First find the schools
  |  First Published: April 2007

April is one of my favourite months to fish for bass and estuary perch This is when bass and EPs gather in schools to move downstream to spawn and can be caught in good numbers.

First you have to find these fish. Experience has told us these fish will normally school up in the same areas but last year I found the fish in different places from previous years.

Just because you have caught fish in an area in seasons gone by does not mean the fish will be there this season – but it is a good place to start. I past seasons I mainly used soft plastic and flies to catch EPs but a lot of perch last year were caught on bibless lures allowed to sink and worked across the bottom like a soft plastic.

John Bethune was fishing the Hawkesbury Bass Interclub comp in February and was finding the fishing a little slow so he pulled out a black and purple jig that he had tied up for a trip up to Glenbawn. He cast it out into a back eddy and hooked six fat EPs in

10 minutes.

What makes John a cut above the rest of us is that he is always thinking how to fish a little differently. Every time he goes out fishing, his mind is set on catching bass and he never gives up.

Even when the rest of us have thrown in towel, John will be up the front of the boat casting lures – come to think about it, John is always up the front of the boat and maybe that’s why he catches more fish than me. That’s my excuse and I am sticking to it!

In past Aprils we would start looking around drop-offs, eddies and current lines, especially near a corner or large structure that interrupts the water flow. When you find an area that has some of these characteristics, lower the electric and check your sounder for any signs of fish.

This is where having a good sounder can make the difference. It has to be able to separate fish from all the debris. My Humminbird is easy to use, its transducer gives me a super-wide angle view and I have learnt that when it shows me fish, that’s what they are.

If your find fish showing on your sounder, work over the area with soft plastics and hard lures. If you’re successful and you catch a few, note the time and tide and move on to the next likely spot and do the same.

You will find that different areas hold fish on run-out and run-up tides. I fish deeper for bass and perch in the colder months and have found that they hang wider than in the warmer months.


In March the fishing in the Harbour ran hot with kingfish, bonito, tailor, salmon and frigate mackerel and there were plenty of fish around North and South heads. Most of these fish fell to Deep X raps trolled close to the washes.

Middle Harbour had so much bait in it you could almost walk across them without getting your feet wet. There were plenty of kings being caught on squid and the salmon and tailor were caught on metals and soft stickbaits.

The bream have also been fishing well around the moored boats and jetties. My best bream lures were Berkley Power Minnows and Eco Grubs fished on 1/32oz jig heads.

Cast these lures close as you can to a moored boat, post, jetty, pontoon or any other structure and let the lure sink, watching your line for any sudden movement that might indicate a bream bite. Once it hits the bottom or it’s at the required depth, give the lure a twitch with the rod tip, let it sit and then work it back with a lift-and-fall retrieve.

If you feel a bite, drop the rod tip to allow fish to take the lure, then lift the rod to hook up.

Small crankbaits are also catching their share of bream; cast the lure past the structure so it can get down to the depth of the fish as it goes past the post or structure. When the lure is near the structure, pause it for a second and give it twitch before retrieving at a slow speed.

Remember not to strike the fish with the rod, let the rod load up and then ease it back to set the hook.

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