What we can expect for autumn
  |  First Published: March 2017

For a lot of anglers and fish, this month marks the start of fruitful times ahead before the onset of winter and slimmer pickings. During autumn the days noticeably get shorter and this triggers most forms of life, whether piscatorial or terrestrial, to start preparations for the cold winter ahead. Essentially, it sparks a surge in feeding activity, which in turn means more bites for anglers as the fish become quite competitive for the available food supplies.

Bream are quite common throughout autumn and some impressive fish can throw caution to the wind, eating lures and baits with gusto. With the water temperatures still high due to the lack of rain and stable air temperatures, surface fishing on the flats will be viable for a couple of months yet. Berowra, Cowan and Pittwater are the favoured places that have good flats with weed beds, which seem to be the key ingredients to finding the flats-feeding bream.

Other techniques that will work this month include casting lightly-weighted and well-presented baits of prawn, nippers, fish fillets or marinated chicken, small soft plastic grubs, minnows and creature baits at natural and artificial structures of rock walls, pontoons, jetties, boat hulls and reefs.

Anchoring and berley work well for bait fishing. An active approach like drifting with the aid of an electric motor to cast your lures to likely fish-holding structures is a tried and proven way of covering ground and working out the pattern for any particular day.

Kingfish have been nothing short of hard work for me this season, but some nice fish have come to the net for my clients. It has taken a lot of effort every session to locate the fish and get them to feed on what we have to offer. One day it’s micro-jigs and the next it’s live yakkas.

Either way, it pays to be mobile and flexible with your approach to these fussy feeders this season. Hopefully they will fire up with the falling water temperatures over the next month or two, and we can get some awesome inshore action on these guys. Pittwater and the headlands have been the most reliable places. A few reports of quality kings have come from Cowan Creek too.

Mulloway are back on my agenda after having my summer break from them. Live baiting will be the best method to find a few this month. If last season is one to go by, we could be in for some real quality fish like my client Adrian’s 140cm beast from early March last year.

Time spent catching squid, yakkas, mullet, herring or legal tailor is well worth it when that fish of a lifetime engulfs your well-presented bait on the tide change. Picking suitable locations away from busy boat traffic areas is a must in Sydney. Use your sounder to find drop-offs, reefs, wrecks, holes or schools of fish/bait. This is crucial to getting success in the mighty Hawkesbury.

Bass and estuary perch will be thinking about schooling up over the next month or two, but this is usually dependent on rainfall. Rain is the lifeblood of the river and can be the trigger for many things like migrations and spawning. This is very true for the bass, as they reside in small creeks and streams that can become landlocked during low flows and droughts. They only allow fish to migrate when there is decent rain and water levels to allow safe passage through rapids.

Surface lures like paddlers, fizzers and walk-the-dog style stickbaits are working well on the tidal water bass. Around Ebenezer and Sackville anglers will no doubt be taking fish in the sweetwater creeks, up in the Nepean Gorge and everywhere in between. If they are reluctant to take a surface offering, try a sub-surface lure like a spinnerbait or shallow crankbait to tempt them.

Bass are a great fish for an introduction to lure fishing for most, and a lot of anglers will attest to them being their first lure capture. They are very accessible along the whole East Coast with minimal tackle and gear required to tangle with a few Aussie battlers.

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