It’s intense!
  |  First Published: December 2002

It’s intense!

As the water warms increasingly, the fishing is rising in intensity.

A short while ago I fished Glenbawn with some great friends and talented anglers, including Mark Williams, Shane Raulston, Dean Hayes, Newcastle Knights and Kangaroo forward Ben Kennedy and Strudwick’s own Matt Thompson All caught fish in conditions that were more suited to kite-flying than fishing.

Dean Hayes was lucky enough to fish a steady barometer before we all arrived and had a cracker of a time landing bass to 50cm on a purple and black Clouser with red eyes. That Bass Vampire fly is used in comps all over Australia’s bass impoundments and now Dean is a keen advocate.

The fishing over the following days took a dive, along with the barometer, yet the fish were still there. What to do? We tried soft plastics, deep divers, fly, and even trolling, all on the first morning, all with limited success. The only thing to do is spinnerbait likely haunts in this situation, and do it slooooowly.

Using Bassmans new titanium short-arm spinnerbaits in bright purple with silver scale, and black with lime tips, we slowly retrieved our lures through some of the nastiest lure-grabbing structure you are likely to see. Strikes became more frequent the slower we retrieved, with most coming just after the lure was bounced over some form of structure. The secret to a quality spinnerbait is head-weight-to-blade-size combination. You also need top-quality components such as the ball bearing swivel connected to the top blade. If the swivel isn’t up to scratch, the blade won’t spin at slow speeds, and that’s no good.

The highlight for me was to see Mark Williams land a horse of a bass. We’d found a beautiful little bay around the corner from where Mark, Chris and Shane were fishing and it seemed to hold better quality fish.

I landed a 45cm, a44cm and several smaller specimens and went and got the rest of the guys to come back and pepper the water. After five minutes of relaxed casting with only a couple of hits each, it seemed that the bigger fish had moved off – or so we thought.

Mark then shook to a wrist-wrenching strike which spelled big fish. You can tell some one who has caught a lot of big fish on small gear by the steady rod work and the way they load a rod with the fish’s surges. There are no radical rod angles or excessive show-pony tactics, it’s just down to business with cool, thoughtful rod work and occasion thumb pressure on the drag.

As I slipped my hand under the flank of the big bass, Wilbur started to smile. Fifty-one centimetres is a horse of a fish to pull from tight cover on even 2kg to 4kg gear. But Wilbur’s weaponry was miniscule in most anglers’ eyes –a Strudwick 1kg to 2kg TPS and his faithful little ABU loaded with Platypus Bionic Braid.

Footy followers will know Ben Kennedy from the Newcastle Knights, a big hard bugger with heaps of guts. You look at with his shaved melon and think, “Jeez, he looks mean.” You could not be more wrong, although you still wouldn’t call him a big girl and expect to have your same physical appearance afterwards.

After spending a day on the water with Ben and a couple of nights around the barbie and the esky, it was obvious he was just one of the boys, doing what he loves in the great outdoors. He caught some nice fish, too.

Plowing dams

The Tamworth area fish are becoming more and more active of late and most are being caught on the troll, mainly because that’s the most popular technique in the dams.

Trolling is definitely the most successful way to connect to an XOS native fish. Wayne Lennon’s Oar Gee Plow in the deep bib version is a great starting point, along with the No 1 Stump Jumper. Don’t bypass the Codgers and Custom Crafted Lumo Diver, either.

Rocky points are producing well as you bounce your lures up and over on the troll, banging the lure into the rocks as you go. Braid of 10kg to 15kg is the go for getting your lures down deep but make sure you use a leader of at least 12kg breaking strain, or better still, a Knotted Dog.

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