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Vary your approaches
  |  First Published: February 2005



There are only a few months left to fish now before most people put their bass gear away for another six months so it’s a great time to be making the most of the fantastic fishing this month.

Any water close to large populations has received plenty of attention and these fish can be a little shy at the more frequented locations, requiring successful anglers to vary their approach from the more conventional offerings.

Water craft of all descriptions have been making the Penrith stretch of Nepean River absolute pandemonium over the past few months and things will be no different this month. Fishing pressure has also been immense and trying to chase bass in the clear water has been frustrating for many, who see fish investigate a lure and then swim off.

However, the anglers who have been doing things a little differently have been faring well despite the angling pressure. While most continue to fire lures, flies and plastics into bankside cover, choosing other targets to work will pay dividends. Bridge pylons have been holding good numbers of solid fish and checking the sounder allows you to target them at the depth they are holding. Around the pylons of the M4 bridge at Penrith the water is about five metres and Nitro Whiz Bangers, spinnerbaits, and sinking flies will do well.

Lipless lures like the Jackall were amazingly successful last year. They are expensive and there is naturally a fair degree of reluctance to use them around snags. I must admit to having the jitters when I first used them in the river but they’re great for working alongside bridge pylons, especially if there is timber and weed there. Experimenting with retrieves is important. Depending on factors such as the time and type of day, moving to pylons in deeper water can also produce results.

HAWKESBURY ACTION

There’s been plenty of action on the Hawkesbury for the past few months and there should be plenty of bass and estuary perch available this month. The majority of bass have been smaller fish, prompting many to ask where all the larger fish are. But there’s been the odd thumper landed as well. Surface action has been fantastic, continuing throughout the day sometimes.

While spinnerbaits seemed to have waned in popularity they still have devotees who work them around weeds and snags at all depths. They foul with weed a lot less than other lures and can be worked in and out of areas that would make a treble-armed lure a great weeding tool.

A lot of anglers curse weed beds because they foul up lures but they should learn to love the weed. Bass and other species love healthy weed, which offers food and protection.

Weed beds can also be found well found well out from the bank or stretch the width of the river. Weed beds like these don’t get much attention in comparison with bankside weeds, as a lot of bass anglers have a fixation with sticking to the banks. Smarter anglers work other areas with terrific results.

Soft plastics can be rigged weedless with the hook sitting flush with the top of the plastic. Take the time to get it right and you’ll have less weed fouling the hook.

Weedless plastics can be worked in growth that would foul any other type of lure. Casting into pockets, channels and edges of weed beds can be done with ease. A longer rod allows you to manoeuvre the lure more easily.

The quieter water of eddies attracts a lot of floating debris, including food for hungry bass. Frothy suds, timber, leaf matter and, sadly, plastic litter will often be a dead give-away for these hot spots.

COLO SURFACE

The Colo River has been fishing well with exciting surface action for bass, even right through the day. Rebel Crickhoppers have been the gun lure, especially in black, along with black River 2 Sea Buggis and Predatek Spaddlers.

Weed beds in the Colo will continue to yield good numbers of fish, especially weed with prawns and herring flitting about. Bankside pockets of weed should be given special attention, especially any covered by overhanging vegetation. Many of the better fish will come from these spots. One of the best ways of reducing lure losses here is to use single-hook, bladed lures such as Nitro Whiz Bangers or spinnerbaits – better still, weedless-rigged plastics.

Estuary perch are in the Colo too, and they make a very pleasant change from bass although more than the odd angler mistakes them for bass, with a few subtle difference in the two species being missed in the excitement of the moment.

QUIET WATER

In areas that offer no boat access, those paddling kayaks or canoes have caught good numbers of quality fish. There are plenty of these areas to try so look up the UBD or a topographical map and find some new water. Surface lures and flies have accounted for plenty of hard hitters, which you’ll find more responsive early morning and late afternoon.

Sinking flies, lipless lures and Nitro Whiz Bangers have been the best later in the day but under the dark shadows of overhanging trees, surface action can be enjoyed all day. Jigging, while often thought of as a method for impoundment bass, can be used to great effect in the deeper, quieter waters, especially around the top end of the Nepean. Locating a deep hole and tying off to a tree, or using the wind to drift, jigging works.

If you find water that requires you to traverse private land, ask the owners first. More and more landowners are simply saying no to anglers and it’s little wonder. If you want to gain permission from a landowner, tell them you’ll leave all gates as you found them and you won’t disturb any livestock. Mention you’ll take out all your rubbish and you’ll take only photos and leave only footprints. If you manage to gain permission, live up to your promises and you’ll be glad you did. Private access is a privilege.

SILVER BULLETS

A few anglers have mixed it with mullet for the first time and had a ball, especially in early morning and late afternoon when the fish are more active They can be difficult to catch but the effort can be rewarded by adrenaline-charged runs and leaps.

You don’t need a boat to take on mullet, although it certainly helps to be able to cover water. Bank side anglers can enjoy the action but expect to move quickly along the banks to land them. They are powerful fish on light gear.

Use a very light rod around 1.8 to 2.2 metres with a small threadline loaded with 1kg to 3kg line. A small float or unweighted rig can be successful, with hook sizes from No 12 to No 6. Before you leave home, mix some flour with water until it’s a thick, pasty goo and then mix in strands of cotton wool. Use bread to get a berley trail working. Then cast a small ball of bread or your special dough on the hook into your berley trail.

Fly anglers using a six/seven weight rod with a tippet of around 1kg and a bread fly will have a ball. One of the most realistic bread flies is made of wool but there are soft foam ones as well. Cast the fly past your trail of bread and let it flow with the current.

If you have got any news or pics for the magazine, call me on 0418 297353 or email .

Dave George and Gary Lee have been having a great time racking up the miles locally and taking quality fish like these.

Fishing has been really good in the Hawkesbury-Nepean with some big fish holding in shallow water in current eddies, with the bigger fish tending to strike late arvo rather than early evening.

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