Winter is upon us once again and it only seems like yesterday that it was the beginning of Summer.
The Summer and Autumn haven’t exactly been memorable. Fishing in both freshwater and salt has been hard and on most trips we’ve had to work for the fish we caught. What we need is some good rain and a small flood to move a lot of the bass and baitfish in the area above the tidal zone down-river. This would also push the saltwater down.
Over the past six months we’ve been catching more bream and flathead in areas where normally you would expect the majority of your fish to be bass. Not that I’m complaining, it certainly adds variety to our bass trips. It hasn’t been unusual for us to catch bass, bream, flathead, tailor, estuary perch and small tailor in one reach of the river.
We’ve been using small crankbaits, surface lures and plastics in these areas. Taylor Mades, Baby Feral Catts and Knol’s natives have been the best of the hard-bodies and Atomics and Sliders have led the soft plastics.
What all this salt water up river has done is to make me fish water that I haven’t fished in years, such as small creeks, swamps and any other landlocked bodies of water. The fishing in these areas has been on fire, with some of the best bass action that I can remember. Most of these bass have been caught from my canoe or my Australis Bass kayak. These have taken me into areas impossible to fish from a boat or the bank. Most of the bass have been over 35cm, some pushing 45cm. These fish also pull like horses. Small diving lures and surface offerings have worked the best.
I have also been using some new Lawson lures and have caught bass over 40cm on them. They’re medium-divers around 60mm long and have a unique body roll in their action. Ben Kennedy, of the Newcastle Knights NRL side, is also making a great spinnerbait that has been slaying bass in the dams and estuaries. Keep your eye out for them, as I’ve heard a rumour that he may be selling a few to some selected shops.
Earlier this year, I mentioned the new Baby Feral Catt lure was on its way and now the first of them has hit the local shops, The Australian Bass Angler (phone on 02 4721 0455) and Windsor Bait and Tackle (phone 02 4577 2813) stock them and both shops will do mail orders.
The saltwater pelagics have been on the quiet side with only the odd salmon, tailor and kingfish showing around Pittwater and Broken Bay. The good news is that small bonito have turned up in numbers around the headlands, mostly falling to trolled lure or deep-water jigging.
I also fished Middle Harbour for some tailor that went close to 2kg. They’re great sport on light spin gear. Bream have also been caught in good numbers and size in Hawkesbury and Sydney Harbour, with fish over a kilo not uncommon. Most of these fish have been falling to soft plastics.
Winter is my favourite time to target big bass and estuary perch. This is when these fish school up to move downstream to spawn. Over the past six years that I’ve been guiding on the Hawkesbury, I’ve had learnt how to target these fish year-round and have found that on most Winter trips we catch as many as we do on most Summer outings.
We also catch most of our bigger bass in Winter. A lot of these fish are caught in deep water in back eddies. In these areas there is a lot of floating debris builds up and any prawns or baitfish hang around or under the debris –as do the bass and EPs. We’ve found that sinking flies and soft plastics work best.
It’s important to have a good sounder and know how to use it, as these fish can hold in a small area and at certain depths. So take your time to sound these areas. Surface lures and flies worked in these areas and will also catch their fair share of big bass. Keep your eye open for any surface movement or just work over these areas with your surface fly or lure you will be surprised how many big bass are caught on top
Peter Jack caught this bream in water where normally bass are the prime target – send more rain!
Sam Shuemack tangled with some nice tailor in Broken Bay. Great sport on light spin gear but absolute murder on soft plastics.Reads: 537