Getting a feel for things
  |  First Published: December 2003

IT’S A GREAT time of the year: Holidays and time to put together a few days’ fishing in a row and really getting a feel for what’s happening.

This is when I start to target beach jewfish in earnest. The 10th and 11th of this month, a Wednesday and Thursday, look real good for an evening at Newport, Palm Beach or Narrabeen with a late high tide. Later this month we have the big king tides, which put too much water between fish.

Recently the weather gods have smiled on those who venture offshore. The persistent winds have dropped and allowed us fish-starved anglers to get out and enjoy the sound of strumming nylon. Muttonbirds (love them or hate them) have arrived from as far away as Asia and Siberia, a factor that coincides with the snapper run. Big fish have come from in close, with areas like the Hole in the Wall at Avalon, Newport Reef, Long Reef and Northerners producing quality fish. A monster 8.5kg beast took a whole squid bait off Newport reef early one morning and was carefully returned to recount the experience to its grandkids.

Kingfish, which are getting bigger year by year, are stretching arms and breaking line below 10kg. Ensconced on most close structure, as well as prowling around Pittwater moorings, these thugs have provided some amazing sport to bait, lure and fly anglers.

As the tide peaks, tailor are being taken off the beaches by anglers casting cut baits and retrieving them to catch the choppers’ eyes. Warriewood and Narrabeen have seen good catches. Curl Curl has larger tailor with one angler finding a 2kg fish in a gutter close to the surf clubhouse. The rocky rubble on the northern end of Avalon Beach has kilo-plus bream fossicking in close on dusk. Unweighted nippers floated in the washes will work on these chrome surf-dwellers. Curl Curl and Avalon are still producing the occasional drummer on abalone gut. Bream seem to be snaffling baits wafted near rock platforms. These fish also respond well to a consistent bread berley.

Just north of the seaplane base in Pittwater, on Station Beach, an unnamed angler landed four bream to 1.5kg on whitebait. Small trevally were keen to swallow a pink fly offered by Allan Harwood. Two bream and a mystery fish that snapped his 3kg trace completed the day’s fun near the rocks at Lobster Beach.


The slow drift from Flint and Steel to the mouth of the Hawkesbury is producing pan-size flathead and flounder for those who employ enough weight for baits to reach and stay on the bottom. In the sheltered waters near Marlo, bream to 1.5kg have fallen to nippers and oyster baits. The secret to success here is to downsize line to around 2kg to 3kg with little or no weight. Plenty of shovel-nose shark activity around West Head and close in to the bommie at Barrenjoey. These hard fighters love a pilchard or gar and tend to hang out on the known flathead drifts.

Tiny bream have been a nuisance in Narrabeen Lake around the Pittwater Road weed beds, attacking baits designed for bigger fish. Whiting, although small, are taking live bloodworms close to the Ocean Street bridge on an outgoing tide. My suggestion is to get down just on dusk as fish lose their shyness after sundown. A huge pike eel monstered a poddy mullet set by young Anthony McGlashen close to Jamison Park. It was duly released to terrorise future anglers. Henry Chai walked most of the concrete path, casting to likely fish-holding snags. Two flathead and a bream fell to his Atomic soft plastic just up from Woolworth’s car park.

Bouquets to all that have worked so hard to clean up our beaches. I know we have had a shortage of rain and this alone will give positive results. The northern beaches passed the stringent Beachwatch tests and our sand tracks are the cleanest since records began.

The Careel Bay boat ramp saga at North Avalon slowly drags itself through the bureaucratic quagmire. The Careel Bay Trailer Boat Club has been asked to supply a submission to council. If approved, it will go on public display and then funding will have to be found before a single sod is turned. I hope I’m still vertical when this all comes to fruition!

I’d like to thank all the people who have helped me put this column together over the year. Thanks also to all those who read my monthly diatribe and who have taken the trouble to come over and say hi at the various fishing and boating shows. To all the fishing clubs who invited me as guest speaker and to all those who have supported me over the years, my heartfelt thanks. Happy Christmas and a safe, healthy and fish-rich 2004.


Weed areas are very productive but most people don’t fish them much because their terminal gear gets tangled up. Best way to work these fish-rich areas is to employ a float and let baits just tickle the top of the weed. Hungry fish will leave cover and rise to the bait.

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