By-catch off the menu now
  |  First Published: June 2013

I hope you all got your last bass and estuary perch fix for the season as they are off limits from June 1 to August 31.

As much as the closed season prohibits the possession of these two species, it’s nearly impossible to avoid them while lure fishing in the tidal water from Lower Portland to Brooklyn.

The EPs especially like to frequent the reefs and drop-offs the mulloway haunt, so it’s inevitable that we cross paths at some point.

A quick boatside release while the fish is still in the water will ensure it will be fit enough to continue on its merry way producing the next generation of hard-hitting and superb fighting perch.

Jewfish have been in reasonable numbers this season and are taking lures readily from Wisemans Ferry to Brooklyn.

Live baits have become scarce unless you run out to the headlands to secure some live yellowtail and/or squid.

I find it much more productive to just tie on a soft plastic and hit some spots on the tide changes. This allows you to cover numerous spots on the one tide change and maximise your results.

Natural-coloured minnows, grubs and shads all have their day on the Hawkesbury.

Take care when selecting the jig head to rig your chosen plastic on. Wire gauge, head shape, hook size and jig weights are all vital elements of a good jig head.

Some lures sit better on particular jigs and trial and error plays a large role in getting the right combination. The one key element is to have that plastic rigged dead straight and snugged up to the lead head with no gaps or kinks.

Flathead start to taper off this month although there will still be a few around feeding on the glass prawns and whitebait that proliferate through the cooler months.

Blades, plastics and bait will all yield results; just be prepared to cover some ground to find the concentrations of fish.

Bream have been a little scarce over the past month but hopefully some of those big blue-noses will show up this month.

There might not be large numbers of bream but the size and fighting prowess definitely make up for this.

I have lost count of how many big bream I have called for a 65cm jewie over the years. They never fail to amaze me on their first run when they feel the sting of the hook.

Berkley Power Minnows in 3” and 4”, Zman Grubz and Squidgy Wrigglers are firm favourites of big bream. Fish them deep and on fine wire jigs for good hook penetration.

The addition of some scent can also entice the fish to hold on a little longer while you set that hook into their bony mouths.


Hairtail should show up in Cowan Creek this month so get the thermos ready! Jerusalem Bay, Waratah Bay, Smiths Creek and Coal and Candle Creek are all worth a prospect as these ooglies move around quite a bit.

I like to set baits at different depths to locate where they are feeding on any given night, then switch all rigs over to the same depth as the rig that is getting the most attention.

If possible, a live bait suspended 1m off the bottom is a great proposition for a big jewie; just make sure it has enough lead to keep it from tangling up your other lines.

The snapper is another viable target this Winter on the inshore reefs, wrecks and washes.

Newport Reef, Long Reef, The Valiant Wreck and East and West reefs all hold nice reds throughout Winter. It’s a matter of hitting each one until concentrations of fish are located.

I prefer the soft plastic approach with 5”-7” minnows and grubs, but anchoring and floating baits down a cube trail can be quite effective for the larger specimens.

Salmon and tailor will be off the headlands and in the bays herding up any stray baitfish as the water cools.

Keep an eye out for diving birds or nervous bait to alert you to their location. Once found, casting metal slugs, soft plastics or flies into the melee is an exhilarating experience, even for the seasoned angler.

If there is no visible sign of these species, trolling a spread of minnows, small skirts and poppers around the washes is an effective way to locate a school or two.

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