Family fishing fun time!
  |  First Published: December 2016

I hope that you have all enjoyed the Christmas and New Year celebrations, but now it’s time to get out on the water and enjoy our wonderful part of the coast. It can be hard to drag the kids and us older folk away from our new shiny presents, but if you can, it’s well worth the effort if you hit the water with the family and go fishing.

Pittwater’s fishing well at the moment for a variety of species. For those who like dragging bait or casting lures around to target bottom dwelling species, there are flathead, mulloway, flounder, whiting and bream available to catch. The key to catching any of these species is to have the freshest bait possible. Use light tackle (depending on your targeted species) and cover ground. When fishing in Pittwater, covering ground is vital when trying to find larger fish or a hot bite.

Pittwater fills up like a bathtub on a rising tide, and there is only a minimal amount of current – unless you fish towards the mouth of the river. If you draw an imaginary line from Stokes Point to Longnose Point, anywhere north of this imaginary line there is some current, but south of the line, the water level fills. This is why it can be more beneficial to drift and berley, and try to attract fish to you, rather than to anchor. If you wish to anchor and berley, try fishing Stokes Point, Soldiers Point, Longnose Point and Sinclair Point. All of these areas have drop-offs into deeper water and will attract fish with berley. Drifting the drop-off that runs from Palm Beach to Mackerel Beach is a great area to drift for flathead and use baits or soft plastics. The deep water will not only see flathead being caught, but mulloway and kingfish also haunt the same area.

Make sure that if you have a GPS plotter on your boat, that you use it when fishing this area, as quite often going back over the same drift will produce more fish. Kingfish are making a nuisance of themselves along Pittwater, and as usual, are moving around quite a lot. Starting early in the morning and heading towards Broken Bay will often see a school of kingfish feeding on the surface – bird activity is usually the easiest way to spot these kingfish. The usual small soft plastics in the 4”-6” sizes are producing kingfish, as well is the odd salmon. The larger kingfish seem to be spread out in different areas of Pittwater. We will often see one or two larger fish cruising the edges of the weed beds of Careel Bay, Palm Beach and Morning Bay on the top of the tide.

For those of you who are prepared to downrig for kingfish, the areas to try are The Kingfish Highway, Scotland Island, West Head and Barrenjoey Head. Unfortunately at the moment, the kingies along Pittwater prefer to eat live squid, but if you are going to try along West Head or Barrenjoey Head, yellowtail are working fine – save your squid for Pittwater. Squid are being found in most bays along Pittwater, with fluro colours working very well. A pilchard-coloured hardbodied flashy jig is also working well, especially if you apply a bit of scent on the lure near the spikes. A simple smear of the paste will last for ages, and those squid that are caught are quite often caught while sucking on the jig, not caught on the spikes. The better size has been the 2.0, and it’s worth spending the extra dollars buying a jig that sinks slowly and horizontally, as they work far better than the el cheapos.

Along our coast there are also patches of kingfish showing up in the usual places. We have recently caught fish at Newport Reef, Whale Beach Headland, Narrabeen North and Long Reef. Once again, watching for natures tell-tales will help you find feeding fish. If you are lucky enough to be out first thing in the morning, when the conditions are like glass, quite often schools of baitfish will be evident on the surface. Remember to not only use surface lures, but to also use micro-jigs or other lures that you can work deep in the water column, as quite often this is where larger predators will lurk. They didn’t get big because they eat anything, so be patient. Reef fishing in water depths of 60m has been producing some nice fish. On the edges of the reefs and broken ground in this depth of water, there are flathead, snapper, trevally and the odd kingfish school making a presence as well.

Out at the 80m mark in areas such as the ordinance grounds, there have been big blue-spot flathead to 60cm, snapper to 55cm and even a few bar cod have been tangled with as well. Be prepared to use heavy sinkers if you wish to stay in contact with the bottom, as there is a fair amount of current pushing from the north and quite often drifting under 3km/h is a real challenge. If you do find that the current or wind is making it difficult to fish, the closer grounds are still producing, but more patience is required. Some of the closer grounds in the 30m-50m of water that are fishing well are Newport Reef, Mona Vale Reef and the Long Reef/Collaroy area. If you are unable to catch fresh bait before you go, don’t worry, as most reefs seem to have patches of bait that are able to be caught, sliced up and sent back down again. Frozen baits that are working well, are of course, pilchards, with squid coming a close second.

I suggest that while you are bait fishing with one rod put a rod, in a rod holder and drop down a micro-jig. With the boat’s action these lures work extremely well when fished near the bottom and will often produce snapper, flathead, trevally and kingfish. With the stronger currents, jigs of 200g are needed, unless you are willing to cast ahead as you drift and work them along the bottom.

We now operate special family fishing charters on flat water, targeting fish that the whole family can enjoy – not only to catch, but also to take home and eat as well.

I hope this report sees you grabbing the family and heading off to your favourite fishing hole to make some lasting memories.

• Peter Le Blang operates Harbour and Estuary Fishing Charters, phone 02 9999 2574 or 0410 633 351, visit www.estuaryfishingcharters.com.au
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