The change approaches
  |  First Published: May 2005

We are now in the change-over period to Winter species so we have to start setting our sights on fish such as john dory, salmon, tailor, hairtail and bream.

Water temperatures have not fallen dramatically at the time of writing so there should still be sporadic surface action for those chucking lures.

May 20 to 28 are my pick for those targeting the beaches and rocks. Fishing over that full moon period should enhance results. Late tides are big, so get down around half- tide when there is not that huge surge as the tide turns to full.

The deeper reefs are producing numbers of those absolute delicacies, long-finned sea perch or ‘pinkies’. These fish are more frequent in waters around 100 metres or more and although not regarded as a sports fish, they sure do make up for it in the frypan.

Michael Petterson, fishing with Lance Jansen, nailed a few squid off Newport and then proceeded to troll them live. They received not one hit until near Palm Beach, where a big king climbed all over a bait. After a short fight the king proved too much for the tackle and won its freedom.

Salmon are still busting bait off Newport Reef and Barrenjoey. Small Raider-type lures are a great attack weapon and don’t be afraid to go down in size if fish are shy.

Three kilometres off Long Reef, Dave Lewis and a couple of mates anchored up and started a berley trail. Dave, sporting his brand-new $420 rod and reel, stitched on a strip of squid and let the bait float out.

Five minutes later, a quick shout had Dave turning around to see the rod fully loaded with the tip pointing towards the water. Before he could get there, the line snapped and the rod twanged upright and the hi-tech combo jettisoned out of the rod holder into 15 fathoms of Tasman Sea.

Dave was recently seen in Collaroy, head hung low wearing a black armband.

Flattish seas have put a dampener on the surf scene with just a smattering of bream taken at night. However, jewfish are still hanging in there (jew are on the beaches all year round) and keen to take a well-presented lump of fresh squid or a butterflied mullet, tailor or slimy mackerel.

Use a slightly longer trace (50cm) when the swell is down to give baits a wafting action. Shorten traces when seas are up.

Making the most of calmer waters, drummer anglers have been active with catches at Curl Curl, Long Reef and Mona Vale rock platforms. That perennial pig fare, abalone gut ,is still responsible for the majority of catches with cooked peeled prawns a close second.


Reports show the bigger fish seem to be up-river with reports of 1.2kg to 1.8kg bream coming in from Marlo, Pumpkin Point and Pete’s Bight.

Flathead are there but have gone dormant with even live bait failing to attract any interest.

Catfish are driving anglers nuts at The Vines and The Icicles. A small piece of cork near the hook keeps baits off the bottom and away from these whiskered pests.

Big flounder are biting on the drift from the starboard marker opposite Palm Beach wharf out to Barrenjoey. Small, throw-back flathead can be a nuisance but persevere as dinner plate-sized flounder are absolutely delicious.

Squid are a here-today, gone-tomorrow proposition. My suggestion is to take a few different colours of squid jigs out with you to try and entice a follow. Towlers Bay, Scotland Island and West Head are still producing calamari at the moment.

Cloudy water in Narrabeen Lagoon seemed to turn on the action for Pete Sorenson near the Sports Academy recently. Stud bream and a heap of throwback flathead were very keen to jump on his small Merlin lures.

Whiting are there to be taken on bloodworm baits late evening. Fish downstream from the Ocean Street bridge with little or no weight on ultra-fine gear.

River garfish have congregated in the middle of the lake but are hard to tempt closer to shore. Big bully mullet are everywhere at the moment and can be taken on bread dough under a small float.

I had the pleasure of bumping into Pro surfer and real nice guy Nathan Hedge at the boat ramp recently. Rated No. 7 in the world, Nathan, from North Narrabeen, is an addicted fisho and gets out in his tinny whenever he’s in town.

Craig McGill from Fishabout Tours and I took out Manly Daily’s deputy sports editor, Jason Avedissian and staff photographer Martin Lange for a fish on the Harbour. Craig put the boys onto some superb kingfish action and there were even enough fillets to take home.

Monthly tip: When using fresh-caught as strip baits, before casting the bait rub the strip in the black squid ink. This ink is a very powerful fish stimulant and it often encourages savage takes.

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