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Sydney Harbour squidThe summer of the long dark cloud has turned into the autumn of the great wet. Although we’d slipped into La Niña before summer officially started I don’t think anybody really envisaged just how wet this year was going to be.

I remember the big wet of summer 90/91, but this smashes that with dams and storm drains reaching capacity and overflowing,  livelihoods and homes destroyed, and more debris than Kimbriki Tip (sorry, Resource Recovery Centre) flowing down our waterways. Surely the fish have packed up and moved on? But no, so far the fish have continued to be the most resilient factor of the year. If you have seen the colour of the water from Middle Harbour to the Parramatta River you would have thought surely nothing can survive in that – but low and behold, if you didn’t mind standing in pouring rain and bailing the water out of your boat you were in for a good chance of some solid fish.

The rain did move the fish from the back of the estuary into the main parts of the harbour but it also concentrated the bulk of the bio mass in a more localised area which has been a bonus for fishos in the know.  Huge schools of bait are booming on the flow of food coming down river and with heavy sea outside we’ve had plenty of visits from larger specimens that really shouldn’t be anywhere near the harbour this time of year.

Bait fishing.

Sydney Harbour snapper

Berty pb snapper

The only down side from from all this rain and dirty water has been the squid fishing. My usual summer shallow water haunts are now producing nothing but face masks and plastic bags! Please do the right thing with your trash. The best bait for bait fishing is always squid. Move out into deeper water with bigger jigs and you will be surprised by the size and quantity of squid.  Sure, some days they’re impossible to find but others they’re there, and willing to take a jig. Try bright orange or other colors that contrast against the dirty water.  When the squid have been tough, the humble yakka has filled the gap. They’re around in good numbers with an amazing range in size from absolute lollipops to some that look like juvenile kingfish. Scad are great sashimi but very fishy for some – burley up with plenty of bread, get them balling up and drop down your Sabiki jigs for best results. They do get a little harder to catch as the days goes on but much easier than finding the squid.

My favourite bait for these conditions has been the humble pilchard. We have had sessions where we have caught everything from legal kings, oversized snapper and huge bream and cobia all on the humble pillie cube! Try and buy them from a tackle shop, or somewhere with good turn over. Make sure you look for bright scales and no yellowing around the gills and fins as this means they have generally dried out and won’t be as successful. Again get a burley trail going and fish as light as possible for best results.

Lure fishing.

The usual Slugos are killing it on the lure fishing front as always but after a some solid rain I’ve also been having great success on vibes from Sumako. From soft vibes to smaller hard vibes you just can’t go wrong in the dirty water. Bream, mulloway , snapper, and huge flathead, just about everything out there can take a liking to them. Don’t be afraid to add some scent to increase your chances even further.

On fly.

Sydney Harbour kingfish

Sydney harbour kingfish

Surprisingly the fly scene over the last month has been good. There are still heaps of frigate mackerel chasing bait on the surface although they move with lightning speed they’re still taking small surf candies and sometimes just about everything that you can manage get in front of them. The advantage with all this dirty water is we can get away with heavier leaders. Kings are still holding in good numbers and size ranges on most of the outer harbour markers. This month large clousers in bright colours have been catching some great fish. If you’re out there right on sunrise there have been some meter long fish busting up along the current lines that are more than willing to accept a well placed fly. Salmon are still about but numbers have dropped off and finding a bust up is a bit of a lottery but not impossible. They’ll be back in winter.

To finish up I have to talk about the range of species in the Harbour right now. We have had multiple catches of over sized snapper, cobia, bonito and rainbow runners all in the same day. Now I’m not an expert on fish migration but from my experience big snapper are a winter catch, and rainbow runners belong in the far north. Not to mention the huge numbers of hammerheads around. I love a good theory and suspect there’s a wedge of dense saltwater under all the dirty fresh. Get the fly, lure, or bait through the mud, and there’s clean saltwater, and it will be like night down there. Add the awesome amount of food available right now, and I predict some cracking fish coming together at my best spots?
And my last salty observation for the day is the run of monster bream around right now. Golden-brown-backed fish pushed down the estuary to sea run silvers – countless bream over 40cm … so go figure. Just when you think you have something worked out old mother nature does her thing and lobs a few spanners in the works.

My mountain trout trip

Flyboat fishing charterI had an epic days fishing with Steve Dunn and Phil Weigall this month. I took a day away from the salt and blasted down to the Snowies for a fish on the Upper Murrumbidgee. My best summer river day ever. Fish everywhere, rainbows and browns, and later a stop off at Three Mile and my first brook trout, followed by my second, third….. and probably tenth, as well as browns and rainbows. My first freshwater trifecta.
What made it even better was that I didn’t tie on a wet fly all day. It was all dry fly action. Hoppers, Royal Wullf, and Parachute Adams. I am busting to get back there again before the spawn run.
Flyboat fishing charterOn Lake Eucumbene, Steve’s prediction of more dry fly action came good. Rainbows and browns up to 4 lb right against the bank on hoppers. After all this rain, the hoppers will have taken a hammering so sadly that’s probably the end of it for this season. Reports are that the midge fishing has died down, there’s no real caddis action yet, but the mudeyes have gone burko. Fourmile Alec reported a big rainbow with 25 live mudeyes in it. The rainbow unfortunately didn’t survive that investigation!
Thanks to the Compleat Angler Sydney for fixing me up with some new gear this month. Great service by great dudes! Check out their fly kits, and Lonks SW flies!