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Pushing the boundaries of what you can catch
  |  First Published: July 2017



We’re in the coldest month of the year now, and while it appears uninviting to the average fisher, for many anglers that fish throughout the winter months it’s time to take advantage of some of the great results that can be had.

It’s getting towards the very end of the mulloway and whiting season, but snapper fishing off the rocks is quite good. Winter species off the rocks and beaches are going to dominate catches over the coming weeks. Here are my predictions for this month.

MULLOWAY

I have caught mulloway on Sydney beaches every month of the year. I have been a die-hard angler for decades, trying to push the limits of where and when you can catch certain species. The results are often worth the effort. For example, fishing for beach mulloway in July/August can get you good results. July can be a good month, providing the traditional westerly winds do not dominate, as they push out the warmer, nutrient-rich current and replace it with colder water and flat seas. These conditions discourage the baitfish and whiting that would otherwise draw in the mulloway to haunt the beaches.

However, if you have a slight to moderate swell of between 0.8-1.5m from the south, it will generally keep the sea temperature up to about 19°C. That’s when I hit the beaches in search of a silver slab.

TAILOR

The run of big tailor will continue this month. They generally run from 1kg to as large as 3kg, and on some Julys even larger.

You’ll often get tailor as a by-catch when fishing for mulloway; the tailor will smash large live baits with relish, along with your carefully presented squid baits. With slightly flatter conditions most days you can fish a large pilchard on a set of 4/0 gang hooks and a light sinker. Bait spinning with pilchards is almost a lost art off our beaches, and is a very effective way of nailing tailor. Don’t be overly concerned about casting distance. You will be able to cast out a 170mm+ pilly with some distance on 6-8kg mono or braid. Big tailor are great fun on this gear, and you can add the salmon as well.

WHITING

Many people assume that the whiting fishing has shut down by mid-June, but I continue fishing for them in July. Fewer beaches hold whiting at this time of year, but the fish are still around in good numbers – providing you concentrate your efforts on some of the late season ‘whiting holding areas’. Try the South Steyne section from the southern storm water pipe to nearly up to the South Steyne Surf Club – it’s a great area out of a moderate or slightly larger south swell. Dee Why’s southern corner of the beach up to Dee Why Parade is also good, and there’s the chance of picking up a few bream as well.

If you decide that you want to catch some whiting, try to find a shop that has live worms in stock. Unfortunately, the shops that supply live blood or beach worms at other times of the year probably won’t have them now, but you might be lucky. An alternative option is to pump some pink nippers or catch your own worms.

MIXED BAG

For mulloway, salmon and tailor, the southern pipe of Manly to Queenscliff can be a good option depending on the quality of the gutter structure. Dee Why, Bungan, and North Palm Beach (when the swell is not up from the south) are worth trying too. The most popular baits are fresh tailor fillets, live baits like yellowtail, mullet (either fillets or butterflied) and of course fresh squid baits.

OFF THE ROCKS

Off the ocean rocks, species that you will encounter are rock blackfish, luderick, trevally, tailor, salmon, bream and snapper.

The snapper are generally caught with a long cast of up to 100m and as little as 30m at some locations where the sand meets the reef in close. Try salted slimy mackerel, salted striped tuna, squid strips, or fresh fish fillets like tailor. Yellowtail are great as well. You will catch your snapper on flat days but I prefer a swell size of about 1m. It encourages the reddies to come in closer, due to the agitation of the inshore sea floor stirring up some food.

You can expect some trevally mixed in with the snapper. Recently I caught some nice plate-size snapper to 37cm and trevally of similar size while distance casting off South Curl Curl/Freshwater near the ramp casting to the northeast. I used salted slimy mackerel and squid strips. You require a decent cast of about 90m. Other spots that have been producing are North Curl Curl near the swimming pool, and Warriewood high cliff, approximately 50m west of the Blow Hole.

The rock blackfish (aka pigs or black drummer) have been biting at Little Bluey in Manly, and Long Reef near Snapper Rock. You can also fish the boulders on the south side near the ‘Island’ (it’s preferably an island at high tide), and the front of the Island – preferably during a swell size of less than 1m.

Luderick can be caught from Snapper Rock and in front of the Island. At Little Bluey, head to the first main ledge that looks like a big rectangle, and fish for luderick there. Trevally are also being caught, with a mix of pilly/bread mush with half pillies and peeled prawns.

Wash fishing for mixed species at this time of the year is quite different from doing it in summer. There are generally no bonito and far fewer small kings. Most winter bags consist of trevally, some snapper, salmon and even some pigs if you’re fishing the right washes for mixed species. For most of the species mentioned I prefer to fish the run-in tide, from the half tide in to the high.

It is definitely worth noting that at this time of the year the winds can dominate from the west/southwest, or from the south/southeast. The westerly winds generally reduce the swell size significantly, but a slight wind direction change from westerly to southwesterly can increase the swell size exponentially. It can go from being almost completely flat to being un-fishable in just a few hours. If you notice the swell size increase, understand that it will probably continue to increase with the wind change. Either hightail it out of there and call it a day, or go to your plan B, which is a safer location out of the swell.

• 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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