Clean up as water clears
  |  First Published: April 2013

After two decent freshes in four weeks, the Hawkesbury resembles a cup of coffee but the good news is that it’s clearing daily.

Freshwater anglers will again have the opportunity to tangle with some brown and rainbow trout after the recent Warragamba Dam release. Nepean Gorge will see the most activity, especially around Bents Basin, where the Nepean and Warragamba rivers converge.

Shore-based anglers will do OK spinning below the weir at Penrith. Focus on the rapids and eddies and don’t be surprised if you get hit right at your feet as you retrieve your lure.

Last year Tassie devils and soft plastic minnows were the most consistent producers for us up there.

The bass fishing will be a little slow due to the dirty water but anglers will rejoice in the reduced amounts of the weed that generally chokes rivers at this time of year.

One does wonder if the bass will keep pushing upstream or have an early spawn run, as they did after last year’s flood. One thing’s for sure; it will only improve the fishing in coming years.

The tidal reaches from Windsor to Wisemans Ferry are running quite fresh and the prawns have moved back downstream, where the salt levels are higher.

This will usually have an impact on where fish like flathead, bream, estuary perch and mulloway will be. They follow the bait downstream and slowly push back up with each tide cycle.

Don’t be too put off by dirty water, though. The fish will still be there, as long as there is some decent salt content.

On a recent charter from Wisemans Ferry, my clients scored flathead to 68cm, EPs and bream, mostly on 3” pumpkinseed curl-tail grubs cast tight to the rock walls and worked down the face using a lift-and-drop retrieve.

We could barely see the lures a couple of centimetres under the surface but the fish had no problems locating the vibrating tails in the stirred-up eddies.

Those using bait will no doubt have a few encounters with freshwater eels, which also use the floods to migrate. I have in the past caught a 1.3m freshwater eel and then next bait got a jewfish, so don’t throw in the towel too early if they show up.

Please be respectful to these creatures; they all have a place in the ecosystem. Stabbing them or belting them is dead-set mindless stupidity.

Get your hook out if possible or just cut them free as close to the hook as you can.


The pelagics have slowed a little as all the floodwater made its way into Broken Bay, pushing a nice brown stain out to sea.

There is still the odd patch of frigates, salmon and tailor around West Head and into Pittwater on the incoming tides, though.

The kingfish will most likely be encountered during the incoming tides, too. Live yakkas and slimies are still working great on the flatlines and downriggers around Barrenjoey, Box head and Lion Island.

The mulloway will relish in these conditions. Bait has been concentrated in the lower reaches and the water temps will be dropping steadily, triggering these apex predators to take up station.

Bar Point, the Bridges, Wobby Shores, Gunya Point, Juno Point and Flint and Steel will produce some nice fish as the salt starts to push its way back upstream. Live-baiting and casting soft plastics both work, just focus on the tide changes and the cleaner water.

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