A strange summer season is over
  |  First Published: March 2017

Over the last month, fishing along our part of the coast has been somewhat sporadic. Still, for those that have been willing to drag themselves away from home and spend a day on the water there have been a few fish to catch. It hasn’t been a normal summer this year. Funnily enough, I think we are going to have a great time catching fish during autumn.

At the moment on Pittwater and Broken Bay there are plenty of baitfish showing and the predators are starting to come on the chew. First thing in the morning is the best time to get amongst the fish feeding on the surface. There have been bonito, tailor and the odd kingfish to play with while casting lures.

The better lures to use have been 10-15g metal slices, but you’ll have a ball using small poppers. A lot of the surface activity has been happening in Broken Bay. Working seagulls and terns show the areas that should be targeted. Please remember to respect other fishers around you and give each other room so that everyone can have some fun. When you are fishing around the surface schools of fish, turn off your motor and drift with the wind towards the surface activity.

The surface activity is not only happening in Broken Bay. Pittwater has had its fair share as well. Catching kingfish along Pittwater is becoming easier with the water temperature starting to drop.

Over the previous months we have had unbelievable water temperatures of 26°C along Pittwater, which has been too warm for a decent kingfish bite. Kingfish now become active in the usual haunts and are starting to fire up. There has been the odd kingfish caught at the Supermarket and Kingfish Highway, but there are also kings around Scotland Island.

The better baits, as usual, are squid. It doesn’t have to be alive, just freshly caught. It has been better to use live squid to find the kingies. Once a couple have been caught, cutting up the fresh squid and using strips has also worked well. It’s all about covering ground with the freshest bait you can muster up.

Squid can be caught at Careel Bay, Mackerel Beach, the Basin, Palm Beach weed beds and Barrenjoey Head. The better size of jigs to use has been 2-2.5g. Fluoro colours are catching their fair share. The hardbodied flashy pilchard coloured squid jigs are also working a treat. Don’t forget to put a swipe of scent just above the spikes on the jig to help tempt those timid squid that can show up from time to time.

For those that like dragging bait on the bottom, finally some flathead, bream, trevally and even the odd mulloway are showing up. Once again, covering ground and having fresh bait seem to be the keys to finding decent fish. The northern end of Scotland Island on the drop-off is an area where decent flathead are being caught. Prawns, fish strips, pilchards and whitebait are all worth using, providing they’re fresh.

Careel Bay and the drop-off at Palm Beach are also worth trying. These steep drop-offs and weed edges are always worth casting a few soft plastics around while drifting.

If you want to anchor and berley, try Flint and Steel Reef near the change of the tide. This area is best fished at the edge of the reef and not in the middle of the reef. Use the tide to take your berley to the reef and fish in your berley trail. Please check the weather forecasts before fishing this area, especially in a small vessel. The conditions change very quickly and can become dangerous almost in the blink of an eye.

Along our coast we are starting the see some big kings in along the headlands and close-in reefs. Most of the decent fish that have been encountered have been caught using live slimy mackerel or yellowtail while covering ground using downriggers. While you cover ground with the downriggers, it’s also worth it to have a mate cast around a surface lure from the side of the boat. Doing this can drag in other fish from further away. If they don’t eat your lure on the way back to the boat, there is always the live bait you are dragging around there to tempt them.

Reef fishing along the coast has still been a little bit tricky. If you are prepared to scope out a reef and find baitfish before deploying your anchor or drifting through, it has been easier to catch a feed. The closer reefs have some snapper showing before the sun rises and there are also flathead, trevally and morwong on the reefs in 40-60m of water. The best bait has been squid strips, and pillies are still catching decent fish as well. If you are lucky enough to run into a patch of slimy mackerel or yellowtail, filleted strips of these baitfish are working a treat.

Even though we have been plagued with mixed up water temperatures, there are still a few fish to be caught. It is really a matter of having a few different plans to try with appropriate baits. Spend time on the water covering ground. When a decent bite has been found, stay with it.

I hope this report sees you grabbing some rods, the kids and a few lures to enjoy our wonderful part of the coast.

• 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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