Deep bass at Samsonvale
  |  First Published: September 2003

THIS MONTH will see the bass run at Lake Samsonvale start to slow as spring approaches. It has been an excellent winter season, with plenty of big bass caught.

While live baiting will always produce results, trolling hard-bodied lures is the most popular approach to fishing this impoundment. The difficulty is getting lures deep enough to extract big bass from the deeper holes, and one solution is the use of downriggers.


Some of the deeper lures popular with Samsonvale bass fishos are Hot Lips, Hydro Bugs and Extractors, along with Castaways, Tilsans, the RMG Poltergeist, Voodoo, Strike Zone and Sure Catch range. Darker colours, such as black and purple, seem to work best for bass in this impoundment. Olive, yellow/black, chartreuse and silvers all work on any one day.

A popular view is that larger lures produce larger fish. A consequence of selecting deep running lures is that they are generally larger bodied to accommodate the larger bibs necessary to get them down. An advantage of using a downrigger is the ability to use smaller lures at depth, and this will enable some interesting comparisons. The jury is still out on this one.


The primary intention with the downrigger is to get your lures down to the level at which the bait or fish schools are holding. This means that the if your sounder is indicating fish at 10m, the depth of the downrigger plus the running depth of the lure should add up to 10m. This could be a combination of a 5m lure on a downrigger setting of 5m, or alternatively a 2m running lure on an 8m downrigger depth setting. The downrigger thus allows us to use smaller, shallow running lures that would not otherwise get anywhere near the fish.

A further benefit of using downriggers in conjunction with lures not on a rig provides an opportunity to set up a good spread of depth and spacing on our trolled lines. Setting up the trolling pattern will be covered in a further article.


There are number of downriggers on the market, and a quick recce at your local tackle or boat shop will give the reader an idea of the possibilities. For the more inventive anglers, creating your own can be interesting and rewarding. All that is needed is a spool of light cord, such as sash cord, a weight and a clip. You can make good home-made weights with just a cast weight of 800g and an adjustable clip or an off-the-shelf sinker and a clothes peg.

To facilitate setting the depth of the rig, tie knots in the cord every metre – one knot at 1m, two at the 2m mark and so on. To secure the cord when lowered to depth, small rope cleats can be attached to your rig frame, or mounted directly on the rear transom of the boat. This will enable you to simply secure the cord when it is lowered and quickly release it for retrieval.


A critical requirement of the downrigger is the tension of the holding clip. This must be firm enough to secure the line while trolling, including occasional bottom dragging, but release when a fish takes the lure. This can be checked in the back yard, with the downrigger, rods and so forth set up on the boat, and the line set in the downrigger clip. Pull the line out from behind the boat, and test how much tension is needed to pull the line way from the clip. The downrigger weight should swing out no more than a metre from the boat before the line releases. Adjust the tension on the clip to suit the line being used.

If a different line is used on that downrig it will be necessary to adjust the clip tension to suit the new line. For example, if you switch from mono to braid of the same breaking strength you will need to increase the tension to compensate for the smaller diameter line.

Next month I’ll discuss trolling patterns and give a few tips on how to work these set-ups for maximum advantage. I would like to thank Ross Cobb of the PRFMA for providing information on this interesting topic.

Application forms for Boating Access permits for Lake Samsonvale can be obtained from your local tackle stores, or contacting the PRFMA on 0417 742 023 or at --e-mail address hidden--

1) A home-made downrigger mounted on a boat transom.

2) Two home-made downrigger weights.

3) A range of lures suitable for downrigging for bass.

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