Pittwater is a great area to fish & is often overlooked by a lot of fisherman. There are many types of fish in Pittwater & always something to catch no matter what time of year. Some common catches are Bream, Flathead, Whiting, Tailor, Salmon, Kingfish & squid & that's just to name a few. Some not so common fish that are caught from time to time in the area are Spotted mackerel & Cobia. Pittwater is one of my favourite areas to fish because of the wide range of options available there. You can do everything from fishing for bream & flathead to chasing pelagic fish on light sport fishing tackle & all within a few minutes run from the ramp. It is a great place for people with boats unsuitable for offshore fishing to tangle with salmon & kings without taking any risks. if you have never fished Pittwater before I really recommend giving it a go you won't be left disappointed. Below I will cover the basic species & the methods I use to catch them & what areas I fish. This should provide a starting point for those new to the area. I will post photos at the bottom of the page of the areas mentioned in this article.
There are many areas to hunt for bream inside of Pittwater depending on how & when you like to fish for them. If you are in to lure fishing for bream with either hard or soft bodied lures there is no shortage of structure about to cast at. There are marinas & jetties right up the eastern side & all hold some fish while over the other side there is Scotland Island with its jetties as well. If you prefer to fish with bait for bream the area I would highly recommend are the flats behind Palm Beach on a rising tide. I prefer to fish here at night because I find during the day the small fish in this area make it difficult to keep a bait on for very long. There is no "secret" spot here & anywhere from the western point at Barrenjoey through to the red navigation marker out from Palm Beach wharf will be OK. the bottom is all the same with scattered areas of ribbon weed. Start fishing the first of the run up tide with berley & floating baits & you are well on the way to a feed. This is my No.1 bream spot & I have had a lot of great nights here. During the day I have caught good bream at West Head on the bait grounds with berley & lightly weighted baits. Fishing for bream in any of the bays around Pittwater will produce but remember to fish with either no lead at all or the absolute minimum of weight needed. I prefer to use flesh baits like mackerel or tuna when I am bream fishing. For those who prefer them Nippers (Yabbies) can be pumped along the shoreline at Church Point & on the flats in some of the bays around Pittwater.
There are again many places to catch flathead in Pittwater. My favourite area for lure casting is again the Palm beach flats on a run out tide. Casting lures along the edges of the weed beds will produce flathead during the summer months & some of these fish will be up in the 3 kilo category. If lure fishing is not your thing there are some good drifts in the area also. On a rising tide try drifting from Barrenjoey across to West Head & this drift will produce a few flounder as well as flathead. Another good drift on a rising or run out tide is along the edge of the Palm beach flats. Drifting across the entrance of Careel Bay will turn up a fish or 2 & try a drift along past Portuguese Beach in the deeper water here if the other areas don't fire. Try using small live poddy mullet as bait or if you use flesh baits check them regularly as pickers can be a problem.
Salmon are excellent sport on light tackle & are available inside Pittwater from around September through to the end of January. They can be found around the entrance to Pittwater generally on a rising tide & will be found as far up as Portuguese Beach. On light spinning or fly tackle they are great sport putting up a stubborn fight with a few jumps thrown in. These days targeting salmon has become popular so an early morning start helps & for the inexperienced look for groups of boats that gather round surface feeding schools.
Like Salmon above Kingfish are a great sports fish on light tackle & schools of them feeding on the surface are often encountered in the same areas as Salmon. The Kings however go a lot further up inside Pittwater & I have often caught them as far down as the Royal Motor Yacht Club. My best area to find Kingfish is the shoreline on the western side of Pittwater from Coasters Retreat around to Towlers bay. Try looking here at first light from September through until December & you will often find schools of Kingfish feeding. Fishing with small live baits & soft rubber lures also works in Pittwater & Careel Bay & Towlers Bay amongst the moorings are another couple areas to try. The north eastern corner of Scotland Island is another good area
Pittwater holds good numbers of squid especially during the summer months. The main type I catch are the calamari squid which are generally larger then the more common arrow squid. Squid are No.1 bait for jewfish & kingfish & are also great eating when fresh. My preferred spots are over the weed on the Palm beach flats either very early morning on a rising tide or better still at night. if you have an overhead light in the boat even better as this will attract squid to the area. This area is VERY productive at night for squid. Over at West Head squid can be found over the bait reef & along the shoreline near the kelp. There are also a few squid in the mooring areas in at Mackerel Beach & Coasters Retreat. Remember squid move around so if you haven't caught any in the first 15 minutes move around until you find them
Above are just a few of the more common species & where they are to be found in Pittwater. There are plenty of other types of fish to be found & a bit of time spent trying different spots will generally produce a feed. Tailor & bonito are common during the summer months & schools will often be found along the western shoreline in the same areas mentioned above. There are always a few flounder taken while drifting for flathead in particular. Most of the weed beds hold Gar fish of both types River & Sea gars. Some good bags of sea gar can be taken during the summer months fishing at the very northern end of the Palm Beach flats just inside Barrenjoey. Jewfish are taken on the bait grounds at West head as well as in the deeper water out of Portuguese Beach.
During the winter months John Dory can be found around the moorings in Coasters Retreat , Towlers bay & further down around the Yacht Club & they are also taken at the bait grounds at West Head. A small live bait suspended at mid water under a float works well particularly if you trim the baits tail fins very short so it kicks hard sending out a lot of vibration. This makes it easy for the Dory to find & easier for it to catch. There is little or no sport in catching John Dory as they don't put up any sort of a fight but they make up for that in the excellent eating quality. Keep a berley trail going to attract yellowtail while fishing for John Dory as the presence of yellowtail around your boat will attract them. Don't expect a large bag of Dory as they are not all that common. I reckon a bag of 3 or 4 is a good mornings fishing. Blue Swimmer Crabs are also available in most areas of Pittwater especially in the bays & along the flats at Palm Beach. Whiting are taken in many different locations but Careel Bay generally produces the larger fish but any of the sand flats are worth trying either by drifting or casting very lightly weighted nippers or worms. Live nippers or worms are the key to getting a good bag of whiting & while frozen worms & prawns will produce whiting it is far better to either catch or buy live bait.
Live bait grounds available in the area are at West Head where about 30 meters offshore from the old pillbox there is a reef which holds good numbers of yellowtail & squid. Slimey Mackerel are available here during the summer months but the numbers vary year to year. Further up Pittwater around the moorings in Mackerel Beach & Coasters Retreat both hold numbers of yellowtail & squid & at times Slimey Mackerel as well. Any of the beaches are worth a try for poddy mullet for flathead bait but I find the best numbers are at the boat ramp at Bayview.
There are a few boat ramps in Pittwater but I would only recommend Bayview Ramp in Rowland Bay Reserve particularly for larger boats. It is not free to use & costs at the time of writing between $6 & $12 a day to use depending whether you use it weekends or during the week. Tickets are issued from machines which accept coins only not notes & then only $1 & $2 coins. I would like to stress the tickets ARE checked & fines ARE issued if you have not paid your way. In my opinion the money is worth it as the facilities are excellent. There are 2 four car wide ramps & a pontoon to load / offload passengers plus a washing area for cleaning your boat & flushing the engine. All along the shore between & on both sides of the ramp is clean sand bottom so pulling the boat up while waiting to retrieve it is no drama. I would mention however at the time of writing (05/08/02) Pittwater Council has plans to change this area around & share the ramps with some type of cargo facility. If this comes about I will update this page. The Rowland bay Reserve is reached via Pittwater Road.
Above - Bayview boat ramp in Rowland Bay Reserve
Above left - Coasters Retreat Above right - Mackerel Beach
Above left - View south down Pittwater Above right - Scotland island
Above left - View north past Portuguese Beach area (Kings & Salmon) Above Right - old pillbox at west head