Getting your timing right
  |  First Published: November 2015

This month will be a hive of activity on the Hawkesbury with the Hawkesbury Classic, Canoe Classic and multiple ski and boat races. When all this is mixed in with the usual recreational anglers and boaties, the river suddenly seems a like it’s Pitt Street!

Smart anglers should focus at the prime times of dawn, dusk and into night to secure the Hawkesbury’s prized capture: the mighty mulloway. You can catch these fish throughout the day but those prime low light periods are when that fish of a lifetime will most likely be searching for its next meal.

Live baits are readily available this month in the form of yakkas, herring, mullet, squid, tailor and prawns. Securing a variety or just a single type of bait can make a big difference when it comes to specifically targeting mulloway.

Throwing soft plastics and vibes around the tide changes on prominent structures like bridges, reefs and drop-offs will also account for some nice fish, along with the usual run of soapies and the ever-present flathead.

Flathead have been featuring in bags throughout most of the Hawkesbury and its tributaries, and are reasonably easy to encounter. This is their spawning time of year so please release any big flathead over 65cm. Prawns are the pick of the baits for those anglers wanting to relax and soak a bait, but the lure flickers are getting the better quality fish.

Fishing areas like Upper Half Moon, Dads Corner, the mouth of Webb’s Creek, the mouth of the McDonald River and the wind sock at Laughtondale with soft plastic and blades will score those better fish that are reluctant to take a dead bait. Drifting is the preferred method but you can also do well at anchor as the tide is starting to slacken off.

Soft plastics and blades that resemble prawns and small baitfish in the 2-3” range are the best starting point. I really favour curl tail grubs when using soft plastics as they have action on the lift and the drop. This means they don’t need as much angler input, and they produce great results time and time again.

The flats will start to fire in Pittwater, Cowan and Berowra. Whether you’re using surface or sub-surface presentations, the bream, flathead and whiting should be willing to climb on. I prefer slightly larger surface stickbaits as they cast farther and seem to attract a better class of fish. I’ll take quality over quantity any day! Small crankbaits, blades and soft plastics will all have their day in the sub-surface realm; it’s just a matter of seeing what the fish want on the day.

If you like casting around structure for your bream, the lower rock walls from Wisemans to Spencer have been consistent. The leases in Berowra, Marramarra and Mooney Mooney Creeks are good too, as they are always home to a few stud blue-nosed bruisers. You can get away with fishing heavier leaders in the dirty water found around the leases. Start with 10lb and go heavier if you’re losing more than you’re winning. Just remember that a thicker leader will affect your lure’s action, and this can result in fewer bites. It’s a bit of a trade-off sometimes.

The kingfish have moved inshore in recent weeks. Live yakkas and squid are their preferred baits. Go loaded for bear as these hoodlums are getting bigger by the year. Downrigging and flat lining will be the best methods of presenting baits to active fish. Alternatively, if they are a little slow to take trolled baits, a slow drift with live and strip baits may be the ticket to get them to bite. Just make sure your rod holders are up to the task because these guys hit hard and fast.


The bass are biting well in the freshwater reaches above Windsor and through the upper Nepean. They have been hitting most offerings, with the jig spinner/soft plastic combo being a standout. Early mornings and late afternoons have been producing some nice fish on surface lures also. The fishing should be good throughout summer in the gorge beyond Penrith due to the flush in early September.

The sweetwater creeks will be holding some nice fish as well. There’s nothing better than grabbing a handful of lures, a spin outfit and a backpack with the essentials and hitting your favourite creek to get away from the summer activity on the main river. There’s something for everyone this month so get out there and enjoy the diverse fishing this mighty system has to offer.

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