Cyclones and floods in northern Australia, Bourke flooded, record temperatures in South Australia, firestorms in Victoria and shark attacks in Sydney – I’m glad it’s not my job to promote Aussie tourism!
The fishing, on the other hand, has been pretty darn good, especially for kingfish, jewfish and flathead in Pittwater and Broken Bay.
The Pittwater kingfish have been pretty consistent this year and, as usual, there have some monumental bust-offs that send you home with the sound of a screaming drag still ringing in your head.
The most consistent area has been in The Basin, as well as The Motor near Palm Beach, with live small squid on the run-out tide doing the trick.
Some of the other areas that have fired include Towlers Bay, Jacks and Bothams Reef.
Bothams is a great place to anchor and set out live baits and is also good for downrigging because the rough bottom and numerous wrecks hold myriad predators at times.
When this area fires you can catch jewfish, kingfish, flathead, bream and more. The bite never seems to last that long but can be intense when the fish move through.
Baits to use here vary from week to week but the mainstay is definitely live squid, although yellowtail will also see you in with a real chance at a decent king.
Next month the preferred bait will be small live cuttlefish, with live squid second on the kingfish menu.
Squid have been a little difficult to catch because of all of the rain. Normally it takes two or three days for the squid to settle after rain. However, I quite often find small squid around or under weed drifts and they are normally aggressively feeding on the small baitfish that also shelter in these drifts.
Areas to try for squid after heavy rains tend to be the deeper holes along the river, with the drop-off at Palm Beach and outside Barrenjoey Headland over the reef favourites.
We have also been turning the odd leftover squid into a jewfish. There have been some jewies at Juno Point and at Gunya Beach on the Hawkesbury and in Pittwater they have been caught in the channel along the western foreshore and among the Bayview moorings.
Most are smaller school fish of 5kg but there are some bigger specimens around Juno and Gunya points occasionally.
Frigate mackerel have shown up in Pittwater and are always a lot of fun on light tackle. The schools are spread along the river and can be quite skittish.
Casting directly at the splashing is your only chance but these fish are so fast that by the time your lure hits the water they can be 20m away. Best lures have been 20g to 25g metals.
The mahi mahi have finally shown up at the FADs from Terrigal to Broken Bay. The run is pretty late compared to previous years but looking at the sea surface temperature maps, we should still have the warm water hanging around for a while.
We have not encountered many monsters but the water quality is great and a few bulls should not be far away. It’s usually best to troll live baits early and then drift weighted live baits about 20m down as they go off the bite. This method or downrigging can prolong the bite and pull some better quality fish.
There are still marlin close to shore between Long Reef and Barrenjoey. The small blacks are chasing rat kingfish in as little as 20m.
Flathead have been encountered along the drop-offs in most of the bays along Pittwater. A 6” shad with a heavy jig head allows the angler to cover a lot of ground while drifting.
The extensive drop-off from 4m to 18m at Palm Beach is a great place to use plastics or bait while drifting, especially on a rising tide. This area also has a lot of small snapper and instead of wasting your fresh prawns or nippers, try live yellowtail secured from West Head near the bunkers.
Offshore, sand flathead are in patches along the 50m drop-off but the bite never lasts long. There are heaps of leatherjackets from 50m to 60m and these piranhas are eating your flathead on the way up, even flatties from 50cm to 60cm – large for eastern blue spot flathead.
We all whinge about the leatherjackets that have plagued offshore fishing for the last few years but from what I have witnessed over the past month, they are the lesser of two evils.
Whilst cleaning our offshore catch recently we have found toadfish from 5cm to 15cm in nearly every mahi mahi and striped tuna so the toadfish could be the next fish plague. Pray that I am wrong!
If you are thinking about coming out and getting some good fish, just give us a call or contact us through www.estuaryfishing.com.au
• Peter Le Blang operates Harbour & Estuary Fishing Charters out of Pittwater, phone 0410 633 351 or visit www.estuaryfishing.com.au.Reads: 2017