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Think outside the square
  |  First Published: February 2003



The fishing these past few months have been nothing short of sensational by all accounts, with many anglers reporting some of their best sessions in a long time.

There’s been plenty of excitement reported in local tackle shops and in the monthly fishing club meetings. However, for every great fishing report, you can be sure that there are still plenty of people who are struggling to land any fish at all.

We’ve all had days where the fishing has been far from successful for us, despite the effort we’ve put in. Anyone who says they don’t have a bad day fishing every once in a while is fooling nobody, and it’s often hard to admit when asked that we didn’t do well.

For seasoned anglers, it’s never too hard to work out who’s telling whoppers about the number of fish they caught. It’s very hard to believe someone caught a 50cm bass when their eyes are staring at the floor as they hurriedly pack up their gear.

When things are quiet on the water, don’t be afraid to experiment. New techniques are often discovered by some bored angler who tried dabbling with a technique they dreamed up during a quiet fishing period, so be prepared to work on some different approaches

It’s also a good thing fish can’t read, because I reckon they’d go belly-up with laughter at some of the things they could read about themselves. Matthew Mott, a successful fishing guide in southern Queensland, has caught bass in his local lakes down to 90 feet, while Steve Starling has caught them around 105 feet. If guys like Matt and Steve had believed some of the scientists’ views that bass can’t survive that deep, we’d all be missing out on some great impoundment fishing.

From some of these techniques developed in southern Queensland, local bass anglers have adopted the same techniques to work in rivers, putting them onto less lure-shy, and often much larger, fish. Besides, how good is it to discover a technique that works when others would tell you it can’t or shouldn’t work?

With the main species targeted in local waters being the bass, many anglers still try the old traditional ways. Firing a lure into a snag and hoping for the best is far and away the most performed ritual on the water, and that’s just what it is. A ritual!

In his book Fabulous Bass and How to Catch Them, Dick Lewers wrote a chapter called, I’m a Bass. He encourages the reader to think like a bass. Well, for moment think like a bass on this question. If you were a bass in a piece of water that was heavily bombarded with every conceivable lure available, what would you be thinking? OK, so it sounds ridiculous.

Think in human terms then: If all the organisations that rely on donations to help those less fortunate decided to come knocking on your door on the same day of the year, what would your reaction be? You’d be looking for somewhere to escape, right? The same goes for fish.

You have only to fish water that has been heavily fished in a competition to know what happens to the action there after the event has finished. Glenbawn Dam had a number of competitions late last year and the fish went off the air for a while to recover from all the heavy attention. This is why you need to be prepared to use a variety of techniques, and with a different approach, to help you tally up a respectable score.

Deep-water snags are rarely targeted and anglers who are prepared to put in the effort are often rewarded. Mid-water weed beds are another place to try. My mate The Phantom loves to fish mid-water weed beds. He often watches people pound the bank areas for bass while he moves out into the middle of the water and uses plastics among the weeds.

Soft plastics, spinnerbaits, deep divers and a whole range of lures can be used to reach these areas, which are best found using a sounder. Fly anglers can use sinking fly lines which have been used successfully in many fishing competitions in Queensland for some years.

The little creeks that flow into the larger rivers often have good fish around them and with bass anglers bombarding the more recognised haunts, their entrances are often overlooked.

Pontoons and wharves also can hold fish and fences going into the water often have weed, logs and sticks forced against them by the current and should be targeted as well.

With so much fishing going on locally, you might be wise to think about changing your approach to your fishing. It may be frustrating learning some of the techniques you’re not confident with, but persevere. The results can certainly be worth it.

Chaotic Nepean

Mark Osborne has been fishing early mornings from an old surf ski on the Nepean near the airport at Camden. He has got among some nice bass using Kokoda Bugger Chugs and Taylor Made Surface Breakers. Seems like every man and his dog has been aboard anything that floats, so maybe a different location might be called for if you want to catch less lure-shy fish, or become better at locating less lure-shy fish in the same area.

Who said internet relationships don’t work? Dave Horvat and Dale Graham met up with some contacts they made through Fishnet and gave a section of the Nepean a thorough working over. In a session that almost delivered a fish for each cast.

Some bass up to 40cm were very co-operative and Dale was using surface flies well into the middle of the day under the shady trees. Dave’s lure attracted the unwelcome attention of a huge eel that took off at high speed. If you’ve ever been the victim of an eel, you’ll know how sad it can be to look on helplessly as your line is wrapped around that writhing body. Quite often your attempts to get your lure back leave you with about a metre less line.

In one section of deep snaggy water, the boys reported taking fish after fish with double and triple hook-ups creating chaos. All four guys reported RSI in their casting arms but are determined to make a repeat performance in their secret little stretch of water.

Hawkesbury firing

Rob Frost had a late afternoon session, predominantly using a green 1/8oz spinnerbait. One fish peeled off a substantial amount of line before well and truly snagging itself around anything likely to make life difficult for Rob. Five minutes of unravelling line and Rob managed to boat the fish before release.

There are still plenty of flathead in the river at the moment, and towards Wisemans Ferry there are still some nice mulloway.

Colo phenomenon

The Colo River is a terrific place to fish at the moment, with plenty of estuary perch and bass, but the river can turn up a host of other species as well. Flathead and tailor make short work of the many herring that are found in the Colo, while catfish, mullet, bream and mulloway can find their way onto the scorecard as well.

Local guide and fellow Fishing Monthly writer Dean Hayes, along with John Bethune, have written quite a few articles on catching estuary perch and more people have been targeting these great fish. There’s still more to be learnt about them but one thing to remember is that they tend to sit a little lower in the water column than bass. With this in mind, sinking fly lines, deep divers and soft plastics are a great way to catch them. The Colo has these on offer, so find out what you can on them and have a go at targeting them.

Fishing Show

The Fishing Show and Outdoor Expo is on at the Sydney Exhibition Centre, Darling Harbour, from March 20 to 23. I’m planning to be there for at least some of the time, so make sure you drop in at the NSW Fishing Monthly stand and say g’day. For more information on the show, visit [url=http://www.fishingshow.com.au/] If you have any news on fishing locally, please contact me at --e-mail address hidden-- or phone 0418 297 353. Locations you tell me are always generalised to maintain your favourite spots.

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1

Regular reader Rob Frost is pleased with his skinny-water bass, taken on a green 1/8oz spinnerbait, which turned him inside out.

2

No Bob the Builder books for the author’s new son, Nathan James Prott. He’s into the good stuff straight away!

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