River is in peak condition
  |  First Published: October 2013

It’s amazing what consecutive years of good rain can do for an estuary. The Hawkesbury is certainly revived and alive, with all manner of fish thriving in the nutrient- and bait-rich system.

A warmer than usual Winter has kept water temps up and the fish feeding and in an active mood.

None more so than the Aussie bass. After a good flood at the beginning of Winter the big breeders headed downstream to spawn and their results will be great for the next 10 years or so.

Some quality fish have been taken in the tidal water from Ebenezer to Cliftonville on soft plastics and spinnerbaits, with rock walls and sand bars the standout places to prospect.

Surface fishing should start to kick into gear as the insects begin to hatch.

Small poppers, fizzers and walkers are favourites and always get a run when the fish are looking upwards.

The terrace from Windsor to North Richmond has also produced some great fishing but the smaller bass have a nasty habit of beating their bigger brethren to your lures along this weedy stretch.

Sometimes throwing bigger-profile lures can deter them but this is not always the case, as most hardened bass anglers will attest.

The bass’s close relative, the estuary perch has also been biting well in the tidal water from Wisemans to Windsor, with rock walls and weed beds firing up on the run-out tide.

Soft plastic grubs around 2”-3”, minnows in pumpkinseed and watermelon and compact 3g-7g blades are the weapons of choice for perch.

Get those lures in tight and make sure your drag is set, because the first run of a big EP can be damaging. I don’t know of many who take perch to eat and as such, their numbers are plentiful throughout the upper tidal water.

They should bite well over the next month or two before the wake boats turn up with the warmer weather and make it unbearable to fish there.


Plenty of good-sized bream have taken up residence in the brackish tidal reaches from the road bridges at Brooklyn to Cliftonville, well upstream.

Rock walls, reefs and bloodworm beds are all producing fish on their day.

If there is no activity within 30 minutes, anglers need to move regularly to find where the active fish are on a given day.

Berowra has also been fishing pretty consistently using small blades and soft plastics. Translucent green has been the best colour in the clear water here.

The flats in Berowra and Cowan will also start to fire as the water temps keep rising.

Shallow crankbaits and surface pencils in clear/translucent colours will undo a few unsuspecting bream and whiting on the rising tide early and late in the day.


Flathead will be thinking about heading back to the lower reaches for their annual spawn run.

This is typically the time of year when I see and hear of a lot of big flathead being caught around Brooklyn on live bait and soft plastics. Please be mindful and release any big fish over 65cm. My heart sinks every time I see a big girl getting filleted at the ramp.

The smaller males from 40cm-60cm are great eating and in good numbers for those prospecting the drop-offs with 3”-5” plastics and soft vibes.

Keep in regular contact with the bottom during the retrieve to follow the bottom contours and encounter more fish.

Jewies are still biting well but are spreading out with the dry conditions.

Captures are being reported from Broken Bay to Wisemans Ferry on lures and bait.

Wisemans Ferry to Sentry Box has a lot more soapy jew, with the odd schoolie getting into action when the conditions suit. Live bait really starts to take over this month as the herring, tailor, yakkas, mullet and school prawns become prolific in the warming water.

Bait gathering is great fun and really gets the confidence levels up before setting off to target your quarry.

Hopes are high that the kingfish move back inshore early this year. They didn’t turn up until December last season.

Flatlining and downrigging live squid and yakkas are the best methods to cover water and find active fish.

Don’t forget to have a small metal slice rigged and ready to cast if you’re venturing around Broken Bay. There have been regular bust-ups from salmon and tailor.

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