The fishing is nothing short of sensational at this time of the year but some anglers just don’t seem to get the same rewards.
Most of the popular fishing spots have been heavily targeted over the past few months and this can make for some tough fishing at times. All the new snags that eager anglers located earlier over late Winter and early Spring have seen every possible lure combination as anglers blitz them.
Presentations that have been very successful at catching fish may not always work as bass learn what is coming at them and how it behaves. Be prepared to experiment.
It’s also useful to work areas that other anglers haven’t thought to fish, places that don’t get targeted very often.
While excessive attention is paid to bankside structure, little effort or thought is given to targeting less obvious targets. I notice that bridge pylons, some obvious weed beds and other bass-holding areas seem to escape much attention in the places where I fish, as anglers tend to head upstream in search of quieter bass water.
I remember John Bethune telling a story of leaving a vital part of his boat at home which wouldn’t allow him to start it without it and then showing a photo of an absolute stonker of a bass caught within sight of the boat ramp at Penrith. He had only his electric to move about and pulled a fish any of us would be proud of.
There are sections of water that don’t get worked in even the most popular rivers so give it a go and see if you can’t do better than the average punter.
For non-anglers, watching someone practising casting in the backyard must be a bit of a novelty. You might have to put up with a bit of neighbourly taunts and laughter but accurate casting increases your chances of catching a bass. If you’ve spent time with fishing mates who can cast accurately and compared them with those who can’t, you’ll have noticed a difference.
An old ice-cream container or something similar is perfect for a target and you can flick a casting plug from various distances using different casting techniques. For spinning reels there’s the pendulum cast and the bow-and-arrow cast, while with a baitcaster you can practise pitching, side casts, backhand and underhand shots.
Some of these are not as consistently accurate as others but, with practice, accuracy can be improved. Fifteen minutes a day will make a big difference to your accuracy.
Placing a lure accurately can make all the difference when fish are not prepared to move to far to take a lure. Put it on their nose on days like those and your percentages climb.
Surface lures are the obvious choice for catching bass in the early morning and late afternoon but they can still work throughout the day if you are selective where you cast your lure.
Likely areas to cast for daytime surface bass include well-shaded areas under trees, pockets of dark water which have rocks or trees on either side, under rock shelves and in the shadows of cliffs.
A lot has been written about how soon you should start the retrieve of a surface lure after it has been cast. The most-talked-about method is to start the retrieve once the splashdown ripples have ceased, while others count to 10 or more.
Fishing buddy Dave Horvat once described me as the most patient surface caster he had seen. He’d never seen a surface lure sit for so long.
Experience has shown that sometimes waiting for the ripples to stop or counting to 10 or more is simply not enough – if there’s a bass around where your lure has landed, you can bet they’ve noticed it. If they’re not in the mood to eat it, the lure now represents an intruder or an easy meal. Leave it there long enough and a strike will often follow.
Taylor Made Fizz Bangers are slim-profile surface fizzers that land quietly on the water and imitates fleeing prawns or baitfish well. Rebel Crickhopper Poppers and their cousins, the Crickhoppers, are also very successful. River 2 Sea Buggis and Kokoda Bugger Chugs are also firm favourites.
There are others that perform well but if you have a few of these in your tackle collection you should be happy with the results.
Many people know that catching bass on the fly is my favourite way. There’s nothing like seeing that fly rod buckle over and the line stretch. Fly fishing is not that difficult. Those long casts made by trout anglers are not necessary for bass.
Fly fishos should be looking at poppers and other surface flies this month. Early morning and late afternoon fly action is perfect for bass feeding on the abundant insect life.
There have been plenty of jewfish around Wisemans Ferry, the Macdonald River and Webbs Creek, with tailor or mullet being great baits, especially if the bait is scaled to give off more scent. Fish them on the bottom near river mouths and in holes and gutters and you’re in with a chance. The mouth of the Colo also has jewfish at times.
Tailor have been caught in the Wisemans Ferry area, often shredding soft plastics meant for other species. Bream have also been on the cards, and make for a welcome by catch if your looking for bass or EPs.
Live Hawkesbury prawns are one of the best baits for bream but they’ll also take dead prawns, along with hard bodied lures, soft plastics, chicken gut and steak. Bream at times can be caught from Windsor all the way to Broken Bay.
If you want to increase your chance of catching some local bream, Rosevale, Macdonald River, Webbs Creek, Walkers Beach, and Lower Half Moon should all be worth trying. Ponderosa Corner – the next bend down from Dargle – has an array of weed beds, rocky shore and sandy bottom and is best for bream on a falling tide.
Some readers though may not have the finances for a boat or the place to store one and a kayak or canoe may well be the answer. They are inexpensive, store easily and can access water too skinny for power boats. Go to www.ausbass.com.au and read some of the fantastic canoe stories there.
There are some magnificent stretches of water available to paddlers, such as sections of the Nepean, the Colo and many of the quieter creeks and swamps of western Sydney. Many of these places are only accessible on foot or by canoe and are simply breathtaking for their beauty and sensational fishing. Try it!
I received sad news recently of Greg Mole succumbing to cancer. Greg was a keen Fishing Monthly reader who loved his fishing and loved sharing the experience with others. I never had the experience of fishing with Greg, but his passion for fishing would rival any of us. He will be sadly missed and our sympathies go to his family and many friends.
This 36cm bass fell to a 1/4oz pearl Nitro Whiz Banger cast around a submerged rock face with weeds on either side, a perfect ambush point. A much larger bass took a look at the same lure but despite many casts using different methods, was too wary to be taken in the clear water.
The late Greg Mole took this lovely 39cm bass which absolutely smashed a Jitterbug in the Nepean.Reads: 498