Woy Woy sits on the southern shoreline of the Brisbane Waters estuary system, and has long been a popular fishing area for locals and visitors alike.
The town’s name may sound familiar, and this is because it was home to the famous comedian Spike Milligan, and the old Paul Hogan Show also had the odd mention. But for those of us in the fishing know, then Woy Woy means real fishing options.
Woy Woy offers plenty of variety for the serious sportsfisher to the occasional weekend angler with kids. It’s possible to catch all the common estuary species, and there are big rewards in the form of large flathead and jewfish.
In fact, it was the lure of jewfish that first attracted me to Woy Woy many years ago. Like most young anglers keen to try their luck on jewies, it took me a very long time to finally start catching a few, but the effort was certainly worth it. These days I leave the big gear at home and prefer to cast small lures at the local bream, whiting or flathead around Woy Woy.
There are however, plenty more angling options around the place, so let’s take a look at when, where and how to catch what’s on offer at Woy Woy.
Bream are available throughout the year, although the better catches are made from early summer, through autumn and into early winter. My pick of the months for Woy Woy bream would be January to April.
Shore-based anglers soaking baits should start at the bridges just up the road. The best bet is to park the car on the northern or Gosford side and walk down under the road bridge. From here you can cast baits towards the pylons of the road or rail bridges or out towards the main part of the waterway, looking east.
The tide can run hard through the channel under the bridges, so it can pay to use a reasonable sinker. Use a size 6 or 7 ball sinker running freely on the line above a 40cm trace. It is a bit snaggy here, so once the rig settles on the bottom it’s best to leave it there until a fish finds the bait. When you decide to wind in, do it quickly rather than bounce the bait along the bottom as that’s a quick way to snag up.
Around the top or bottom of the tide, when the current slows down, it can also be a good idea to try a very lightly weighted bait and cast it right up against the bridge pylons. In this case, a pea sized 0 or 1 ball sinker running straight up to the hook should do the trick.
Another good shore-based bream spot are the wharves near where the main channel bends around, just up the road from the train station. Here you don’t have to cast out far, but be mindful of any boats that may want to pull into the wharves.
Just down the channel, on the other side of Fishermans Wharf seafood outlet, there is an enclosed baths with a surrounding walkway. Here you can set up a couple of rods or handlines for bream.
Early mornings or evenings are a good time to try for Woy Woy bream. Tides aren’t a major concern, although the first half of a run-in tide tends to be quite reliable. A variety of baits will catch bream in this area, with fresh strips of tailor or mullet being good, but prawns, worms and pink nippers being the top baits.
For the boatie, anchor up or drift through the main channel near town, towards the bridges or over near the leases adjacent to Paddys Channel. It’s also a short run over towards Saratoga, Davistown or the Rip Bridge where there are plenty more spots to try.
Those who prefer to cast lures from a boat, canoe or other small craft will do well on bream here. On a rising tide, casting small hardbodies or poppers along the edges of the mangroves through the main channel is an effective way of connecting with bream. Towards the Saratoga or eastern end of the channel there are quite a few moored boats where soft plastics and metal blades will pick up fish.
On the northern side of Pelican Island there are plenty of leases and shallows where casting a variety of different lures will take bream. Poppers, shallow running hardbodies and very lightly weighted plastics are the best bet although, as the water here is generally shallow with snaggy weed beds and mangrove roots, snags will catch any lure that sinks down too quickly.
Whiting have always been a popular target in the area. Summer is often regarded as the best time for these fish, but Woy Woy has been known to produce some very big whiting through the cooler months as well.
Soaking baits like bloodworms or squirt worms over the shallow flats on a rising tide is probably the best way to go. Other baits that will take whiting include peeled prawns, pink nippers, green nippers and soldier crabs. Of course, with all the hype of catching whiting on poppers I’m sure many will be keen to try it around Woy Woy.
Some of the better areas to try are the shallow flats on the northern side of Pelican Island and over towards St Huberts Island and Davistown. Once again, a rising tide is best and a constant retrieve with the poppers tends to work better than a stop/start type of retrieve that bream respond to.
If ever there was an easy fish to catch at Woy Woy it’s the humble flatty. Flathead really can be caught anywhere around Woy Woy, or the whole of Brisbane Waters for that matter. Whilst you’ll catch the odd flathead right through the year, the months of October through to March are the best bet.
The best areas to try are the edges of the weed beds up around the bridges. Adjacent to Pelican Island and Paddys Channel are also very reliable places to target them.
At night you may also like to try under the lights at the bridges or the T-wharf as flathead like to gather in the illuminated water, where they ambush small mullet and prawns. A white coloured soft plastic (any type) bounced around in these illuminated spots is hard to beat when it comes to catching a flathead.
Larger soft plastics and live poddy mullet will pick up bigger flathead around Woy Woy. Be sure to take a camera with you so you can take a happy snap and then carefully release the big female flathead. The smaller flathead are much better to eat and by releasing the big ones we help ensure the future of our local flathead population. A photo is a million times better than a dead fish anyway.
Through the cooler months luderick or blackfish are another popular Woy Woy target. Two good shore-based spots are the baths next to Fishermans Wharf and up at the road at the bridges. For boat fishers, blackfish can be caught at the area adjacent to the leases on the northern side of Pelican Island and over at Saratoga and Davistown.
Green weed can be purchased from some of the local bait and tackle outlets, but if you’re having trouble finding some then a quick trip up to The Entrance on Tuggerah Lakes could get you out of trouble. There is usually plenty of weed around Tuggerah’s shorelines.
Woy Woy blackfish are also partial to a feed of pink nippers, squirt worms or small live shrimp if you can get your hands on any of those. Whilst a size 8 hook is suitable for weed or shrimp baits, a larger size 4 or 2 may be best for the other baits.
Woy Woy has a good reputation for jewfish and although most fish encountered here are schoolies in the 2-4kg bracket, larger fish between 10-15kg aren’t too uncommon.
Once again, the road and rail bridges are a good place to try for jewies, but they can also be caught in Paddys Channel, closer to town in Woy Woy Channel and down at the Rip bridge, where there are some deep holes.
Over the years most of the jewies I’ve caught here have taken baits of live tailor, but other first class baits are very fresh strips of tailor, live mullet, live pike, live herring and fresh squid. Generally, the bigger the bait the greater the chance of hooking a decent jewfish.
They’ll also take soft plastics, like 3” and 4” Berkley PowerBaits, 5” Gulps, 3” and 6” Atomics and similar sized Squidgies. In most cases the current will be running hard so a reasonably heavy jighead will be required to keep in contact with the bottom, but that also depends on the size of the plastic being used. A 1/8oz is good for 3” PowerBaits but a quarter or even half ounce may be better for larger plastics.
Another good lure type to use are metal blades like the 43mm or 55mm Jazz Sonic Booms.
Tide changes at either the bottom or the top of the tide are when most jewfish are hooked, particularly at the bridges. Despite the fact that they can be caught through the day on lures, it’s a better bet to target them early in the morning or late in the afternoon. Night tends to be better when using baits.
Launching facilities are quite good. There are two ramps at the eastern end of town, about a 1km from the town centre.
To the north of Woy Woy another excellent place to launch is at Koolewong. Parking is rarely a problem and the ramps are nice and wide.
There are a number of motels, hotels, van parks and camping areas around Woy Woy and the surrounding suburbs like Ettalong and Umina.
One of the more popular places for a nice week away with the family is the Ocean Beach Holiday Park at Umina, which has a range of camping, cabins and van sites to suit every budget, phone 02 43799444.
Woy Woy Map Key
A - Road and rail bridges for jewfish, blackfish, bream and flathead.
B - Large area of oyster leases for bream on bait, lure or fly. Flathead and whiting also here.
C - Oyster leases in shallows for bream and whiting.
D - Shallow flats, only fish here on a rising tide. Bream whiting and flathead.
E - Main channel for bream, flathead, whiting and chance of jewfish.
F - Cast baits here for bream and flathead from the t-wharf.
G - Wharves here offer easy fishing for kids. Bream, whiting, leatherjacket and flathead. Squid may also be caught here at night.
H - Enclosed baths. Drift baits close to the walkway for blackfish and leatherjacket. Cast out for bream, whiting or flathead.
I - Main channel for bream, whiting, flathead, blackfish and a slight chance of jewfish.
J - Moored boats for those casting lures for bream.
K - Paddys Channel, good for all species, mainly bream, flathead, whiting and jewfish.Reads: 29020