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Is closure open to interpretation?
  |  First Published: August 2008



At last, we’re nearing the end of the introduced bass closure which finishes at the end of this month.

Having perused the DPI website, I haven’t found any news of anglers being caught with bass in possession during the bass closure.

There seems to have been a fair bit of confusion surrounding the bass and estuary perch closure. The DPI’s 2008 Freshwater Fishing Guide mentions the ‘taking or attempting to take’ bass and estuary perch being prohibited during the closure.

During the spawning period there used to be people who indiscriminately targeted bass and perch in the spawning areas, taking esky-loads home for the freezer with total disregard for bass limits or the future of these wonderful fish.

The term ‘closure’ has also been understood by some to mean absolutely no targeting of bass or estuary perch. Understandably, confusion has resulted about what is allowable.

After consultation with anglers, the DPI decided to introduce the bass and perch closure from June 1 to August 31. On checking with Fisheries, the emotional topic of targeting bass and EPs in the cooler months is allowable, but ‘taking or attempting to take’ them is not.

Perhaps a rewording of the closure might make the regulations clearer to all anglers and illuminate the confusion.

A look at the impact prawn trawlers have on the numbers of schooling bass and EPs during the cooler months wouldn’t go astray, either.

This time last year a huge amount of rain fell and massive plumes of water flowed from the upper catchment of the Nepean around Goulburn, giving our creeks and rivers a much-needed clean-out.

The Hawkesbury/Nepean catchment extends over 22,000 square kilometres and covers the region bound by Lake George near Goulburn, the escarpment west of Wollongong, north to around Gosford and into the area east of Lithgow.

The catchment has around 480km of waterways and last year they were flowing swiftly at this time of the year. This winter is the complete opposite.

JEW TIME

Jewfish to 15kg continue to be caught around the Wisemans Ferry area, with many smaller ones also taking various lures and baits.

Large soft plastics like Squidgy Slick Rigs and Squidgy Fish bounced slowly along the bottom have got the fish feeding. Some anglers also add a little berley regularly.

Plenty of anglers prefer to use bait for local jewfish, with fresh squid a good choice. Fresh slabs of mullet or tailor fillets also attract good jewfish and another good way is to use a whole fish with deep cuts on either side to allow the scent to drift along the current.

Look for jewfish is in those big jew holes around Wisemans and also in the Lower Portland area.

Jewfish like to position themselves in wait for food where dirty water flows into the river from some of the side creeks and the MacDonald River. Jewies have little trouble tracking down a plastic, bait, lures or fly because they have highly developed senses that allow them to find food.

Whether it be the subtle vibrations given off by a plastic or the small amount of scent emitted into countless millions of litres of water by a bait or soft plastic, these fish can track down food regardless of the colour of the water.

If you choose to use artificials, use those that provide good contrast in the coloured water. Some prefer to use black, fluoro or even silver, with the latter two reflecting whatever light is available.

Use lures that give off plenty of vibrations and rattles, which fish can track down more easily.

Given that the water still be coloured this month, if it’s safe to fish the rivers then patience is a must. Give the fish time to find your bait and you should do better.

If you’re looking for something a little different or the jewfish aren’t co-operating around Wisemans, try taking on some of the blackfish along the rocky sections using green weed or even peeled prawns.

MIXED BAGS

There’s nothing like a mixed bag and there are plenty of areas where it’s possible to catch a variety of species without moving too far, including around Lower Portland and Wisemans Ferry. While estuary perch are still protected by the closure until the end of this month, it’s possible to catch an EP one cast and a bream or flathead the next.

Soft plastics seem to be most successful, especially if you dropshot rig or make long casts and hop the plastics slowly along the bottom.

With 4lb or 6lb leader and 4lb braid, rigging up a dropshot outfit is simple once you master the easy palomar knot. The braid allows you to feel every touch on your plastic and watching the line helps you to detect by sight as well as feel.

When you feel a tap and see the line twitch, drop the rod tip a little so the fish can suck in the plastic and then quickly wind to set the hook.

Mark McGregor, of Western Sydney Bream and Bass, has done well in the Wisemans area lately for bream and perch.

Mark hit the water on a chilly mid-morning recently to chase bream around Wisemans Ferry. He didn’t catch anything for the first two hours, then found a nice little spot where he managed to pull 15 bream in half an hour and also got smoked once. He then found a patch of EPs and got smacked every cast.

As the tide rose Mark moved to banks 2m to 4m deep lined with reeds and trees, where he used Berkley Bass Minnows for a further 15 bream and five perch in less than an hour. All the perch were released, naturally.

FUTURE PLANS

With another bass season only weeks away, the thought of new waters and new fishing challenges begin to occupy anglers minds.

While I’m not immune from trying the new technique of the day, I’m constantly looking at getting back into some of the older techniques that haven’t been used for a while. I actually write down some ideas to try when out on the water.

As fish get more heavily pressured by social and competition anglers, they’re also getting smarter and using the same techniques as everyone else won’t always produce. Having different techniques available to you can turn an ordinary session into a much better one than fellow anglers might be finding.

Anglers can be a secretive lot. For some species, like blackfish, bass and bream, it can be like breaking into a secret society.

The great thing about the fishing websites and magazines is the wealth of information anglers can access to help improve their fishing.

If you have information about a recent fishing adventure in Western Sydney, feel free to share the news with other readers and be confident that only the information you want shared will be divulged. Any digital pics need to be in medium or high resolution.

NEW RIDE

After looking at all the aluminium bass boats available, I decided to go for my first fibreglass boat, a Stratos 176XT. Having compared all the figures, it was a no-brainer in the end. Thanks to Dean Hayes and the guys at Sports Fishing Boats Australia in Penrith for all their help.

If you see me out on the water, and want to know more, give yourself plenty of time to have a chat with me about “Trickster”. She’s great.

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