Home' Afloat : AFLOAT October 2016 Contents Take monthly with water October 2016 53
with David Lockwood
It became clear at the 2016 Sydney
International Boat Show, during my
presentation on the ‘Hot Seat’ stage,
that most recreational fishers still want to
know where they’re biting. I revealed a lot
of my favourite go-to boltholes, discovered
over decades, and that resonated with
rec fishers. But was I really revealing my
The thirst for the “where” in the
fishing equation is eternal. Since my
formative years working on publications
like The Giant Fishing Map Book, Sydney’s
Top Fishing Spots, my first book titled The
Atlas of Australian Fishing, and the ABC’s
Go Fish Australia, the top fishing spots are
what we want to know. Pick-up your local
newspaper and the fishing column is still
largely devoted to where they’re biting.
Human nature being what it is, I don’t
think we will stop asking that question
in the foreseeable future.
But if you zoom out of the picture and
look for a common thread, well, there are
a number of things linking my top fishing
spots with those of pretty much everyone
else’s. This means, armed with the right
knowledge about what to look for, you can
find your own top fishing spots and identify
them on your local waterways. It’s not so
much about secrets as thinking like a fish.
Let’s start with the first key spot – the
headlands around the estuary mouths,
where there’s a confluence of water along
a defined rocky front. Usually with deep
water, these headlands – like Sydney’s
North and South Head, Barrenjoey, Cape
Banks and Kurnell, and the near-shore
islands – are natural hunting grounds for
Troll the headlands at first light when
the fish are looking for breakfast, using
deep-diving lures that cut back under the
wash with a tight wiggle, and you too are
in the hunt ... for kingfish, tailor, bonito,
salmon and so on.
Next, work the tidal areas inside the
estuaries mouths, where the ocean water
penetrates on the “high” or “flood”. Then
fish the fish few hours of the turn and
easy to find. Work the sandy drop-offs as
the tide retreats. The fish sit on the edge
and wait for the small fry and prawns to
move back off the flats. Look at your maps
and work the sand edges in the bays with
soft-plastic prawn lures. Crabbing is also
great in these same areas. Anchor your
boat in a bay and you can do both and
sleep the night.
As you head further upstream, things
like oysters, mangroves, rock bars, sunken
logs, old boats on moorings, pontoons,
piers and rocky shorelines count for plenty.
If you know something about boating you
will know the water is always deepest on
the outside of the bend. There’s a clue as
to your top fishing spots in the river.
Two other key things about finding
fish: being on the water actually helps; and
science has proven that mid-week is best.
Fish the wet-weather weekends and work
the safety of the estuaries when it’s rough.
Today’s lure fishing techniques mean you
don’t have to worry about buying bait,
though a meat pie and Coke from the servo
at 5am breakie still warrants a stop. h
Crater Cove, Sydney Heads.
This covers all those areas just inside
the harbour, bay and estuar y mouth where
there are rocky points and reefs flushed by
the tide. Flint and Steel and Juno Point in
Broken Bay; Cannae Point, Dobroyd Point,
Middle Head, and Sow and Pigs in Sydney
Harbour; Bare Island and Watts Reef at the
mouth of Botany Bay; and, well, Hungry
Point in Port Hacking says it all.
In these tidal locations, it helps if there
is a drop-off or underwater rock wall along
which the tide runs. If it descends onto a
sand bottom, the fish will swim along this
edge. So you need a depth sounder to find
that intersection between reef and sand;
you need anchoring skills and the right
ground tackle; and you need to position
your boat along this edge. Berley, then as
the tide changes and starts to flow, the
fish will be right at the back of your boat.
Use this same strategy on the 30-40m
reefs offshore for snapper and jewfish,
fishing the edges, and berleying to bring
the fish on, and you will catch plenty,
especially at dawn and dusk. Same goes
if you are stuck on land. Find a place you
can cast to that is sand abutting a reef.
Do this from a headland like, say, Harbord
or Curl Curl and you will score plenty of
bream, snapper, trevally and so on.
Kicking back upstream, well, it
becomes more about holding areas.
Tidal flow and drop-offs still count at
places like the road and rail bridges on
the Hawkesbury; Bluff Point at Seaforth;
Molineaux Point (anchoring restrictions)
in Botany Bay; and Lilli Pill Baths in Port
Hacking. But these places also have fish-
holding structure – top spots include
bridge pylons, reefs, retaining walls,
wharves, wrecks and artificial reefs.
In the same broad expanses of our
estuaries, fish like the dusky flathead are
A beaming young angler holds up a flathead.
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