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Sydney Reports: Sydney Harbour Summer 2012, By Craig McGill

Sydney Harbour Summer 2012, By Craig McGill

What a bizarre summer season this one has been to date. Water temps have struggled to get up to their summer averages and every time they look like getting there either a cold eddie sweeps through from the ocean or a flush of cold rain comes down from upstream . The weather and sea conditions have been is probably the worst I can remember in 20 years of guiding. In a one week span I heard of a cobia and a Maori rock cod, both sub tropical species and personally caught a john dory, a renowned winter species.

Kings have been scarce but big with some 20kg fish being landed around the heads. Last year was notable for big kings so it's fair to assume that, at least a few of them, will be even bigger this year when they finally show up

Actually landing one of these suckers around the heavy structure where they are often found is another matter though and to some degree is linked more to technique than tackle upgrade.

Going up in line class creates a number of problems including difficulties in delivering baits or lures and a decrease in interest from the fish due the obvious distraction of heavy traces. Heavy Gelspun lines are a poor defense around barnacle encrusted structure despite allowing better presentations than mono of the same class. Furthermore, heavy line and drag settings are inherently detrimental to the technique that best suits landing big kings.
Working on the theory that, the harder you pull the harder the kings pull, I've found it best to go fairly lightly until the fish is clear of the cover. Some fish charge straight into the cover regardless of what you do and I don't think that there's a thing you can do about it. But in general I've found that leading fish away from cover gently is a lot more productive than going hammer and tong.
In rough country a good skipper is an asset. Quite often, for reasons unknown, big kings will run straight away from cover. This is great if it happens but you have to know how to handle it. The natural instinct is to chase the fish out but this can prompt the fish to swim against the direction of the pull and back towards the cover. I'd suggest staying close to the cover and let the fish tire for a while before chasing him. I've never had a king swim back towards the boat like tuna do, so keeping the boat near the cover will ensure that the fish will not swim back to it.

Once you are confident that the fish is either tired or too far from the cover to get back then move the boat quickly towards him. From here on keep the boat directly above the fish. The greater the angle of the line is from the boat the more chance the fish has of clipping it across the top of bottom structure. Furthermore being directly above the fish means that to make any ground downwards toward bottom structure means that he will have to take drag, expending more energy. Low line angles created by the fish being away from the boat mean that the fish needs only to swim sideways to make ground towards cover, without having to take drag.
In the case where you have lead the fish gently away from cover, wait until you feel you are a safe distance from the cover and then go hard. But ensure, that before you get stuck into it, you place the boat between the fish and the cover in an effort to encourage the fish to swim away from the boat and hence away from the cover.
All this is much easier if you are drifting but it can be achieved at anchor providing your crew acts quickly
Once the fish is close to the boat back the drag off a touch to compensate for the reduced stretch of a shorter line.

Presenting your bait in such a way that draws the fish away from the cover has obvious benefits. This is done by casting your bait so it lands very close to the structure and letting it sink, on a tight line, back towards the boat. This encourages the king to chase the bait out of the structure.

The flatties have come on the chew and have been a very good average size.
Flatties are well distributed right throughout the harbour from the uppermost reaches to the heads. The lower reaches around the heads are dominated by the smaller sand flathead commonly encountered offshore with the occasional dusky thrown.

Upstream is the exclusive domain of the dusky who despite growing to considerably larger sizes is comfortable in as little as one foot of water.
Flatties have a reputation as being a poor sport fish which holds true when using bait fishing techniques but can be totally disregarded when they are targeted with lures. Firstly the skill, thrill and anticipation involved in hunting flatties on lures is little different to that of any other predatory species including the tropical glamour fish. Although the fight from a lure caught flathead bears little resemblance to that of the northern mangrove inhabitants it is a huge improvement to that of a flathead caught on bait. In the clearer water often found in the upper reaches of middle harbour and lane cove river there's the added appeal of the visual thrill of actually seeing the hooked fish in action.
Some of the best areas in the harbour to lure fish for flatties include; the shallows of Rose Bay, The upper reaches of middle harbour, the entire length of Lane Cove River, the yacht moorings in the sheltered bays anywhere but particularly Balmoral and nth harbour, inside Grotto pt, Iron cove and the Parramatta River from Gladesville bridge upstream. Keep moving till you find them
The best times to work these areas are the two hours before low tide and one hour after it starts to come back in. It's even better if this tide occurs early morning or late afternoon.

Flathead congregate around channel edges, rock bars, weed banks and sand\mud bank drop-offs. Any area where water is channeled off mangrove stands or flats on a falling tide is well worth a throw.
A single handed spinning or light baitcasting outfit loaded with three or four kg line will handle any flathead provided you use a more substantial trace of about ten kg.

Flathead will hit almost anything that swims past their face . With the emphasis on presenting the lure close to the fish, depth capabilities are the major consideration when choosing a lure for flatties.
Considering you will be fishing depths ranging from one to thirty feet you'll need quite a large selection of lures should you opt for diving minnow style lures.
A more versatile and possibly more effective option is to carry two types of soft plastic lures. For the shallows ( 1to 4 feet) a stick bait like the 'slugo' or Storm split tail minnow are deadly on flatties especially around weed. To cover all depths it's hard to go past a soft plastic on a jig head.

The key to successful flattie fishing is maintaining contact with the bottom for the full length of the retrieve. Once you have cast out let it sink right to the bottom. Start the retrieve with a big upward sweep of the rod and quickly wind up the slack so that your rod tip is pointing straight down the line. Now wait and watch your line. It will stay tight until the lure hits the bottom again at which time a slackness commonly referred to as ‘belly' will fall into the line. As soon as you see this belly repeat the process all the way back to your feet.


Stuart Reid's 50lb Pending World Record PNG Black Bass

Pending World Record Black Bass

Papuan Black Bass are renowned the world over as the toughest pound for pound freshwater fish in the world, and the place to find the biggest Black Bass is PNG's Gulf province. The current all tackle world record Black Bass of 46lbs, and the fish pictured (caught on 19/6/14, by Stuart Reid, Fishabout) which is the pending world record at 50lbs, were both caught from these rivers.

Once you feel the strike you know that no freshwater fish can come close to the power. Watching 100kg guys get knocked over on the strike, reels give way, rods break in half and 130LB pound braid snap from the pound for pound strongest fighting fresh water fish is a sight to behold. If would like to experience the thrill of targeting PNG Black Bass and Barramundi in remote areas with very low fishing pressure contact us now

Kadavu Island - Great Astrolabe Reef

Fiji Macky

The pristine Fiji Islands are home to the South Pacific's finest sport and game fish, including massive GT's, monster dogtooth tuna, yellowfin tuna, dolphin fish, wahoo, spanish mackerel, black marlin, blue marlin and plenty of reef fish. Many of these species are endemic to the Great Astrolabe Reef (one of the largest barrier reefs in the world), which is the reef that encompasses Kadavu Island, Fiji.Fishabout now offer 6 and 8 day fishing packages to explore this marine wonder of the world, which include 3 and 5 days fishing respectively. For more information click here

Endyalgout Remote Fishing Camp

Sunset at Endyalgout

Fishabout is pleased to now offer remote fishing trips to Endyalgout Island, one of the best fishing locations in Australia. (Nestled on the south east of the Coburg Penninsula).

Situated on a shell grit beach under shady trees, are several permanent tropical friendly safari style tents, raised on wooden platforms.

Looking out past the resident Crocodile you can see miles and miles of enticing mangroves, barely touched creeks, rivers, rock bars and channels, all calling your name.

From monster Baramundi up to 130cm, to big Black Jewfish, Threadfin Salmon, various Trevallies, and some of the biggest Golden Snaper to be found anywhere, Endyalgout Island is truly a dream to fish.

Pricing ranges from $4350 (4 days, 3 anglers per boat) to $6910 (7 days, 2 anglers per boat)

For more information please click here