This is generally the month for tailor in the Sydney metropolitan estuaries and along the coastline and this year is no exception.
Bag-limit catches of fish up to 1.5kg have been taken as far upstream as Gladesville, although the majority of the fish are concentrated in the lower reaches. The red blinker inside South Head is always a good night-time spot for tailor at this time of year, particularly around the full moon.
A run-in tide will also increase your chances. I have fished this spot many times under these conditions and have waited without a bait being touched until the moon rises above South Head – and then all hell has broken loose as the fish go berserk, hitting the baits as soon as they touch the water.
The washes around North Head and Middle Head can also be productive. If you are chasing tailor during the day and the schools are not coming up to the surface, try trolling metal lures off Washaway Beach.
The kingfish continue to be a major drawcard for anglers looking for a bit of sport. The majority of the fish are under the 60cm minimum legal size and have to go back but some anglers are reporting catches of more than 30 a session.
At this time of the season the fish tend to be less finicky about what they will take and it is more a matter of being in the right place at the right time and having a bait or lure in the water. The Wedding Cake markers, Sow and Pigs and the Spit area are all worth a try.
There have been heaps of baitfish schools holding in the deep water off Clifton Gardens. All this bait has attracted the bigger fish, with salmon, tailor and kingfish feasting on the easy prey.
Anglers here have even seen flathead come off the bottom eight metres below to feed on whitebait on the surface.
Boaters should note that the Navy has placed buoys with ‘restricted area’ signs around Navy establishments at Balmoral and in Chowder Bay and is being very strict about enforcing the no-go zone. Apparently they have contracted security guards, and I know of at least one boater who has had his boat licence revoked.
Anglers have been doing well from the piers in Walsh Bay, with the usual catches of bream and leatherjackets supplemented by snapper to 1.5kg and school jewfish.
In the upper reaches, the road and rail bridges at Ryde have been turning on some reasonable bream. Casting unweighted baits in against the pylons is the way to go. Bloodworms or live nippers will do best.
The Lane Cove River is worth a try for flathead. A drift between the channel markers off Newcombe Point should produce a feed.
Flathead and flounder are being caught on the drift around the mouth of the river, between Lion Island and Barrenjoey, where you will get a mix of duskies and sand flathead, and from West Head to Juno. Andrew Dennington drifted between Juno and Flint and Steel for a bag of flathead, flounder and whiting using prawns and bloodworms.
I have a suspicion that the flathead will move back up into the top ends of the estuaries early this year, mainly due to the lack of rain. The branch arms of Mullet Creek, Mooney Creek, Berowra Creek and Mangrove Creek will deserve some exploring this month.
Bream fishing should also improve. I have already had reports that The Vines area and Marlo have some big bream in residence and if you can get past the catfish and pike eels, which also appear to be increasing in numbers, you should do all right. If you choose the small tides you will have less pest species worrying you.
I haven’t had a particularly good season on the blue swimmer crabs, not in numbers, anyway, but the size of the crabs this year has been better. I have found that by getting on the water early and getting in a couple of lifts of the witches’ hats before the sun gets too high, my catches have improved.
The deep water in front of Port Botany has a good supply of mixed species. I even heard of a couple of hairtail caught there. Rat kingfish and tailor are the main fare, though, with flathead, bream and a few big trevally being caught on the bottom.
The Bunnerong Stacks mark has been producing whiting, flathead, keeper reds and flounder. To get on the spot, fish about 500 metres south of the reclamation wall, lining up the power station chimneys with the end of the wall. This spot fishes best on the run-out tide and I suggest using a fairly long trace so that the bait has a bit of freedom to move in the current.
Towra Deep, about 150 metres south of the red channel marker right out in the middle of the entrance to the Georges River, has stacks of whiting on offer. They are a mix of sand and trumpeter whiting, so a presentation of bloodworms and peeled prawns will ensure your catch will include both species.
In the Georges River, the mouth of Loftus Creek in The Woronora has been good for bream and flathead. If you are up the top end of the river then a session float-fishing along the retaining wall between William Long Bridge and the Liverpool Weir should get you some mullet. Use bread or dough baits. Anglers have also been catching bream using light lines on the bottom early morning.
Grizzly, the skipper of the party boat Beer Garden, caught this kilo-plus bream on a $30 rod-and-reel combo and a piece of cooked chicken while his charter group was swimming off Quarantine Beach, Sydney Harbour.
The boat ramp at the northern end of the Hawkesbury River road bridge has good facilities, including toilets, but is not suitable for large boats at low tide. It is quite shallow and has a rocky bottom.Reads: 1971