The countdown is over
  |  First Published: September 2008

Plenty of bass anglers have been counting down to September 1, when bass can be legitimately targeted again after the first closed season for decades.

Lure hooks have been sharpened, leaders changed and reels serviced in preparation for the day and this month air and water temperatures make life more comfortable for fish and anglers.

It’s a good time to look for drop-offs, especially near big bends or large fallen trees. There’s plenty of visible timber along the Hawkesbury-Nepean and plenty beneath the surface as well.


If you really want to work the timber, there’s probably no better lure choice than a spinnerbait or Beetle Spin.

A lot of anglers choose to add a stinger hook to a spinnerbait to catch short strikers but in more snaggy areas, that extra hook increases your chance of staying fast timber. Around timber I tend to ditch the stinger hook and cut the silicone skirt a little shorter to minimise the short strikes.

I don’t use spinnerbaits in really clear water, but in water that is not entirely clear you might also thin out the skirt by removing some of the threads. A lot of silicone in a spinnerbait skirt makes the lure look bulky and might put some fish off.

Thinning them out a little gives a less confronting profile and can at times attract more strikes.

I know a lot of local anglers have gone off spinnerbaits, but when it comes to working sunken timber, there are few lures better.

Maintain contact between the spinnerbait and the structure, bumping into and deflecting off the timber. The noise of hitting timber, the change in direction and the brief change in speed can really make the difference.

Graphite rods and braided lines provide extreme sensitivity and can telegraph back to the angler exactly what is going on with the spinnerbait. Regardless of the depth of water you’re fishing, it’s really hard to go past one at this time of the year.


Another ideal choice for working the timber is a soft plastic. I really love to use a plastic when the water is clear and especially in a few months from now, when bass have seen every lure they’re likely to see this year.

There are some amazing-looking plastics out there and in clearer water, if you choose the right one, you’ll be hard pressed to make out whether it’s a small baitfish or your lure.

If you’ve been using your favourite hard-bodied surface or diving lure and getting little action, try switching to a plastic. You’ll often find that the subtle movements of a soft lure are enough to get the attention you’ve been looking for.

Go with the lightest jig heads you can get away with in the current. Think about what your plastic is meant to be representing and concentrate on what the lure is meant to be doing.


If you’ve come across some fish in deeper water, you need to get down to where the fish are. Ideal presentations are sinking flies, spinnerbaits, and lipless lures.

With soft plastics, you’ve got a host of techniques available to use, regardless of whether you’re fishing weeds, timber or deep water.

Knowing the sink rates of your flylines and soft plastics with various jig weight will really help you get to where the fish are and this will change, depending on the amount of flow.

I think sometimes it’s probably a case of anglers not being patient or not allowing their lure to get to where the fish are that results in lack of success.

As an unproductive session draws on and angler frustration grows, the mindset that results in mechanical casting probably exacerbates things. You need to slow down, concentrate on what you need to do and work out what is going to press the right buttons to get a fish attacking your lure.


Anglers are pretty good at jumping onto the latest techniques that are working for the hot shots. While it’s great fun to be using gun techniques, it always pays to be aware of your own techniques that might have fallen off the fishing radar.

It’s great to be able to fall back on strategies that could prove successful when ‘current’ techniques don’t work as well as they once did.

I bet you the best barra, bass and bream anglers are working on the next ‘new’ technique long before you read about it.


D’oh! Not that Homer! Homer Circle is a veteran US bass angler and writer who has helped shaped many an angler’s fishing ability over the years.

Reading his book over Winter, there was one technique that really got me thinking. Homer wrote about the ‘invader concept’ and while it may sound a little alien to us, it seems to have worked well for Homer.

Homer reminds us that big bass get that way by being wary. They get used to anglers who cast and move on, having worked their lures in a similar way to nearly every other angler who has fished those same waters.

Homer suggests the unimaginable by casting out the lure and letting it sit for five or 10 minutes. Can you imagine that? He suggests that 60% of the time, hits will happen within that period.

If nothing has happened after a long wait of up to 15 minutes, Homer suggests you take slack out of the line, move lure a little and keep yourself on guard.

A few nights after I read this I had a dream that I used the invader concept and after leaving the surface lure sit for ages, I got absolutely smashed by something that created an almighty wake before it hit the lure. I hope this is a sign…

Would such a technique work in Australia? If you used it and it worked, I’m sure you’d be sold but if nothing else, it goes to show that some anglers will go beyond what is considered the norm and catch fish when others are struggling.

A heavy landing is unnatural and puts fish on notice, while a soft-landing lure is much more likely to appear natural. Once the lure is on the water, some anglers who have brought the hectic pace of the world with them when they go fishing work it back too quickly.

Then there are the patient anglers who work their lures very slowly. Trying something as obscure as Homer’s invader concept might just make all the difference to your success.


I use 7’ rods for making long casts, especially along the faces of weed beds or for working weedless plastics over the tops of weed. If the water is clear, a long rod makes it easy to cast a long way back from where you expect fish to be and keeps you further away from them to reduce the risk of you crowding in on the fish and spooking them.

If you think that means the last part of your retrieve is being worked over less likely water, you can always work the lure back quicker to the boat that last bit, or remind yourself of how many times you’ve had fish smash a lure within a metre or so of the boat.

For closer work, a 5’ or 6’ rod produces more accurate casts and makes it easier to punch a lure through tight openings around overhanging vegetation rocky clefts.

• Some readers assume that because a writer mentions a product that they’re sponsored by the manufacturer and in some cases, they’d be right. Every product I’ve written about has been paid for from my own pocket but now Sports Fishing Boats Australia has kindly sponsored me and I’d like to thank them for their confidence in me.

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