This month we welcome the warmer weather but we’ll still have to brave the cold, foggy starts for a few more weeks yet.
Water temps will start to increase throughout the river this month, bringing the hope of a great season chasing your favourite species. And what better species to target than Australian bass and their cousins, the estuary perch.
September 1 marks the start of the season for bass and EPs and now’s the time to track down those trophy fish while they’re feeding and travelling back upstream to their Summer hideouts.
To pursue bass, my pick at this early stage of the season would be sub-surface because the water temps will still be in the low teens. Soft plastics, bibless minnows, crankbaits and spinnerbaits are all proven fish takers in the tidal water below Windsor.
For the surface lure purists, the first insect hatches are a great indication that the bass will be looking skyward for their next meal, but if you miss the hatches in the afternoons keep your eyes peeled for the eastern water dragons – they are great indicators of increased insect activity.
As the month wears on these fish will make their way up through the shallower sections at Yarramundi, dispersing into the Grose River and small feeder creeks, while other fish will stay in the river proper and make their way to the weir at Penrith.
There they will negotiate the new fish ladder and find happy hunting grounds over Summer in the Nepean Gorge and beyond.
EPs can be found in good numbers around Lower Portland and are willing to whack a soft plastic along the abundant rock walls. Baitfish imitation plastics, such as the Berkeley 3” Power Minnows and Squidgy Flick Baits, are great at this time of year due to volumes of ‘micro bait’ and Nepean herring schools moving upstream.
The perch will be at their best for the next couple of months in the tidal water before becoming harder to find as Summer draws near.
I’m not certain where the big EPs go through Summer but I think having to fish the reaches below Windsor with the skiers and wakeboarders buzzing around you has a lot to do with catch rates and patience.
The bream have moved back upstream and good catches are occurring around Wisemans Ferry and towards Lower Portland. These fish are ravenous in Spring and it’s common to snare 40cm-plus models on large slab baits, live herring and poddy mullet aimed at jewfish.
The school prawns will also start to filter through the brackish reaches and will feature high on the bream’s diet. Live prawns are by far the best but fresh frozen still take their fair share as well.
I like to employ a simple rig of a No baitkeeper hook with a pea-sized sinker running straight to the hook. Lightly pin a live or fresh prawn and drift the rock walls, casting to the eddies. It doesn’t get much easier or more effective.
If that seems like too much work, though, casting small soft plastic grubs and stickbaits in the same areas will yield similar results.
Deep-diving crankbaits are another good option along the rock walls and can trigger some bone-jarring strikes through Spring.
The flathead will be making themselves known at Laughtondale and Dads Corner, feeding on the increasing prawn and baitfish populations.
Prawns are the most reliable bait for those wishing to relax and soak up the sun, while the lure fishos will keep happy pitching heavy plastics and blades weighted to help keep contact with the bottom while the tide is running.
The jewfish have come upstream too and are making the mullet and herring schools quite nervous.
Anglers who secure live bait will fare best and avoid the dreaded catfish plagues. I was recently sent an email of a great mulloway caught by local gun angler Jason Gauci on a soft plastic. His fish weighed 37.7kg and took over an hour to land solo – an awesome effort.Reads: 1522