Time to get serious
  |  First Published: October 2004

OCTOBER is when I get serious about fishing. We get an extra hour of sun as daylight saving slips into place at the end of this month, plus the weather usually turns on a few hot days.

It’s also my birthday (any bit of fishing tackle is welcome if you’re thinking of buying me a present) and October is the month when mutton birds (short-tailed shearwaters) arrive in their hundreds. These migratory birds like to dive down deep and decimate our carefully-prepared appetisers as we explore the water column with floating baits.

Water temperatures rise in October and we get consistent runs of stable weather where we can plan ahead. There is a change of species as john dory migrate to the offshore reefs, trevally become less prevalent and we see the last of the barracouta and those line-gnawing green toads. In come snapper, kingfish, sand whiting and jewfish. Pike, nannygai and that fisherman’s curse – ‘Newcastle Bream’ or sweep, as they are commonly known – come back in plague proportions in some locations.

After I complained about the lack of tablefish off our beaches last month, bream and whiting must have read my column and taken it to heart. Jason Whittle recorded five whiting and two bream off Mona Vale while Simon Bettington scored a feed of big bluenose winter sand whiting in a huge gutter at South Curl Curl. Two unnamed anglers took away a feed of chrome surf yellowfin bream from Long Reef and there were reports of fish from the newly carved out gutters at North Palm Beach, too. The sand tracks will really start to fire as new gutters are formed, water temperature rises a degree or two and the beach geography gets shifted around by seas.

On the 30m reefs offshore, dropping baits down to the bottom has seen trevally, small snapper, pike and the occasional morwong boated on lightly-weighted pilchards and squid. Those who take the time to commence and keep up a consistent berley trail will come home with more fish than those who go out with a ‘shotgun’ approach.

Get the heavy snapper gear ready because bigger fish will go bananas in search of tasty offerings this month around the shale grounds and drop-offs. Don’t forget the berley – it’s more important than the beer and the sandwiches.

Fishing baits on light tackle just out from Sydney Heads recently, Andrew D’ambrosio scored a feed of snapper, flathead and trevally. Andrew is very keen to chase mahi-mahi (dolphinfish) when the water temperature rises above 18-20 degrees this Summer.

At the time of writing we are still up to our ears in the drought. Sure – we have had a few wet days now and then, but the chronic lack of rain is now starting to affect catches in the rivers and in Pittwater. Many an angler has soaked the same bait all day for no result, and after a few luckless sessions spirits start to sag. If you are keen to find action, target deeper, murkier water such as Mackerel, Scotland Island and the areas off Taylors Point. In the Hawkesbury, work baits and lures round Kangaroo Point, the road and rail bridges, Marlo and The Vines.

Narrabeen Lake has been as quiet as a church mouse. I have no positive information this month on this normally productive waterway. Good solid rain will see a turnaround as Narrabeen, Dee Why and Manly lagoons are all susceptible to changes in climatic conditions. The warmer weather should spark the resident predators into action as they start to shake off the Winter blues and start fossicking for food.

My Monday evening Fishing Clinics at North Narrabeen were all booked out for August and September but there are still a few places left starting Monday October 11. The next clinic after that commences on Monday November 8. To book, phone Mark on (02) 9970 6204 or go to www.nbtackle.com.au.

Monthly Tip

When float fishing for blackfish or mullet, submerged line can impede a rapid strike. To get monofilament line to float, rub it lightly with Vaseline and keep a small tube handy in the tackle box for further use. When a fish takes the float down, line can now be lifted off the water, enabling a faster response.

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