Seeking bass targets
  |  First Published: October 2009

Everyone I see when bass fishing tends to target the fringes of the rivers or creeks.

It’s almost as if they’re in some hypnotic state and this bank fixation can continue late into the evening, after the bass start to forage in more open water.

There are stacks of other places, especially on the rivers, which are just as attractive to bass, including bridge pylons, jetties and shallow weed beds in the middle of the river.

Notable bridges along the Hawkesbury-Nepean include the one on the M4 at Penrith, those at North Richmond and Windsor and the Bridge to Nowhere near the Colo-Hawkesbury junction.

All these can produce bass, especially around the debris the pylons gather. On my Humminbird 797 side-imaging sounder I can see individual logs and other easily recognisable obstacles, as well as fish.

Boat jetties also offer lots of shade and can also attract debris and weed – plenty of places to hide and plenty of opportunities for baitfish to shelter.

n these areas I’m a big fan of soft plastics like Berkley 3” Bass Minnows or Berkley 3” Hollow Body Split Tails.
t’s easy to see why the bass fall for them – they look so lifelike.

Midstream weed beds such as those at The Terraces at North Richmond and in the Nepean Gorge at Penrith, are often overlooked. Some of the beds are massive and there arte plenty of fish hiding and feeding in these.

lenty of methods work: Spinnerbaits, lipless lures and deep divers are all good around weed beds and I also like dropshotting.

A dropshot rig entails tying a hook with a Palomar knot about 60cm above a sinker such as my own Dreamfish dropshot sinkers, which don’t require knots. I usually go for a curly-tailed grub like an Atomic 2” Fat Grub or a Berkley Gulp 2” Minnow Grub or 3” Swimming Mullet.

On my sounder I can see where my soft plastic is in relation to the bottom and the weed. This technique is about as in-their-face as you can get.

Fellow Western Sydney Bream and Bass club member Dave George won a competition held at Walkers Beach a few years ago by fishing under boat hulls at Wisemans Ferry, so there’s another place away from the bank where fish live and feed.

As it gets darker, bass can comfortably move into the shallows to feed, giving anglers more scope to fish areas rarely worked over during the day. In my kayak, I have often decided troll back to the car and you’d be surprised how many times I’ve hooked bass in the middle of the river.

Spinnerbait Comeback
pinnerbaits may not have been the first choice for a lot of anglers in the past few years but smarter ones still reach for them regularly.

I often use one as a surface lure. The Americans have a name for a technique where the spinnerbait is retrieved just below the surface, creating a surface disturbance. It’s called humping, and is particularly useful where some fish are just a little too shy to start hitting lures on the surface but can be tempted to strike lures worked just below it.

And if a, er, humped, spinnerbait doesn’t get results, you can work it slower and deeper.

How many times have you fished for bass near weed beds, confident they were there despite not being seen, and then have one suddenly appear at your lure?

At this time of year, the warmer water temperatures and high nutrient concentrations make for perfect conditions for weed growth.
pinnerbaits, lipless lures and other techniques can all be used with success in the weed.
Fly Time

Anyone using a fly rod for a bass or EP on the Hawkesbury/Nepean over the next few months could just as likely catch a flathead, bream or tailor. It’s difficult to understand why not more anglers don’t do it, as it’s one of the most exciting ways to catch fish I know of.

Some of the most successful surface flies I’ve used have been the Crickroach, STP Frogs, Bass Ants, foam and wood poppers, foam beetles and Dahlbergs.

For sub-surface flies, old favourites are the Bass Vampire, shrimp patterns and Woolly Buggers. Work these around areas where you would expect to use sub-surface lures and you’ll be in the right spots.

he best natural bass waters are often heavily overgrown and a degree of skill is required to avoid being tangled in the overhanging vegetation.
little practice at home can make all the difference.

Once you feel confident with a fly rod, catching a bass on fly (or probably any other fish for that matter) is second to none for excitement.

Walk The Dog
I mentioned last month about the ‘walk the dog’ retrieve with surface lures like the
eddon Zara Puppy and the Lucky Craft Sammy 65. Both of these lures require good rod work to get lure ‘walking’ or zigzagging all over the place. I like a long threadline rod for this to make a long cast and with the rod tip close the water, I allow a reasonable amount of slack in the line.
ith a reasonably gentle lift and drop of the rod tip, watch as the lure zigzags across the water.
ou’ve got to keep retrieving the lure slowly as you go, but keep some slack in the line, because this is what gives the lure its unique action. I find the technique works better in clear to slightly discoloured water, with a constant retrieve best at times.
ut, as always, try various retrieves until you get it right.
Where To Fish
round Penrith this month, if you’re able to fish mid-week try early morning and throughout the day before the afternoon water skiers and PWCs get active. Work over some of the areas that don’t see a lot of angling pressure, such as the bridge and some of the midstream weed beds. Target overhanging foliage that provides plenty of cover for bass, popular with small bass.
he larger models are often caught off the faces of the weed beds closer towards the middle of the river.

There are a number of big submerged rocks in this stretch where deeply worked spinnerbaits and lipless lures are effective.

The western bank is always good for shade once the sun has passed over.

North Richmond and Richmond are great for paddlers who enjoy being on these quieter waters. Tinnies and other boats with little draft can also make their way carefully up here from Windsor, being careful to avoid the timber and weed.

Weed beds and the abundant lily pads can produce some great fish, as can some of the sunken timber.

Around North Richmond especially, plenty of trees hang right out over the water, providing more bass targets.

The weed beds, lily pads and timber at
he Terraces at North Richmond provide shade all day and on a hot day this shaded area is a welcome relief.

I love working surface lures and buzzbaits along the weed beds here all day.

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