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River openings spell great fishing
  |  First Published: August 2016



The cold wet weather of winter often keeps anglers indoors, but the keenest of anglers are still putting in the hard yards and being well rewarded for their efforts. Some of our best fishing can be had in winter, and August is no exception.

In the preceding months, we have seen the water levels swell and the landings have been inundated several times. To counter this, the river has been open to the sea twice in this period, dropping levels back to normal. For the first few days after an opening, the fish seem to really come on the chew with the baitfish, bugs and other food sources being pulled down out of the protection of the heavy weeds and snags on the edge as the water levels recede.

This enthusiastic feeding pattern seems to taper off after the first few days of the opening as the fish have really fed hard and as they fill up, they seem to shut down. However that first two days or so can provide incredible fishing with estuary perch, bream and mulloway all feeding veraciously.

At this time of year with winter rainfall, a natural opening is ideal and heralds the beginning of the run of larger mulloway moving into the estuary. In previous years, August and September have produced some quality fish in the 10kg+ range. Live baits like mullet, trolled hardbody lures, large soft plastics and of course vibe lures are all highly successful methods to target mulloway.

Estuary perch are also well into their migration to the lower reaches of the river and commence schooling up in recruitment mode for their spawning. Donovans and below is the prime section of river to target through August and as rainfall and inflows increase, the perch will push all the way down to the estuary.

Perch are rarely caught on static fished dead baits, so small live baits like whitebait ere the order of the day for bait anglers. Lure fishing is the most successful technique when targeting perch and small hardbodies in dark colours, as well as vibes are a definite winner.

Conversely, at this time of year the southern black bream generally choose to move up river. During August I would expect to find the larger congregations of bream from Donavans and above depending on how much rain we receive.

Again, baits such as crab, prawn and podworm are a standard ‘go to’ and can be very productive, particularly in dirtier water. Lure fishing can be very successful, even when the water clarity isn’t great. Hardbody lures and vibes are far more efficient in dirty water than soft plastics, and dark colours certainly are the order of the day. Small to larger profile deep diving lures seem to work best as the bream generally tend to be out in the slightly deeper water. Fishing the lures very slowly is the key, and as the saying goes ‘when you think you're fishing slow... low it down even more!’

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