THERE’S SURE to be plenty happening this month and bass fanatics will be chasing their quarry as the last few months of the ‘season’ roll on.
The next few months are great to target bass as they aggressively take most offerings. Flies, soft plastics, hard-bodies and anything else will be smashed by fish keen to put on some condition before the long swim downstream to spawn over the cooler months.
There are also plenty of other species out there willing to co-operate and put a smile on your dial. There’s a whole host of less-targeted fish and there seems to be no shortage of them. It’s a case of trying different things, but, as bass lovers will have proved a number of times over, some fish will be a surprise catch when you’re targeting bass. Flathead, estuary perch and bream are the main surprises at this time of year
The Colo River is a great place this month, especially around the rocks in the lower reaches, which are home to crabs. Yes, crabs! Bass make an easy meal of careless crabs here and a cast along the rock walls and under rock shelves can provide plenty of fun. I generally prefer a dark brown or black lure and try to get it as close as I can along the rock walls and work it back in a slow retrieve. Fly anglers should have a lot of fun if they can get a fly that resembles a crab.
There have been numerous catches of bass along the rocks at times. If you can find areas where there are rocks along the bank with dark gutters between overhanging trees, you’re running the risk of getting into a fight as dirty as those bar-room brawls in a John Wayne movie. These types of areas are prime big-bass spots in the Colo and even a missed hook-up is going to leave a lasting impression on you. A big strike and a bust-off can be more memorable than any number of small fish landed.
The weed beds aren’t to overlooked in the Colo, either. There are plenty of them and even those in shallow water can produce quality bass. The biggest bass in the 2003 Hawkesbury Bass Anglers Association Inter Club came from such an area. Anglers had gone straight past the spot many times and the angler who caught it was probably the only one to have worked the area during the whole weekend. I was working the bank not far behind the boat that landed the fish.
The Colo is also a great place to fish and swim with the family. There are lots of shallow areas for those who like to muck about in the water but be careful. As a kid, I heard plenty of stories about people drowning in the Colo off collapsing sand banks and other nasty situations, so keep an eye on the kids.
Paddle craft can easily be launched at the road bridge on the Singleton/Putty Road at Colo, while boats need to put in near the ramp at the Bridge to Nowhere at Lower Portland. There are some great sandy beaches but take any rubbish with you and just leave footprints. The Colo is one of the last almost pristine rivers close to Sydney and should be looked after.
There have been lots of complaints about hordes of rat bass being about but there have been a few thumpers to keep unwary anglers on their toes. Dave George has been nailing a few fish over 40cm during the past few months and proof is on these pages. Adam Sczepaniak from Schofields managed to land a fantastic 47cm fish on fly within a stone’s throw from a favourite honey hole of mine.
If you’ve been going to Werrington Lake for some hectic carp action, you’ll be disappointed to know the lake was poisoned in late January, causing the deaths of hundreds of fish. The kill was either deliberate or as a result of run off but either way, it could be some time before the fishing is back to what it was.
Pughs Lagoon’s carp have been very active and catfish have also been caught here. The local carp average around 4kg but can get as big as 12kg. While they may look lethargic in the water, these often overweight fish are famous for unforgettable bust-ups for unprepared anglers. Introduced in 1876, carp can produce around a million eggs in 24 hours and can survive in water from 1° to 41° – water most fish would find too stressing to survive in.
Fishing buddy Dave Horvat is one for denting the numbers of the pesky carp and enjoys landing them on 6lb Fireline with his threadline. He is all for giving them a go. Don’t underestimate these fish –be prepared for a big fight with the larger fish.
Berley up first with stale bread, chicken pellets or sweet corn. Then use lightly-weighted or unweighted baits of dough, corn, bread, potato, worms, shrimp, or mussels. They will also take small flies and lures at times. Float-fishing is also an effective technique.
Carp have been responsible for widespread environmental havoc, and will eat aquatic weeds, algae, insects, worms, shrimp, beetles and eggs of other fish. If you do land one, give it a tap on the noggin and dispose of it properly in a nearby bin or take it home and use it for compost in the garden.
If you’re down around Wisemans Ferry, give the mulloway a go. It’s still a fair run to the ocean from Wisemans but mulloway are caught in the area in reasonable numbers every year. The wharf area at Wisemans has good fish and the mouth of the nearby Macdonald River is another well known area on the run-out tide. Other haunts for mulloway include Rosevale, Webbs Creek, Lower Half Moon and the mouth of the Colo River.
These fish have the potential to top out at 45kg or more. Up to 3kg they are known as soapies, as they are largely tasteless and have soft, mushy flesh. Fish of 3kg to 8kg are known as schoolies and most mulloway in the Hawkesbury would be in these two classes. Mulloway of 5kg to 6kg are a great eating size and offer a good feed for a family.
Mulloway usually feed at night but will feed throughout the day when the water is murky, the day is overcast or after heavy rain where there is discoloured water. The bigger fish will often hunt alone, with smaller fish forming schools and waiting in gutters for prey.
Small fish fall for prawns, fish pieces, crabs and small to medium size fish like mullet. Fish bits that are meant for flathead and bream, which can also be caught in the same area, will often attract mulloway. Live baits will claim the bigger fish. Soft plastics around 7cm to 10cm are taking many mulloway these days, so it is also worth jigging around bait schools, deeper structure or drop-offs
Flathead are on the chew at the moment in the same area, taking hard-bodied lures, plastics and bait. From Broken Bay all the way to Windsor, flatties are often caught when anglers are after other species such as bass. Local spots for flatties include the Macdonald River, Webbs Creek, Dad’s Corner and Lower Portland, but the Colo will hold a few as well.
If you can locate some weed beds, rocky shoreline and sandy bottom, try drifting along with fish bits or prawns. A small live mullet is worth a try as well.
There’s more types of fish out there to catch but we’ll leave them until next month. In the meantime, enjoy your fishing and remember to keep only what fish you plan to enjoy on the plate and let the rest go.
If you’ve got some pics of any fish caught locally that you’d like to brag about being published in this magazine, phone me on 0418 297 353 or email me at --e-mail address hidden-- and we might be able to organise it.
Rod Cumming took this nice 38cm bass from a canoe on the edge of the weeds near Yarramundi. After attacking his ever-reliable Rebel Crickhopper, this fish created a few heart-stopping moments as it dived into the snags.
Dave George spent time last year at one of John Bethune’s bass clinics at Bakers Creek Station and has been nailing bass over 40cm ever since. This one went 42.5cm to the fork and took a surface presentation.
Dave George does is again. A River 2 Sea Cicada undid this 40cm Nepean bass close to cover. Dave has managed a number of fish over 40cm of late.Reads: 5001