We have had a bit of a weird current push recently that has brought warm water and some ocean species.
Big oceanic Chinaman jackets have come in close around North Head and, along with oceanic toads, have caused havoc. They will bite anything, including swivels, sinkers and fingers. Nip-offs are infuriatingly common and I can only suggest using long-shank extra-strong hooks with the sinker sitting right on top of the hook.
Avoid swivels and make sure there no are scraps of bait on your line.
On the upside, the jackets are big, fight well and taste great. Prawns and squid are the best baits but in reality there’s not much that they wont have a go at.
Salmon have, in the past couple of years, become a year-round proposition but they usually appear in the lower reaches of the Harbour and Broken Bay by October. The closing of the cannery at Eden has seen decreased commercial pressure on salmon in the past few years and it appears that numbers have increased quite dramatically.
Salmon fishing has been sensational lately and should continue right through Christmas and into January. They are massed along North Head from Quarantine to North Head in massive schools as I write but traditionally they move further into the Harbour and Balmoral in coming months.
Keep an eye out for large flocks of sea birds working the surface as they are a good indication of salmon schools. Although they are a little bit fussy at the moment they are a lot more catchable than they were a month ago.
Flies and soft stickbaits are the best bet but the fish are just starting to look at metals like small Raiders, which is great because the tiny soft stickbaits are a nightmare to cast.
You will probably be sharing the school with many other boats, especially on weekends, so keep your wits about you. Whatever you do, don't go charging through the middle of the school as it will put the school down and attract plenty of verbal abuse from the other boats.
One fish that should come on in good numbers over the next few months is the silver trevally. Trevs are a very under-rated species, being excellent fighters and, if they are prepared properly, excellent eating.
They are found in the Harbour only in their juvenile sizes up to 2kg but 500g to a kilo is more common. They are a schooling fish so where you catch one there are usually more.
Although normally considered to be a Winter fish, I find trevally to be far more prolific in Spring. Trevs are schooling fish so providing you keep the berley flowing there's no reason why you shouldn't be able to take half a dozen or more.
They are a lot like yellowtail in the way they station themselves in a berley trail. Normally they feed from mid-water to the bottom but on a good day you can berley them right to the boat.
In this situation there's no need for heavily weighted rigs which will take the bait away from the fish. The trick with trevally is to present the bait as if it were part of the berley. This means very lightly-weighted rigs where there is flow in the water and possibly even no weight in the quiet bays with little current.
Trevs prefer small soft baits like peeled prawn and pilchard fillets. They are the only fish that I can think of that don't respond well to fresh baits and in a lot of cases they have shown a marked preference for packet bait over freshly caught and filleted bait.
The exception is when you present a live yabby or blood worm, which are second to none.
Trevs have small, soft mouths so small hooks and light line are the way to go. I prefer a No 4 VMC baitholder and 3kg or 4kg line. The light line helps avoid pulling the small hook from the soft mouth.
You'll find Trevally right throughout the Harbour, depending on how much rain we've had. They like clear, saline water so after long dry spells they can be found in the upper reaches. After heavy rain they will be confined to the lower reaches.
Trevs should be bled immediately and iced down straight away. Filleted and skinned, then pan-fried in egg and flour they make an exceptional feed.
Morwong , normally an offshore species, have moved into the Harbour and taken up residence around the deep reefs and headlands. They are up to about 1.5kg and are caught almost exclusively on squid.
The best rig I have found is a light, two-dropper paternoster rig, much like you would use when fishing for estuary leatherjackets. A No 6 baitholder hook baited with a small piece of prawn fished on the bottom should do the trick. Try Quarantine Point and Dobroyd Reef.Reads: 763