The catchment gets a clean-out
  |  First Published: August 2007

Local systems have seen a huge influx of water, thanks to the storms that have battered the coast. Rivers and creeks that many anglers have seen choked with weed and sand have experienced large volumes of water that we haven’t encountered for some time.

On a recent drive to Canberra, it was amazing to see so much water flowing into the upper Nepean River and smaller creeks, with torrents adding to the huge flow downstream.

It’s not until you take a drive and consider how large the Hawkesbury-Nepean catchment is that you appreciate just how much water adds to what we see in our areas of western Sydney. The catchment covers 22,000 square kilometres and covers a region bound by Lake George near Goulburn, the escarpment west of Wollongong, north to around Gosford and west almost to Lithgow. No wonder the 480km of waterways of the Hawkesbury/Nepean are so full.

There had been plenty of jewfish around the Wisemans Ferry area before the higher water levels made fishing out of the question. Fish to 15kg had been taken with many smaller ones as well/

Large jewfish were taken on large soft plastics, like Squidgy Slick Rigs and Squidgy Fish, bounced slowly along the bottom. To get the fish actively feeding, berley was the secret. It’s better to use a little berley often rather than a at once.

For bait anglers, fresh squid has been proving to be a good choice but fresh slabs of mullet or tailor also attracted good jewfish.


If you like a bit of a mixed bag when you’re fishing, The Skeletons at Lower Portland was holding bream and EPs and it wasn’t unusual to catch a perch and then follow it up with a bream.

Dropshotting is an exciting way of mixing up your catch. With 4lb or 6lb leader and 4lb braid, rigging up a dropshot rig is simple and very effective once you’ve mastered the palomar knot.

The braided line allows you to feel every touch on your plastic, and watching the braid in the water helps you to detect bites visually as well as by feel. Allow the rod tip to fall a little to give enough slack for the EP to suck in the plastic. EPs are pretty fish that are full of fight when hooked.


Bass can be caught off the surface in Winter and, with a river full of water, now would be a good time to give them a go with big, noisy surface lures. The secret is to make lots of noise with your lure from the start but to work it slowly.

Because local waters may be still a little high, I’d be working areas out of the current where eddies form and up near the edges of the banks.

Weed beds or rocks often have water a degree or two warmer and these are key places to try. They allow fish to sit out of the current in warmer water.

It’s best to try either a fluoro or dark lure. Get the lure to hit the water firmly right in close to the bank, letting the bass know there is something in the area worth investigating.

Something like a Heddon Hula Popper really makes a loud blooping noise and can be worked very slowly to allow the bass find it.

My first bass on fly was taken just out of the current in among some timber using a wooden popper. I was very new to fly fishing then and I distinctly remember being captivated by the bass slamming the slow, noisy popper in the shallows – fantastic fun on a sloppy fly rod!


While some anglers may put off fishing in dirty water, look at it as a reason to get fishing. Jewfish are one of many species that get the urge to feed when dirty water flows into rivers.

If you’ve been fishing for some time, you’ll have noticed how well fish can track down a bait or lure with their highly developed senses. Whether it be the subtle vibrations given off by a plastic, or the scent of a bait emitted into countless millions of litres of water, fish can track down food no matter what the colour of the water.

To help fish find your presentation, use lures, plastics and flies which contrast well with the water. Some prefer to use black lures, fluoro coloured lures or even silver, with these last two picking up whatever light is available.

Use lures that given off plenty of vibrations and rattles which fish can track down. Given that the water still be coloured this month, being patient is a must. Think about their ability to use sonar, sight, and smell and never underestimate a fish’s sensory abilities.


It’s about this time every year that I start going over what I want to do with my fishing in the next 12 months. I’m never one wanting to get stuck doing the same thing year after year. I’ll be considering new techniques, continuing where I left off with some others and getting back into some of the older stuff I haven’t used for a while.

You might ask why some anglers do that and you would get different answers depending on who you ask, but to just keep fishing the same old way won’t always produce results you might expect.

As fish get more heavily pressured by social and competition anglers, they’re also getting smarter. Having different techniques available to you can turn an ordinary session into a much better one.


In past months more than 20 people in western Sydney have been rescued by the NSW Ambulance helicopter after they got into trouble in swollen floodwaters. If you’ve seen the stories about these rescues, you’ve probably got your own opinions about those rescued but the rescues did highlight the dangers of being caught in dangerous waters.

Creeks can rise very quickly and what was a tranquil watercourse can be 3m underwater with trees and other debris confronting astounded anglers and bushwalkers. Having been caught in a flash flood as a teenager swimming in a creek, I can vouch for how fast creeks can rise, even on days with blue skies. It’s a lesson I’ll never forget.

If you’re planning on fishing in creeks at any time, look for possible escape routes, keep an eye out for rising water and move in plenty of time to get to safety.

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