A couple of lazy hours sailing south of Sydney harbour is Port Hacking.
It is a waterway that has several arms to small bays, a couple of quite steep launch ramps and lots of moorings, most of which are occupied. There is a marina where you can refuel and plenty of places to fish.
Just inside the heads are some great fishing spots if the tides and winds comply, with a large series of sand banks that are exposed at low tide and good for getting bait.
The bait we were chasing were nippers also called yabbies, but they are nothing like the yabbies we get in the west.
A method that worked very well was to wait until low tide and find the banks that had the cleanest sand.
Nippers seem to prefer clean sand with no trace of mud which limited us to just two of the banks.
Collecting nippers is as simple as using a “yabbbie pump”, a yard long hand pump that you push into the sand up to the handle and then pump several times.
Lift the sand filled pump, then empty and pick up your nippers which will be wriggling on the sand waiting to be collected.
In less than an hour you can collect as many as you need, selecting the biggest ones for bait and letting the rest return unharmed to their holes.
Using them for live or dead bait whiting adore them, mostly.
Scott did alright using them for bait but I couldn’t give them away, luckily we also had another freshly collected bait.
Most of the Port Hacking waterway has a bed of sea grass that covers everywhere the sand banks aren’t.
This sea grass is home to tons of squid.
There is a jetty next to a launch ramp that has such clean water that water trucks fill up at the ramp several times a day to supply the salt water aquarium trade. Almost every day it isn’t raining there will be one or two people fishing for squid and just before dusk a cluster of squid fisherman for a couple of hours.
These fisherman are targeting arrow squid that school over the sea grass and vary in hood size from the size of your palm up to maybe nine inches.
These critters are very tasty and also make good live or dead baits.
Possibly the most fun fish to catch in Port Hacking is yellowtail kingfish and a close second is mulloway (also called silver kingfish or jewfish).
Scott has caught and eaten many kingfish but I only had one crack at them.
A floating live squid was monstered by a very large beast that I managed to maneuver around the moorings to get right to the side of the boat before it lunged under the keel.
The second my braid touched the underside of the boat it parted and the fish was gone.
Scotts favourite part of the Port Hacking waterway is the couple of bays that are part of the national park.
Like most everywhere around Sydney the water laps up against sandstone cliffs that in every place that isn’t national park is covered with houses.
There are several public moorings in the national park that are quite quiet and relaxed during the week.
On the weekends the water is covered with yachts, powerboats and jet skis.
Lots of them.
Stick to the week days.
Port Hacking is a lovely place to spend time on a boat.