Wrecks are treasures
  |  First Published: June 2005

In previous articles I have mentioned reefs and wrecks in Pittwater. The wrecks are mere piles of rubble at a lot of spots, but there are eight wrecks that I am aware of and I am still searching for more.

Divers, don’t get your hopes up, there is no sunken treasure as these wrecks are ships and barges that were used as target practice in Pittwater by the Navy. I am told this ceased 30-odd years ago.

A lot of these old targets are now just large enough to hold fish and are extremely hard to find without a good sounder and a quick finger on the GPS event button.

Larger fish such as kingfish and mulloway, along with john dory, bream and leatherjackets are worth targeting in these areas. The key is to sound the area to make sure the area is holding baitfish and drift slowly over the wreck with your live bait set at the correct depth for the intended species.

Before writing this article I read last year’s diary and was astounded that we caught more fish around the wrecks than around the feeding areas of the sand flats and drop-offs. This is unusual because the warmer water tends to hold over the shallow sand flats where a lot of small baitfish can easily be seen.

One area to start you hunting for a wreck is on a straight line from the red channel marker at Salt Pan Bay to the green channel marker pole at Longnose Point. The difference in the water depth is about four metres and from memory this wreck lies in 15 metres. This four-metre rise is only about eight metres in diameter but worth finding.

Fish with baits suspended off the bottom and drifted over the top or a live bait trolled deep on a downrigger. This at least gives the angler a chance at dragging a larger fish away from the rough ground.

Flathead and bream can also be caught from the same area using a wider drift and bouncing your baits along the bottom.

The best baits last June in this area were whitebait and fresh squid. If you choose to anchor at this spot you have a chance of john dory as well as leatherjackets and other cruising fish. Live yellowtail and mullet also account for the odd sizeable jewfish.

Taylors Point has been fishing well for average bream with the odd honker showing up in the berley trail of chicken pellets and tuna oil. The best bait has been a live nipper but there are a lot of cockney bream ready to eat your hard-earned bait.


Fresh prawns are working if you are too late to pump the sand flats for nippers. Please take only enough nippers to suit your immediate needs and only the larger ones without eggs to ensure these areas are always able to provide fresh bait. If a small red bream takes your first nipper, move to shallower grounds or use less berley for a little while and change your baits to prawns or whitebait until the intended targets arrive.

Careel Bay has seen some large bream and huge squid, some of the biggest squid I have seen in Pittwater. Stefan Hansson from Fish Outawater at Brookvale told me about a couple of large squid he encountered in this area but I just did not realise how big these cephalopods were. The hood lengths on the big ones were about 70cm.

Pillie spikes have at least drawn strikes but to date only the sucker part of the candle has been captured and it was 10cm long. Most have chased up hooked squid caught on a squid jig. I don’t know if this is a mating thing but the big ones pounce on them. The weed beds around the whole of Careel Bay are worth a try as this was where they were.

Broken Bay has seen the odd school of salmon, tailor and bonito but they are not what we could call a sure thing at the moment. They are spread out and lacking the usual numbers associated with them at this time of year.

If you are prepared to travel the bay in search of surface action, start towards Lion Island, which can hold large numbers of baitfish. Tomorrow is a new day, though, and things could change at the drop of a hat.

West Head bait grounds have produced the odd small trevally out of the berley trail while catching live bait. This area is notorious for big fish when you least expect them so always put your first live bait out as it may produce that fish of a lifetime.

Mackerel Beach has squid and the drop-off is producing flounder and the odd larger whiting.

The Basin has been pretty quiet on most days of late but it is worth checking for working birds on the way past. In Winter The Basin can hold large kingfish, school mulloway, salmon, tailor and even john dory among the deeper moorings.

This area is sheltered from the cold south-east and south-west winds so it can be quite pleasant to fish there.

Towlers Bay is usually pretty quiet in Winter with most fish caught just over the legal limit. Bream and small whiting are the usual fare for this area in Winter.

Longnose Point is a different story. Fishing this area on a rising tide can produce salmon, tailor, flathead and squid.

I hope this article has got you itching to explore Pittwater a little more closely.

Remember that at this time of the year you can be on the money one day but go home with poor results the next. Patience, fresh baits with natural presentations and berley should see you mostly go home with a feed. To learn more about Pittwater call me on 02 9999 2574 for a day on the water.

A live squid ready for deployment.

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