THOSE FAMILIAR crisp Winter mornings are on us and most anglers seem to have chosen the comforts of home instead of the chill that’s par for the course with fishing this month.
It can be a lonely day’s fishing now, with not many boats out there. There are several species you can aim for locally, including some that many anglers have not tried targeting before.
Bream and flathead can often be encountered in Winter around Wisemans Ferry and Dargle. Flathead up to 60cm are sometimes caught, as well as decent bream. Both have a well-known liking for soft plastics worked slowly down deep.
Much to the surprise of some anglers, flathead have also seized the odd spinnerbait as well. For bait-soakers, working the bottom with Hawkesbury prawns is usually the most popular and successful method.
Although bass are the most targeted fish in the Hawkesbury-Nepean area, not many people give consideration to the life cycle of these wonderful fish. Come Springtime and it’s on for many until around April or May. It’s the eight months or so that bass have all the old favourites thrown at them, plus a few more new assortments that have flooded tackle stores.
Few anglers consider what bass are doing in the colder months, so with bass breeding at the moment, here are some facts and figures to get your head around.
Any bass that started life about six weeks ago are starting to get close to 10mm long – less than the width of your little fingernail, and have now started schooling for the first time. At around eight weeks, a juvenile bass is around 23mm and its skeleton is well-developed. Dark colour bands run vertically down the fish.
At 12 weeks, juvenile bass are around 35mm long and the barred bands begin to break up. By Spring and Summer these fish should be in the upper part of the estuary and will start moving into the freshwater above tidal influence.
It’s fantastic to think this is all this is happening as you read this magazine. Not all of these little guys will survive, sadly, with only about 30% making it to maturity. Their ability to survive will be tested by things such as various forms of pollution, prawn trawlers and a brainless minority of anglers who think it’s still OK to kill fish for any reason other than for a feed.
If you want to know more about the life cycle of bass and a host of other great information, buy a copy of Fabulous Bass and How to Catch Them by Dick Lewers.
Most of the bass anglers I know have chosen to leave spawning bass to their business over the colder months and have taken on bream instead. The Hawkesbury Nepean Bass Anglers Association, of which I’m a member, held its last bass competition in May and has taken to chasing bream during the cooler months.The HNBAA will be chasing bream in the Parramatta River and Georges River for their next two competitions.
If you struggle with the idea of chasing spawning bass, you’ll still find those fish which haven’t gone downstream to breed above the brackish spawning waters. You might find them a lot less active than in the warmer months, but it’s a great way of learning new methods for catching them.
Successful fishing for bass this time of year is more likely to be deeper. You can still catch them on the surface but the deeper water is more likely to be the best option.
One item that should be finding its way onto the end of anglers lines is the Nitro Whiz Bangers made by Matt Fraser of Dam Hot video fame. Dipped in scent such as Spike-It, these mini-spinnerbaits are rigged with a 3” Slider Grub. Worked down deep, these bladed rigs are becoming very popular. Available in 1/4oz and 1/2oz, they come in various blade arrangements and are fitted with Gamakatsu chemically-sharpened hooks.
Although not prime carp-bashing weather, it’s always a great time to do your bit for native fish and try TO reduce the numbers of these feral fish. Shallow lagoons and rivers, which provide warmer water for these pests, are the best places to go.
It’s amazing how different the water temperatures can be within an area. Trout anglers often carry a small pocket thermometer, while boats fitted with good sounders can give temperature readouts as well.
Anyone who has access to such equipment will tell you a difference of a few degrees can make all the difference. Areas in shade will be cooler than those in sunlit areas and shallow, weeded areas in sun will definitely be warm spots to look for fish.
Carp are not a fussy lot. Berleying with corn, bread and cheese is a pretty standard strategy, while my fishing buddy Dave Horvat even tries a touch curry powder as berley. If the water is clear, look for deeper water, while in discoloured water try shallow areas.
I know Christmas is a long way off but it’s amazing how quickly it will be upon us. If you’re thinking of a present for the family, (notice I didn’t say for yourself?), think about a kayak or canoe.
You don’t have to feel left out or behind the eight ball because you don’t have a fully-fledged fishing boat. Some of the most exciting bass fishing is from a canoe in less-frequently fished waters. When you hook a big bass in a kayak, it can really even up the contest.
Paddle craft are inexpensive, great for taking the kids out, cost nothing to run, are great exercise and take little storage space at home.
If you have any news regarding local waters, email me or phone 0418 297 353.Reads: 1255