Small water, small fish
  |  First Published: July 2003

Most local anglers have probably been spending chilly weekend mornings tucked up in bed, too scared to feel the crunch of frost under their feet. Too bad – there’s been some great fishing.

The smaller creeks seem to have been left alone in the past month as those still chasing bass work the main rivers in search of bulky, migrating pre-spawn bass. Those who have sought success in the smaller creeks have been disappointed and for most of them it’s been a case of checking out these spots for return visits later in the year.

The upper section of the Nepean in the Camden district has turned up a few bass in the shaded areas and around the lantana-covered banks, but these fish have only been in the 20cm range. Worms have a claimed a few bass and some big eel-tailed catfish as well.

Some big carp have fallen for corn, bread and cheese at Yarramundi. These fish provide a lot of fun and it’s a good day out to help rid the river of a number of these pests. The biggest reported has been around 6kg if you’ve never caught one this size, you don’t know what fun you’re missing out on.

Introduced to our waters in 1876, carp can lay up to a million eggs, and in warm water these can hatch just 36 hours later. They tend to hibernate in Winter but can still be caught. If you’re ever feeling a little ‘green’ sometime, why not get out there and try and reduce their numbers as best you can. Give them a tap on the head and use them in the garden to make compost, but don’t return them to the water. They may carry eggs.

Dave Horvat reports that the lower section of the Nepean has been still turning up some bass action, with most fish under 36cm and in solid condition. Early morning has been best time, and Dave has found surface lures still being belted in areas of fast current.

If you’re confined to the Nepean around Penrith, the gorge section above the Penrith boat ramp has still been producing small bass. These have only been in the sub-20cm range. Large numbers of freshwater mullet have been caught in this section and if you’re finding the bass a little unco-operative, try fishing for mullet on bread suspended under a float. They go like bullets and can be great fun. If you’ve never caught one before, you’re in for the time of your life, especially on light tackle. Try around the weed beds and berley up with a little bread to get them around.

Fisherman's basket

Good-sized flathead, up to 67cm, are being taken along with estuary perch and bass in the Macdonald River. The flatties have been taking a liking to plastics jigged along the bottom, especially when a little sand or sediment is stirred up.

There have been plenty of jewfish landed in the Wisemans Ferry area, especially in the evening on the last of the run-in tide. Hawkesbury River prawns mixed with some tuna oil and pilchard bits have been the most successful berley. Jewfish are excellent eating in the larger sizes, but the small jewfish aren’t called soapies for nothing. Best let them go to grow a little more. There apparently have been a lot of undersized fish caught in the Wisemans Ferry area which thoughtful anglers have let go, but those with little regard for protecting our fish stocks have been taking them for the plate. I know reporting people to Fisheries is not considered the Australian thing to do, but it’s your fishing resource these thoughtless people are helping to destroy. Think about it!

Bream and tailor have also been caught upstream from the Wisemans Ferry area on Hawkesbury River prawns, so it’s been an exciting place to be fishing recently.

Bass are being caught the full length of the river but the larger ones are lower in the system. Spinnerbaits and deep-diving lures are coming up with the goods, but remember to work them slower, deeper and a little wider out than you would in the warmer months. Fish have been found in numbers on the sounders of those in boats, but are sometimes reluctant to take any offerings. Perseverance has resulted in some really bulky bass being caught below Windsor, while estuary perch have also been accounted for.

Colo OK

Flathead are also being caught in the Colo River, especially by those using plastics worked across the bottom. Those who have tried around any of the small creeks that flow into the Colo after the rains have found it 2° to 3° cooler than the main part of the river. Any time we get decent rains in the areas that flow into the rivers will create this. The fish will avoid these areas and find water more cosy for them. These cooler waters have not been producing and once anglers have moved away from them, they have accounted for a few bass.

Hawkesbury noahs

We’ve all seen the frustration of anglers catching great sportfish in northern waters, only to be left with just a head. On a recent trip to the Hawkesbury, members of Sydney Bass were in awe as a bass caught one member was savaged by a shark on the surface before it could be boated. Words not able to be printed in a family magazine such as this were repeated, but suffice to say that there were a few hearts racing as a result of the shark’s attack.

A lot of people would be surprised to learn that sharks are common in the Hawkesbury. Bull sharks, which have a well-known taste for humans and dogs, have been caught way up in the Hawkesbury River. Sharks have been reported up to North Richmond, which is close to 120km from the entrance to Broken Bay.

Keep practising

The fishing club I belong to, the Hawkesbury Nepean Bass Anglers Association, has been holding a casting competition in the past few months after the monthly meetings. Using targets of ply made specially for the purpose, it’s been a lot of fun.

While you don’t have to be that technical at home, casting practice is well worth it. The household plastic bucket is as good a target as any and while it can cause you to be the butt of the neighbours’ jokes, the practice is invaluable when it comes time to target fish that hang around areas that provide food, such as oyster racks, sunken trees, rocks and piers.

Casting to a bucket from various distances with differing techniques can help your confidence when you’re next on the water. With practice, you can put your lure right on target, and that can sometimes mean getting fish or not. When you’re not confident with casting, you often cast short because you don’t want to get hung up in trees and other obstacles. With confidence gained from your time spent practising, you can put that lure in places you wouldn’t have dared to try before.

Until next month, don’t be put off by the cool weather. Dress appropriately and give it a go. There’s plenty of fun to be had and if you have any news to report, I’d love to hear from you. Email me at the address above or phone me on 0418 297 353.

Photo 1

This 45cm flathead ended up in the pan and was caught on a spinnerbait meant for a bass under an overhanging rock. Flathead have been caught in reasonable numbers in the past month around the Wisemans Ferry area and into the Colo River.

Photo 2

Healthy chunky bass have been caught mostly in the section of the river downstream from Windsor, while the upper sections of the river have seen the smaller fish stay at home and leave the bigger fish to do the spawning.

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