I had no preconceived ideas of how the fishing would be heading into this year’s Australian Open. Previously it has been held in January but with the weather still warm in mid March, I was hoping it wasn’t too late for a crank bait bite. During the practice day, it wasn’t long before I realised that crank baiting could well and truly be on the cards for at least two of the three days if the weather reports were anything to go by. Sydney Harbour is reknown for fishing patterns to change literally overnight and with a southerly front predicted to approach during Saturday evening and Sunday, I had a gut feeling the bite would change significantly. Along with the southerly change, the weather was predicted to be different for each day of the tournament. Overcast on day 1 with light winds, sunny and still on day 2 and the strong southerly winds on day 3. Because of this I was anticipating the chance of a change in fishing patterns if not daily, definitely for day 3. For this reason, rather than resting areas I was fishing, if I thought big fish were in the area I decided to fish them thoroughly and not leave anything to chance. That didn’t mean I wouldn’t return to the areas later but rather, I wasn’t going to leave any fish that may be actively feeding.
For the first two days, although there was a difference in weather, the fishing was very similar and I managed to catch my five fish on both days in the first 30 minutes of the day. From here it was a rotation between boat hulls and marinas then on to shallow edges and pontoons in the second half of the rising tide. This plan worked perfectly scoring me numerous upgrades throughout both days. Day 3 on the other hand was very different. Following the same run and pattern as the previous two days, it didn’t take long to realise that the fish were no longer feeding as aggressively at the top of the water column. They were still there, but with only 3 fish in my live well by 9am, I knew I had to try something different. With the Bream sitting up high on the structure for the previous 3 days, I knew the fish still had to be in the area so whilst continuing to crank bait the structure I also started to sink a plastic down around the poles of marinas, jetties and pontoons. I could see fish on the sounder but it took some time, cycling through my tackle to find something that they were going to bite. I still managed to pick up the odd fish crank baiting but it was evident the fish had moved to the bottom.
Now some people talk about luck when it comes to fishing but I try not to let it influence my mindset. The choices you make will ultimately influence your success, nothing else. If you hook a fish and your drag is too tight or too loose, chances are you will lose the fish. You might be “lucky” to be positioned right over a school of fish but if you don’t have your lure in the water then you’re not going to catch anything. Your equipment is no different and there are three things which I truly believe helped me secure the fish I needed during this year’s Australian Open: My crank bait rod, my soft plastic rod and my electronics.
The rods I use to crank bait around structure are the TMZ Interlines with Atomic deep crank lures in Muddy Prawn colour, I believe these rods actually get my lure to the right spot in the water more often as it has unprecedented casting accuracy over a conventional guided rod. People are hesitant when it comes to the Interline rods but once you try them you soon realise that they are dead accurate and also cast the same, if not longer distances than a conventional rod. There is no guide wrap and tangles which means you can easily pick up a rod and start casting.
For soft plastics, i’ve just recently started using the Generation Black Pinster rod and I haven’t been disappointed. At 6’4″ I think it is perfect. I like short rods for accurate casts around structure, while it also has a heap of power to persuade fish from around the docks and pylons that I like to fish on Sydney Harbour. This rod played an instrumental part in ensuring that I was able to cast tight into poles and jetties and sink my lure down to the fish at the bottom.
Electronics – On the third day of this event it was my sounder that helped me see what appeared to be fish holding at the base of marinas, mooring poles as well as jetties. It then became a matter of process of elimination with lures to see what they would bite eventually settling with the Keitech 3″ Little Spider in Sahara Olive.
I think it is important to remember that each piece of your equipment, whether rods, reels, lures, line or electronics, is designed to carry out certain functions. Yes, you may be able to use it for purposes other than intended but by doing so you may be limiting your opportunities. You could use a 7’6″ rod to cast tight in around structure but you’re probably going to be more effective by using a shorter rod. Even if you can land 3 out of 5 casts exactly where you want. Add this up over 3 days and that is quite a few casts and potentially missed fish where the correct rod may have landed 4 0r even 5 out of 5 casts maximising your opportunities. Couple this with other equipment like sounders, the right class of line, your decision to try different lures and time on the water and you will start to give yourself an edge over your competition. There is one thing I always try to remind myself when I’m on the water, and that is, my actions are the only thing that I can control.