Kings become wary
  |  First Published: February 2003

There are still lots of kingfish being caught in the downstream reaches of Sydney Harbour but the fish are starting to get a bit spooked.

Some of the smaller kings, particularly those that are close to the minimum legal size, have obviously been hooked and released – or busted off – a number of times since the start of Summer and are now a bit hesitant about scoffing a bait or hitting a lure.

With the fish becoming more discriminating in their choice of food, it has become necessary for anglers to be a little more careful with the presentation of their offerings, whether it be bait or lure.

Going down a couple of kilos in line size will help to increase hook-ups but you will then have to compensate with a more patience when playing the fish on the lighter line. Earlier starts in the morning and later finishes of an evening, to take advantage of low light conditions, will also give you an edge in fooling the fish.

The deep water off Seaforth in Middle Harbour has been the haunt of some of the bigger kingfish with live baits of squid or yellowtail accounting for fish up to 8kg. Fisher Bay, just downstream from the Spit Bridge, is another spot worth trying with garfish baits and is also accounting for some large tailor. School jewfish can also be taken here at night on fresh squid.

Tailor are becoming more prolific in the harbour and they should increase in numbers and size. We can expect them to stay in the Sydney area until late March or April before continuing their migration north. The red blinker inside South Head, North Head and Middle Head should all be worth a try at night, particularly during the full moon.

A number of cobia have been caught in the Sydney estuaries over the past month, an indication of the warmer currents bringing down some tropical species. Although an offshore species, cobia will move into the estuaries to feed, mainly on crabs, from whence they get their other sometime name of crab-eater.

The really surprising thing, though, is the distance upstream the cobia have been found. One caught in the Hawkesbury River was captured at Bar Point. Lack of rain could account for the incursion so far up-river. The sand crabs they would be chasing are also holding well upstream of their usual haunts.

Hawkesbury River

Berowra Creek has been yielding some reasonable catches of prawns for those prepared to haul the dragnets on the pitch-black nights. Calabash Bay and Joe Crafts Creek have been the most productive spots, with the best period the week following the fourth night after the full moon. In that week, you should get a low tide from just after dark until about 11pm, allowing you to work the nets to the exposed sand flats at the ends of the bays.

The prawns tend to run right along the edge of the drop-offs along the sand banks, which means that at one end of the net you might be up to your neck. There can be a lot of rubbish, including bottles and cans, lying on the bottom so I would suggest strong footwear.

The middle ground off Hungry Beach has produced whiting to 700g during the run-out tide on bloodworms. At night whiting have been scored between the mouth of Mooney Mooney Creek and the Rail Bridge.

The Icicles shoreline has bream at night. The dark nights are best and I would suggest peeled prawns or nipper baits.

Most of the fish will be just keepers with the odd bigger fish. Most of the beam fishers have reported that the size of the bream in the river this year is marginal, with lots of small fish from the recognized grounds. The deep water in Cowan Creek and the top end of Berowra Creek have been producing a few quality fish.

The mouth of Mangrove Creek is a likely spot for flathead with a lot of fish around 60cm. Live prawns are the gun bait for the larger fish although drag anything past a flathead’s mouth and he is likely to take it. They have also been trapping mud crabs in the upper reaches of the creek.

Botany Bay

Flathead are proving the mainstay during daylight. The area around the mouth of the Georges River is an excellent place to start. The prawns coming out of the river are providing plenty of food to attract the flatties and keep them there. Many anglers have switched to the prawn imitation plastic lures and having a ball catching and releasing fish up to 5kg.

Yarra Bay is another spot worth trying for flathead with the traditional drifted fish baits the preferred method. Frogmouth pilchards or whitebait are working well. The smelt that is being imported from Canada and sold as large whitebait has proven an effective fish-taker.

Tailor are working around the mouth of the Bay. The hot water outlet is attracting fish up to 1.5kg at night and they are readily taking pilchards lobbed in water boil above the outlet.

The ends of the runways are providing bream, flathead, flounder and the occasional trevally for early-morning anglers. The fish can be fairly scattered and you may have to move a round a bit to find them or anchor up, berley and bring the fish to you.



A wide assortment of fish cross the table at Parsley Bay.


Gabriel Quercigrossi with some quality whiting caught around the mouth of the Hawkesbury River.

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