What a great season we’ve had so far on the Hawkesbury! Warm water pushed on shore in January, and with it came some spectacular fishing.
Mixed bags of kingfish, bonito, tailor and salmon have been common, and we’ve also seen the odd northern visitor like spotted mackerel and cobia to name a couple.
The kingfish should still be lurking around the headlands and into Pittwater this month. Live baits of squid and yakkas are the most consistent producers, but fresh strips of squid or fish fillets like fresh caught bonito floated down a berley trail will also work.
Back into the river and the options are endless. There’s everything from bream, whiting, flathead and bass on surface lures and soft plastics. You can also troll up some pelagics using a downrigger or the standard flat lining, and the age old favourite method of soaking a bait. Take your pick as all these techniques seem to produce results at present.
The mulloway have been active in the lower reaches, with good catches coming from the bridges and Flint and Steel. The smaller soapy mulloway have invaded the upper reaches from Spencer to Wisemans. Fresh and live prawns have been the standout bait. This month should see some of the bigger models move upstream to feed before winter sets in.
Large live, whole and cut baits will get you in the game for a large mulloway. I prefer to target reef edges, but the many deep corners and rock walls are all worth a go at this time of year.
The flathead have spread out this year. Even with several small freshes there are still good populations above lower Portland. The school prawns are why these guys are have stuck it out. Sound out a drop-off or two and either anchor or hold ground with an electric motor. Present these fish with soft plastics, hardbodies and blades. For best results be sure to make regular contact with the bottom.
If you baitfish up this high in the system, eels can be a problem. One method to reduce the frequency of eels coming to the boat is to actively fish your baits like you would a soft plastic. Cast up past the boat, allow your bait to reach the bottom and then slowly hop it off the bottom and feed a bit of line back as it drifts past you. This will reduce the amount of unwanted pest species and put you in with a shot at a decent predatory species like flatties, bass and EPs.
Bream have also been caught lately, as far up as Dargle. Although not a common capture this far up, they certainly do cover the ground to find a feed. The Skeletons have been producing the odd bream as well but the rock walls up around Wisemans Ferry are where the bulk of the action is at present. Small soft plastics and crankbaits that get down to around 2m are yielding good results. The oyster leases in Berowra and Mooney Mooney Creek also hold good concentrations of 1kg+ bream. Extracting them is another story though.
Use small surface lures like poppers and stickbaits on the flats and in some of the smaller feeder creeks use cicada imitations to target bream. It’s a very visual and exciting form of fishing, and it’s something I can’t get enough of lately.
If all goes well we should see some good catches of bream in the next few months leading into winter as in previous seasons, where they smack out bigger lures aimed at mulloway.
The bass have kept plenty of locals happy, with double figure catches on most outings. Surface lures have worked a treat this year.
I put this down to the Christmas beetle and cicada hatches spurred on by frequent rain events.
Subsurface presentations of spinnerbaits and shallow crankbaits are great to have on hand if the bass aren’t keen to come to the surface. Purple/black, white/chartreuse and red/black are my preferred spinnerbait colours in the Hawkesbury.
As for the crankbaits, most colours will score fish but it’s hard to go past purple, pink or gold for consistency.Reads: 573