Do it in the dark
  |  First Published: December 2007

Precious holiday time must now be exploited to the maximum and fishing is the No 1 priority.

Most of the good fishing spots are overcrowded with kids as they enjoy their school holidays. You’re keen to try that new rod, reel, tackle box, lure or whatever but can’t find a place to do it.

Well here’s a little secret. Do it when all others have gone to bed.

Yes, with long daylight hours, get down to that favourite rock or beach possie or off a wharf, jetty or pontoon and wait until the others go home.

You will now be fishing prime time and stand a much better chance of catching a fish than daytime anglers.

So what fish do you target in January?

In Pittwater, kingfish are everywhere. They especially like structure because they know bait will be there. So arm yourself with very fresh squid or catch small yellowtail and pin them live under a bobby cork and you are now serving the best tucker to these greenbacks.

It won’t be too long before the thugs move into your area as they hunt down their prey.

When you do get a hit, this is where the fun starts. Remember, kingfish are brutal and there’s nothing nice about their personality. They will take you around every pylon, rock, mooring and snag in their bid for freedom.

Keep a very tight lead on the fish. If you give an inch of slack, they will take a mile and then it’s all over. When you eventually do land one of these gorgeous sport fish, pat yourself on the back, you have played strong and done well.

I love snapper because they keep gentlemen’s hours. They come on the chew mid-morning, stop for lunch and then the bite continues late into the afternoon. Fishing through a tide change, whether high or low, also seems to help.

So let’s look at what’s been happening close to home.

When we do get rain the water gets dark and dingy with discoloration from run-off. One fish that loves these conditions is the jewfish, which come in close feeding on bait which can’t see the predators coming.


There have been reports of mahi mahi taking trolled lures at Esmeralda and Broken Bay Wide. There have been some big bulls at the FADs but the smaller fish take the lures before the larger fish have a chance. One fish went 7.5kg and there have been bigger fish that anglers have seen but not hooked up to.

Working a garfish via a downrigger near The Hole in the Wall off Avalon, Dan Schomberg landed a 5.7kg snapper on his very first outing with the new device.

I am impressed with the number of whiting coming off the beaches and there have been some big specimens. I think this is due to warm water. This time of the year whiting are usually there but are small and most have to be thrown back.

Using bread as berley and bait, Dan Harrigan had a ball with large sea garfish off Harbord rocks. Fishing with a small quill float, Dan landed a heap of these mini-marlin and don’t they cook up well, gutted, flattened and fried?

Heard of anyone catching snapper off the rocks recently? We need rain to bring these delightful fish back within casting distance and after a spell of rough weather they can move right in close.

As predicted, the Hawkesbury has really started to fire, especially around the ghostly oyster racks in Mooney Mooney Creek. Soft plastics are taking heaps of fish and if you let the lure hit bottom, a dusky flathead will say, ‘thank you very much’.

After the rain, jewfish usually make a strong appearance. There will be heaps of small throwback soapies in the river but don’t let that deter you because the keepers will be there, too.

Besides a dull day when only a few eels were taken, Stuart Maxwell was delighted when a big blue swimmer crab grabbed his squid bait in Middle Harbour. Later that night it was bubbling away in the pot with a couple of salivating mouths close by.

My email mate Carson the Cast has been doing well in Queenscliff Lagoon. Flicking small shads, Carson nailed five bream, a flathead and a small mangrove jack when he was out in the rain.

In Narrabeen Lagoon bream have been mostly small. One angler nailed more than 20 throwbacks near the caravan park in between rain showers.

Monthly tip: Practise casting. I continually train with eggbeaters and overheads. Find a field, then put a bucket around 5m in front of you. Cast a small weight (no hooks please, too dangerous) into the bucket. Keep doing it until you perfect the technique, then move the bucket farther away and practice again.

Remember, the more sweat in training, the less blood in battle

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