A month to season close
  |  First Published: May 2008

As most would probably be aware, Fisheries have introduced a zero bag limit for bass and estuary perch in rivers and estuaries between June 1 and August 31. This means that any bass or EPs caught must be released quickly and unharmed.

Remember, these fish are the breeders of future generations and anglers need to be responsible to ensure their stocks remain healthy.

If you see any illegal activity regarding these species, phone the 1800 043 536 hotline and report as much detail as you can without getting yourself into a confrontation. It might take some effort on your part but if you care about the future of your fishing, you won’t think much of the effort it takes to report those who do the wrong thing.

Despite plenty of bass anglers being frustrated in recent months with poor fishing results, there are some big bass still being caught in local waters.

Some of this year’s breeders are probably ready to spawn. While not all fish spawn each year, those that do will begin to get the urge and move into the brackish water.

It’s been suggested that while not all fish breed every year, those that do don’t make a mass exodus to the breeding grounds for a giant festival of procreation. The theory is that waves of focused breeders swim downstream over the cooler months.

At this time of year larger surface and diving lures are worth investing some time in, along with spinnerbaits and other bladed lures.

Surface lures work all year round, especially in the early morning when big bass hunt the shoreline. It’s not the most reliable time to be catching bass off the surface but the reward of pulling a bass off the surface is satisfying. My first ever bass off the surface using a fly rod was on a frosty Winter morning.

Soft plastics around 50mm to 65mm long are excellent, rigged on the lightest jig heads you can get away with to make the bottom. Work them slowly.

Suspending lures are ideal for cooler waters, especially when fish feeding activity is low, when fish comfort levels are less than ideal, when fish have been targeted heavily, during a low barometer and when water temperatures are falling.

If surface lures aren’t getting much attention, or you notice fish are having a look at your lures but are unwilling to hit, try a suspending lure worked slowly just under the surface. Crank it down to desired depth and twitch and pause the lure around structure and near weed beds. Repeated, slow twitches will often entice a strike.


Steady high pressure systems begin to become more reliable over coming months. In John Bethune’s Bethune on Bass John cites his ‘barometric law’.

Sudden falls – bad

Sudden rises – fair only

Steady medium to high, 1010HPa to 1020HPa – very good

Steady high over 1020HPa – take a sickie and go fishing

Steady low Under 1010HPa – low possibility of success.

Under 1000 HPa – stay at home and earn some brownie points

There are various theories about why fish feeding activity increases with a high or rising barometer but those that have bass in a home fish tank and a barometer in the house uniformly agree that bass activity definitely increases when the pressure is high or rising.


Surface lures work year round, especially in the early morning when big bass hunt the shoreline, but this the most reliable time of year to be catching bass off the top but it can be done and the rewards are worthwhile.

A mate once told me I leave a surface lure to sit longer than anyone he had ever fished with. I had never given it much thought but I think letting your surface lure sit for as long as possible before starting the retrieve can make all the difference.

Anything which enters the water, has the attention of those creatures below. Fish hiding between timber or peeking out from the weeds are waiting for that slight twitch of the lure which can trigger a strike.

As much as a slow retrieve is important, a super-slow retrieve can be the undoing of wary bass.

Anglers’ imagination in retrieves can be used to good effect. Don’t be afraid to be different. Do you work your surface lures the same as another angler using the same lure? What does the fish think when it sees that lure worked the same old way? Be different.


You’re fishing with a buddy who’s giving you a whipping. He can’t seem to do anything wrong and you can’t do anything right. You’re using the same lure and you’ve cottoned onto the retrieve pattern but it still doesn’t work for you. What’s happening?

There’s a chemical in your body known as serene, an amino acid. Given off through the pores in your skin, serene repels fish, which might just account for why your mate is catching more than you – some people produce more serene than others.

One way you can overcome the effect of serene is to use a lure scent. Tournament and social anglers are using scent to entice strikes from reluctant fish and to mask any unnatural smells and tastes repellent to fish. Oil on hands, cigarette smoke and bodily smells are all masked by scents and help give lures a more natural smell.

I’m not sponsored by any manufacturers, including catch scent producers, so my thoughts are completely unbiased, but I definitely feel much more confident in using them.

• Pictures forwarded to me for printing in NSWFM must be digital images of medium to high resolution (no phone camera pictures, please) or prints which will be scanned and returned.

Scott Robinson’s 54cm bass was caught on an Ecogear SX-40F on the Nepean, proving that even when smaller fish are about, there are bigger ones often lurking nearby.

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