Bass becoming wary
  |  First Published: December 2010

The local boat ramps have been seeing plenty of boats and even midweek there are lots of anglers who obviously enjoy fishing more than they do work.

Hardly a surprise, of course, but some local bass have been a little reluctant to be part of the anglers’ script, given the amount of pressure they've been subjected to. With the holidays now upon us, the fish will be even more wary.

If you're finding the fish inactive or unco-operative, here are a few tips.

Use something different. It's nice to use the latest lures but if you've bought a $25 lure because that's the latest and greatest, use something else.

A few years ago in a competition, my partner and I were struggling. We used something different from each other and in different colours yet still found little joy.

I finally tied on a soft plastic with a resin head, cast it to the margins of the weed beds and timber and in pretty sort time managed to score some good-sized bass to finish second or third.

Lures like buzzbaits have been used a lot in the past few years but I'm finding they're not doing as well as when I first started using them.

That familiar bubble trail and slapping sound of the blades has lost some of its appeal.

Having done a few experiments over the past couple of months, I've found that some soft plastics float reasonably well while others sink like a stone.

Using a hook with a resin head allows you to fish some plastics very easily near or on the surface, a terrific way of fooling fish in the early morning and late evening.

Poppers and fizzers are always on standby during these hours but soft plastics have certainly been claiming their share.

Some surface lures are used very slowly but soft plastics can be used so slowly and naturally it's too much of a temptation.

Casting your lures into places other anglers are too scared to can give you results. Being able to make accurate casts into tight spots is definitely a plus. Losing expensive lures is a turn-off.

Being a lot cheaper than hardbodies, you can cast soft plastics into places you might not dare to cast more expensive lures.

One of my favourite areas is where trees overhang the water and long, dark gutters form between back to the bank. These provide cover for the bass, which can race from underneath the foliage to take a lure or fly.

Undercut rocks often run deep into the darkness and depending on the stage in the tide, there can be little distance between the bottom of the ledge and the water surface. Accurate casting is essential to get a lure right into these tight holes.

For really tight zones, try skipping a plastic into the darkness under the ledge. Some plastics skip better than others, but most can be made to skip with practice.

Minnows, grubs and tubes can all be made to skip and I generally go as light on the jig head as I can when skipping.

The middle of the rivers can turn up surprises, too. At the competition I mentioned earlier, simply out of frustration at fishing the banks we targeted holes in the mid-river weed. These bass aren't going to see a lot of lures but you'll probably notice a lot of small baitfish swimming around these areas. Soft plastics and spinnerbaits really score well.

Keeping your hooks sharp is really important. When was the last time you spent time sharpening your hooks?

When reluctant fish are simply taking swipes, sharp hooks can make a lot of difference.

Small surface lures can be effective. Halco Nanos, Daiwa Cicada Pencils, Tiemco Pencils and Smith Towadis are definitely smaller than typical surface lures but well worth having in your tackle box.

Fly-fishing for bass and estuary perch is not difficult but the effort is truly well worth it. I mostly use a 6wt, 9’ rod with a floating line and find it the most fun way of catching bass there is.

I surface flies like Dahlbergs, cicadas and timber poppers. Wooden poppers don't require flotant but the other two will, as they will absorb water. Other flies like spiders and grasshoppers are also effective.


Mullet are like Olympic sprinters. They move slowly, slinking about, before they explode with raw power when required. A growing number of anglers are targeting mullet from the bank and they're not disappointed with what happens after the hook-up.

You'll often find mullet around weed beds and shallows and, being shy, they are easily spooked at the best of times. When the skies are clear mullet are especially flighty, so it pays to be extra-quiet and careful in approaching these fish.

It's best to use a No 8 to No 12 hook for their small mouths and if the water is deep, use a pencil float. In shallow water, flick out an unweighted bait pellet of fresh white bread, home-made dough, peeled prawn or garden worm.

Mullet offer plenty of excitement for fly anglers. Small bread flies floated out amid a little berley are great, while small black flies are also good.

Carp are like couch potatoes who have let themselves go. Their sheer weight and bulk make it a tug-of-war with these heavy-girthed fish, but the battle is well worth enduring.

There are huge numbers of these destructive fish about and they're hungry. Target these pests with 4kg braid, worms, maggots, grubs, bread, dough, cheese or ham. Carp aren't that fussy.

Use a small float over a strong No 8 to 1/0 hook but make sure your knots are tied well.

There are local examples well above 4kg which can provide some serious hurt in the battle to get them to the bank.

The sleek mullet and rotund carp are completely different in shape but no different in the power department. If you’re looking for some excitement, try these species.

If you have pics you’d like to send me for publication, make sure they’re medium to high resolution. Have a wonderful Christmas and New Year and thanks for all your support over the year.

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