Time for a sunset cruise
  |  First Published: July 2008

Winter is a great time to be out on the water. Many spots are boat-free, giving you the best chance to bag a few.

Sport take up a lot of weekend mornings for a lot of people who don’t have much time left but at this time of year I have found afternoons quite good. Those cool westerly winds can often ease up in the evenings, making the weather just right to be out on the Bay or offshore until dark or even into the night.

Let’s look at a few tactics if you are fishing from, say, 1pm until 8pm with high water around 7pm.

Of course, for a start you’d be mad to be out on such a busy waterway fishing into darkness without a fully functional set of navigation lights, extra torches and plenty of warm clothes on board.

First I would hunt trevally, which they will bite all day and on most tides and there are not too many days on Botany Bay when you won’t find a few trevally. Deep water is the key and spots like the Drums, the Oil Wharf, Watts Reef, Bare Island and Trevally Alley are my pick but I have caught them all over the Bay.

You’ll need berley, light line and very little lead – just allow your bait to drift along with the trail. Trevally are great little fighters on light tackle and pretty good on the plate.

Once the lights come on, I would try for a few tailor around the Oil Wharf. Tailor move in to feed on the bait schools that call this area home.

The best method for tailor at this spot is to berley with finely chopped pilchards and then use a whole pilchard on ganged 4/0 4200 Mustad hooks.

You can also use a large bobby cork with a small cyalume stick and float your bait towards the wharf. Hang the bait about 2m under the float.


Then you could head for the shallow bream grounds to fish the top of the tide. The Bream move into these areas to feed as the water rises over the flats. Most spots are only around 1m deep so ensure you don’t linger too long after the tide change or you will be left high and dry.

Anchoring fore and aft works the best to stop you drifting around and spooking the feeding fish as they move into the shallows. Nippers, chook gut, bloodworms, mullet strips and striped tuna will all work, just cast out and leave the bait to roll around on the bottom.

I find a good handful of chicken pellets is all you need as berley. Drop a handful every now and again but not too much, you just need to draw the feeding fish over to your bait and keep them keen. Remember to keep all noise low because these fish will just leave the flat you are on and move to the next one to feed if they’re spooked.

You can also encounter some outstanding whiting, far better than you would catch in the day.

Offshore, head to the snapper grounds and try drifting with pilchards and squid down deep.

Salmon are along the coast, you just need to find them.

In flat conditions, head wide and look for kingies around The Peak, where live baits or jigging will bring results.

So who said you haven’t got time to head out for a fish? Just do the sport in the mornings and fish the tides that suit in the afternoons.

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