December is prime time for Greg Catt and me to drag out our Australis Bass kayaks and head down to local creeks or swamps for an afternoon and evening fishing for Bass.
We head off about three hours before dark and fish until about three hours after, depending how the fish are biting. I start fishing with small Feralcatt and Taylor Made diving lures, casting them into shadows, under trees and near weed beds.
When casting a diving lure, let it sit on the water for few seconds and give it a twitch to trigger any surface strikes before working it slowly back.
As the sun drops I change to a Taylor Made Surface Walker or a small fizzers and wait for a big swamp or creek bass to frighten the hell out of me with a foaming surface strike.
I start by casting my surface lure close to cover or the edge of weed or reeds and let it sit still for few seconds before working it back with a few pauses. Remember not to strike until your line tightens or you will often pull the lure away before the fish is hooked.
If I do not get any strikes with a slow retrieve I often work a surface fizzer a lot faster with more disturbance, with two or three casts over the same area. This will often draw a fish from deeper water or from cover.
Look ahead for any movement of small baitfish, shrimp flipping or insects on the water, or water bring disturbed by feeding fish.
If you see an insect fall in the water, take the time to watch it for a while. If there is a bass around, it’ll eat it. If it does, cast your lure to the spot and get ready.
All good bass anglers are in tune with what’s going on around them. It’s the little things that they pick up on that make the difference.
Most bass anglers release their fish. This is even more important in small creeks because of the limited numbers of fish that live there. Don’t fish these areas too hard or they will become harder to catch. Try to rotate by fishing different creeks.
Make sure that you take a small pack with a torch, insect repellent, water, snacks and all other tackle needs. Leave your mobile phone at home – on my last trip mine went for a swim!
This is the time when all our Summer fish should be on the bite. The pelagics in Broken Bay and Sydney Harbour should be smashing into the bait schools.
Last December Broken Bay and Pittwater had warmed up and there was bait everywhere and schools of tailor, salmon and kingfish are feeding on them. Some days we caught over 100 fish, with only enough kept for a meal or two.
It also shouldn’t be too long before the bonito and small tuna turn up. Most of the tailor and salmon have been taken on small metals, small poppers and flies.
The kingfish can be a little fussier. Most last December were caught on live squid, yellowtail and garfish. Slug-Gos cast around the marker posts, moored boats and drums also accounted for a lot of kings. Amber jacks and samson fish were also caught in good numbers.
Over the past few week the first of the kingfish have turned up in Middle Harbour with a lot being caught around The Spit on live squid and up around Sugarloaf on lures.
There have also been schools of salmon and tailor around the Harbour and near the Heads. If you find a school of fish working the top, take the time to see what direction and speed they are travelling. Don’t rush into the middle of the feeding school as often this will put the fish down for the day.
Most schools work into the wind, so position the boat upwind and wait for the fish to come to you. Often the boat will be surrounded by them.
Try to give other anglers room to move and fish. If a lot of boats are on the school, look around as quite often in the distance you will see birds flying around another school. I will often head off to the other school as too many boats around schools can make the fish gun-shy.
It can also be dangerous with all those metal lures flying through the air with a lot of anglers not knowing how to cast lure in the direction they want it to go. If you are new to casting at schools, go down to your local park or paddock and learn to cast low, fast and straight. Or go out with a guide or casting instructor and ask him to teach you.
A day on the water with someone that knows how to work and catch fish can fast-track your learning. I always spend the first 30 to 40 minutes teaching ensuring clients know how to cast before I go within sight of a school of fish. Any one interested in learning to cast or to catch these pelagics can call me on 0408 334 892.
The author in his kayak with a skinny-water bass.
Kings are on the cards this month but don’t expect them to be easy.
Working a school of fish in Middle Harbour.Reads: 439