It’s definitely beanie and gloves weather on the Hawkesbury. The fishing has slowed down due to the low water temps throughout the brackish reaches. But all is not lost.
Finding temperature variations of a few tenths of a degree warmer than the main body of water can lead you to a hot session for as long as the temperature stays up. Generally, this will be the last of the incoming tide around Brooklyn.
Flathead, bream and jewfish can all be caught throughout the winter months using a variety of methods and a bit of patience.
Flathead can be found as far as Wisemans ferry on most major drop-offs and reefs. Soft plastics and blades on the smaller side are preferable due to the low metabolic rate of these fish at this time of year. My pick of lures is 2” and 3” prawn and baitfish imitations with a good dose of scent to tempt the fussy ones.
Live baits tend to get a little hard to catch in the brackish reaches so the best approach is cast and retrieve soft plastics and blades. This will allow you to cover a bigger area and locate any fish about.
Trolling is another great option, giving anglers the ability to cover kilometres of water with a lure wobbling away in the strike zone. Once a likely piece of river bed real estate is found, cover the area well with repeated passes before moving on. My favourite hardbodies for trolling are Feral Cat in 3m and 5m varieties and the Manns Stretch 10 plus range, but most lures with the ability to get down 3-5ms are all worth a troll.
Bream will be around but anglers will have to fish quite deep to find schooled fish, previous years indicate around 6-10m on the rock walls from bar point to the mouth of the system. Plastics and blades are a favourite in this scenario allowing the angler to hop their offering down the wall face to the required depth. Remember to take note of the depth when a bite occurs.
Bait fishos will need a steady stream of berley and enough lead to get into the depths with a well presented bait. Oily fish baits are great in the cold, clear conditions followed by the peeled prawn.
Estuary perch are a common by-catch when flicking for bream in July, but remember to release these fish in good health due to the closed season for spawning.
Jew fish will still be on the bite for those putting in the effort, and securing live baits is the first step. The west head area will be the pick for gathering yakkas and the odd squid. The usual haunts of Juno, Flint and Steel, Gunya, bar point and the road and rail bridges will all be worth a look on the tide changes with baits and lures.
Berowra has had a few large jew marauding its populations of bait in recent times with reports of 10-18kg specimens caught in the upper reaches. Ian Kovaks landed himself a nice sized fish of 114cm on a lure in May.
If the seas are calm, having a troll or casting at the many washes around the headlands should reward anglers with hard fighting salmon and tailor. Always keep your eyes peeled for any sign of bird activity as this is when the predators are pushing bait to the surface and feeding vigorously. Small 7-10g chrome slices are very effective and cast long distances on 2-4kg tackle and light braid. If the fish are on the surface don’t troll or motor through the middle of the school, stick to the edges, and if casting, position the boat up wind/current of the fish, kill the motor and let them come to you.
Hairtail should be schooling in Cowan for those wanting to brave the cold nights. Live and dead baits spread at different depths throughout the water column with a glow stick attached should yield results. Casting a hardbody or soft plastic around to cover the water adjacent to your vessel is a good way to stay a bit warmer and actively seek out one of these bizarre creatures of the deep.
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