out customers at this time of the year, I always suggest that we spread our efforts and target a few species.

We start by catching squid around the weed beds close to drop offs. These areas have larger squid still around, but also tend to hold the small squid for a while as well. The areas to target squid are Portuguese Beach, the Basin, Mackerel Beach and the Palm Beach area.

If you have a few people on your boat, try a few different coloured jigs and sizes. I find the natural colours are more successful than fluoros. The larger squid are hitting the 2.5g jigs and the smaller jigs of 1.8 and 2g are catching the smaller ones. If you can remember, put a swipe of scent paste, such as Halco, near the spikes on the jigs. This will not only leave a scent in the water, but when a squid attacks your jig, it’s normally right on the area that has been applied with the scent.

The next stage is to turn those little ink machines into big yellowtail kingfish. Use downriggers to cover ground; this enables you to lower the baits to where the fish are found. The areas we normally target at this time a year tend to be towards the river mouth. There is no specific spot to try, as most of the action happens in the middle of nowhere. The best way to find where they are is to watch for the birds working the surface. Schools of fish vary from year to year, but normally from September onwards we see schools of tailor, salmon and usually a kingy. While those schools are actively working the surface, target them with lures and have a squid on a downrigger, to be eaten by a larger predator down a bit deeper.

Areas in Broken Bay that come to life first thing in the morning tend to be towards the mouth of the Hawkesbury River through to the mouth of Pittwater. The great part about fishing this area, especially on a run out tide, is the flotsam line. This foam line filled with weed holds baitfish, and quite often you will see a variety of birds working the area, and larger predators splashing along its length.

Remember that this surface activity should excite the bottom dwellers into feeding mode as well. So once you’re sick of catching tailor and salmon, drop a line to the bottom, or even better, a legal size live tailor. See if there are larger predators such as mulloway and big flathead waiting for a feed.

If all else fails, drift the drop-offs and sand or mud areas to chase flathead. Cast soft plastics and hop them along the bottom as you are drifting. This can see a variety of other species caught as well.

If you head offshore, there’s a lot more options for you. Hitting the reefs is a great way to catch a feed. Some nice snapper are being caught in the shallow grounds of around 30m of water off Broken Bay. The better reefs to target at the moment are Boultons, Reggies, Mona Vale and off Long Reef. There seems to be a variety of fish once a good area is located. Make sure to find some baitfish along the reef or at its edges before you drop any lines and maximise your chances at tangling with a decent fish.

Over the next month we should also see some kingfish along our coasts. These kings will be travelling with schools of baitfish, so any point along our coastline can be worth a try. Remember to have a few different baits and lures to see what is working best on the day.

There are opportunities for you to get out there and enjoy a day on the water catching fish. It’s a great part of the year and often will see good rewards for those who put in the effort and time. I hope this report helps you get onto some fish.


The flotsam line and birds give away where the fish are.


Cass from Luxury Afloat on the Hawkesbury showing off one of the many salmon that can be encountered.


Lucy might only be seven, but she can catch like a seasoned pro.


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