Fishing the upper reaches of the Hawkesbury–Nepean system in September is one of most productive times to fish for bass, estuary perch, mullet and carp.
As the water temperature rises the bass and estuary perch move up-river from the saltwater to the fresh and brackish reaches. The main population of bass will range from around Wisemans Ferry upstream as far they can travel without running out of water or into a human-made barrier.
Some of the best spots to fish in the Spring are at the creek mouths. The bass tend to lie in ambush for any small baitfish, worms or insects that are washed down by the run-out tide or running water and will travel upstream as the tide rises after small fish that are heading upstream.
So fish the mouths of the creeks when the tide is falling and work upstream on the rising tide. Some of the best bass creeks that run into the Hawkesbury are Rickabys, Cattai, Little Cattai, Currency and Webbs. There are also small creeks the run into the Colo and McDonald rivers. Some can be fished by boat, others on foot or canoe. Some of the creeks are on private land so remember to ask permission before fishing on private land.
Bass are caught on lures cast out near weed beds, under trees, near snags and around rocky areas. Look for the shady areas and cast there because the fish don’t like the sun.
Bass are also caught on live bait (worms grasshoppers and prawns) under floats or on the bottom. Remember, there are bag limits on bass or, even better, let them go so we can catch them again.
When looking for schools of EPs in spring, I start by searching for fish around drop-offs, eddies and current lines, especially near a river bend or any large structure that interrupts the water flow.
Then when you find an area that has any or some of these characteristics, drop your electric and check your sounder for any signs of fish or bait. This is where having a good sounder can really make a difference. It has to be able to separate fish from all the debris found in eddies and have a wide-angle, preferably a multi-beam, transducer.
If your find fish showing on your sounder, work the area over with soft plastics and depending on the depth of the fish, with shallow or deep-diving lures.
EPs can often be seen on sounders sheltering behind and below drop-offs. These fish can caught by using heavier jig heads on soft plastics, casting them up and working them back with the current.
The sizes we use are usually from 1/8oz to 1/2oz, depending on tidal flow, water depth and size of soft plastic lure.
This is the time when the saltwater temperatures are on the rise and the first of our Spring and Summer pelagics turn up in Sydney harbour, Broken Bay, Pittwater, Cowan Creek and offshore. Species such as mackerel tuna, striped tuna, bonito and kingfish mix in with the salmon and tailor that have been here most of the Winter.
It’s also time to check that our high-speed spin tackle and saltwater fly gear will hold together for the productive months ahead. There’s nothing worse than heading out for a spin session only to find out you gear is faulty, so just in case:
• Check all your rods for any damaged guides or tips;
• Service your reels and make sure that the drags and bail rollers are perfect;
• Check your line and leaders and replace last year’s mono;
• Replace all the rusty trebles and sharpen the new ones.
Early season bait can be tiny and the fish very fussy. Small metal lures, soft plastics and flies are the norm.
But don’t be single-minded – many times we have cast our arms off with small metals with no result. Change over to a 4” to 6” weighted or unweighted soft plastic (Slug-Go, Fin S and shads). These will work when all else has failed.
On many occasions it has turned the day’s fishing around from mediocre to fabulous. Don’t just throw them out and wind them back; put some life into them and vary your rod action and retrieve. Pause every now and then and many will strike on the pause.
Small poppers are also lures that can switch the fish on. These can be ripped back at high speed or worked back slowly.
Most schools work into the wind, so position the boat up-wind and wait for the fish to come to you. Often the boat will be surrounded by fish. Try to give other anglers room to move and fish, if a lot of boats are on the school, look around because quite often in the distance you will see birds flying around another school working.
When you find a school of fish working the top, take the time to see what direction and speed the fish are travelling. Don’t rush into the middle of the feeding school as often this will put the fish down for the day.
Over the past couple of weeks we have been hooking up salmon and good tailor around Barrenjoey and Box Head, most being caught deep on trolled lures. When you’re hooked up, cast a metal or soft plastic around because often the hooked fish will have a few mates following it.
There have also been schools of salmon around North Head and Bluefish Point. I have been casting 4”and 6” twitches to the schools working them back very slowly with a stop-and-go retrieve. Small Troll Craft lures have also been hooking salmon near the washes and whitewater .
We now have six different models of these great sportfishing boats from 4.4m to 6.1m. Anyone wanting a great offshore boat should check out the 205 Sportfisher fitted with a 175hp Suzuki – one mean unsinkable offshore machine with self-draining deck, T- top, live-bait tank and plenty of rod storage. It’s the best-looking 6.1m sportfisher on the market so call me on 0408 334 892 or Peter on 02 4721 0455 or check them out at the Australian Bass Angler, Penrith.Reads: 2021