Botany Bay

Fish caught at Botany Bay, Steve Cooper

Recently I fished a hot-water outlet alongside the Kurnell refinery pier in Botany Bay, a few hundred metres from a monument dedicated to Captain James Cook’s landing in Australia in April 1770. A year before, I’d fished from rocks on the Hawaiian Island of Kona, about the same distance from another monument erected for Capt. Cook – one marking the place where he was killed in February 1779.

In Botany Bay I fished with Brett Wilson, manager of the popular Squidgy lure account at Shimano. Brett was driving a 5.79 m Bass boat powered by a 150-horsepower outboard. These boats are low in the water and laid out as fishing platforms. Designed for tournament fishing, with the aim of getting to your destination in a hurry, this  boat zipped along effortlessly at  105 km/h.

Brett collected me at a ramp near Captain Cook Bridge and headed straight across the bay to the refinery pier. When we arrived, he pointed out the boil of water that denoted the refinery outlet.  I was given a small spin stick with  a Squidgy Flick Bait attached and  told to cast into the middle of the  boil. Brett worked a surface lure, a  Stiffy Top Dog. As I retrieved, the tailor rose, boiling over the lure until one became hooked.

It was a constant cast and hook process, with the occasional small yellowtail kingfish thrown in for good measure.

Because Brett’s lure was on the surface, we could see the tailor bumping into each other as they tried to bite the lure. Brett caught six before he lost his lure.

Tailor this size are called choppers. Their jaws are lined with razor sharp teeth that can cut through commercial nets or disable smaller fish by biting their tails off with scissor-like precision. It is why tailor anglers use ganged hooks in whole pilchards, and always leave the tails on their baits. Soft plastic lures stand no chance.

An hour of solid hooking and several lures later, Brett decided to move in search of bream or trevally. We moved several hundred metres and worked our lures along the bottom. The silver trevally proved cooperative but the bream just weren’t interested.

Botany Bay produces an abundance of species. The fishable territory ranges from mangroves and sand flats to channels and bridge pilings where large mulloway hang. Later that morning we drifted along the edge of the channel in Woolaware Bay, east of Captain Cook Bridge. This was one of Brett’s favourite dusky flathead areas and the flathead were keen to chew on his Devilfish Vibes.

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