Winter fishing in Pittwater is usually a hit-and-miss affair that requires a lot of travelling and hot coffee to find a mixed bag of fish.
If you are willing to put in the effort to get live nippers, yellowtail or squid, your task becomes a lot easier. Species that we normally target are salmon, tailor, john dory, bream, flathead and the odd bruiser kingfish.
John dory can be caught in most bays at the start of the season but seem to show up at West Head, Mackerel Beach and the deep hole near Sand Point when the water temp drops to 16°.
John dory like areas of little current and deeper water, preferably with structure of some sort close by. These fish will cruise around slowly under bait schools waiting for one to come close enough to swallow.
When targeting these fish your live yellowtail should be set at one to two metres off the bottom with the rod placed in a strong rod holder and the drag set at fighting pressure. We use a large sinker above the swivel with a trace of a metre and a Mustad 5/0 hook.
Here’s a tip for first-timers to ensure your bait is one to two metres off the bottom. Place your rod in a rod holder and let out line until the sinker hits the bottom. Wind your reel three or four turns and stop.
Bring up your fishing line by hand and bait up your hook with a small yellowtail. Shoulder-hook the live bait and make sure the hook point faces the sky when the hook is lying down on top of the fish. Drop the bait over the side and slowly lower until all the line is let out.
The Supermarket and Jacks are other places to try for these tasty fish. While at these reefs you can also pick up leatherjackets, bream, flathead and, if you’re lucky, a big kingfish.
Bream at this time of the year are usually around Barrenjoey Headland, West Head, Careel Bay, The Basin and Taylors Point, just to name a few.
Most of the time we find them cruising the shallower water and they are suckers for live nippers or soft plastics. The rising tide is generally the best for fishing the sand flats.
Salmon can, and do, show up anywhere at any time with Broken Bay the place to start. The salmon are generally chasing very small baitfish that need to be matched if you are going to catch anything.
Most of the time, small 3g to 7g metal lures will do the trick but often we use Felty’s Eye Fly in white with great results. To cast a fly on normal tackle will require a water-filled bubble float to be attached to the line a metre or so from the fly.
Salmon usually push the bait into Pittwater and roam throughout the river, boiling up from time to time. If you have a downrigger, troll a live salmon under the school while they are in Broken Bay and you may be surprised at what you can catch.
If tailor are not boiling up around Scotland Island or Longnose Point try the washes at Barrenjoey Head or West Head. These fish take trolled lures of all descriptions and sizes so play around to see what is most successful for the day. We get most of our hoots and hollers from customers using surface poppers with a stop-start retrieve.
Flathead will be in the shallower water along the sand flat at Palm Beach and are always fun to catch on large soft plastics. Cast your favourite 100mm to 150mm soft plastic towards the weed edges and use a double-rip technique to attract attention. Be watching for large southern calamari following up your lures and be ready to drop over a squid jig to catch them.
This time of year can require a lot of travelling but I am sure you will find a mixed bag of fish to take home.
Try to fish early mornings and pre-plan your trips so that you can target the sand flats on a rising tide and the points and deeper holes on the falling tide.
We all have to remember that at this time of the year water temperature usually dictates when the fish will need to eat. The cold water slows their metabolism so they don’t have to eat as often, so we have to put the time in at the right areas to get the rewards. If you would like a day on the water or just want to find out a few spots, call me on 02 9999 2574 to book a charter.Reads: 440