When it’s hot, it’s hot
  |  First Published: February 2004

FISHING has been very hot and cold lately but when it’s hot, it’s hot.

Water temps are high enough to ensure that when the fish do go on the bite, they go absolutely nuts and feed up big. Then the weather changes and puts them down with bellies full enough to get them through a few days. Overall, though, the fishing has been very good with some better than average kingfish and big flatties.

The kings have been on fire with a few very early season samson and amberjack as well. Generally the kings have been only around the 60cm legal size but every now and then some fish up to 10kg have moved through. The bigger fish have been travellers so you just have to be in the right spot at the right time (live squid baits help a lot).

The smaller fish are holding around the markers to the north of the Harbour, Fairlight and Middle Harbour. Stickbaits are being whacked on the right days. The big fish are eating the big 9’’ Slug-Gos while the smaller ones are taking the Storm Split Tail Minnow. Squid are abundant but small, so use the small 1.5 jigs

Piles of baitfish in Middle Harbour and Fairlight have lured in all the usual pelagics including salmon, kings, tailor and trevally. We have caught salmon as far up as Bantry Bay, which is the farthest upstream I have ever seen them. Troll Storm Thundersticks around until you hook a tailor, trev or salmon and have your stickbait ready because quite often the kings will be right behind them.

There have been some whopping flatties in Middle Harbour. We picked up a few big ones at Pickering Point and I’ve seen fish up to 3kg caught around the Roseville ramp on lures. Big livies or big soft plastics are the go.

Bream spinning around the Middle Harbour shores has been great with fish nailing tiny plastics. One tip here is to look for the schools of small choppers working near the shore. The bream will be close behind them, picking up the scraps and wounded baitfish left over from the greedy tailor. The trick is to cast behind the tailor, which will be on top, and keep the lure as still as possible until it gets to the bottom. If you move it too early, the tailor will shred it.


Lure fishing will be peaking by now so Ill run through a quick scenario for a day’s soft plastic work on the Harbour.

First thing in the morning, bolt straight for the buoys on the lower Harbour. Keep one eye out for surface action on the way down. Work the buoys quickly fishing stickbaits, firstly close to the surface and then weighted down deep. Five casts with each is enough before moving on to the next buoy. I can think of at least 20 buoys worth a cast between Rose Bay and North Harbour.

The next option will depend on the tide. If it’s towards the second half of the run in, you could head upstream and throw for bream. Once the tide turns, fish for jew until two hours after high. Towards the bottom of the tide you would either go back downstream or stay upstream for flatties, depending on where it’s been happening.

Downstream flattie options include around the moorings in the marinas, the drop-offs at the back of the bays, the semi-ocean beaches like Washaway and the flats such as those in Rose Bay or Clontarf. There are heaps of lure options, too many to run through here, but just keep in mind that you must keep contact with the bottom.

Bream will be found along the shore over mud or sand banks. In most cases you will be fishing in 60cm to two metres of water with tiny lures in the 2’’ range on 1/8oz heads.

Jew will be found in the holes and channels with water depth ranging from three to 10 metres. Best lure is Storm Wildeye Shad in about 4’’ and they must be ‘bounced’ along the bottom in much the same way in which you would chase flatties. If you haven’t got a boat, you have an advantage, as all of my lure jew have been shore-based, despite my putting in the same effort from the boat.


More good news is that the Hawkesbury River looks like it might be picking up a bit after some of the most disgraceful years in memory. This will, however, only reflect a seasonal fluctuation and, unfortunately, unless commercial fishing pressure is addressed, the decline will generally continue.

Bream fishing is noticeably better throughout the river. I fished as far up as Berowra and further down near Broken Bay and Cowan and caught better than average fish in size and number. Spots worth a look are Milson Passage, Gunyah Point, Smiths Creek, Berowra Creek and The Vines. Best baits are skirt steak and crabs.

Flatties have been good, especially for lure-chuckers. We fished drop-offs in Berowra, Gunyah and Marramarra creeks with Storm plastics for fish up to 2kg. Crabs in Berowra are running hot with smallish blue swimmers making up the bulk of the catches and the odd muddie thrown in.

There have been some thumping whiting over the flats in Cowan Creek but you must fish high tide and use worms.

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