A day in the life
  |  First Published: April 2005

Botany Bay has seen a mixed start to 2005 and the lack of king fish was quite strange.

The fishing seemed good one day and indifferent the next – talk about no pattern to follow ! It’s the pattern that keeps most guides happy at this time of the year, knowing each species and where to find it as your boat slips of your trailer each morning, but this year has been a test most days and a damn relief once you locate a school of fish. I thought fishing was supposed to be stress-free!

Guiding for me is all about providing a great day out for those who join me on the water. I’m pushing hard some days to catch a variety of species, some for the table and releasing a few to fight another day.

I thought this month I’d share with you the way I spend a day fishing with clients on Botany Bay.

The alarm sounds at 4.20am and the day starts after a good feed and a quick shower. The boat is loaded with bait and with ice, which is very important at this time of year because the days are still warm and ice will keep bait cold and your catch fresh ready for the table.


At 5.10am it’s time to hit the road. Next stop is to fuel the boat or drop into Master Baits to grab fresh bait from John. If I’m after kings we’ll need good fresh squid and John is the man.

At 5.40 I arrive at the ramp to launch before heading to the public wharf at Sans Souci just under the Captain Cook Bridge, where I pick my clients up at 6am. After boarding, intros and a short run-down on what we’re planning for the day and checking f or any special fishing needs, it’s off to the first spot.

This time of year I normally spend the first hour chasing bream as they are reasonably reliable.

On the trip out the it’s always a great idea to keep your eyes open for tailor working the surface and the circling birds that indicate them. This may be a great way to start the day as the bream are a good chance any time of the tide as long as the water is moving.


By 7.30 it’s time to chase live baits and squid. This normally takes around an hour and this is very important as the much-prized kingfish are a top chance in April and into May.

With live bait on board it’s time to target the kings. As long as the water hangs around 20° over the next few months most deep-water spots should produce kingies.

Key spots are the Container Wall, Oil Wharf, Watts Reef and Bare Island, although the odd king will turn up just off the third runway and back towards Port Botany. We anchor just off any of the markers in this area and fish them with squid or live bait for the kings.

All of these spots will produce trevally and beam if a little berley is added. We just let the bait – nippers or peeled prawns – to float along with the berley on light tackle.

By 11am we might have fished two or three spots. Some days we have to move around to catch a feed and some days, such as lately, we have to hunt them because they might have moved from where they were the previous day. I always listen to reports that I hear and use them as a guide only.


Usually from 11am to 1pm we spin the vast sand flats around Botany Bay with soft plastics for flathead. By this time we’re working the more sheltered bays because the wind often has blown up a little by then.

Sheltered bays will provide the ideal drift. Flathead lie on the edges of the weed in wait for their prey and spinning with plastics in these areas is normally more productive than soaking a bait on the bottom.

By 1pm the day for my clients is over and we head back to the wharf. I have about two hours left, cleaning and preparing the boat for the next trip so my lunch is normally around 3pm.

It’s a long day but rewarding and that’s just the fishing trip. Nights are normally spent returning phone calls and keeping reports up to date.

Everyone who spends a day fishing with me always seems to say the same things: ‘Do you get out fishing much your self?’, ‘You have a top job I’d swap for any day’, ‘You must eat a lot of fish’, and the toughest question is ‘What are the numbers along the Container Wall?’ If anybody knows, please let me know!

For me the business of guiding is a life style. My passion is fishing and it’s a sport that I have been a part of all my life. Every day on the water is different and that’s the challenge.

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