DESPITE all the changes wrought on our waterways, the Australian bass lives on, and there are plenty of our favourite freshwater scrapper in what is shaping up to be the best bass season in eons.
Reports are flooding in of terrific catches everywhere from the upper Hawkesbury/Nepean through to Glenbawn Dam near Scone, the big bass capital of NSW.
However, the Aussie battler's native waters are the eastern-draining rivers from the Mary in Queensland to the Gippsland Lakes in Victoria. Thanks to fishing licence funds, bass are stocked in impoundments.
The Department of Primary Industries says the latest production season has been one of the best on record at the Port Stephens Fisheries Institute, putting 280,000 bass fry into 15 NSW impoundments.
Releases included 70,000 fry in Glenbawn Dam, 15,000 in Lake Lyell at Lithgow and 65,000 into Tallowa Dam near Nowra. Several smaller locations, such as Flat Rock Dam at Nowra and Jerrara Dam near Kiama, also received stocks.
Commercial hatcheries will also supply more than 100,000 bass to fishing clubs and community groups in the dollar-for-dollar stocking program supported by funds from the Recreational Fishing Trusts.
These stocked fish can't breed, as bass need to get to the brackish reaches of coastal rivers to do that. Hence the closed bass-fishing season from June 1 until August 31.
Now, after two big wet years, the bass are snapping, even in the Woronora River, Lane Cove River, upper Middle Harbour and Manly Dam.
While there's a two-fish bag limit, with only one of more than 35cm, 99 per cent of anglers let them go.
The fish are a national treasure. Crimp the barb on hooks to aid easy release.
Meantime, excellent snapper reports are in from the central to south coasts. Young Campbell Rawiller, son of jockey Nash, caught his bag limit while fishing with his dad and John Singleton off Broken Bay. Long Reef and the Hump off Stanwell Park have been fishing well.
But a cold current and deep algae layer are bringing mixed fortunes. Central coast skippers say the kingfish are hot and cold. Yet flathead are in terrific numbers.
On the shelf, there's the odd small yellowfin and albacore. Marlin are on the way via bountiful reports in southern Queensland.
Hawkesbury guide Ron Osman has been getting stuck into the Aussie salmon in Broken Bay. Oodles of big luderick - more than 40cm - are around Brooklyn.
A few flathead are jumping on soft-plastic lures in the Hawkesbury, with even more and bigger specimens in Sydney Harbour and Botany Bay.
There are good reports of school jewfish in the harbour before their usual November run.
Botany Bay is better for trevally, with big luderick around the mouth of Port Hacking.