Wake up the Hen and Chicken
  |  First Published: March 2004

ANGLERS prepared for an early morning start – and I’m talking before first light – have been catching lots of bream in Hen and Chicken Bay. You don’t need a boat, either.

A quiet approach, walking the sand (make that mud) flats and casting bloodworms or nipper baits in around the weed beds should account for a feed of keeper bream. They have also been catching a few tarwhine up to 800g mixed in with the bream.

For the boat anglers, a drift in close to the jetties around Cockatoo Island can also be productive for bream, with flathead hook-ups about equal to those from bream. Because you are fishing on the drift, more hardy baits such as whole prawns or pilchard tails will stay on the hook better.

Tarban Creek is another spot worth a look, with a session fishing late evening into the night the best option. This area is relatively shallow so you have to fish light, with 2kg line the maximum and, if lead is necessary, nothing heavier than a 00 running ball or a small split shot just above the hook.


Lure-fishing for flathead has been a popular pastime in the upper Lane Cove River, where there is plenty of protection from the wind if it starts to blow a bit. Anyone with a canoe, or even a surfboard, can get out on the water with a flick rod and have a bit of sport in relative comfort. Unfortunately, there has been a concern about the water quality in the Lane Cove River, with the suggestion that residential and industrial run off has been tainting the water. But nearly all the lure-tossers are catch-and-release advocates and return their fish to the water anyway.

Flathead are hardy fish and should survive quite well after release if handled correctly. They do, however, have a spiky dorsal fin and a couple of nasty sharp spines either side of their head which can inflict a painful cut or jab when you are trying to control a fish thrashing from side to side. Rather than planting a booted foot on their backs to subdue them while you get the hook out, hold them with a wet towel or grip them by the jaw with a wet, gloved hand will cause less stress and damage and ensure you are putting back into the water a fish that will have the best chance of survival.

Mud crabs are being snared around Putney and blue swimmers have been plentiful in Snails Bay. Best places to set your traps for the muddies are along any of the rocky foreshores. I have had some success around Rocky Point, opposite Putney boat ramp. I find it a good practice when you have finished your crabbing outing and are lifting your traps for the last time to remove the baits and drop the fish frames or heads back into the water. That way it may help to keep the crabs in the area and feed them up for your next outing.

The lower end of the Harbour is full of schools of baitfish and the pelagics are having a ball with plenty of food to keep the kingfish, salmon, bonito, tailor and slimy mackerel in attendance. They are pretty indiscriminate at what they will have a go at, so anything thrown at them has a good chance of a hook-up.

All the baitfish being chopped up on the top means a lot of food scraps reaching the bottom provide an attraction for the bottom feeders such as flathead, flounder and bream. Consequently, the area downstream from Bradleys Head to the mouth has been getting very crowded with boats chasing schools of fish for some spinning action, other boats trolling and others just drifting with baits on the bottom for the demersal species.

Not a lot of news on the mulloway scene. There have been some small school jew caught around the Gladesville Bridge and some fish up to 8kg at Blues Point. I have a feeling, though, that as we move into Autumn some bigger fish will be reported. These are the tailor months and with plenty of slimy mackerel also in the Harbour and there are going to have to be some big jew coming in for a feed. Places like the red blinker inside South Head and Middle Head are going to be worth a visit.

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