The first month of Autumn already upon us and the next three months comprise the favourite time of the year for many anglers to fish local waters.
Nobody can be too sure when bass actually will make the migration to spawn in the brackish water because it depends on a number of factors, but they certainly eat up big in preparation for the epic swim downstream.
This makes them very willing to eat what’s on offer and, with a desire to gorge themselves silly, the fish have plenty of fight in them to help them bulk up. Typically over the next few months, you’ll find bass a little more bulky than normal and more full of aggression. Bring it on!
While many anglers consider bass to be at their prime in Summer, the so-called ‘bass season’ should always be extended because things hopefully should get better around now.
Anglers seem to be having mixed success over the past month or so, regardless of what techniques have been used. It has been a fairly strange Summer, with hot days in the mid 40°s to temps just past 20° on the cooler days. Heat and humidity, with some welcome rain thrown in, have had the fish on fire some days and in hibernation the next. Overall, the ‘bass season’ has been reasonably disappointing, according to many anglers I’ve been talking to.
The recent Hawkesbury Nepean Bas Anglers Interclub Challenge proved a real challenge to 93 competing anglers, due to the heat and the reluctance of fish to take any offerings put to them. With temperatures hitting 44° in the shade, conditions were oppressive and depressing, to say the least. See a complete report elsewhere in this edition.
Steve reports the carp in Werrington Lake after dark on surface bread baits have provided a lot of fun. The scourge of Australia’s freshwater habitat, these fish – hated by most – provide some great entertainment and excellent fertiliser for the garden. Steve managed carp between 1.5kg and 6kg and caught nine in one four-hour session.
Werrington Lake and Glenmore Park Lake are also the places for the big, big eels. Some are over 1.5 metres long and with a girth you wouldn’t believe. Use at least 10kg line or more for these beasts and their teeth are slicing through even this. Baits of steak are being snapped up within minutes of hitting the water. One night Steve got 37 eels in four to five hours.
The Colo has also been a little on the quiet side but it pays to always be patient. It was so quiet during the day on a recent trip that I tried some less familiar techniques and worked on some strategies. However, later in the day things really fired up and made the trip worthwhile.
However, during the Interclub Challenge most boats headed into the Colo, with the best bass 405mm to the fork. Among other catches was a 618mm flathead as well as small tailor. There were talented anglers left without a fish in the board from the Colo during the competition, so it has been tough going.
Bream have been caught on lures and soft plastics in the Wisemans Ferry area, with fish well over the legal size on offer. Flathead have also been around, so those wanting a little variety in their fishing should find some excitement in the area.
Estuary perch have still been taking a liking to soft plastics and have surrendered in reasonable numbers as more anglers learn how to target them. Fellow Fishing Monthly writer Dean Hayes and John Bethune have been working out strategies to target these beautiful fish more regularly and those of us who want to target EP’s read about Dean’s and John’s successes have them to thank for showing us how to be more skilful at it.
Matt Shearim has been fishing the more tidal areas of the Hawkesbury and found things a bit slow at times. Matt landed a nice estuary perch around Windsor and scored a few fish near Yarramundi but nothing of any real size.
Large tailor have also been taken from the bank by anglers using bait, with one very large fish being taken near Lower Portland from a rock around ten metres above the water. Half-way up, the fish somehow managed to get free and the angler threw his gear in disgust up the bank and used words that aren’t best repeated in a family magazine like this one.
The water is very brackish at the moment, and the entire river needs a good flush.
The Phantom has found the going at Devlins a little tough due to the amount of weed, with only smaller fish being willing to provide any action.
I recently went for an early morning to noon fish on the Nepean and found the bass very keen. The fish were racing each other for the fly and one bass wanted the fly so much it chased the hooked fish half-way to the boat. All fish were taken on fly and great sport without the headache of skiers and jet skis. One guy even managed around 30 fish in a session, but many anglers have found that type of session a rarity.
Steven Chang found things had slowed up somewhat but was smashed on his first cast of the day on a surface lure as soon as it hit the water. There wasn’t even time to turn the handle. Don’t you love those days? Unfortunately, the fish was way too powerful for his 3kg line and light-medium rod, the fish taking around 10 metres of line before burying itself deep in weed. Steve has also caught some mullet for flathead bait.
Mullet up to 2kg have been taken and they go like bullets. He suggests anglers use 5kg or 6kg line for these fish as they are pound for pound the best fighting fish in freshwater. If you haven’t targeted mullet before, give them a go. Just remember to hang on.
Whatever your opinions about NSW Fisheries, there’s an important group within Fisheries that doesn’t get much of a mention anywhere, but plays an important role in helping our fisheries. These are the volunteers who educated the public about improving our fisheries, while collecting valuable information about our catches.
Recently I met up with one volunteer who said that most anglers don’t know that much about them and often confuse them with Fisheries officers. The big difference is that Fisheries officers enforce the fishing regulations, among other things.
So if you happen to run into Fisheries volunteers, remember that these people perform a valuable service at their own expense so that fishing might be improved for us all in the future.
It was a big case of ‘D’oh!’ for Rob Frost recently when fishing in the Cobbity area. While with buddy Steve Muser, Rob managed a 41cm bass on his favourite 1/4oz spinnerbait. After a hefty struggle, he went to take a photograph and discovered that while he had the camera, he had no film. Who hasn’t been in a similar position?
Looking at a great site on the net recently. I looked up a long time favourite lure manufacturer and was very impressed. Go to www.predatek.com and look at these great Aussie lures. They certainly are top producers of fish and well worth supporting.
Rod Cumming loves this time of the year, with the next few months among his favourite times. Bass will be getting aggressive in local waters, so be prepared for some excitement.
Robert Pretty with a great 405mm fish caught on a popper in the Colo during the 2003 HNBAA Interclub Challenge.Reads: 900