Water temperatures will be at their lowest this month, down to 10° or 12° in the upper reaches and hovering around 14° down around Brooklyn.
All is not lost, though; the fish will still bite well given the right conditions. This will generally be an incoming tide around Brooklyn, which this will bring a slight temperature rise and trigger the fish to feed.
Bream will still be mooching about in the deeper sections from Spencer towards the heads. Presenting baits and lures down to 10m can be challenging, especially when there is a fair degree of current.
Blades are a great way to plummet a presentation to the required depth. Fish them hard on the bottom with plenty of small hops and pauses to incite a bite.
A liberal coating of scent should convert lookers into takers.
Sizes can range from 30mm to 75mm and colour selection should be influenced by the clear water common at this time of year.
There are a lot of translucent models on the market, which are great for finessing shut-down fish.
Presenting baits down deep will require a fair amount of lead to maintain contact with the bottom. I recommend a long leader of 1m or more to give a natural waft in the tide.
Flesh baits cut into small strips are tops in the cold water and let off plenty of scent to draw fish in. Don’t forget to berley to bring those fish to your position.
If no action occurs within an hour or so, move to a new location and repeat the process.
By-catch when chasing bream down deep will usually mean a few flathead from the same depths. They find comfort in the clear conditions on the drop-offs and in holes, feeding on small prawns and whitebait.
Soft plastics and blades are the best way to cover water and keep the blood circulating in these cold conditions.
Small plastics like 3” minnows and prawn imitations fished on 5g to 10g jig heads have accounted for some nice fish recently. Use see-through colours in the clear stuff and solid patterns in discoloured water.
Don’t be surprised to see a few soapy jew come from the same areas as the bream and flathead. They prefer the deep water as well when the sun gets up but should come into the shallower stuff to forage in the low light of dawn and dusk.
Live baits and large cut dead baits will put you in with a shot of a nice schoolie or one of the stud mulloway that the Hawkesbury is famous for. Fish these baits at Juno Point, Flint and Steel, Eleanor Bluffs and the bridges around the tide change.
Salmon and tailor have been frequenting the headlands recently and casting metal slugs and poppers towards the washes is a great way to warm up on a cold morning.
Keep your eyes peeled for bird activity around Lion Island, Box Head and Barrenjoey; this will make finding active fish easier.
If these fish are on the surface feeding, don’t drive your boat through the middle of them, this will promptly send them down deep and make them harder find and catch.
If trolling, do a wide circle around the outside edges. If casting, position your boat up the wind and current and kill the engine and let the fish come to you as you cast your arms off.
Once the school has moved past your position, motor around the fish and repeat the process.
Hairtail reports have been slow. I did hear of one boat landing two fish to 1.1m at Waratah Bay in Cowan Creek on suspended pilchards on ganged hooks. If anyone has had any luck this season, drop me an email.
If you’re in the area, see the guys at Windsor Bait and Tackle for some great gear and advice.
Salmon are great sport on 7wt fly gear. Metal slugs, soft plastics and poppers will also account for quality fish this season.Reads: 1192