With daylight saving in full swing, the kids on holidays and the rest of the family possibly off work for a few weeks, it’s time to get the kids into some real fun.
Carp and mullet are much maligned fish and don’t have much ‘cred’ in angling’s upper echelons, but for sheer pulling power, there’s not much to compare them to.
Both species are found throughout the waters of western Sydney and make superb fun for anglers fishing from the banks.
It’s preferable to find yourself a stretch of bank that allows you plenty of movement, because both species get moving when they’re hooked.
Carp just take off and use their bulk to try to escape, while mullet make plenty of zigzagging runs at blistering speed.
Neither species offers anglers with their backsides anchored to the ground much chance of landing them; you have to be prepared to move with the fish.
You’ll pretty much find carp in any waterway in Sydney’s west. These include many of the lagoons around Sydney’s west, but certainly the creeks and much of the Hawkesbury-Nepean River.
Landlocked lagoons with public access are probably best for a family. A look at any street directory should show a few to choose from, but Glenmore Park, near Penrith, has carp. No boating is allowed there but you can use a canoe or fish from wide, grassy banks.
Another well-known spot is at Pughs Lagoon at Richmond. There are a few lagoons to choose from here, and plenty of parking.
You’re pretty lucky if you’ve got a family full of fishing fanatics but if you don’t, Richmond has plenty of opportunities to grab some bargains at the local shops.
When it comes to bait, carp are like out-of-control vacuum cleaners and will scoff anything resembling food. They’ll take doughy bread, dough, worms, corn, maggots, small shellfish and crustaceans, worms and corn, cheese and anything that can be eaten.
I mix up some flour with water and knead in some teased cotton wool to get a really pasty mess and then put it in an airtight container and head off fishing. The cotton wool makes it harder for the bait to come off, and it certainly doesn’t put the fish off.
If you have got small kids, you’re going to have help them land carp because the chances are the big ones will outlast the kids in the fight.
Because of the environmental damage carp cause our waterways, most anglers despatch them humanely and do not put them back in the water.
Mullet are favourites when it comes to excitement. They are prolific at this time of year so there’s every chance you’ll find them.
A look at any good street directory will show plenty of public access along the Hawkesbury River and just about any of these will see you onto mullet.
You’ll often find numbers moving in shallow water looking for food and you’ll often find them sifting through weeds looking for food.
Mullet are nervous and having energetic kids running around on the bank is a sure way of scaring off the fish, especially if they are in shallow water. Quiet and slow does the trick.
Use a bread berley to get the mullet heading in your direction.
My favourite bait is the same as for carp; it’s messy but the kids love it and it stays on your hook a long time.
You need light, sensitive rods for mullet. I recommend a spinning outfit of 2kg to 4kg around 7’ long. It’s a long rod for little kids but it helps Mum or Dad get the bait out to the fish and when it comes to landing mullet, it gives you a fighting chance.
Line around 4kg, a bubble or pencil float and a size 8 to 12 hook complete the requirements.
When you hook a mullet, its blistering speed will impress and the longer rod allows you to react quickly to lead the fish from weeds and other obstacles.
Any fish within cooee of civilisation is going to see a lot of lures in the next month or so – buzzbaits, spinnerbaits, diving lures, surface lures, blades, flies, jigs, variously rigged soft plastics, the list goes on.
Whether you’re fishing from the bank, a canoe, kayak or boat, you’re probably going to have a tough time chasing fish that have seen such a huge range of offerings.
Still, fish with confidence, it’s the best asset you have.
Start fishing earlier in the day if you can, when the crowds are still wiping the sleep from their eyes,
Try smaller lures and perhaps silent models, rather than the noisy rattlers the fish have become wary of. Downsize leaders to suit these lures.
My favourites, the clear lures, are often less threatening and more appealing too.
When a fish approaches your lures, don’t let it get too good a look at it. Give the lure a twitch and get it moving again so the fish must attack or it’s too late.
Accuracy counts and a lure landing softly on the water helps, too.
Sometimes fishing deeper can turn a frustrating session into a much happier one. Bass are very structure-oriented fish and finding deep weed beds, sunken timber and big boulders down deep can turn up great results.
Working minnows, lipless lures, jigs, dropshot plastics, blades or fast-sinking flies may not be what you are used to, but mastering some of these techniques can help when the fish go quiet.
Unless I know what hooks come on the lures I buy, they are changed before the lure hits the tackle box and I make a point of keeping them sharp.
There are some fantastic lures on the market at the moment, especially for those who are budget-conscious at this time of year when you seem to constantly spending money.
There are still lures that don’t give you chest pains when you see the price and they’re still great fish takers.
Atomic Hardz are relatively inexpensive and come in variety of styles and depths in floating and suspending models.
Another favourite, the Mann’s 5+, is affordable yet has an outstanding reputation on bass.
I’ve mentioned Trollcraft lures in previous issues and a number of these are perfect for local waters and beyond. I’ve upgraded all the hooks and split rings on mine, and they’re going very nicely.
It might take effort and planning, but leaving the crowds looking for more willing fish is often well worth the effort.
This might mean walking into some rugged country or perhaps paddling a canoe or kayak, but some of the best fishing sessions are in some of the most hostile country.
Never go into these types of areas alone, take the right gear including a map and compass (and know how to use them), know your limitations, tell someone where you’re going, and if in doubt, don’t go.
Some of the dangers are fires, snakes, dehydration, flash flooding and personal injury but, with care and planning, there can be some wonderful fishing experiences to be had in rugged country.
Rod Cumming caught this 33cm fork length bass in the middle of Yarramundi Lagoon on a prototype Dreamfish lure.
Ben Re caught this 32cm fork length bass on a Dreamfish Wild Thing with the author on a miserable, windy wet day. It was Ben’s first river bass and he scored a number during the day.Reads: 7214