Sydney pelagics turn on
  |  First Published: February 2004

WELL, the kids are all back at school and the waterway has returned to normal after the holiday break.

The fishing for pelagics has been pretty good, with plenty of kingfish, salmon, tailor and, at last, some bonito have turned up in Sydney waters. Most of these fish have been caught on Slug-Gos and poppers. I must admit, these two types of lures I use the most. These lures can be either cast or trolled.

There is nothing like a big surface strike from a king or other pelagic to get the old heart pumping. I have witnessed grown men shaking at the knees after a big surface strike close to the boat. I find that a popper trolled a long way back with a weighted and an unweighted Slug-Go staggered either side a most effective lure pattern for finding and catching fish.

Often, when the fish are not working the top, I will troll these around an area that I suspect may be holding fish. I tend to troll these a little faster than most other lures so there is plenty of surface spray coming of the lure.

After a hook-up, I will troll over the area watching my Humminbird Matrix for bait balls and fish. After locating them, I will then cast poppers and Slug-Gos around the area. I work poppers fast, stirring up the area with plenty of casts, which will often bring fish up from deeper water.

In the Sydney area my favourite popper is the Kokoda Roger in the two smallest sizes. These cast like bullets and kings, bonito, tailor and salmon love them.

I always tie on at least one Slug-Go. I start with an unweighted one worked across the top with plenty of rod action to imitate an injured and fleeing baitfish – kings and salmon love them. If the fish are working the water hard and fast, I will rip them across the water like a popper. Putting a pause in your retrieve will often trigger a strike.

If the fish are a little deeper, you can add weight to the Slug-Go by winding lead wire or solder around the shank of the worm hook, or rig it with a leader and swivel and sinker above it. I find these rigs work best as they allowed the Slug-Go to retain its action.

In deeper water, I cast, let it sink and wind it back flat out with pauses on the way. You should add more weight in deeper water or in strong current. I use yellow 20lb Super Braid as the bright colour allows me to see when the line is on the bottom and the thin diameter lets me use minimum weight to get it down.

I often cast an unweighted Slug-Go and let it sink slowly and leave it to hang under the boat while casting other lures. On many occasions it’s been hammered just sitting there with only the boat and wave action moving it

Slug-Gos are a little hard to find out west but a few shops that do have them are Compleat Angler, Blacktown Fishing Tackle, Otto’s Fishy Business and the Australian Bass Angler at Penrith.


The fishing in the Hawkesbury and Colo rivers has been great, with the bass slamming surface lures all day, as long as you cast them into the shadowy areas.

Soft plastics have been catching plenty of estuary perch, bass, flathead and bream in the Lower Portland to Wiseman Ferry area. John Bethune has been fishing the Nepean with some new jigs that he has been developing with great results on bass up to 40cm.


I have just launched my new charter vessel. It’s a 6.4-metre plate aluminium custom job built by Vision Boats Australia, powered by a Yamaha 150hp four-stroke with a 30hp Yamaha auxiliary, fitted and supplied by Blake’s Marine. The boat has been built to 2c survey and has the latest Humminbird Matrix sounders and GPS.

It’s been designed and built to my needs for estuary and light offshore sports and fly fishing. It has a large elevated casting deck, 75 litres high-flow live bait tank, large kill tank and built-in esky and tackle storage, all in a large centre box seat.

The hard top folds down so it goes in my shed and reduces wind drag when towing. I’ve had it on water for only few hours but it’s very stable and soft riding and has heaps of space. I will give a more detailed report in the coming months


Anyone who wants to learn more about sport fishing for Sydney kingfish, bonito, salmon, tailor, bass and estuary perch can join one of my fishing schools, held at selected Sydney tackle shops. The classes include an in-shop seminar and a day on the water to put what you learn into practice. Numbers are limited.

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