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February should be an exciting time – yellowtail kingfish should be terrorising the baitfish, yellowfin bream should be coming in to Port Hacking, Botany Bay and adjoining rivers and dusky flathead should have finished breeding and be out there lying in ambush for anything that comes past.
If you are after kingfish, one of the first places you should try is the mooring drums for the oil tankers in the middle of Botany Bay. Or you could try the swing moorings in Port Hacking. Go early morning or late afternoon for best results.
The bream on the other hand will have decided whether to stay in our river or bays or move farther up the coast. Those fishing Botany Bay should find a spot in about four to five metres of water in the middle of the bay, anchor up, lay out a berley trail, use leaders up to two metres long, have the reel’s baitrunner feature on and sit and wait.
Other hand, you will need to keep very active to catch flathead. This is where fishing with minnows and soft plastics comes into its own. Plastics can be effectively used in shallow or deep water. All you need to do is change your techniques .
Retrieves should vary from a violent jerk to a slow raising of the rod tip or even a very small twitch or turn on the handle of the reel.
If I have been asked to test out a new product I prefer to try it out for a few months, giving me enough time to put it through its paces. When fishing for kingfish and flathead you usually find that you get done on the snags, pylons or other line-destroying objects.
This is where I have found that the Shipton Trading’s Knottable Steel Leader comes into its own. It is limp enough to allow even the smallest movement in those small minnows and soft plastics, yet strong enough to use in place of heavy and sometimes bulky mono or other wire leaders.
I have also used it offshore when those Chinaman leatherjackets start biting you off.
Now for some places in Sydney to fish.
Land-based: The upper Parramatta River has a couple of restrictions on it, but this shouldn’t stop you from getting among a few bream and flathead on soft plastics. One of those restrictions is that you cannot travel up the main channel of the Parramatta River past the entry to Duck Creek.
This still allows you to fish from the shoreline, off some of the River Cat wharves and to use your boat between the channel markers and the shoreline. Try using those small Squidgy Wrigglers and Atomic Paddletails. If you are going to give it ago off the shore, I would suggest that you go through your street directory and find those streets that go down to the river.
Boat-based: Rose Bay is a great spot to do a drift for flathead and bream. While you drift your baits out one side of the boat, you can be on the other side casting out plastic shads to the water you haven’t gone over yet. If your drift is too fast, just put out the sea anchor to slow yourself down.
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 February 3. Email me or phone 0422 994 207.
If you don’t have the correct gear these yellowtail kingfish will do you as quick as look at you.
Eveline Schultheiss was a student in on-water classes run by the author and Scott Lyons. She soon perfected the art of catching dusky flathead on soft plastics.Reads: 540