THIS is the time when bass and estuary perch start to gather in schools to move downstream to spawn and it's a good time to catch these fish in numbers – but first you have to locate them.
Every year can be different. Just because you have caught fish in an area in seasons gone by doesn't mean the fish will be there this season, but it's a good place to start. When looking for schools of bass and EPs in Autumn and early Winter, I usually start looking up around Windsor and work my way downstream until I find them. This can take a few outings to locate the area where they are gathering. I usually find quite few areas along the river that hold good numbers of fish.
I start looking for fish around drop-offs, eddies and current lines, especially when near a corner or large structure that interrupts the water flow. When you find an area that has some of these characteristics, drop your electric motor down and check your sounder for signs of fish. This is where having a good sounder can make the difference; it has to be able to separate fish from all the debris. A wide-angle transducer such as that of the Humminbird Matrix 35x is easy to use, gives me a broad view of the bottom and I have learnt from experience that when it shows me fish, that’s what they are.
If you find fish showing on your sounder, work the area over with soft plastics and hard-bodied lures. If you’re successful and you catch a few, note the time and tide and move on to the next likely spot and do the same. You'll find that different areas will hold fish on run-out and rising tides. I fish deeper for bass and perch in the colder months and have found that they hang wider than in the warmer months.
If you have never fished bass on sinking fly, this is the best time year to target the bass and perch. Just remember to fish the quiet water out of the flow and know the sink rate of line so you can count down your fly to the depth that the fish are holding. A short, sharp strip with a pause every few strips works best for me.
Rob Taylor of Taylor Made Lures has just sent me the first of his new surface fizzers, designed to catch bass and bream. I’ve cast them into my swimming pool and they work great. I can't wait to cast them at few bass and I'll let you know how they go next issue – if they're half as good as the rest of his range are, if so they'll be awesome.
Over the past 18 months I've been using Secret Creek spinnerbaits and spin jigs to catch bass, estuary perch, salmon, kings and the odd bonito. These have been designed, tested and made by the Newcastle Knights’ Ben Kennedy and are now in selected stores. They come in six weights from 1/16oz to 5/8oz and 10 colours. Every lure is hand-tuned and constructed from the quality components. For more info visit www.secretcreek.com.au.
Mick Munn, of East Coast Flies and Lures has made a new saltwater pelagic jig. We've been catching bonito, kings and salmon on them and the Australian Bass Angler at Penrith and the Compleat Angler in the city have them in stock.
Airflo have released a new fly line, the Forty Plus Extreme Distance Line. As the name suggests, it's designed to cast maximum distances with minimal effort. I've had one for six months and it has impressed me. I have found them easy to cast and even new anglers can handle them with a little instruction. I have ordered a couple more and I think they're the best shooting head on the market. You can grab these babies at Compleat Angler stores, The Australian Bass Angler and Gowings in Sydney.
The saltwater pelagics can also start to hang deeper this time of the year so it pays to fish deeper. I've been using some of Shipton Trading’s Zip Lock Booms to troll live baits, dead baits, diving lures and Slug-Go soft stickbaits down deep and have been surprised by the number of fish, including kings salmon, bonito and tailor, that I’ve been hooking when using the boom.
I use them in conjunction with a conventional spread of trolling lures. I usually run two Rapala CD9s and a Slug-Go or popper run a long way back .The boom allows me to run an extra lure in the middle down deep. I drop it down next to the sounder transducer and watch it on the sounder to the depth that I want. You can change the angle that the line goes down by adding a heaver snapper lead, which is held on by a snap. The amount of drop-back from the boom is also adjustable. Most good tackle shops have them and you can check how they work and how to use them at www.shiptontrading.com.au.
• Anyone wanting to learn more about sportfishing for Sydney’s kingfish, bonito ,salmon, tailor, bass and estuary perch can now come to one of my on-the-water fishing schools. Book early as numbers are limited.
Lure maker Greg Catt caught this 43cm bass by jigging in deep water. Bass and EPs tend to hang deeper as the water cools.
Peter Jack and son Andrew enjoy an outing on Sydney Harbour kingfish.
Mick Munn’s new saltwater kingfish jigs have plenty of flash and flutter.
Find the bait when it’s working deep and you’re in with a chance.