Here’s hoping for hairtail
  |  First Published: June 2003

When I think of June, I think of cool, crisp days and smooth seas. Hopefully that will be the case this year, too.

June also seems to be the time that the hairtail show up in Cowan Creek – well, they used to, but the past couple of years have been shockers.

There has been a sprinkling of hairtail around Broken Bay over the past few months, turning up sporadically at strange times of the day and night. They certainly are a strange fish, those hairtail and maybe that's why they are so intriguing. Those crisp, still, silent nights up Cowan catching crazy-looking fish are something to look forward to each year.

My favourite way of catching these fish under those circumstances, is with a number of lines in the water, all set at different depths with a variety of different baits. These include everything from small live yellowtail, mullet strips and whole pilchards. Hooks need to be fine and very sharp and wire trace is essential. I've been using the Shipton's Knottable stainless trace the past couple of years and have found it excellent. It's pliable and knottable, and I use it for hairtail and also for tailor and other fish with sharp teeth.

June is also a great time for bream and trevally on the Central Coast. All you need is berley and lighter lines. The beauty of this time of year is that the little pickers have all disappeared and most bites are from good-sized fish.

My favourite way of catching bream is to anchor in close along the foreshores and get a good berley trail going of chicken pellets and a steady trail of pilchards or other diced-up fish. Then I'll feed back baits on 3kg line so that they waft back down the berley trail.

Once a couple of fish are found, it is imperative, regardless of how manic the fishing might get, to maintain that berley trail. I have found that once the berley stops, so does the fishing.

Try for pigs

This is also a great time for rock blackfish. These fish are

real brutes and I love this style of aggressive fishing. If they take enough line they will cut you off on the rocks, so it's a matter of putting the maximum pressure on and hoping that you can stop them.

I catch these fellows around rocky headlands. I look for a foamy wash with a bit of depth to it and preferably some backwash. I'll get some berley happening to entice the fish higher up in the water column and then float baits back in the wash using a minimal amount of lead. All sorts of other species can be encountered, with bream and even snapper potential catches, depending on the baits. These fish can also be caught from boats. It would just be a matter of picking an area where it is possible to anchor your boat in close so you can access these washes.

It is still worth a try for jewfish as I still catch a few nice ones in June. The fish now seem to be more dormant so instead of putting in a lot of hours at one spot, I find that moving around a bit is more successful.

On the surface there are quite a few salmon, especially around Broken Bay and along the coast. This is the time for those oversized tailor that are caught occasionally by anglers fishing for jewies after dark. These big greenbacks will take only big baits and the really big fellows are not interested in pilchards on ganged hooks. A really big garfish on a big set of gangs in the minimum-size bait.

Another strange thing about these big tailor (up to 7kg) is that when that they hit a bait, it's not in that slash-bang fashion so typical of smaller tailor. It's often a bit of rattle and a tug, feeling almost like the bite of a big bream. If you start targeting these big tailor, you'll be surprised at how many are around at this time of year. Just remember, big baits are essential.

The offshore fishing has just started to pick up lately. The deep-sea fishing has recently been quite poor, with only small catches of snapper and jewfish. However, the Autumn and early Winter are traditionally good for snapper and lately things have certainly started to pick up. This month there should be some good trevally in with them, along with nice mowies.



Part of a big catch of jewies and oversize flathead on Calmwater Fishing Charters


The Sisterhood scored big-time on this group outing, bagging jewfish, kings and tailor in abundance.

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