Wild bass on the sunshine coast
  |  First Published: August 2013

Winter is almost gone and it’s just about time to go chase some bass again in the wild. Even though you can chase them in the impoundments all year round, on the Sunshine Coast you aren’t allowed to target bass in the wild during their spawning season.

I have had great success on surface and hardbodied lures for bass over the past six months. You can’t beat it when you are popping along on the surface and a big boof swallows your lure; you know it’s a wild bass and the fight is on.

After each bass catch, I am always amped to catch another one as wild bass are so much fun on light gear.

The best bite time for bass fishing is early morning and late afternoon. When the sun comes up they slowly stop feeding and go deeper in the water column. In the late afternoon, they move higher in the water column in the lowlight.

The bass don’t like the middle of the day because of the bright light and glare on the surface, causing the bass to be confused whether its bait or not. If you’re lucky you will get the occasional bass on surface in the middle of the day if you cast up into a shady snag or during very lowlight conditions.

When bass fishing in Noosa, I love to fish along grass edges, snags and rocky bottoms as these are great holding spots for bass to feed and spawn.

The best structure to look for is over hanging trees with a sunken tree laying in the water and a few branches either side on a nice deep bank, which will provide a hiding spot for bass from predators and to ambush their prey.

When finding a good grassy edge, look for little inlets. Throw your surface or hardbodied lure along the point; it always produces bass for me.

Rocky bottoms are also a sure fire way to get onto the bass. In Noosa, the rocky bottoms are from 3-8m+ deep, and the deep underwater is really dark. Bass love to school up on the bottom as there are always little shrimp and crustaceans crawling/swimming about.

When it comes to chasing bass, you don’t need overly heavy gear: a rod between 1-4kg and a reel from a 1000-2500. The line should be 4lb with a 6-8lb leader but if you are fishing tight structure try 8lb with a 10-12lb leader. Seeing guys use 15lb braid and a 20lb leader for bass is overkill, and fishing light is more fun and everyone says, ‘lighter the line means more bites’.

Another reason to use light gear on bass is it increases your chance of landing the fish once you hook up. On heavy gear you put a lot of pressure on the fish’s mouth/jaw which can cause the hook to rip out, normally leaving a big hole in the bass’s mouth which can cause infection, even death.

The type of lures you should be using when chasing freshwater fish like bass are small imitations of bait, like shrimp and cicadas; surface lures like Berkley Scum Dogs, DUO PocoPoco poppers, Gladiator Kozami’s and the Lucky Craft Kelly Js; and hardbodied lures are Jackall Chubbys, River2Sea Cranks and Maria 55sp. Their colours will depends on the water clarity and the environment you fish in. The best thing is to go to your local tackle shop and get a natural colour and a bright colour and see what works on the day.

I have had a few people ask me what techniques I mainly use. My technique varies on the day as the bass might like a fast retrieve and the next day a slow retrieve. I also like to mix it up a bit.

My main method is a slow roll with two small twitches every three seconds then a pause. You will more than likely hook up on the pause as the lure is either suspending or slow floating back to the surface, this gives the fish an easy target and meal.

Another retrieve is a medium pace wind with no pausing. You will usually get hit at the start or the middle of retrieving your lure.

I have had a few people come back and say, “My surface popper and walker are not working probably.”

You need to use a different retrieve for divers and surface lures. The basic technique with a popper is a small pop every two seconds. But when you get a surface strike with no hook up, pause the lure for about five seconds then continue the retrieve; you will hook up most of the time on the start of the retrieve.

Surface walkers are easy to use when it comes to bass. It is just a continuous soft twitch of your rod tip, and when the bass hits, pause it for five seconds then continue.

Noosa Everglades

I recently took a recent trip up to the Noosa Everglades with a good mate of mine, Pete, who has fished up there for a few years now. He taught me most of what I know today about bass on that session.

We ended up getting there at about 12.30pm and put the electric motor into the water and off we went looking for a few snags to warm up.

Up ahead we saw a really nice snag. We cast at it for about five minutes, but no success. I ended up changing to a mid-water diver and threw it at the snags and grass edges.

Still no success, even after three different divers.

Finally, Pete said, “The sun is too high and glary, the bass have shut down.” What we needed now was patience.

After the sun slowly went behind the trees. I threw a popper back on and into a grass inlet.

Pop, pop BOOM! I was finally on after 3-4 hours! It was an average-sized bass for the Noosa River, and it didn’t take Pete long to hook up either. When targeting wild bass, persistent and positive thinking will really pay off.

I dropped one well over 40cm by throwing the hooks but as the sun continued to go down I ended up with one other small bass in the bag. After a few pictures, the sun went down and we headed for home.

On the way back, the lake was glassed right out and looked beautiful.

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