It’s open season on the bass and estuary perch here in NSW and there will be plenty of anglers heading out chasing trophy fish over the coming months. The upper tidal water from north Richmond to lower Portland fishes well at this time of year as residual schools of fish await the warming water temps before heading further upstream as the heat of summer sets in.
If the lack of rain continues some great fishing will be on offer as the competition for food increases. Soft plastics, spinnerbaits and deep diving crankbaits cast to the rock walls, weed beds, tree snags and back eddies will account for quality fish.
As the month progresses and the wattles come into full blossom we can expect the surface bite to pick up. I’ve found the water dragons to be a great sign of when the air and water temps are warm enough to start throwing surface lures with consistent results. Small poppers, paddlers and stickbaits cast tight to structure and worked slowly through the strike zone is a very visual and exciting way to catch bass. I know of a lot of anglers who exclusively fish for them this way all season.
The bream will start to push back upstream as the water temps increase, feeding on school prawns and micro bait in the lower reaches from Brooklyn to Sentry box. Hopping small soft plastic minnows, grubs and creature baits down the rock walls in the back eddies is challenging but very rewarding. Snags are common but if you’re not in amongst it you probably won’t get the number and quality of fish.
Some of the oyster leases are starting to be worked by the pros in the lower reaches and these structures house some impressive fish. Casting shallow crankbaits, poppers and small plastics parallel to the racks is not for the faint hearted, with most anglers upping their leader strength to around 10-12lb to help extract the big blue-noses that call the leases home.
Flathead will become more active as the water temps climb above 15°C. They will follow the school prawns upstream before returning in a couple of months’ time to spawn in the lower reaches. The trawlers are a great indication the prawns are on the up and up, and it’s a smart idea to fish the reaches in the area where the trawlers are. Use your sounder to find a likely drop-off or drift the mangrove edges with lightly weighed baits and plastics to locate these tasty fish.
Trolling is another great way of covering ground and looking for active fish. Small profiles of 2-3” that get down 3-4m are perfect for the river. Natural and bright colours will both have their day. I like to run one of each to see what is working best, and then swap both to the successful colour on the day.
Salmon and tailor will be on offer in Broken Bay, Pittwater and Cowan chasing the micro bait that floods in from the ocean. Keep an eye out for any bird activity and approach on the upwind side. Small metal slices and soft plastic stickbaits are the favourites to fool these often fussy feeders, but casting clear poppers and walk-the-dog style stickbaits can turn on some spectacular surface hits. If the fish go deep and are somewhat spooky try to locate them on the sounder and sink your slice or plastic through the school and retrieve vertically with a varied retrieve.
I have had a sensational season on the mulloway and this month should continue to produce some quality fish. Live baiting will come back into effect as the bait gets easier to source, with yakkas, herring, squid and legal tailor all on the menu. Lure fishing has been producing consistent results through winter, due to the fact that you can move around and cover lots of likely spots in one tide change looking for those actively feeding fish. Lure selection should replicate the food sources found in the river, and I’d suggest a prawn or herring imitation this month.Reads: 948