Hooked on river fishing
  |  First Published: September 2016

We’ve had one of the worst winters I can remember – cold, windy and wet. September is going to be most welcome, especially by fishos who are shore bound over the winter months when they couldn’t line up fishing trips in the short breaks we had from the weather. Now that’s all behind us, we can look forward to a fishy spring and summer season, with good weather and plenty of fish, or can we?

September is now an exciting time for the river bass anglers. Once upon a time, fishing for bass or estuary perch in NSW rivers and streams was a year round proposition. A change of techniques was usually employed over the cooler months to catch the wily bass, which often have only breeding on their minds. These winter months are typically the spawning season. As well as protecting the future stocks by allowing these fish to do their thing uninterrupted, the fishing closure gives die-hard bass anglers something to look forward to when the season opens.

The upper Shoalhaven River has once again flooded, so traveling upstream for your first few trips should be done with caution. The river changes quite dramatically with larger floods – what was there yesterday may not be there tomorrow. Take care. A good place to start for your first bass outing is somewhere between the Ski Park and Crams Rock. Work your way up from there and remember, not all fish will migrate downstream in winter. Freshwater reaches will still offer some great early season opportunities.

The lower Shoalhaven River has taken longer than expected to recover from the flood, but has now come good. There are plenty of flatties around the swirls. Along the edges of the canal, mulloway have returned to the river, leaving the safety of their hole or snag on tide changes in search of a feed. For a fish with almost zero predators, top of the food chain in our river, they are very cautious and lazy feeders.

St Georges Basin has been a dead zone for a few weeks now and is only just starting to produce nice catches. I’ve heard of great early season lizards starting to show in around the 15-20ft mark, caught on slowly worked Squidgy Prawns.

The Basin now has a reputation as a trophy flathead fishery – more than its fair share of 90cm+ fish are caught and released every year. From now until Christmas is when the majority of the big girls are caught, so if you’re after a trophy fish, you better get your butt to the basin over the next few months. You won’t be disappointed.

Offshore, no one knows what’s happening. It’s been a crazy winter season. Apart from a sporadic run of bluefin and yellowfin popping up and down the coast, there have been catches of summertime species like striped marlin and mahimahi. The current has been changing daily, making it hard to predict where the fish will be. Some anglers were lucky enough to come across fish here and there. Some sweet tuna were caught amongst them. Albacore were a savior for many anglers, frequenting the shelf line and giving fishos the opportunity to come home with a feed.

The masters of deep dropping have been at it again on the shelf. Cookie, Herbie and ‘the Ox’ have been bringing in awesome blue-eye, ling, gemfish, and other deep-water species. They are passionate about this type of fishing and pretty well have it down to a fine art, rarely coming home without a feed from the depths.

Have fun with your next month of fishing, be good and stay safe.

Johnny out.


Fynn Shirlaw with a beautiful winter Shoalhaven River bream.


Fynn Shirlaw with an 8.8kg mulloway after the June floods.


Oxley ‘the Ox’ with a big blue-eye from the depths of JB.


Oxley with a huge ling hooked in the depths of JB. The masters of deep dropping have been at it again on the shelf.


‘Brenno’ Brendan Gillan with a typical-sized winter albacore, caught on a bluefin expedition.

Reads: 1942

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