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River bass off breeding
  |  First Published: June 2012



This month marks the start of the closed season for Australian bass and estuary perch until August 31. Any anglers who still target these fish during the Winter should be prepared for tough times.

I prefer to leave these fish alone during the closed season and target other species. Bass in the river systems have a tough regardless, with over-fishing, drought and movement-restricting weirs all having major effects on their lives.

In order to keep the species continuing bass need the right water salinity to spawn and the fish gather in large schools around the start of this favourable water. They also need the right temperature to get their groove on, preferring water from 14°-19°.

A female bass around a kilo and 37cm can lay up to 500,000 eggs. The survival rate is about 20%-30% of the 500,000 eggs spawned. They hatch at 3mm-4mm and within a month will be 6mm-7mm long and will start searching the river for food and shelter from larger predators.

Millions of eggs will never become baby bass and with the pressures I mentioned, this is why I practise catch and release when targeting bass.

So what do you do when the bass are spawning?

The next couple of months are a good time to stock up on lures lost over the past season, service your gear and practise your casting.

I know I say it all the time but the more accurate you can cast, the more fish you are likely to catch. Systems like the Nepean for example are heavily fished and have a lot of traffic and some days you are fishing in someone else’s second-hand water.

If you can cast accurately you will still catch fish in water that has already been fished.

I remember not long ago fishing down on the river at Devlin Lane. We launched the kayaks and fished the right-hand bank and there where already a couple of other anglers in kayaks working that bank. We noticed they did catch a fish in this 300m stretch of water.

We did the right thing and watched them fish for 10 minutes and get farther down the river and then we started. On my third cast I hooked and landed a 45cm bass and another 10 fish in the same stretch of water the three anglers before us had fished.

I put it down to being able to cast accurately and choose the right lure.

NEW SPECIES

After the recent flooding and the release from Warragamba Dam it should be a good Winter on the river with some new species to target which are not normally there.

Rainbow and brown trout which have come over the spillway will be ready to take lures and flies.

There have been some good reports of fish up to 3kg caught. Spots to target them will be around the Warragamba River at the junction, Erskine Creek, Glenbrook Gorge and around the weir at Penrith.

In previous years after releases from the dam the trout have been caught as far down as Yarramundi. The fish will be right through out the river looking for food.

You can use bass tackle to catch the trout – 2kg-4kg line on a 2000-2500 size reel with a 6’-7’ light action rod.

Trout readily take lures and bait. Lures include the traditional Tassie Devils, spoons, Celtas and other in-line spinners, shallow and deep-diving crankbaits, blades and soft plastics.

Bait-soaker should try worms, PowerBait Nuggets, corn and yabbies.

LAKES

If you are keen, Lake Lyell is only a short drive through the Blue Mountains and has some bruiser bass and some very large brown trout.

Fishing on sunset and into the early evening with surface lures, you might be surprised at the results.

In previous years I never would have even thought about targeting bass in Winter with surface lures but after experiencing fish to 48 cm and well over 2kg, it’s time to think outside the box.

Fly-fishing and bait fishing should produce a few trout.

Other dams close to Lake Lyell that fish well this month are Thompsons Creek and Lake Wallace.

Remember that the trout rivers are closed from June 8 and reopen on the long weekend in October.

Trout dams are still accessible to fish; just remember to abide by the rules.

If you are after some casting lessons with spin, fly or baitcaster gear, mention NSWFM and get 30% off all casting lessons this month.

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