It’s bass time again, – well, almost, anyway. Early September can be a hit-and-miss affair in the upper reaches of the Macleay but once the fish start turning up, the action can be great.
As well as this season’s spawners moving back up the rivers, the resident fish will be starting to stir with the increasing day temperatures and they’ll be looking for a feed as well.
After spawning in the brackish reaches of the rivers during Winter, the fish will be moving back up and trying to get as far as they can before settling in for the rest of the year.
This is the perfect time to concentrate on natural barriers (waterfalls, rapids or even shallow gravel bars) as it is in these places where the fish will congregate in the hope of a bit of rain to flood the river and allow further passage upstream.
A classic example of this situation is The Gorge on the Clarence River but it also happens on a smaller scale in every other river system as well. The trick is to find the fish in these spots before they give up waiting and disappear into the feeder creeks and other tributaries.
At this time the fish can be absolutely ravenous. Relatively large lures such as Mann’s 10+, Bounty Hunter Gravedigger and the original Mudeye retrieved through the heads of pools and likely holding areas in the rapids can be deadly. Spinnerbaits used in the same manner can also produce well.
Resident fish – the ones that didn’t make the spawning migration – can be a little trickier to crack at the start of the season. They seem to be a bit more temperamental when it comes to weather fluctuations and are usually still nice and fat from the previous Summer – they can afford to be picky.
Contrary to what you’d expect, I’ve often done well on these fish in the heat of the day by getting small lures or flies right back into bankside cover or down deep around the snags. Surface luring in the evening can be a hit-and-miss affair this early due to the cold nights but it’s still worth a try.
The closed season for Murray Cod starts on September 1 and these guys are now out of bounds until December 1 to allow them some breathing space to spawn. Any fish inadvertently caught should be released immediately with a minimum of stress to the fish – preferably without being removed from the water.
Despite the closed season for cod, there are still options in the western fisheries. Golden perch, in particular, start to fire up in September and can be particularly active if there is a rise in a dam level or if there is a fresh in the rivers.
Being a little more organised this year, (I can hear the paroxysms of laughter from the editorial desk already), I thought I’d give everyone ample warning that the St Kilda Fishing Club’s annual Fisherama will be held again this year over the three days of the October long weekend.
Due to its amazing success last year the catch-and-release section of the competition is going to be even bigger and better, while the usual weigh-in section is still going strong. Just remember that bag limits still apply.
People can fish as far afield as they wish, the only limitation being that you have to make it back in time each evening for the weigh-in and there are plenty of different fishing options. The weekend coincides with the start of the trout season but there are also bass in the eastern fall, redfin, and golden perch to name just a few. The only fish out of bounds are any protected species and, of course, the Murray cod which are still in their closed season.
The competition has been very well supported by local businesses with $15,000 worth of prizes. The major prize, a Quintrex boat with a 9.9hp Johnson outboard, will be decided on a secret weight, giving everyone, including the kids, an equal opportunity of walking away with the big prize.
Traditionally, the junior section of the competition always has great prizes so the organisers should be commended for their efforts to make this annual event such a great family experience.
There’s nothing better than seeing a kid’s eyes light up when they walk away with a big prize just because they went fishing!
Take your kids fishing: Brian Berry is well on his way to becoming a great angler and with Gavin as his Dad, it’s bound to be in his blood. Brian caught this nice Murray cod a Mudeye Big One.Reads: 484