They’re biting their heads off
  |  First Published: December 2003

THE FISH are biting their heads off and everyone seems to be reporting great times on the water.

That is, most people are having great times. Someone with a brain the size of a cashew wedged a fridge into the fish ladder on the Camden stretch recently. Robert Longney from TSF Bass Tackle thinks they were trying to stop the bass coming up the ladder to keep the fish down in the Cobbity section of the Nepean. In what would have to have been a deliberate act, could it be that recreational anglers are beginning to compete with each other by stopping the bass progressing further upstream? I think any reasonable bass angler would hope it isn’t the case.

Certain sections of the river are looking very clear and the bass still haven’t been spooked by anglers’ craft when they’ve been in the mood for a feed. Fishing out from the bank where there are weed beds has been productive, especially on Betts Spins. These spinner blades with wire harnesses simply clip on to your favourite soft plastic jig and are fished in a similar fashion to a spinnerbait. Colour choice doesn’t seem to have been an issue in less popular spots.

Rob Frost has brained carp in the Penrith section of the Nepean, taking one 4kg on worms. He’s also finding Knol’s lures hot for bass.

Soft plastics worked across the top of weed beds have been deadly but don’t use a jig head that’s too heavy. A lot of anglers like to get the plastic down quickly but on the majority of occasions in still water it’s not necessary. A light jig head allows the plastic to sink slowly in a tempting fashion and gives a much more lifelike appearance to any fish. I often think of plastics as the equivalent to a fly for those who don’t wish to try fly-fishing. They look more real in the water than a spinnerbait or hard bodied lure and are deadly.

Dave Horvat, Dave George and I were reminded of the hazards of fishing in warmer weather in late October when were caught in a severe thunderstorm with some nasty hail thrown in. With some stones the size of golf balls, there were few places to hide. It stripped trees, gave us a severe beating and, with a graphite rod each, the thought of becoming toast was on our minds. Don’t continue fishing during a lightning storm. If you can find shelter, do it. For every 25mm of a lightning bolt there are 20,000 volts – need I say more?


Ski boats and jet skis have been causing the usual frustrations for anglers in the Hawkesbury on weekends but the fishing has still been productive for some.

Matt Shearim has been having a blinder on the Hawkesbury, scoring a fantastic 44cm bass on a white 1/8oz Nitro Whiz Bang by fishing a little wider out from the snags than usual. Matt also took out a mate who had never been bass fishing who first lost a 40cm-plus fish boatside and then scored his first bass at 38cm. Another confirmed addict!

Matt has also been doing a little walking along the banks and had one bass inhale a 2” grub at his feet. In shock, Matt forgot to strike. The next bass, at 35cm, was the fattest one he’d seen in a while and also took a grub. Matt also landed a carp around 4kg which straightened the hook. Don’t have a boat or canoe? Why not fish from the bank? Matt has scored estuary perch on a Baby Feral Cat in purple and black by casting to the willow trees. A Taylor Made in dark green and black with a gold belly was Matt’s gun performer last bass season. He ended up buying a few spares in this colour after catching 37 in one morning.


With the water now becoming more bearable to wade through, fishing the Grose River is on the cards again for the diehards who don’t mind torturing themselves in this rugged country. If you’re not sure you can tackle the terrain with confidence, stay out. Those with a health condition, fear of snakes, inability to climb huge boulders, read a map or a host of other things forget it. This area is not a place for the faint-hearted.

If you’re up to the challenge and the physical endurance test, the Grose can provide some excellent fishing. I started fishing there for bass about 25 years ago and while it’s a shadow of its former self, there’s still some great fishing to be enjoyed.

With large pools separated by huge boulders and rapids, the water is generally very clear but the bass are eager. Large schools of herring are a prime food source for hungry bass. Find the schools and you’re in for some excitement. There’s nothing like hooking a big bass from the rocks and having to scramble over boulders to get the fish in.

If you doubt your abilities in this rugged country, don’t go in. The fishing might be tempting but it’s not worth your safety or those you are with.


Hawkesbury Nepean Bass Anglers Association co-patron John Bethune gave a talk at the club meeting a few months ago and afterwards we got talking about educated fish. John was referring in particular to fish that have become used to being bombarded with spinnerbaits. When spinnerbaits came out, nearly everyone began using them and it seems the fish wised up to what a tempting flashing skirt meant. If you’re using the same techniques you’ve been using in the past and you think you’re not getting the results you used to, try varying your technique or learn another technique altogether. Maybe you haven’t tried fly-fishing or soft plastics much. Perhaps it’s time you learnt something new.

To illustrate the point, drop-shotting was a technique developed in Japan after largemouth bass became used to what was being offered to them by up to 800 anglers at tournaments. Tadashi Nishikura wrote some articles for this magazine on drop-shotting and chances are there are still not many people employing this technique. There are a number of weed beds I can think of that would be prime locations for this approach.

If you want to join a fantastic club largely focused on bass, check out the Hawkesbury Nepean Bass Anglers Association at www.hnbaa.com.au This site will grow in size as time goes by but already has information and a number of links, including one to this great magazine. The club caters for anglers of all skill levels and holds competitions and other fishing events during the year.

With above-average temperatures forecast for the next few months, the fishing should be excellent so get out there. If you have any pics of your catches, contact me and we’ll get them published. Digital pics need to be in medium to high resolution sizes.

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