Bass head for sweetwater
  |  First Published: December 2008

Summer is a most productive time to fish for bass, estuary perch, mullet and carp in the upper reaches of the Hawkesbury-Nepean catchment.

As the water temperature rises, the bass and estuary perch move up-river from the salt water to the fresh and brackish reaches. The main population of bass will range from around Wisemans Ferry upstream as far they can travel without running out of water or into a man-made barrier.

When fish are travelling upstream fish the mouths of the creeks when the tide is falling and work upstream on the rising tide.

Some of the best bass creeks that run into the Hawkesbury are Sickbays, Cattai, Little Cattai, Currency and Webbs creeks.

There are also small creeks the run into the Colo and Macdonald rivers; some can be fished by boat, others on foot or from a canoe. Many of these creeks are on private land to be sure to ask for permission before fishing on private land.

Bass are caught on lures cast near weed beds, under trees, near snags and around rocky areas. Look for the shady areas and cast there because these fish don’t like the sun.

Bass are also caught on live worms grasshoppers and prawns suspended under floats or on the bottom. Remember, there is a bag limit of only two per day and only one can be longer than 35cm. Even better, let them all go so we can catch them again.

Some of my favourite bass and perch crankbaits include the Lucky Craft Flat Mini 50, LV R Mini 57, Taylor Made Nugget and the baby Feralcatt. For surface lures try the Lucky Craft Sammy 65, Lucky Craft NW pencils 52mm ,the Taylor Made Walker and the Heddon Tiny Torpedo and Jitterbug.

Peter and Mick from the Australian Bass Angler say the bass are really on the chew with fish of all sizes caught all through the Nepean.

Some of the better areas have been below the weir with plenty of good bass falling to guys walking the bank. Surface lures have been working late afternoon and into the night.

Mick also reports that some of the local saltwater guys have been fishing around Goat Island in the Harbour for kingfish to 75cm and some decent salmon. The gun lure for the larger kings has been the 9” Slug-Go in white and green and the salmon have been suckers for 4” and 6” Twitches.

Ben and Dan from Windsor Bait and Tackle say bass season in the river has taken off with daily reports of big fish aggressively taking surface poppers, fizzers and walkers, quite often the second they hit the water. Get out there and have a go at this fun native fishery.

As it warms up and the river traffic becomes unbearable, put on some hiking boots and head up the creeks and smaller rivers to experience some great sweetwater action.


Downstream around Wisemans Ferry, the river has come to life with plenty of big bream, great bags of eating-size flathead from 40cm to 60cm and soapy jew with the odd bigger fish to 10kg. Soft plastics, live prawns and live herring seem to be producing.

Down at the mouth, around Lion Island and Barrenjoey, the occasional school of salmon and/or kingfish has shown up.

Keep your eyes peeled for bird activity. The fish are feeding on ‘eyes’, tiny baitfish, so 10g metal slices, small plastics and flies are the way to hook into some.

Dan recently had a good session in Sydney Harbour, landing two kings to 70cm, three salmon and a 74cm jew in horrible conditions and all on 3lb braid and 8lb leader. A mix of metal slices and soft plastic stickbaits was the order of the day.

Summer is when the sea temperature is on the rise and pelagics turn up in Sydney Harbour, Broken Bay, Pittwater, Cowan Creek and offshore. Species such as mack tuna, striped tuna, bonito and kingfish mix in with the salmon and tailor.

It’s also time to check that your high-speed spin tackle and saltwater fly gear will hold together for the productive months ahead. There’s nothing worse than heading out for a session and finding out your gear is faulty. So this is the time to:

• Check all your rods for any damaged guides or tips.

• Service your reels and make sure that the drags and bail rollers are perfect.

• Check your line and leaders and replace last year’s mono.

• Replace all the rusty trebles and sharpen the new ones.

In recent weeks there have been reports of guys hooking up on salmon, kingfish and good tailor around Barrenjoey and Box Head, mostly deep on trolled lures.

When one of your crew gets a hook-up, cast a metal or soft plastic around because often the hooked fish will have a few mates following it.

There has also been a school of salmon around North Head and Bluefish Point which have been taking 4”and 6” plastics worked back very slowly with a stop-and-go retrieve.

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