Get out early!
  |  First Published: December 2002

At this time of the year, morning fishing sessions usually provide the best conditions for comfortable fishing, before the afternoon nor’-easters start blowing.

As an example; the ever-reliable drift from Cockatoo Island to Birchgrove Point will generally provide a feed of flathead, with most of the fish being taken during the run out tide. A nor’-easter blowing in your face and pushing the boat against the tide makes it difficult to present a natural bait.

Flathead will normally take up position facing into the tidal movement waiting for the food washed down with the current. A bait moving against the tide will appear less appealing to the natural instincts of our flat-headed targets.

The Summer afternoon windy conditions are also favoured by the sailing enthusiasts, which can make for fairly crowded conditions on the water. So, for better catches – and peace of mind – fish early.

The Lane Cove River offers relatively calm conditions no matter what the wind direction, and it has been fishing well for flathead. Both lure tossers and bait fishers have been scoring some quality fish and there are blue swimmer crabs on the sand flats between Greenwich Point and the Fig Tree Bridge. Mud crabs have also been caught in the upper reaches.

As I predicted a month or so ago, this is turning out to be a great year for those chasing jewfish. Not only have the gun fishers got amongst the big fish but some of the novices claiming their first ever quality jew. Most of the recognised hot spots have been producing fish in the 5kg to 10kg class with the odd jewie up to 20kg reported.

Blues Point has been a favoured spot for nighttime anglers. This is a spot where you need a long cast to get where the fish are holding in deep water. A beach rod around 3.5 metres is recommended. Late at night or in the early hours of the morning are definitely the best times – after the boat traffic has stopped.

Some reasonable catches of bream have been caught at night during the dark of the moon. The wreck in Willoughby Bay has produced bag-limit catches although the size is marginal. Most of the keepers range from legal size to 27cm.

A good spot worth trying for land-based anglers is the jetty near the Dawn Fraser Pool at Balmain. Ken Griffin landed a dozen fish there with a couple of flathead and whiting among the bream.

Hawkesbury River

The Hawkesbury is also enjoying a good run of jewfish. Bar Point has plenty of school jew from legal size to about 5kg. Many anglers fishing for bream are being consistently busted off and are taking the hint and switching to heavier gear.

Bigger jewfish are being caught at the Rail Bridge, Juno and Flint and Steel. A 37kg monster was caught at the mouth of Pittwater in the middle of the day, taking a live bait set just wide of the bait grounds at West Head. If you are fishing Flint and Steel at night, particularly with live bait, be prepared to hook the odd small hammerhead shark as well.

Flathead can be found right through the river in good numbers. Normally, most of the flathead will be concentrated in the lower reaches of the river during Summer but this year some of the better catches have been taken right up the top end of the branch arms like Mooney Creek, Berowra Creek and Mullet Creek.

The blue swimmer crabs are also farther up-river than you would usually expect. The Milson Island flats are a good starting point, and then set your witches’ hats upstream from there. I would suggest working the deeper water, as the crabs seem to be staying deep for some reason or other.

Botany Bay

Dolls Point is a good spot for mixed catches. Bream, flathead, whiting and tarwhine can be found over the sand and it is worth setting the witches’ hats for some blue swimmers while you are fishing. During the last dark of the moon there were some good catches of prawns taken in this area. Anchoring across the run-out tide, with a light over the side, and a long-handled scoop net getting a feed of prawns is not a bad way to spend a couple of hours on a balmy Summer night.

Dragnets worked along Brighton Beach have also been producing the goods. It’s been a few years since Botany Bay could boast regular catches of prawns for recreational fishers and I guess we can thank the buy-out of the commercial prawners for this abundance of prawns.

Kingfish have been holding around the shipping buoys early morning. Casting unweighted whole garfish in under the buoys is the best way to tempt them. Nighttime anglers fishing the same area have been scoring good bags of bream.

The Pines in Line mark off Sandringham is another spot worth trying for bream, although there have been a lot of stingrays loitering in this area.

If you are wetting a line in the Georges River then jewfish must certainly be your prime target. There have been some great catches right along the river from the Taren Point Bridge to the M5.

Any of the deep-water spots are holding fish with catches reported from Bald Face Point, Milperra Bridge and the East Hills footbridge. The guys catching jew near the M5 have been getting fish up to 12kg on minnow lures.

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