It’s hotting up
  |  First Published: February 2017

With the silly season behind us there is no better time to grab your rods, reels and hit the water for some fun. Over the last month we saw some rather patchy fishing along Pittwater and our part of the coast, but things have changed since then, and finally there are decent fish to tangle with!

Along Pittwater we still have some very warm water which is affecting the kingfish bite. If you are going to chase kingies along Pittwater you still need to catch squid first, so an early start is required as the kingfish are more active first thing in the morning. As the sun gets higher in the sky, the kingies become harder to find.

This season the kingies are playing hardball, but for those anglers who are willing to put in the time and effort there are some very good fish to be caught. Along Broken Bay and Barrenjoey Head there are active fish first thing in the morning, and you don’t need live bait to catch these smaller kingfish. Squid pieces trolled or downrigged will find the school, and soft plastics, micro jigs and other lures will keep them coming over the side. Most of these fish are undersized so please don’t keep any without measuring them first.

Other fish to play with along Pittwater are your bread-and-butter species such as bream, whiting and flathead. And, if you’re lucky, you may tangle with a few mulloway along Pittwater as well.

You can target the bream, whiting and flathead along the shallows. These fish are reacting well to lures but if you are a bait fisher I recommend using light line, a bit of berley and float your baits down the trail for the best results. Areas to try are at Mackerel Beach, Currawong Beach, the Palm Beach weed beds and Careel Bay. When you are going to fish these areas look for structure, holes or weed beds to get the most action.

To target mulloway you really have to start early before all of the activity on the water gets too much for them. The deeper holes around Pittwater are a great place to start. As the day progresses and there is too much boat activity, try around the various sunken vessel structure along Pittwater.

Over the last couple of seasons I have become a big fan of using micro jigs when targeting mulloway, especially while drifting. These jigs work a treat when worked aggressively near the bottom. I have often used them right next to baited rods, and these jigs quite often will get the first fish. When targeting big mulloway along Pittwater, live baits also catch their fair share. Big southern calamari squid are a prime bait, but my favourite of all when targeting mulloway in Pittwater is a big fresh squid head.

Squid are quite plentiful at the moment along Pittwater and Broken Bay with a good variety of sizes. There doesn’t seem to be any particular favourite colour at the moment, but a great guide to start with is to use fluoro pink or orange and watch for follows. At this time of year when you find a patch of squid they will often be aggressive, and more than one will follow a squid that is already hooked. For this reason it is always good to have a spare rod ready to go with a squid jig already tied on.

Squid jigs in the 2.5g size are great place to start, but make sure that you have a couple of 2g jigs with you in case they are fussy.

Broken Bay is also another area to hunt down some fish first thing in the morning. If you can get out on the water as the sun rises you’ll quite often spot some seagulls working some fish on the surface. The fish that are being counted are tailor and smaller kingfish, with the odd salmon mixed in. Once again, using surface lures is a great way to target these fish and is a very exciting way to start the day.

Flint and Steel is starting to come to life, with most fish being caught an hour before through to an hour after the tide change. Fishing this reef is best done by fishing the edges that is the drop-offs. A berley trail is extremely helpful when fishing this area, but it’s quite useless unless the berley has been deployed near the bottom (depending on your target species). There is so much current in this area, and the slack water time is so limited, that you are much better off using a heavily-weighted berley bucket near the bottom when targeting most species.

Species that can be encountered at Flint and Steel are mulloway, kingfish, trevally, flathead and even sharks. This area needs to be sounded out first before you throw out your anchor. There can be quite array of boats fishing this area at any given time, so please be aware of other anglers already fishing, don’t anchor in their berley trail, don’t anchor close to other boats and be polite to each other.

For those wanting to head along the coast, there have been some big kingfish encountered at Whale Beach Headland, Newport reef, Mona Vale and Long Reef. These fish are coming out of the blue and not always encountered, but they all have one thing in common: they love eating slimy mackerel. Using live slimies and big yellowtail will help to keep the smaller fish from wasting your time.

The smaller kingfish are once again devouring squid strips and frozen squid. Just be sure to check your baits quite often, especially when downrigging, as there are a lot of sweep around that can strip your hooks of bait very quickly.

Reef fishing further offshore has been a bit of a lucky dip. In water depths of around 60-70m there still seems to be a lot of cold water on the bottom, even though the surface temperature is around 23°C. There has been a mix of species caught lately, some of which you’d only expect catch in winter.

The reefs in 60-70m of water have produced snapper, nannygai, morwong, trevally, tiger flathead and the odd rock bar cod. Once you drift off the reef and onto the sand there are some bluespot flathead waiting to be caught. Once again when flathead have been found, drifting the same area will quite often see more fish being caught. Soft plastics on heavy jigheads are a great way to target these fish, and every now and then you may encounter a decent snapper on the sand as well.

Try to find baitfish that are balled up on your sounder before deploying lines. When baitfish are like a soccer ball shape on your sounder, there are predators not far away! The better baits to use have been pilchards or fresh fish fillets such as yellowtail, or better still slimy mackerel.

I hope this report sees you getting out on the water on your boat, or better still give us a call so we can show you around on ours.

• 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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