Surface action aplenty
  |  First Published: October 2004

HOW GOOD is it to be feeling the warmth of the early morning sun on your skin? At last we’re enjoying more pleasant temperatures, and the water is warming up nicely. We should enjoy more successful fishing sessions this month, with great surface action for those using surface flies and lures.

Early morning and late in the afternoon will give the best rewards to anyone who enjoys the thrills of catching bass off the surface. There are plenty of different surface lures to try. My favourites are the River2Sea Buggi Pops and Bubble Pops, Rebel Crickhopper poppers and Heddon Torpedos.

Surface flyfishing is a great way to add some excitement to your day. If you haven’t tried it before, give it a shot. Surface fishing with lures is great, but taking a bass on surface fly takes the thrill meter to the extreme, especially around the timber.

As the sun rises, the fish escape the light and look for more secure areas in deeper water. Having said that, you can take bass from the surface all day, especially around areas offering protection and shade and where there is access to deep water. Smarter anglers will work their deep divers, plastics and sinking flies in the deeper water as the day wears on, and any weedbeds you find can hold bass. As the day roles on, work weedbeds towards the centre of the river for greater success rather than persisting with targeting the bank.

Good News For Now

Approximately 70 tonnes of Salvinia were reportedly removed from the Hawkesbury Nepean River before funding ran out for the weed harvesting machines. There was still an estimated 400 tonnes to go, so it was bad news all round. At the time of writing, however, the harvesting machines are back in action. One is working the Yarramundi Lagoon and the other is working the Breakaway at Freemans Reach.

Waterways has closed the ramp at Windsor while the weed is being removed, but boat trailers have been seen parked while their owners have taken to the water. There were three booms containing the weed at the Breakaway and one halfway along the Terraces, so this area is off limits to boats.

There’s still plenty of this aquatic pest growing around Devlins Lane and the harvesters alone aren’t going to keep the weed contained. It grows so fast that we will see it re-appear without additional action to combat its spread.


The Nepean at Penrith, from the boat ramp section to the weir, has some superb weedbeds and plenty of great timber to fish. There have been some thumpers reported from the weir upwards and towards the Gorge, and the next few months should be exciting. There are huge submerged trees and large boulders that disappear under surface weeds the further into Summer we go as the water warms. It’s impossible to fish the banks when this happens.

Shore-based anglers should have plenty of access as well, despite the limited amount of water they can cover. Shore-based anglers do have some success targeting bass, but the most fun usually comes from tangling with the oversized mullet and carp.

A great way to fish the Tench Reserve area of the Nepean is from a canoe or kayak. There are heaps of access areas to the river from both sides, and you’ll be in some prime bass real estate no matter where you choose to launch.

Lures that have been working well include the Halco Scorpion, Sneaky Scorpion, and Predatek Min Mins. Taylor Made devotees have also been catching good numbers of fish. These small lures work much better on light spinning gear, and when worked around weedbeds and timber they’ve been attracting the type of attention bass anglers have been dreaming about for months.

Proceeding downstream, the weir at Penrith is looking good until you reach the Devlins Lane where Salvinia carpets the area. There are plenty of areas not affected above Devlins, and canoes and kayaks should have little trouble manoeuvring around once above Devlins at this stage. Salvinia is still being cleared from Yarramundi to Windsor.

The Tragic Grose River

The state of the Grose River is sickening when I think of how beautiful this rugged waterway once was. The lack of rainfall has meant the river has not had enough flow to maintain the deep sections of water that once held great bass.

If you’re thinking about making a trip into the Grose, forget the more familiar access points in the lower section of the river. The lower 8km or so are in a sorry state. Further upstream, tracks leading down to the river should provide access to more productive pools.

If you doubt your abilities in rough country, find other waters to fish and stay out of the Grose. It’s tough going on the Grose, and as the temperatures and humidity start rising over the next few months, the risks will increase.

The Hawkesbury

The weed eaters are still operating from North Richmond through to Windsor, so this section of the river is off limits for a while. From Windsor down it has been reported that the river is open for business as usual, which is welcome news after seeing what is was like earlier this year.

If you haven’t pursued estuary perch before and are looking for a new challenge, why not give them a try? There are plenty of them in the river and they’re a pleasure to catch. John Bethune and Dean Hayes have published a number of articles about how to catch an EP, and their love and passion for these fish has seen more anglers targeting them successfully. Working soft plastics, sinking flies and small hard-bodied lures will increase your chances of landing some estuary perch.

I love working soft plastics for EPs and have often found these fish in deeper water than bass. A very slow retrieve can be agonising for those who aren’t disciplined, and the problem seems to get worse if you’re using a reel with a high retrieve ratio and you’re not conscious of what you’re doing.

EPs can be found in the Colo and Macdonald rivers, plus Webbs Creek and all the way up to Windsor. Key areas to target are where prawn trawlers haven’t been working and shallow areas on the inside of bends where weeds are near deep water. Quieter waters where eddies form near inside bends should be targeted and the change of tides, especially at the last of the run-out tide.

Colo Capers

This beautiful river offers all manner of likely locations for those chasing bass, but there is always a chance to hook up to other species. Flathead, mullet, tailor and estuary perch are all found in the river, and jewfish can be found at the mouth as well.

Jewfish and flathead are more likely to be caught on bait. Hawkesbury prawns are ideal. I’ve seen flathead caught on spinnerbaits in the Colo and their liking for plastics needs no further mention here.

For those who want to chase bass, there are plenty of likely locations in the river – deep holes, rocks, weedbeds, fallen timber, cliffs dropping vertically into the water, and overhanging trees forming dark shadows over the water. Small creeks that flow into the Colo are worth looking for and working over.

Work further out from the banks as the day progresses and work your presentations deeper.

Tweaking Homework

The quality of some lures these days is phenomenal, and Australian-made lures are amongst the best. Experimenting with lures can be worthwhile, and I’ve even gone as far as taking a notepad and pen out on the water with me to take notes. That might seem a little over the top, but it’s amazing how much you forget when you’ve been working with a number of different lures on the water for hours.

I’ve found that by changing the trebles on my Predatek MinMins to a lighter gauge set, I’ve changed a sinking lure into a floating one. By using a fluorocarbon leader I can actually slow down the rate of ascent to keep the lure sitting longer at depth (a mono leader increases the rate of ascent slowly). I now know a lot more about these little gems than I knew before, and I’m confidently looking forward to using them with great success in the coming months.

I’ve also experimented with my Sneaky Scorpions, and I’ve found that their tendency to rise slowly can be eliminated by simply adding a fluorocarbon leader. There’s nothing like watching a wary bass eyeball a lure that can be stopped dead and kept tantalisingly in front of it to entice a strike.

Doing a little homework with your lures will pay dividends for you too. It’s certainly worth the effort to get a lure performing the way you want it to, and it may not take a lot of effort to get results.

A Worthwhile Reminder

This time last year, a wild hailstorm swept across the Blue Mountains and killed a man in Sydney. Two mates and I were caught on the river when the lightning and hail unleashed its fury, and it was one of those experiences we don’t want to relive again. Being hit by hail as large as golf balls was bad enough, but realising there is 20,000 volts for every 25mm of lightning puts a more scary perspective on the situation, especially as we were all holding graphite rods.

Keep an eye on the weather while you’re fishing, and it the weather looks dicey before you head out, ask yourself whether it’s seriously worth going. The fish will still be there another day, and often it’s just not worth the risk!



Luke Heiser’s bass was taken on a small Betts Spin up Devlins Lane.


Dave George scored this lovely bass in Junkie Creek, and while it was only 375mm it fought well above its weight. Dave is another Betts fan and catches many fish on them every season.

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