Now for Winter fare
  |  First Published: May 2004

WE NOW begin to target fish that revel in the colder conditions.

Already the tasty john dory have been gracing all their usual haunts, such as the yacht clubs in Pittwater, Mackerel Beach and at the back of Scotland Island.

Hairtail have made their presence felt at Flint and Steel and around West Head. I do hope it’s going to be a bumper season for these great sport fish as it’s been very lean over the past few years, with just the odd fish caught now and then. I really look forward to hairtail sessions, where a flask of hot soup is more important than the bait!

Tailor are getting bigger and although these fish don’t take kindly to the freezer because they go all mushy, they are superb when smoked.

May is a time when we should not give up the quest for jew off the beach. According to my diary, many a decent mulloway has come from Dee Why, Curl Curl, Narrabeen and North Palm Beach. This time of the year I would favour using whole squid as bait due to the mullet run being non-existent.

Until now, offshore snapper catches have been sporadic. Let’s hope all that changes this month. Long Reef has seen a few fish around 5kg but further north, it seems fish have been stunted and a kilo snapper is a worthy catch. Plenty of berley is needed to get these fish on the chew and don’t forget to keep the berley up, even when the bite is hot, otherwise it will shut down like a union strike.

Bread berley, followed by floated abalone bait was too much to resist for the resident drummer population off the Hole in the Wall at Avalon. Peter Darkin nailed four good fish before fatigue forced him to quit the rocks and get ready for the arduous climb back out.

Ian Davidson cracked a couple of nice surf bream from Manly Beach, right in front of the Manly Pacific Hotel. His bait was fresh pipi, obtained from right under his feet.

The good news at the time of writing is that big bream are coming in from The Vines, Wobbies and Dangar. Farther upstream, at Marlo and Pete’s Bight ,the fish are bigger though fewer in numbers. Live nippers seem the way to go but try to resist the temptation to remove the claw. The click of the claw attracts bream, which will home in on this sound. Also, it is unnatural for a pink nipper to be clawless – and believe me, bream know this.

There has been a flurry of blue swimmer crab activity in the lower Hawkesbury so it may be worth dunking a few witches’-hat traps around Bar Point, Spectacle Island and Milsons Passage.

I have been having some great sessions on Narrabeen Lake with a bread fly. Recently I have taken and released big bully mullet, the odd yellowfin bream, garfish and one or two blackfish. Now would be a good time to get down to the entrance on the eastern side of Ocean Street and drift a bloodworm on 1kg to 2kg gear for those huge whiting that make for the open sea come nightfall.

Reg Lindsay hooked a big something in the channel near the cricket oval and the fish took off upstream like the STA bus to Wynyard. Reg reckons it could have been a big jew or maybe a ray – we will never know.


The boat ramp at Careel Bay at North Avalon is slowly coming to fruition. There are still a few hurdles to jump over but the council is keen to see the ramp happen as it realises there must be access for emergency services to the northern end of Pittwater.

Funding and ownership of the project are some of the speed humps that need to be negotiated before the green light is given.

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