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Champagne ’yak spinning
  |  First Published: December 2011



I have been spending much of my fishing time recently in various borrowed kayaks fishing for whiting, bream, flathead and bass. I am soon going to purchase something for myself.

Fishing from five different craft over the past few months has left me even more confused what to purchase.

Each type has its pros and cons and you definitely get what you pay for. The cheaper jobs seem to have a mind of their own at times when paddling, and particularly when coasting into casting range of a snag or desired stretch of bank.

Still, it has been an enjoyable learning curve that hopefully steers me to make the best decision for the type of fishing I am doing.

In the upper freshwater reaches of the Clyde River we have been experiencing some champagne bass sessions, with black and purple spinnerbaits the standout fish producers.

The cicadas were a little late to show so the surface lure action has been a little slow to start. The cicadas will be well and truly in full song now, however, and the spinnerbaits wont see quite as much use.

The Kokoda Bugger Chug is an awesome cicada imitation that the bass find hard to resist and the Tiemco Cicada, and the Kokoda Bat copy, are other standouts. The super-lifelike River2Sea Cicada Pop and Buggi Pop also grace my tackle box and they all get a swim most outings.

Don’t forget the soft plastics, bass love them, particularly the avocado Squidgy Bug.

We have also been staying well into the night, slowly working Nutterjuck Walkers and finding some nice bass over 40cm. These lures sound like a constantly dripping tap and the bass just cannot resist.

The surface strikes received are savage and can really jolt the senses in the pitch black on a quiet night.

Now that the nights are nice and warm, overnight camps will be part of the allure of the freshwater reaches, allowing more bass-boofing mayhem.

Lake Conjola has been firing for bream, whiting and big flathead.

I have been totally fixated with chasing whiting on poppers over the flats, either on foot or in the kayaks, and I am amazed at how effective it is.

The lake is closed again and the water level is fairly high, so picking tides is not an issue. One thing I have noticed is that with no real tidal influence, the barometer can make a big difference to fish aggression.

Most surface whiting sessions have produced around 20 fish, with four or five kept for a feed and the rest set free.

While wading in knee-deep water I scored a 47cm monster and have pulled the hooks on three similar-sized bonefish imitators.

One fish had me in a twist as it did three laps of the kayak before completely stitching me up on the kayak’s keel, forcing me to paddle to shore to sort out the mess. Miraculously, the fish stayed connected to the lure.

I didn’t get photos of the big whiting but have since bought a waterproof camera for stress-free kayak trips.

By far the best lure for this work has been the Ecogear PX-45F. This lure imitated a prawn so well that fish actively chasing real prawns on the surface change tack to eat the plastic version time after time.

Under a fast, rod-jabbing retrieve the lure throws a spurt of water forward that the whiting and bream find irresistible.

RETRIEVES

The only trick to consistent results on bream and whiting is in the retrieve. If you can see it is a whiting following, keep that lure working quickly. If a bream is tailing it, add long pauses because most bites come from a stopped lure.

Whiting will almost always lose interest when the lure is paused.

If you haven’t already gathered, I am pretty lure-mad lately and would rather tie on an artificial than a bait any day.

This season I plan to chase kingfish off the rocks with big lures, namely noisy poppers and the realistic stickbaits that are now entering the market, thanks to the Japanese-driven GT fishing industry.

There have been some amazingly big land-based kings over the past two years at Jervis Bay, with fish to 30kg being beaten on spin tackle.

Already the big stickbait trend is prevalent on the LBG ledges, with some days over 20 anglers working expensive lures on even more expensive popper outfits. Some days it is staggering to think how many collective dollars are on the rock ledges.

If you are in the market for some big stickbaits to throw at kings, you may find most tackle stores only stock a small selection, if any.

Prices range from $40 to $100 per lure so back pocket beware if you decide that these lures are what you need.

The River2sea Doggie and the Maria Loaded 180 are two stickbaits that are available in some tackle stores. Shimano have also released some nice looking stickbaits that fit the bill.

If you aren’t afraid to shell out bucks for some impressive lures then check out www.gara-proshop.com, they have an extensive and continually expanding selection of lures as well as other tackle solely based around big fish and casting lures.

The FCL Labo SquidPen in large and medium are killer big kingy lures. The action is unique, with the lure diving about 60cm below the surface with a pronounced slow side-to-side roll that looks like a wounded bonito or frigate mackerel. When the retrieve is stopped the lure floats backwards to the surface, away from the angler in a very squid like ‘pulse’.

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