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Plenty of welcome signs
  |  First Published: October 2005



Water dragons and other life that becomes more active in the warmer months are now out in force and their presence is always a welcome sign to anglers.

The fishing will become increasingly reliable as the water temperature steadily climbs.

The Nepean River at Penrith from the boat ramp section to the weir has some superb weed beds at the moment and plenty of great heavy timber to fish. Now is a great time to see just how much timber is in this area before the warm waters see an explosion of weed growth making it difficult to fish. The next few months will be the best months to fish this area.

This time last year there were some thumpers reported from the weir upwards and into the Nepean Gorge and many of these came in the early hours and late afternoon sessions on surface lures and flies. Mid-week will be the best time to fish the area without the crowds.

Shore-based anglers should have plenty of access as well, despite being limited to the amount of water they can cover. Shore anglers have some success targeting bass but the size of the mullet and carp on offer in the area will make a bait anglers’ hearts jump when they hook up on the often neglected carp and mullet.

Anyone fishing from a canoe in the Tench Reserve area of the Nepean at Penrith will have heaps of access areas to the river from both sides. Wherever you choose to launch, you’ll be in some prime bass real estate.

Downstream from the weir at Penrith is a great place to fish using canoes and kayaks, with the Devlins Lane area a great spot to finish up. You won’t see many people on the way, which is always a reason to expect some great fishing.

THE HAWKESBURY

There should still be some good-sized flathead about this month and drifting prawns or slabs of fish bait is worth a try.

Jewfish down near Wisemans Ferry and Lower Portland are still finding their way onto the tables of those who target them, with large fish baits the way to go. Fish in areas where there are deep holes on the run-out tide and you’re in with a chance.

Tailor will also be about in the Wisemans and lower Portland area and a soft plastic meant for a bass will be cut to pieces when a chopper gets hold of it.

There should be increasing numbers of bass caught by drifting around the many rock ledges and snags and an electric motor is almost mandatory to control the drift. Without it, you are making it hard for yourself as the tides make life difficult to work efficiently.

Early morning and late in the afternoon there should be great surface action. However, as the sun climbs higher, the fish escape the light and look for comfort in deeper water.

But if you look for areas offering protection and shade where there is access to deep water, bass can take lures from the surface all day at times. Throughout the day, casts deep into the back of overhanging foliage also produce big fish at times.

While some anglers continue to cast to bankside structure all day, some will work their deep-divers, plastics and sinking flies in the depths as the day wears on.

Working weed beds towards the centre of the river as the day rolls on should provide greater success than persisting with bankside casts. This area of the river is neglected a lot of the time and anglers targeting midstream weed banks are often well-rewarded.

The hot lure for the past few years, the lipless crankbait, should also begin to gain favour.

While many shudder at the cost of a Jackall, these lures are certainly attractive to fish. While casting into timbered areas may not do much for the heart, these lures are excellent around timber and weed beds.

To reduce the possibility of hooking up on timber, think about cutting off the downward-facing hook on both trebles. It doesn’t much reduce the chances of hooking up on fish but it certainly helps you catching timber and possibly losing a lure.

A lipless crankbait is a good choice for a wide variety of structure and cover and can be worked over and around weed beds and timber simply by using the rod tip.

The North Richmond area should produce good numbers of fish, with surface lures working late afternoon and into the evening.

A little further downstream, The Terraces is protected by the high cliffs and with plenty of lily pads about, surface flies and lures can be used all day in this area as bass lurk below.

In the middle of the river here, there are numerous weed beds which are great to target with spinnerbaits and plastics on bladed rigs. The Aussie Nitro Whizbangers are growing in popularity over similar products which have an articulated pivot at the attachment point with the jig head.

These are great all-round lures and are best retrieved at a speed that just keeps the blades ticking over. Various styles of retrieves can also be used and, like all lures, experimentation is the key to working out what the fish like.

With these lures, don’t be afraid to maintain contact with timber. Think of banging spinnerbaits into timber as ringing the dinner bell. It gets the fish’s attention.

The Windsor area has been producing big estuary perch, especially on the Jackall Mask Vibe 70s, of all things.

NSWFM contributor Tadashi Nishikura continues to push new techniques. While soft plastics are often the stand-outs for catching EPs, they haven’t always caught them in the Hawkesbury of late, which is where Tadashi has turned to the Mask Vibes.

Slowly working soft plastics, sinking flies and small crankbaits will increase your chances of landing EPs, which are often found in deeper water than bass.

Carp and mullet are becoming more popular targets as word of their amazing power spreads. Both are spread throughout the waters of western Sydney. Mullet and carp can be taken on bread or dough under a float, while carp will take a piece of corn, worms or a host of other baits.

THE COLO

This river is one of the most beautiful in western Sydney and a great place to escape the busy Hawkesbury’s heavy traffic.

One of the most successful ways to fish the Colo is by casting surface flies into the plentiful weed beds, timber and under overhanging foliage.

Surface lures such as the River 2 Sea Buggi Pop and Bubble Pop, Rebel Crickhopper popper, Kokoda Bugger Chug and Heddon Torpedo are personal favourites but there are plenty more to try.

Flathead, mullet, tailor and estuary perch are found in the Colo, while jewfish can be encountered at the mouth, making for some very exciting fishing at times.

If heavy water traffic irritates you, take a trip into the Macdonald River or Webbs Creek. These are usually very quiet and great places to escape, with the likelihood of catching bass, EPs, bream, jewfish, tailor and the like.

While surface lures should account for plenty of bass from the mouth of the Colo, spinnerbaits are great along the weed beds and drop-offs. There’ll be the odd bream and flathead in these areas, too.

TIME TO FLY

I reckon there’s nothing that gets the heart beating harder and faster than a powerful bass that attacks your fly and tries to bury you in nasty territory. When that fly rod keeps bending over and you wonder if you’re ever going to turn that fish, the adrenalin taps are wide open and it’s almost euphoric.

Good surface flies include small Dahlbergs and foam or timber poppers. You get the best out of Dahlbergs if you use a floatant. After a few casts without it, you’re left with a sub-surface fly.

Contrary to popular belief, fly fishing is not all that difficult, especially for bass. If you haven’t tried it before it’s well worth it.

• If you have any digital pics to contribute, make sure that you set your camera to the high- or medium-resolution setting. It doesn’t matter how big the fish is, if the file is too small, nobody else will get to see it here. Normal prints can be sent to me and I will return them once they have been scanned.

Stories and pics are always welcome. Email me or phone 0418 297 353.

Gary Lee and Dave George had a ball one evening on the Nepean taking quality bass like these on surface lures near weed beds.

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