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Patience pays off when catching a feed
  |  First Published: April 2017



The fishing is still going strong for Botany Bay and its tributaries. The water has cooled down a shade, and trevally numbers have increased in catches. While the blurter trevally may not be regarded as a top table fish, it is first class tucker when smoked, and makes excellent sashimi when fresh.

Trevally are at their peak from April on, but they can be taken in lesser numbers all year round. The last few years have seen them migrate up the Georges to Liverpool Weir, and they are appearing regularly in catches. They are tough fighters and relish pink nippers, bloodworms and Hawkesbury prawns.

Few anglers go out to specifically target trevally, but sometimes these fish won’t give any other species a chance to take a bait. When the trevors are in that biting mood, it’s nothing to catch 40-50 of them in a single session.

Trevally will take a bait in either tide, day or night. They mainly prefer deeper waters, such as the container terminal, Molineaux Point, the airstrip extension and the centre of the bay over to the middle tank moorings. You will get them in lesser numbers just about anywhere including Watts Reef, Towra Point, Brighton Beach and Kurnell.

In slack water I use a rig that has resulted in many fine catches. Use no trace and tie a size 1 Mustad 9555B hook with a no. 0 ball sinker running directly above the hook. About 30cm up the line above the hook, tie a no. 10 black swivel to prevent the line from twisting or kinking. Thread on a nipper or prawn and cast as far as possible. This setup will sink slowly and quite often the trevally will rise up to the bait and take it quickly. If you berley when targeting these slack water fish, it will help to keep the school in the area. Putting two or three loaves of stale bread in a keeper net behind the boat, weighed down by a small sinker, is a good option, and hand fed prawn nuggets also work a treat.

Quite often the bite of a trevally is a slight pick. When you feel this, simply turn the handle of your reel two or three times and lift, and you will feel the weight of the fish. There’s no need to strike hard as this will only pull the bait away or tear the hook out of the trevally’s soft mouth. During the fight, move your rod to the left and right to stop the fish swimming in circles.

I have been fishing the bay for over 60 years and I’m still learning new things and ways to improve my fishing. While I believe that tides play a major role in good catches, the technology available to us can also boost catch rates. The now Navionics app showing all the man-made reefs, type of terrain (e.g. sand, shale, gravel, mud reef, weed) channel markers, depth contours and GPS management. I would suggest you obtain this app and spend a day placing markers, routes and tracks and your fishing will change dramatically for the better.

In recent weeks we have been fishing the Quibray Bay area, which is located between Towra and Bonna Point. This is a vast section of weed and sand corridors and at times it produces very well. We’ve averaged between 10-15 bream to 35cm and 8-10 whiting to 43cm during the outgoing tide. It is very simple to find our spot because we cast to a yellow buoy marked BBY5C. However, you must use live bait or you’ll be wasting your time.

Elsewhere in the bay, land-based anglers have been doing well on Congwong and La Perouse beaches, with whiting to 42cm. These places are worth the price of petrol for your car alone.

The eastern side of Bare Island has been productive for luderick to the 1kg mark. They’re not as common as they are in winter, but their size has made up for their numbers.

Another sneaky spot has been the breakwall adjacent to the Yarra Bay Sailing Club. Good size tailor and leatherjackets have been featuring in catches. The artificial reef in Astrolabe Cove has big squid taking 3” orange jigs. These squid are a really good size and make excellent tucker.

The Sticks Drift, usually so reliable, copped a hammering from anglers in recent weeks, and is a bit the worse for wear. I have counted more than 20 boats fishing this area, so it’s only natural that this has taken its toll.

Watts Reef has started to fire but only at night. I believe this is still the best bream spot in the bay, although not as good as 20 years ago. Pick a night with a high tide around midnight, get there at sunset and fish with a small split shot right on the hook. I often see anglers using large sinkers, and I know they will come home empty-handed. You have to move your live bait all the time, with a short, slow jigging action. That is the trick to catching big bream.

The hot water outlet at Kurnell has been productive for choppers to 40cm during the full moon period, but this spot has not been fishing well for some time.

The drift in front of the runways continues to fish well for trumpeter whiting of excellent size, sometimes over 30cm. There are also a few flathead and flounder in the same area.

The Towra weed beds have been producing a few fish, but not as many as in previous years. As a by-catch you can always use a drag net on the run-up tide for a feed of prawns. This area has weed beds mixed with clean white sand and is free from snags.

The San Souci Sailing Club flats are fishing well for good size bream and whiting, and a few school mulloway. I dropped a few schoolies very close to the anchor rope; I simply was not good enough to land these fish.

Bald Face Point has been producing flathead, bream and school mulloway right on slack water. The fish are there for a couple of hours before moving away.

If you’re fishing around Oatley I would suggest the Caravan Head at night. Although it’s hard fishing, persistence always pays off.

Fishing at the Moons has been spasmodic, with only the odd stray bream landed.

The Woronora RSL crew have had afternoon sessions in the Wonnie but without much luck. If they can’t catch them, there’s not much hope for everyone else.

OFFSHORE

The offshore scene hasn’t been too bad, with by-catches of mahimahi from all the FADs. Just remember it’s vital to get there early. I’ve listed below some of the grounds that have fished surprisingly well.

• The Gap (33 51.010, 151 18.000) is often ignored but produces mixed bags in depths from 65-185m.

• The HMAS Encounter (34 54.600, 151 20.900) is a premium kingfish wreck for all sizes of fish.

• Plonk Hole (34 00.160, 151 26.282) is very consistent for Chinaman jackets. It’s 14km out from Botany Head.

• Kurnell Lighthouse (34 02.195, 151 14.000) is very close but very deep.

• Boat Harbour (34 03.000, 151 12.570), 36m for flatties.

• The Pinnacle (33 57.343, 151 18.658).

• Long Bay Wide (33 58.097, 151 18.810).

I trust this information will assist you in getting a feed.

SQUID

It wouldn’t be fair not to mention the recent squid catch jigged off Captain Cook’s Landing Place at Kurnell. I’m still old school, in that my jigs are made of balsa wood, but things have changed. Reno Asquino, the best squid fisher in Sydney by far, showed me how it is all done – with a single long stroke, then a few reel turns, then repeat. This was an experience not to be missed.

My wife likes to cook squid by cutting them into strips around 3/4” by 3”, then she adds five slices of anchovies, a handful of capers, two tins of Cirio tomato paste, garlic and parsley. You let it simmer for 45 minutes and then pour it over linguine pasta (preferably homemade). It’s to die for!

FRESHWATER

On the freshwater scene, the boys from the Wollondilly Bass Club have had good results from the stretch between Douglas and Menangle Weir. The average size is around 30-33cm. There are a few being taken at Theresa Park and Wallaga Bridge as well.

Additionally, good carp are at all the recognised spots and are taking worms. The best carp I’ve seen nudged 8kg.

All up, getting a feed is not easy at the moment but it’s possible. You need a lot of skill and patience, and need to stick to the early morning run-outs and afternoon run-ins. With all the rain we’ve had in recent weeks, the deep water is where you’ll find the fish.

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