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  |  First Published: March 2010

Autumn has always been my favourite fishing time and the way things are shaping up now, with our best ever year on big kings and plenty of rain, April could be a beauty

Good February rains stirred things up for a while but in the long run, it’s always for the best. For a while things went quiet when the water was really dirty but when the fish moved back in, it was with a vengeance.

Apart from turning the system upside down for a while, a good flush injects the system with a burst of nutrients.

They come from two sources, mainly plant and animal matter washed from the land. Secondly, depending on the extent of the flood, the river bed, along with its vast variety of marine organisms, gets lifted and dispersed downstream.

When you combine this abundance of food with water that hit 24°, you need no further explanation as to why the fishing has been so good.

Opportunist feeders, bream are particularly turned on by a big flush and this has been evident on the lower Harbour where they are in almost in plague proportions.

The Spit bridge, Clarke and Shark islands, Sow and Pigs, Bottle and Glass and Bradleys Head have been producing well and should continue to do so for the next few months.

The shallower spots like Balmoral and Sow and Pigs are best fished early morning, late afternoon and into the night. Once the sun is high, try deeper areas like Bottle and Glass and North Harbour.

With a bit of colour in the water, baits like skirt steak, fresh tuna cubes, chicken gut, mullet gut and chicken breast fillet dipped in tuna oil seem to work better than live baits like yabbies, prawns and worms.

There's no doubting, though, that once the water is back to its normal clear condition then live baits are way ahead.


Flathead have also come on strong after the rain although they are probably more interested in the abundance of baitfish that have been flushed down, as opposed to the scraps. All the areas mentioned above are fishing well for flatties with the Washaway Beach area really firing.

If you plan to anchor for flatties then try to find a drop-off on a sand bottom or an area of broken sand and reef. Live baits are the way to go when at anchor as the flatties like moving baits.

Drifting the shallow sand around Balmoral and Rose Bay is extremely productive, although the fish, while in numbers, tend to be smaller. Whitebait or anchovies make good drift baits but once again livies pinned through the top lip are way ahead.


Kingfish have been incredible this year. Fish around 1m have been common. In years gone by hot bites (over 20 fish per session) on kings were usually made up of fish 60cm to 70cm. It is increasingly common now to get hot bites of fish from 80cm to 1m.

Squid is still the best bait and you might want to think about upgrading your tackle. If you are in the market for a new kingfish reel have a look at the new Fin-Nor Offshore 65 – an amazing reel at a budget price with 60lb of drag as smooth as anything I have seen on the more up-market reels.

Best spots for big kings have been North Head, Shark Island, Watsons Bay and Quarantine

The water has been warm this season with 24° the norm. With these sorts of temps it’s not surprising that we have seen good numbers of tropical ring-ins.

Samson have been the most common this year but we have also seen a good number of amberjack and even a few rainbow runners.

Although rainbow runners do stray and have been caught as far south as Victoria, they are much more at home on the Great Barrier Reef. Possibly more are actually caught in southern waters than are recorded because they could easily pass off, as my mate Jobbie once put it, as ‘colourful kingies’. Ditto for amberjack.

Samson fish, close relatives of the amberjack and yellowtail kingfish, find Sydney Harbour their southernmost limits. While samson are not classified as a tropical species, they are reasonably common in Sydney Harbour.

Amberjack look very similar to kingies, displaying only a few subtle distinguishing features. They are also probably, in many cases, passed off as just ‘weird-looking kings’ and never reported.

Amberjack rarely stray much further south than Coffs Harbour, according to the text books and are much more common in Queensland but, being highly mobile fish, will obviously venture down to Sydney when the currents are favourable.

They are all generally caught while fishing for kingies and respond well to the same baits and techniques.

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