New year, new fish
  |  First Published: December 2016

The Christmas rush and the Boxing Day Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race have long gone. Things will start to settle back to normal as you think about getting out on the water to chase a few kingfish, mahimahi, flathead, bream, whiting, tailor, trevally, bonito, snapper and mulloway, to name a few. January’s a month when most fish species are on the chew, as long as the conditions are right.

By now, kingfish will have well and truly moved into Botany Bay and the Port Hacking River and will be cruising around for a feed. Squid and live yellowtail are the first baits that I would put on for kingfish during the year, but I’ve had a number of kingfish take peeled prawns and nippers while fishing for trevally and bream.

In Botany Bay, anchor up at places like The Drums, the oil wharf, Bare Island, the end of the third runway and at Henry Head. If you’re trolling, try Yarra Bay, Sutherland Point and either south or north of the entrance to Botany Bay.

If you prefer to fish the Port Hacking River, patrol around the deeper bays and keep an eye out for fish swirls. These larger swirls are usually kingfish feeding on small whitebait that they have balled up near the surface. You may even notice one or two terns diving. The best bait by far in the Port Hacking River is live squid and the second best is strips of squid. If you think about it, one squid can give you five baits.

Bream and trevally will be schooling up at the usual spots in Botany Bay and the best baits during this time of the year are live pink nippers and blood worms. Next would come Hawkesbury River prawns and strips of mullet and chicken.

I have found that over the years, the trick to consistently getting a feed of bream and trevally is to be prepared to anchor up and move around a bit. If I haven’t had a bite in 20-30 minutes, I will up anchor and move to another spot. Botany Bay would be trevally alley, but it tends to get a bit crowded. The end of the third runway, the oil wharf, Sutherland Point, Towra wide, the patches and Captain Cooks Bridge are all good places.

Further upstream in the Georges and Woronora rivers, you will also need to move about if you’re not getting any bites. Bloodworms and pink nippers will do very well up here. You should get yourself a poddy mullet trap, some white bread and catch a few poddies. Bream, dusky flathead and mulloway can’t seem to resist them. Try places like the entrance to the Woronora River on a run-out tide, Bonnet Bay, Lugarno, The Moons, Cattle Duffers on a run-up tide, the Georges River National Park and Picnic Point.

In the Port Hacking River, try any of the entrances to any of the bays, especially where the water is a bit deeper. You could either drift these areas or anchor up and berley. Also, try any of the drop-offs from the weed beds or sand bars. A good one to start with is the weed bed at the entrance to South West Arm, as you can fish the run-up and run-out tides.

If it’s whiting you’re after, get yourself some bloodworms, some pink nippers, and anchor up just off Towra Point in Botany Bay or 50m off the beach that stretches form Dolls Point to Brighton. You could also try offshore in Fishermans Bay at La Perouse or Silver Beach at Kurnell. In the Port Hacking, you could try just off the Ballast Heap, the sand flats at Lilly Pilly and Bundeena.

If you want your first 2017 mulloway, catch a few squid, yellowtail, slimy mackerel or poddy mullet. You’ll be in with a good chance of hooking-up. Trolling lures is another way to try, but make sure you pick ones that look similar to the baits that are working. Andrew Humphries got his first ever mulloway on a small minnow lure while working beside some oyster leases in the Georges River.

One thing I love during warmer months of the year is to head down to Wanda and Greenhills beaches and fish for whiting and bream. This can be done early in the morning or a couple of hours before sunset. If you can’t catch beach worms, give Andrew a call at Mac’s Bait Bar at Blakehurst on (02) 9546 1341 and see if they have any in stock. If not, you could always get some bloodworms or pink nippers from them.

If you’re feeling energic, travel over to the main bar and pump yourself a few nippers, or if you didn’t mind a bit of a hike, you could always try Coogee and Maroubra beaches. Going south, try Garie and Stanwell Park beaches.

Don’t forget, if you have pictures of fish that you have caught and you would like to get them in the magazine, all you need to do is send them to me at --e-mail address hidden-- with some details. For example, you may have caught a dusky flathead on a Gulp 5” Jerk Shad wide off Towra Point.
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