Recently a small group of mates and I had a session on Maroon bass just to see if the fish were on the job. It was as good as an excuse for a great day on the water and the trip turned out to be a bit of an eye opener. And surprise, surprise, the fly anglers out fished those using their beloved blades, jackals, ice jigs and an assortment of plastics.
Maroon Dam is near full and picture postcard pretty. Lily beds lie in sheltered bays, the weed beds are rampant along shoreline and all of this seems to be just how the fish like it. Hey, and we did too, once we worked things out!
Team Kampey found the fish were holding in gaps and bays within the more sunken weed beds after an interesting early daylight session that saw a few bass grabbing Gartside Gurglers worked around snags and features. Once the sun hit the water the activity changed smartly and it was time to exchange floating fly lines for full sink ones and tie on some Vampire patterns that bass everywhere seem to find agreeable. Why eat a shrimp or red claw crayfish when a Vampire is passing through the school? I must ask the next bass I catch.
Drifting was the secret at Maroon. We were blessed with light northwest winds and I eased the Bull Shark under electric power almost into the midst of several of the weed beds not far from the ramp. Once we were sitting over beds submerged under 3-4m of water, I allowed the breeze to carry us out into deeper water. The hits were quite amazing due to the fact that we were in shallow water with the flies were close to the boat. Keeping the flies from becoming weeded was not that hard as the gullies and channels in the weed beds were visible.
My advice is to not overlook a favourite area that has been reliable in the past, but when launching at the ramp head south along the bank while keeping just on the edge of the weed beds. The couple of well-formed bays in this area have weed beds stretching out from their points and bass have a great liking for these spots. The sounder will tell the story. Arches, blobs or lines mean bass.
I rely on a 6wt fly outfit for my Maroon bass expeditions. While the fish tend to be around the 36-42 cm mark there are larger ones and once one of the big fish gets its nose into a weed bed the 6wt fly rod will earn it’s keep. These feisty fish can be mighty hard to dislodge once weeded.
To do the job properly the fly angler really needs two fly lines. The floating outfit is used at times of reduced light for surface fishing around bank side features while the sinking line comes into its own later that, in reality, amounts to most of the day. Some backing behind the fly line is a good idea. Leaders can vary. Store bought fluorocarbon tapered leaders work fine but a lot of anglers like to use twisted leaders constructed from fluoro material. Berkely Vanish is very popular for this as it’s quite pliable and twists up readily. A tippet section of around 5kg is ideal for Maroon bass.
The fly teams cleaned up the lure flickers nicely on the recent trip and the successful flies were Vampire derivatives with red and purple as well as green and purple being favourites. Flies with red eyes, in lieu of the usual green enamel or fluorescent green ones, were also given the tick of approval by the fish. Size obviously matters at Maroon. Small flies, tied on size 1 hooks, were more successful than larger ones that work elsewhere.
Another fly fishing crew with us scored fish on Clouser Deep Minnows tied up with white bucktail under the hook (remember it rides upside down) and red sparkly Ersatz material on top. Small red enamel lead eyes were used to weight the fly.
The acceptance of red is probably related to the food chain at Maroon; there being plenty of small firetail gudgeon around the weed beds..
Fly fish Maroon for bass? You bet. For the old hand it’s a great day on the water and for the new chum a great place to get started given that the fish are not holding so deep as to make flyfishing more complicated. Just remember to work the wet fly very s-l-o-w-l-y for best results.Reads: 1346