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Hungry fish, happy anglers
  |  First Published: December 2007



There are some very happy anglers around at the moment as the Nepean and Hawkesbury rivers are producing fantastic bass in good numbers and some larger specimens.

It seems that the heavy rains earlier in the year have done wonders for the fish and they’ve responded appropriately. Some anglers have said that the past few months have produced some of the best fishing for many years.

But there’s a downside to popularity. Local waters have been copping a pounding with news of the great bass action and the fish are becoming well educated in the ways of anglers and becoming more difficult to tempt.

While some fishos have escaped the crowds and sought quieter waters for less shy fish, others, for various reasons, can’t always make the escape.

Waters close to easy access tend to cop a fair caning because the easy option is to go to places which offer a quick fish before heading home. For those who find themselves in these areas, here are a few things to help lift your score.

• If you’re new to bass fishing, the first one may difficult to do but you still need to apply it – fish with confidence, it’s the best asset you have.

• Start fishing earlier if you can, while those who have more flexible hours might want to try to fish mid week, especially in the afternoons when boat traffic is nowhere near the levels of weekends.

• Try smaller lures and downsizing leaders. This will work when others using larger lures and heavier line won’t be enjoying themselves.

• Try using clear lures in clear water with clear skies. You’d be surprised how well clear lures do under these conditions when others are not producing.

• When you see bass approach your lure in clear water, don’t let them get too good a look at it. Not being able to see the lure easily gives them less chance to decide whether they’ve met a lure before.

• Keeping the lure moving in clear, heavily fished water doesn’t give them much time to decide whether they see the lure as food or a threat and they have to quickly make up their minds to strike. Having said that, I’ve found that with clear lures, this doesn’t necessarily apply.

• Soft plastics or a fly can also deceive educated bass. Both can look very real and neither has that obviously unnatural look of hard-bodied lures.

• Becoming a better caster can also make all the difference. When bass get a case of lockjaw, an accurate cast right on top of a fish can trigger a strike where a lazy cast falling well short of the fish won’t draw a reaction. Accuracy counts so become a better caster by practising and make accurate casts on the water.

• Everyone goes bankside but when an area is heavily fished, try fishing deeper. There are plenty of fish in deeper water, especially around sunken snags, deep holes and weed. You can catch these fish by jigging, plastics, deep flies, dropshotting and using lipless lures.

• Try keeping noise and sudden movements to a minimum, whether you’re fishing from the bank or a boat. Noise travels much faster through water and any loud noise is a warning to a fish. Really noisy lures, banging in boats and shouting can alert fish.

WORK THE CAST

How many bass anglers, don’t work the lure all the way back to the rod tip? How many have made a dodgy cast and not worked the lure back in? Probably most of us are guilty on both counts and it’s not a good idea to simply crank the handle and have another go.

Always, no matter how suspect the cast or slow the fishing, work your lure back to you. You may never know how many fish you have potentially missed otherwise.

Tim Cumming was fishing with his father Rod and neighbour Neil when Rod noticed the young bloke stop working the lure well out from the boat. Rod mentioned that he should work the cast all the way back because there was a real possibility that a bass could have been ready to take the lure.

On the next cast, Tim worked the lure all the way back to the boat and to hammer the point home a bass struck right at the boat.

It was Neil’s second bass outing and one errant cast made its way over a slight twig. Rod persuaded him to ‘teabag’ the lure in the water a number of times, resulting in a 37cm bass.

Learn the lessons of others, and catch more fish. Quickly winding your lures in to have another crack at a likely honey hole is a wasted opportunity. Every cast should be treated as a likely opportunity for catching a fish.

THINK ABOUT IT!

It’s always a buzz helping readers find new places to fish or new ways of catching them but recently I was told some troubling news by a reader.

A few months back I wrote that there was to be a new ramp at Devlins Lane, a great place to fish. On the October long weekend the area was very popular, with some people telling my source that they had read about the place in my column.

My contact then went on to tell me that some of these individuals had used 4WDs to gain access to areas that were clearly off limits to vehicles and had caused some damage. Some had camped there for three days and, with no garbage bins about, left heaps of rubbish behind instead of taking it home.

Responsible anglers know the importance of looking after our environment and the consequences of anglers being irresponsible and destructive. We need to think about how others see our fishing and what impact that will have on the future of our sport.

FAMILY TIME

There’s something special about spending time fishing with the family, especially the younger members. This month offers an excellent opportunity to spend time with the family and chase some fish.

Carp are big in the Nepean and Hawkesbury but for direct vehicle access to fish from the bank, there’s always Pughs Lagoon at Richmond or some of the other landlocked waters in western Sydney. Parramatta Lake, Glenmore Park Loch, Werrington Lake and a host of other spots all offer very easy access.

For more scenic areas, try Yarramundi Lagoon or some of the spots around Menangle and Camden. Give carp a crack. They come in some extra large sizes and will really give your arms a work out. Corn, ham and even jelly beans work as bait.

A lot of boats have been doing well around Wisemans Ferry and Lower Portland for bream and flatties, with live prawns the top bait.

Monster mullet have been around the rowing club on the Nepean, with plenty getting away if you’re not prepared. These guys can really motor when they’re hooked and offer plenty of excitement for kids.

A pencil float, a small hook and a piece of dough or bread will be perfect. A little bread thrown out as berley trail will attract them in close.

There’s plenty of access to the river at Penrith, so don’t crowd in around the rowers club. It gets busy down there so pick a spot along the river and a nice berley trail will let the mullet come to you.

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