Reds and muttonburds
  |  First Published: November 2003

NOVEMBER is the time for snapper, and big ones, according to my diary. Unfortunately it always seems to coincide with the mutton bird invasion. Last year was not so bad but in 2001 the birds were starving and it was impossible to get baits down.

On the blue-water front, it’s starting to look real good with a few tongues of warm current licking in close, raising offshore water temperature to nearly17°. This has fish smacking their lips, keen to track down a tasty morsel.

Steve Brooks from Careel Bay Fishing Charters found jew to 8kg at Boultons and pan-size flathead on the Mona Vale drift grounds. Captain JP from Absolute Boat Cruises put his clients on to 2kg snapper in 35 metres of water off Queenscliff.

A salmon session ended in using soft plastics for Mick Spears and Pete Nichols. Fishing off Lion Island. One feisty fish snapped a fly rod in half during a spectacular jump. A couple of anglers had their arms stretched throwing large strip baits to big kingfish around the washes at North Head. Fish grabbed the offerings, then headed back to their rocky homes, abrading the line in the process. At the end of the day, only two fish around 80cm were landed.

A little farther out, there was more kingfish activity from a boat jigging up fish (and losing most) on the western side of Northerners Reef. I’m sure if kingfish were humans they would have tattoos, body piercing and ride Harley Davidsons!

As I pen this column, the ocean is up but the big seas will subside to leave new gutter shapes on most beaches. Whiting schools will move in, checking out these new formations for food. To score a feed of these delicious fish, keep on the move, trying different areas during a making tide. Pelagic fish such as salmon and tailor have also been active in the surf line close on high tide.

Drummer are still keen to bite on abalone gut and cunje for those fishing off the rocks. Mervin Hartwood and Jai Willaki scored three fish at the northern end of The Hole in the Wall at Avalon and lost a real monster that won the hard-fought tug-of-war.

Flat Rock at Curl Curl is coughing up a plentiful supply of blackfish on the local cabbage. Two large trevally were taken by a couple of locals fishing the rocks near Dee Why headland. Using strips of salted slimy mackerel, fish were taken in the middle of the day on low tide.

An unconfirmed report of jew taken from Newport beach has filtered through. The fish fell to a tailor late one night just south of the stormwater outlet. It is from now until Autumn that jew will be regularly patrolling the northern beaches and can be taken by the shore based angler. Big baits are needed, and coincide your trip with a high tide around 10pm to midnight. Be patient, as some nights will produce nothing. Success will come to those who persevere.

The flats at Bayview have quite a few ‘coffin’ marks visible at low tide. This is a good sign. It’s where flathead have lain in wait for their prey, such as small whitebait, on the high tide. These flats are great territory for the lure-chuckers using soft plastics or deep-diving hard-bodied minnows. Wade through the shallows, fan-casting, to cover a broad area. Remember – retrieve ever so slowly, as flatties are lazy fish and need to size up a lure before hitting it.

Young Marc Turnen drifted from Cottage Point to Akuna Bay for a creel full of flathead to 2.5kg. Bait was gang-hooked whitebait. As well as the ‘lizards’, Marc found tailor, a huge flounder and a flying gurnard. Bob Taranto and fishing buddy John Maloro anchored up at The Vines below the Newcastle Expressway for a bag of bream taken on those old faithfuls, chicken gut and peeled Hawkesbury prawns, supplemented by plenty of berley.

Those working the weed beds off Pipe Clay Point in Narrabeen Lake have found success on bream and small flathead. Fresh, peeled Hawkesbury prawns worked weightless on light line is the way to score these fish. Chris Perry had a modicum of success catching small flathead, tailor and bream on an early morning session. Stuart Smith caught and released a 55cm dusky flathead on the eastern side of the lake while fan-casting the shoreline using the slow-retrieve method.


Make friends with your local tackle shop owners. These folks have their fingers on the pulse of what’s happening where. They will also direct you to bait that is currently working and show you the latest in rigs, tackle, line and all the other advantages to give you good catches.

They will give you good information on what fish to target at that time of the year. Their information is not just based on hearsay because they want you back spending in their store.

Also, when sourcing tackle, give your local bloke a go. You will be surprised at just competitive they are when it comes to shiny new rods and reels.

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