Best fun from rocky washes
  |  First Published: September 2005

This month has to be the toughest time of the year on Botany Bay: Water gin-clear and bloody cold, most fish with lockjaw and the mornings just a little icy as you try to thaw out the frozen pilchards you forgot to take out of the freezer the night before.

But I do find it a great time of the year to fish the rocks around Sydney and even better if the westerly is blowing, Whether you are fishing the rocky ledges from your boat or rockhopping on foot, the fishing can be rather mind-blowing if it all comes together.

Fishing the stones is normally a short session for me; I find that three hours is just about right.

I like to be fishing just as the sun breaks the horizon and tailor are a top chance for that first hour. A lot of anglers like fishing with ganged blue pilchards under a large bobby cork but I prefer fishing with a free-floating pilchard on gangs. I might add a small amount of lead if conditions are rough.

Cast as far as you can and allow your bait to sink a little before you start a slow retrieve. Tailor just love a slowly moving bait and if the seas have been up a little over the previous few days, you might even find a few Snapper have moved in for a feed.

The Kurnell headlands are rather good for this style of fishing and I have spent many years fishing these rock ledges through the Winter.

Botany Bay for the boat anglers at this time can prove rather hard going but the trick to finding fish is simply just to move around.

Try early in the morning for trevally around one of the many spots that I list each month. If you get no results, try trolling for Tailor. There are plenty of spots to try, just simply feed your lures out and drag them around for a while and see what happens, Remember that tailor normally feed down deep at this time of year on larger baits so try around structure where you might find yellowtail – they provide food for tailor in Winter.

If that doesn’t work, re-rig with soft plastics and spin one of the many flathead grounds that are everywhere in the Bay. Start in the deeper water first, then move into the shallows – mix it up.

No lizards? Move onto leatherjackets and try one of the marker poles. These are like vertical reefs and I always find something hanging around the poles, including plenty of good jackets at times.

I might finish with a second session on the trevally to round off the day. Now if you have tried all that and you still haven’t had much luck, well, that’s fishing.


Late afternoons I love casting unweighted baits in the white water from my boat back towards the washy headlands. This is rather dangerous so please keep your eyes on the sea and never take it for granted.

Sit back for a while and just watch the ocean and the spot that you wish to fish. You might have fished there a week ago and had no problems but with the sea running from a different direction, it might be a no-go zone. This has happened to me a number of times.

I find a spot that offers deep water in close. I motor in and 90% of the time I keep the outboard running, just in case I need to move quickly.

If conditions are right you will be pushed back into deeper water by the sea, allowing you to move along, casting into plenty of spots.

Drummer, bream and luderick are three species normally taken and at times snapper and trevally. But kings and salmon will also hang around these spots to feed so most outings will provide a mixed bag and some great fishing.

So remember to remove your bait from the freezer the night before and try some of these tips and see how you fare. But remember, you may have to add a little effort to be rewarded.

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