Bonito on Fly in Middle Harbour

Bonito on Fly in Middle Harbour

December Brisbane trip…cancelled due to Covid…
April Brisbane trip…cancelled due to Covid…

And so, on a beautiful April morning, I launched my kayak from the Tunks Park boat ramp, fly rod in hand. The plan for the day was to go after some pelagic species on fly, specifically the Sydney harbour kingfish. I wasn’t sure what to expect, as Sydney had experienced mass flooding the prior week. And as a result, the water was murky brown, with a lot of suspended debris, as I paddled out towards the rising sun.

I opted to head towards the harbour mouth, hoping the water would be cleaner closer to the ocean. As it turned out, this proved to be a good strategy. The water colour quickly changed from muddy brown to a weak tea, with 3 to 4 meters of visibility, instilling some hope in me.

As I approached Beauty Point, I noticed a lot of surface action in the bay. I quickly paddled over and threw a small surf candy into the churning water. Almost immediately the line went tight, and I was into a decent fish. Sadly I lost it as I tried to turn on my GoPro. Undeterred, as there were still bust-ups all around me, I threw another cast into the boiling white water.

Thankfully history repeated itself, with a (smaller) fish picking up the fly soon after it landed. After a short, but good fight, I landed my first ever bonito on fly (a small Australian bonito). I fished the area for a shorty while longer, landing one more fish, before things finally went quiet.

I continued towards the ocean, past Spit Bridge, fishing wherever I saw surface action. When things got quiet, I changed tactics and started targeting whiting in the shallows, using small poppers. Sadly they evaded me, despite being able to see multiple large schools cruising back and forth.

As the sun got higher in the sky, I moved yet closer to the harbour mouth. The water changed from tea brown to a cleaner, green colour. Initially I fished a new area, consisting predominantly of shallow water, no more than 2 meters in depth. The bottom was predominantly sand, with just the odd patch of seagrass. I saw a few fish, but considering the lack of structure, wasn’t all that hopeful.

From the shallows I headed for a headland, with deep rocky bottoms, lots of kelp, and a fair amount of wave action. It was a first time I’d fished in this amount of chop and wave action, perilously close to rocks, but the water looked too good not to fish. My persistence paid off, and I landed a few small tailor on chartreuse Clouser minnows.

And with that I called it a day. On the way back I switched to my spinning rod, and managed to pick up one more bonito (this time a Watson’s leaping bonito). Despite not getting a kingfish, it was a great day out. There were bonito everywhere, so it’s definitely worth getting out, despite the poor water clarity.