Herald Hawkesbury harvest
  |  First Published: December 2013

I have lived and breathed the Hawkesbury my whole life and have never seen such great fishing. Big bass started to fire up as we had our first few warm days in mid-October, yielding quite a few over 40cm and a handful of 50cm+ specimens in the often windy conditions.

Spinnerbaits were the standout lure for seeking out these bigger fish. They allow you to sink your lure down the deeper edges and encounter submerged ledges and snags that are often overlooked by most that cast to the edges.

A decent dump of rain is still needed to allow the bass to repopulate the sweet water creeks. A few resident fish are still there but the numbers seem to be down after most took the free ride down to spawn during June’s decent fresh. That aside the tidal water has been seeing some great fishing for bass and perch as competition is high for the school prawns and baitfish.

Surface feeding antics early and late in the day is what I’m looking forward to this season. The late Dean Hayes coined the term ‘pelagic bass’ for this special phenomenon where schools of ravenous bass push masses of prawns to the surface and gorge themselves until they are about to pop!

Flathead will often be encountered underneath this feeding activity once the bass have started to wise up to your offerings. If the current dry conditions continue, targeting flathead from Windsor to lower Portland will be viable using plastics, vibes and lipless crankbaits on the numerous drop-offs and bars.

Prawns, live and fresh frozen are also accounting for some quality catches around Wisemans Ferry. At present they are accounting for the best catches in the upper tidal water with reports of hot sessions on mulloway, flathead, bream and estuary perch filtering through.

Those inclined to throw lures will fare better as the season progresses and the bait stocks diminish. Lures that represent the size and colour of the local prawns always seem to get best results but small shads and paddle-tails that represent poddy mullet and herring will work on their day.

Rock walls will be holding bream and EPs while reefs, creek mouths and drop-offs will be holding mulloway and flathead with the odd bream or two. Fish as light as possible for best results.

The mud crabs should start to make an appearance this month, so setting some traps with fresh fish frames or a perforated bag with a handful of pilchards secured inside will put you in with a chance. Select areas where there isn’t a lot of current flow or boating activity and make sure you have enough rope for high and low tide so your pot doesn’t lift and float away.

Kingfish are bouncing back in numbers and size so make sure your gear is well serviced and up to the task. We have already encountered several fish to over a metre on live baits run from the downrigger. These fish test everything from knots, rods and reels, terminal tackle and also how well you have secured your rod holders to the gunnels! You can never be too prepared for the kingfish.

Live squid was the standout fish producer early in the season but they will favour live yellowtail and slimies as the season progresses. Work the headlands and inshore reefs and wrecks by drifting with baits set deep or on downriggers. If you come across an active patch, try saving some of those precious live baits and switch them onto big soft plastic stick baits or micro jigs for hours of action-packed fun.

Keep a look out for diving birds around Broken Bay and Pittwater as the kingfish can feed side-by-side or just below salmon and tailor schools.

Fishing aside, I hope you guys have a safe, happy and prosperous Christmas and New Year period, I’m sure I’ll see a few of you on the water.

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