Better targets than bass
  |  First Published: May 2012

The bass have started to migrate for their annual spawning run to produce the next lot of fish to inhabit our freshwater rivers.

Most keen bass fishos let them do their thing and go and chase other species such as bream and trout over the cooler months, then target them again when the season reopens in September.

If you are still keen to target bass until the season closes at the end of this month, there won’t be any cricket score catches but those fish you do catch will be decent.

This month if you are targeting bass you will be frustrated and spend long hours trying to catch them, that’s why I leave them alone and fish for other species like bream, trout, catfish, mulloway and tailor.

With the recent overflow of Warragamba Dam you don’t have to travel far to target trout, there will be the odd one lurking around the river.

The last time the Water Catchment Authority opened the dam was about 14 years ago and I got stuck into the trout back then, with some very healthy fish reaching 3.5kg.

The trout this time around are very poor in condition, long and skinny.

You can fish with bait such as worms or PowerBait Marshmallows on a running rig consisting of a small hook and a ball sinker with a leader of about 50cm long.

However, I prefer lures and some of my most successful have been Tassie Devils, spoons, soft plastics and crankbaits. I use a 2kg-4kg spinning rod and a 1000-2500 spinning reel loaded with 4lb-8lb braid.


A species not commonly sought after is the eel tailed catfish. In the upper reaches of the Nepean they are plentiful and commonly reach 3kg and put a good fight on light gear.

With the growing numbers of carp in the river the catfish will slowly decline because they lay their eggs on the bottom and the with the lack of water flow silt forms over the eggs and the carp come along and eat them.

Good bait to catch the catfish are worms, shrimp and mussels.

Catties are underrated as food fish. They are ugly and slimy but when skinned and filleted they produce surprisingly tasty meat.

Be careful when handling them, the spines on the dorsal and pectoral fins can inflict a painful sting.


Big bream are on the chew this month so it is a good time to get out there and try to catch the bream of a lifetime.

Best baits are nippers, crabs, prawns, skirt steak, chicken breast, squid and much more – bream are scavengers and eat almost everything.

I find the best rig to fish for bream is a running sinker right down to the hook.

Berley is a good way to get the bream to the area you are fishing and keep them there. Pour a small amount of tuna oil over stale bread and it will do the job nicely.

A variety of lures such as soft plastics, surface lures, deep and shallow diving crankbaits and blades all catch bream.

Bream like to hang around the pylons of bridges and wharves, under moored boats, mangroves and sand flats, so these are the places I would go searching first.

Lure fishing for bream is far more exciting than sitting waiting for a fish to come to your bait; you are actively chasing them with lures and you cover so much more water.

Make sure your fishing equipment is in top order, otherwise that fish of a lifetime might just win the battle. Check your line, knots and hooks; big bream are punishers.


This month is a good time to sit in the lounge room and clean your fishing equipment. Get your tackle boxes out and check your hooks and split rings, change them if needed.

I like to give my lures a soapy bath every few months to keep them in top shape. Clean your rods with a soft damp cloth and get all the dirty residue off the guides and grips and they will make casting those lighter lures much easier.

Reels need to be serviced regularly with grease and oil. If you are not confident in doing it yourself take it to your local tackle store and for a small fee they will do all the work. It is cheaper to have it serviced than to buy a new reel.

There is nothing worse than losing a good fish to gear failure. Clean your gear and it will last you a long time.


I hate nothing more than arriving at a fishing spot to find rubbish everywhere.

It is disgusting that some people just don’t care about their environment and have to spoil it for others. And they are usually the first to jump up and down when they lose access to a fishing spot due to it being trashed all the time.

I carry a couple of garbage bags in my tackle bag and I am forever picking up rubbish and taking it to the nearest bin.

A prime example was the other day when I walked into Nortons Basin chasing trout. When we arrived in the carpark it looked like a dumping ground, with rubbish everywhere.

We walked down the track and there was just rubbish all the way to the water’s edge. The worst was half-way down there, where an abandoned campsite had broken chairs, food containers, clothing and even an inflatable mattress.

It is even worse when you are finding discarded fishing line, hooks and sinkers lying on the ground. People wonder why certain organisations are trying to ban fishing altogether because of the impact of leaving your rubbish behind.

For your chance to win some cool gear from Shimano, mention my article and like Young Guns Fishing Adventures on Facebook, book a lesson and you automatically go into the draw to win some Shimano gear.

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