Flyfishing on Sydney Harbour. Blue Skies. Calm blue water. Ferries and yachts slinking by. More than thirty years fishing Sydney waters and underlying all this beauty and magnificence is a tension I’ve never felt before.
“We’re all pretty numb to be honest”. A quote from one of my kingfish charter clients trying to explain how he was coping with Covid19. And I think that sums it up. Whilst the Harbour fishing has been stunning, business for the charter sector has been lacklustre and for the flyfishing niche it’s been, shall we say, “an interesting year”. For the first several weeks we were in the smog of bushfire smoke and dominating the media; but that was just the beginning of our rollercoaster 2020.
Like many businesses, we’ve been grateful for JobKeeper to pay the bills. In the early pandemic days I’d get the boat on the water and chase the fish relentlessly. Occasionally I’d get a one-on-one charter which seemed to be legal, but we were well into the second month of restrictions before we finally got the all-clear from the 4 square metre rule.
Even so, we still only permit more than two people on the boat if they’re from the same household. It’s been a tense and uncertain period but in the last month – since a bit before Victoria started it’s round two problems – things have picked up, especially with families looking for a safe option to get some fresh air and get some adrenalin pumping.
The fish have not let us down and it’s been an incredible winter. The rat kings have been in plague numbers, and we’ve had three-way hook-ups more than once – whilst I sat at the back of the boat pointing to the net and politely social-distancing while the customers sort out the pandemonium! We’ve had excellent snapper and trevally fishing, and we’ve started having a break to fish on the rock platforms where we can pick up luderick by the bucket load.
If you’re thinking of getting onto the Harbour for a bit of flyfishing, make sure you’ve got a fast sinking line to get down to some of those sounder marks you’ll see below 10 metres. My best flies for kingfish are large chartreuse Clousers, or anything blue and yellow or blue and white – and with a lot of volume, bulk and weight. For trevally and flathead, same deal – but also try a Surf Candy, and an intermediate line for shallow sandy drop-offs. For the luderick, a size 8 pan hook (Gamakatzu) and Tiewell green weed dub – which I’ve nicknamed ‘dynamite’. Find the reefs and wrecks on the charts and give it a go. If you’re chasing kingies please check with your GP first – it can be a strenuous workout!