Hot fishing, for sure
  |  First Published: December 2005

If you believe the boffins from the Bureau of Meteorology we’re supposed to be in the middle of a really hot Summer. One thing usually more guaranteed than the weather forecast is that January’s fishing is hot.

There is talk of plenty of bust-offs around Wisemans Ferry by what are thought to be big mulloway. With plenty of rain over the past few months, the usual jew spots around Wisemans haven’t disappointed. The fish causing havoc haven’t been sighted but have left little line on reels.

Whaler sharks have also been caught in the Hawkesbury and I know some old-timers who can remember sharks being seen at the North Richmond bridge. I have been unable to find records of shark attacks there but there have been fatalities in rivers around Sydney. The boys from Southern Bass lost a nice bass to a shark and were left with nothing but the head.

Whalers are known to move into freshwater reaches way upstream.

Tailor are still around Wisemans Ferry and Lower Portland, as anglers trying for different species are finding out. Tailor love lures and plastics, making short work of light line.


Estuary perch are gaining in popularity and profile on the Hawkesbury with various magazine articles and the Tidal Bass Action DVD helping. I reckon there’s not a swamp drain on the Hawkesbury that hasn’t been earmarked for some serious attention.

Soft plastics and EPs go together like turkey and cranberry sauce. EPs love to tap the plastic before taking it and I like to slowly roll the plastic along the bottom and stop the moment I feel a tap.

A very slow roll is best and a lot of the time it’s almost slow enough to make someone think you weren’t interested in fishing.

Great locations to try for EPs are in Webbs Creek, Leets Vale, Dad’s Corner, Clifton Vale and up to Cattai, Little Cattai and beyond. Find some snags, weed beds and swamp drains. They tend to hold a little wider out than bass.


With daylight saving and warm afternoons, there’s every reason to stay out and fish for a few hours. With anglers everywhere you might find that the fish are a little reluctant to take a lure. While surface lures are great to use early and later in the day, it might be a good idea to try some new approaches.

Anyone can catch a fish when they’re on the chew but being able to take fish when others can’t separates the 10% of anglers who catch 90% of the fish. The problem with the remaining anglers is that they’re entrenched in their old ways.

When fish are being bombarded with a large number of lures from all directions, it’s no wonder that they go quiet. If you’ve ever tried fishing an area straight after a fishing competition you’ll understand.

When things are tough, lighten up your tackle. In the bass competitions the anglers who do consistently head the field use much lighter lines. Using line like 6lb braid for bass potentially over 50cm might take some ticker in a competition but in the right type of water, light lines rule.

Another tactic for hard-fished bass water is to use techniques that others aren’t. The Nepean River near Penrith would have to be one of the most heavily-fished pieces of water in western Sydney, which can make it a difficult place at any time.

One guy who consistently takes 40cm-plus bass from this area is NSWFM contributor Tadashi Nishikura, who has written a number of articles on Japanese fishing methods. If you’ve still got Tadashi’s articles, go over them again. This guy does nearly everything different from the rest of us and he has the results to prove he’s on the right track.

Fishing is also a little bit like fashion. If you keep your old lures, they eventually come back into vogue again. Lipless crankers have led the popularity stakes for a few years and for good reason, but fish have seen a lot of them by now and can become a little shy in heavily fished water.

The answer could be soft plastics, which always seem to take fish regardless how hard-fished a place is, or perhaps it’s getting out the fly rod and doing what looks as natural as the real bait.

You may get only one good shot at pulling a fish in some overworked areas. Look ahead for places to cast. Don’t spoil a spot by rushing a cast and botching it. You alert the fish and spoil an opportunity so get yourself into a good casting position and make the most of it.

Rushing a cast is made worse by fishing with someone else. The pressure is always on to catch more fish than your buddy. If you’re in a boat, take turns to fish from the front so you both get the chance to cast to the best-looking places first.

If you’re casting into second-hand water, try a different type of presentation than your mate’s and make your cast as accurate as possible. There’s a real possibility that second-hand water can deliver a first-rate fish.

Whatever way you approach your fishing, it’s a lot easier and more fun if you enjoy helping others catch fish and you’ll end up having no shortage of fishing partners.


I met up with a guy in hospital recently who had managed to hook himself in the finger and ended up letting a novice doctor have a go at removing it. Not a good night out!

I recently hooked myself in the finger and with a little surgery managed to get the hook out. We both had the same injury in the hand but the outcome was different for each of us.

The difference? I crush all my barbs before any lure goes in my tackle box and I keep all my hooks very sharp. The guy in hospital believed that crushing barbs meant fewer fish in the boat.

I don’t believe I’ve caught fewer fish because I crush my barbs flat, and the guy from hospital has seen the light after his brush with pain.


My son is as keen as they come. He refers to bass as Daddy's fish and could tell the difference between a bass and bream when he was two.

I've been taking him out in the boat quite a lot and like a lot of young kids, he doesn't take instructions very well from Dad at the moment. He has a 3'6" Ugly Stik with a little Shakespeare reel and he just think he's the ants pants. For obvious reasons, most of the lures he has been using have had the hooks removed.

One afternoon I was determined to help Nathan land his first bass. This afternoon started with a bit of drama as he ended up in the drink after falling from the boat. A change of clothes and a biscuit and he was fine – thankfully the water was 23°.

My little 5'6" Strudwick and Shimano 50MG is a great casting outfit and I managed to cast my bright green Kokoda Bugger Chug into a dinner plate-sized pocket of water surrounded by weed about 30cm below the surface. There was also a little bit of timber nearby and it just had ‘Bass Hole’ written all over it.

The lure sat still for a second or two and with a slight twitch of the lure, I was slammed by a bass. I steered the fish around some snags into deeper water before giving the rod to Nathan.

With the outfit worth a few dollars, I was pretty wary about giving it to him but he had great fun pulling the fish into the boat and my wife caught it all on video. While keeping his little fingers away from the trebles, I tried to take the hooks out.

As you'd expect in a story like this, the fish kicked and a hook from the front treble went straight into my little finger – thank goodness for sharp hooks and flattened barbs.

A quick photo, a measure and Nathan put back in the water his first bass, of 219mm. It might not have a been a big bass but it was Nathan's first and I was really proud of him. He's always been keen to see any fish released, but it was great to see him do it and say ‘See you next time’ as the fish took off into the weeds.

This month is a great time to get out with the kids and create some memories. Make the most of the time because kids grow up too fast.

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