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Fast feeding fish are in
  |  First Published: October 2016



It’s amazing what consecutive years of good rain can do for an estuary. The Hawkesbury is certainly revived and alive with all manner of fish thriving in the nutrient and bait rich system at present. A warmer winter has kept water temperatures up and the fish feeding in an active mood – none more so than the Aussie bass.

After a good flood at the beginning of winter, big breeders went downstream to spawn. This will be great for the next few years or so. Quality fish have been taken in the tidal water from Windsor to Wisemans Ferry on soft plastics, bibless vibes and spinnerbaits. Rock walls and sand bars are standout places to prospect.

Surface fishing should kick into gear later this month as the insects hatch. Small poppers, fizzers and walkers are favourites, and always get a run when the fish are looking up. The terrace from Windsor to North Richmond has produced great fishing for bass, but the smaller fish have a nasty habit of beating their brethren to your lures in this weedy stretch. Sometimes throwing bigger profile lures deters them, but this isn’t always the case. Experienced bass anglers will attest to this.

A close relative, the estuary perch have also been biting well in the tidal water from Wisemans to Windsor. Rock walls and weed beds fire up on the run-out tide. Small 2-3” soft plastic grubs, minnows in pumpkinseed, bloodworm and motor oil, plus 3-7g blades and soft vibes with small profiles are the weapons of choice for perch. Get those lures in tight and make sure your drag is set, as the first run of a big EP can be damaging.

I don’t know many who take perch to eat. Their bag limits are set accordingly at two fish per person, with only one over 35cm. With catch and release fishing and bag restrictions, their numbers are plentiful throughout the upper tidal water. It’s expected they should bite well over the next month or two, before wake boats turn up with the warmer weather and make it unbearable to fish.

Plenty of good-sized bream have taken residence in the brackish tidal reaches, from the road bridges at Brooklyn to Wisemans Ferry and beyond. Rock walls, reefs and bloodworm beds are all producing fish on their day. Anglers need to move regularly if there is no activity within 30 minutes, to find where the active fish are on any given day. Fresh baits fished in a berley trail and small lures cast tight to structure are the best methods to find a few.

Berowra has also been fishing pretty consistently using small blades and soft plastics. Translucent green, motor oil and bloodworm are the best colours in the clear water here. The flats in Berowra and Cowan will also start to fire as the water temperatures keep rising. Shallow crankbaits and surface pencils in clear or translucent colours will undo a few unsuspecting bream and whiting on the rising tides, early and late in the day.

Big female flathead and smaller males will be thinking about heading back to the lower reaches for their annual spawn run. This is typically the time of year when a lot of big flathead are caught around Brooklyn on live baits and soft plastics. Please be mindful and release any fish over 70cm. There are plenty of good eating sized flatties between 40-65cm to put fillets on the table for the family.

Mulloway are still biting well, but are spreading out with the drying conditions. Captures are reported from Broken Bay to Wisemans Ferry on lures and baits. Wisemans Ferry to Sentry Box has soapy mulloway, with the odd school fish getting amongst the action when the conditions suit.

Live baiting really takes over this month, as the herring, tailor, yakkas, mullet and school prawns become prolific in the warming water. Bait gathering is great fun and really gets the confidence levels up before setting off to target your quarry.

We are all hoping that the kingfish will move back inshoree early this year, as they didn’t turn up in good numbers until December last season. There has been the odd school busting up in the back bays around Pittwater and Cowan. You need to respond quickly before they disappear after their quick assaults on the micro bait schools. Alternatively, flatlining and down rigging live squid and yakkas is one of the best methods to cover water and find active fish on any given day.

Don’t forget to have a small metal slice or surface popper rigged and ready to cast, if you’re venturing around Broken Bay. There have been regular bust ups from salmon and tailor.

1

Warm weather and a hot bite on inshore kingfish is what spring and summer are all about, to a Sydney-based angler.

2

This nice EP was taken on a 3.75” minnow in motor oil colour, cast into tight structure and worked back to the boat with small twitches and pauses.

3

Some big bream will be on offer this month, for those using fresh or live baits and lures cast around structure.

4

Lures and live bait are the best methods to encounter quality mulloway like this from Broken Bay, and up river towards Wisemans Ferry.

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