Rug up and get out there
  |  First Published: July 2017

This last month has seen great weather once again, although a little cold in the morning. The cold hasn’t been stopping a lot of people and there has been some great fishing for those that are willing to rug up and brave the chilly conditions.

It is actually warmer in the water than it is above it, with the water temperature in Pittwater still hovering around the 18°C mark. This warmer water has allowed for large kingfish to stay along the river. As well as the kingfish, we are still having a great time catching mulloway.

The kingies have been feeding sporadically. With fresh baits, a good sounder and a bit of patience the fish can be found and caught. These larger fish are eating more than just squid.

In some areas there are a lot of batfish hanging around structure and these nasty little critters are stripping hard-earned squid in a matter of seconds, leaving you with a squid that is hard to recognise. These areas are better fished with yellowtail. There are a lot of small yellowtail in the same areas. If you want your bait to stand out, try using a splash of Glow Bait. This product will make your bait fluorescent green, so your bait has a better chance of becoming the target when presented near a school that is under attack.

Larger kingfish are not holding in any particular area at the moment and they seem to be cruising the river. I have found that when kingfish are cruising the river they are hungry, which is a good thing for us anglers. Areas to try are around Scotland Island and both sides of Pittwater. My pick is the eastern side of Pittwater amongst the moorings.

Small squid are hard to find at the moment. For those willing and able to travel on the ocean side of Barrenjoey Head, there are some smaller ones in amongst the kelp. Along Pittwater the usual areas are producing squid, with the better areas once again being the weed beds between Palm Beach Ferry Wharf and Barrenjoey Head. The natural colour squid jigs are working well. Surprisingly orange is catching quite a few squid, even though it tends to be more of a summer colour.

For those that are after fish that live on the bottom I have some great news for you: flathead, bream and mulloway are still making their presence known. Not a lot of people try for mulloway when fishing on Pittwater, because we have such a great fishery nearby on the Hawkesbury River. Both of these river systems at the moment are producing quite a few mulloway.

On Pittwater we have been catching mulloway on fish fillets, squid and lures. Some large fish have been lost to moorings and rough ground. There are two ways to fish for mulloway on Pittwater and the first is to anchor up, set out your live baits, and berley up the baitfish while using lures. This method is more effective towards the mouth of the river in the deeper holes and points where there is some current that will spread your berley to attract the baitfish and, in turn, the predators.

The other method is to drift through areas with live baits deployed on the bottom as well as a variety of baits on micro-jigs. I have found when using micro-jigs with mulloway about, these lures seem to drive the mulloway mad. I’m sure these lures are picked up by their lateral line, which spurs them into action. Either method used in the right areas along Pittwater will produce mulloway.

The areas to catch mulloway along Pittwater are Stokes Point, the Supermarket, Bothams Reef at Scotland Island and if you are going to drift, try the steep drop-offs that come out of shallower water.

When fishing the Hawkesbury River, the problem that most people face is that they do not have enough time to try all the areas, baits and techniques they would like in a single outing. When fishing the Hawkesbury River it is important to use the tide change and use the freshest bait possible.

Offshore we have been tangling with a variety of species with snapper, morwong and flathead being the main captures. There is the odd kingfish being caught when fishing the reefs as well. As always make sure that you find baitfish before deploying lines, especially fishing in water depths of 70-80m. It’s a long wind up if you get it wrong. The better baits to use have been pilchards with squid coming in a close second.

Some areas to consider trying are East Reef, the Container, the Ordinance grounds, Long Reef and if you don’t want to venture out too far, Newport Reef.

On a recent charter we picked up a group of anglers off a Luxury Afloat Houseboat from Brooklyn and showed them how to catch mulloway, as well as where and what baits to use. We caught mulloway, great bream and flathead. After the charter the guys came back to the same areas and had a ball catching more mulloway.

We were lucky enough to organise with Luxury Afloat Houseboats a package deal where yourself and four mates can stay on the houseboat from Monday to Thursday with two fishing charters with us thrown in for a great price of $480 each. The two flat water fishing charters can be used to fish areas that you wouldn’t cover with the houseboat or you can use it to explore areas that you want to come back to and fish more effectively.

The houseboats are set up for anglers with a live bait tank, wash down area, rod holders in appropriate areas as well as an icebox and a great colour sounder.

• Peter Le Blang operates Harbour and Estuary Fishing Charters, phone 02 9999 2574 or 0410 633 351, visit www.estuaryfishingcharters.com.au

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