The agony of choice
  |  First Published: February 2014

What a summer we have had on the Hawkesbury! Great weather and good catches of bream, whiting, flathead and mulloway in the estuary, quality bass feeding on the surface in the sweetwater and some cracking pelagics around the headlands and bays.

The hard decision is what to chase. Going for walk and discovering a hidden little creek down an old fire trail in search of the Aussie bass usually gets my heart rate up. A comfortable backpack with the essentials like water, lures, pliers and a simple first aid kit is a must. Don’t forget to let someone know where you’re headed and what time you expect to return, just in case the unexpected happens. Better still, take a mate along and play leapfrog, hopping from one pool to the next to get the first crucial cast at the best snag.

Boat traffic will have quietened down in the upper tidal reaches with most people heading back to work this month. Bass in the tidal water have had a great season gorging themselves on the school prawns from Windsor to lower Portland. The odd flathead, bream and EP are holding in the same areas and are a welcome bycatch when using soft plastics and small blades along the rock walls and weed beds.

The gorge at Penrith has turned on some great fishing for those placing their lures tight to the structure. Cast surface lures at dawn (or dusk), and then use small spinnerbaits and shallow crankbaits once the sun gets up. If your casting arm is getting a little tired or the fishing is slow, try trolling tight to the rock walls and weed beds with the appropriate depth lure to cover more ground, and you’ll hopefully find an active patch of fish.

Wisemans ferry has seen some great catches of flathead and school jewfish over the summer period and this should continue for the months to come. The bream seem to be a little absent this year but the odd decent specimen is being caught on bait and lures.

The flathead have taken station on the abundant sand bars and are favouring live and fresh frozen prawns over everything else. Lures are running a close second when the right colour is selected. The best results we’ve had on charter were with a darker pumpkin seed coloured plastic around the 3” mark on a 1/4oz jighead. The windsock, the main point at Wisemans Ferry opposite the MacDonald River mouth and Dads Corner have all produced outstanding bags of flathead and school-sized mulloway this summer.

Broken Bay has produced some great catches also, with most anglers securing a feed from the reliable flathead when conditions have been favourable. Drifting with a selection of baits seems to be a consistent producer.

I’ve been rediscovering some old haunts in Cowan and Berowra creeks of late and trying some age-old techniques to secure some lovely fish using our modern tackle. Pumping nippers was a fun exercise when I was a kid and as I discovered, just as fun as an adult! Gathering fresh live bait like nippers really gets the confidence levels up, and rightly so. I fished a 6lb leader with a pea sinker running to a longshank bait keeper hook, and cast to the weed edges that fringed the shallow sand flats that are abundant in these 2 creeks. There were a lot of pickers and smaller fish but there were also a few legal-sized whiting and flathead. The best whiting measured 41cm and on light tackle and drag settings it put up an amazing fight in the shallows.

Kingfish, bonito and the odd cobia have been harassing baitfish around the headlands and near shore reefs. Live yakkas and slimy mackerel are the standout baits set deep or under a balloon when at anchor, or slow trolled on the flat line or downrigger when you want to cover some water.

Keep your tackle well serviced and make sure your drag is set, as a big hoodlum will test every knot, bearing and binding on your equipment.

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