Don’t slip into the drink from the rocks
  |  First Published: December 2016

The stark reality of ocean rock, ocean beach and land-based estuary fishing is the weather. Looking for utopian weather is simply not realistic. In saying that, not fishing because the swell is up a bit, winds are blowing or there might be a chance that showers and rain are predicted, isn’t really a good excuse.

I’m not saying you should go out there when it’s dangerous. If rock anglers only went out when the conditions were perfect, they’d spend very little time out there actually fishing! Sometimes you have to brave those slightly nastier conditions, within reason, and suffer the discomfort for a quality bag of fish.

The old saying, ‘practice makes perfect’ is very true with fishing. Another way to look at it is if you’re only a rock or only a beach fisher, have a contingency plan in the estuary if the seas or weather aren’t permitting. Doing the homework beforehand can give you the confidence for that plan B location. Having the calmer water estuary outfits when you can’t fish the ocean areas will allow the land-based fisho to still have some fun.

Your pre-conceived ideas of inclement weather become clearer and you realize that a bit of wind and a threatening shower isn’t that hard to fish, simply because you have the ability to be able to fish it. With time you’ll get used to it.

In Sydney harbour, kings are in relatively good numbers with fish in the mid 70s mark. Pier 2 has the results, being one of the premier kingfish locations for the land-based angler in all of Sydney Harbour. It also gets super crowded. There are lots of great spots to fish in the harbour and lots to choose from for a king. Here are some of the locations that are fishing well – some from my reliable sources and some where I’m catching on my days off.

Dobroyd Head along the front is good, providing the swell is not up from the southeast. Cast poppers, stickbaits and gars in the wash areas for results. A few bream are in the washes as well. You’ll also catch some tailor and salmon and the bonito are doing their reconnaissance missions as well. Bonito up to 1.5kg were spun up there recently on 45g Knights. Like any rock spots, treat Dobroyd Head like any ocean spot and wear your steel spike boots. It is an exposed harbour spot to the ocean.

Below the Spit Bridge on the south face are kings on the top or the bottom of the tide. Try an hour either side. Live baits fished 30-40m out on the bottom are worth a shot. Otherwise, a live bait or whole squid set under a float approximately 3-4 m deep is producing for some locals. Try for a luderick along the stone wall about 80m east of the bridge with hair weed.

Narrabeen Lagoon from the entrance to 100m in has produced whiting, flathead and some bream in the evenings on live prawns, bloodworms and pink nippers on the high tide period and during the first hours of the run-out. Fish the late high tide periods and an hour or two of run-out tide.

Bigger whiting have spread out to most beaches. Bream and decent dart are on selected beaches. Palm Beach has a few big dart. The bream and whiting are around the black rock section of the beach. They can vary because of the gutters and sandflats, so fishing the black rock area could mean a 100m trek to the south or north when you get there to find the right formations.

A 10.5kg mulloway was caught on a live whiting on this beach recently. Remember, when using sand whiting for bait, they have to be 27cm. Fresh or live tailor, whole squid with a tube up to 20cm, live yellowtail and fillets or strips will be suitable. Other beaches for whiting are Avalon, Newport, Warriewood, Narrabeen, Collaroy, Dee Why and Manly.

Tailor are on several of these beaches as well. I get pretty excited when the tailor are on in good numbers. They’re an aggressive species and chomp into smaller fish, leaving plenty of berley in the area. That in turn attracts the bream. Larger predators like sharks and mulloway are there for the smaller chopper tailor.

I use tailor (up to 750g) for live bait. A robust rod is necessary for mulloway and sharks like the 10-20kg Mulloway from Wilson. It’s a one piece rod. The Texalium 13’ 3-piece is great, as well as a Daiwa Surf Basia 25QD or a low mount Live Fibre 13’10” to 15kg with the 650B Alvey. Add 30lb mono or a spinning reel with 30lb braid.

Back to the tailor, a set of 3/0 or 4/0 gangs with whole pilchards is the best approach. Manly, Curl Curl, Warriewood, and Palm Beach have been the producers of late for these delicious fish when fresh grilled or smoked.

It’s a great month for the snapper, kings, bonito and bream off the ocean rocks. The Hat at the bottom of the Quarantine Wall in Manly is a relatively good producer. Even though the ledge is fairly small, it has the potential to produce some good kings. You’ll often see boats anchored in the vicinity fishing for kings or trolling.

For the rock fisho, spinning sea gars, large poppers and live baiting are popular options. Spinning a 25-65g Sniper or Knight metal has worked well for the bonito, tailor and salmon. Ther’s luderick at the Hat as well. Fish for them just to the right of the main point or to the left casting to the east over the slightly shallower section.

South Curl Curl to Freshwater Point on the north face has been producing snapper to 43cm. Some legal kings and a couple of samsonfish have also been caught distance casting or fishing the larger white water washes. When you can get them, bottle squid work well for all of these species. Make sure you get them off a reliable source.

The squid should be white/light grey in colour and with clear eyes. If they are pink to purple they are generally not fresh. The smell should be fresh, not a pungent aroma. Always remember that fish generally eat their food at the freshest level. That is alive, so a fresh squid is what they’re used to. Dee Why Rocks is producing similar results as well.

Here’s a tip for ocean rock fishers this month – the dominant swell is generally from the NE throughout the summer period, so the spots you may have been fishing over the winter to spring period was from a south-southeast swell direction and may have been facing to the north.

The ocean swells may have been missing the locations you’ve fished. They’re going to be exposed to a NE swell direction now. Be aware, especially for the anglers that haven’t fished for a few months. The swell doesn’t have to be very large to be dangerous when it approaches ocean rock spot directly.

As usual, make sure you wear light clothing, and that you never go alone.

• For rock and beach guided fishing or tuition in the northern Sydney region, visit www.bellissimocharters.com.au, email --e-mail address hidden-- or call Alex Bellissimo on 0408 283 616.
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