A time of many casts
  |  First Published: August 2009

This is probably the most difficult month to find fish. Cool to cold water, a very wet few months prior and a change to Summer species only a few weeks away can make a fishing session hard work.

Many casts are needed to find action. The freshest of baits are left untouched and there are long waits between takes. Enthusiasm drops to a low ebb.

This is when I target flathead on lures. The reason? Because water temperature is low, fish are lethargic and not in a feeding mood but the territorial aggression of flathead is something that’s always there, regardless of unsuitable conditions or lack of hunger.

Clunky, annoying, shiny lures that bumble, interrupt and crash their way over the bottom will always attract a predatory strike from a flathead.

I find in cold weather the bigger of the duskies are easier to catch because they are the most agro at anything that invades their territory.

Getting up well before sunrise will usually be rewarded with something to take home.

Schools of tailor work bait to the surface before they attack in numbers.

These melees are easy to spot by screeching birds and violent splashes. An oily streak on the water is a tell-tale sign there has been recent carnage and it’s well worth hanging around til fish break the surface again.

As the sun hits the water, the scene returns to normal and the poor, stressed baitfish can go about their normal routine.


Another fish that can be taken in cool water is the bream.

In Pittwater, look for boats that have been on a mooring for years without use. Usually, the hulls are gardens of underwater vegetation.

Big bream lurk and graze on the lush harvest and terrorise smaller fish in the vicinity.

A well placed soft plastic lure will entice a strike but be prepared for a tussle because bream are very powerful fighters, especially the larger ones.

Recently I nailed a bream under a boat using a freshwater Celta lure, that’s right, one of the old-fashioned trout spinners. It was nailed just as I lifted it back up into the fronds.

Check out some of these freshwater enticers, they open a whole new Pandora’s box of choice.

Now for a quick squiz at what’s been happening on the local scene.

Sadly, the chinaman jackets are still in huge numbers out wide. Hopefully this will be their last year before they gradually die out or go overseas.

Boultons Reef has been yielding plenty of trevally and just-legal snapper. It seems the southern edge is where most action has taken place.

Don’t forget Trawleys Reef. Trawleys and Long Reef are holding heaps of yellowtail and that means fish with teeth will not be too far away.


Kingfish are there, as evident on sounders. However, some days these towering columns of fish will not even look at live bait, which can be very frustrating.

Sometimes a jig worked through the water column with a ripping/dropping action can get a hit. The retrieve does two things – it stirs up the kings and also keeps you warm!

Erosion has meant vertical cliffs of sand on a lot of our northern beaches. However, it’s only a question of time before the beach gets nourished again with sand.

Unfortunately, the denuding usually exposes rock and snags past the low-water mark and frequent loss of tackle is not unusual.

Salmon are here and smelly strip baits kept on the move will attract these aerial fighters. I still have to be convinced of a salmon’s culinary qualities but they do make tasty fishcakes.

Working a 40g Raider lure at Dee Why Beach, Jeff Hemmens scored zilch. The only comfort was that other anglers had nothing to show for a zillion casts.

Trevally have been the mainstay for rock anglers. At Warriewood I came across an angler who had a bag full of trevors taken where the rocks divide Warriewood Beach from Mona Vale. Flat Rock at Curl Curl is also producing trevally.

I have been targeting Pittwater for bream and flathead with varying success.

On bad days I comfort myself by thinking that at least it gets me away from the computer and into the wide outdoors.

Drifters have been scoring fish but there’ve been long waits before the rod bends. The bait grounds are still happy hunting grounds for john dory and the places to start looking for tailor eruptions are Long Nose Point, Stokes Point, West Head and the port marker off Palm Beach wharf.

Newport couple Sally Bacon and her ABT tournament angler partner Simon Sczepaniak have been doing well in Pittwater.

Although Simon lives for the ABT circuit and is away a lot, when home they both love the challenge of catching fish locally.

Monthly Tip: When you strike a large shoal of salmon and they spurn all lures thrown at them, try this for success. Pin a small soft plastic to the treble on a chrome slice such as a Raider lure, then jerk it back erratically.

On occasions this technique has worked when all else fails.

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