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Fish getting lure-shy
  |  First Published: December 2007



The bass are going absolutely nuts at the moment and the number of anglers on the water confirms that people have been getting the message loud and clear.

Bass seem to be hitting lures with much more aggression and fighting well above their size, which is what they are famous for. With the holiday season with us and the numbers of anglers targeting them over the past few months, don’t be surprised if the numbers don’t decline in the next few months.

When this happens, thinking anglers know it’s not going to be a case of casting a lure and catching a fish – it will take some thought.

Some of the ways I’ve suggested in the past to catch shy bass include starting out earlier than everyone else, using smaller lures, downsizing leaders, quick presentations for bass to make snap decisions, and accurate casting.

You can also vary your retrieve style. If you’re casting and retrieving like everyone else on the water, the have seen it all before. Just one change of any of these can turn things around for you.

The Macdonald River and Webbs Creek have been producing good numbers of fish, especially off the surface in the early of the morning and late afternoon.

These areas are very close to each other, just a short run in a boat, and see a lot less angler activity than other waters. The spectacular scenery is a bonus and when the bass get active it’s action aplenty.

Other species caught there fairly regularly include estuary perch, flathead and bream, all of which will attack a bass lure.

The Colo has proven a little fickle at times, probably because the nearby Hawkesbury has seen various recent fishing events and plenty of recreational water users so those seeking some tranquillity have given the Colo fish a heavy workout.

This month the water seems a magnet for people who swim, fish and just get out and enjoy themselves. Boat ramps are often chaotic so the quieter waters are cherished.

For those in kayaks and canoes, there are plenty of options. The upper Nepean above Penrith and the area below Penrith weir offer relative solitude and picturesque surroundings.

The are also plenty of creeks further downstream on the Hawkesbury that give paddlers access to some very good bass water. With a number of public reserves and easy road access, there’s a lot of productive water to be explored and enjoyed. Any street directory will show these locations with Ebenezer, Sackville, Colo and others offering access to quieter waters.

For those who enjoy fishing on foot, there’s plenty of choice with the creeks and rivers that flow into the Hawkesbury/Nepean system. Often surrounded by high sandstone cliffs, these places can be incredibly hot and energy-sapping with high temperatures and little if any wind to provide relief.

With the added hazard of snakes, which are about in good numbers at the moment, you need to assess the risks and consider your fitness. If you think you can pass muster, the fishing can be sensational.

OTHER FAVOURITES

A favourite species in the warmer months is the often overlooked mullet. There are loads about, especially around stony rapids or weedy shallows. Mullet are very easily spooked at the best of times but when the skies are clear, it pays to be extra quiet approaching areas that hold cautious mullet.

While bread is the most common bait, followed by a dough of flour, water and cotton wool, but mullet will take a peeled prawn or garden worm. Use a No 8 to No 12 hook. If the water is deep use a pencil float and in shallows flick out an unweighted bait.

For fly anglers mullet offer plenty of excitement. Small bread flies floated out among a little berley attract action, as do small black flies.

Another worthy opponent is the notorious carp. Introduced in 1876, they have gone on to cause great harm to native fisheries and churn up the bottom of waterways and damage aquatic plants.

The best ways to target these pests is to use around 4kg line and baits of worms, maggots, grubs, bread, corn kernels dough, cheese or ham on a No 1 to 1/0 hook rigged under a small float. Ensure your knots are tied well because these fish grow to 4kg and more.

I doubt there’s any water in western Sydney that doesn’t hold carp and many spots can be easily accessed. Yarramundi, the publicly accessible lagoons in the Hawkesbury district, Wallacia and around Camden and Narellan all offer top places to take on carp.

While there are recipes out there for carp, they’ll never cross my plate but they make great compost.

GETTING STARTED

It’s important to start off with equipment that will make catching BASS enjoyable from the outset. Here are some ideas for those new to bass fishing.

A 5’6” to 6’6” spinning rod rated at 2kg to 4kg with 4lb to 6lb braid and 6lb to 8lb leader is a good starting point, with a shorter rod better for accurate casts and a longer rod for longer casts.

The knots needed to secure braid to the monofilament leader are tied differently than if you were joining two pieces of nylon line. Generally speaking, braided lines need twice the number of turns than monofilament line. There are plenty of good books around that will help you with the best by Dick Lewers and Geoff Wilson.

Lure choices are endless and while the initial purchases can be a bit of a gamble, you’ll find lures which will work well for you and you’ll gain confidence in them. Internet sites such as ausbass.com.au and wsbb.com.au can be useful places to visit for guidance.

My suggestions for diving lures include Halco Sneaky Scorpions and Scorpions, Taylor Made Baby Nuggets, Predatek Minn Minns, Jackall Chubby 38s and Rapala HJ6s. Halco, Taylor Made and Predatek are Australian-made lures that catch a lot of fish and are well-priced. You tend to lose a few lures when you start out which makes the Aussie lures an economical choice.

Soft plastics tend to be a specialised form of fishing and require a change to the way we fish compared with other lures. Berkley 2” and 3” Minnows, 3” Slider Bass Bugs and Squidgy Bugs are soft plastics I use a lot and are a good start.

Surface lures can work at any time of day but are most effective at dawn and dusk. Taylor Made Fat Bangers and Fizz Bangers and East Coast Lures are Aussie-made and are excellent price-wise and at catching fish. Other surface lures include River 2 Sea Buggis, Daiwa Cicadas, Daiwa Cicada Pencils, Heddon Tiny and Teeny Torpedoes and Rebel Crickhopper Poppers.

Bladed lures like spinnerbaits, Bett’s Spins and Nitro Whiz Bangers from 1/8oz to 3/8oz have their followers and are proven fish-takers.

Lipless lures are valuable additions to the tackle box for beginners. Kokoda G-Vibes and River 2 Sea Phantoms and Baby vibes are much cheaper than the exotic and iconic Jackall TN50 and TN60, Daiwa TD Pros, and Ecogear VT55s.

That’s a very basic introduction. There are plenty of other options but that’s a good balance to get you started.

WEED ALERT

This is when some exotic weeds can grow out of control become a real nuisance. At the time of writing the weed barrier at The Terraces was no longer there and the barrier well up in The Gorge at Penrith has been damaged.

If you see any of the dreaded weed beginning to appear, contact your local council or the EPA and let them know. We don’t want to see it getting out of control again.

The author with a 365mm bass caught off a shady part of the surface in the early afternoon on a popper.

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