Long Reef kings rock
  |  First Published: January 2010

We have seen some pretty hot fishing despite often relentless winds.

Decent kingfish have been caught along the coast from Broken Bay to Long Reef. The fish have been moving with the warmer water and schools of yellowtail, slimy mackerel and even flying fish, bringing most of the closer reefs to life.

Most of the headlands have seen some great action on their day but my favourite area is Long Reef.

Most times during the warmer months there are a lot of vessels fishing this very productive area and if you are willing to follow a few tips, you will also find it productive.

The first is to arrive at Long Reef with a variety of freshly caught baits. The better ones for the area are slimy mackerel, yellowtail, squid and blue pillies.

The second tip is to find structure that has a school of baitfish already holding in the area.

The next tip is to drift with live baits deployed at the depth of the bait school, whilst hurling soft plastics or poppers towards the horizon.

If you are able to do these three things without drifting over or through other boats, the fish will come.

By placing the live baits mid-water you are able to catch kingfish and most other pelagic fish. By dropping the bait so it is just above the reef, a lot of other species can be found.

When the snapper are on around Long Reef we often target them on the reef fringe. Once a good spot is found, it is marked on the GPS.

Then we have a couple of options – to keep drifting the area or to throw over the reef pick.

I find the latter the better way and I make sure that we anchor up-current of the spot so that we can send a trail of berley cubes back to the spot.

We then drift baits back in the cube trail as well as throw soft plastics about to tempt the less active fish.

If the area is shallow enough to anchor safely, it is better than drifting over a spot time after time, because the fish seem to wise up.

The reef pests will still chew on bait but the decent fish such as snapper, silver trevally and the odd jewfish just don’t seem to stay on the bite.

The plan that really works for targeting kingfish in this area is downrigging.

We troll the areas along the different contour lines with downrigger baits or lures set in the upper 30% of the water column and in the lower third of the water column.


I also prefer to use big baits in this area because it is visited by some very big fish.

Last month we had Scott Levi from the ABC Big Fish radio program climb aboard for a day at Long Reef.

We started by catching squid, yellowtail, garfish and slimy mackerel.

Once at Long Reef the downriggers were deployed and before the boys could cast a lure, we were onto a double hook-up of smaller fish.

Once the decks were clear we started sending out small pieces of pilchards and the guys casting lures were then able to start catching bigger fish from below.

Scott was first to benefit from the pilchard trail but after a five-minute battle on lighter gear, the fish spat the hook.

Before Scott had even started to retrieve it, he mentioned the he no longer had a fish on or a soft plastic. He then wound in a bare jig head in an erratic fashion and half way back to the boat hooked a small kingfish that was easily captured.

During the next four hours we used every bait on the bait and had to leave them biting.

When cleaning any fish kept for the table, I always check the stomach contents to see what they were eating and was surprised to find in the third fish, Scott’s soft plastic!

The fish had two hook holes, one on either side of the jaw.

It really does show how ferocious kingfish can be when they want a feed.

The other area to target offshore is the 50m line, where there are finally some flathead getting caught in places. When you do find these little areas of gold, make sure to mark them on the GPS.

Keep track of where you’ve been successful and you can catch a lot of decent blue-spot flathead.

Be warned, though: If you hit the wrong area you will find lots of leatherjackets willing to take your tackle.


In Pittwater it has been very hard to find any fish. There seem to be a heap of squid to be caught but the kings are difficult to locate.

Hopefully in the next couple of weeks we will see more baitfish arrive.

Sadly, the bait netters hit the last massive school of frogmouth pilchards very hard. Their nightly onslaught reduced the biggest school of baitfish that I have ever seen enter the river to a patch of bait that would be flat out feeding a school of small bream.

The best part about fishing in Pittwater is that there are schools of fish in Broken Bay and they are starting to slowly enter the river again.

The flathead along the river have been eating most things dragged in front of them.

Soft plastics worked along the drop-offs have accounted for most of the better fish.

The best bait has been live yellowtail but pilchards are also catching a few, providing the pests and pickers stay away.

The areas to target are at Mackerel Beach, the northern end of Scotland Island and The Hill. Try also in front of the sandbanks in the deeper holes in Towlers Bay and Lovett Bay on the last of the run-out tide.

Blue swimmer crabs being caught but there seem to be a lot of jennies caught before a few males can be are found. Remember that any female (jenny) crabs encountered that are carrying eggs must be returned to the water unharmed.

Towlers Bay, Lovett Bay and Currawong Beach seem to be seeing most of the crab captures although they’re also around Mackerel Beach.

The squid are very easy to find at the moment. Just about every weed bed has a patch or two of these wonderful creatures.

The jig size has changed from one day to the next but 1.8g and 2.5g sizes should see you leave with a few squid. The best colour has been olive green.

Next month we should be catching mahi mahi offshore and I hope to report on our success in the next issue.

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