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Summer bassing
  |  First Published: December 2013



Australian bass are a great fighting sportfish and are a very popular species for recreational and tournament anglers. Even though they can be caught all year round in creeks, rivers and impoundments, summer is the best time to target them.

During summer the bass become more active near the surface, feeding close to and amongst the weed patches, reeds and fallen or standing timber. As well as surface lures, you can catch them on shallow divers, plastics, spinnerbaits and blades worked a little higher in the water column. Although these bass can be quite wary, especially in smaller waterways, they hit lures aggressively.

Where

In Southeast Queensland there are many places to target bass. These include stocked impoundments such as Lake MacDonald, Borumba and Somerset Dam, and all the freshwater rivers, creeks and streams in between.

If you want to fish an impoundment, you’re better off fishing from a boat or kayak to cover the larger area of fishable water. Just remember that anglers 18 years or older can’t fish a stocked dam without a stocked impoundment fishing permit (SIP). And some dams don’t allow outboard motors, only electric motors or paddle power.

If you want to fish the creeks and streams, it can pay to be adventurous. If you’re willing to trek through the bush to the more ‘untouched’ fishing spots, you’ll often get better fishing action.

Gear

Bass can be targeted easily using baitcaster and spinning set-ups. I like baitcaster set-ups because they let me make more accurate casts within dense weed patches and fallen timber – definitely an advantage! Still, it all comes down to personal preference.

If you prefer to use a spinning outfit, a quality, lightweight graphite rod around 4-8lb, with a length of 6’6”-7’, matched up with a 2000-2500 reel is a good ‘all-round’ bass set-up. If you want to use a baitcaster outfit, 6-12lb rod is ideal, matched with a 100-sized reel.

Your choice of mainline and leader should depend on where you are fishing. Think about the structure you’ll be fishing around. Light lines, big bass and dense structure do not go well together.

If you’re fishing in impoundments, 8lb braid and 10lb fluorocarbon leader will usually prevent bust-offs, without being so heavy that the fish get spooked. If you’re fishing very dense structure down the rivers, creeks and streams, it obviously helps to increase the leader a bit just to be sure no fish will take you around a branch or log and bust you off.

How

During warmer summer mornings and evenings, you can target bass using surface lures such as various poppers, walkers, Jitterbugs, surface frogs and unweighted soft plastics. Cast close to structure, or at pockets within the weed beds around the edge of a dam, and you will certainly be in the zone. Bass hit surface lures hard, creating a loud splash, and you have to fight to keep the fish out of the structure that it calls home.

When you’re fishing a little deeper in the water column, when the sun is higher in the sky, switch to shallow diving lures such as the Jackall Chubby, Smak spinnerbaits or 1/8oz blades slow-rolled out of the weed beds or snags. Taking lure colours into account helps as well. Purple, black, dark brown, or bright fluoro colours are best suited for dirty or murky water conditions, while more natural colours are best for cleaner water.

My favourite presentation to use is a plastic such as a Keitech Swing Impact rigged on a 1/8oz TTs jighead, with a TTs Jig Spinner attached to it. Using a slow-roll technique out of the weeds or snags makes it work effectively. Like blades and spinnerbaits, you can work these lures up toward the surface, or allow them to sink deeper before retrieving them slowly. This is when using a sounder is very important.

A sounder can be used to see how deep the bass are in the water column. Once you know where they are, it’s not hard to judge or time how far your lure has sunk, so you know when to start retrieving it. This knowledge will maximise your chances of being in the strike zone so you can catch more fish!

Bass are a great target species and a lot of fun when hooked, especially in tight structure! It’s easy to see why they are such a freshwater species. If you’re around the Noosa area, drop into Hooked on Angling and Outdoors in Tewantin, as the team will give you helpful advice and set you up on how to target the Aussie bass!

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