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Sydney Spring and Summer pelagics
  |  First Published: October 2003



From now through Summer water starts to warm up and so does the fishing. Schools of salmon, kings and other pelagic fish should start to turn up in numbers around Broken Bay, Pittwater and Sydney Harbour.

It's been an unusual winter with kingfish being caught in good numbers all through the colder months in Sydney Harbour and Cowan Creek Also we had early showings of both frigate and striped tuna in early August in the bay and harbour. We also had some good schools of salmon turn up and these were caught in large numbers - mainly on Slug-gos and large flies.

So, hopefully, it's going to be a red-hot summer for pelagics. We might even see a few bonito turn up too, if we’re lucky.

High-speed spin

I like to use light spin tackle to target small summer pelagics. I use Strudwick 7’ 4-6kg rod and Shimano 4000 or 6000 Stradics on my tours. These handle 99% of the fish we hook. It’s only when the odd big king turns up that we need anything heavier. This tackle can cast the necessary distance and retrieve the lures at the right speed with ease.

Remember to vary the speed of your retrieve and pause occasionally, as often the pause will trigger the strike

Saltwater flyfishing

I use a 7 - 8 weight outfit on most flyfishing outings, but I always have a 9 weight handy in case some larger kings or mack tuna turn up.

Fly reels should be matched to the rods, have a good drag and be large enough to hold 300m of braid backing.

As for fly lines, I like an intermediate line one weight size up on the rod weight (for example, use a 7 weight rod use and an 8 weight line) and for the more experienced caster, a shooting head would be my first choice. Keep your leaders simple – 2m of 6 - 10kg fluorocarbon is fine.

Make sure that you have a good range of flies so you can match the size, colour and shape of the bait the fish are chasing.

If the fish are holding in deeper water, use a fast sinking line to get the fly down to the fish.

Finding the fish

The best way to find fish is to look for birds working or surface activity. This can be easy on some days when the fish stay up. But on other days you might only see a few baitfish rippling on the surface, so keep your eye trained to detect any surface movement. Don't discount any activity – however minor - as there maybe larger fish under the bait.

Have an exploratory cast around the washes and headlands too, as small baitfish will hide in the white water and their predators won't be too far away.

If these tactics fail, try trolling a spread of lures around the headlands. A couple of deep divers, a popper towed short in the wash and a weighed Slug-go a long way back is a great way to find fish.

When you get a strike, double back to where the fish was caught, as often the fish will be schooled up. You can keep on trolling, but this can put the fish down. A more satisfying way can be to cast a lure or fly in the area - you will be surprised how often you will hook up. It also pays to keep your eyes on the sounder and to set the fish alarm. If you find a good school showing on sounder run your lure over area few times and action is almost guaranteed.

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