by Gary Brown
Many people are under the impression that the Parramatta River is a polluted, fished out sess pool that no fish in its right mind would want to call the Parramatta River its home. Okay, there are a couple of areas that are completely banned to all types of fishing, due to the fact that there have been traces of heavy metals found in the river bed, but this should not stop you from fishing the rest of the river. These fishing and boating bans were put into so you don’t go disturbing the bottom by anchoring up.
Carl with a deep water bream caught while using TT blade near Gladesville Bridge
Now to many this may seem like doom and gloom for the fishing in the Parramatta river, but what I would say to any angler who has been wanting to have a go at fishing the Parramatta river, give it ago, you will be surprised how clean the river is and how great the fishing is.
A Matt Frazer designed MF40 was the undoing of this small mulloway while working the shoreline of the Lane Cove River
After researching and scanning various maps I have come to the conclusion that the Parramatta River starts at the Harbour Bridge and twists and turns its way up to the central shopping district of Parramatta. It also has the Lane and Iron Cove River branching of it to the north and south. If you were to take the River Cat from circular Key to Parramatta it would take you about fifty minutes. This would include stops along the way to pick up and let off passengers. If you were in a boat with, say a 30 hp motor on the back it would take you about 35 to 40 minutes to reach the Silverwater Bridge and if you were towing a boat by road, it would take you about an hour, depending on the time of day and traffic. Now if you were going to fish it as well, it would take you a life time, and still then you wouldn’t get to fish all the nooks and crannies that the river has on offer.
As you travel along the length of the Parramatta river you will find areas that are densely populated right down to the shoreline, and it is these houses, factories and other government and privately owned buildings that have piers, wharfs and floating pontoons that jut out into the water, creating a haven for baitfish and predators alike. You will also find a large number of parks that have been retained by walls of concrete, steel and sand stone. It is these walls that hold back the soil from being eroded away by the constant coming and going of the tide and the river traffic. Also dotted amongst these wharfs, jetties and retaining walls you will find sandy beaches that are home to flathead and whiting.
You will also find a number of bridges, deep holes, rock bars, weed beds and mangrove lined shores that will harbour bream, flathead, luderick, mullet, mulloway, Australian bass, garfish and leatherjackets.
To help other anglers get a better understanding of the size of the Parramatta River and what it has on offer for both the land based and boating angler I will break it up into three sections. In Part 1 I will cover the lower section.
The two larger bream in this shot weighted in a 1.2 kilos a piece
Whether you are casting or trolling hard bodied lures flathead can't seem to resist them
Lower Parramatta River:
The stretch of water between the Sydney Harbour and Gladesville bridges would have to be one of the busiest sections of the Parramatta River and at times can be more productive than most other parts of the river. This is due to the fact that there three islands that have numerous deep holes around them, some of which are up to twenty one metres deep and can hold anything from large flathead, schools of bream and tailor, to mulloway of all sizes. If you are a bream angler who like nothing better than cast a few lures around the base of structures, the lower section of the Parramatta River has a vast maze of wharfs, jetties, floating pontoons, pylons and retaining walls, that even the most seasoned bream angler would go out of their mind trying to decide which one to fish first.
An angler chasing mullet from the wharf at Bicentennal Park
Now if you are a shore-based angler you shouldn’t despair, as there are just as many landed based spots to fish from as there is for the boating angler. All you need to do is get yourself a street directory and start looking for the parks and ovals. It is from here you can fish for bream, whiting, flathead, snapper, mullet, luderick, tailor, snapper, leatherjackets, mulloway, silver trevally and the odd kingfish or two. One that comes to mind is Bicentennial Park at the end of Rozelle Bay. It is from here that the land based angler and their family can fish in comfort and ease for bream, whiting, flathead, mullet and the odd chopper tailor.
Ron getting stuck into an Australian salmon just down stream from Gladesville bridge
Another structure that attracts fish to this area is the Sydney Harbour, Pyrmont, Tarban Creek, Anzac, Iron Cove, Fig Tree and the Gladesville Bridges. These great feats of engineering technology are a boon to both the boat and shore-based angler and many a time I have driven down to the Gladesville Bridge on a balmy, summers evening to find three or four anglers fishing from the shore, while at the same time there have been a number of boats anchored near the bridge pylons. You will see anglers using anything from 3.5 metre beach and rock rods to 1.8 metre flick sticks. Most of them are usually fishing mulloway and bream.
It doesn’t matter whether you are fishing from a boat, or off the shore, the entrances to both the Lane and Iron Cove River have so much on offer to the angler. When I have talked to many of the anglers who occasionally fished Birkenhead, Sommerville, Clarke’s and Greenwich Points they will see four different fishing areas, but it’s when you start to look at them a lot harder you will start to realize that they have so much in common. They all have deep water with rocky foreshores and kelp beds that leads down to a mixture of mud, sand and gravel bottoms. Even though they have so much in common, they do need to fished slightly different. Birkenhead and Greenwich Points are best fished from a boat, while Clarke’s and Sommerville Point are best-fished form the shore.
Deepwater jigging with blades just up stream of the entrance to the Lane Cove River
The Lane Cove River winds itself upstream from Clarke’s Point to the back of Ryde and beyond is a haven to bream, flathead, luderick, mullet, garfish, flounder, snapper, tailor, mulloway and the odd John Dory. The Fig Tree Bridge itself is a good place to start. You can either fish from a boat or work the area around and under the north side of the bridge. For the angler who likes to chase the Australian bass with a small boat or canoe, you could always try up stream of the Fig Tree Bridge. I have found when fishing with bait the Lane Cove River, it is essential to have some kind of berley to throw out every now and then. The lure or fly angler will have no trouble finding a place to put a lure.
Now as for the Iron Cove River, which has an average depth of two metres and it may be short and in some places very shallow, but believe me, its sand banks, weed beds, couple of deep holes, drop-offs and stretches of mangrove lined shore should not be over looked. Bream, flathead and whiting can be found searching for a feed when the tide is at its highest, and then when the tide drops it is worth concentrating you efforts near the Iron Cove Bridge. There is a park on either side of the Rozelle Hospital that is accessible to the land-based angler and a good cast will have you out amongst a few good fish.
Keep and eye out for part 2 which will include the Middle and Upper section of the Parramatta River.