The start to this season produced an unprecedented (at least as far back as I can remember) run of big fish.
As I write this we are yet to land a kingfish under the new 65cm limit, which says a lot given the traditional run of early season ‘rats’ have normally been under 60cm. We have caught lots of fish between 4kg and 8 kg and they have been widespread, indicating that there are lots of them and not just an isolated school.
Prime spots have been in the middle to upper reaches with the lower reaches and ocean rock platforms being strangely quiet. This would be a result of either warmer water and/or baitfish concentrations. Most of the bigger fish have fallen to small live squid.
We are also experiencing the best run of jewfish I can remember. They are generally school fish ranging from 3kg to 10kg but we have pulled a few up around 18kg.
They are hanging around the deeper reefs and other structure in large congregations and it is not unusual to pick up three or four in one hit.
The prime locations are between inner South Head and the Harbour Bridge in the main Harbour and The Spit and Bantry Bay in Middle Harbour.
Later in the season, when they disperse, you will find it best to fish your baits on the bottom but while they are tightly concentrated you will do better with baits suspended just above the bottom.
As a result lots of jewies are being picked up by anglers targeting kingfish with suspended baits. As usual with both these big predators, fresh squid is the ultimate bait.
Huge baitfish concentrations around Garden Island have attracted big schools of tailor, salmon and some smaller kingfish. They have been working right on top so are not hard to locate and are taking trolled minnows or cast slugs and flies.
The salmon have split up into smaller roaming schools and have been working North and Middle heads, Washaway Beach and Garden Island.
Lure fishing will be peaking by now so I’ll run through a quick scenario for a day’s soft plastic work on the Harbour.
First thing in the morning, bolt straight for the buoys on the lower Harbour, keeping one eye out for surface action on the way down.
Work the buoys quickly, fishing stickbaits firstly close to the surface and then weighted down deep. Five casts with each is enough before moving on to the next buoy.
I can think of at least 20 buoys worth a cast between Rose Bay and North Harbour.
The next option will depend on the tide. If it’s rising towards the second half of the run in you should head upstream and throw for a bream. Once the tide turns, fish for jew until two hours after high.
Towards the bottom of the tide you could either go back downstream or stay upstream for flatties, depending on where it’s been happening.
Downstream flattie options include around the moorings in the marinas, the drop-offs at the back of the bays, the semi-ocean beaches like Washaway and the flats like those you find in Rose Bay or Clontarf.
There are heaps of lure options, too many to run through here, but just keep in mind that you must keep contact with the bottom.
Bream will be found along the shorelines over mud or sand banks. In most cases you will be fishing in 60cm to 2m of water with tiny lures in the 1/8oz 2’’ range.
Jew will be found in the holes and channels in depths from 3m to 10m. My best lure is a Tsunami Shad in about 4’’ bounced along the bottom in much the same way you would chase flatties. If you haven’t got a boat you have an advantage as all of my lure jew have been shore-based, despite putting in the same effort from the boat.Reads: 821