Set out a nice spread
  |  First Published: December 2004

This is when the fishing really starts to heat up, with schools of bonito, kingfish, frigate mackerel, tailor and salmon in and around the Harbour, Broken Bay, Pittwater and the inshore reefs and headlands.

One of the best ways to catch these fish is to troll a spread of lures. I usually have three or four lures out, depending on the wind, waves and the type of fish we are after. Trolling is also a great way to find fish when there is no visible sign of activity.

Trolling is not just a matter of dragging a few lures around behind the boat. If you want to be successful at trolling you should target certain areas where fish tend to school up and hunt.

Headlands and rocky washes consistently hold fish. I will spend time around them trying different lures, speeds and directions. On some days the fish will like a lure trolled slowly while other days a bit of speed is needed to trigger a bite.

Your trolling speed depends on what type of lure you are using. Some lures are designed to work at slow speed, others faster. A good way to test what speed your lure works is to run it next to the boat and slowly increase your speed until lure starts to blow out of the water then slow down until the lure starts to work again.

I often run four different lures to find out at what depth, size of bait and colour the fish prefer. I run two diving lures such as Rapala CD 9s or Producers Barramundi Mauler 3s or similar, both of which will work from about three knots to six knots, but at different depths.

On the outside I will run a large plastic stickbait and a popper or Christmas tree on the other side. I set one outside lure back about 30 metres and the other at 45 to 50 metres.

I target the whitewater close to the rocks with the lures well out the back by angling the boat so the lure cuts in close to the wash. This is where fish like tailor and salmon like to feed on baitfish that hide in the whitewater. Both these outside lures work on the surface at speeds the divers operate.

If you find a school of fish working the top troll, motor around the school so you don’t spook the fish and put them down. Try angling your boat so the longer lures will cut through the school without driving through them. Even better, pull your lures in and position the boat up-wind and cast lures.

It’s also important to keep your eyes on sounder to locate fish and to know how deep they are holding. If you have a good showing of fish on your sounder, mark it with GPS.

Give the area a good working over using your mark as a reference point. If you don’t get a hook-up on the first couple of passes, try different speeds and directions.

If you have several hook-ups on one lure, change other lures to ones with similar size, shape and action.

If the fish are holding too deep to get a lure down, try one of the Ship ton Trading Zip Lock booms to get your lure down deeper. This is a great tool as you can add sinkers of different weights to get down to the deep without having to use a down rigger.

As with a downrigger, you can set your lure or bait whatever distance away from the boom. Once you’re hooked up, it will release and side down near the lure, making it easy to land the fish.

Kingfish and salmon have been busting up around Rose Bay , Double Bay and the markers. Most kingfish have been caught on live squid and soft stickbaits, while the salmon have been hitting stickbaits and minnow lures.

North Head has also had good numbers of smaller kings and small schools of salmon, with most being caught around the washes.

Pittwater started off well but has died down a little, with only the odd salmon and tailor being caught, although there are a few kings about the moorings.


Bass and estuary perch have been on the bite around the upper reaches of the Hawkesbury and Nepean rivers. Large number of bass and perch have been caught around Windsor, Richmond and Sackville.

Ben and Chris have trolled up more than 50 bass to 38cm in a week using baby Feralcatts. Good bass are being caught on surface lures worked slowly around North Richmond and Penrith. Best surface lures have been East Coast Fat Boys, Bass ’n’ Fizz, Taylor Made Surface Walker and fizzers.

All these lures work best when cast close to the structure, shadow or bank. Let them sit for a few seconds and then give them a twitch, wind them a little and stop again, then wind slowly back.

Some anglers only use surface lures in the early morning and late afternoon but I will use them all day casting to shadow areas.

Most of the creeks have been going off on spinnerbaits and surface lures so drag out the bass kayak and head down to the local creek – you will be amazed at how many big bass like this small water.

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