Time to escape the crowds
  |  First Published: January 2010

The mad rush of the holidays might be over but the usual Summer water traffic won’t thin out for a few more months.

If you’re around the heavily fished waters of the Nepean River near Penrith, try looking for areas where nobody tends to fish a lot.

The pylons of the M4 bridge have timber and debris around their bases, and plenty of bass that like deep spinnerbaits, lipless lures and sinking flies.

Some very good fish have been caught around the pylons and the massive shadow the bridge casts, along with the submerged debris, give you every reason to fish this area.

Either side of the river up to the Penrith Gorge, there’s a lot of timber and vegetation which should be worked over, especially during the early morning before the other water sports lovers get active.

While the Nepean around Penrith has typical bass-holding structure such as rocks, sunken timber and weed beds, it’s a mistake to think that the most popular bass methods and the latest successful lures are always going to continue being successful.

Bass in this area are probably the most heavily pressured fish in western Sydney and you can bet your life that all those lures plugged in magazines and websites and found beneath the Christmas tree have peppering the Nepean over recent months.

These fish get to see the latest lures for a long time during the warmer months. Dare to be different.

I find more natural-looking presentations work really well, especially during the most popular months. I love lightly weighted soft plastics on the surface and below.

You’ll find a lot of the larger bass holding in the weed and a lightly weighted plastic will often tempt the larger, wary bass.

It’s a useful exercise, if you’ll pardon the pun, is to walk along the extensive pathway which follows the river at Tench Reserve at Penrith.

The raised decks of a boat certainly gives you a good view of what’s in the water (of course, through polarised sunglasses) but to truly get a good view of what’s in the water and how extensive some of those features are, a slow walk along the path at Tench Reserve is well worth the effort.


The weed beds in the area can be easily seen from higher sections of the path and all the weed pockets and other features are on show. The numbers of bankside baitfish are truly amazing and with plenty from 50 to 100mm long, it’s easy to see why casting to the banks is so productive.

You can happily fish the Nepean all day using surface lures and flies and do very well.

In a three-hour session from 9am a few years ago, I managed 36 fish to the boat, heaps of strikes and lost a few. I didn’t change my lure in three hours and they all came off the surface.

While there is a lot of small bass in this section of the river, it’s a very good idea to get a look at your fish before you call it for an average-sized one. I’m sure lots of big bass have been caught and lost for lack of concentration.

The big bass don’t always hit like a tonne of bricks. I’ve had big fish suck in a soft plastic or bladed lure and really take off when they realise they’re hooked.

Treat every one like a big fish until you see otherwise.


If you really want to escape the crowds without travelling all day to do it, there are plenty of access spots such as Devlins Lane, Yarramundi, Nuvea Reserve at Grose Wold, North Richmond and Macquarie Park at Windsor.

If you’re seeking gain access through private property, always ask the property owner first. Some will reject your request because of bad experiences they’ve had in the past with anglers so be polite about it and go to plan B. All you can do is show the property owners that you’re not like those they’ve had problems with.

All the way down to Yarramundi, the river is an explorer’s dream, with myriad islands, abundant weed beds and timber and a beauty unlike the rest of the system.

Kayak and canoe anglers are found along this stretch in good numbers until the massive amounts of weed choke off access.

From North Richmond downstream to Windsor is one of my favourite Summer haunts.

The bridge pylons at North Richmond are worth casting to, especially with spinnerbaits and lipless lures. Years of flooding have deposited lots of logs which have been trapped around the pylons. You’d be hard pressed to find a more tempting spot to fish.

Weed beds and lily pads beneath the rocky cliffs of Freemans Reach get a real workout from anglers and bass can get a little quiet here at times.

I then use a little ‘shock and awe’ attack here by skittering buzzbaits across along the faces of the weed. I can get multiple strikes as the bass get excited and hook more than I would using more traditional surface lures.

At Yarramundi, anglers have an easy walk from the car park and can fish from the bank for carp and mullet and bass.

At the height of Summer the lagoon at Yarramundi is pretty choked with weed but the faster flowing waters on the eastern side of the river are better it’s pretty straightforward to paddle upstream.

From Yarramundi, you can head down to North Richmond, along the way encountering thick weed beds. Some good bass have come from this area, which is not as heavily fished as other areas close by.

For easy access for kayaks or canoes you should head to Hanna Park at North Richmond. There’s a tonne of parking and an easy stroll down to the river to launch.


If you’re going to do it by boat, start from the Windsor boat ramp and head upstream. Observe the speed limit and when you get to the first right-hand bend, you’ll head up to what is known as The Breakaway.

The river then heads around to the left, where navigation can get a little tricky depending on the tides, especially if you haven’t been here before.

Keep to the left hand side and be careful of submerged timber and weed banks which get a lot larger in area when the water is warm. Shallow draft boats have less trouble.

This area has a restricted speed so it’s a lot quieter without those with the need for speed.

The bridge at Windsor has a lovely deep drop-off that suits deep-water presentations. You don’t often see anglers working the banks from the bridge towards the boat ramp but weed beds and overhanging trees with some semi-submerged timber make the area worth targeting.

Skiers and wakeboarders make the area very busy for anglers trying to work the banks. Early morning, late afternoon and night sessions are your best options.

If possible, fish mid-week when you can pretty much have the river to yourself during the day.


There have been a number of good catches of flathead from the shore at Lower Portland, with prawns bringing many fish undone.

There is a reef that runs under The Skeletons, as well as some decent sandbanks nearby. While a lot of water sweeps through here, it’s a popular spot for trolling for bass, estuary perch, flathead, bream, tailor and jewfish.

The bank on the left hand side heading downstream offers lots of rocks, reeds, weeds, snags and timber and big bass hold tight against the bank. An electric motor it a must here.

At high tide, it’s difficult to appreciate the underwater features without a side-scanning sonar but at low tide it’s easy to see why this area is worth attention.

If you want to launch a boat close to this area, there’s a gravel/concrete ramp near the mouth of the Colo River where you simply have to turn the corner and you’re at The Skeletons.

Dads Corner is always good for a shot, with sunken trees, reeds, steep banks and eddies making it possible to catch bream, flathead and EPs, especially during the run out tide.

Try dropping a lure or fly in front of where weeds lie flat on the surface as the tide falls, bass and EPs often are nearby.

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