Not guilty, Your Honour!
  |  First Published: May 2003

Last month I exposed myself to the mercy of readers by predicting that the coming months would be producing more aggressive and bulkier bass than during Summer.

It seems that I can breath a sigh of relief for another month as my predictions have fortunately come true. While there have been plenty of smaller sub-30cm fish landed, there have been some much bigger and angrier bass also caught. Fish in the 40cm-and-over bracket are more commonly being taken. These fish are really well developed and are providing plenty of excitement.

The days are getting cooler and the nights are getting nippy now but there are still plenty of fish falling to those who are out there giving it a go. I love fishing at this time of the year, as do a lot of others.

Bass put on a lot of extra bulk in their preparation for their spawning runs farther downstream and this means they’re in a really angry mood and anything looking like food is attacked with force.

Canoe and kayak anglers, from accounts, have been cleaning up on great numbers of fish for the past few months in the Nepean, with some excellent sizes recorded. Without giving too much away, areas from Penrith to North Richmond have been firing very well at times, while things have also been frustratingly slow at times as well.

Autumn always seems to be a transitional time for bass and this requires a little readjustment for anglers before they start to get onto fish regularly. But the rewards are well worth your effort. It may require a little more persistence when the fish are feeling sluggish, so work out what mood the fish are in by varying your retrieves until you find out what works.

Crank slowly

For bass anglers who have usually put their gear away until September and who want to try for another month or so, don’t think the way you fished during the warmer months will be the way to go now. You might want to start out with slow retrieves and then try different types of retrieves if your aren’t successful.

If you’re still out there trying for bass, I’d be concentrating around North Richmond/Windsor and downstream this month. I prefer working spinnerbaits and plastics down deep, especially in the eddies on the bends of the river. If there is a little bit of froth and rubbish accumulating in these areas, that’s even better, and any areas where there are a few submerged snags protruding into the water are a bonus.

For those fishing during the day, spinnerbaits are probably the weapon of choice at the moment, although plastics are worth a shot, too. Look for pockets of weeds and around sunken timber and work them slowly. The bigger fish are down deeper during the day and if you can get down to where they are, you should be on the money.

Small floating lures are effective cast tight against banks where overhanging branches shade the water. Shady water makes bass less wary and these areas, as well as rocky sections, have produced good numbers of bass during the middle of the day in the past month. Confident casters can flick their lure behind low, overhanging branches where bigger bass hide. Their savage strikes have created pandemonium for some anglers.

Shady banks

The western side of the river of the river is a great place to fish by mid-afternoon, as the shadows become longer earlier. The bass are a little more willing to play under these shady banks. This not only gives you a better chance of catching more fish, but increases the amount of productive fishing time you have available – and that’s what we all want.

The only news this month has been on bass. This was the same this time last year as well, and then there were all types of reports of Murray cod, jewfish, bream, flathead and estuary perch being caught. Oh well, if you don’t catch another species apart from bass in the next month or so, you won’t die of boredom. This is a great time of year to fish for them and they’ll provide plenty of excitement.

Remember that bass you catch now will have spawning on their mind, so all fish should be treated carefully and returned to the water. They’re already under pressure with commercial activities downstream, so let’s give them a fighting chance at producing more bass for the future.

The local creeks have also been creating some excitement for those who are prepared to make the effort to get into them. Often these adventures can take a physical toll on anglers, but the rewards can be well worth it.

Remember that bass will go as far as they can before being stopped by physical barriers they cannot penetrate. With that in mind, and knowing that they are on the move, now is a great time to intercept them. Expect to find some larger fish in a very aggressive state. As many of our local creeks offer tight water, these bigger fish will looking to turn you inside out, so be prepared.

In some remote places around this time of the year, I’ve had runs of a dozen fish for the same number of casts. While not all have been monsters, I have been required to scramble over rocks and logs in an attempt to land much larger fish.

On May 16 to 18, James Poolman and Andrew Cowling are promoting the Sportsfishing Tournament and Expo at Darling Harbour. If you’ve been following the ABT series around NSW and Queensland, you’ll know these guys are well-credentialed to be passing on advice about this exciting area of our sport. Keep you eyes open in the tournament section of this magazine for further details. I know these guys, and recommend that if you can get along, you won’t be disappointed.

If you’ve got any news or photo’s you can email them to me at the email address on top of this page or post them to me at P.O Box 472, Springwood, NSW 2777. All photos will be returned and all locations disguised for the protection of your favourite spots.


It's important to release bass as quickly and carefully to allow them to carry out they're spawning. This one was let go and will hopefully help produce more great fish for the future.

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