While there may still be a bit of spawning activity going on, many bigger bass are getting ready to head back upstream to their Summer hideouts. With spawning over, these fish will be looking for some serious tucker to raise their energy levels.
One challenging way of catching bass is to make accurate casts under low-slung foliage or undercut rocks. Often there is very little room for error, with often just centimetres between a great cast and a trip to the bank to retrieve your lure.
Soft plastics are an excellent choice in these areas, especially those which can be skip-cast. Squidgy Bugs skip nicely over quite a distance. In an area where crabs are about, a dark green Squidgy Bug with a resin head is a top choice, the resin head allowing a reasonably slow sink. If you really want to resemble a crab, there’s the Berkley Gulp Crab. The darker coloured ones are the closest to the crabs found on the Hawkesbury and a good match in size.
If you’re fishing from a boat and notice fish on your sounder, try setting up a dropshot rig with a plastic and work over the area. The Slider 3” Bass Grubs and 2” Berkley Minnows work a treat on a dropshot rig.
Downstream from the boat ramp at Tench Reserve at Penrith there are plenty of snags which are more than obvious at this time of the year, due to the temporary lack of weed. Perhaps the best way to fish the submerged timber here is with soft plastics with 1/8oz or lighter jig heads. If the water is clear, a natural-looking plastic should be worked as tight over the timber as you can.
With the coming of Spring, warmer weather and rising water temperatures will mean more boats on the water. With water around 17° this month, local native fish will become more active.
For many, the self-imposed bass exile is over some of these anglers might be casting a little rustily. If you’ve been into a little bit of bankside vegetation pruning already, some casting practice in the backyard might save you money and frustration on the water. With some anglers spending around up to $25 apiece on a lure, stray casts can really spoil a session on the water.
It’s important in casting practice to remember to change positions. Don’t stand on the same spot and aim at the same target from the same distance, try different techniques from various distances. An ice-cream container makes a great target and with practice it’s amazing how many times you can drop a lure in it.
Although bass are widely targeted around western Sydney sometimes anglers don’t realise that they have caught an estuary perch rather than a bass, given that they are very similar in appearance.
There have been good catches of EPs around Windsor over the Winter, especially around drop-offs and eddies, with soft plastics accounting for most of them. EPs in recent years been more widely targeted, thanks to the information passed on by people like fellow NSWFM columnist Dean Hayes and John Bethune.
There are a few things to consider when chasing EPs. The ends of straight sections of river where there are eddies and drop-offs into deeper water are ideal places to target, especially at the change of a tide.
If you can find fish on a sounder, dropshotting is perfect. I’ve found that repeatedly drifting with the current over the school has been productive. EPs seem to become most active is from 15° to 22°, is similar to bass.
EPs generally hold in deeper water than bass, although you can pull an EP from close to the bank where you would expect a bass to hold. My first EP came from casting wider out on the Colo and more followed by staying farther from the bank.
Deans Hayes’ DVD Sportsfishing Action and John and Dean’s Tidal Water Action are ideal introductions to chasing these exciting fish.
For those without a boat, carp and mullet should be a worthwhile adversaries. While not glamour fish, what they lack in visual appeal is made up for with the quality of the fight.
This month is as good a time as any to target them. Berley up with a little bread and then suspend a bread-baited no 6 to No 12 hook under a float is the way to go. Keep up the berley but don’t overdo it; a little regularly over a longer period is better than a whole lot thrown in at once. Just wait patiently and be ready for some fun.
For mullet, use a very light rod around 1.8m to 2.2m with a small threadline loaded with 1kg to 3kg line with a small bobby cork or even an unweighted bait. Use bread pinched onto the hook or dough mixed with cotton wool.
Carp are the most hated of all freshwater species, having taken over waterways across NSW. They can survive in water from near zero to an amazing 41° and a breeding female can spawn prolifically.
Local carp average around 4kg but can reach 12kg and any carp will surprise you with its power. Berley them up with stale bread, chicken pellets or sweet corn. Use lightly weighted or unweighted baits of dough, corn, bread, potato, worms, shrimp, or mussels. They will also take small flies and lures.
Carp are a great to keep the kids entertained and there are plenty of places to try for them from the bank. Tench Reserve at Penrith Weir, Wallacia and the Warragamba River are carp haunts in the Penrith area, while any of the accessible lagoons in the Hawkesbury such as Pugh’s Lagoon at Richmond are full of them.
If you’re looking for some flathead, specimens up to a couple of kilos have been biting their heads off on strips of fish in the Wisemans Ferry area. Bream are also about in reasonable numbers this month, often taking what was meant for bass or estuary perch. The top bait for bream are live Hawkesbury prawns so if you can get hold of some of these from local trawler operators, you should be in for some action.
Bream can be caught all the way up to Windsor at various times but for more likely bream catches try Rosevale, Macdonald River, Webbs Creek, Walkers Beach and Lower Half Moon. Ponderosa Corner, the next bend down from Dargle, has an array of weed beds, rocky shoreline and sandy bottom which hold bream, especially on a falling tide.
BREAM AND BASS OUT WEST
Since it started a year ago, Western Sydney Bream and Bass has managed to achieve quite a lot. Comprising professional anglers through to complete novices and families, WSBB has managed to cater to all anglers’ needs in pursuit of the club’s two favourite fish.
The club has managed to include a guest speaker at every meeting, including John Knol, Dean Hayes, Steve Prott, Rod Fox and Wes Colbran. There have also been technical sessions on club nights, new fishing product previews, on-water instruction, kids’ instructional days, family fishing days at various locations and DVD release opportunities.
Averaging 30 anglers to just the social fishing events alone, the club also hosts bream and bass competitions during the year as well as attending various other competitions across the State. As of July there were 130 members, with steady growth.
The club produces a monthly newsletter and has the best fishing club website seen, averaging 1300 hits a month. With plenty of forums, photo galleries, a club calendar, plenty of articles, a weather segment, comp results, links and merchandise, club members and visitors to the website have plenty of room for interaction. There’s even a real-time chat room.
For a $50 membership, club members get a Kokoda club shirt, newsletter and discounts at stores of sponsors. Check out www.wsbb.com.au
Meetings start at 7pm on the first Wednesday of the month at the Kingswood Sports Club in Santley Crescent. New members and visitors are welcome.
While engaged in a mid-river chat, the author’s dropshot rig got two hits, the Berkley 2” Minnow dancing in the current. This little estuary perch decided to have a chomp and raced off before being boated.
Drop shot rigs work well on deep fish: A No 1 hook fastened with a palomar knot and baited with a Berkley 2” Minnow and a dropshot sinker of 1/8oz. For illustration purposes the hook is closer than when rigged normally, where around 50cm is a reasonable distance between plastic and sinker. You could replace the sinker with a plastic on a jig head but go as light as the current requires.
Rod Cumming and the author spent an afternoon at Lower Portland where Rod scored this 27cm bream on a Berkley 2” Minnow while targeting EPs on his first attempt at dropshotting.