Plenty to look forward to
  |  First Published: October 2008

Two great things happen this month. First comes the Labour Day holiday on October 6 Monday and then my birthday (just send money, no fishing tackle!) on October 31. As a bonus, the sun becomes stronger and getting out there, especially at night, seems a lot easier.

The pundits reckon we are going to see a very hot October/November as a precursor to a boiling Summer but we’ll have to wait and see.

Although I have had success on the beaches during Winter, especially on the jew, the longer evenings and warmer breezes make for more comfortable fishing.

Local fishing guide Alex Bellissimo tells me he had ten jew runs in one freezing evening with a couple of clients off Dee Why Beach and although most were missed, they managed four fish to 6kg.

Every night I pray to the fishing gods and ask if they would take the chinaman leatherjackets far away this year to allow baits to seek out more favourable species. I’ve lost count of how many blocks of pilchards I have donated to the insatiable hordes.

I put on wire, they nibble above it. I use 50kg trace – they chomp through like candy floss. Mind you, when I decide to target these critters, I can usually satisfy the demands of all my fish-hungry neighbours.


Let’s talk about bream: the adjective ‘wily’ is so true about these fish. One day they eat nothing but peeled prawns, the next day, same spot, they demand mullet gut. A day later they spurn everything except home-made pudding. They’re fussier than a pregnant woman!

I know it’s a pain in the proverbial but a variety of baits has to be transported to the spot and each tried, either in unison or in turn.

Berley is a very important factor in the bream equation. My favourite is boiled wheat. Why bream love this I don’t know, but gutting keeper fish after a session shows their bellies crammed full of the cereal.

Fishing as light as you dare is another important factor. I use 1.5kg line in the Hawkesbury right down to the 1/0 suicide hook.

Snapper are slowly coming back (if you can get past the jackets) and close reefs such as Northerners, West, Newport and East reefs and the Dee Why wrecks all are holding fish. Long Reef will start to fire at Good Property, Mystery and Reef Wide.

Here, too, berley is essential. A mix of chook pellets, pilchards and diced squid is a potent attractor for these wonderful table fish.


Over the past month many boats have ventured out looking for a feed of fish and lots of anglers have come away with nothing. Those strong westerlies have made fish lie low.

Steve Reid emailed me to say he found pockets of sand flathead on the wider drifts with minimal grief from the jackets.

Off Kilcare, silver trevally are around for those who persevere with a consistent berley trail.

At Maitland Reef, tailor are gathering near the wash and can be picked up on the troll or by blind casting shiny lures.

Big swells and large tides have kept beach fishers at home. Those who did chuck a line in reported strong currents sweeping tackle back on the sand and little action. The water is still very cold and table fish don’t come in close when it’s chilly and clear.

Going against the trend at Freshwater, Dan Cullen nailed two salmon early morning on ganged pillies before the sun was fully on the water.

Because of the recent big seas, sensible rock anglers have stayed at home and with the way weather patterns are forming as we approach Summer, it could be some time before the swell starts to behave again.

There have been plenty of slimy mackerel at West Head and around the port marker off Palm Beach wharf. Unfortunately there’s little interest in them from predators but stock up the freezer with these prime baits. Salted down, they toughen up and make wonderful snapper baits.

Every so often, schools of chopper tailor ruffle the water in Pittwater and seagulls fly from one disturbance to the next in search of an easy feed. Start off near Long Nose Point and watch for bird activity.

In the Basin and at Mackerel Beach, the last of the john dory are hanging around. As soon as water temperature increases they will be gone back out to sea. October is probably the last month to go hunting these delicacies.

Past Chero Island in the Hawkesbury, bream are close in near the houses. Be careful because it’s very shallow there and boats can ground on the thick black mud.

Only one report from Narrabeen Lake and it’s a little disappointing. For three hours Jess Armitage fished off the car park for one hit, no hook-ups and just a few nibbled lures.

I see more money of our money is being spent next to the southern ramp at Rowland Reserve. What was wrong with the landscape before I don’t know, but the council in its wisdom has decided to ‘fix’ a problem that wasn’t really there.

• Monthly Tip: Try supplementing berley with a range of ingredients from ‘left field’ and see if it works. Some additives to try are aniseed, garlic, onion, cinnamon, nutmeg, soy sauce, etc. If you concoct a winning mix, please share it with us.

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