Fattening up for Winter
  |  First Published: February 2010

Warm days and cool nights signal the start of autumn around the Hawkesbury. The daylight hours will start to reduce, triggering all manner of life to start their preparations for Winter.

For fish, this means putting on condition for long journeys downstream and, for some, reproduction. Water temps will remain stable for another month or two, allowing fish to feed actively to boost their condition for leaner times ahead.

Bream have made an appearance in recent weeks, with plenty of just legal (25cm) and a smattering of blue-nosed bruisers. Most baits have been working well, along with small soft plastics and vibes in natural colours.

There are good numbers in the upper reaches above Lower Portland. A few anglers fishing for mullet with bread have secured a couple of sizeable specimens as by-catch.

Rock walls, drop-offs and reefs are all holding fish. Focusing your efforts around the tide changes with a steady berley trail should yield results. The freshest of baits are necessary to fool the bigger fish.

Flathead numbers have thinned a little due to the abundance of bait throughout the system. They should start to regroup as the water temps start to fall towards the end of the month.

The common methods of deploying live or fresh baits at anchor or on the drift around major drop-offs and mangrove edges should produce some nice flattie fillets.

Lures are a great proposition to cover water quickly and thoroughly to encounter the better concentrations of fish. Casting and trolling are both very effective.

Lures for trolling should be capable of reaching 3m to 5m. The basic principle is to regularly contact the bottom, kicking up puffs of sand and mud to incite a strike.

Lure colours in clear water should be as lifelike as possible – silver or gold – and in dirty water trusty fluoro pink and chartreuse are firm favourites.

Soft plastics rigged on 3g to 7g jig heads are taking flathead regularly around Dads Corner and Upper Half Moon. With its turbid, often dirty water, pumpkinseed and smelt patterns are great representations of prawns in this area.


Jewfish have been active in recent weeks, gorging on the plentiful bait. Plenty of school jew have been captured around the Brooklyn area along with the odd bigger fish to test anglers’ knots and patience.

These fish should make their way back up to the brackish reaches to feed in the warmer, bait-rich waters before temps drop through Winter.

Live baits reign supreme on most occasions but always have a fresh slab of mullet, slimy mackerel, squid, pike or tailor out. This is especially true in the discoloured water that is commonly found in the brackish regions.

The bass and estuary perch fishing will be hotting up as the waters cool down. With a big migration looming, these species will feed aggressively through the next few months before they spawn in the brackish reaches.

Summer techniques are still very effective in early Autumn, with the bass sitting high in water column waiting for terrestrials to fall in. The surface luring over Summer was fantastic with numerous beetle, cicada and termite hatches to keep the fishes’ noses pointing skyward for an easy feed.

Don’t forget the other lures in the tackle box. Subsurface presentations are the order of the day once the sun gets up. Spinnerbaits, soft plastics rigged on spinning blade harnesses, bibless rattlers and small vibes should all work. Sink them vertically down rock walls and weedy edges and hop them along the bottom.

Try to cover as much water as possible as the fish may prefer a certain section of river. It could be water temp, clarity, bait concentrations or a combination of all three. Working it out is all part of the fun!

For local advice and a great range of bait and tackle, drop in and see the guys at Windsor Bait and Tackle.



Releasing bass is very occurrence these days and watching these beautiful fish swim away is so rewarding.


The author with a fit 42cm creek bass. Spinnerbaits are very effective lures once the sun gets up and the fish go down.


There have been plenty of just-legal bream on baits and lures. This one took a liking to a 40mm bibless rattler fished over the flats.

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