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More of a challenge
  |  First Published: December 2008



In the height of Summer any water that is easily accessible has been pretty well worked over solidly and regularly.

With daylight saving and Summer holidays, January might be a more difficult time to fish in some of our more popular locations and getting the fish to take a lure might be more of a challenge than it has been.

So what are some possible solutions?

Fishing earlier in the day is one thing, fishing in less-fished waters and going mid-week without the crowds are all pretty easy things to do to catch more fish in popular waters.

Becoming a better caster can also help a lot. Accuracy is very important and sometimes being close is not good enough. When they’re not in the mood to move too far to hit your lure, pinpoint accuracy is often required to get a fish to strike,.

With better casting, you’ll be able to fish water other anglers are too scared or unable to fish. If you’re confident with your casting, you can put lures where fish are hiding.

Try making longer casts and keeping yourself out of the picture as much as possible. If you’re fishing from the bank, this is just as important as if you were on a boat.

Crowding fish with the boat and alerting them to your presence is unwise. Be quiet on the water and don’t alert the fish to your presence.

When fish have seen plenty of angling pressure, little things can make them spook. Outboard motor noise can turn fish off straight away. At Lostock Dam during the Megabucks when competitors arrived in the area I was fishing, surface activity died the moment they showed up and it got tougher to fish.

Being resourceful and willing to be different can make the difference. Everyone tends to fish bankside where there’s plenty of weed beds, rock walls and timber. Try fishing deeper water, bridge pylons, under boats and under jetties and wharves; you’ll be amazed at how many bass you can pull from the middle of the rivers yet it’s not often you see anglers targeting bass in deeper water.

Try doing the things the others aren’t. Try jigging, plastics, fly, and drop shotting, and fish the areas that others aren’t.

Lures without loud rattles will probably stand out from the hordes that have bombarded fish and made their way noisily back to the anglers. Try using flies or soft plastics, both of which can land softly on the water and work quietly.

Those clear lures I keep harping about also work in heavily fished waters. It’s largely a matter of using them with confidence and the fish will show you just how highly tuned hunters they are.

CHOP, CHOP

Chopper tailor have been helping many anglers in brackish sections modify their soft plastics and have even souvenired some rather expensive crankbait trophies.

Tailor come armed with a mean set of dentures which make easy work of light leaders and soft plastics. Depending on their success with their fangs, they can also cost you some precious lures.

Check your leaders regularly throughout your fishing session, especially if you’ve had a run-in with a tailor. A scuffed leader should be changed and if you don’t change and lose a fish and you knew about it, you have no one to blame but yourself.

Bream are fairly regular captures in the Hawkesbury, with the mid sections of the river from Sackville downstream the more likely places to find them.

There are some nice yellowfin bream to be caught in the Hawkesbury and while they might fall well short of the AAA Australian record of 4.445kg caught in the Camden Haven River, they’ll keep you entertained.

Lure anglers can catch bream on hard and soft lures suited to bass and estuary perch, with all three species frequently on offer in the same stretch of water.

CHANGE OF SCENE

To escape the crowds it’s worth thinking about trying less familiar waters.

The Macdonald River and Webbs Creek near Wisemans Ferry have been producing good numbers of fish, mostly off the surface early and late in the day. These are pretty places to fish, which is a bonus.

The Macdonald and Webbs are close to each other, and just a short run in a boat, and doesn’t see as much angler activity as many other places.

Bass are probably the most popular targets but other species include estuary perch, flathead and bream.

Farther upstream, the Colo River can be a little moody at times and being adaptable is often the key to getting some fish on the Colo.

For those who like to flex their muscles in kayaks and canoes, there’s plenty of water. The Nepean above Penrith and the area below the weir offer peace and quiet in picturesque surroundings.

The are plenty of creeks much further downstream on the Hawkesbury that offer paddlers good bass water. Public reserves offer easy access. A good street directory will show these locations, especially around Ebenezer, Sackville, Colo and other areas.

Anglers on foot have plenty of choice. Often surrounded sandstone cliffs or steep, rocky slopes, some of the smaller tributaries can be incredibly hot and energy-absorbing, with little breeze to provide relief. If you’re fit and can brave the active snakes then the fishing can be sensational.

LESSER LIGHTS

Mullet and carp might be short on glamour but compensate by providing plenty of fight and are great ‘practice’ fish for younger anglers.

Mullet are prolific and can race about at amazing speed and carp will give young arms a great workout.

Best places for mullet are around stony rapids or weedy shallows but they can be skittish to proceed stealthily. While bread is the most common bait although a peeled prawn or garden worm can be useful.

Use a No 8 to No 12 hook, in deep water a pencil float, in shallow an unweighted bait. Small bread flies floated out amid a little berley work well and small black flies also are good.

There’s never a shortage of carp in local waters. Use around 3kg line and worms, maggots, grubs, bread, dough, cheese, corn kernels or ham on a No 1 to 1/0 hook under a small float. An encounter with a reasonable carp can take a long time on light gear.

Yarramundi, the publicly accessible lagoons in the Hawkesbury district, Wallacia, and around Camden and Narellan all are top places to take on carp.

Carp are a declared noxious fish but worthy opponents. Help cut down on numbers by not returning fish to the water and disposing of properly. While there are recipes for carp, they’ll never cross my plate but they make great compost.

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