Pelagics aplenty in the Harbour
  |  First Published: March 2004

THE EARLY part of the year produced some of the worst fishing boat traffic I can ever remember on Sydney Harbour.

There were two reasons for the congestion, the main one being that the pelagic action has been absolutely mind-blowing. The second reason was the influx of anglers coming down from the Hawkesbury and Pittwater, where the fishing had turned very cold. You know things are bad up on the Hawkesbury when the local guides are moving to the Harbour. There seems to be a pattern emerging over the past three of four seasons where Pittwater fires with pelagics very early in the season and then dies for a month or so.

Normally, by this time of year, I would expect to see the kings settled in around the structure and, while they have been under the buoys to some extent, most of their feeding action has centered around the enormous quantity of baitfish that have swarmed into the Harbor. Balmoral has been the main centre of attention with huge mixed schools of bonito, kings, salmon, tailor and amberjack working the area from the naval jetty to the drop-off at Clontarf. They are easily accessible to boat owners but, if you are shore-bound, you should get a cast at them from Grotto Point, Cobblers Beach rocks, Clontarf Beach, Wyargine Rocks or the Balmoral jetty

The bonnies are back! After a couple of dismal seasons on bonito, these striped speedsters have finally come back with a bang. Their return to the Harbour coincided with a flush of very cold water offshore. Temps dropped to an unseasonably low 16° offshore while the temps in the Harbour remained at 21°. My theory is that bonito were forced into the Harbour in search of the warm water.

Rushcutters Bay has been firing for big tailor, along with a few amberjack and kings. Trolling the area across the mouth of Rushcutters and along the downstream face of Garden Island has been the most productive ploy. The huge numbers of baitfish in this area have also attracted a lot of flathead. If you keep an eye on your sounder as you troll from Darling Point across the mooring line, past the green channel marker and over to Garden Island, you will see a series of rises and drop-offs. These are the places to come and work your soft plastic shads at low tide for flatties.

The new yellow marker inside North Head has been, and should continue to be, good for kings and a few small samson fish on squid baits. This marker can get very crowded and if you have trouble finding a parking spot, a good alternative nearby is Quarantine Point. You will probably get fewer kings here but they will be, on average, bigger, with a few jewies and groper thrown in. Obelisk Beach around to Clifton Gardens is another good spot to look for some surface action and reasonable bottom-fishing for bream and flatties


Bream have been in good numbers in the channels down either side of Sow and Pigs Reef and probably on the reef shallows at night and early morning. This is backed up by the fact that the pro fishermen are trapping very hard there at the moment. Try chicken gut in the channels by day and prawns or nippers over the reef at night.

Upstream, Middle Harbour has gone a bit quiet on the surface action although there are still some good kings to be taken around Bantry Bay and Seaforth early in the mornings. Fishing squid off the deep points and reefs around the turn of the tide will snare a few kings, amberjack and school jew.

Although the bream spinning is good now, March is the month when it really hits top gear. The Parramatta and Lane Cove rivers, along with Middle Harbour, are prime spots. Work your small soft plastic lures in around structure and over mud and sand flats and ensure your hooks are ultra-sharp. You will regularly encounter other species like flatties, whiting, flounder, blackfish and even the occasional jew.

The great thing about bream spinning with micro jigs is that it has given lure anglers access to a whole host of bread-and-butter species traditionally thought of as ‘bait-only’ fish. I am always amazed at the variety and also the size of the fish that will take a tiny 1.5” lures on 1/16oz jig heads. We have caught jew to 10kg and flatties to 5kg on the same lure that 15cm snapper will have a go at.

The great thing about all this is that it is now possible for a lure fisho on Sydney Harbour to catch everything from pelagics in the lower reaches right through to traditional upstream estuary species without ever having to get your hands dirty.


A new guided fishing service is now available in Sydney, Harbour and Estuary Fishing Charters, skippered by Pittwater local Peter Le Blang. His service includes guiding on Pittwater, the Hawkesbury, Cowan Creek, Sydney Harbour and Middle Harbour.

Peter’s package includes all tackle, drinks and snacks and a recreational licence for the outing. He operates a fully-surveyed 5.0-metre Axiom vessel. Prices are competitive and Peter offers a free trip if your party does not catch any fish. Phone him on 0410 633 351.

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