Don’t go dormant now!
  |  First Published: July 2009

Maybe next month we’ll start to feel the sun on our backs again and in three months we’ll be whinging about the heat!

But don’t go dormant, there’s still plenty to be had in August.

There seems to be an oversupply of tailor, with fish everywhere at the moment.

But I feel their size is diminishing. I can remember many years ago when a 2kg to 3kg fish was not uncommon and occasionally there would be a 5kg to 6kg fish taken. Where are these mega-brutes now?

I have been finding tailor on the western side of Pittwater, where early starts on the glassy water soon reveal where the schools are, as these toothy fish ambush bait.

Gulls are always there, picking up the crumbs, and are indicators that a school is close by.

My favourite attack weapon is a small chrome Raider lure on 4kg braid, with no leader to dampen lure movement.

Ensure the treble is extra-sharp and retrieve the lure in a jerky, erratic motion. Resist casting to the middle of the school – that’ll spook fish.

Target the edges and direct fish away from the melee, that way you’ll still have fish to cast at next time.

Big, fat Winter bream have been in good form, with night sorties most productive. I’ve found nippers are by far the best attractor and we are blessed in Pittwater with numerous sand flats where these prized baits are domiciled.

Metre-long traces, heaps of boiled wheat berley and you’ll be in for some rod-throbbing action.


Places to start are across from the Pasadena restaurant, the eastern side of Scotland Island, just off the sand spit leading into Winnerimmy Bay (Bayview boat ramp), near the moorings close to Palm Beach wharf and the drop-off at Mackerel Beach.

Pin the nipper in the tail in the middle of the third segment to keep it alive and rig a sliding, minute pea sinker a metre above a 1/0 XX-strong hook on 3kg line.

Cast out and let the bait waft down slowly. Liberally broadcast the area with softened, boiled wheat and then wait til the rod bends as a bream hits and runs.

Lift and set the hook firmly – bream have very bony mouths. Be prepared for a good fight as these are powerful fish and the light line means you’ll need all your angling skills to bring it alongside.

Soft plastic lures are getting increasingly popular, especially around structure during daylight hours. However, at night I have found bait to be more productive and less of a hassle because lures will tend to foul on unseen items in the dim light.

By the time you read this, I hope to have stories of hairtail captures.

If I were a betting man, I would plumb for Americas Bay and then Jerusalem Bay, as that’s where all the action was last year.

Hopefully, Coal and Candle Creek will fire up again, as should Cottage Point. God knows, we need a good season so we get rewarded for braving freezing nights in the middle of nowhere.

Now let’s look at what’s been happening in the past month.

Calm conditions in between the storms saw heaps of anglers head out wide in search of fish. Unfortunately, chinaman leatherjackets were waiting in droves.

Most boats ended up within a kilometre from shore to try and avoid the plague.

Close to Long Reef, there are still plenty of kingfish on offer according to my kayak reporter, who was busted up a few times. He reckons there are some big brutes out there waiting for precisely-delivered live baits.

Flat seas did little for the fantastic tailor run we’ve been experiencing. Weed, which has been a problem at most beaches, has receded and at high tide there was no more coping with vegetable matter.


Stephen Collopy and mate Jack Miller squeezed in a fish recently off Mona Vale Beach using a variety of baits from pilchards to whitebait and some squid. The pilchards and squid didn't provide much but when the sun started setting they opted for the whitebait and trevally just feasted on the small fish.

In 40 minutes it was a fish a cast. They weren't the biggest but were fun. Most were let go but between them they kept seven fish around 40cm.

Because it was a calm night, the boys wanted to top it off with a shark from The Basin. A yellowtail was rigged and chucked out, a huge eastern fiddler ray a consolation prize for a magical day of fishing.  

Better and more positive reports from Broken Bay and the Hawkesbury.

Flathead were in numbers on the Brooklyn rail bridge drift and the cleaning ramp at Parsley Bay was testament to this. Jewfish, too, were there but most were well below the legal size.

Very calm water on Narrabeen Lagoon saw a few fishos wade out and there were good-sized bully mullet near Deep Creek. All mine fell to imitation bread flies and I was amazed at the number of tiny bream that wanted to get in on the act.

Grant Treharney also walked the lake near the Scout Hut and came up with four bream on unweighted prawn baits. Once again, small pickers were everywhere and Grant reported that the water was on the rise again.

I know there’s a lot of tackle being bought off the internet and shopping around the world is just a mouse-click away. However, when things go pear-shaped, it’s hard to get satisfaction.

This is where the local tackle store comes into its own; you have a face and a real person to talk to. These hard-working retailers desperately want your business and you’ll find that they’ll bend over backwards to keep a customer happy.

Reels are spooled with line, a free lure with a rod, a balanced combo and the latest in tackle all come from your local retailer, plus their expert help will get you better equipment in the long run. Go down and have a chat and you’ll see what I mean.

Monthly tip: It‘s very simple to just give up when things go quiet, especially when it’s cold and miserable. It’s easier to call it a day or just let baits soak, hoping something might happen rather than getting proactive.

However, if you start putting the grey matter to use and try something different, innovative or creative, you never know what might transpire.

This way, when you come home after a day out, you know you won’t die wondering because you gave it your best shot.

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