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Winter rewards are there
  |  First Published: July 2007



Judging by the few boats I see out on the water in the past few months, most people have decided that it’s not the time to be fishing our local waters and have either dedicated their time to footy or other pursuits or gone fishing elsewhere.

Given the cooler weather, it’s not surprising but there have been fish for those willing to put the time and effort. On some outings the fish have refused everything but the times when fish have been active have been rewarding.

It’s when the chances of success are slim that anglers should look for different ways to get fish to bite. It’s very easy to become mechanical in the way we go about fishing when things are quiet, and sometimes by accident, the mechanical angler will land a fish and not really be sure what they did to catch it.

Fishing needs to be more than just mechanical actions to fool a fish; it’s got a lot to do with continually working out what mood the fish are in, what you are going to do to entice a fish to strike and a whole range of factors that thinking anglers constantly go over.

This time of year I love to work on how to get the best out of lures and I start experimenting. It’s easy to become bored when things are quiet but experimenting with various presentations helps you get the best from your techniques and sometimes is enough to fool a fish.

When it comes to fishing heavily fished water when everyone is out in the warmer weather, or in competitions or fishing when conditions are tough, the lessons you learnt from experimenting can make a big difference.

UNDER SUSPENSION

As I mentioned a few issues ago, suspending lures are ideal when fish aren’t feeding actively, when comfort levels are less than ideal, in falling water temps, when fish have been targeted heavily and when the barometer is low. At this time of year the latter two factors don’t relate to anglers in western Sydney, but the rest certainly do.

When the water is cool enough to slow bass metabolism, they’re not going to want to chase lures that move quickly past. Suspending lures can be worked down to depth and allowed to be twitched and paused in the strike zone.

While there are plenty of others to choose from, I find the Rapala Husky Jerk HJ8 and HJ6 excellent but my favourites are the Australian Halco Sneaky Scorpions. They have proven superb on local bass which at times have scooted out a considerable distance to nail one, even in quite cool water.

Sneaky Scorpions have an operating depth of 1.4m and sit slightly head-down when you stop the retrieve. They rise very slowly, which is great for working around weed, timber and other areas. This lure is weight-sensitive and you should tie your line directly to the towing point, not use a clip.

I’ve found the best places to use suspending lures are around weed beds, especially along the faces, and among rocks and timber.

For those working the upper reaches and leaving spawning bass lower down to do their thing, look for bass in the weed and along cliffs. These areas are often considerably warmer and a little more comfortable for the fish.

If you don’t have access to a sounder or you fish from the shore, it might be hard to appreciate that this water can be a degree or two warmer than the rest of the river.

Down in the brackish waters, any bass that started life six weeks ago is now around 10mm long and starting to school for the first time.

ESTARY PERCH

Estuary perch are becoming more popular as anglers expand their fishing prowess and tactics. EPs are often incidental by-catch when targeting bream and bass but can be targeted with dropshot rigs. While the bite can seem a little timid, these fish can really pull when hooked.

A dropshot rig is simple to make and the only thing you might need to learn is a Palomar knot. This time last year, large schools of EPs were successfully targeted using just the dropshot rig.

Bream often mix in with the schools of EPs and join in the feeding frenzy. Why not enjoy it?

If you’re looking for some more fish to add to your Winter scoreboard, get hold of some live prawns and head down towards Wisemans Ferry. Jewfish, bream and flathead are all on the chew and live prawns are a favourite bait. Some of the trawlers on the river often are able to supply you with enough and St Mary’s Tackle gets live prawns from time to time.

Jewfish are about at the moment and with heavy rains flushing through some of the creeks feeding into the main river, it’s time to fish the mouths of these creeks with small to medium mullet or fish strips.

Any jewfish less than 3kg is worth letting go because they don’t call them soapies for nothing. Fish of 3kg to 8kg are worthwhile adding to the pan if you feel like a feed, but these fish are small in comparison to the big mummas which can reach 45kg.

TOP CATCH

Young Corey from Western Sydney Bream and Bass went out fishing with his uncle Michael in late May on the western Nepean bank at Penrith and landed a 50cm bass. A lot of congratulatory postings crammed the Western Sydney Bream and Bass website and something tells me a few lime green spinnerbaits were sold soon after Corey caught his fish.

Sadly, Corey’s memorable catch was recorded only on his uncle’s mobile phone, which won’t provide the print quality needed for this magazine but you can see it at www.wsbb.com.au.

FRESH BREAM

You would think that after all the rain Sydney had over the past few months that there wouldn’t be a hint of salt in any of the upper reaches of the Hawkesbury.

So how about a bream being caught on a prawn just near the lagoon south of the Yarramundi bridge? It makes an interesting addition to the growing number of species which have been caught in this area including flathead, cod and trout.

If you’ve got a catch you’re proud to tell the world about, email me or phone 0418 297 353.

You don't always need expensive lures to catch quality fish. This inexpensive Kokoda G-Vibe did the job on this 425mm bass on the first cast. They're definitely less noisy and sink much slower than some of the expensive lures and replacing the hooks and split rings is a good idea before use.

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