The temp gauge holds the key
  |  First Published: November 2006

The warm current is well and truly on the way down the coast and with it will be all sorts of fish.

When we are blessed with warm currents that flow into Pittwater we usually encounter species such as cobia, amberjack, samson and sometimes even spotted mackerel. Touchdown for these travelling sports fish wont be until later in the month, and only if the currents lick our waterway.

The other species that we can look forward to is, of course, the kingfish. Last year was pretty poor for kingfish in Pittwater but hopefully the commercial fishermen will miss the run this year and everyone can benefit.

Kingfish at the start of the season can usually caught around West Head, Barrenjoey Head, Palm Beach moorings and Mackeral Beach. The best bait is usually squid inside the river and yellowtail in Broken Bay, mainly because usually there are more squid and cuttlefish in Pittwater available for the kingies to eat. This has been evident when cleaning kept fish; most have had small cuttlefish or squid in their stomachs.


For those who want to chase kingfish in Pittwater in November there are a few things that you have to remember.

Firstly, Pittwater usually has very little current and therefore baitfish move around the river, normally with predators close behind. The lack of current compared with other systems means that you are normally better trolling for fish to find them. Once you have found them, you can use a variety of techniques.

Secondly, Pittwater has a lot of lumps and wrecks and these structures are where most of the fish are caught. Again, the most efficient way to catch fish is to troll with downriggers and use live squid or cuttlefish.

Kingfish will rise to eat bait a lot more often than they will dive for one. With this in mind, it is better to run your baits in the upper water column. For instance, if you were trolling in 12m of water then place your baits 4m to 6m down.

The last thing to remember is that if you are going to anchor and berley for kingfish, it is better to use oily fish or tuna oil for berley. The areas to try are Soldiers Point, West Head and Barrenjoey Head because all of these areas to have current that will spread your berley slick for miles. If you try the same thing further up the river your trail won’t normally go too far.

For the lure angler hell-bent on chasing kingies, target Palm Beach moorings with poppers or big soft stickbaits. Cast at the boats and, as I have mentioned in previous articles, have a live squid or fresh squid head in the water waiting for that fish that chases the lure but doesn’t strike. The second bait will usually catch the chasers but, better still, it gives you a chance at his following mates.

Over the past our Strike Vision downrigger camera has shown on quite a few occasions kingfish following and shadowing trolled live squid for a fair while before they smash them. On one occasion we had 20 kingfish taking turns in just tipping and hitting the end of the candles. Once the squid was dead, the kingies disappeared.

When a new live squid was put out, we placed the second hook into the candles about 25mm away from the end and finally, after two or three raids, a 75cm kingie was bought aboard. This camera system never stops amazing me and the way fish behave when chasing live squid is truly stunning.


The odd school of salmon is still in Broken Bay but they are really becoming boat-shy. Small soft plastics or 6” stickbaits are working pretty well when allowed to drop through the feeding school. Mixed in with the salmon are kingfish so be prepared for the odd long battle when using lighter tackle.

There are a few bream about the marinas and in McCarrs Creek. Most of the better fish are taking live nippers but there are a fair few still being caught using whitebait. Berley of finely mixed tuna and chicken pellets is getting them on the chew. Other areas to try for bream include The Basin, Salt Pan Bay and Bayview.

Flathead have been a little tricky to catch in the river so if you’re after a feed, try at the mouth of Pittwater or between Lion Island and Box Head. Use mullet, yellowtail or pilchards while drifting or big soft plastics around the drop-offs and bays.

All in all, the past month of fishing has been pretty darn good and the next month will hopefully be even better.

Peter Le Blang operates Harbour & Estuary Fishing Charters out of Pittwater, phone 02 9999 2574 or visit www.estuaryfishingcharters.com.au.

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