Dirty water strategies
  |  First Published: April 2009

Over the past few months Sydney has been experiencing a bit more rain than we have had in a while.

Even though it has not been a lot, this rain discolours the water enough to make the fish change their eating habits.

This is when many anglers will find it a bit hard to catch a feed of fish at the spots they have usually been fishing.

For instance, perhaps you have been anchoring up at The Sticks in Botany Bay and having success catching yellowfin bream and silver trevally during the last three hours of the run-out tide. You might have been using peeled prawns and strips of fresh squid.

But after a bit of rain you find yourself fishing in water which is entirely another colour and don’t do so well.

In darker water you should try fishing at the same time and same place, but using strips of tuna, bonito, half pilchards, chicken and mullet gut or chicken coated in parmesan cheese.


These smelly and oily baits will help attract the fish to your berley trail and the fish can find these baits more easily.

If this doesn’t work then you should time your fishing to coincide with the last couple of hours of the run-up tide.

The incoming tide will contain more sea water than fresh and will usually be a lot cleaner.

Again, you could try peeled prawns and strips of fresh squid but don’t forget tuna, bonito, half pilchards, chicken and mullet gut or chicken coated in parmesan.

You could also try putting on your baits one of those commercial scent sprays or dips that you would normally apply to soft plastics and other lures.

Now if all this fails at The Sticks, you’ll need to change to another spot in the Bay.

You could try Trevally Alley during the last two hours of the rising tide and the first two hours of ebb tide, or you could anchor wide off the end of the Third Runway.

The mooring drums in the centre of the Bay and the Oil Wharf are great spots to fish during a falling tide because there can be a fair bit of flow in the water when you have a spring high tide and a spring low tide. For example, on April 7 the morning would be a good time to fish the Oil Wharf and the Drums.

The influx of surface fish into the Bay should be in full swing during April, so I would be on the look-out for those changes in the water column, current lines and where weed and other flotsam gathers on the surface.

This is where the baitfish can seek a bit of protection and the surface fish will not be far behind. Try trolling deep-diving lures along these stretches of water.


Those who regularly fish Port Hacking will know that it can be a very hard place to fish but if you put in the time and effort you will be rewarded.

I was out just last week with son Chris chasing frigate mackerel, bonito, salmon and over the weed beds at the entrance to South West Arm with small soft plastics and very small metal lures.

Nothing is better that hooking up to one of these fish while drifting in less than a metre of water. Boy, they can peel off some line!

At the moment Port Hacking is producing tailor, salmon, bream, stud whiting and leatherjackets.

This month Botany Bay will still have silver trevally, bream, flathead, salmon, bonito, kingfish, snapper and flounder.

The Georges and Woronora rivers will be producing whiting, bream, tailor, flathead, luderick and mullet.

As I explained earlier in this column, you will just need to try working the tides a bit differently if the water is discoloured.

For example, you could anchor near the entrance to Bonnet Bay during the last two hours of the run-out tide and berley for bream, whiting, flathead and mullet.

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