Plenty to get excited about
  |  First Published: December 2005

This month is worth getting excited about. The warmer water travels down the coast, floods Pittwater with baitfish and the pelagics are hot on their heels.

Some of the visitors that will hopefully come into the river include cobia, samson, amberjack and, if we are really lucky, spotted mackerel. When they grace our shores these fish usually head for the sandy bays.

Over past years we have caught cobia and samson in Towlers Bay and amberjack at Mackeral Beach. All of these were caught on live squid with the exception of the cobia, which took a slimy mackerel. All were caught trolling on the downrigger while targeting kingfish.

The kings this month should move into top gear and take up residence around the various wrecks and points along the river. Many of these fish are going to be Summer-run rat kingfish with the odd school of bigger fish moving in later this month.

Once the kings have taken up residence they can often be tempted with poppers or stickbaits casting towards structure while drifting.

If you are in deep water, try working the surface to see if the fish can be tempted but if they can’t, put on a jig head and work closer to the structure. You lose a lot more tackle this way but it can be a heap of fun.

On the subject of losing fish, when targeting kingfish it is important to catch the first fish or convert a single hook-up into a double hook-up. When the first fish is lost the others in the school will often follow the panicking fish that has won its freedom.

As you can understand if a single hook up is converted to a double hook up and one fish is lost, the second hooked fish will still hold an audience. This technique often prolongs the bite and dropping bait over the side before the last-hooked fish is pulled from the water can catch more fish.

Do not tether the fish or keep the fish hooked longer than necessary, as it is illegal to tether kingfish. Release the kingfish before it is exhausted if it is undersized, as exhausted fish have a very poor survival rate.


Fishing for the larger pelagic fish in Pittwater can be white-knuckle action. For example, on a recent charter Oz Varder and Sal Kemal were dead-keen on catching a kingfish of any size.

We went straight over to the Kingfish Highway and dropped over a couple of fresh squid on the downrigger which were smashed within five minutes with a double hook-up and by 7am we were out of bait with the score at humans 3, kingfish 1 and were hunting for more squid.

Between 10.30am and 12.30pm the river fired up. Three more kingfish of 70cm were caught and with all bait used except for a frozen squid hood we had one last pass and on the way home the 30lb braid outfit screamed. We were among the moorings and I threw the boat into reverse as the fish headed for a mooring rope. The fight lasted another 10 minutes and when Sal finally worked the fish to the surface, Oz and I could not believe its size. It measured 89cm.

Flathead anglers should try the Mackeral Beach drift and the drift between the heads. Most fish are around 45cm with larger models at Careel Bay Wharf and Bayview sand flats. The fish are responding well to soft plastics in the shallows with the Berkley 6” sandworms working a treat.

Bream are still scarce with the best areas to try McCarrs Creek or Salt Pan Bay. Berley and patience are required.

If you have trouble tracking down fish in Pittwater or don’t know where to start, join me for a charter by calling 02 9999 2754 or visit www.estuaryfishingcharters.com.au .

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