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The Hawkesbury’s days of plenty
  |  First Published: April 2015



April has been a good month to me over the years, and I’m sure quite a lot of other anglers would agree. The quality and variety of fish on offer in the estuary is usually at its peak, with falling water temperatures and fish beginning to school up.

Mixed bags can be expected from lower Portland down to Laughtondale when using soft plastics and blades fished along the rock walls and dropoffs. Bass, EPs, flathead and bream can be caught side-by-side in the myriad back eddies created by the aforementioned structure. Making contact with the bottom on a regular basis is crucial to getting a bite, so jighead selection is an important factor — especially if there is strong current flow. Jig weights from 1/8-¼oz with a fine wire hook are best for this application. With current flow and structure, snag-ups are commonplace, but are a great indication that you are putting your lures in the right place!

Below Wisemans Ferry, the bream, flathead and mulloway are biting well, with fresh or live Hawkesbury prawns and squid strips producing good results for those looking to soak a bait. Sourcing live baits of herring, mullet or tailor will put you in with a good shot a decent mulloway on the tide changes.

Casting soft plastics along the rock walls, reefs and dropoffs is a great way to cover ground in the reaches below Wisemans. If the current seems to be too strong, you can try increasing your jighead weight, moving to a new location, or fishing the slacker water around the tide changes in your chosen location. Stickbaits, shads and grubs from all the major brands have their place and day on the Hawkesbury. Pick something you are confident that matches the local fodder like prawn, mullet and herring imitations, or just what looks good to your eye when you give it a swim.

Broken Bay has been yielding some nice school mulloway, with the odd better fish over the metre mark starting to make themselves known. Juno, Flint and Steel, Gunya and the rail/road bridges have all accounted for nice fish over the last month. They seem to have a preference for different baits in different locations, so gathering a selection is a prerequisite to tempting them. Squid, yakkas, tailor and pike are favoured baits from Bar Point to Lion Island. Using baits live is the optimum, but plenty of fish have come from fillets, strips and butterflied baits lately, so keep mixing it up to find what’s working on the day.

The last 2 months produced some crazy surface action in Cowan, Broken Bay and Pittwater from high-speed frigates and mac tuna, with the odd tailor, salmon and kingfish finding their way onto plastics and metals. If we’re lucky they’ll still be hanging around causing diversions at every chance. It makes it hard to stick to your intended game plan when they pop up on the way to the next spot! I know I say it every time, but keep your eyes out for the birds, as they are your best friend when looking for surface action.

Some decent size kingfish are being won and lost in Pittwater, along West Head and Barrenjoey Head. Downrigging squid and flat-lining yakkas or garfish has been the standout technique for the bigger fish. Keep the drags tight enough that you won’t break your knots, and be prepared to drive fish away from cover when necessary. It can be white-knuckle stuff doing battle with inshore kings in tight country on light tackle being pushed to the limit.

Checking over all your equipment and testing knots prior to putting them in the water will eliminate any gear error; it’s then a matter of extracting the fish using smooth, assertive rod work while getting as much line back and onto the reel. Short lifts of the rod coupled with 1 or 2 turns of the reel handle will get that king’s head turned and heading for your net.

Casting the rocky edges inside Broken Bay with 4-5” soft plastics has been working well for keeper flathead, soapy and school mulloway, and the odd trevally and bream. Focus on back eddies and major points out of the wind for best results. Jigheads from ¼-3/8oz will get you to the bottom where the flatties are lurking as the rocks meet the sand.

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Estuary perch will be on fire from Windsor to Wisemans. Soft plastics and blades fished in the back eddies will produce plenty of average school fish, and the odd better one like this.

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School mulloway have been on the bite around Broken Bay. A variety of baits has been the key to getting results.

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Catch, photo and release is the go for these big breeders.

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Tailor are great sport on light tackle and surface lures. They make even better live baits for XOS mulloway though!

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