On reflection, 2009 has been a good year. The economic downturn restricted tackle buying a little but, all in all, it was another satisfying 12 months and my only gripe would be the constant presence of those hated, bait-stealing, line-chewing chinaman leatherjackets.
With holidays approaching, I can now go and fish without the constant worry that there’s work to do when I get home.
I hate to say this, but looking at my diaries over the past 10 years or so, December is not the most bountiful of months. My records show it all starts to heat up late January, just when we’re due back at work.
But one fish that seldom lets me down in December is the tailor. Early in the morning the schools drift up and down Pittwater, charging in to put the frighteners on baitfish.
Salmon patrol the beaches and are often seen on the northern tip of Barrenjoey attacking the baitfish. Watch the sea birds; they know where the action is and will guide you there.
Also look for oily stains on the water, a sign of recent carnage as these predatory fish hack up their food. Having a few rods rigged with chrome slices is a fantastic way to target these fast-moving fish.
I keep a pair of long-nosed pliers in my back pocket to facilitate a quick release in the heat of the action so I can get my lure back into the water for another.
My beloved Northern Beaches will be swamped tourists over the next month or so. However, because the weather is a bit balmier, I love late night sorties chasing the addictive jewfish after the tourists are off the sand, visiting restaurants or partying.
Beaches to target are Freshwater, Dee Why, North Narrabeen, Warriewood, South Newport and North Palmy. That’s where I have either caught or have seen mulloway taken.
My only tip for the prospective jewie addict would be to employ as big a bait as you can set on a 10/0 to 12/0 hook. Don’t shy away from whole tailor, mullet or slimy mackerel.
That way you’ll eliminate pickers and when you get a hit, it will be a jew, a shark or a bull ray.
My anonymous kayaker has been enjoying the calm water off Long Reef. He writes with glee stating that sometimes he even comes back with a dry bum, the seas have been so flat.
Snapper have been pretty consistent and I know that on the proven grounds of Good Property and Long Reef Wide fish to 4kg are a common occurrence.
Fishing the Mona Vale side of Warriewood Headland, Jason Hetherington scored a whiting on a beach worm. Winding in, he felt a heavy weight, then a huge run.
The 4kg line was stretched to the limit before he began to put line back on the reel and eventually Jason saw an 11kg jewfish rolling in the shore break, where it spat out the whiting just after he successfully beached it.
Another success story is from Dan Bositch and partner Jane Halliday. Fishing off Clareville Beach one moonlit night, they came away with six big bream taken on home-made pork sausage pudding mix. Only two nights before, they scored a mixed bag of flathead, whiting and bream from the shore near Bayview boat ramp.
Offshore fishing addict Ben Hammond caught four teraglin at Boultons Reef. These jew look-alikes with concave tails and yellow mouths were taken on half-pilchards fished down a chook pellet berley trail.
It’s been a while since I’ve heard anything of these once oft-caught fish on the close in reefs. Let’s hope that the trag stay put for a while, they are delicious.
To all my wonderful contributors who have shaped this column for over 10 years, a very big thank you. To all you loyal readers – huge thanks.
Have a great Christmas and a joyous New Year. May you catch the fish of your dreams and keep safe on or by the water.
• Monthly Tip: Fish do not bite all day, every day. There are long hours of nothing, then it all happens. Be prepared for these small windows of opportunity. Have spare rigs made up and even a spare rod ready in case of a line break or a tangle. Then the action will not go unheeded and a line will always be in the water.Reads: 3344