Don the woollies, it’s Winter in the Hawkesbury and from June 1 to August 31, it’s the closed season for bass and estuary perch.
Whether to target these species or let them be until the season reopens has been a topic of many conversations in previous years. The main point is that you are not permitted to possess any during the closed season.
But there will always be incidental captures while targeting the many other species available through the cooler months. If they’re handled quickly and returned to the water immediately, the health of any bass or EP you encounter should remain good.
The main river will still hold good concentrations of other fish, albeit a little slower than over the Summer.
The water will be around 17° to 18° in the middle reaches around Wisemans Ferry with colder temps up towards the top of the system around Windsor, which will trigger those bass and EPs into their migration.
Flathead are still viable propositions in the brackish regions from Lower Portland all the way back to the mouth of the system. Soft plastics would be my first choice for finding a feed of these fish.
Drop-offs, major bends and shallow flats will all hold flatties. Small prawn and baitfish profile lures, whether hard or soft, will take fish.
Working them a little slower and making regular contact with the bottom is the key.
There is an array of vibrating blade lures on the market that provide a great choice in the cooler months. Their ability to produce long casts and search large areas to find concentrations of fish will be advantageous in the colder water.
The water colour or any bait that is present should influence colour selection.
Dirty water requires bold, solid colours to create silhouettes while clear water needs lighter, more translucent colours; this should give you a good starting point.
The salmon and tailor should start to appear in good numbers as the water cools and turns green around the headlands and islands.
A selection of small metal slices from 5g to 40g will enable you to match the size and profile of the baitfish they will be feeding on.
Diving sea birds are a dead giveaway to their presence but if nothing is visible, casting or trolling the washes is the best method of locating schools.
It’s always a toss-up each year if the hairtail will show up in Cowan Creek.
By the end of the month it will definitely be worth a shot at places such as Jerusalem Bay, Smiths Creek, Waratah Bay and Coal and Candle Creek.
A ganged pilchard suspended under a float has been the reliable rig for years. Live baits and lures will account for fish, too – if they show up.
Jewfish can be found in the lower sections below Wisemans Ferry. Small soapy jew will make up the majority of catches with the odd schoolie as well.
But at places such as Juno Point, Flint and Steel, Gunyah, Eleanor Bluffs and the bridges, there is still a good chance of tangling with one of those monsters the Hawkesbury is famous for. To put yourself in the running for one of these trophies, set large baits of squid, tailor, pike, mullet or yellowtail.
Bream numbers will be down due to their annual migration up north but can still be found on the deeper rock walls and reefs towards the mouth. Blades and soft plastics are effective ways of finding concentrations of fish.
If this isn’t your style, try anchoring and setting out a steady stream of berley in these areas. Deploy fresh strip baits or live nippers on just enough lead to get them to the bottom and you should see some stud bream come to the boat.
Pumpkin Point, The Vines, Bar Point, Berowra, Croppy Point and Flint and Steel are a few spots to try.
Fishing the stones for drummer and stud bream is another option this month.
A steady berley trail of bread and prawn shells in any likely wash areas has been a fatal attraction for many a drummer and bream.
‘Stout 10’ to 12’ rods, an Alvey or sturdy threadline reel with 15lb to 20lb line and small, strong hooks make up the battle kit. Don’t forget, safety is paramount and try to avoid going alone. Cold water is a killer.
Stay warm and fish hard while the weather permits and don’t forget to drop in and see the guys at Windsor Bait and Tackle for the latest gear and advice.Reads: 2386