A bunch of reasons to fish off the rocks
  |  First Published: November 2016

Anything can happen in November. There are end of season trevally, which can often be whoppers, and the big pigs can be on as well. A run of sizable to big kings are on the cards, and off the beaches it’s not uncommon to get a large mulloway in November. There are stud whiting, stud bream and quality flathead, not to mention the salmon!

With such a smorgasbord of species on offer, I sometimes have trouble deciding what to target. Kings are on, snapper are increasing in numbers, bream, pelagics, luderick, big pigs, groper and trevally are all in. During this transition period, you can target a specific species and end up with a mix. Often, these are some real quality fish!

With the cabbage weed beds looking like a beautiful green lawn carpet in some rock locations, it’s worthwhile fishing for a pig or luderick. Medicine ball pigs are available, and fat luderick are feasting on the abundant cabbage and hair weed. The Hat at Manly near the wall is a good location.

People often ask me how large a swell is too large in this area (and other locations). A 1m swell is the maximum for the Hat and even less during a big high tide. It’s very exposed in a southerly swell. The ledges you can fish are only suitable for a limited amount of anglers – just an example of what you may need to consider when you decide to go to an ocean rock spot. Big pigs are to the right of this ledge, a few on the front and, if you’re fortunate to get there when it’s flatter to the east, about 30m is quite good as well.

Other locations that are really worth a shot are Little Bluey in Manly, North Curl Curl boulders, Turrametta, Warriewood, and Barrenjoey. Try cabbage weed and peeled large prawns. Large pink nippers are deadly on the pigs and luderick as well. Use white sliced bread in your bread berley.

Snapper fishing is normally on the improve at this time of the year for distance casting or wash fishing. It can be a week-to-week proposition as they’re a current-dependent species, especially at this time of the year. One dependable rig is a 3-5oz snapper sinker on a one-hook paternoster. Alternatively, you can use a sliding sinker rig – just use a swivel to attach your main line to 60cm of leader, and slide a snapper sinker onto it. Then add a swivel to the other end, connected to a shorter length of leader (30-40cm) tied to a 3/0 92254 or 92247 Mustad hook. Good baits include fresh or salted striped tuna, slimy mackerel fillet, squid strips, heads, cuttlefish and tailor fillet. Try Flat Rock at South Curl Curl, Dee Why about 100m past the swimming pool, North Narrabeen point in front of the swimming pool and Mona Vale in front of the swimming pool. They’re all good distance casting spots. They also produce well in the washes for a red.

For the king angler, fishing deep ledges along the Northern Suburb rocks is great. As with snapper fishing, the water temperature and quality will affect your catch rates. King fishing is also affected by angling pressure from shore boat fishing, spearfishers and recreational anglers rock fishing.

The eastern sea gar aren’t readily available at this time of the year; you can’t really expect them until at least late November or December. When you can get them, they’re a cracker bait for the kings on either a two-hook snelled rig or a set of 5/0 or 6/0 gangs. An FSU-5120 two-piece from Wilson, Daiwa Surf Basia 25QD and TD Sensor 50lb braid is a great outfit! Lures like the Williamson Popper Pro soft plastics give you a good start to having a crack at this fantastic sportfish. Bluefish, South and North Curl, South and North Whale rocks are some of the deepwater options.

Beach whiting have been on the bite for the last couple of months, and they’re now reaching their peak. They are well established on all the beaches in variable quantities. A cheap option for the whiting is using a 200g bag of small prawns. If they’re tiny, that’s fine! Peel them and thread them on your one- or two-hook paternoster. The results can often be surprising, considering that many people think live worms are the only bait for whiting. In the estuaries like Narrabeen Lake or Queenscliff Lagoon, there are prawns.

This also applies to Dee Why and Curl Curl lagoons – when they’re open, the whiting feed on prawns anyway. I’m not saying you should abandon the use of live blood, beach or tube worms – just give the small peeled river prawns a go if the blood worms aren’t available, or if you want to save a few dollars.

Beaches that are producing these succulent fish are Whale, Newport, Bungan, Narrabeen, Collaroy, Dee Why, and Manly. All the beaches are producing, but these are the more productive ones. This can change depending on a new migration of fish, kelp and sea conditions.

Anglers are currently into the salmon, increasing numbers of tailor and decent mulloway up to 15kg. A few locals say they’ve been catching all three species, so you have to be patient before a mulloway is caught. I recommend putting in a few nights in a row. Two is the bare minimum; three is better. You can either fish the same beach on consecutive nights or you can swap around from one beach to another. There could be several reasons to do that – better beach holes, sea or weather conditions changing, wretched kelp, too many salmon, rays, assorted gump. Move to another beach for those reasons.

Having the best bait is important, but it’s not the be-all and end-all. If you spend hours trying to catch squid or livies to no avail, and then you don’t fish because of that, you’re missing out on opportunities. A less choosy angler who uses good quality frozen squid, cuttlefish or flesh bait can actually catch more fish in the long term, simply because they soak baits way more often. Rather than refusing to fish unless you have the very best all the time, just go! Sure, you should put in the effort to catch your own bait, but don’t deny yourself a mulloway outing because you can’t get the best.

Spots to try are Manly, Dee Why, North Narrabeen, Newport and Palm Beach. Have several spare rigs premade, put in the homework and check out several beaches before you go so you have an A, B and even C beach to go to if circumstances change. It’s great to have other locations and options if need be. Good luck and good fishing!


Although snapper are scavengers, they’re also predators! This one smacked a spinning sea gar.


Three generations into the pigs – Will, 15 year old Erick and Chris Jacobson with half a dozen nice fish. 


Zeeshan Tariq is a happy fisho with his catch of big bream on a whole ganged pillie, meant for a tailor or salmon. This was caught in the early hours of the morning off the beach.

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