Freshwater shakes things up
  |  First Published: October 2014

Spring is here and the bass are already on the chew. The big flush of freshwater we had at the end of August gave the bass the opportunity to move upstream on their annual migration after spawning in the brackish waters over winter. Some keen anglers braved the cold and opened their annual catch count at midnight on September 1 with photos coming through of fish up to 45cm.

The more laid-back anglers started their count later in the morning, with the guys catching fish on surface lures and spinnerbaits from some of the smaller creek systems around the northern part of the Shoalhaven. If you’re targeting the river, your best bet for bass and estuary perch would be between the ski club and a spot known as Big Red, which is at the bottom of the Longreach strait.

Staying in the river, the freshwater has really shaken the bream into life. Around the canal fishing the rock walls with double deep hardbodies, blades, Cranka Crabs and plastics has seen plenty of success for those who put in the time and effort. Just be careful when throwing around those expensive lures as the tailor have also moved in, and they’ll happily bite through those light leaders and take your lure for keeps in one quick hit.

Out the front on the mud and around the banks we’ve seen the good run of snapper continue. This has been one of the best years we have seen for these fish in a very long time. Bait has been out-fishing the plastic army this year, with the guys who anchor and set up a good berley trail on the edge of the reefs and gravel beds taking the best fish. As soon as the seals turn up you might as well head home though.

If you want to catch snapper on plastics, just look for a broken bottom on your sounder and set yourself up for a good drift. If you hit sergeant bakers and rock cod you’re in the right area and the snapper won’t be far off. However, if you stop catching these pests or stop getting hits it’s time to move or reset your position.

Further offshore has seen the disappearance of the bluefin tuna, which were very sporadic in their attendance this year. However, the yellowfin tuna are trying to heal the broken hearts of those who missed out on catching their cousins this season. Medium sized skirted lures are the go, but be sure to set them back a little further then what you have been used to in the past.

Kings are still hanging around. They’re not big but they’re there. The middle ground and under the cliffs have been the go-to spots, and fresh live baits drifted over the marks appears to be a bit more productive than trolling them.

The Basin is seeing a return to form, and the welcome rain has seen the crystal clear winter waters now lose their clarity and become a lot easier to fish. Big flathead are starting to appear again as the weather warms up, with the Squidgy Fish in black/gold being a good starting point if you want to catch one of these behemoths on a plastic. Just remember that their teeth will easily cut through the typical light bream leaders when they get to this size, so up the ante to at least 10lb. With this method it’s also possible to get a by-catch of the elusive basin mulloway with the amount of tailor in there at the moment.

There have also been good numbers of snapper turning up in the deeper (8m+) water when guys have been targeting deep water bream on 3lb and 4lb leaders and 1-3kg rods with blades and plastics. These fish get the heart pumping, putting in smoking runs and violent head shakes which may see you need to use the electric motor and make chase, and will take a while to land.

Conjola has seen a big influx of new saltwater to the system when the lake was opened up by the local council after the big rains. This has sparked a hot bite from all species that inhabit this system and has been well received by the local fishing community.

Until next time, good times and tight lines!

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