This is one of the busiest times of the year on the Hawkesbury, and for good reason. Anglers have been revelling in the great weather and sensational fishing.
The bigger mulloway will taper off in catches this month as the smaller soapies predominate in the river proper. The larger breeders will be preoccupied on the near shore reefs and beaches, creating future stock.
They are best sought when they venture into the mouths of the system on big tides at places like Lion Island, Flint and Steel, Eleanors Bluff, Gunya Point and Wobby Shores.
Alternatively, a session on some of the northern beaches may pay dividends when coincided with the full or new moon and a big rising tide after dark.
My clients have been getting into quite a few school jew up to 1m on soft plastics and live bait throughout the brackish reaches. The fish were spread right through from Brooklyn to Dads Corner above Wisemans Ferry.
We had sessions when we would score one on a reef at Brooklyn, then chase the tide to Wisemans and pin another, only to run back down and hit the next tide change for yet another quality fish. Plenty of fuel is needed to accomplish these long runs but with results like we have been getting, it’s all worthwhile.
Mixed in with the jew are some thumping big blue-nose bream. These guys are hitting lures and bait and are from 800g to well over a kilo.
One recent night charter didn’t turn a scale on a jew as we couldn’t get past the huge bream that kept destroying our hard-earned live baits. The two bream that did manage to find the hooks measured 40cm and 44cm.
There is a good concentration of these quality fish at the Landslide, the Windsock, No Man’s Land and pretty much any rock wall that features small rubble.
Live bait like black crabs, school prawns, nippers, herring and poddy mullet are all favourites on their day. Fish them with as little weight as possible for best results.
Matt Brown had a session recently that yielded nine bream to 1.5kg after his live fish baits were being picked to bits; he added a fillet off one of his ex-livies to the spread and made the most of a slow jewie session.
Being prepared to switch techniques is what sets great anglers apart from those that continue to do the same thing and expect a different result.
The flathead will have pushed right back upstream after their Spring spawn. There will be good concentrations on most drop-offs and sand bars from Wisemans Ferry to Windsor.
Slow-rolling lipless crankbaits, blades or soft plastics is most effective, as is drifting small live herring or poddy mullet.
Last Christmas Day and Boxing Day my fiancée and I got stuck into flathead averaging 50cm on a shallow sand bar at Ebenezer at first light.
It was the best start to a Christmas I can recall. We were home by 7.30am with a swag of fillets for lunch and smiles from ear to ear from bone-jarring strikes.
Mixed in with the flathead in the upper tidal limits will be a healthy smattering of school bass. These guys aren’t the biggest but they make up for it with their super-competitive and aggressive nature.
They are usually chock-full of school prawns and average around 30cm.
Still in the tidal fresh water, Greg Beattie had a cracker of a session fishing with Ben from Windsor Bait and Tackle.
The guys were throwing spinnerbaits with Slider Grub trailers and were rewarded handsomely in a 50-plus fish session. Greg managed the best two at 48.5cm and a stunning 57.5cm.
Back downstream, the mud crabs have finally shown up in reasonable numbers with reports coming in from Berowra, Spencer and Laughtondale.
If this dry weather continues they should move right up as far as Lower Portland and even beyond.
Make sure to mark your traps and have the appropriate length of rope for the depth of water you are setting in. I commonly see traps riding the tide because they have been set in high current areas on short leashes.
Try to select your locations out of the main flow and traffic channels and pick back eddies around major bends and in smaller creek mouths to snare your quarry.
It may also pay to set you traps within eyesight of where you’re fishing because the ‘share-farming’ practices of some are just ridiculous.
I wish everyone a safe, prosperous and joyous festive season on our waterways.Reads: 985