Pick of the calendar
  |  First Published: February 2005

February promises some of the best action you will encounter around Sydney with just about everything on offer.

Most keen anglers will target different species and catch a mixed bag. I prefer to see a mixed catch at the end of the day rather than a box of one species. While it’s all about picking a species and gearing up to suit, there’ll usually be enough by-catch or change of plans to result in those mixed bags.

Bream, flathead, the odd kingfish, tailor, bonito, trevally and whiting are all on offer in our estuaries. For the rock angler, there are bream, tailor and luderick and there are snapper, kings and plenty of trevally from the close reefs.

For me it’s all about the mighty yellowtail kingfish, the holy grail of our southern waters. Kings have it all; the turn of speed, the dirty play, they pull harder than any barra I’ve ever caught and as a table fish they rate pretty highly in my books.

Squid are the one bait that kings find it hard to swim past but the problem with squid is that all the small fish love eating it, too. If the kings are a little slow you will find that all the pickers will destroy your top-class bait in no time. So I always start with live yellowtail. Once the kings turn up, squid is the gun bait and will outfish live baits most times.

Kings tend to hold in the same types of areas: Deep drop-offs around reefs, man-made structure – like the Oil Wharf in Botany Bay or any of the marker poles throughout our estuaries – and along the deeper edges of rock platforms.

Think structure and use the right bait and tackle and you are in with a top chance of catching a king.

Lures are also a great way of catching kingfish and I have found that early starts or late afternoon sessions can provide top fishing. Surface poppers and soft plastics provide plenty of action cast from the rock ledges or from a boat around marker poles and deep edges or reefs. Casting a popper from a boat into the whitewater early or late in the day is very productive.

For the new angler my best advice is to pick a species and learn all there is to learn about that fish, its feeding habits, its habitat, the time of the year it prefers, different baits or lures, etc.

It may pay you to keep a small log listing the time, tides and moon, weather and the method you applied to catch that fish. After a few outings you will see a pattern start to appear. This will aid you to plan your next fishing trip and get you fishing the prime times.

I find on most of my charters there is always a quiet time during the outing, so I might try two or three different methods to keep the action flowing. Even on very slow days this moving around helps me finish the trip with a nice mixed bag.

Sometimes you have to work hard but the results are usually there at the end of the day. This is why you will see the Green Machine moving around Botany Bay at times – we are looking for different types of fish and trying different methods to catch them.

My fishing schools are still running at Hunts Marine and Fish and Dive Warehouse. This is a hands-on class including a night’s theory and a full day out on the water, a top way of learning the spots and methods used to target different species.

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