Mixed bags are a recipe for winter fun
  |  First Published: August 2016

Recently the weather went south with a decent-sized fresh dropping water temperatures and reducing the salinity and visibility throughout most of the river. Good news for anglers is that these fresh water inflows deliver necessary nutrients that provide plenty of food for the macro invertebrates, crustaceans and molluscs. These are the main food items of baitfish and predators and will make for a great spring on the mighty Hawkesbury.

This month however you will still feel the grips of winter if up for an early start or fishing late into the night. Day hours are much more comfortable! I find lure fishing helps as there is no need to source any live bait so you can get fishing straight away after a nice 8am start.

The key to success at this time of year is to match the hatch, fish light lines and slow retrieves in 12-14°C water temperatures. Small lures seem to get the bites, as the metabolism of most fish is at an all-time low in the stone cold water. Adding scent or using lures that have scent or bite stimulants built in can be highly beneficial. Small vibes are also another great option when other methods fall short of the mark.

Bream will start to filter back into the lower reaches around Broken Bay. A clear indication of post-spawn fish is small orange blotches on the fish flanks. These fish are best targeted using small grub or paddle-tail soft plastics no bigger than 3”, quality blades/vibes with a tight vibration using small hops, and fishing the washes with a bread-based berley using unweighted or lightly weighted baits of bread or prawn. You may encounter the odd drummer and blackfish when using this approach and this can be a very productive way to fish during winter when nothing else turns the reel.

Secure yourself some fresh weed for bait and berley to have some impressive luderick sessions along the many rock walls in the Broken Bay area. You should look for larger rocks that are partially submerged in the water that create back eddies and current lines. Anchoring suitably up current and slightly adjacent to this area will give you a great controllable drift with your float and should see you getting ‘downs’ in no time at all.

I find 8-10lb fluorocarbon leader is required to stop these super powerful fighters, and won’t put them off the bite as they are rarely targeted here. Losing fish will put them down and you will need to move to find another active patch.

Mulloway have been consistent this winter, and after the recent fresh multiple fish have come to the net during most sessions. The average is below the metre mark but the odd better fish has been found among the abundant schoolies. Smaller soft plastics and vibes are the key to getting bites and the 3-4” sizes getting the most bites. If the bites are few and far between try going smaller and slower with the addition of scent to try and incite a bite.

Flathead are at their slowest this month but can still be found around Broken Bay on most of the rock walls that are licked by current and hold bait. Small lightly-weighted plastics and vibes are go-to lures, make sure to complete your retrieves all the way back to boat where possible as these guys seem to follow your retrieve until it changes its action and slows down laterally when your retrieve gets closer to the boat and deeper in the water column.

The odd silver trevally, bream, EP and tailor get in on the action when flicking the rock walls around Broken Bay, so it’s a great way to spend a few hours on a mixed bag bite through the warmer part of the day.

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