The amount of Summer insect activity helps ensure that surface presentations are the most exciting ways to target bass this month.
Lures and flies that imitate cicadas, moths, beetles and other insects make them the most obvious selection. Early evening through to the first few hours of the morning are prime time for surface action but certain areas will yield bass throughout the day.
My favourite areas include where trees overhang the water and where long, dark gutters form between the trees and run back to the bank. Gutters don’t have to be very wide but provide cover for the bass so they can race from underneath the foliage and take a lure or fly. Undercut rocks can often run deep into the darkness and, depending on the tide, there can be little distance between the bottom of the ledge and the surface.
Accurate casting is essential to get a lure right into tight holes. For really tight zones, try skipping a plastic before the undercut rock and into the darkness under the ledge. Some plastics skip better than others but most can be made to skip with practice. Plastic minnows, grubs and tubes are all skippable, and I generally go with as light a jighead as I can get away with.
If you’re new to surface fishing there are a number of popular lures including Taylor Made Fizzers and Basscadas and the Daiwa Cicada Pencils.
If you want to fish a column of water, you can always try tweaking a floating diver the surface before cranking it down.
I love using surface flies like poppers and Dahlbergs, as well as those that resemble cicadas. The poppers don’t require floatant but the other two definitely will as they absorb water. There are many others to choose from, so talk to some experienced anglers or log on to www.ausbass.com.au or www.wsbb.com.au and ask the guys there. You’ll learn a lot.
Warm water helps weed grow rapidly and areas that were easy to fish a few months ago are now choked with weed. Plastics and bladed lures worked down the face of the weed and into pockets can draw out bass. Polarised glasses help you see the deep pockets.
The rivers, and to a lesser extent creeks, have been heavily fished in past months, making some fish wary and tougher to catch. There are some things you can do to improve your chances.
Presenting a lure or fly can sometimes be a frustrating experience, even when using your favourite ‘confidence’ lures. It’s probably why I own a wide variety of lures, hoping I’ll have some that the fish haven’t seen before or at least for a long time.
Soft plastics, depending on the rig you have chosen, can be fished at all depths and can replicate the look, feel and behaviour of natural food. Add some scent for extra appeal.
While flies may not look like much, when the synthetic and natural fibres hit the water they are quite lifelike. When things are quiet, working the water with the fly can make a dull session much more enjoyable.
When things are tough, presentation and accuracy make a big difference. I’ve gone to 3lb Berkley Crystal Fireline down to 6lb leader in some areas. Braid is much stronger than we might believe and certainly stronger than its labelled breaking strain. I can cast my threadline farther and more accurately with light braid than heavier line so my surface and sub-surface lures perform much better as well.
The stirring I cop from my neighbour when I practise casting in the backyard is all forgotten when an accurate cast makes the difference between catching fish and mindless mechanical casting that yields little. Shorter rods offer better accuracy in areas that require precision. Baitcasting outfits have long had such a reputation but a threadline outfit can perform just as well.
Knowing how to best get the best out of lures and flies can improve your catch rate. While it might be impressive to have a huge collection of tackle, knowing how to really work your lures can be even more impressive. Work out which are your favourites and spend time learning how they perform.
As the boredom and frustration set in, some anglers don’t think about what they are doing and it’s very easy for mindless casting to take over from the thoughtful and dedicated application of knowledge and skills. Think about what your offering is supposed to imitate and work it around where you think a fish should be.
It’s also very easy to overlook your own wellbeing on the water. Wearing quality polarised glasses, clothing that protects you from the sun and keeping your body well fed and watered to keep your mind on the job. Glare, exposure to the sun, and a lack of energy and fluids sap concentration.
Water temperature can get uncomfortable for fish at this time of year so they’ll move to deeper water or shade.
I’ve walked plenty of banks and own a boat but fishing from a canoe or kayak can be much more productive and heaps more fun. Inexpensive paddle craft can get you into areas that boats can’t and onto fish that don’t see lures and flies very often.
With large bass now in the headwaters, anglers willing to chase them need to be dedicated and prepared.
Seasoned anglers often enthusiastically refer to their remote bass adventures, and for good reason. Losing a little skin, plenty of perspiration and possibly the odd drop of blood are par for the course but the rewards are there.
But dehydration can be a big problem so drink plenty of water getting into remote water on warm days. Snakes are a problem and a good first aid kit and knowing how to use it is essential.
And I know this might sound more than a little strange in the middle of a drought, but flash flooding can happen when you least expect it. I was swimming in a quiet creek on a sunny day when a wall of water and a large tree came around the bend. I managed to scramble up the bank to safety.
If you doubt your abilities in the bush, don’t venture alone into rugged locations. Take someone who is experienced and learn and enjoy. Commonsense is the other essential to take so travel light, choose your gear wisely and exercise good judgment.
Other species are out there besides bass and for bankside anglers, mullet and carp are high on the list. Both species are very active in the warmer months and are easily caught.
While the potential size difference between the two is immense, there’s no doubt both have tremendous fighting ability. The sleek mullet and rotund carp are different in shape but no different in the power department.
If you looking for some excitement, try targeting these species but just remember to hang on.
Reports of vandalism to boom nets designed to hold back the dreaded Salvinia on the Nepean are very disturbing. Large amounts of weed were released downstream due to somebody’s mindless act. An area of Salvinia can double in size every two to four days and play havoc with the river and all water users.
If you see anyone damaging these boom nets, report them to the police straight away. It’s your river.
Whether you fish from the bank or a boat this Summer, 42cm bass like this one caught on a fizzer by Chris Byrne are on the cards. This fish came from the Nepean.Reads: 589