The season has kicked off well despite big swells and dodgy currents. The salmon run has been huge, with fish massing around North Head and sometimes up the main harbour around Bradleys Head. The upstream fish seem less focused on spawning and have found larger baitfish than those at North Head. As a result, they’re easier to catch on a range of lures and flies. There’s more fish at North Head, but they’re much harder to catch and focused on small bait.
Kings have made an early appearance with both rats and fish to 8kg common in Middle Harbour. A massive 35kg king was found at the bottom of Garden Island Dry Dock after the water was pumped out. While only one fish was trapped in after the gate closed, I’m sure it wasn’t alone, highlighting the potential of Sydney Harbour to produce truly massive kingfish.
Back up Middle Harbour, most of the smaller fish are feeding in small schools on the surface and can be tempted with lure and fly. The bigger fish are taking both fresh squid and live cuttlefish baits. While I mostly write boat-based tips, this month I thought I’d throw in a few prime shore-based options around the harbour.
Middle Head holds kings on the northern end where the reef hits the sand. They’re best targeted with live squid. It’s also a top squid ground, over the kelp at either end, but watch out for a couple of small bommies that break in over about 1m swell. It’s a great rock fishing spot for kings, tailor and drummer. Middle Head, although an inner harbour spot, is subject to ocean swells, exercise caution.
Clifton Gardens is a great boat and shore spot.The jetty drops into 40ft and produces kings and mulloway and all your usual jetty inhabitants. There’s a restricted zone around the navy jetty, but the white mooring buoy to the north holds good kings. The drop-off towards mid-stream is a renowned night mulloway spot. The rocks to the south offer the shore fisho great deep water access for kings, mulloway and luderick. In fact, an average cast from here will land you in 60ft of water.
Bradleys Head is a good spot, particularly on the upstream side. It’s more of a shore-based spot due to high commercial traffic making it hard yakka for boats. You’ll pick up bream, luderick, flatties, salmon and tailor. On the downstream side there’s a big kelp bed that’s good for squid.
Parsley Bay Jetty offers good bream and flatties in summer and dory and trevally in winter. We’ve pulled a few mulloway here too.
Bottle and Glass offers good shore access and produces kings, bream, blackfish and squid. It’s all good water in a southerly wind.
There’s good squid at both ends of the beach with lots of little cuttlefish on the southern corner. If you take your freshly caught cephalopods to the rocky point at the southern end of the beach, you might catch a big kingfish. In fact, this is the harbour’s best shore-based access to quality kingfish.
This is one of my favourite harbour spots producing both winter and summer fishing and a mix of estuary and oceanic fish. It’s the number one Samson fish and morwong spot and has produced great mulloway. It was spotty mackerel central when the historical run was on and has some thumping blue groper. An average cast will put you on the spot. The tip of Cannae marks the end of the penguin zone.
This is another of North Harbour’s great spots and will produce pelagics, including Samson fish. It’s a great winter fishery. It’s also a good yakka spot. It fishes well for luderick and surgeonfish but is difficult shore access. A similar spot with good shore-based access can be found on the adjacent point near Fairlight pool. A good cast from here will put you onto sand next to reef. The stretch along the sand from Fairlight Point to Manly Aquarium is great for flatties off the shore.
The sand bank drop off up the back of North Harbour near the Davis Marina offers great shore-based lure options. This is a great flathead spinning spot and is accessible for both boat fishers and waders. It’s also home to some common squid and is a good backup spot if you’re having trouble locating southern squid.
I recently did a week’s crabbing with the kids over the holidays and picked up a good tip from the SW Rocks locals, which made a huge difference to results. On most commercially available traps, the mesh used to form the funnel at the entrance to the trap is made from the same mesh as the rest of the trap. Over the years, I guess to cut back on costs, the mesh has gotten considerably finer to the point where most crabs would struggle to get in without their spiky appendages getting tangled.
To fix this, go to your local hardware store and buy some heavy gauge plastic mesh commonly sold for garden lattice. Cut it to shape and use a few cable ties to secure it into the bottom of the funnel entrance, straight over the top of the existing mesh. This will make it easy for the crabs to get in without getting their legs caught in the fine mesh underneath, resulting in more crabs.
Steve Windsor joins the ever-expanding Sydney charter fleet this year with his company, Fishing Sydney Tours. Steve has been fishing Sydney and surrounds for 40 years and knows the waters pretty well. His specialty is wash fishing for drummer, groper and luderick. He’s a genuine gun on close offshore snapper. He also caters for offshore kings and dollies. Operating out of a 22ft Glass Hooker, Steve offers 4-7 hour charters catering for up to four passengers. Check him out at fishingsydneytours.com.au.
Salmon are abundant but notoriously hard to tempt with a lure.
Steve Windsor with a nice snapper aboard his new charter boat.
Plump kingies are in good numbers up Middle Harbour.Reads: 856