Despite being in the middle of a closed season on bass and estuary perch – you must not have any in possession July 1 and August 31 – there is still some good fishing.
Some readers will have various reasons for not chasing bass and EPs at this time of the year, such as allowing the fish to breed in peace, but there are others who say it’s not worth the effort because they are more difficult to catch as well.
That’s often the case but the fish have to eat, it’s up to anglers to work out ways of performing what may seem impossible.
Not all bass are believed to spawn every year, and those that do move into the brackish waters in a series of waves. One theory for this, is that if there is any environmental changes which affect the spawning of bass, there are other bass that have either spawned before or after the environmental change.
So there will still be some bass in areas you fished in the warmer months. Remember that their metabolism slows in the cooler water and it may take some coaxing to entice them to take a lure or fly.
This often means working your offering really super-slowly. The bottom line is to let the fish show you what they want.
Andrew Crosweller from Trollcraft has been using some of his surface lures and leaving them still for up to 30 seconds before getting strikes and hook-ups. It goes to show that you don’t have to go without surface bass action in Winter.
Catching bass on surface fly in winter can be another slow process but worthwhile. I caught my first on fly with a surface popper in late June 2001 on my fifth cast. Once you catch one on fly, I’d be very surprised if you didn’t want to catch more.
Suspending lures are also proven cold-water performers. Remember neutrally-buoyant lures can be affected by things such as water temperature, so may be neutrally buoyant one day may not be the same next time you use it.
Crank the lure down to its working depth and slowly twitch it regularly to entice a strike, ensuring plenty of pauses. See how long you can stand it before you twitch. This keeps your suspending lure in front of the fish longer.
Weed beds are favourite spots for suspenders because the weed can retain a little warmth and the fish know it. In dirtier water I go for fluoro or darker colours and in clearer water like more natural or predominantly clear colours.
When the water is dirty, dark, the barometer is low and the water cold, rattling lures might attract fish.
If you find the suspending lure gets some attention but no hook-up, a small, quick flick of the rod tip can get a reaction bite. Or you can add some scent to the lure.
Another Winter tactic is to work soft plastics like a small curly-tailed grubs in and around weed.
If you get weed on your hook, your lure is where the fish will be. If it begins to bother you clearing the hook, you can rig the plastic so the point of the hook is ever so slightly beneath the plastic. Try pushing just the point of the hook right through the plastic and out, then just in again.
The other option is to use a worm hook and rig weedless, but take the time to make sure that the plastic is sitting snug along the point of the hook and the start of the hook bend.
You’ll definitely snag less weed than on a fully exposed hook and you should find pinning the fish easier than keeping the hook just under the skin of the plastic as the plastic collapses under the weight of the fish and exposes the point of the hook.
Readers often go to extraordinary lengths to find unfished water, researching for hours over yellowed pages of old bass articles or books, or to try to prise scraps of information from veterans who may let their guard down.
Google Earth allows anglers to zoom in to somewhere that might reveal that rare honey hole.
Sometimes it’s then a matter of politely asking a property owner for permission to access a creek – and respecting their decision if they say no.
Whatever way you find that secret hole, it becomes a hallowed and protected patch. If the weather is to lousy to go fishing, why not set aside time to plan to explore for new water?
|On a recent trip on the Nepean River near Richmond, Craig Stockton got stuck into some good mullet and||was surprised with an 800g silver perch. In 1989 Craig caught a 3kg silver, so that’s two in 30 years of fishing the Hawkesbury-Nepean.|