Spectacular sessions
  |  First Published: March 2012

We’ve been having a great season on the Hawkesbury. Warm water pushed on shore in January and with it came some spectacular fishing.

One memorable day produced 12 kingfish, one bonito and a nice-sized cobia for client Ken Wilkins trolling around Barrenjoey Headland. We were the only boat out there in some less than desirable conditions but were handsomely rewarded.

The kingfish should still be lurking around the headlands and into Pittwater this month. Live squid and yakkas are the most consistent producers but fresh strips of squid or fillets like fresh-caught bonito floated down a berley trail will also work.

In the river proper it gets a bit weird.

Hairtail are still being caught in decent numbers, even in the warm water around Flint and Steel! It hurts my head…

Only a couple of years ago there was barely a hairy to be caught and this year we had a bumper Winter run but they seem to have stuck around.

The jewfish have been quite active in the lower reaches with good catches from the bridges and Flint and Steel. The smaller soapies have invaded the upper reaches from Spencer to Wisemans Ferry. Fresh and live prawns have been the standout bait.

This month we should see some of the bigger models moving upstream to feed before Winter sets in.

Large live, whole and cut baits will get you in the game for a big mulloway. I prefer to target reef edges but the many deep corners and rock walls are all worth a go at this time of year.


The flathead have been really spread out this year. Even with several small freshes there are still good populations sitting in the brown murk above Lower Portland.

The school prawns are why these guys are sticking it out and they are by all means still catchable. Sound out a drop-off or two and anchor or hold ground with the electric motor.

Present these fish with soft plastics, hardbodies or blades for best results.

If you use bait up this high in the system, eels can pose a problem.

One method to reduce the frequency of eels coming to the boat is to actively fish your baits like you would a soft plastic. Cast up past the boat and allow your bait to reach the bottom and then slowly hop it off the bottom and feed a bit of line back as it drifts past you.

This will reduce the number of unwanted pest species and put you in with a shot at decent predatory species like flatties, bass and estuary perch.

Paulie Romano recently put in an overnighter around Brooklyn in search of that elusive mulloway but instead came away with his new PB flathead. The big girl measured 91cm and was released to breed more flatties and so some other lucky angler has a chance to catch her.

Bream have also been caught lately as far up as Dargle. Although not common captures this far up, they certainly do cover the ground to find a feed.

The Skeletons have been producing the odd bream as well but the rock walls up around Wisemans Ferry are where the bulk of the action has been.

Small soft plastics and crankbaits that get down to around 2m are yielding good results.

The oyster leases in Berowra Waters and Mooney Mooney Creek are also holding good concentrations of kilo-plus bream – extracting them is another story, though.

If the rain stays away and allows the river to clear a bit we should see some good catches of bream in the next few months.


The bass have been keeping plenty of locals happy with double-figure catches on many outings. Surface lures are really working a treat this year, I think because of the hatches of Christmas beetles and cicadas.

Subsurface presentations like spinnerbaits and shallow crankbaits are great to have on hand if the bass aren’t keen to come to the surface. Purple/black, white/chartreuse and red/black are my preferred spinnerbait colours in the Hawkesbury.

As for the crankbaits, most colours will score fish but it’s hard to go past purple, pink or gold for consistency.

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