The Big Chill
  |  First Published: June 2009

From all accounts, it seems local anglers have given fishing a miss in the past few weeks, as other activities seem to be more appealing than enduring the wet and cold of winter. There’s been plenty of rain about and while it can make fishing pretty uncomfortable at this time of the year, those that have been fishing haven’t had to battle others for a fishing spot. There are fish to be caught and it’s just reward for those that haven’t been put off by the weather.

Trout are about in the Warragamba River and probably the most reliable way of getting onto them is by rigging a 8 to 12 hook under a pencil float and using the humble worm. Another great choice are mudeyes, but have a look around the water’s edge and under rocks to get an idea of what is about. Trout can be fussy eaters, so it pays to look around and see what bait they might be feeding on in the area and try and assortment of baits. Bait soaking is not everyone's cup of tea, but it has to be the most relaxing way of catching trout.

If you’re going to fish the Warragamba River below the dam wall, just remember there is a safety zone just downstream of the wall. While it’s unlikely the authorities are going to be letting any water of the dam anytime soon, they won’t look too kindly on you if you happen to give into temptation and fish past the signs.

A fishing buddy of mine, Brett Clarke has been using a completely different technique of trout in a variety of locations around the state and been doing very well. Gold lipless lures seem to be the choice in cold clear trout waters, and the fish have been on the large hefty size range of the species.

It’s also worth noting that if you’re thinking about getting in around the back of the dam and fish the dam itself, Sydney Water has been installing a number of hidden cameras in order to catch people dumping rubbish and getting into places they shouldn’t be.

Warragamba has a decent exclusion zone around it, and any decent map will clearly show this. Get caught past the exclusion zone boundaries, and you’ll wish you hadn’t. Some anglers have fished within the exclusion zone before and not been caught, but with high tech surveillance being put in place, it’s just a matter of time before people who want to take the risk get caught.

There’s also been some anglers that have been soaking some dough under a float around Yarramundi, and been catching a few bass. Bait fishing for bass is not something to be recommended, as bass tend to take the hook well down into their system. If you do manage to hook a bait whilst bait fishing, it’s best to cut the line off as close to the mouth of the bass as you can and let it go. Doing bankside surgery on a fish that has taken a hook well down, is not recommended as you can do more damage to the fish than simply leaving the hook in, in which case the fish may not survive.

The blackfish have been on again at Wiseman’s Ferry, which still amazes me sometimes that you’d find blackfish up this far in the Hawkesbury. Given that there are plenty of other more notable saltwater species that get lost in the Hawkesbury all through the year, it shouldn’t be that much of a shock.

The visions most of us would have of those targeting blackfish would be of old men using sloppy rods with a centre pin reel, and pencil float and cabbage weed. This is my memory of older men when I was on holidays, with their usual tight lips giving little away in terms of advice.

Usual size for blackfish is between five hundred grams to a kilo, but they can grow to around twice this size in Australia. The Kiwis get their blackfish up to four kilos.

If you’re fishing from the bank, a slow to medium action spinning rod of up to three metres is fine, which would upset the purist blackfish anglers. Two to four kilo line is fine, with a highly visible sensitive float to show any interest by fish. A very sharp and strong size 6 to 8 hook is recommended.

Always use bait that the fish are feeding on, which in the case of Wiseman’s Ferry blackfish, will more than likely be the green weed found on the rocks there.

Who’s Counting?

Midway, through the bass closure this month, minds are probably working on new places to fish once the warmer weather begins again.

I always start pining for the warmer weather at this time of the year, and working on plans for hitting spots I haven’t fished much for a while, and deciding on techniques that will get more of a workout once the weather starts nudging more respectable numbers.

Some guys go to extraordinary lengths to find water that hasn’t been fished before, and having done some searching on Google Earth and explored every spot on a topographical map, hit the spots that look most likely to hold good fish.

Some of these waters won’t have seen a lure or fly in a very long time, and the temptation to explore and fish these areas is often too much to ignore, and the rewards make the effort all worth it.

To find these type of places, a look at Google Earth on the internet that allows anglers to zoom right into likely spots and show just what type of terrain needs to be negotiated in order to lock your rod up on rampaging bass.

There’s also topographical maps that can give up some valuable information. Reading a topo map seems to be a bit of dying art, which is a shame. Spending some time pouring over a topo map, can give up more information that will give you great starting points for your fishing expeditions. Good newsagents and camping shops should have the maps of the areas you’re likely to fish in western Sydney, and you should treat them like gold when you get them. Mine are given special care for sure!

Wherever your fishing takes you, you should always seek permission from landowners. It’s not only polite, but walking onto private property can see you in hot water and is often the reason why property owners often will not give anglers permission to access the water at the back of their property. If a property owner says no to giving you access, politely withdraw, and respect their decision. How you behave might change how they see anglers and might just get you access next time.

So if the weather is to lousy to go fishing, settle back and make some plans to fish some secret honey hole when the weather warms up. Chances are the water you choose to fish has been fished before, but not visited for a long time. The fishing in quiet areas can be mind blowing and worth keeping tight lipped over.

If you’ve got any fishing adventures or techniques to share, especially if you’ve got medium to high resolution pics, please send them to me at --e-mail address hidden--

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