The river comes alive
  |  First Published: October 2010

This month we should see some more stable weather patterns develop, leading to much more pleasant outings on the water and less of that wind that has plagued recent months.

Most species will respond well to the warming water and the more stable weather. There will be pelagics moving back into the bait-rich estuaries, with school prawns and herring pushing upstream with the ever-present predators hot on their heels.

The prawn trawl fleet should start to shoot their nets this month, which allows anglers not interested in wading around late at night to acquire some of the best bait going – live prawns.

Kept in an esky or bucket with an aerator and a water change every hour or so, they will give you a good chance of securing a feed of bream, flathead and if you’re lucky, a school jew or two.

There’s no point having the best bait on the river if you’re fishing where the fish aren’t. Concentrate on major drop-offs and reefs for flathead, jew and the odd bream.

The majority of bream, though, will be mooching around the intertidal zones on the rock walls, flats and oyster racks. As they become more active in the warming weather, presenting these fish with lightly weighted live prawns on single-handed spinning tackle and light line will become very productive.

Those same areas are playgrounds for those of us that like to fool fish with artificials. Soft plastics, blades and crankbaits are great for searching large areas quickly and getting responses from active fish.


Flathead will start to spread throughout the brackish reaches, feeding up before they head back downstream to spawn over the next month or two.

Soft plastics are number one for searching out a feed of flatties. Three-inch and 4” fish and shad style tails that represent mullet or herring are the go at this time of year.

Once a patch of flathead has been found, cover the area thoroughly because there will generally be a big female sitting close by, keeping an eye on the proceedings.

It may take quite a few retrieves to get a response from these cautious big breeders – they didn’t get big by being stupid.

Jewfish will be in their best numbers this month while anglers throw just about everything bar the kitchen sink at them. Those that put in the effort to obtain live bait and then spend countless hours watching their rods should be rewarded.

All efforts should be concentrated around tide changes at dawn and dusk, when these fish leave cover and start hunting down poor little morsels.

If it remains dry jewies will move a fair way up stream this month. It’s common to encounter them on The Skeletons at Lower Portland while flicking soft plastics for estuary perch and bass, where all three species will be focused on the abundant prawns and herring.

Anglers looking to tangle with one of these apex predators on artificial presentations should match the hatch with their lure selection.


Some great estuary perch action fishing has kept anglers returning to the tidal water below Windsor. Double-figure days are common with a couple of 40cm-plus specimens coming aboard for a quick photo and release.

Bloodworm, pumpkinseed and cotton candy coloured grubs and minnows are favourites; these resemble the prawns that EPs just can’t resist.

Further upstream, the bass will be making their way into the sweetwater creeks, swamps and lagoons.

There is usually an insect hatch or two this month, which sends the bass into a feeding frenzy on the surface. The key is to be there when it happens, which isn’t all that easy.

Most of us will be happy with an early morning start and a handful of surface lures and spinnerbaits. Casting accuracy is half the battle when pursuing bass, the other half is getting the fish out of where you just hooked it!

Crabs should start to appear this month with blue swimmers and muddies becoming active as things heat up. Traps should be baited with hard-wearing, oily baits, with mullet being the most consistent taker.

Make sure you check the regulations for setting traps in NSW and keep an eye on them, because share farming is becoming more common. I witnessed four different boats check a single line of pots last season within an hour!

For all the latest gear and the best local knowledge, drop in and see the guys at Windsor Bait and Tackle.

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