Tips to tame the chill
  |  First Published: August 2004

THE NEXT few months will provide interesting times for those wishing to venture out for a day’s fishing.

Chilly westerly winds, water at its coldest and fish which seem to have lockjaw mean that Botany Bay and Port Hacking at this time of year can be tough.

Here are a few simple tips to help you tap into a little action next time you venture out over winter when early starts, frozen baits, numb fingers and a body telling you that bed was a better option.

Anchor in deep water just before light with a good berley trail of chopped pilchards on a rising or falling tide. Fish with the bait as the only weight and allow it to just float down the berley trail. Fishing light is the key and slice of pilchard fished on two ganged Mustad 4200 3/0 hooks with 6kg line is ideal for this type of fishing.

Tailor are at their best at first light and tend to thin out a little as the sun rises, but the action may repeat itself again from dusk until after dark.

My first choice in Botany Bay would include the Oil Wharf, the hot water outlet and Watts Reef. In the Hacking River try the drop-off at Lilli Pilli baths and the deep edge leading into South West Arm. Along the shore off Deer Park is quite good at times and trolling these edges will also provide outstanding results at times.

Give plenty of time for your berley to work, say 40minutes. Remember that trevally and the odd bream will move in and feed under the tailor so keep this in the back of your mind in case the tailor are a little slow on the job.

After sunrise in Port Hacking there are two main fish to target – blackfish and leatherjackets.

Leatherjackets are normally in good numbers once you find them. Best baits are peeled prawns or nippers on small long-shank hooks. Try them around pylons, jetties and the numerous rocky shorelines that run into deeper water throughout the river.

These spots are also great for luderick. You will need a good berley trail of chopped weed and a little bread mixed with plenty of moist sand.

A long-stemmed float, four or five split shots to have just the last few centimetres of the float stem above the surface and a small, short-shank No 8 hook complete the rig and you use green weed or rock cabbage for bait.

Keep your bait, say, 60cm off the bottom and allow it to just float along with the tide. Luderick on light tackle hard to beat in my book.


Botany Bay trevally are a good chance throughout the day and the spots that I have listed for tailor also fire for trevally. The Container Wall and Bare Island also fire at times.

I always fish at anchor when targeting trevally. I use peeled prawns or nippers on both tides with a berley trail of bread and chicken pellets.

Leatherjackets will hold close to the bottom around most of these spots so try a bottom rig and you may find quality jackets right under your boat.

Winter is also a key time to catch flathead around Botany Bay. Most anglers think that Summer is flathead time but, in the Bay, flathead produce good results most days in Winter. We just work the weedy bottom with soft plastics and very rarely miss out.

It may take you a little time to find the flathead but the results are worth it and if the wind is up, head to the protected shore lines and allow the wind blow you away from the shore, working the bottom as you drift.

My trick is to not drift too far as most of the flathead are caught in the first 100metres from shore as they feed there on a falling tide. In Winter they tend not to move very far between tides. Anchor along these edges and fish with small live baits, moving about 50metres every 30minutes.

Winter is hard and will test your ability in finding fish and withstanding the chilly starts when the westerly winds cut right to the bone. But it’s always worth it when you’re out on the water any time of the year.

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