Has it improved?
  |  First Published: December 2002

Has it improved?

Back in March 2002 NSW Fisheries placed a ban of all professional fishing in Botany Bay and one of the big questions on most anglers’ minds was ‘Will the fishing improve?’

I carry out on-water fishing classes with Scotty Lyons from Southern Sydney Fishing Tours and we both agree that the fishing last Winter in the bay was the worst for many years. The class is structured around learning to catch fish and Scott and I had to work very hard to get the students into a few fish.

During the Winter the trevally were scattered throughout the bay and very inconsistent – there one day, gone the next. Maybe this was due to the extremely cold water (14°), the clarity of the water, the westerly winds and the lack of rain. Anglers fishing in Sydney Harbour and Broken Bay have been getting amongst the tailor and salmon, but down here in Botany Bay and Port Hacking these fish have been few and far between. On the other hand, the duskies have always been there for us and we haven’t missed on any of the outings.

Now that the water has warmed to around 22°, the fishing should improve on all fronts. One species Scott and I will be keeping an eye from now until May is the yellowfin bream (Acanthropagrus Australis). These bream usually spawn on the beaches and around the rocks and then migrate up the coast, usually arriving around Port Hacking and Botany Bay at the beginning of January.

The travelling bream will come into these waterways to feed and head upstream. Some of them will like the place so much that they will decide to stay and become residents.

I expect to see an increase in the numbers of bream caught by anglers, even by those not targeting them. I would concentrate my bream efforts off the beaches and rocks, in Botany and Bate Bays, Port Hacking and the Hacking, Georges and Woronora rivers. Places worth a try include the oyster racks in Woolooware Bay, the mussel beds at the end of the old and new runways, The Sticks off Kurnell, Sylvania Waters, The Moons and Soily Point at Lugarno, the Milperra and M5 bridges, the back of the Warwick Farm racecourse and the upper reaches of the Woronora River.

Port Hacking is renowned for huge whiting that can be caught on nippers, squirt, blood and tube worms. These fish can also fire in Botany Bay. Places worth trying include The Patches off Towra Point, the edge of the weed beds along the shoreline at Brighton-le-Sands, Yarra Bay, the groynes of Kurnell and the sand bar off Dolls Point. Maybe there will be an increase in their numbers as well, but only time will tell.

Now for places to try soft plastic lures this month.

Land-based: Rozelle and Blackwattle bays each have a couple of parks along their shores, with a limited amount of parking nearby. You can bring the family for a few hours and have them cast their arms off while trying to catch a bream or flathead on soft plastics. The area seems to work best on a rising tide as it brings the fish in close to the rocks.

Even if the kids can’t cast properly, as long as they get the weighted plastic into the water there is a fair chance they may tangle with a fish of a lifetime. I can remember one day early in February last year when I was flicking a few plastics along the edge and I got nailed by something that I couldn’t stop. I was using a Storm Shad about 15 cm long. Maybe it was a jewfish.

Boat Spot:.At the end of the third runway in Botany Bay the are a series of markers. The water here varies from about five to six metres deep. From here you should start your drift and, if you have two or more anglers in your boat, one should start casting back towards the concrete wall of the runway, allowing the weighted plastic to hit the bottom. The other angler or anglers should cast out on the other side of the boat.

This allows one angler to work the plastics over the edge of the drop-off and the others to work the plastics up the slope of the drop-off. The depth of the bottom at the drop-off does vary, but in places it gets down to 12 or 13 metres.

My biggest dusky flathead there is 83cm, caught on a weighted Mann’s Dragin Jerkbait..

What’s on

My classes on How, Where and When to Fish the various Sydney waterways will run at various tackle shops throughout the Sydney area. If you are interested in the techniques, baits and rigs I use and where, when and how to improve your chances of catching the local fish, contact Mako Tackle at Moorebank, Chatswood Bait and Tackle or me direct.

Don’t forget the fishing school at Hunts Marine, Blakehurst, which will consist of one night’s hands-on practical and some theory, followed by a day on the water with Scott Lyons from Southern Sydney Fishing tours and me. We will cover bait and rigging, berley, casting and troll lures, where and when to catch different fish species, finding and catching live bait and much more. The next class will start at 7pm on January 6. There will be a new class each month and you will need to book and pay a deposit. Email me or phone 0417 690 508 or phone Scott Lyons.

it or contact me on 0422 994207.



Marilyn Stone couldn’t get over the colour of the fins that give yellowfin bream their name. She caught this one on a run-out tide at the Kurnell oil wharf. When the bream come into the bay from January to May they tend to have very bright yellow fins.


Yellowtail kingfish have increased in numbers since the banning of the kingfish traps and it is quite common for anglers chasing bream to have a kingfish take the nipper bait. This kingie was caught by Brett Wilson on a fly at the hot water outlet.

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