Signs of hope emerge
  |  First Published: August 2005

While August is traditionally a windy month, the first signs of the approaching Spring are becoming more evident and the warmth is getting very close.

Lizards, insects and other life that becomes active in the warmer months are all starting to appear in increasing numbers and anglers also begin to make an appearance.

The Wisemans Ferry area of the Hawkesbury has been producing lot of tailor with soft plastics being particularly successful. The tailor have been ripping the soft plastics to pieces but it’s been plenty of fun. A cheaper alternative has been small 10g metal slices.

Estuary perch have also been caught in good numbers, especially on soft plastics.

Big bream and flathead to 90cm have been about in good numbers. Live prawns have been the best bait but fresh fish strips have caught plenty.

Jewies up to 25kg have fallen to whole fish baits or strips with the wharf area at Wisemans Ferry and the mouth of the Macdonald River being worth a go.

Tackle-shop talk has reports of blackfish being caught up around Wisemans Ferry area around the rocks and weed beds. These weed-eaters are not generally considered to be caught in the area.

The self-imposed exile that some bass anglers have undergone during the Winter months is nearly over with some bass now heading back upstream after having spawned.

As the fish start moving back upstream I usually find concentrations of fish on my Humminbird sounder in areas where there is a radical bend in the river.

There are plenty of these on the Hawkesbury and a quick look at a topographical map will give you and idea of where to look.

I always have four different rigs ready to use. If I find the fish won’t hit a spinnerbait, I might move onto a soft plastic or use my fly rod until I find what has gets the attention of the bass.

Soft plastics doused with a good scent are probably the first choice, fished slowly across the bottom. Keep as little slack in the line as possible with a slow lift and drop of the lure. Remember to work them very slowly; it’s not like working any other lure.

With braided line and a fluorocarbon leader, it’s very easy to detect any subtle attention that the fish show. Watching the line in the water helps you detect when a fish is touching your lure. Having watched bass toying with soft plastics in the shallows, they will play about with it as it feels natural, unlike hard-bodied lures.

I make no secret of my love for Nitro Whiz Bangers, especially the 1/4oz and 1/8oz models. You can put Whiz Bangers into rugged looking water that would be a nightmare if using lures armed with trebles.

I fish them like a spinnerbait, with the blades barely ticking over, or fish them very slowly like a soft plastic with the occasional lift and drop.

With conventional plastics and Whiz Bangers, try to keep them on the bottom by letting them fall back every four or five turns of the reel handle. Simply winding them back in could be taking your presentation up and away from the fish.

Lightly weighted plastics jigged vertically work quite well at this time. Used for some time by anglers on the Nepean, this tactic is gaining in popularity elsewhere in the river. Use as light a jig as possible to give a more life-like appearance to the lure. You need to maintain direct contact with your plastic as you let it drop and slack line is to be avoided.


The Nepean has been turning on a different type of action with mullet up to 50cm causing mayhem in the Menangle area on bread fished under floats. The kids have been having a ball catching them in the past month or so and have displayed some fancy footwork on the bank to land them.

If you’re looking for some excitement, try mullet. A light threadline outfit, a pencil or bubble float and a small hook and you’re set to go. I like flour mixed with water and a little cotton wool to help it stay on the hook longer but bread is also a good bait.

Berley up with a little bread and sit patiently without making a lot of movement and expect some fun. Mullet are flighty fish so keep movements and noise down to a minimum.

Other monsters are the dreaded carp and there are some big ones in most of our local waters. Hook a big one and you’ve got your hands full. Some of the biggest ones are found in the Nepean Gorge and would take some serious rod work.

As the water gets warmer this month, carp become more of a proposition. Ham, cheese and bread would be the usual bait for these fish but carp aren’t really fussy.

The two top spots for big carp are the Nepean River at Penrith and Yarramundi near Richmond. Yarramundi is excellent for bankside fishing so those without a boat have plenty of shore-based options.

Former local carp buster Dave Horvat tells an interesting story of taking 20 minutes to land a carp after chasing it in an electric-powered canoe. This fish had a tail span of 30cm so you can imagine how it pulled. You definitely get good value for your time spent chasing them.


This time last year, a number of boat owners provided some unnecessary entertainment for onlookers as they struggled with outboards that hadn’t been started for months. Spectators were provided with plenty of laughs as monumental dummy-spits came out when some boaters took up to an hour to start their outboards. In some cases, the engines never looked like going.

If you have an outboard that’s lacked a little TLC, save yourself some embarrassment and frustration and get it serviced. A sweet running motor makes your boating more enjoyable and it’s a lot safer, too.


When Premier Bob Carr decided in April to scrap funding for testing water quality at 21 different locations in the Hawkesbury/Nepean, that was bad news. It only gets worse, folks!

We now have news that environmental flows will be halved and the percentage of effluent increased to maintain the flow in the Hawkesbury/Nepean. With the amount of effluent in the river set to increase, you have to wonder what the weed problem might be like as the weather begins to warm up.

As Sydney’s water pipes leak precious water onto the ground, things continue to become more chronic for people in the Sydney area. Bob’s been busy coming with ideas and has decided to pump water from the Shoalhaven. He’s even considering using nuclear power to desalinate water.

We’re being strongly urged to continue cutting back on our water usage while 1000 people move to Sydney every week. More housing estates pop up all over Sydney without talk of developing other areas of the State which would take the load of Sydney’s water supply.

Large building blocks that once housed a family are developed into multi-dwelling sites accommodating a lot more people than the block catered for originally.


Good news for those that fish South Creek at St Marys: An old causeway has been removed which will open up 34km of freshwater habitat for native fish and improve water flow. The road crossing was acting as a barrier to the movement of fish such as bass and herring.

The old causeway was once used for vehicle access across South Creek but is no longer necessary as a bridge is directly down stream. It’s great to see work like this completed to help our local fish.


They say that 90% of fish are caught by just 10% of anglers. One of the reasons is the better anglers pay particular attention to the details.

Those little things that make all the difference. It might be the care they show when tying a knot, or making sure their lure swims properly, or using a loop knot instead of a clip. Perhaps it might be as simple as slowing down a retrieve or the choice of leader.

If there’s one thing that probably lets bass anglers down, it’s their casting accuracy. You might have made the right lure choice but poor accuracy can hamper your results. It could be a matter of centimetres but the good caster can make an accurate cast and end up with a fish. It happens more often than you think.

There’s a whole host of things that can easily be overlooked but which can make all the difference to your results. If you’re wanting to catch more fish, try paying more attention to the little things.

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