Hawkesbury delivers some surprises
  |  First Published: August 2012

August in the Hawkesbury can be challenging but the rewards are there if you can brave the cold. It’s an eerie place to fish with the low lying fog and towering sandstone cliffs keeping the sun’s rays from reaching in for hours after day break.

Night time has seen a hive of activity around the boat ramps at Cowan and Brooklyn with anglers looking to tangle with the prehistoric, normally deep water dwelling hairtail. Shore and boat based anglers have been doing very well again this year with reports of fish to 1.6m common. Some lucky anglers have even scored jewfish to 10kg on deep set live baits of yakka and squid. It always pays to have a bigger bait set deep, just be sure to use a heavy sinker to keep it vertical and relatively tangle free.

Bait selection has varied from night to night, so it pays to go prepared. Pilchards and slab baits of yakka, mullet and slimey mackerel are great for ganging and suspending under a float or drifting unweighted down a berley trail.

Try to arrive before dark if possible to track down some live yakkas or squid and you have a deadly mix of baits for all manner of species that inhabit this picturesque part of the Hawkesbury.

Anglers fishing around Broken Bay are scoring good bags of flathead both drifting and at anchor with a good berley trail going. Hawkesbury prawns and squid are the most productive bait when fished on a running sinker rig. I would expect a few good bream to feature as a by-catch as they start to filter back down the coast and into our estuaries.

Salmon and tailor will also make an appearance this month so keep an eye out on the horizon for any signs of diving birds.

A surprise or two

The upper reaches of the estuaries are producing some great fish for my clients and a few surprises too. One surprise was a fat 48cm estuary perch that was well down the system and holding on a reef I regularly encounter jewfish on. Other surprises include blackfish on lures, bass being caught 30km below the jewfish and flathead, and a run of bigger jewfish I had not yet encountered in my years of fishing the Hawkesbury.

I think this is due to the recent inflows from Warragamba, restoring some health back into the system and triggering all sorts of chain reactions that we will hopefully benefit from in future years.

Bread and Butter

Bream should make an appearance this month with some absolute thumpers feeding heavily to put condition on after their trip up the coast. They will be holding on deep rock walls and reefs in the lower reaches up to Spencer. Anglers shouldn’t be surprised if one grabs a lure or bait aimed at larger quarry like a jewie at this time of year.

Towards the end of the month it will be worth heading up into the racks and on to the flats throwing small soft plastics and crank baits on an afternoon’s high tide. You should find warmer water and more active fish hunting the bait that will gather and hold in these locations.

The flathead are still in good numbers and should bite better as the days gradually get longer as we near spring. We encounter them at most spots on charters and it’s a great sign of a healthy system. When brought on board at this time of year these fish tend to spit up small glass prawns about an inch and a half long, which is helpful when deciding which lure to tie on next.

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