Bass and estuary perch are back in the sights of anglers after the closed season and September is one of my favourite months for chasing them in the Hawkesbury.
The fish should be heading back upstream to their Summer residences and you quite often find them schooled up in good numbers and of good size.
You should find these fish anywhere from Windsor to Wisemans Ferry.
The best way of chasing them down is to choose a section of the river that you can cover in a day.
Set the fish alarm on your sounder and start casting the shoreline and listen out for the alarm and keep an eye on the sounder. When your sounder shows a concentration of fish, double back and give the area a good working over.
I find that a sounder with wide-angle transducer, like my Humminbird, works better than one with a narrow cone angle which won’t cover such a wide area.
I like to work the corners where there are weed beds; I have found that fish tend hang around weeds at this time of year.
Position your boat a littler wider than you would in the Summer because the water is clearer and you won’t want to spook the fish.
I like to use a variety of lures that can be worked at different depths and speeds. I have one rod with a surface lure like a Taylor Made Surface Walker, Feralcatt surface lures or a Tiny Torpedo. Another rod will be rigged to cast for bass with a small, deep-diving crankbaits like a small Feralcatt, Taylor Made Nugget or a Lucky Craft lipless.
I’ll also have a rod rigged with a soft plastic on a 1/4oz jig head with a small Beetle Spin blade to add more flash and vibration.
I find that the bass will eat spinnerbaits but they are a little large for estuary perch, whereas Beetle Spins catch bass and perch.
Dan and Ben from Windsor Bait and Tackle report plenty of jewfish, bream, flathead and a lot of estuary perch by-catch down river from Wisemans Ferry. Dan and his mates have been fishing with lures all the way down to Broken Bay and catching fish all the way.
Peter and Mick from the Australian Bass Anger have had good reports of fish caught in the Harbour and plenty of talk of bass from the Hunter Valley dams caught deep jigging over schools of fish.
The saltwater pelagics have been quiet and the salmon schools had not turned up at the time of writing.
But September is when the water starts to warm up and so does the fishing. The salmon, kings and other pelagics should start to turn up in numbers around Broken Bay, Pittwater and Sydney Harbour.
Light spin tackle is good for these small pelagics, a 7’ to 7’6” 4kg to 6kg rod with a 4000 to 6000 threadline loaded with 8lb to 10lb line. This gear handles 99% of the fish we hook nd only when odd big king turns up do we need anything heavier.
With this tackle I find that you can cast any lure a good distance and it can be retrieved as fast as necessary to trigger a strike. Remember to vary the speed of your retrieve and drop a pause in every now and again – often this will trigger the strike.
The best way to find fish is to look for birds working or surface activity. This can be easy on some days when the fish stay up but on other days you might only see a few baitfish rippling on the surface so keep your eye trained for any surface movement.
Don’t discount any activity because there maybe larger fish under the small bait fish.
Have a cast around the washes and headlands because small baitfish hide in the whitewater and the predators won’t be too far away.
If you still have no luck, try trolling a spread of lures around the headlands. I use a couple of deep divers, a popper towed short in the wash and a weighed soft stickbait a long way back.Reads: 2763