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Diehards rule
  |  First Published: June 2005



With the start of Winter and with the footy in full swing, any fish addicts are on the water during the next few months will have a pretty lonely time.

Winter can provide plenty of solitude on the water. If you’re fishing from the bank you’ve got the river pretty much to yourself and if you’re on a boat, there’s nobody to spoil your day.

Local bait-soakers are a pretty relaxed bunch on our local waters and at this time of year they seem to have their hands wrapped around a cuppa in preference to holding a rod, only putting down their hot brew when the bait goes off.

While bait-soaking is not a favourite pastime for many, it’s a great way for those who like to take a feed of fish. There are a number of species about that can be taken easily with a well chosen bait.

Bream, flathead and jewfish are the main players for bait anglers and these are usually in good numbers at this time of year. There are plenty of well recognised spots to take any of these species.

Jewfish should be of good eating size, with fillets of tailor and mullet some of the best baits to use. If you’re hoping to get onto a few good jewfish, the mouth of Webbs Creek and the Macdonald River offer the best chances. Other local spots include around the wharf at Wisemans Ferry and the mouth of the Colo at Lower Portland.

Jewfish prefer to lie in wait for their feed in deep holes, around bridge pylons and in gutters. Letting a bait go in these areas is a likely way of enjoying success.

Jewies on fish baits and bream on prawns prove popular around the Wisemans area but depending on water conditions, bream and flathead can be even farther upstream. Both were taken at the Windsor bridge last year.

Flathead around 60cm are taken each year in the Hawkesbury from Wisemans Ferry and Lower Portland and these fish are often caught up towards Freemans Reach when conditions are right. The furthest upstream flathead capture I have witnessed was in Yarramundi Lagoon, around 130km from the mouth at Broken Bay.

Mullet have been caught throughout the Hawkesbury-Nepean in reasonable numbers recently, with some around 50cm. At this size they really go hard and if you’re looking for a way to liven up your week, give these beauties a try.

On light gear I can guarantee you’ll go from backside to bankside in no time! Some bread or dough on a small hook and under a small float is the best way to catch them.

BASS FOR DIEHARDS

It seems that diehard bass anglers at this time of year fall into a variety of categories. Some tackle bass in their spawning areas while others leave these fish to spawn and chase other species such as bream.

Others will leave bass alone in the spawning areas and still continue chase any resident fish well above the brackish water.

Talk to anyone who’s going after bass in the upper reaches and the response will be the same. Most will be long-faced, having finished with a doughnut on the score sheet, despite giving it their best shot.

It takes a dedicated angler to tempt bass successfully in any areas away from the spawning zones because it’s not the same as fishing for rampaging bass in the Summer. However, it is possible if you’ve got a lot of patience.

SPECKLED DELIGHTS

There are always a few trout making their way into the cooler waters of the Nepean at this time of year. Trout are resident in Warragamba Dam and in the Warragamba River where the waters from the dam are cool enough throughout the year to keep trout comfortable.

You will have until midnight on the Monday of the Queens birthday weekend (June 13) to chase them – that’s when the season officially and legally ends.

With the Nepean River now decidedly chilly, trout can be found venturing from the Warragamba River into the Nepean. While not as plentiful as in the Warragamba, they will be there.

If you feel like a change of pace, the Warragamba trout will be your best bet. Just remember that you’re permitted to within one kilometre of the dam wall.

Best bait will be garden worms under a small float or fished on the bottom. When fishing from the bank be careful not to spook the trout. Rapid movements, flashing items and loud noises can spoil good fishing.

RIVER OF LOVE

As you read this, bass are concentrating on their spawning. They are gathering in large schools in water with a salinity of 25 to 35 parts per thousand and in water between14° and 19°. A 1kg female bass can spawn up to 500,000 eggs, of which in about 30% will survive.

One day after hatching the fry will be about 3.5mm. Four weeks later they’ll be around 6mm and will be starting to be spread throughout the river system.

When you think of all the millions of eggs that never survived and all the pressure that will be placed on bass in their lifetime, it makes great sense to get behind efforts to improve their future. Catch and release is just part of the effort.

PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT

I recently saw some guys practising casting at the rugby oval on Andrews Road at Cranebrook. I couldn’t help but think there’s probably no better place to practice for serious anglers. If you can shut out all the distractions from a rugby field when there’s a home game on, it would have to be a lot easier to be on the money on the water.

When on heavily-fished waters like the Nepean at Penrith, you can often be following other boats along the same water. A lot of the time anglers complain that they aren’t catching too many bass and often it’s because of poor casting accuracy.

To succeed in heavily fished water being able to cast accurately is vitally important. A cast that falls short is a wasted effort, and the next angler to put a lure into the same spot but a foot closer and come up with a fish won’t be the last. Practise, have fun doing it and enjoy the success that will follow.

MONITORING CANNED

The Daily Telegraph on April 18 reported that a $132,000 program to monitor the quality of Hawkesbury-Nepean water has been scrapped. The program monitored 21 sites for water quality to ensure the safety of swimmers, boaters and skiers and was a joint effort with six local councils and the Department of Infrastructure, Planning and Natural Resources (DIPNR). The six councils contributed $21,000 while DIPNR forked out $98000. When DIPNR pulled the pin, so did the councils.

Now there’s no monitoring of the water which is affected by the industrial run-off and sewerage that ends up in the river. Local doctors are concerned when someone visits them with an injury that has resulted from being on the river because any infection is always hard to treat. For years there have been stories of people losing limbs as a result of accidents in the river which led to infections. Water skiers have fared worst.

Let’s just hope that none of the 1 million visitors to the river each year gets to lose a limb or their life thanks to this Government stinginess. If you’re concerned about your health and that of the river, contact Bob Carr and tell him what you think.

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