A while back I did an article on fishing spots in Middle Harbour that finished off at Grotto point . In this article I’m going to kick off our tour again at Grotto but this time head north round into north Harbour before working our way through the main harbour to Clarke island just east of the harbour bridge. Its to big an area to cover every spot so what I will be giving you is just my favorites spots.
The first major feature you find heading north of Grotto is Washaway beach. As the name implies this beach occasionally washes away in a big storm so shore based fishos cant always rely on it to be there. It’s a great general spot and one of the most reliable tailor trolls in the harbour. Its often clouded with bait fish in summer , pushed onto the shore ( it’s a shore dump break) by pelagics. When this happens it can explode with fish . Surface fish will attack from the top and bottom fish like flatties and bream will work them from underneath. Its great lure fishing at this time and its not hard to pick up 6 different species . It’s great shore access . You can fish the beach or the rocks with the northern corner being most productive.
Moving round from here you get to crater bay (the shacks) which is actually the inside of Dobroyd reef. There’s a deep trench (60ft) that runs perpendicular to the shore . Lots of stuff holds up in here including pelagics like Salmon and tailor and is a prime Whaler shark hold in April and may. If you follow your sounder down off Dodroyd reef towards washaway you will clearly see where it hits the sand in about 50ft. This is a great spot for John dory in winter and not bad breaming in November and April. Its also a good spot for yakkas but they are generally big. There’s a cardinal mark on the inside of the reef and its one of the worst kingfish buoys in the harbour.
The top of Dobroyd reef produces lots of less desirable species like eels and kelpies. It also has a nasty bombie that rears up out of nowhere over 1.5m swell. The cardinal and special mark closest to Manly are close to the reef edge and are great for Kings , amberjack and jew. The cardinal mark to the south of the reef is a long way off the reef edge but still produces Kings , trevs and bream.
Moving round into nth harbour the next top spot you will hit is reef beach . The reef and kelp come out a long way here , making it a difficult shore based spot. If you follow the rocks towards Fairlight for about 100m you will find cleaner bottom . Thee reef edge falls onto sand about 100m out from the 4knt sign. I find it by driving from the 4knt sign straight towards manly wharf and watching the sounder for the drop to about 35ft. This is a two anchor spot where you will catch most species including pelagics but is particularly good in winter for Dory, trevs and other winter species. The open water here trolls well when the baitfish are present
Next stop is the sand bank drop-off up the back of Nth Harbour near the Davis Marina . This is a great Flathead spinning spot and is accessible for both boat fishers and waders .Its also home to some Common squid and is good a back up spot if you are having trouble locating Southern squid.
Moving out of this bay you will hit Fairlight Pt. This is another of Nth Harbours great spots and fishes similar to Reef beach. It’s a two anchor spot and will produce pelagics including Samson fish and winter fish . Its also a good yakka spot . It fishes well for blachfish and surgeon fish but is not good shore access . A similar spot with good shore based access can be found on the adjacent point near Fairlight pool. A good cast from here will but you onto sand next to reef. The stretch along the sand from Fairlight pt to manly aquarium is a great flattie drift.
Jumping straight across the bay (watch for ferries) finds you on Manly Point This is a good squid spot (some restrictions apply to squidding here) and also marks the start of the penguin sanctuary . You can fish here but there are restrictions and I suggest you check them out . Back in little Manly cove is a small boat ramp. It’s a shocker being only one lane with no parking and a gate that stops night access. It bottoms onto sand at low tide and in a southerly its outright dangerous.
Spring cove near Collins beach is a good deep hole . Its good shore access from the old gas works and produces both good summer and winter fishing . It’s a good retreat in strong winds from the northern quadrant. There’s an anchoring restriction running about 50m out from Collins beach.
Next stop is Cannae pt . This is one of my favorite harbour spots producing both winter and summer fishing and a mix of estuary and oceanic fish . It’s the number one Samson fish and Morwong spot and has produced our best Jewie. It was spotty mackerel central when the historical run was on and has some thumping blue groper . Ive seen fishos on the shore but Im not sure how they got there . I would start my enquiries at the old Quarantine station or NPWS. An average cast will put you on the spot . The tip of Cannae marks the end of the penguin zone. Its best fished anchored fore and aft but a consistent wind will hold you steady enough to fish the wider ground if you are after pelagics. If the bait are in there’s some great trolling in the bay . Its good shelter in a SE or NE winds
Running straight across to south head puts you on one of my favorite squid spots . The whole run from the point right back to Lady Jane (or Lady Jim as we have more aptly re-named it these days – you will understand why when you get there but don’t say I didn’t warn you ) beach is all kelp. Straight out towards mid stream is a red channel marker which fishes well in a big swell for bream and bottom fish and is average for Kings at most time although they tend to be small.
Back in to Camp Cove there’s good squid at both ends with lots of little cuttle fish on the southern corner.
Straight off here towards mid stream is the eastern wedding cake and the Famous sow and pigs reef . Both spots get very crowded and rightly so as they are great fishing . The ‘Pigs’ is generally shallow so the best fishing occurs in the low light . Kings come in but generally don’t hold , with the best spot being the northern end . It fishes well for bream and trevs and is one of my favorite Luderic spots in winter. The ‘Cake’ is a great King spot in summer and Luderic in winter.
Heading upstream a bit you find Parsley and Vaucluse bay and Bottle and glass pt . The open water can be a good troll if the bait are in but mainly for tailor. In amongst the moorings are good bream and flatties in summer and dory and trevs in winter . We have pulled a few jews here too. Bottle and glass offers good shore access and produces Kings Bream Blackfish and squid . Its all good water in a southerly. Just off here is the yellow special marl known as ‘Old Yella’ . This is a great big king spot and holds its share of Jews in November /December. Its very hard bottom with sponge gardens so its mean on terminal tackle . I usually fish an outgoing tide on the city side. Its also a good big Dory spot but we only seem to ever get one at a time right on the turn of the high tide
Rose bay is a great sand bottom location. The Pro’s used to pound it because of the clean bottom and this will be one spot that will benefit greatly now that they are gone. The flat and the hole (known as the blue hole) in the SE corner is all great flattie and whiting ground. You can wade the flats at low tide out to the edge of the hole . Watch out for sea planes landing.
At times Rushcutters and Double bay accumulates huge amounts of bait fish. This attracts lots of pelagics including some that you wouldn’t expect to be this far up stream like Samson and amberjack . The bottom also fishes well for whiting Jew bream and flatties . The southern end of Darling pt is a great spot to bounce some plastic. Just off here is Clarke isl and some Navy mooring buoys that are generally not in use. This area also attracts huge clouds of bait and with it great all round fishing. Kings sit just under the buoys along with some huge Tailor . On the bottom you will get Jew bream and the occasional keeper reddie.
Across to the other side of the harbour now finds you at Bradley’s head . It’s a good spot particularly on the upstream side but is more of a shore based spot due to the fact of high commercial traffic making it hard yakka for boats. You will pick up bream ,luderick , flatties , salmon and tailor. On the down stream side is a big kelp bed good for Squid.
Tailors Bay can be , co-incidentally , a good Tailor troll but its best feature is a small but steep reef just off its southern pt. It can be hard to find and Id give you my marks except for the fact that they involve nondescript buildings in the city that would only confuse you further. Its about 100m off the point directly towards mid stream in about 50ft . Sound around for a while and you will find it. It holds a lot of ooglies that get fished out quickly on hard hit reefs so Im guessing it doesn’t get much pressure . It holds kings , Jew reddies and bream. This is where the Jap mini sub was finally destroyed during the war and 24 hours of depth charging might go some way to explaining the weird twisted chunks of metal that we occasionally pull up here
Chowder bay , Clifton gardens is a great boat and shore spot . The jetty drops into 40 ft and produces kings and Jew amongst all your usual jetty inhabitants. There’s a restricted zone around the navy jetty but the white mooring buoy to the north holds good kings . The drop-off towards mid stream is a renowned night jew spot . The rocks to the south offer the shore fisho great deep water access for kings jew and luderick . In fact an average cast from here will land you in 60ft of water.
Straight out from here you will find the Western wedding cake. This is a great all round boat spot sitting right on the edge of the deep channel . As with all the harbours navigation markers you are not allowed to tie up to it so anchor up-tide and fish back onto it . Its renowned for its Kings but you will also get jew by night and bream , dory , blackfish and big flathead.
You will find Obelisk beach by heading straight back to the shore from the Cake . The long rock platform at the southern end of the beach offers great shore and boat based fishing . There is a little bit of kelp in close but a good cast from the shore will put you onto a clean sand bottom where you will find bream , flatties and even pelagics . The kelp produces good squid which means you have a ready bait supply at your feet. The open water of the beach can fire at times with pelagics when the bait is in and the sand makes for a good flattie drift.
The green channel marker off middle head is another great king and amberjack spot. The eastern reef tip of middle head comes almost right out to this buoy making it a great bream spot. The Pro’s used to trap this spot relentlessly which is a good indication that it is a good bream holding spot and it will only get better now that they are banned from fishing the harbour. Anchor out of the channel here as the ferries cut close to the marker .
Middle head brings us to the end of our tour. It’s a great trolling run especially at either end and kings hold on the northern end where the reef hits the sand. They are best located by down rigging live squid. Its also a top squid ground over the kelp at either end but watch out for a couple of small bombies that break in over about 1m swell. It’s a great rock fishing spot for kings tailor and drummer.
If you want to experience these spots first hand I run guided fishing tours under the name of Fishabout Sydney Harbour and can be contacted on 0412918127
Article and pics by — Craig McGill