Time for dory and tailor
  |  First Published: May 2008

As the weather cools this month and I bring in the portable gas fire in from the garage, my thoughts always turn to fishing for that ‘religious’ fish, the john dory.

Winter attracts these ghostly hunters to Pittwater in their thousands.

All bait grounds become hunting areas for dory, which patrol the edges waiting for a tardy baitfish or one that strays from the school. It is said the dory is the fish in the loaves-and-fishes act Jesus performed to feed the multitude and each side of the fish sports a black blotch, supposedly where Jesus held it.

Catch a yellowtail, pin it on a heavy lead to slow it down so the dory can catch it and you are well on the way to a tasty feast.

Another Winter fish is the tailor, which really come in force now water temperatures start to drop.

Most areas in Pittwater and the mouth of the Hawkesbury will see schools of tailor driving bait to the surface before they close in for the massacre. Screeching gulls are a dead giveaway of the location of the schools and a fast-cranked chrome lure like a Raider can secure a fish in seconds.

I also devote time to catching bream in Winter. Keeping warm is easy because I have to spend an hour or so pumping nippers on the sand flats at low tide. Pin the nipper in the tail so as not to kill it and let it go on a 1m trace with a minute pea sinker sliding to a swivel. Berley with boiled wheat, broadcast liberally.

Now here’s a brief roundup of the action around the top end of Sydney.

When there is little wind early morning, drifting is the way to go because the boat will remain in productive areas longer. Bags of silver trevally have been taken on the close reefs with Trawleys and Queenscliff bommie both holding fish.


The stories of snapper continue, with Long Reef producing an excellent run of fish. So far these reds are not big but I expect to hear of larger fish as we head into mid-May.

Chinaman leatherjackets have been driving charter operators crazy because they constantly have to re-rig after these line cutters with fins play havoc. Is there a predator on these fish? They have been in plague proportions for a few years now.

It’s been a while since any mulloway have been reported from the beaches. I’m sure fish have been caught but jewie fishos are notoriously secretive.

Flicking an unweighted peeled prawn off the rocks off Dee Why, Henry ‘Spider’ Wong took four bream and a drummer in an afternoon session.

Slow drifts in Pittwater are producing plenty of flounder. These fish sit close to weed patches and do not actively hunt, they simply bury themselves with just their eyes showing and are opportunist feeders waiting until a meal swims right in front of them. Then, with lightning speed, they burst from cover and devour the small baitfish.

There a report of a 13kg jewfish taken from an anchored hire cruiser in Little Pittwater in Broken Bay. Bait was a dead yellowtail left on the bottom.

Using his own recipe of pudding mix (which I think includes a touch of garlic), Bilgola local Pete Ferrenti took home three big bream fishing Clareville Beach. Casting out towards the moorings, Pete used a sinker sliding to the hook with bread mash as berley.

There’s a rumour that there are tropical queenfish in Manly Lagoon. I have heard folks mention these fish being caught but I have never seen proof. I believe there were a few queenies in the fish kill many years ago but, once again, no concrete evidence. Anyone know any more to this story?

In Narrabeen Lake shallows flathead are enjoying the warm rays of the Autumn sun. These fish are prime targets for a very slowly retrieved soft plastic shad. The area west of Jamison Park is a good place to start.

Make sure you have a current fishing licence. DPI Fisheries have employed a lot more bodies over the past year and there are now spot checks everywhere. We are past the stage of getting warnings and tardy anglers are being fined.

Monthly Tip: Before each fishing trip, retie your knots. Salt crystals dry in the creases of the knots and are like mini-razor blades, even though you’ve washed gear in fresh water. Salt can nick and abrade delicate line, dramatically reducing breaking strain.

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