When fishing Sydney Harbour mid-week you’re lucky if you see three or four boats working a school of fish. On summer weekends there can be 20 boats racing around the school of fish throwing metal lures in all directions.
This can be dangerous when you are close to other boats and people who don’t know how to cast accurately. If you have ever been hit be a 40g lure, you’ll understand what I mean.
If you are new to casting lures at schools of fish, go down to you local park or paddock and learn how to cast low, fast and straight, or go out with a guide and ask them to teach you. A guide can teach you how to cast, where to cast, what lure to use and the best way to approach schools of working fish. I always spend the first 30-40 minutes with my clients teaching them how to cast before we target a school of fish. Casting is like hitting a golf ball. It’s not how hard you make the cast – it’s the timing of the release.
November is the one of the best months to target kingfish on stickbaits and poppers. The only thing that is more exciting than a big bass strike is a good kingfish smashing a popper or stickbait. A lot of baitfish gathers in Pittwater, one of the best locations, as the water temperature starts to rise. You will see these bait balls if you know what to look for and the kingfish are always there.
The bait balls look like rain on the water but in only a small area. Once you find the baitfish, cast your lure around the edges of the bait trying not to disturb them too much. Look for any splashes or water disturbance and cast your lures as close to the splashes as you can.
November is a great time to pull out your surface lures and fish for bass in the upper Hawkesbury.
Bass will sit under the overhanging structure waiting for insects or small creatures to fall into the water. You can often hear the surface hit from the bass as they feed in creeks that have overhanging willow trees.
Surface lures are best cast close to cover or any shallow area. Cast them as close to or under any overhang, let it sit for a while and give the lure a little twitch, then let sit a little longer. This is when it usually gets struck. If not, wind the lure a metre or so, let it sit and repeat the process. If this doesn’t work, vary the speed of your retrieve.
Active bass like a lot of disturbance and lethargic bass will strike if you slow down and leave the lure in the strike zone. Surface lures also work well in open water over weed and along the front edge of weed beds, especially after dark. My favourite surface lures are Taylor Mades, small Feral Catt surface walkers, fizzers and my own home made fizzer.
Most bass anglers only use their surface lures in the late afternoon or early morning. On most hot summer days, surface lures will work up to and past the middle of the day. Try casting into the shadowy areas and keeping the lure there for as long as you can while working it very slowly. Bass will find it hard not to strike if they are active and if your lure is kept in the strike zone.
The colour can be important especially if using surface lures in the middle of the day. Often bass will strike from the side so they prefer a lighter colour surface lure. On sunny days I like greens and yellows but on overcast days I will use a darker colour lure, often purple with a white head. At night, black is my first choice, except on moonlit nights when I prefer to cast a white or yellow frog pattern surface lure.
Flyfishing for bass with surface flies is also deadly. You can cast a fly into areas that would be difficult to cast a lure into. Some of the other advantages of using a fly are:
• You can match the size of the insects the bass are feeding on;
• You can make a more delicate presentation;
• When you miss a strike you can pick the fly up a drop it back on the spot with out having to retrieve it all the way back; and
• Pot holing the hole in the raft of weeds and the clear areas between the inside edge of the weed beds and shore is easier with the fly. Some of the flies I use are a small popper, cricket and the Eddy Studman surface fizzer fly is a ripper.Reads: 534