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Season of the big hit
  |  First Published: February 2004



THERE ARE GOING to be some big hits this month and I’m not predicting the songs most likely to make the Top Forty. From the stories doing the rounds of the tackle shops, fishing clubs and boat ramps, this seems to have been the time of year for big bust-offs and straightened trebles

Whether they’re fishing from the bank, a canoe or a boat, weeds can be seen as a problem for anglers. While weed may cause us some headaches, bass love them. Weed beds are the equivalent of a five-star hotel for bass, offering comfortable shade, protection and food within easy reach. Big bass are often pulled from the weed beds and there are a variety of ways to extract them.

First thing to remember is your lure, plastic or fly is meant to represent a living creature, so try to make it perform like one. One thing that is common among those working surface lures is to let the lure sit before making any kind of retrieve. Depending on the mood of the fish, you may not have to wait at all, but anglers seem to have their own thoughts on deciding when to start working the lure. Some wait until the ripples caused by the lure have gone, while others don’t wait that long. Others wait until well after the ripples have subsided.

Exercising patience when you work the surface is sometimes the hardest thing to do well. Popular surface lures in my tackle box are the Heddon Torpedo, Kokoda Bugger Chug, Rebel Crickpopper and the River 2 Sea Buggi. There are many surface lures to choose from and everyone has their favourites, so get talking to other anglers and see what they have in their tackle boxes.

Using a lightly weighted plastic on spinning gear is easy. Work it slowly in, over and around weed and when the plastic is taken, it’s the usual mayhem. A heavily rigged plastic might work more water faster than a lightly weighted one, but a plastic that looks and performs like the natural food of bass is more likely to attract furious attention.

Fly-rodders can have great success among the weeds, especially where hard-bodied lures have thrashed the water to death. In the early morning and late afternoon, darker poppers with long feathers add noise and enticing movement. Natural-looking flies like Muddler Minnows replicate the subtle movements of the prey bass feed on. A fly landing softly on the water and worked in the same fashion as an insect trapped on the water and kicking about trying to become airborne again is often too much for a bass to resist. Sinking flies during the other times of the day are excellent fun as well.

Floating diving lures can be effective and can be worked along the face of the weed beds by trolling or by casting. Trolling doesn’t seem to be the preferred method of diehard bass anglers, but it can get you some runs on the board if things are quiet.

Working a floating lure is useful if you want to work a variety of depths. A slow-floating lure tweaked properly keeps in the zone long enough to hopefully tempt the fish to strike. In clear water this can be a disadvantage, as the fish has the opportunity to inspect the lure long enough to see that it’s a fake. Lures I love to use are Knol’s Natives, the old Storm Wee Warts and Predatek MinMins, but these are by no means the only lures I use.

DON’T BE CONTENT

Last month I urged you to not remain satisfied with your old fishing methods and smart anglers are conducting all types of experiments with great results. It’s often the case that those willing to learn more techniques and experiment more are the ones who have more tricks up their sleeve and catch more fish. It might be a variation of an old technique or applying some lessons learnt chasing impoundment bass, but it pays to experiment.

One interesting tactic is one that is often used on impoundment bass. There are some deep holes, around five to six metres, in the upper reaches of the Nepean and they are easily located on a sounder. Canny anglers are using the nearest tree to secure the boat and jigging lipless lures like Rattlin’ Spots to take some big bass in water that has seldom seen a lure.

Working weed beds in the centre of the river as the sun gets higher is a technique growing in popularity and producing great results. Spinnerbaits, soft plastics, hardbodies and deep flies all work well, but plastics and flies would probably be the most successful.

If the water is clear, fish will often be easily spooked and may be a little more reluctant to move too far from the safety of their lairs. Work natural-coloured lures a little faster than normal.

SICK OF BASS TALK?

Carp continue to bring excitement to land-based anglers and there’s no shortage of pulling power from these fish. Some anglers go as light as 3kg line to really test their skills and if you’re keen to try, don’t be surprised if there’s a good 20 or 30- minute tussle in store with the big ones.

Baits on the bottom or under a float are the way to go, with popular selections being corn, bread and cheese. However, carp will dine on a variety of baits.

Favourite spots are Pughs Lagoon at Richmond, Yarramundi and Werrington Lake but these feral fish are pretty much everywhere. By law, they mustn’t be returned to the water, as they are the scourge of native freshwater fish and create a number of environmental problems.

Another exciting species to target is mullet. On light line these silver bullets can turn you inside out and are a lot of fun for the kids.

Best found around weed beds, they are usually caught using bread or dough under a float or floated out unweighted. If you plan to make up some dough, mix flour and water with some cotton wool until it becomes nice and firm, like kids play dough. The cotton wool helps it stay on the hook longer.

Toss a little bread in the water to berley the mullet around and hang on. These fish are easily spooked at the best of times, so keep your movements to a minimum and if you have to move, do it slowly. Use as light a light as you dare.

We’ve had some great pics in the past few months to show you. If you have any pics of fish no, matter what species they are, that you want to share with readers, contact me at --e-mail address hidden-- or phone 0418 297 353 and we’ll get them into the magazine for you.

Robert Petty caught this nice 405mm bass in weeds in around a metre of water on a popper. It was caught in an area that many anglers had overlooked.

This is a great time to take the kids out fishing. Timothy Cumming caught this Nepean bass on Dad’s favourite black Rebel Crickhopper. It's important to teach kids the importance of catch-and-release fishing.

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