Form a plan, catch a fish
  |  First Published: August 2006

C’mon, cheer up folks – last month of Winter! Now, what’s this I hear about there being no fish about? What a load of old cobblers!

Those who go out without a game plan trying to catch anything that swims usually return home with nothing. However, if fish are specifically targeted, you’re more likely to score.

Tailor are everywhere at the moment and some of these are big greenbacks. West Head, the bommie on the northern side of Barrenjoey and the southern face of Lion Island all have schools most days. Berley with tuna or pilchard oil in the mix to keep these toothy attackers in the zone. Early morning is the best time, before the sun hits the water.

At every bait ground in Pittwater, john dory are patrolling looking for a stray fish that is sick or goes for a wander on its own. The Basin, Mackerel Beach, West Head, Palm Beach and Taylors Point wharf all have the delicious dory.

Salmon are shooting up and down the beaches, putting the fear of God into bait schools. A gang-hooked pilchard thrown out into the many gutters, then kept on the move, will guarantee action from these airborne fighters.

One of my favourite Winter pastimes (a great way of keeping warm, too) is chucking heavy chrome slices into the surf seeking tailor and salmon. Best beaches are Warriewood, Long Reef, North Curl Curl and the northern end of Palmy.


For the stone men, big pigs (drummer) get very hungry when the water is cold and will devour a peeled prawns, cunje, crabs, abalone gut or a hunk of bread dough supplemented with a chook pellet/bread berley. Avalon’s Hole in the Wall, Warriewood and the rocks off Curly all have resident pigs at the time of writing.

For the more refined, try drifting some cabbage weed off the rocks for luderick. Favourite possies for these dogged fighters are the saltwater pool at Mona Vale, Mona Vale Basin, the blowhole at Warriewood and Harbord rocks. Weed mixed with sand berley is essential.

So I don’t want to hear that well-worn tale there are no fish around. A Winter survival kit comprising thermal underwear, a beanie, gloves, thermos of hot soup or coffee and a well-thought game plan will get you connected to good fish.

We’re starting to get that yucky green water in close to shore now. Checking out the sea temperature: - (http://www.marine.csiro.au/remotesensing/oceancurrents/Syd-Hob/latest.html), it’s starting to get colder with some unfavourable current pushing down from the north.

After being laid up for weeks with a chronic bulging disc, Ron Kovacs did the big trip to Browns Mountain and beyond in search of yellowfin tuna. He scored an enormous striped tuna and then hooked into a 30kg yellowfin that, when he tried to gaff, ricked his back again, putting him in agony for the long trip home.

Over most reefs, nannygai (the bag limit is 20) are schooling in numbers but, in the main, fish are small so quite a few are needed for a feed.


Of all the beaches, Dee Why is really producing the goods. Barry Shelton again found a couple of flathead and a bream from this productive sand. The secret is to get down just before high tide, find a couple of gutters and work them systematically until fish are found.

Right in front of the Manly Pacific, large sand whiting fell to an out-of-town angler using packet worms. Using soft plastics off the rocks isn’t that popular but perhaps it should be. Trent Ollens nailed tailor, trevally and a small kingfish off the Warriewood platforms on one of the larger Squidgy patterns.

After asking the question in a past issue whether there were any slimy mackerel about, I had more than a few replies. David Bolton tells me he boated a heap of mackerel one evening at West Head and also has had triumph in Pittwater Basin on bream. Plenty of bran berley with fresh prawns as bait were been the secret to his success.

If you’re after flathead, drifting will cover more territory than anchoring. Try the drift from Flint and Steel to Juno Point on the incoming tide and the Dangar Island to Juno run on the outgoing tide.

Make sure you have enough lead to reach bottom and employ smelly, oily baits such as slimy mackerel and mullet – flathead hunt by smell as well as sight.

Warringah and Pittwater councils are forever casting anxious eyes at the lagoon’s level. It won’t be long before they will have to bulldoze the entrance again to release water before it floods low-lying houses. In spite of this, young Peter Renouf found bream and flathead at Jamison Park and then followed it up the next day with another kilo flathead from near the Scout hut.

Fox’s Weather Channel has asked me to do a lot more on fishing than just my regular weekly piece so watch for specials which will be coming out on the Weather Channel and also the Lifestyle Channel later in the year.

I had to laugh when I heard about a peninsula angler who always takes his large Thermos flask of coffee when night fishing the beach. He’s had the flask for over 10 years but when fishing Curl Curl recently, he executed a violent strike into nothing, teetered backwards and fell onto the prized relic, smashing the flask’s innards to bits.

And just to warm us up, the Sydney Boat Show is on from August 3 to 8 at Darling Harbour, where there are always some red-hot deals. I will be there, wandering around with mouth agape, drooling on all that shiny metal and plastic. But I need a volunteer to hold my wallet just in case I get tempted..

• Monthly tip: Weedy areas hold vast numbers of fish but are ignored by most anglers because the vegetation catches line and they lose tackle. Rig up with a small weight right at the bottom and have a snood or dropper around a metre above the weight. This keeps hooks well above the weed, where fish can see it and it won’t get snagged.

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