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Cracker of a season
  |  First Published: December 2010



It’s all happening on the South Coast right now with a host of species in full swing. Everything from bass in the fresh to game fish on the continental shelf will be eager to bite.

Hawkesbury writer Dan Selby noted in the December issue that it was shaping up as one of the best bass seasons in years and on the waters around here I would most definitely agree.

The three major systems here, the Tuross, the Deua and the Clyde, have all been reporting sensational bass fishing, the likes of which I have never witnessed.

Leading up to this report fish from 50cm to a mind-boggling 64cm have been landed. Everything from surface lures, spinnerbaits, garden worms and wood beetle grubs has been bringing the big fish undone.

To me, bass fishing is all about surface lures and I cannot bring myself to tie on anything else. The strike from even a modest little 30cm tacker is almost always savage and sets the pulse racing.

What I crave is the anticipation of a strike from a big fish in tight country after a perfect cast.

More than 15 years ago, my long-time LBG buddy and gun bass fisho Nathan Kirkwood told me a tip for surface luring that has stuck with me to this day and has earned me more bass hook-ups than any other advice.

He simply recommended that when your surface lure splashes down, don’t move it again until all the surface ripples have dissipated.

Once the surface is undisturbed, then give the lure some sharp, splashing and noisy jigs to imitate a cicada or other stricken insect and then leave again until all water movement has ceased. Repeat the process throughout the whole retrieve.

The long pauses can be excruciating when big bass are on the chew but this method keeps the lure in the strike zone for a long time and the bass seem to respond to it better than any other surface technique I have used.

I have also noted that lightning reflexes striking to a bite on the surface are usually counterproductive to a good hook-up.

A slightly delayed response gives me a much better hook-up rate but it can be hard to adjust to if you have been surface luring for bream recently – bream definitely respond to quick hook sets.

Ray Smith has had a penchant for spinnerbaits recently and has put them to good use from his Hobie ’yak and on missions in tight water on foot.

Ray recently scored and then upgraded his personal best bass three times in three casts for a final PB of 54cm.

His next session resulted in the loss of five fish to zero landed and a significant dent in his spinnerbait supplies. He has now geared up much heavier in main line and leader to something approaching snapper gear!

However, one of Ray’s family members trumped him with a monster 64cm fish captured on a wood grub cast into a snag. Also confirmed have been fish of 61cm and a number of other 50cm-plus fish.

Another little tip I might add is to remember to put sunscreen on your thighs and knees. I forgot on a recent sortie and seven hours under a clear sky were not at all kind to me, making work, sleep and general life hell for the rest of the week.

KING MILESTONE

Speaking of mega-milestone fish, my mate Peter Oberg from Goulburn has been on a quest to capture a kingfish over 30kg for 27 years of LBG fishing.

He has come close plenty of times, with a 27kg fish one of the standouts. Of course, an LBG career spaning that many seasons means Pete has hooked plenty of fish in that size range but all attempts to win over these brutes have ended in disappointment.

This recently changed when he landed a 38kg yellow-tailed missile that took a staggering 40 minutes to land.

But this tale isn’t of strong LBG reels and heavy leaders. No, this fish was captured on a long rod and just 15kg mono with no leader and a 3/0 hook.

The boys were fishing for snapper because the seas were simply too rough to allow comfortable live-baiting.

The monster king ate a fillet of sergeant baker and was initially called as a mammoth snapper but was quickly revised when the fish could be seen on the surface a real long way out.

His buddy Damo manned the gaff and did a stellar effort in the rough conditions, while a visiting Victorian angler, Fred, shot a string of photos.

Fred Montebello, who has produced wall mounts for many, has converted the fish into a wall mount a stoked LBG fisher.

PLENTY MORE

Already kingfish reports are coming through so it looks to be shaping up as a great season on one of the toughest fish in the ocean.

So much is happening this month that I can barely fit it into this issue.

Safe to say other fish on the hit list will be bream, flathead, jewfish and whiting in the estuaries.

On the beaches salmon, tailor and the odd jewfish will be there for the taking.

Snapper, flathead and mowies will be consistent on the wider reefs and game fishing will be dominated by marlin with mahi mahi beginning to appear together with the usual school yellowfin and striped tuna.

Off the rocks you can expect a bunch of bonito, salmon and possibly the odd early frigate mackerel adding to the rat kingfish populace.

That’s more fish than you can poke a rod at so get busy and get on the water – 2011 is gonna be a ripper!

The culmination of half a lifetime of dedication: Peter Oberg’s sensational and deserved 38kg kingfish, captured in bizarre circumstances.

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