Effort and guile will succeed
  |  First Published: July 2006

As Winter firms its grip, it gets harder to track down action because cooler water makes many fish lethargic so they use less fuel and don’t have to feed that often.

July, August and September are months when it takes maximum effort to get a feed. However, there are ways to get the odds in your favour.

Firstly, target your fish before you set out. Winter species include bream, tailor, salmon, john dory, hairtail and beach jewfish, which are available year-round, not just in Summer. Once you have decided what fish to hunt, find out all you can about the species by pouring over fishing mags or via searches on the internet.

Then pick the best time of day, tides, weather and conditions which fit in with the feeding patterns of that particular fish. Get the freshest possible bait (preferably live and sourced by your good self) and ensure you have plenty of berley in store.

Fish as light as you dare. This way you will attract more inquiries although the down side is the risk of being under-gunned. But I figure it’s best to have continual action and maybe the experience of losing a fish rather than sitting all day waiting for something to happen.

Practise stealth at all times and don’t be afraid to experiment with different types of rigs until it starts to happen. Sticking to disciplines like these will get results when all around you are failing miserably.

So what’s been happening recently?

Although the Hawkesbury is under sustained pressure due to the former Harbour pros working the river, it’s still producing some good catches. Bream have been the highlight with fish taken from Porto Bay, The Vines and Marlo.

Chicken gut and pumped nippers, fished on a wafting trace at least a metre long will get attention as long as the berley is consistent. Target neap tides (low highs and high lows) so there’s little water movement, allowing a larger window to fish before the tide runs too strongly. This way, smaller lead, coupled with light line and fluorocarbon leaders can be employed, leading to more inquiries.

Flathead are one of the first fish to hibernate in Winter and take a fair bit of cajoling to accept baits or lures. However, they do still need to feed and the entrance to the Hawkesbury is where they will be looking for an easy meal as the flow washes towards them on an outgoing tide.


Offshore anglers have been burning expensive fuel as they go from one place to another in search of fish, many times to no avail. Areas that I find productive in Winter include East and West reefs, Newport Reef, the washes off Long Reef, Queenscliff Bommie and North Head.

If you exclude those pesky chinaman leather jackets that can drive sensible anglers to distraction, tailor are the dominant species along with the roving schools of salmon that work into wind chasing the bait schools. Although it’s late in the season for snapper, fish are still being taken at Long Reef and off Avalon on floating baits.

Morwong are a welcome by-catch and some big rubber-lipped specimens have topped 3kg. Nannygai are also found on the snapper grounds and although most are small, they are delicious when skinned, floured and pan-fried in butter.

Narrabeen Lagoon has pulled some surprises with fish taken from Deep Creek, Jamison Park, Pipe Clay Point and the main channel near the Eco Centre. Bream and flathead have been dominant but there is a run of sea gar which are going nowhere because the lake entrance is still firmly closed. Big bully mullet are cruising the lake and the casual observer will note the prolific amount of time they spend in the air as they jump for joy for no apparent reason.

Although we are well into the season, reports from the rocks have been sporadic. Apart from some black drummer from near the blowhole at Warriewood and the occasional blackfish coming in from Mona Vale pool and the adjacent Basin, table fish seem to be few and far between.

For the beach angler, the north end of Narrabeen Beach, Long Reef and the middle of Palm Beach are starting to produce big blue-nose Winter whiting. Putting around three live pipis on the hook will attract attention from these torpedoes which have a lot of pulling power for their size.

Burying burley at low tide in clearly marked gutters will improve your chances on these fish and a bright chrome surf bream could be a rewarding bonus. Weed has been a problem on most beaches as it comes in rafts on the making tide.

So stick with it and don’t just venture out with a hit-or-miss attitude. There are fish there, you just need to be that bit smarter than the fisho next to you.

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