With this the last month before the bass closed season takes effect, it’s a great time to be hitting the Hawkesbury/Nepean for some action.
This is traditionally a time when the bass come on the bite as the spawning period approaches. With a lot of energy being expended in their effort to continue producing future generations, mature bass need to get stuck into their food and if you’ve been catching some of these fish recently, you’ll know they’ve been busy eating.
For the most part, you should find these fish quite aggressive but there have been some timid fish during the warmer months so we can only hope they lose their inhibitions.
For the most part, Summer was a bit of a disappointment in terms of numbers and size of bass.
Depending on who you have been talking to, anglers have found fish prepared to attack anything that moves or pretty much shut down.
There’s been the odd good sized fish but most tend to have been pretty average, with lots of rats to stop the boredom from setting in.
With the water starting to cooler, you might find the fishing even more challenging than in the warmer months. I’d be looking at ways to maximise your chances.
I’d start off by fitting the strongest, sharpest, finest hooks I could find to my lures. Fish reluctant to smash lures will often swipe at them and fine hooks with super-sharp points will give you a greater chance of hooking up.
I’d also fish as tight as I dared into timber and work lures as close in as possible. Bumping lures into the timber often entices a strike and a sudden stop or change of direction can convince a fish to strike.
If fish are shut down, suspending lures can work. When the retrieve is stopped, the lure will sit motionless or rise slowly.
In one of those little mysteries of bass fishing, I’ve had a fish cover a lot of water to nail a suspending lure, even in cold water. Some bass just get excited at the stop/start retrieve of a suspending lure and suffer a brain explosion.
This month, look for bass around drop-offs, eddies and current lines, especially near river bends or structures that interrupt current. If you can find drop offs, eddies and current lines together, you’ve got a great location.
I usually go for spinnerbaits or home-made babies I call Wild Things, which have a soft plastic instead of a skirt and sink vertically once the retrieve is stopped.
This makes them perfect for fishing in tight to timber and around weed beds. I like 1/8oz or 1/4oz sizes in the Hawkesbury and Colo. Bigger models worked deep around larger sunken trees also account for big bass at times.
Bass will often lurk under debris floating in eddies and wide bends, waiting for small baitfish and prawns. I’ll also work small diving lures, soft plastics and surface lures.
I prefer slim-profile minnows at this time of year and slim surface lures that flick and dance.
In the clear waters of the Colo, go for natural-coloured or clear lures and try fishing deeper with soft plastics.
The very word has caused panic around Sydney lately and in past months there have been a few about in the Hawkesbury. But plenty of reliable stories have circulated over the years about sharks seen as far upstream as Yarramundi Lagoon, just above North Richmond.
In mid February, a guy was swimming at Lower Portland and saw a fin behind him, and \a shark was captured during the Hawkesbury Nepean Bass Anglers Association Inter Club Competition in late February. The winner, Dennis Piggot, caught a shark on a lure in the Sackville area along with his good haul of bass.
It’s no secret that the flow water of water in the Hawkesbury-Nepean has been pretty much non-existent in past years, with some suggesting that the only flow has been from treated effluent and a little unpredictable rainfall.
But the State Government is funding an improved flow of water in the Hawkesbury-Nepean and will replace or install new fishways in the Nepean River. Improved environmental flows from all dams on the upper Nepean will start in early 2010, after the fish ways are completed this year – visit www.sca.nsw.gov.au/nepeanriver for more info.
Last year marked the introduction of the closed season on bass and estuary perch from June to August.
This created a lot of confusion among some anglers, due mainly to possibly misleading wording in some DPI information. Some anglers believed bass and perch were not to be targeted at all, while others were of the opinion that they were simply not to be taken, which was the wording that the DPI used.
The sad thing about the confusion was that angler relationships were at times strained, aggravating the usual debate over targeting spawning bass.
The main reason for a closed season was that some individuals were targeting spawning fish indiscriminately in large numbers for their freezers and illegal sales.
My DPI contact, who wishes to remain anonymous, says the department was aware that the wording was confusing and was working on a clearer interpretation on what it actually means.
Regardless of the wording, there is a zero bag limit on bass from June 1 to August 31. If you see any illegal activity phone 1800 043 536 and report as much detail as you can without getting yourself into a confrontation.
Last month marked eight years of me writing for NSWFM, during which plenty of new techniques have been tried on local waters.
The fishing through these eight seasons has been fairly consistent, although the last two Summers have not been as reliable as others. There have been some great fish caught, but the overall consistency just hasn’t been there.Reads: 1550