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These are the rules
  |  First Published: May 2010



This month marks the start of the closed season on bass and estuary perch and it’s probably worth some clarification of these rules.

From the communications I’ve had with Fisheries and conversations with Fisheries Officers, if bass or EPs are caught between now and August 31, they are to be released unharmed back into the water.

If you want to take a photo, you need to do it quickly and without harming the fish. If you decide to put the fish into a livewell on your boat and take a pic later, you open yourself up to being busted for having these fish in your possession.

While there is some confusion about whether you are allowed to ‘target’ these species, and while the term ‘closed season’ would suggest no targeting of these species, a closed season according to Fisheries doesn’t mean that you can’t target them, only that you can’t have any in your possession.

Fisheries would prefer no targeting of bass and estuary perch and they definitely don’t want to be catching anybody with these species in their possession.

If you are fishing in Broken Bay, you might be catching bass while you’re hunting bream or other species, which happened a few years to mate Dave George and me. We were fishing for bream and spoke to a commercial fisher who was pulling very big bass out of his nets.

READJUSTING

While a lot of anglers choose to leave bass alone for a few months, there are still some species that can be caught with a change of tactics and perhaps a slight change of location.

The early settlers must have tired of our native species and longed for the trout of the Old Country and in 1841 made the first efforts to introduce trout.

Some native fish lovers aren’t too fond of the imported ferals but they do offer a viable target during the cooler months in western Sydney.

Some may think trout aren’t found close to Sydney, and consider places like Lithgow and Oberon to be the closest trout spots, but you can find them a lot closer to Sydney than that.

While ‘normal’ dedicated trout streams will be out of bounds after the Queen’s birthday weekend, these water courses flowing into the Hawkesbury-Nepean qualify as ‘all other waters’ and has no seasonal closure.

In the Winter months when the water temperature in the Hawkesbury-Nepean River tumbles, trout have been found down to as far as Yarramundi. A more likely location would be around the Nepean River close to where the Warragamba River enters the Nepean, and the Warragamba River itself.

Warragamba Dam holds lots of trout. There are some horrendously big ones in the dam, but the dam and surrounding areas are definitely off-limits to fishing and the area is under strict surveillance.

The Warragamba River is probably best accessible by larger boats launched at the ramp at Tench Reserve, Penrith. Once you enter the Warragamba River, be careful of the shallow water and associated obstacles.

Or you can go on foot. It can be heavy going, with plenty of time hopping over rocks to go with your fishing.

TACKLE

But there are spots where you can safely wet a line and enjoy the solitude while sitting on a comfy chair.

I use a 2kg to 4kg spin rod with lures such as Celtas and Tassie Devils. Rod length ranges from 5’6” to 7’ and while a longer rod might be cumbersome when walking the bank, the extra length can come in handy for longer casts or taking a hooked fish around obstacles.

A two-piece model makes walking in and out of the bush a lot easier.

If lure fishing is not your thing, worms fished under a float or weighted with a sinker will do well.

If you have a healthy supply of worms in your garden, you won’t have to spend a cent on bait. I have a worm farm at home and those little guys really like breeding, so worm supply is not a problem.

Apart from the Warragamba, you could try more accessible trout waters just a pleasant drive over the mountains.

Lake Lyell, Lake Wallace and Thompsons Creek Dam all offer great trout fishing, with some monster specimens very likely.

Just remember that these areas can be extremely cold at this time of year and you need to take the right gear to ensure you’re protected from the elements.

As always, if you need to access private property, please ask the landowners for permission.

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