Away from the spawners
  |  First Published: July 2010

I'm sure there are plenty of readers looking forward to warmer days and to the end of the closed season on bass and estuary perch on September 1.

If you can't wait for the end of the month, why not have a crack at some of the bass which will still be in the upper reaches of our creeks and rivers, well away from the fish which are still spawning.

In the cold water, which is still going to take a while yet to warm up, you will need to work your presentations a lot slower than in the warmer months. I use a 7' spinning rod to get long casts for soft plastics and suspending lures worked very slowly with a stop/start retrieve.

The fishes’ metabolism is a lot slower in the colder water and if you can tempt them with a slower retrieve, you've got a much great chance of catching one.

I rig plastics as lightly as I can get away with depending on the conditions and work them along the faces of weed beds and around timber.

Weed beds are often a little warmer than open water and if you've skept a close eye on your sounder’s temp gauge, you'll no doubt have noticed this.

Suspending lures have been carefully designed to ensure that once you stop the retrieve, the lure does not move up or down in the water column. At the very least, it may rise very slowly.

This will depend on water temperature and salinity, so if you want your suspending lure to truly suspend, you may need to add a little more weight.

Some anglers add some thin wire around the shafts of the trebles, while others use a small circle of stick-on lead, available from all good tackle shops.

Once you get that suspending lure down to its deepest, use twitches and subtle movements, which to an angler can seem unbearably long, to tempting to a lurking bass.

I have found that giving the lure a quick twitch gets the bass to strike, thinking that its easy meal has been spooked and is ready to scoot.

I love using suspending lures especially around weed beds. I position the boat where I can make long casts along the face of the weed, and work the lure back very slowly.


A lot of anglers will probably not get too excited about using surface lures at this time of year but it can be done. I favour big surface lures and don't worry about making lots of noise.

The secret is to work them slowly, especially in areas out of the current where eddies form, and up near the banks.

Water where there is weed or rocks can often be a degree or two warmer. If you can find these areas which allow fish to sit out of the current in warmer water, try a surface lure.

I like lures like the Heddon Hula Popper or the Kokoda Bugger Chug. The Hula Popper really makes a loud blooping noise and while the Bugger Chug is not strictly speaking a surface lure, it can be used very effectively on the surface.

The Hula Popper has a large cupped face and can be worked very slowly over a short distance to remain in the strike zone. Like soft plastics and suspending lures, work them slowly and loudly and you'll find the bass will take them.

Surface flies also work, with foam or wood poppers best with slow, short strips with a floating fly line. I've even done it in mid-Winter on dams and rivers and find it a great way to take my mind off cold hands.

Or you could always try for bream and flathead. Hawkesbury prawns are the most preferred bait for them, but tailor fillets are also successful. Try Dads Corner, the entrance of the McDonald River, Portland Straight and South Juniors.

Blackfish are still about and Wisemans Ferry and downstream is worth some attention if blackfish is your thing. Green weed is the staple bait but just to prove they're not exclusively herbivores, blackfish will also take peeled prawns.

If you have high-resolution photos of your recent captures, please feel free to email them to me.

Cold-water bass away from the spawn run need slow, patient retrieves.

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