The next few months are always eagerly anticipated because bass, in particular, feed ravenously in the lead-up to their trek downstream into the brackish water to spawn.
They seem to hit lures much harder than they do in the warmer months so now’s the time to take advantage as bass make pigs of themselves and feed up for their big breeding effort.
The recent heavy rains have swollen waterways and bass catches after the heavy falls have been excellent.
While most of the bass have been of average size, there have been plenty of longer fish but these have looked quite skinny. Looking more akin to anorexic bass than the fat fish we’d expect after pigging out on insects over Summer, a lot of these larger bass have been sporting horrible red sores.
Most of these fish have fallen to larger than usual poppers around 65mm, fished with plenty of patient pauses on the retrieve.
It’s a shame we can’t bring you pics of these bigger specimens because those I have seen have been taken on digital cameras set at low resolution. For pics to appear in magazines, they need to be medium to high resolution.
In sections of the Hawkesbury, the Colo and rivers and creeks downstream there are plenty of crabs along the banks, which are a sign to get excited about. Bass make short work of crabs and any dark-coloured sinking lures cast into areas holding crabs are a great choice.
Rock walls, under exposed rock shelves and muddy banks with crab holes are the types of areas you should be looking for.
Suspending lures are great should you find the bass are moody and not too keen on chasing lures.
Plenty are lures available and if you’re looking for some suspenders to add to your tackle box, you’ll find plenty to choose from in Frank Prokop’s Lure Encyclopaedia, which lists plenty of candidates. My two favourites are the Rapala Husky Jerk and Australia's own Halco Sneaky Scorpion.
Sunken timber, along edges of weed beds and in weedy pockets are excellent places to use suspending lures because any lurking bass will be tempted to poke its head out and belt a lure, sometimes over a considerable distance.
When bass are moody and sulking among the weed and timber, that suspending lure can often be too much for a fish to pass up.
Suspenders are best worked with a repeated stop/start retrieve with slow twitches. Given their near-neutral buoyancy, they can be in the strike zone for a long time.
These lures are carefully built to crank down and stay at depth by judicious weighting and choice of split rings and hooks. A loop knot is best to take maximum advantage of their finely tuned characteristics.
A metal clip may just upset the balance so that the lure sinks head down. Take a few extra minutes to tie a good loop knot and be confident that the suspending lure you choose is doing its best.
I don’t mind using bladed lures at any time for my bass fishing but there’s probably never a better time than over the next few months. With bass aggressively feeding to put on spawn condition, blades offer a number of advantages. Whether you choose a spinnerbait, Nitro Whiz Banger (a personal favourite) or Bett’s or Beetle spins, they’re very versatile.
Bladed lures can used using a variety of retrieves and speeds in all types of water. Heavily weeded areas or where thick timber don’t offer much a problem because these lures are quite snag-resistant, although they do hang up occasionally.
With a variety of sizes to choose from, they can also be fished at all depths, from the surface to the bottom.
At this time of year larger spinnerbaits with large blades worked deep should account for plenty of bass.
With a variety of blade styles and skirts or rigged plastics, the amount of vibration and visual appeal can be changed to suit the conditions. I prefer natural-coloured lures in reasonably clear water with brass blades. In discoloured water, I prefer red and black spinnerbaits with silver blades.
Slender surface lures around 65mm are excellent for where prawns are flicking about. My favourites are from Lucky Craft, especially the Bevy Pencils and Sammy 65s, which can walk the dog and flick and act erratically. If you’ve seen prawns and the way they act on the surface, then you’ll know how to make your lures dance.
Use these primarily where you find prawns, around weed and especially where there is plenty of junk floating about in eddies. Bait seeks shelter under the debris.
With so much rain about, there’s been every reason to get into the action at the swamp drains which John Bethune and Dean Hayes brought to prominence in their DVD a few years back.
While much of their swamp drain action was on a rising tide or the first of the run out, my favourite time is the start of the run out. When all that swamp water starts to recede into the main river, all those items of food head back into the river and waiting predators pounce.
Around the mouths of drains I love using soft plastics on 1/8oz jig heads worked slowly in a steady flow of water. Stay in contact with the lure and when you feel a bass tap, drop the lure back and let it take it.
Use colours that offer contrast in the muddy water. Silver is good but you can also use dark lures. One of my favourite plastics, is the pearl 3” Slider Bass Grub.
My ultimate swamp drain choice is a 3” pearl Slider on the discontinued 1/4oz Nitro Whiz Banger.
Six months or more of dragging your lures through timber and bumping them into rocks takes its toll on hooks, especially those fine-gauge trebles on smaller lures. If you’ve been using the same hooks that came with your lures, chances are that the quality of the hooks wasn’t to flash to start with.
If you haven’t been attentive to the hooks you’re reducing your chances of hooking more fish. At the very least, give them a good sharpening with a hook file or, better still, replace them with quality trebles.
My favourite lures have either come ready from the packet with quality hooks or replaced with quality Owner trebles. Remember, if you have fish pics you’d like to see on these pages, , they need to be in medium or high digital resolution. If you have pics on film, scan them at 300dpi and email them or post them to me and I’ll return them once I’ve scanned them.Reads: 1229