Surface slammers back
  |  First Published: October 2003

October heralds the return of the surface fish – bonito, tailor, frigate mackerel, striped tuna and yellowtail kingfish. It’s a time when the westerly winds should be starting to die down and the north-easters should predominate in the afternoons. It’s also a time when you should be spending a bit of extra time trolling along the retaining walls, oil wharf, drop-offs and current lines with minnow lures, flies or plastics.

If you are going out onto Botany Bay, start your day off by trolling along the eastern side of the retaining wall at Port Botany and continue out along the area known as the Horse Shoe until you reach Bare Island. From here you can troll out to Henry’s Head and follow the shoreline to Cape Banks. If you have no luck here, move over to the Kurnell side of the bay and troll from Watts Reef to the hot water outlet on the western side of the oil wharf. Later in the day try trolling down the north eastern side of the third runway and down to Foreshore Drive.

In Bate Bay start trolling at Jibbon Bombora and down along the coast to the Marley Wreck, or start trolling from Shark Island and then work your way along the back of the swell until you reach the edge of the Merries Reef.

Try using minnow lures like the Mann’s Stretch 5 and 10 at a speed no greater than five knots. Troll a Rapala CD 7, 9 and 11 between five and eight knots. You could also try trolling pink plastics skirts at around three to five knots.

October will also see an increase in the number of dusky flathead and sand whiting in Botany and Bate bays. The females move down to the entrance of the estuaries to get ready to breed and the males will follow them. You could try drifting whitebait, squid or half pilchard on a set of ganged hooks or maybe a strip of fresh striped tuna, bonito or tailor.

It’s also a time when the bream will start to move up the coast looking for somewhere to breed, so it’s a good idea to dust off that beach and rock gear and get out there. Stanwell, Coalcliff, Maroubra and Bondi are all worth a try in the early hours of the morning, or just before the sun sets. Try using beach, blood, squirt and tube worms for both bream and whiting.


Even though you may have to pay to use the grounds of the Georges River State Recreational Area, you have a great chance of catching flathead, bream, whiting and possibly mulloway while using plastics off the beach. If you’re after a flathead or mulloway I recommend the shad patterns from the Storm and Squidgy range and the small wriggler tails from Atomic and Squidgy.

Boat spot

If you have never been to Jerusalem Bay in Cowan Creek you should make a point of going there the next time you visit the Hawkesbury River. Jerusalem Bay has it all – steep sides, sandy bays, run-offs and plenty of deep water. Bream, mulloway, flathead, squid and hairtail are found here. If you’re after flathead, venture up into the ends of the few small bays there and start casting around a few shads. For bream I usually work the shoreline, and for the mulloway I recommend jigging around the edge of the drop-offs.

Next month

During the early part of October, Scott Lyons and I will be heading down to Jindabyne for a few days to give the trout a go, and I’ll let you know how we go in the November issue. If you have any questions you’d like to ask about fishing in Sydney, just send me an email and I’ll get back to you.

1) This mulloway was caught while out fishing with Greg Joyes from Calmwater Fishing Charters.

2) In Botany and Bate bays October should start to see the arrival of a few bonito.

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