Rug up and rip into them!
  |  First Published: August 2003

Yeah, I know: It’s August, it’s freezing and most of us are more snug sitting by the fire than being in a boat or off a beach.

However, investing in a set of thermal underwear will negate the chill of Winter and make fishing just as comfortable as in February or March. There are many species that come to the fore in the colder weather and these are the fish we should be out hunting.

John dory are in numbers in Pittwater and around their deep-water haunts in the Hawkesbury. Bream get big in Winter and will attract easily to a consistent berley trail. Tailor are cruising up and down in Broken Bay looking for a fight and salmon are close in off most northern beaches, as well as that delicacy, chromed surf bream.

Recent westerly winds have made the inshore reefs comfortable for a fish but unfortunately the water is crystal-clear and the local residents are spooky. Out wider, the seas are big as the winds kick up the swell. Salmon have been working the surface off Dee Why and Newport Reefs. Keep upwind and throw small Raider or Halco lures into the fringes of the school and then crank back fast to get a hook-up. The Wrecks at Narrabeen have been producing an excellent supply of small snapper around 35cm to 40cm on pilchards and cut slimy mackerel.

Lower rock platforms have been accessible due to the flat seas but be very careful of the odd rogue wave that can catch you off-guard. A bag of trevally gave fanatic fishos James Press and Peter Storey a lot of fun off the rocks at Avalon recently. Fish were all just under a kilo and took a liking to fresh Hawkesbury prawns fished nearly weightless down a consistent bread berley trail. Local beach guru Mark Turnen pulled a 9kg jewfish from South Newport Beach on a whole scaled mullet. Mark only uses big baits – that’s why he catches big fish.

Mick Spears landed a 2kg drummer on a bread fly at Newport as well as a few trevally, small snapper and bream on the long wand. Chris Leslie has been having a ball on drummer at Warriewood with fish averaging 3kg to 4kg. A 5kg snapper was weighed in at Bohm’s Tackle Shop, caught by an unnamed angler fishing off Long Reef. That popular fishing hangout, The Pipe at Collaroy, is still producing a fair share of trevally, salmon and tailor on frog mouth pilchards.

Blackfish are biting well on weed at Bayview baths and around the Pittwater marinas. Tom the Dutchman had a great session on bream off Mona Vale pool using ultra-light gear. Blackfish have also been taken from this popular haunt as well as a few black drummer.

The Hawkesbury night fishers have been coming home in the wee small hours with plenty of quality bream taken on prawns and chicken gut. Lashings of chook pellet berley, with a few mashed-up pillies, has been an essential.

A drift with frogmouth pilchards as the attractor is scoring keeper flathead off Patonga. Fish the western side of the beach near the outlet to Patonga Creek. Around the wharves and jetties in Pittwater, john dory are stalking the bait schools. Use a live yellowtail or small tailor to attract these ghostly predators.

Flathead have been taken on deep-diving lures to the west of the port marker off Palm Beach. Make sure the lure is kicking up sand now and then to attract the sleepy lizards. There is plenty of bait at West Head but unfortunately nothing is chasing them. Try a lazy drift with a small yellowtail 40 to 50 metres off the main Pillbox for one of the monster flathead that reside there.

Hairtail are now calling Cowan Creek their home. Fish have been recorded in Waratah, Jerusalem and Americas Bays. Live-baiting around the moorings at Cottage Point and Coal and Candle Creek would be worth a try for these enigmatic fish.

A session pulling lures around West and Middle Head produced zilch for Rob King recently. Reverting to bait, he scored a couple of sizeable tailor at the back of Lion Island.

Now that there is green weed available, the Narrabeen Lake luderick devotees have been scoring fish in the main channel as well as off the Ocean Street bridge. Fish are not huge but take well to filleting. Garfish are in numbers near the Pittwater Bridge and also down in front of Café Largo at Narrabeen. Use bread dough under a bubble float.

Bream are hiding in the thick weed beds next to the scout hut near Jamison Park. These 500g to 750g fish can be tempted out with whitebait pinned on a set of small ganged hooks. Bream have come from Queenscliff Lagoon on small prawn baits as well as home-made pudding. Stealth is all important here, so fish no more than 3kg tackle.

Pick a target

When fishing, pick a species that is in season (check the above), then go out and target that particular fish. Going fishing with a scattergun approach usually means a day filled with no hits and plenty of monotony.



The author with a salmon taken on a strip of salted slimy mackerel. Fish of this size give a great account of themselves on light tackle.


One of the northern beaches’ most popular spots, the Pipe at Collaroy, has been producing bream, tailor and salmon.

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