Easy on the Hawk
  |  First Published: June 2010

Over the last month we have seen some great captures along Pittwater and the Hawkesbury River; hopefully this will continue. The Hawkesbury River has been a hard place to fish over the last few years but when a good day comes together, it all seems too easy.

There are some smaller jewfish being caught at Bar Point and Little Settlement. These fish are devouring fresh Hawkesbury River prawns targeted at bream. Strips of squid are also working but not as well as plain fresh prawns. The jewfish are only 60cm so normal bream gear should be able to handle these size fish.

I am sure that a larger jewfish will show up eventually and I think a jewie would find it difficult to go past a fresh mullet or big squid head. Soft plastics are worth using as well. Heavy jigheads that handle the fast running current is a must.

I always find it is easier for my customers to use paddle-tail style soft plastics as less action is required by the angler to catch a jewfish. In fact you can set up a soft plastic on a light jighead (1/8oz) and connect it to a running sinker rig. Make sure the sinker is large enough to either roll around the bottom (ball sinker) or able to sit in the one spot (bean sinker or snapper sinker). When cast out into a strong current the tail of the lure works a treat and, if the terrain allows, a ball sinker can be a very good way to catch some very decent fish.

This method used at places such as Flint and Steel, Wobby Beach and Juno Point will snare a variety of fish. Just remember to fish the edge of the structure or reef to avoid snagging on the bottom.

In Pittwater, there have once again been some great captures of kingfish. On most charters there is at least a chance at a decent fish; some of the kingfish that we have tangled with have been around the 10kg mark and are very impressive indeed. The best way to catch one has been to troll live cuttlefish or big squid on the downriggers.

We were lucky enough to catch one monster kingfish recently while filming for Dave Butfield’s fishing show, Hooked on Fishing. We caught some excellent squid and were trying to exchange them for some big winter kingfish. The second stop and we were on. The first couple of fish were only 60-65cm and we were all amazed that the small kingfish could eat a squid with a 25cm hood, but it did. After a few more captures and a double hook up, my big live squid on the downrigger got monstered by a 104cm 10kg kingie.

Sometimes the bigger fish can be seen on the sounder but despite all attempts with the right baits it still doesn’t seem to raise them. This is when it can be better to drift over them with the baits set to where they are on the sounder.

I have found that in the tougher times, the most unlikely thing can see a bite from one of these big bruisers. When they refuse all, including live baits, soft plastics, strip baits and pilchards, the humble prawn can see a fish or two being caught. However, sometimes these big fish just don’t want to eat anything and refuse every trick in the book, I suppose that’s why they are big fish.

The bigger fish are cruising the river so everyone is in with a chance. Normally when we have roaming kingfish in the river they are hungry and seem to be hunting cuttlefish and squid. On a few occasions I have seen decent kingfish cruising the shallower weed beds along the river chasing squid through the ink squirts. When the fish are found at the various wrecks and structure along Pittwater they are harder to tempt.

The areas to try are at West Head and mainly along the western side of the river with Longnose Point and Woody Point seeing a bit of action.

There have also been some kingfish in Broken Bay but caution is been needed even in an 8.5m boat. The areas to try at Broken Bay have been at Barrenjoey Headland, Lion Island Reef and if you fish Cowan Creek some bigger fish normally set up camp in Smiths Creek for a month or so.

Bream have been abundant of late but the bigger fish are pretty hard to tempt. The reef at Barrenjoey Head has seen a few being caught as well as Pearl Beach and Flint and Steel. A berley of tuna and chicken pellets is working well and you will have better results if you float your bait down the trail with as little weight as possible. Light leaders and a well presented bait is needed to catch one of the larger blue-nosed bream.

Along our coast there are still kingfish, tailor, salmon, bonito and frigate mackerel to keep everyone amused. The closer reefs are the better ones to fish as there are a lot less leatherjackets and toadfish to snip expensive braid and jigs.

The jigging charters are going to be tough this year because of all of the leatherjackets and now toadfish. Hopefully I am wrong but our last venture out proved that the closer grounds are great to fish and you still get to take home quality fish without the big costs of replacing all of the lost tackle.

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