School jew a fair chance
  |  First Published: December 2008

I do hope everyone survived the Christmas drinking and feeding period.

There are whiting on the beaches to be caught with the dart and schools of small bream are always around to steal baits.

School jew have been showing up along the beach gutters and a few bigger fish off the sea walls. A few divers I know have been seeing schools of jew up to 10kg milling in the holes.

Don’t think it’s only a matter of getting some bait and showing up to catch the jew, although it does happen.

You will probably need to invest some time, but there are worse ways to spend an afternoon or evening.

The best way to optimise your time is to use fresh or live bait. Schools of slimy mackerel have been popping up along the coast and with them the bonito so flesh baits are readily available.

The patchy rain has kicked the bream along a bit. Some good catches of above-average fish have been reported from over Coomba Park way and I suggest you have a late arvo or early morning fizzer session around the bays of cockle weed and Black Rock. Fish the points of the bays and the rocky shoreline at high tide.

Whiting around the sand gutters near the bridge have been right onto worm baits drifted in the current.

These sand flats and the north side of Godwin Island are good spots to have a go at whiting on poppers or plastics, too, and a rising tide is best.

Some good-sized flathead have been coming from the channels between Little Tern and Miles or Sandy islands. In the clear water you can see the flatties tucked in behind the oyster lease poles and around the weed patches.

The secret in getting the flatties’ attention is by banging your lure or bait along the bottom on long casts. The clear water has the fish a bit spooky at the moment.

What has encouraged a lot of activity in the lake is the vast schools of blue sprat that all and sundry are gorging on. On the run-out tide, areas like The Cut and Hell’s Gate are producing tailor of a fun and sometimes legal size on surface lures.


January is a great time to do a bit of headland hunting, with evening and early morning obviously the best times.

Spinning the washes or drifting baits will attract the attention of the tailor, bonito, small kings and an assortment of other table fish.

There are a lot of undersized pigs around, too, so there may still be a few larger fish about among the hordes of butterfish and toads.

There are always plenty of small to medium groper drifting around the headlands, with spots like Bennetts Head, Blackhead and any spot that has a good kelp bed and broken rocks worth a look.

Even though there are plenty of fish, stick to DPI restrictions on bag limits and legal sizes or you could end up in a whole world of trouble.

With a build-up of bait schools in the warmer currents, the offshore and headland action should fire up over January and February.

A smattering of a few small bonito schools will be enough to get the XL kings and other predators in close proximity stirred up, so drifting a livie while bottom-bouncing is the go.

If you haven’t had crack at the bass this season you don’t know what you are missing. The action is as good as I’ve seen it and there’s plenty of time left in the calendar to get involved.

Surface lures and a balmy Summer afternoon are all you need to track down these bronze bolters, and it makes a change from the salt water anyway – far more relaxing.

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