Weed chokes the upper reaches
  |  First Published: June 2004

THE UPPER reaches of the Hawkesbury River is in a real mess with kilometres of the river covered in duckweed (salvinia).

In my 49 years living on the Hawkesbury there has been nothing that has come even close to being as bad as this. The River from Ebenezer to above North Richmond is almost unfishable. And every day the weed is moving further downstream. The only thing that will relieve the problem in the short term is a flood.

All the development going on in Sydney’s west is putting more pressure onto the river. It’s not going to get any better in the future unless we start reducing the amount of nutrients, feral weeds and urban run-off.

Over the past 40 years I have watched the river go from clean water that you would drink to a drain. I'm afraid that the Hawkesbury may be on its last legs. What we need is a Government to take some drastic action to reverse the destruction of this beautiful river.


Over the past month the fishing in the Sydney area has been pretty good with catches of bonito, big tailor, some salmon and a few kingfish. Most of the bonito, salmon and tailor have been caught around the headlands by trolling small minnows and Christmas trees close to the whitewater from the rocks. Baitfish will use the disturbed water to seek cover from the predators.

So the best way to target these pelagics is to work your lures so they are trolled or cast into the whitewater. This can be pretty close to the rocks so you have to know how close is safe. This can depend on the sea condition and tides on the day.

If you are going to fish the washes, check out the area that you intend to fish on a good day. When the tide is nearly low, note where all the rocks and reefs are and make allowances when the swell gets bigger. It always pays to play it safe so if in doubt don’t do it – a fish isn’t worth the risk.

There have also been some good kings and tailor feeding on bait balls further up in Middle Harbour. The other morning as I headed out to the heads I noticed bait balls rippling around The Spit and Tunks Park. I didn’t bother to stop as I had caught plenty fish near the Heads the day before and opted to target those fish.

After an hour working the water around North Head, one my clients discovered he had left his wallet on the dash of his car back at the ramp. He was worried about someone breaking in and stealing it so we decided to head in. As we approached the ramp, there was a shower of bait and slashes of larger fish feeding on them. I dropped one fellow off and passed around rods loaded with a Slug-gos to the others.

First cast, one client hooked up on a king, followed a few minutes later by the other hooking a good tailor. The poor bloke who left his wallet in the car heard all the yahooing and could not get back to boat quick enough. We ended up spending most of the day only 50 metres from the boat ramp. It just goes to show that you should never drive past bait without working it over with a few lures.

Bass and estuary perch have been on the quiet side in the main river. The best areas have been some of the smaller waterways such as the Colo, Macdonald River and Webbs Creek, with good catches of EPs, bass and bream on small soft plastics.


This time of year it’s good time to dust off the old fly rod and reel and fit it up with a fast-sinking line. Tie on a Clouser fly and head down to the Hawkesbury and chase a few bass and EPs. This is when they start to school up for their run down to the salt water.

In the past four years we have targeted these on fly with some outstanding catches of bass, estuary perch and the odd flathead. The key to success is where to target these fish.

This is even more important when using sinking fly lines. The best areas to fish are the back eddies and water that is out of the current flow so your line has time to sink down to the depth fish are without being dragged away with the current.

Anyone wishing to learn about catching these fish on fly or lure will be able to get more information when I hold an on-water a fishing school in June.

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