As can be expected, there aren’t a lot of anglers out fishing local waters this month. Aching joints due to the cold and frosty conditions can make fishing far from comfortable but for the diehards, there is no excuse to stop fishing.
With experts now believing that not all bass make the migration to spawn, fish that decide to maintain residence in the upper reaches are still fair game, despite being a little more scarce and less active than during the warmer months.
I make big use of soft plastics at this time of year, using little or no weight and casting them into snags and around weed beds on a good quality graphite rod. I’ve been selling a lot of little-used fishing gear and saving my dollars and have been enjoying the qualities of some Loomis rods and fine braid lines.
Slowly sinking into likely bass haunts, the plastics look like an easy meal and attract attention. My favourite plastics for the task are Slider 3” Bass Grubs rigged on resin-head jigs worked dead slow.
I’ve also been having a lot of fun with clear Heddon Torpedoes. These have been standout favourites from the start of the year, especially in heavily-fished areas. Being clear, the bass, along with the odd kingfisher, haven’t been able to work out exactly what they are and have been suckered into taking them.
Dawn and dusk will be the better times to use surface lures this month around weed beds and other typical bass structure. Other surface lures to reach for will be fizzers and poppers.
Suspending lures have also been producing well at times when all else is drawing a blank. Halco Sneaky Scorpions have been attracting bass from weed and other cover but it sometimes takes a little patience.
I often imagine that a bass will be where I have just cast and try and draw it out of the cover. It’s part of the challenge and while it doesn’t always work, believing that a bass is in a particular spot helps me keep suspending lures in front of the fish I suspect are there.
That’s the beauty of suspending lures. They stop dead still when the retrieve is ceased but sometimes rise slightly. They stay right in the fishes’ faces, just annoying the heck out of them.
Sometimes the bass just see the lure as an easy meal and dash out and smash it. At other times it’s a case of experimenting with the lure to see what gets a fish to slam it.
For some, bass are now off their radar as these anglers make a conscious decision to let the fish breed in peace. There are others who still target bass but leave the spawning areas well alone, fishing the upper reaches of the Hawkesbury and Nepean rivers. For these anglers, Sackville to Wisemans Ferry is self-proclaimed as out of bounds.
Other guys will target spawning fish and release them without believing they are harming their reproductive cycle. Regardless of our ethics, we should all be outraged at the indiscriminate mauling of spawning bass by illegal netters and those who take large numbers of big bass by other means. They do far greater damage to the future of bass than those who target them with lures, plastics and flies.
If you happen to see any suspect activity, get as much information as possible. Boat registrations, descriptions of anyone involved, car registrations, etc, should be passed on to Fishermans Watch on 1800 043 536.
There’s a traditional resistance to dobbing in people but think about what is being done and how it affects you and future generations of anglers and make the phone call. Be very careful about getting involved in any confrontation with offenders. Don’t become a victim of violence trying to do the right thing.
There are plenty of other species available if bass aren’t on your hit list for the next few months.
Jewfish should be lying in wait after any reasonable rain with nearly all fresh and live baits taking fish at some time. Heavy rain and discoloured water will often get the fish on the bite. Jewfish of around 20kg are also a possibility again this month in the Wisemans Ferry area, with larger fish baits being a proven method.
Big jewies will hunt alone but smaller fish form schools and lie in gutters and eat crabs, while small to medium fish like mullet, either dead or as live baits. Smaller jew fall for prawns, fish pieces, crabs and worms. Fish bits that are meant for flathead and bream will often attract mulloway.
Well-known mulloway haunts include the mouth of the Macdonald River on the run-out tide and off the wharf at Wisemans Ferry. Rosevale, Webbs Creek, Lower Half Moon and up to the mouth of the Colo River will sometimes be mulloway spots. Dad’s Corner out in the middle is also worth a go.
Last year there were plenty of blackfish about in the Wisemans Ferry area, much to the surprise of many anglers. Any rock walls where there is good weed growth will attract them.
They’ll take both green and cabbage weeds, and in some situations can even be tempted into taking brown weed. Light traces and exceptionally well presented baits are they keys to a good haul.
Bream will also be on the hit list and will take lures, plastics, and bait such as prawns, chicken gut and steak, and will often be caught on the bottom around Wisemans Ferry by using bait. Other favourite bream locations are around Rosevale, Macdonald River, Webbs Creek, Walkers Beach, Lower Half Moon and all the way up to Windsor.
Flathead can be caught right through the year, while those that inhabit the rivers and estuaries are caught in the greatest numbers in late Spring, Summer and early Autumn. There will still be flathead taken during the cooler months, especially during the run-out tide, as the fish will often position themselves at the mouth of any small channels and creek mouths that drain into the river.
Most anglers will look for flathead during the day, although bright sunlight in clear, shallow water is not considered a very productive time. Discoloured water will still provide enough of a happy medium for flatties to remain in shallow water during the day looking for a feed.
Last month I mentioned the usual bickering and nasty comments in chat rooms about the pros and cons of targeting spawning bass. Having witnessed it and having been on the receiving end of some of the rubbish, it’s reassuring to see people willing to agree and disagree without it degenerating into unforgivable rabble.
The best place to keep up to speed on to date on all things bass is at www.ausbass.com.au and from what I’ve seen there, it’s all been very gentle behaviour. This is a great site that doesn’t seem to attract the stirrer's that other sites have been soured by.Reads: 885