Harbour kings hang in
  |  First Published: September 2003

Winter has come and gone, and mostly a fairly mild Winter it has been, too, allowing anglers to fish for both Winter and Summer species.

For example, a lot of the kingfish didn’t move out of Sydney Harbour and many are still catching kings to 7kg in the deep water off Seaforth, in Middle Harbour. Striped tuna have been mixed in with schools of salmon that have frequented North Head. The stripeys turned up in early July, about two months ahead of normal.

The salmon have been a day-to-day proposition, on the bite one day, can’t find them the next, but look for them by trolling minnow lures down deep, where the fish seem to be holding and feeding on larger baitfish such as yellowtail and hardiheads. That scenario should change soon, when the schools of micro-baitfish arrive in Spring. Then we should see plenty of surface action, with a change over to casting small chrome lures and flies providing the recipe for success.

Flathead can be caught on the drift in North Harbour and if you want to anchor up in the area between Quarantine Head and Old Mans Hat, you will find plenty of trevally. The trevally are not big but there are plenty of them. As long as you keep a sparse but steady berley trail going, they will bite right through the day. I find the best outfit to fish for these critters is a two-metre lightweight threadline combo loaded with 3kg line. A No 00 running ball sinker above a No 14 swivel and a one-metre trace to a No 2 beak pattern hook is the terminal tackle. Peeled prawns, bloodworms, nippers or pieces of pilchard flesh will all work well as baits.

This is not sit-and-wait fishing: If you haven’t had a bite by the time the bait has reached the bottom, start a lift-and-pause retrieve to attract the fish. Trevally tend to hold in the lower half of the water column, but not necessarily on the bottom, so a bait sitting on the mud means slow fishing.

The bream fishing has been a bit slow although nighttime anglers have been doing reasonably well fishing in close under the jetties around Cockatoo Island. They tell me you have to have live nippers for bait, though. Some of the recognised bream spots, particularly in the lower end of the Harbour, are turning up quite a few keeper-size snapper as a welcome bonus.

There have been some quality blackfish caught this season. Fish around 1.5kg are not uncommon and for estuary blackfish, that’s not bad. Some of the better spots include Clarks Point, Mrs Macquaries Chair and the small jetty near Iron Cove Bridge.


Plenty of squid can be found in Cowan Creek and, being one of their favourite foods, kingfish have moved into this deep-water system chasing them. Jig up some squid from around Cottage Point or on the edge of the drop-off at the top end of any of the bays, put a couple out as live baits and you are in with a chance of fish to 8kg. Any of the deeper spots, such as the mouth of Smiths Creek or Jerusalem Bay, are worth a try. It may be better to try to find the fish with your sounder before anchoring and sending the baits down, rather than embarking on a hit-and-miss sortie.

Whiting are spread right through the river. The middle ground off Hungry Beach continues to produce reasonable catches of whiting up to 38cm for anglers fishing the run-out tide with bloodworms. The creek above Halvorsens at Bobbin Head is worth a try at night, with nippers also an effective bait. Up the top end of the river there have been some unusual catches of whiting around the mouth of the Colo River.

If your target species is flathead, a drift on the eastern side of Snake Island, in Mooney Mooney Creek, should get you a feed. The channel that runs along in front of the houses at Beauty Point in Berowra Creek is another spot that has been producing.

The best catches of bream have been reported from around the bridges, particularly the Road Bridge. Fishing the run-out tide back to the third or fourth pylons from the northern side has seen bags of half a dozen fish in a session.


Trevally, bream and tailor are the main species coming out of the Bay with trevally and tailor making up the bulk of the catches. The cockle bed about 100 metres straight out from the end of the third runway has been a hot spot for trevally and tailor. Molinaux Point has trevally by the bucketload, with the run-in tide the best. On the south side of the Bay try the first channel marker west of the oil wharf for mixed bags of tailor, trevally and bream. This is a run-out tide spot best fished with unweighted pilchards for the tailor and nippers or prawns on a long trace for the bottom species.

For land-based anglers, flathead have been caught along Brighton Beach on bait and lures. And if the westerlies are not blowing, Silver Beach at Kurnell is worth a visit. For the boaties, the hole off the old Mick Maulin Pub has flathead to 45cm.

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