Everyone, including the fish, will be looking for more stable weather than Summer provided.
The fish have been a bit shut down at times and while there have been some reasonable bass on occasions, most have been pretty ordinary in size and number.
Flies, plastics and suspending lures are all good choices for these times because they are ideal for the slower retrieves that are required, along with the accurate casts needed to tempt reluctant fish into biting.
With the spawning period for bass approaching, the next few months are probably the time when the true fighting abilities of bass are highlighted.
The spawning period must be a physically draining time for bass, especially those which undertake a long migration. With this is mind, the fish need to feed up to build some conditioning and this is where the next few months make for some of the best bass fishing in the fishing calendar.
We’ve have some really hot days and water to 30° in the latter part of Summer, making for some physically draining trips and tough fishing at times. Anglers have combated the heat by drinking plenty of water, covering up against the sun and the occasional dip in the river. Fishing has been frustrating at times with accurate casting being required.
I’ve been using the Dreamfish buzzbaits that my brother-in-law and I make, and we’ve found that an accurate cast has often meant that a hook-up before we’ve had a chance to click over the bail arm. In open water, the buzzbaits have walked all through the day, even during midday with a cloudless sky.
If you’re looking for areas that might offer cooler water, check out creeks that flow out of the mountains and into the main rivers. A number of creeks flow eastwards into the Hawkesbury/Nepean system and some of these are heavily vegetated and have cooler water.
Another place would be the gorge upstream from the Tench Reserve on the Nepean at Penrith. If you have a boat it’s a pleasant trip and you’ll find some creeks along the way, along with shadows cast over the Nepean by the tall sandstone country.
The Warragamba River can be accessed by boat and if you plan to fish it by paddling or walking in, you’re best get access from Bents Basin.
The waters of the Warragamba are much cooler, with some water released from down deep in Warragamba Dam. The fishing is good at times and the scenery isn’t bad, either.
If you’re in open water on the Hawkesbury and the water temperatures are high, look for cooler water, and put in some accurate casts into shady areas often inaccessible to those limited to conventional overhead casting.
This is where being able to perform a number of different casts can open up a whole new range of opportunities.
The most useful of these techniques is probably the side cast, which allows you to get a lure into water under overhanging branches, back to the most shady parts of the bank and the coolest water.
When there’s even less margin for error between the water and vegetation, rocks and timber, you can always try skipping a soft plastic.
A dense, aerodynamic plastic rigged on a weedless worm hook or a TT Hidden Weight hook can be skimmed across the water like a flat stone. Because of the weedless rig, a duffed cast can more easily be pulled out of the vegetation without snagging, helping build casting confidence.
The best lures I’ve found for skipping are Berkley 2” Power Minnows, Berkley 2” Power Grubs, Berkley 3” Power Tubes and Squidgy Bugs, but there’s plenty of choice for anglers on today's market. There are also other plastics probably not as notable skippers which can be skip-cast with perseverance.
Overhanging trees, depending on the state of any tide can present a bit of a casting challenge. You can catch bass off the surface under shady trees at any time of the day and you’ll find plenty of reeds, weeds, rocks and timber to hold fish under shady trees.
Those standing in boats, being a little higher above the water than anglers in kayaks and canoes, you might have to get down lower in the boat to cast. Fishing low has its advantages at times.
When there are tunnels in the vegetation close to a bank, I’m really in my element. I’ve been smashed by big fish in these areas on plenty of occasions and lost my fair share of lures and flies to the monsters in these dark holes.
While it is high risk fishing, the rewards often pay handsomely.
I find the versatility of a threadline outfit hard to beat. I can fish with ultra-light lures and employ many casting techniques, making it my main outfit these days, especially from my kayak.
For a bow-and-arrow cast, I hold the line against the lip of the spool with one finger and pull back on the lure with my free hand while aiming the rod tip at the target. You can end up with the lure’s hooks in your fingers if you’re not careful at release but with the right amount of tension on the line, you can put a lure very accurately into places you might otherwise avoided, or lost a lure to.
The technique I call the roll cast, is to allow about 1m of line out from the rod tip and with the finger on the spool lip, allow the rod tip to let the lure swing towards the rod, before moving the rod tip forward and propelling the lure towards the target area.
Both these casts are ideal for anglers who walk the banks with thick vegetation close behind.
You can feather the outgoing line with your finger and slow the lure to achieve pinpoint accuracy and a soft splashdown to avoid alerting the fish.
I’d be giving places like the Nepean River in the Camden region some attention from a canoe. There are some lovely spots to fish there and the action can be great early morning or late afternoon.
The Warragamba River is worthy of some attention, and downstream into the Gorge on the Nepean near Penrith.
Find some weed beds and fish their faces down deep. Remember to cast along the weed face to maximise the time your lure spends in the strike zone.
The M4 bridge pylons and those of the rail bridge downstream are good places to fish with red and black spinnerbaits with gold blades and lipless lures in gold and black.
The really shallow areas below the weir at Penrith will probably be too choked with weed to fish but if you can find deeper pockets of weed to cast into, you should be in with a chance of hooking up. Sinking lures are the way to go in these areas.
The Terraces near North Richmond a worth a go, fish under the big cliffs that give the area its name. There’s shade there all day, and plenty of weed beds, lily pads and timber.
Downstream of the boat ramp at Windsor, you’ll have plenty of recreational boats on weekends but if you can hit the water early you’ll have more success.
There are a lot of healthy weed beds and if you can find some with a drop-off nearby, fish them heavily. I love spinnerbaits in these areas, fished at any depth I choose. Right down the river from Windsor there are too many areas to name, just look for weed beds, eddies and fallen timber.
The Colo will probably be still reasonably warm unless we get major rain, and Webbs Creek and the Macdonald River will be ideal if you want to get away from boat traffic. These are pretty spots and the fishing’s pretty good.
If the surface bite is on, go for lures that flick a lot on the surface and imitate prawns. For subsurface work, use bladed wire lures and fish tight to the snags. Diving lures like the Mann’s 5+, are a good choice.
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