Each year in September we see air temps rise, causing a hive of activity on land, but the large volume of water in our estuaries means they take longer to warm up. This month, however, the water temps should get a proper rise. When it occurs, most fish will come on the bite with a vengeance. Anglers should be prepared for some sensational angling.
As I mentioned last month, the bass will have made their way upstream with the help of some spring rain to settle into their summer haunts. In the main river there will be some stragglers. These fish have a tendency to stay deep and hold in loose schools on the deeper weed beds and rock walls until the water temp gets to their liking. At such times they will move to the edges and into the top 2m of the water column.
If the fish are still holding deep early in the month, soft plastic grubs, blades and bibless minnows are great for searching the likely structure. If you don’t get any interest, move to the edges and try shallow divers, surface lures and spinnerbaits up to 1/4oz. Once you work out a pattern, stick to it and try to replicate the same scenario in similar places during your outing.
I’ll never forget a session in the Nepean gorge one spring morning when I was hitting every likely looking piece of water. I got bites only when I came across major fallen timber snags. Once I realised the pattern I kept moving from snag to snag without bothering to cast at anything other than fallen timber, and this turned a really slow day into a double digits session.
The flathead always seem to respond well at this time of year as they push upstream towards Wisemans ferry following the school prawns. Most of the trawl fleet will be back out on the river searching for the best patches of prawns too, and they are good areas to start searching for your quarry. The old adage of ‘find the bait and find the fish’ is very true in such a large tidal river. I’m not saying you should anchor where the trawlers are working, but find a likely fish holding area like a drop-off, sand bar or a major rock wall in the vicinity of the trawlers as the fish won’t be far away from their food source.
Live or fresh frozen prawns, soft plastics and blades all have their day when fished on light tackle around the tide changes. Other species like bream, estuary perch and the odd school mulloway are also likely catches, so be prepared for a mixed bag at times.
The lower reaches around Broken bay, Cowan and Pittwater should have schools of salmon harassing micro bait on the surface. These fish can be frustrating at times but I reckon that’s all part of the challenge of working out what they want on any given day. Most times a small metal slug no longer than 1” in silver or white will get the results, while on other days it’s a clear coloured 2-3” soft plastic stickbait rigged on a light jighead, or a 2” clear popper dead sticked in the middle of the action. Having a selection of offerings that you can rotate through in your tackle box is the only option to getting a few runs on the board, and most are fairly cost effective.
As the season progresses the bait will get bigger, and the salmon will be more willing to take larger metal slices, soft plastics and poppers. Tailor and kingfish can be a nice surprise in the midst of a hot bite, so if you’re using light tackle be prepared for the odd bite-off or unstoppable smoking!
Kingfish should become a more reliable target now that the water has started to warm, with downrigging a great technique to find active schools of fish most days. Live squid and yakkas are preferred baits for downrigging, and most sessions begin with sourcing bait. If the bait is hard to find (this can happen to the best of us) switching to lure casting or jigging can turn your day around. Use your electronics to locate schools of fish, and then cast or vertically drop your lure/jig through the school and vigorously work it back to the boat. This approach can be very rewarding.Reads: 503