Salt pushes well upstream
  |  First Published: October 2012

With water temps rising by the day, fishing throughout the Hawkesbury is the best it has been in many years. With a sustained dry period through August, the salt has had a chance to push well upstream of Wisemans Ferry and the water clarity is great on the smaller neap tides.

With this above-normal salinity and clarity comes the bait, which brings the fish. Bream, flathead and jewfish will be out in force, taking any opportunity to snaffle any stray prawns, poddy mullet or herring that wanders too far from safety.

Spencer has benefited from this clean water, with a school of Australian salmon for a month or two calling the mouth of Mangrove Creek home.

Locals have been talking about anglers scoring the odd one from the public jetty on small live bait. I have had a couple of encounters as well but have managed to hook only one, on a live yellowtail intended for a jewie.

Some have followed hooked fish to the boat and others are just terrorising the odd bit of bait off the surface.


The kingfish should appear off the headlands this month and start to filter into the harbours and bays as October wears on. Live squid and yakkas are a great way to take some early season XOS hoodlums, as is casting lures like 6”-9” soft stickbaits and poppers at any type of structure or washy area.

I recently took ownership of a 20000 Shimano Stella to combat some of the monumental bust-offs that occurred last season on fish that were well over 1m. I can’t wait for these fish will come back for round two and stretch my clients and gear to the limit.

Bonito, salmon and tailor will still be harassing baitfish around the washes and into Broken Bay.

If there are no birds to guide you, try trolling a spread of hardbodies and small skirts until you locate a school, then it’s just a matter of repeated trolls through the same area or pulling up and casting soft plastics, blades or small metal slices. Allow them to sink to the required depth where the fish are holding.

We caught some great hairtail to 1.7m at the end of Winter and if last season is anything to go by, they will still be there for the taking this month.

Jerusalem Bay was where we met with most success but any deep bay in Cowan is worth a shot at these highly mobile predators.

The best approach was to cast a fillet of yakka on a two-hook gang and slowly retrieve back to the boat. Wait for a tap and a bit of weight, then strike firmly to secure your catch.


Back in the river proper, the flathead are going from strength to strength. Lure and bait anglers are taking some great fish as they get ready to spawn.

Please release the big breeders so we will have great flattie fishing for years to come. The bulk of fish will be in the lower reaches but there will be a good concentration of flatties up as far as Dargle as long as it remains dry.

These fish follow the school prawns upstream and are commonly caught while targeting bass and EPs on soft plastics and bibless minnows in the upper tidal water.

Some great bream have been smashing my clients’ lures all the way up to Wisemans Ferry. Lure selection doesn’t seem to matter, with most of the larger fish taking 4” and 5” lures intended for jewies.

I recommend focusing on the rock walls and oyster leases as the month wears on because the bream will start to feed higher in the water column as the water temps rise.

Jewfish have been biting well and this month we should see some great fish come in. Live bait will be a great proposition this month because the bait itself will be a lot easier to secure and the fish will be more active. Target areas of reef or sharp drop-offs around the tide changes and a silver submarine shouldn’t be too far away.

The bass season has been great so far. With the reduced weed after the flooding earlier in the year and a cool Winter, anglers are rejoicing in the ability to work a 2m-3m diving plug against bankside structure without fouling up as much.

The weed will, however, make a comeback as favourable conditions develop as we near Summer. This is where small spinnerbaits and jig spinners come into their own, allowing you to work your offerings over the top of the offending vegetation.

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