Tough but worth trying
  |  First Published: September 2008

I’m not going to wax lyrical how great September is for fishing. Looking at my dairies over the past 30 years, it’s bloody hard work to get a feed because it’s a ‘nothing’ month, neither Winter nor Spring.

Sure, there’ll be tailor, john dory, the ever-faithful trevally and the hard-fighting salmon, but species like snapper, bream, flathead and morwong take a lot of hours to get a result on.

That doesn’t mean I’m going to stay indoors; I always go out to try to prove the pundits wrong.

I must admit I love going out at night in the quiet areas of Pittwater fishing for bream on spiderweb tackle. This time of year the bream are big with all that Winter fat and they pull hard.

Home-made pudding bait always works well for me down the southern end near the moorings and at this time I usually have the place to myself.

Salmon are fish that just pop up when you least expect them. They are prolific hunters and they patrol in packs and are great sport when you can see them in the gin-clear water.

Using surface lures like fizzers, poppers and chuggers gives me goosebumps when I get a hit.

They are clean fighters and don’t try to hang you up round piers and moorings like their distant cousins the kingfish.

Salmon spend most of their energy in the air and soon after hook-up; it’s easy to see what you’ve caught as they leap around.


Now that there’s a bit of warmth in the sun, the urge to take the cover off the boat will start to gnaw.

Please, do all the safety checks before hitting the ramp. Flares must be current, batteries fully charged, motor serviced, all lights (including trailer) in working order. Anchor equipment must be serviceable and lifejackets in good nick and not covered with mould.

By doing routine maintenance, boating becomes trouble-free and so much more enjoyable.

The chinaman leatherjackets have regrouped and are attacking anything that’s offered below water level.

In close, they’re not so severe and trevally have had time to take flesh baits before the hungry hordes move in. Long Reef in particular is the place to be with the pesky jackets in smaller numbers.

Certain beaches have tailor and salmon as these predators find schools of bait and then tend to hang around for a while til the food disperses. Warriewood and Turimetta are prime examples.

Guide Alex Bellissimo is now a god in the eyes of client James Seilor. Alex put him on to his first mulloway off Narrabeen Beach at 10pm in the freezing cold using fresh squid. The fish went a very respectable 95cm.

Bob Morgan with sons Tom and Ben had a family bonding session and were rewarded with silver (2.5kg) and black drummer (3.2kg) from the rocks at Long Reef.

Working cabbage weed he gathered right under his feet, Bayview Golf Club member Dave Murray landed a swag of luderick from Mona Vale rocks. The fish were being very co-operative that day and Dave had downs within seconds of his float hitting the water.


Flathead catches have been the mainstay in the Hawkesbury. The cleaning tables at Parsley Bay at Brooklyn are full of tiny scales and the smaller tides aided catches as boats drifted slower, covering less territory but in a more productive way.

Fishing round the back of Scotland Island, Thinh Nguyen scored flathead, bream and whiting. A newcomer to fishing, Thinh wanted to know why Pittwater doesn’t run fast in the big tides like the Hawkesbury River does. There are no feeder streams to Pittwater; it’s just a large inlet.

After a disastrous start letting his trailer wheels slip off the end of the ramp and having to have a mate pull the rig out with snatch straps, then losing his favourite reef anchor and 6m of chain at North Head, Steve Bowler ended up with a few drummer to take home, easing the pain somewhat.

A live poddy mullet netted a 2.7kg dusky flathead in Narrabeen Lake for young Nathan Greer recently. Fishing near the war vets home, Nathan chucked out his rig and within a minute the big lizard sucked it in and the fight was on.

• Monthly tip: When out on the water, keep a sharp look-out at what’s happening around you. Current lines, bait, birds, water colour shifts, drift, wind direction and flotsam all have stories to tell. If you can analyse what they all mean, it will guide you to a more productive day out.

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