A NEW YEAR has begun, and for some anglers it will be more of the same old techniques again this year.
I’ve made some New Year fishing resolutions and I reckon you could, too. Maybe it’s a new technique or one you’ve only made half-hearted attempts to master. Perhaps it’s a location you’ve never fished. Whatever it is, it’s a great idea to have a few in mind.
If last year wasn’t particularly successful, maybe it’s time to make some changes. It’s often said that 90% of the fish are caught by just 10% of anglers. If you reckon you’re in the 90% think about how you’re going improve your fishing this year.
One way of helping you increase your success is to keep a diary of your fishing exploits. Looking back over techniques you’ve used on trips, weather conditions, tides, areas fished and other relevant information, you have a record of what did or didn’t work at various times. By doing a little fine tuning, you can enjoy more success.
Another idea is to join a fishing club and get talking with members who are only to willing to share a few of their favourite techniques. I’m a member of the Hawkesbury Nepean Bass Anglers Association and there are some great people there keen to share their knowledge. You can find out more about the association by visiting www.hnbaa.com.au
Hot, humid days can be torture on the water. At the Hawkesbury Nepean Bass Anglers Associations famous Inter Club competition last year, anglers fished in 44° heat while the surface water temperature was an amazing 28°. Many top anglers failed to pull a fish during the competition, as the fish were shut down.
If you get hot days like these, fish down deeper where the water is more comfortable temperature for the fish, or fish early mornings and late afternoons when the amount of insect life should temp fish to come to the surface.
Creek action can be really exciting this month, but these locations are not for everyone. Often the access into some creeks can be difficult and, once in there, the humidity and lack of breeze make life unpleasant for walking or paddling. With anglers out working the larger expanses of water, the creeks and streams that attract less attention can provide excitement for those prepared to fish in such oppressive conditions. Remember to take plenty of water and keep an eye out for snakes.
Surface fly-fishing action should be red-hot this month around weed beds, lily pads and snags. Successful flies are Muddler Minnows, Dahlbergs and a variety of poppers. If you’ve never tried fly-fishing, find someone who can help you learn this wonderfully successful way of catching bass. It’s not that hard, despite what some people would have you believe. Those who love fly-fishing for bass will tell you there’s nothing quite like a hit on fly to get you dancing around with excitement.
Surface lures will also be top picks this month. Personal favourites are the Heddon Torpedo range, Heddon Hula Popper, Kokoda Bugger Chug, Arbogast Jitterbug, Rebel Crickhopper, Crickpopper and Bumble Bug, and River 2 Sea Cicadas. Other favourites include Heddon’s Crazy Crawler and Dying Flutter, Taylor Made Basscada and the Halco Night Walker.
Talk among local and visiting anglers tends to be mostly about bass, the most targeted fish in the area, but there are opportunities to catch other species as well.
Tailor are sometimes caught in the Colo River around its junction with the Hawkesbury and farther downstream. Anglers flicking soft plastics and hard bodies have been surprised to have a tailor on the line, although the soft-plastics fans aren’t so keen when they see what’s left of their lures when the ‘choppers’ are finished with them. Tailor can also make short work of light line and bust off, so use a trace that appropriate to your main line.
Flathead are also about at this time of the year and soft plastics have accounted for quite a number. My brother-in-law has also hooked one on a spinnerbait flicked behind a rock for a bass.
While there’s plenty of smaller flatties around, fish around 45cm to 50cm are a possibility. While soft plastics and lures will account for flathead, Hawkesbury River prawns will be the bait of choice for those bait anglers pursuing a feed. Flathead also have the ability to cut you off, so use a leader that is likely to stand the head-shaking antics.
Aussie lures are among the best in the world and because they’re tried and tested by manufacturers who are also anglers, you can be assured they’ve been well tested on our fish before we purchase them.
Two lures I’m really enjoying at the moment are the Knol’s Small Native and the Predatek Min Min. The Small Native has been around for six months and has been as rare as hen’s teeth in the market. They’ve disappeared quickly from shops as word passed around but hopefully John Knol has been able to produce more of these great lures. I can see them being very popular once larger numbers hit the shelves.
The Predatek Min Min comes in two sizes and two depth ranges, the M40 and M40D and the M50 and M50D. The M40 dives to around 1.5 metres, the M40D to 2.1 metres, while the M50 swims at 1.5 metres and the M50D to 2.5 metres. By taking one hook off the M40, you have a lure that will be a slow floater, rather than a sinking lure. The M50s are both floating lures. There is a variety of colours available.
While soft plastics are nothing new there is still reluctance by some anglers to use them. People often don’t like to change because it feels better to stay with what they’ve been comfortable doing for years.
Soft plastics have been catching a lot of different fish for a long time but they need to be rigged properly. There’s a host of options available for rigging plastics, but the most popular rig for bass and estuary perch is to use slip a plastic on a light jig heads to give the plastic the appearance of a natural bait. This gives larger fish a longer time to view what looks a more natural target.
Think about how the fish you are targeting see smaller fish swimming in front of them. Little fish don’t disappear at a great rate of knots, but move in short jerking movements, darting around from side to side.
When required, plastics can be rigged weedless to move more effectively through aquatic growth without annoying the angler by being caught in weed. This rig means having to hide the tip of the hook within the plastic, and while this may produce difficulty in hooking smaller fish, the larger fish will have no trouble finding the hook point as they bite down on the plastic.
Rigging the hook so it’s in line with the ‘spine’ of the plastic helps the lure behave the ways it’s supposed to. With plastics that have paddle tails, the longer part of the tail should be pointing in the direction of the ground when you hold it upright. Allow a reasonable amount of tail to protrude past where the hook exits the plastic. This gives the tail a more lifelike action.
If you’ve been getting onto a few fish, let me know how you go and what you’ve found has been working well. We’d all like to learn from your success. A very general idea of the locations you’ve been fishing will be sufficient. Catch up with me at --e-mail address hidden-- or on 0418 297 353
Matt Shearim worked this bank over with hard bodies, before changing tactics and working it over again with a 1/8 Oz white Nitro Whiz Bang. His Prize, this lovely 450mm bass.
Matt Shearim bagged this lovely estuary perch of 38cm in the same area as his big bass. Never give up because you think there’s no fish about.Reads: 524