Glad for a FAD
  |  First Published: December 2009

I’ve just retuned from an outing to a local FAD (fish aggregation device) near Broken Bay Wide.

The mahi mahi were in huge numbers and although not big, came made for the frypan. In the clear water we could see the clouds of blue as these aerobatic fighting fish swarmed in their hundreds.

There were bigger shapes below but the minors devoured our baits before they had a chance to be eaten by the adults.

Dollies, as they are colloquially known, are among the fastest-growing fish in the sea and their sweet, white meat, very much akin to a sand whiting’s is a taste treat for those who love delicate, flaky fillets.

Blue swimmer crabs are back on the menu and I strongly recommend you take a few witches’ hat nets with you and deploy them before a fishing session and check them every half-hour or so.

Remember to return all females (jennies) to the water. They can be recognised by their more rounded flap on the underside of the carapace, which frequently has a cluster of eggs protruding.

Erosion is a huge problem on the Northern Beaches. Storms scour the sand, leaving fences, houses and blocks of units precariously perched on steep escarpments.

However, this works in the angler’s favor because it reveals new gutters, rocks and other structure which become feeding stations for many species such as whiting, flathead, jewfish and occasionally snapper.

Seasoned local beach anglers know what a great beach South Newport is for snapper because it’s interspersed with rocks.

At the time of writing kingfish are becoming more frequent visitors to the close headlands. A diver mate tells me he has seen schools at the Hole in the Wall at Avalon as well as off the tip of Barrenjoey.

Sand whiting are beginning to show on Narrabeen and Dee Why beaches with beach and bloodworms getting fish. Pick the top of a medium tide and work the gutters.

Fishing a pilchard at Cowan Creek, Kerry Blackwell scored a 17kg jewfish one Saturday night while competing in the Windybank’s competition. Kerry is now retired and fishing, fishing and more fishing is at the top of her to-do list.


Narrabeen Lake has been going gangbusters on bream.

As a bonus, the organisers of the ABT BREAM event a while back an Australian Bream competition had their weigh-in at the lake and all bream were released into the lake.

A message to all blackfish or luderick anglers: There is some magic stringy weed to be had right now in the lagoon. Take some for now and take a bit more to freeze for future sorties but make sure you leave some to multiply and be there for everyone else.

This is that much sought-after brown weed with miniature crustaceans clinging to it. To blackfish, it’s like offering them a Tim Tam!

Balgowlah RSL Fishing Club has been doing well on their regular trips out to sea off South Head. Boat captain Paul Coghlan always sends me a detailed report of the day’s events and rarely do they come back without anything for the larder.


Long Reef has been producing snapper consistently while Good Property, Jurassic Park and Reef Wide all have taken fish.

The majority of these reds have been taken on soft plastics. The secret is to get close to an area without motoring across it, work out the drift pattern and let the lure go, constantly feeding out line.

Shads around 12cm on a 3/8oz jig head have seen success for me. I use 8kg fluorocarbon line right to the lure.

I’ve tried braid but have had problems with knotting as it sinks. Keep tension and wait for the run. Fish hit hard and be prepared to get smoked occasionally because some of these brutes are big.

There have been patchy reports of flathead from the western side of Pittwater.

As we get the full flow of warmer water, fishing will only get better and lizards will be more awake and, hopefully, hungrier.

Squid, God bless them, are still in numbers and I can’t resist having a crack at them; I’m addicted to fresh calamari.

The ocean side of Barrenjoey Head is a wonderful place to try but beware – it can get a bit like a washing machine in large seas.

Plenty of scales at Parsley Bay Boat ramp cleaning tables at Brooklyn suggest holiday anglers have been faring well.

Most of the debris comprises flathead scales and the huge flocks of pelicans on stand-by are also an indication that the Hawkesbury has been kind.

Bream are in Moony Mooney and Mullet creeks but a softly-softly approach is needed because they are very skittish.

Use an unweighted bait and let it slowly sink next to structure. Fish light – 3kg max – as heavy line will be ignored.

Porto Bay on the making tide has bream but remember, this area sees a lot of angler traffic so make sure you rig and present lures as best you can to catch these huge bream off-guard.

• Monthly Tip: When rigging soft plastics, it’s imperative to ensure the hook exits the artificial right down the centre line. An offset hook will make the lure swim erratically and any fish but the dumbest and hungriest will spurn it.

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