There’s been plenty of rain in the last few months, and with the temperatures starting to slowly improve, it won’t be long until we’ll start seeing more anglers on the water.
With a catchment of over 22,000 square kilometres starting at Lake George between Goulburn and Canberra, there’s been plenty of rain pushing into the Hawkesbury-Nepean system and it’s a safe bet that your favourite fishing spots will have a few extra snags to cast at.
There’ll be plenty of reconnaissance work to be done and lots of probing casts into the new snags and the best of them will be given names until the timber disappears beneath the water. It’s then that a quality sounder in a boat really benefits.
Humminbird sounders with the side imaging feature offer a great picture of what’s below the water and those snags will still produce for anglers who can find them. My Humminbird 797 allows me to find lots more submerged structure than I was aware of.
Trout are a real prospect still at this time of the year and with not many anglers about for another month or so, you can have most of the water to yourself.
Best access to the Warragamba River would be to drive to Wallacia and then take the Silverdale Road. Two kilometres along Silverdale Road take the first turn to your right, Nortons Basin Road, which leads to Warragamba Park.
The park is bound on three sides by the Warragamba and Nepean rivers so access is relatively straightforward on foot or if you plan to paddle your way.
Don't discount the waters of the Nepean in this area for trout, which are most active in water between 10° and 18° – certainly in the temperature range of the Nepean this month.
In the Warragamba, you've got about 2km of water before you enter the designated catchment area – plenty to fish over a good session.
My favourite trout lures are Celtas with gold blades in clearer water and silver blades in dirtier water, with red and green being my favourite colours.
In hardbodies, Rapalas in floating and sinking versions between 3cm and 5cm in trout patterns are my preferred choice. Just make sure the split rings are up to the job.
Trout are pretty shy and anything that spooks them will send them off like a shot. It pays to move slowly and cast ahead.
Two sets of eyes are better than one and if you can maintain some height and wear polarised glasses, you’re in a better position to spot them before they get a glimpse of you.
They’ll wait in quieter water rather than in the main current, but I’ve seen trout feeding in fast water and putting a lure through their feeding area has caught me fish. So don’t pass fast flowing water without making some probing casts.
If you spot any rocks or logs that break the main flow of water, keep a close eye on these spots, especially if there is a dark bottom or shadows. The water might be shallow, but fish will be more likely to rest there if there is enough camouflage to protect them from any threats.
It can take a little to spot trout if you’re not used to is so let yourself become accustomed to the water and look for any changes. It takes a focused mind and some practice.
When you spot one, cast well ahead of the fish so you don’t scare it and let the lure swim naturally down the current if possible.
With the water still cold, you’ll find fish other than trout a bit lethargic and in order to get them to bite, it takes a little bit more patience.
Soft plastics, slowly worked flies and suspending lures are great choices when fish feeding activity and water temperature levels are both low.
A suspending lure is best worked with slow twitches and can be kept in the strike zone longer than standard diving lures. Twitched and paused around sunken timber, they’ll draw a strike when lures that are too quick are ignored by fish unprepared to run them down.
Lethargic fish will often hit a suspending lure because it represents an easy meal, that looks sick or injured and hangs by close enough to make the fish’s effort worthwhile.
Depending on the composition of the water, suspending lures can rise a little but with some slight modifications, they can hold nicely. A little lead wire can be wound around the shaft of a treble hook or the commercially available Sticky Dots work well.
As well as around sunken timber, try working those suspending lures around any vegetation or other submerged structure.
This is the last month of the closed season on bass – it is illegal to possess these fish although it’s not illegal to catch them.
The breeding fish will be well down in the Hawkesbury and if you were fishing in Broken Bay, it wouldn’t be surprising to hear of them being caught there, either. Dave George and I came across some big specimens caught in commercial nets there a few years ago.
If you are getting out on the water this month, I’d be looking at suspending lures or soft plastics worked slowly.
I’d also have a crack at vibrating blades, spinnerbaits and Beetle Spins but one method I’ve used very successfully in the cooler months is dropshotting. When I’ve found a school of fish, a dropshot rig worked through the school will often draw attention.
I use a curl-tailed grub, with the tail turned upwards. You account for a few different species when dropshotting, depending on your fishing location, and it’s not surprising to have bream, estuary perch and bass falling to a dropshot plastic.
Remember, if you do happen to land a bass or EP this month, you must release it as quickly and carefully as possible. We’ve all had long enough to know about the closed season and Fisheries inspectors will not be happy to find anyone with these fish in the bucket, esky or livewell.
Those who elect to leave these fish alone should be making plans for the season ahead. If their gear was put away months ago, there’s a fair chance they haven’t checked the leaders, hooks, rods and reels they’ll rely on in coming months, Now is the time.
If you’re looking to upgrade your gear, drop into the Bass Angler in Penrith where you’ll find any of the gear you’re looking for.
Big bass like this are likely to still be spawning and are subject to the closed season until the end of this month. Release all fish as quickly and carefully as possible and they’ll have a better future ahead.Reads: 2563