Hit the warm shallows
  |  First Published: September 2009

The long weekend early this month allows more time for fishing a chance to plan a brief away trip.

What the weather will be doing is anyone’s guess but the long-range gurus are expecting dry conditions with maybe a touch of wind.

Because the weather will be warmer, shallow areas tend to heat up quicker to bring dormant fish back into the equation.

I know for a fact that Narrabeen Lake (or is it now Lagoon?) starts to fire because the knee-deep water will warm to the sun a lot quicker.

Small poddy mullet crowd into the shallows, enjoying the sun’s rays. Not far behind will be the lake’s squadron of dusky flathead.

I am always surprised by how shallow flathead lie in wait. This means begin to fan out casts as soon as you start wading.

Remember to fish those soft plastics as slowly as possible. In fact, cast and for a minute or so just jerk the rod tip to impart movement into the lure.

Put your winding hand in your pocket to resist the urge to retrieve. Use the reel only to take up slack line.

Now Mr Flathead doesn’t think too fast. When he sees movement, it takes him a few moments to sum it all up. Then when the lure moves again, he hits it at amazing speed.

These shallow-water takes are very addictive and leave you wanting more.

My favourite wading grounds are off the sand spit near the large parking area off the Wakehurst Parkway and where Deep Creek spills into the lake.

For the sand spit, walk to the end of the carpark and then down the track to the spit near the Sports Academy. Plenty of fish are ready to play there, although some are small.

Any of the smaller bays around Pittwater are prime flathead grounds. Portuguese Beach, Coasters and Woody Point are all holding grounds for fish.

So what’s been happening recently around the Peninsula?


After the Winter rains, we had a period of flat, calm seas that made offshore dangling a bit difficult.

Chinaman leatherjackets are still driving anglers mad and they have been for about eight years now. What ever happened to the predicted five-year cycle?

But shallower waters have produced solid catches of trevally and plate-size reds.

The northern edges of Boultons Reef have been firing well. Another haunt is West Reef, where I have snared good numbers of snapper in 8 fathoms.

A hundred metres off Newport Reef is another popular anchoring spot and with plenty of berley, snapper will fall to light lines and floating baits.

Bonito are getting in on the act and these speedsters are great fun on light spin sticks.

Apart from squid and a flurry of blue swimmer crabs, Pittwater has been quiet.

Clear water and still days have made taking squid a joy.

There’s plenty of calamari at Woody Point and inside West Head. Take a variety of colours to find out which is preferred for that day.

When you have taken a few, change colour because squid are clever animals and soon cotton on to what is yanking their mates out of the water.

Near the marinas down the southern end of Pittwater there have been bream. In fact, walking on any of the jetties, you can see large fish feeding off the growth. Just try catching them, though

Night is when they feed in earnest and tend to drop their guard. Freshly pumped nippers will always get fish and at night, those little annoying pickers will be safely tucked up in bed and won’t steal valuable baits.

There have been plenty of slimy mackerel off Lion Island.

These fish are great for flesh baits as they are so oily and ooze blood when cut. Filleted, they take well to the freezer and I always have a few packets when beach fishing because they have attracted their fair share of jew.

I hate to be the bearer of bad news but the beaches have been very silent. Now don’t shoot the messenger, I only tell it as I see it.

Only the middle of Narrabeen has produced bream and a few whiting on the high tide. When the seas start to rise again, new gutters will produce better action and hopefully the jew will return.


To make up for lack of action on the sand, Whale Beach rocks, Dee Why and the platforms at Freshwater are home to some honker luderick. There’s plenty of cabbage weed there and don’t forget to keep berleying to keep the fish on the chew.

When wrapped in layers of newspaper, cabbage takes well to freezing, which can be handy after the rocks become stripped of growth after a big storm. I find I can keep this bait up to eight weeks in the freezer, after which it turns a different colour and goes limp when thawed.

My kayak reporter is still getting into small kingfish off Long Reef as well as a few trevally and some enormous squid. He still wishes to remain anonymous but I’m sure all those who launch at Longie will know who he is.

• Monthly Tip: know it’s cheaper to buy those brass barrel-type swivels but they don’t cut the mustard. Invest in quality bearing swivels and you’ll immediately see that line twist will be a thing of the past.

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