Fishing with the chill factor
  |  First Published: June 2017

This month is truly wintery in this part of the world, as you may be witnessing right now. The winds are generally westerly or southwesterly, which adds to that chill factor.

Fishing really early in the morning or well into the dark for the likes of mulloway, rock blackfish, snapper, bream, trevally, tailor and salmon is fine, but it may not always be necessary. Yes, if you’re chasing mulloway or tailor off the rocks or beach you should go at night, but all the other species can be caught in reasonable numbers well after sunrise and well before dark.

Of course, the number of fish that you may encounter might not be there at times, but it is definitely worth a go. Just one of the many examples is a south facing headland. Depending on the height of the headland, it will be in shadow for at least several hours after sunrise, and should also fish well at dusk.

Here’s the report of what to expect at this time of the year off the ocean rocks and beaches.

Off the ocean rocks, salmon are in larger numbers hammering whitebait, small pillies and baitfish of several varieties. A SureCatch Lazer jig in the 35g size, or a similar weight metal, will allow you to get to schools of feeding fish within 50-60m from the shore, while still being small enough to match the bait they’re feeding on.

Tailor are in good numbers, with quality fish up to 1.5kg. You’re more likely to catch them in the dark period before sun-up to just around sunrise, or just after dusk (if you’re not confident at rock fishing yet though, please avoid fishing after dark). Ganged pillies on a 3/0 to 4/0 size hook are the go, and line classes from 10-15kg (depending on if you have to lift or wind fish up a cliff) will be sufficient. Add a foam float with a glow stick to see where you are, and some white water to attract the baitfish and tailor to the area, and you’re in with a chance for this hard-fighting and tasty fish.

Snapper numbers have been quite good of late. Cuttlefish strips, salted mackerel and fresh yellowtail fillets have all been catching their share. You can catch yellowtail at a wharf and then go for a snapper fish straight afterwards.

The snapper are being caught either distance casting or wash fishing. When I go to a new spot, one method to determine whether it is worth throwing out for a snapper distance casting is to look for darker patches and lighter patches. Often you will notice a distinct darker area, and just beyond that is a lighter area. Some of these spots are well within casting distance of 30-70mm, and are great places to start distance casting for snapper.

Some of the more renowned areas require more know-how, and that might put you off fishing for them because of the constant snagging. Try to avoid really flat days, as that may be one of the reasons why the snapper might not be on the bite.

Back to the reports!

Luderick are on at Little Bluey the end of Bower Street, Manly. Look for the first big, main, square-looking section of ledge that you see from the car park at the end of Bower Street. You can catch rock blackfish along those ledges, along with tailor and salmon. Snapper can be caught off the high ledges out of the southwest wind at South Curl Curl, and Warriewood high ledge in a swell size of above 1m.

The run of whiting, tailor and salmon is continuing on the beaches off Sydney. The northern beach suburbs from Manly to Palm beach – my part of the world – are producing good results. Starting at Palm Beach, the corner of the beach next to Barrenjoey Headland has a near permanent gutter running along it. You can pick up bream, whiting, tailor and salmon along there, but don’t bother fishing it if the swell is above 1.3m from the south. You should also avoid fishing it if there is a strong southerly. Try towards the other end as you will be out of the wind.

Another option is to fish the small gutters and holes from the south Palm Beach swimming pool section up to the two massive boulders. The tailor fishing is best during very low light periods, particularly before dawn when you see that first sliver of colour on the horizon through to about sunrise. Alternatively, you can set up an hour before dark and scope out some gutters and fish it well into the night. The mid tide run-in to about two hours of the run-out tide is best. A couple of mulloway are being caught from there as well.

Whale, Avalon and Bilgola are producing salmon, some tailor, whiting and bream. Bungan, Newport has whiting, bream, tailor, salmon and some mulloway. A nice mulloway of 9kg was reported by a local, caught on a ganged pilchard and 7kg line while tailor and salmon fishing. Be diligent when it comes to your rigs as you don’t know whether the next fish is going to be a sizable mulloway.

Warriewood to Mona Vale has whiting, more so at the Cooks Terrace/Warriewood Beach area. There are tailor and salmon as well.

Heading north, mid to about the Stewart St Collaroy section of beach there are whiting, some bream, tailor and salmon. It’s also definitely worth a throw for a mulloway. Dee Why and Curl Curl can also produce all the species mentioned. Freshwater is a good spot for bream and some whiting, and the salmon and tailor have also been on the chew but mostly well after dark. My tip is to fish it on the flatter nights because, like Curl Curl, it’s a high energy beach. That means it’s a vacuum for swell from all directions.

Last but not least is the famous Manly Beach. All of the species I’ve mentioned are there, along with some late season dusky whaler sharks.

Take into account that even though I have mentioned every beach in my area, there are times when it would be impractical to fish them because they are inundated with kelp. My tip is to fish smart and put in some homework before you run out the door with your fishing gear as quick as the fire brigade. Check out the surf cams, several weather reports and rain radar – and if you get to a location and find the reports weren’t accurate, go to a plan B or even C.
• For rock and beach guided fishing or tuition in the northern Sydney region, visit www.bellissimocharters.com.au, email --e-mail address hidden-- or call Alex Bellissimo on 0408 283 616.
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