Cold water, brown, slimy algae, intermittent rain and strong winds have made the fishing extremely difficult in Pittwater and Broken Bay.
On the up side, there are fish out there to be caught but the best way to secure a feed at the moment is to vary your targeted species.
For instance, catch squid to start the day and then shoot out to Broken Bay for a chance at some decent tailor, which have been hitting 25g metal slugs cast towards the whitewater. Trolled shallow-diving minnows also have worked.
On the odd day salmon and a few rat kingfish in amongst have been cruising the surface and responding well to small soft plastics.
This type of activity usually signifies that the season is not that far from starting. Fingers crossed that it will be sooner rather than later.
After securing a few fish, head back into Pittwater on the rising tide. The water in Broken Bay has been a lot warmer than in Pittwater so it makes sense to fish the run-in tide.
Over the next month silver trevally should be around. These tough little fighters can be caught at Soldiers Point and at the northern end of Scotland Island.
Berley has been essential to attract the fish and unweighted pilchard pieces, prawns and whitebait floated down the trail should produce a few fish..
Or you could give the kingfish a go. When fishing Pittwater, always place a live squid over the side about mid-water in case you cross paths with a king. If you don’t have a squid then a live yellowtail is a poor substitute but better than nothing.
Like a lot of other fish in Winter, kings don’t need to eat as often. Try along the western side of Pittwater, Longnose Point to West Head has a large, deep gutter running almost its entire length.
Troll along the western edge of this channel, where quite often there are balled-up baitfish. Stay with the balled-up baitfish and check your live baits regularly, tailor will quite often haunt this stretch of Pittwater as well.
If you pull zeros you can still troll around Scotland Island and Towlers Bay.
For over two months the wreck fishing in Pittwater has really shut down. There are decent fish on some wrecks but it is nearly impossible to get your baits past the leatherjackets, which are eating trolled live yellowtail to almost skeletons on a single pass of a wreck.
There are boatloads of leatherjackets waiting to be caught. They are also to be caught from any wharf along the river and from any piece of structure along the eastern side.
For those who strike out on kingfish, though, the jackets can be a real bonus. They taste great and are very easy to clean.
The last option you can try is to use soft plastics and baits in the warmer shallows, where you can target flathead, whiting and bream.
The hard part about fishing the shallows is finding somewhere that is not covered in brown slime and still likely to hold a decent fish.
Around Mackerel Beach, Palm Beach and Portuguese Beach are all worth a look because these areas have more current and therefore less slime.
The tuna action off Sydney and Broken Bay has slowed a little.
For a few weeks there, boats were heading off into the wide blue yonder and coming back with big yellowfin and southern bluefin. Hopefully things will change and again we will see some monsters.
Albacore still seem to be around in decent numbers and are responding well to trolled lures, both skirted and diving. Some albacore have hit 10kg and certainly put up a great fight on lighter tackle.
Closer to shore, the deeper reefs have been firing for kingfish. The Twelve Mile Reef off Sydney has seen many kingfish taking jigs though the current at times has demanded 300g jigs, which can really knock the wind out of inexperienced anglers.
Those more persistent and fitter than I have been hauling in kingfish from 70cm to 94cm.
The Twelve Mile has also produced john dory for those using live yellowtail set down deep for a king.
Terrigal reefs are also firing, as well as some closer to Sydney.
Long Reef has seen a decent bite occasionally but these fish have been hungry one day and not interested the next.
Trolling live squid and yellowtail while casting 12” soft plastics has been the easy way to find the fish. But if a seal finds you, you may as well pack up and try elsewhere.
The reef at Newport and that off Bangally Headland have also seen a decent bite. From what I can work out, these schools of fish are staying in the 18° or 19° water and moving along the coast with it.
There seem to be some decent schools of baitfish starting to gather off most reef patches so the bigger fish shouldn’t be too far away.
Around Long Reef in water to about 80m, morwong, flathead and the odd pigfish have been caught on a variety of baits on the drift. There are still leatherjackets in this area but they are of decent size and there are far fewer than along other areas of our coast.
So, as you can see, there are a few fish to be caught but you do have to travel a bit and move on if the fish don’t appear to be hungry.
• Peter Le Blang operates Harbour & Estuary Fishing Charters out of Pittwater, phone 0410 633 351 or visit www.estuaryfishing.com.au.