Don’t give up now!
  |  First Published: June 2003

The temperature has dropped, the days are getting shorter, you have had to put on more layers of clothing and you probably wish you could go north for the Winter.

This change in the weather could also lull you into to thinking that the fish have also gone and you shouldn’t bother going fishing. But I find fishing in the Winter great – you don’t get sunburnt as much, there seem to be fewer windy days and, yes, there are fish out there to be caught.

Last month I covered how to target leatherjackets and this month they will still be about, along with bream, luderick, snapper and silver trevally.

This year in Botany Bay and the close reefs we have had a consistent run of silver trevally. They may vary in size and numbers but they have been quite easy to find. If you want to try for these great fighting fish, you head for the deep water off the western side of the oil wharf, the oil tanker moorings, Bare Island, Watts Reef, Osborne Shoals or Jibbon Bombora.

The trick to fishing these reefs is to set your anchor on the reef and then allow your boat to drift back in the current and position it on or just off the edge of the reef. You will then need to lay out a berley trail of chopped pilchards and bread, making sure that you keep up a slight but steady trail.

Those who fish from the shore south of Sydney Heads could try places like the Poss at Kurnell, the breakwall at the entrance to Cooks River, Burning Palms in the Royal National Park and Little Beach in Long Bay. Those north of Sydney Heads could try North Head, Long Reef, north Whale Beach and Stokes Point in the Pittwater.

Simple rig

The rig is simple. All you need is a No 1 or 1/0 Mustad Penetrator hook tied directly to the end of the line. The sinker size, if one is necessary, will depend on how much current or tidal flow you have. When fishing for silver trevally from a boat, I will always use a baitrunner-style reel as it allows you to easily pull off the amount of line required to allow the bait to drift down with the berley.

I usually find that peeled prawns, cut to about the size of the hook that you are using, will do just nicely. This will allow the trevally to suck in the bait in one go, giving you more chance of hooking the fish and not pulling the bait away from it when you set the hook. Some anglers tell me they have been bitten off by trevally but the size of silver trevally in Sydney will not bite you off – they have only a single series of short, conical teeth, so the bite-offs probably will be tailor. You could also try using pink nippers, fillets of pilchards, chicken breast soaked in Parmesan cheese or fresh squid.

While you are fishing for silver trevally, you can also target leatherjackets at the same spots. You could try any of the public wharves, for example, the one at Luna Park. Other spots include the Wedding Cakes, Middle Head, the Spit Bridge in Middle Harbour, the Ballast Heap in Port Hacking and the Coalcliff rock platform, to name just a few.

Here are some more spots to try soft plastic lures:

Land-based: As you travel north along Spit Road you will find a small parking area on the right. There are parking restrictions. Walk across the reserve and you can fish off the retaining wall for flathead, bream, whiting and even the odd yellowtail kingfish and mulloway. Try Storm Wildeye Swim Bait Shads for those mulloway and kingfish. Cast out and allow it to fall to the bottom, then start a very slow retrieve. Colours worth looking at are bluegill, golden mullet and pearl. Mann’s George-N-Shad in pearl and pearl/black also produce fish. You don’t need any weighted heads with these types, as they have an inbuilt head and hook.

Other brands and types worth trying include the Squidgy 15cm shad in the tiger green and pearler colours. If you are fishing the bottom in the depth of water at the Spit, you need a weighted head. If you are going to retrieve them slowly across the surface, you won’t need any weight.

Boat-based: If you are going to drift and target flathead and the odd flounder with plastics, it is worth looking just off Clontarf Beach. You will need to position yourself just outside the moored boats and drift parallel to them. It has been a while since I have fished this spot, but every time I have fished here it has been a very good producer of flathead and flounder.

It is extremely hard to fish here in any wind that has a bit of south in it, but when those north-easters are puffing it is a great place. As for what plastics to try. I would suggest you have ago at the ones that I mentioned in the land-based spots, or maybe try your own colours.



This silver trevally, caught in a berley trail off Bare Island, is an average size for Botany Bay.


Another technique to try while feeding that bait down the berley trail for silver trevally is to drift down a small plastic. Once you have let out about 30 metres of line without a bite, slowly retrieve the lure back towards the boat.

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