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Encouraging signs emerge
  |  First Published: August 2006



While the days are still cool and often windy, there’s the odd warm day that will tempt anglers to make a visit to local waters.

The first signs of the approaching Spring are starting to show for the first time with lizards, flies, insects and moths emerging.

Water conditions also start to improve this month, with temperatures around 16° to 17° and climbing, which we all like to see. Daily air temperatures climb into the 20°s and high barometric pressure make this a more comfortable time to fish in comparison with the depths of Winter.

There are plenty of good weed beds in many parts of the Hawkesbury-Nepean and while there have traditionally been plenty of good catches of bass from these, looking elsewhere is also smart.

A lot of anglers keep pounding away at the edges of weed beds and limit their opportunities to find bass. Remember the weeds out near the middle of the river – a lot of the better bass have been caught out wider, especially on soft plastics and sinking flies.

There are patches of broad-leaf water lilies in the river at various locations, providing a wide area of shade for bass beneath them. If you want to adopt a softly, softly approach to minimise alerting the bass to your presence, try landing your lure onto the lily pad. With some of these lilies less than the size of a dinner plate, accurate casting is a must but well worth it. Dragging the lure off the lily pad and into the water is much more realistic that a lure landing directly on the water.

Lightly-weighted soft plastics dropped vertically down the face of weed beds and off lily pads can also be successful. Use as light a jig head as possible to give a more lifelike appearance and work your plastic to imitate small baitfish.

If you’re not all that comfortable using soft plastics, work them slowly. If you’ve ever been shown by someone how to work them, you’ve no doubt been surprised at how slowly this sometimes needs to be.

It can be agonisingly slow sometimes, imitating bait fishos’ dangling baits, not mimicking the action of hard-bodied lures. Whatever the retrieve that works with soft plastics, there is no doubting their effectiveness.

While a lot of attention is given to how, when and where to use various types of lures, with plastics it might be helpful to look at the baitfish in the area you are fishing and imitate their behaviour with your plastic.

Seasoned bass anglers tend to have a very well-developed knowledge of the behaviour of bass prey. It’s not just about finding a place where you expect to find bass. Look at how the prey behaves and have your lures, plastics and flies imitate it. Polarised sunglasses help you get a clear picture of the prey – spend a little time watching and get your presentations to behave the same way.

THE DEDICATED

While targeting bass in their spawning areas each Winter is not acceptable to many anglers, plenty of bass have been caught away from spawning zone between Sackville and Wisemans Ferry. Fishing for bass can take a fair degree of effort and persistence but it can be highly successful for those dedicated to the task.

Fellow Western Sydney Bream and Bass member Vas Smilevski has been performing above and beyond the call this Winter with a few late night sessions in the Colo often stretching into the early morning hours. One of his most memorable catches was a beautiful 465mm (fork length) bass caught on a Yo Zuri Attack L-Jack.

Vas has been using lures up to 10cm long to imitate the herring on which the bass have been feeding. Quite a few bass in the mid-40cm range have also found their way to his kayak. I couldn’t think of a more uncomfortable place to be in the wee hours in Winter but the rewards have been there.

Even the Nepean has seen some excellent catches of bass. While some might argue that the fishing is too quiet to be worth the effort, some decent fish have been caught, especially on fizzers and poppers.

Many of these great catches have been from paddle craft. If owning a boat might be just a dream due to limited finances, give some serious thought to a canoe or kayak, which can get you into some fantastic fishing areas.

Sales of paddle craft have rocketed in recent years with manufacturers incorporating countless innovative ideas into their designs. With everything from eskies to rod holders and sounders, there seems no end to how canoes and kayaks have progressed.

Before I bought my first boat I had many fantastic bass sessions from a second-hand fibreglass canoe.

SERVICE REMINDER

I’ve already had to tow broken-down boats back to the ramp and it seems marine mechanics are rubbing their hands together at boat ramps as motors refuse to fire. It happens every year as boat owners struggle with outboards that haven’t been started for months.

With engine cowls off, lots of head-scratching and colourful language are pretty standard for owners trying to get poorly-maintained outboards started. If you have an outboard that hasn’t had much TLC, maybe it’s a good time for reminder that a service makes your boating more enjoyable and a lot safer.

THE BETHUNE BASH

The John Bethune Testimonial Bass Competition will be held on August 19 at Walkers Beach, near Wisemans Ferry.

In what may well be the biggest fishing turnout seen on the Hawkesbury, this friendly competition is shaping up to be extremely enjoyable for entrants and very encouraging to John as he recovers from cancer. I’ve heard some whispers of what is in the pipeline for this special event and if even half of what I have heard comes off, this is going to be one heck of an event for a worthy cause.

A number of anglers are travelling considerable distances to be there and it would be great to see the river at Walkers Beach awash with boats to give John some well-deserved support. I know John has been greatly moved by the level of encouragement he has already received and I’m sure every reader joins me in wishing him a speedy recovery. ‘Mr Bass’ has given so much to countless thousands of anglers and is a true gentleman of the angling world.

Further details on this big event can be found elsewhere in this issue or by visiting www.sportsfish.com.au. See you on the 19th!

A just reward for being prepared to sit in a kayak on the Colo River in total darkness in the middle of Winter. This lovely bass measured 465mm to the fork, and was caught by Vas Smilevski using a Yo Zuri Attack L-Jack. Vas says this bass took off for the weeds and put up a fantastic fight.

Chris Byrne brought this bass to his kayak on a surface fizzer in the upper reaches of the Nepean on a cool Winter evening. Measuring 420mm to the fork, this is one of a number of good-sized fish Chris has taken in the upper Nepean.

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