Fish throughout the Hawkesbury and its tributaries have been a little hard to tempt over the past month or so.
Whether it’s the high water temperature making them a little lethargic or the overabundance of bait is anyone’s guess; my money would be on a combination of both.
Let’s hope a few southerly changes this month will start to slowly cool the water and turn on fish to feed before Winter settles in and really slows things up.
The first bass and estuary perch start to school with a drop in water temp and they can be found anywhere from the deeper pool water in the creeks and streams to along the rock walls, reefs and drop-offs in the Hawkesbury proper, from the headwaters to the reaches around Lower Portland.
Soft plastics are a great choice when targeting these species when they school.
Perch and bass can be found using your sounder around the aforementioned structure.
A soft plastic on a lead-headed jig can be drifted down into the strike zone and worked with finesse to draw a strike.
Don’t put away those surface lures just yet, though. As the air temperature drops at night the warmer water rises to the surface, bringing with it some quality bass that lose their inhibitions after dark.
Drifting in a canoe or a boat or walking the banks throwing larger than normal surface plugs is an enjoyable way to spend an Autumn evening.
Large, noisy lures like poppers, fizzers and walkers are the best for the job, giving off plenty of disturbance on the surface to alert hungry bass nearby.
Bream should become more reliable targets this month as they move back to the brackish reaches from Lower Portland to Spencer and beyond.
They can be found along most rock walls with a bit of current moving past.
Anchoring in close and releasing a steady stream of berley should get the fish on the job and inhaling any lightly weighted bait wafted back their way.
Anglers should also be rewarded drifting along the many rock walls throwing small hard or soft lures into all the nooks, crannies and back-eddies.
There should be quality bream over the next few months before they thin out as Winter settles in.
The leases in Berowra Waters have been getting a lot of attention from the oyster farmers, who are now exporting oysters again after the terrible QX disease wiped out the industry a few years back.
The Hawkesbury used to be famous for large, oyster-munching blue-nosed bream. Let’s hope they return, too.
Flathead are still in good numbers this month with the bulk of the fish still in the upper reaches feeding on the prolific bait.
Covering water will be the key to finding where they are holding. Lures are the best tools for covering water for active fish.
After locating suitable drop-offs with my Humminbird 898 side imaging sounder, I cast or troll, depending on current strength and wind speed.
Trolling is quite productive, allowing anglers to keep their lures in the strike zone for long periods. Hardbodies that run 3m to 5m down, such as the locally made Feral Cat range, are the most effective. They chug into the bottom at regular intervals, kicking up puffs of sand and mud.
Jewfish should begin to filter through the system in better numbers, giving anglers a fair chance of an encounter on lures and bait.
Target areas of reef, major points, bridges and drop-offs around the tide changes for best results. Live baits have been better performers than cut baits recently, due to the catfish devouring anything that can’t swim away from them.
Lures are a great way to cover ground quickly, allowing active anglers to chase the tide to several spots.
Over the past month or so there have been some great schools of salmon, tailor and bonito feeding together around West Head.
At the time of writing they were feeding on the tiny baitfish they call ‘eyes’, which are generally more common around the start of the season, not mid-way through.
My guess would have to be that the large amount of fresh that the north got a few months back created good spawning conditions so we have seen a late run of this particular bait.
The challenge has been to match the hatch. I’ve found cut-down, translucent soft plastics and small metal slices like the 3.5g Halco Twisty are getting consistent results on these fussy feeders.
Fly anglers are having a ball, being able to deliver micro flies on 7 and 8 weight fly gear to these ravenous fish. Long casts followed by a double-handed strip with the rod tucked under the armpit are the order of the day to get a hook up.
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