Planning is the key
  |  First Published: July 2010

With the cooling water the fishing has slowed but with a little planning, you can still achieve a good feed.

In the mornings tailor and salmon are feeding from Lion Island through to Box Head and can be a great way to start the day.

Salmon are being a little frustrating but once the daily bite recipe has been found, a lot of fun is only a cast away. Some days they are eating metal lures around 5g and on others clear, small soft plastics work better.

Of course there are days when these same fish refuse to eat anything but a fly.

If you do catch salmon, remember that they troll well on the downrigger and can put you in with a chance at hooking a big kingfish or a shark. Use heavy tackle and if sharks are present, it is better to leave them be, especially if you’re in smaller boats.

The tailor are popping up all over the place but the larger fish seem to be among the washes of the headlands throughout Broken Bay. The 25g metals are catching a lot of the bigger fish from the washes and hard-bodied lures are working well on the troll.

There still is the odd patch of bonito about but they seem to be steering clear of Broken Bay at the moment. They are easier to catch from Avalon through to Long Reef.

Inside Pittwater there are a few species to be caught.

There are still some Winter kingfish hanging around but they can be hard to tempt. The best bait for one of these bigger kingfish is a small live cuttlefish or small live squid as a second.


The wrecks along the river are seeing a lot of pest leatherjackets and batfish striking hard-earned live baits, so sound out an area before going in.

The Bothams Reef area is starting to show signs of life with salmon, trevally and the odd keeper bream. The bream and trevally have been taken on prawns while the salmon have been caught on live yellowtail while targeting jewies.

The deep hole at Portuguese Beach is also seeing some action. This area is well known for its steep drop-off into deep water and in recent times has accounted for some reasonable jewfish and kingfish.

The area also produces the odd john dory at this time of year so a live yellowtail pinned a metre off the bottom is a must.

The other great areas to try for a john dory are at Mackerel Beach and The Basin. In these areas you must berley up the live baits around your boat and the john dory won’t be too far away.

Hairtail have made an appearance lately in the Cowan Creek system, taking pilchard strips and live yellowtail. The better fish have not really cared about the size of the yakkas but it is best to try to catch a few smaller ones.

Quite often jewfish are caught while targeting hairtail so it pays to vary your depths of baits to cover all options.


Over the years I have also seen quite a few hairtail caught on the spoon jigs normally used to tempt small kingfish or, up north, barra. I was first shown this by a mate who grew up in South Africa and he used to catch most of his hairtail by spoon jig.

The technique is simple. You first let the jig sink out of sight and let your rod tip nearly touch the water. From there it is a two-stage slow rip using the rod tip and then allow the lure to sink again.

After this is repeated for five to 10 times, allow more line off the reel and do it again. This method can be a very successful way of finding the feeding zone.

Squid over the past month have been pretty tricky but with persistence a few can normally be caught. The hardest part of finding squid at the moment is finding weed beds that are devoid of the brown slimy algae. If the area is cloaked in this brown slime it is rare that you will find squid there.

The areas with little slime are those open to current, usually towards the mouth of Pittwater.

West Head is one of the better spots to try for squid at the moment but you really must plan it around the tides so you are not fighting the strong currents.

The high tide is the prime tide and if this is near dawn or dusk, that is even better.

For those who like to start early, Palm Beach Wharf has been the pick of the spots. The lights along the wharf attract the baitfish into the lit area and the squid hang on the edge of the darkness.

Natural coloured jigs are working best at the moment and the best size has been the 1.8.

I hope this report wakes you from your winter slumber and sees you out with your fishing mates to enjoy our wonderful waterways.

• Peter Le Blang operates Harbour & Estuary Fishing Charters, www.estuaryfishingcharters.com.au, phone 0410 633 351

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