Articles

Bassin's a Buzz!!!!!

ImageRipping spinnerbait through the shallows is often a great way to cash in when the light is low.Image

Tim Morgan's breath condensed in the dawn chill as he explained to me the technique. With a snap of the wrist, the lure traced a low trajectory and skidded to a halt in some recently flooded grass, but before it had time to sink the few inches to the bottom, the line was tight and the spinnerbait traced an immediate line back towards the silently moving boat in the dawn shadows.

Another whoosh of the rod and the threadline delivered the same presentation twenty feet further along the bank. Nudging lily stems and weeds aside, the spinning blades' wake dimpled the surface in a line mirroring the lure's track through the underwater vegetation, finally breaking free into a clear pocket of water.

"Sometimes the very instant the lure clears the weeds, it's nailed," Tim explained after the tandem 1/4 oz gold bladed lure negotiated the danger zone unmolested, "and other times it gets smashed the moment it splashes down."

Judging by the speed at which he was covering the bank, it seems as though Tim was having as many rolls of the dice as possible. He was showing the fast retrieve to the most fish possible in this prime time and seeking the most active of fish.Image

Image"When the sun's off the water, bass will hold in shallow water, often only a foot deep," he continued, "especially when waters in a dam are rising."

As if illustrating the point, Tim's spinnerbait disappeared in a rolling boil on the very next cast. The drag protested briefly before the fish buried him in the thick Elodea weed. Using the MinnKota to chomp his way into the weed, Tim grabbed the shock leader and pulled the fish free. At 38 centimetres, it was a run-of-the-mill Maroon Dam fish and was quickly released into the livewell.
"Half way to a limit," Tim smiled.
Judging by this early success, the other half wasn't too far away.

BUZZIN' TACKLE
Although fast-retrieve baitcasters are suitable for this style of bassing, Tim prefers a high-speed threadline coupled with a rod that's easily used one-handed.

On this occasion, it was a Quantum Energy threadline with a 5.8:1 gear ratio, spooled with 6lb fused GSP and a medium action Browning 6' rod to match. The terminal end was simple, with a short double attached to a 12lb fluorocarbon shock leader with a modified Albright.
Tim prefers a tandem blade setup to a single- or double-Colorado.
"The tandem can be ripped a little faster than the double-Colorado, and it doesn't blow out of the water as easily. In clear water like this, that's a bonus. I want instinctive strikes," he says.
Scanning the shallows, I notice the bottom, six feet down, is quite visible.
"In dirtier water I'd use something more noisy, and I'd slow down the retrieve a bit to let them find it."

HORSES FOR COURSES
Although it takes only a couple of minutes to land the other half of the limit, Tim admits that the technique's not always a winner.
"I stuck to this technique in the 1999 BASS Grand Final and it let me down," Tim admits, "and I now realise that while buzzing spinnerbaits brains bass when the water's rising, a stable water level wasn't the right place to be buzzing..... But that's bass fishing."
"Buzzing can work well whenever the sun is off the water and the bass are hanging shallow. Obviously, dawn and dusk are prime times."
What are Tim's favourite spinnerbaits for buzzing? Bassman's and Kokodas from 1/8oz to 1/2oz with shiny blades.

Fizzing good time!!!

Fizzing Good Time !

YOU caught what on a surface lure?? That was Mark's reaction when I told him that I'd just spent a day nailing bream on surface lures!

Bream on lures, especially soft plastics, are the flavour of the month, with a growing number of anglers targeting them.

These fish are prolific in our local waterways, and more than willing to take a variety of artificials. Surface fishing in Winter is generally a non-event, but in Summer the rise in water temperatures increases the activity of the bream, making them eager to take surface offerings.

WHEN
Terrestrial and aquatic life increases during Summer, so it's only logical that this period is the best time for surface fishing. The best times are those rolling days of hot weather - the kind that see the cicadas carrying on with their deafening drumming.

During these times the fishing can be sensational, and casting lures and making presentations under low-lying branches and overhanging foliage is the way to go. This is where the bream will be sitting, waiting for those noisy little critters to fall in. When you make casts into these and other likely spots you can expect multiple fish to sip away at your lure, trying to pluck it from the surface. It can as entertaining as it is frustrating, waiting for one of the fish to finally get hold of the wriggling intruder and scoot off with it.

Of course, temperature isn't the only influencing factor when it comes to bream. Their breeding, feeding and reproductive cycle also affect their catchablity on the surface. During Winter they're more inclined to be down towards the mouth of rivers and estuaries, feeding on more demersal and aquatic creatures. In Spring they make their way back upriver and broaden their diet to include creatures that fall from above.

WHERE
On those cicada-filled days, the fish can be packed up under the mangrove fringes and overhanging trees ? the real hot spots! Other good locations include fallen timber, bridge pylons and pontoons? spots where you'd throw your more conventional bibbed and soft plastic lures. The secret to fishing these features is to go when there's minimal water traffic and noise. If there's too much activity the bream hold deeper rather than sit close to the surface, waiting for a fizzer to come zipping past. Morning periods are the pick. Later in the day you have to be a bit more selective when choosing a location.

This is the time when those sneaky little creeks ? the ones that can only be traversed by canoe ? come into their own. These creeks are perfect for an all-day surface fishing session. These peaceful little bodies of water have plenty of bankside vegetation and ample shade, and they can fish well all day long. Many of them rarely see anglers and even more rarely see boats and outboards. This results in the fish being higher in the water column and more willing to take something of the surface.

I look for two things when deciding where I'm going to throw my lure: shade and shallow water. Mix in structure here, and you're putting yourself in a position to catch a bream. If I had a choice between a snag in a fair bit of current and a small shaded pocket with half to a foot of water, I'd take the shaded pocket. This isn't a hard and fast rule though (the only rule in fishing is that there are no rules!).

While I've never tried chasing them at night on surface lures, I'm very keen to give it a go - especially around the oyster leases. On those hot, still nights when the sweat rolls off your forehead, fishing these places would be a certain recipe for fun. And also for a few lure losses! Imagine the damage that could be done fishing around leases like those you see in Breamin 1.

TACKLE
The types of gear suitable for bream spinning has been given a lot of coverage in magazines, bulletin boards and websites, particularly where soft plastics are concerned, so I won't go into too much detail. A 2kg spin rod, preferably graphite and around 6?6? in length is perfect for this task. Heartland Xs, Zs, Procasters, and Steve Starling Stellas are some of the popular choices at the moment. Daiwas and Shimanos are good buys when it comes to reels.

The standout line of choice is gelspun. 4lb fluoro Fireline is good, as well as being very popular. This line is easy to see, easy to work with and lets you cast lures that much further. When Albrighting some quality leader material to this, I prefer 6-12lb Berkley Vanish. The choice up to you, but don't use anything too heavy. If you do, the delivery, presentation and movement of your lure will suffer, which won't help your chances of catching fish.

LURES
There are fewer surface lures suitable for catching bream than the number of suitable diving lures. Editor Steve Morgan once wrote that when you're selecting a lure for bream, you want something roughly half the size of your little finger. This is spot on, and the surface lures that I favour are in this size category.

At the top of my list is the diminutive Heddon Teeny Torpedo, with the Rebel Teeny Pop R, Crickhopper Popper and Zara Pooch coming in close behind. All of these are small in profile but they differ in action and the level of disturbance they make (of course, how aggressively your work them also influences their movement).

Bream take surface lures with varying levels of aggression, and this is why it's important to have lures that behave differently. At times the fish may dash straight out and belt a vigorously worked popper, while at other times it takes all the finesse you can find to delicately manipulate a small stick bait that'll have a bream hover beneath it, pondering whether to rise up and take a nip at its tail. One lure that relies on the fishes? mood is the Kokoda Bugger Chug, because it's a replica of a cicada. This lure is dynamite when these loud insects are in abundance.

TECHNIQUE
How you work the lures depends on the behaviour of the fish but, as a general rule, keep it slow. Bream are not like bass and trevally, and they won't chase lures at high speed. Work your lure slowly, with short movements and ample pauses in between. This gives the bream time to move in and pluck the lure from the surface. You can't do the retrieve too slow, and attempting to strike or set the hook too soon will see you pull it from the fish's mouth. Wait until the lure has disappeared from the surface and there is pressure on the rod and drag is singing. A lot of fish won't stay connected even when you do the right thing, so try to resist the urge to strike at the fish as soon as it hits the lure.

When surface luring for bream, it's very important to have sharp hooks. I usually use a single chemically-sharpened no. 10 or 12 hook fitted to the tail, replacing it many times during a session. Hooks can get blunt easily, and getting one to penetrate and hold in the mouth of bream is difficult enough at the best of times. Be pedantic, and regularly change them.

GIVING IT A GO
Surface luring for bream is highly visual and very addictive, and it's also a relatively cheap and easy way to catch these fish. So if you're looking for a new challenge or just want to get away to a quiet little backwater somewhere, give it a go. You'll love it

Bream on Fly Poppers

EARLY DAYS

Our fly rod breaming started quite a few years ago at Jumpinpin. Initially we would berley with stale bread and hope to catch a few fish using bread imitation flies.

We tied some cunning flies, using two shades of deer hair to make the semi-floating flies with the darker shades simulating crust on the 'bread', but fishing was always hard. The bream would chop at the bread in awe-inspiring style but those fish were hard to fool.

THE BREAK THROUGH

Then came a discovery. Fishing up at Coochin Creek for bass and tarpon not long ago we discovered that the usual box of wet flies we'd some to rely upon for bass and tarpon had been left behind.

The only flies remaining in the boat were popper style flies, and working these around the snags revealed that not only did we interest bass and tarpon (in Coochin's lower reaches) but bream as well. In fact, it came as a bit of a surprise to notice that bream seemed more interested on the poppers than the targeted bass and tarpon.

CLUES ON POPPER FLIES

Since our discovery we've tried various configurations of popper flies, and it seems that bream are not at all choosy about the style of fly used.

We started with some very neat jobs - heads of turned balsa or tiny corks (chemist shop items) all lovingly painted and with glued-on eyes in some instances. These were truly deluxe poppers, but as we moved the other way, putting less effort into making the fly and more time into fishing it, the results seemed to stay the same.

If the fish were in the mood it mattered little whether the body of the fly was painted, turned, chopped into shape with a razor blade or just chucked together with a bit of flash material around the business end where the sharp little hook laid in wait for an unwary fish.

The fly making options are there. By all means experiment with different body materials, but as good a material as any is the common old closed cell foam, usually bought in a tubular form. We simply split the stuff into shape with a razor blade and glue onto the top of the hook with some five-minute Araldite.

A small split in the foam will give the glue a bit of key and holding it in place for a minute or so until the two pack goes off is no real bother. I slant the cut in the foam to make sure the hook is hanging well down astern.

When the hook is nicely glued into place the next move is to tie a few strands of your favourite tail material onto the hook just near the bend. I've used a fair number of combinations of material but as good as any is a combination of marabou feather strands mixed with flash material of the same colour. Incidentally, these materials can be usually be bought at stores like Spotlight (in the craft section) in bulk packs that represent huge savings over fly store materials.

Tail colour isn't vital. I've had bream chop at poppers set up on standard foam heads (cream in colour) with tail sections varying from all white to black and red, hot orange and even black. The latest lot we tried were blue and white, and the fish in the photo were taken on these jobs.

HOOKS

Bream have small mouths, so keeping the fly to a size where they can readily ingest it makes a lot of sense. I tie my flies on size 4 hooks. You can experiment here, and your hook-up rate will increase significantly if you use chemically sharpened hooks.

TACKLE AND TACTICS

Light fly tackle is the trick. The fly needs to land pretty lightly - big splashy touchdowns put bream off - and a five- or six-weight outfit with a floating line is about ideal. If you're using your standard freshwater gear for bream, where water will vary from brackish to pure seawater, give the whole lot a wash down as soon as it comes home.

Finding the right habitat is the key to successful bream on fly sorties, and brackish creeks with plenty of overhanging cover are ideal places to kick off your breaming with the long rod. The clue is to target areas where obvious snags provide cover, and to drop the fly as gently as possible fairly close to where you reckon Brother Bream is hiding.

I always allow a short delay after the fly lands before moving it (the same as when bass fishing) and then give a couple of gentle tweaks on the fly line.

If a bream is going to play, a swirl or flash of colour near the fly will betray his presence. The next move is his. Either the fish will snatch the fly off the top as it comes to a stop, or he'll hammer it at the next tweak. Splashy rises are the norm, and it's a pretty exciting way of taking bream.

From my experience, the fish respond better to a gentle fly movement than to a vigorous one. Be aware, too, that sometimes the cheeky little devils will follow a fly for some distance out from cover before hitting it and then do their utmost to get back to their snag! This will provide a fair bit of excitement for the angler in the process.

In the saltwater environment, the fish can be taken around mangrove roots and the like with the same ease as in the brackish water systems. The main difference is that the salties tend to be larger fish, and there's nothing wrong with that!

Bream on surface flies? Well worth the effort.

Hardbody fishing for Bream

WITH the ever-growing snowball that is breamin? with plastics, it's easy to forget that there are other ways to catch them. I'm not talking about bait, but those little hard-bodied lures that many of us have tucked away in the back of our tackle boxes, collecting dust.Image

A few years ago all but a few savvy anglers thought the only way to consistently catch bream on lures was with a small bibbed minnow. New techniques have evolved since then, but that doesn?t mean we should completely disregard the method. If you need any proof, look no further than Matt Fraser's win in last year's BREAM grand final! It just goes to show that when new techniques come on the scene we shouldn't necessarily throw out the old ones.

Read on to rediscover just how effective and fun hardbodies can be.

LOCATIONS

An excellent location for bream spinning with crankbaits is in a snag-lined and timber-strewn mangrove creek. Few tools are better for fishing a place like this, where a small lure twitched and tweaked in and over the timber and logs is often all it takes to coax a fish out.

The sight of a pack of competing fish, shouldering each other out the way to get hold of the small lure as it wiggles out of the snag, is the kind of scene that regularly occurs when fishing these kind of locations. During those times when the fish aren't as competitive or aggressive, a slow rising or neutral buoyancy lure subtly positioned and floated up next to a hot-looking snag can get results.

Fishing these popular natural waterways isn't just restricted to casting lures at these deep-water snags. When conditions allow, one of the most productive methods can be fishing the skinny water sections with shallow running lures. If you're lucky enough to come across fish in such a situation you can have an absolute ball casting to cruising fish and excitingly watching them veer off their path and head straight for your lure.

When fishing man-made structures there are few better than oyster leases. Those who've fished the Forster region know just how much bream love these, and also just how effective using crankbaits around them can be. It can get a bit expensive at times when you lose lure after lure, but it's all part of the fun, and the challenge is greater when you know in the back of your mind that you could get smoked by a big one!

As well as working down deep under racks, crankbaits are also perfect for seductively working across the top of the racks. Both approaches are great, not only because they're applicable at different stages of the tide, but because they both put the lure in the strike zone.

Other productive man-made structures include pontoons and jetties. These are plentiful throughout the waterways of Queensland and NSW, and are a great place to find a lonely old bream whiling away its years in the cool shade.

WHEN

In most cases a hardbody presentation is a fairly aggressive one, so the best time to use them is when the fish are in an equally aggressive mood. You can find out how much of an influence this can have when you're fishing around structures like oyster leases and pontoons. In these places, the strong presentation of the lure can be the thing that really pushes the bream's buttons and gets you plenty of fish.

Another influencing factor can be the amount of current. The old adage of "no run, no fun" can be right on the mark. If the tide's fairly moving, the bream's window of opportunity to strike at passing prey is greatly reduced, he has to strike straight away or miss out. Hopefully, for the angler, the fish will opt to strike straight away!

The tidal phases from half full to full and down to half low are usually the best times to fish the mangrove creeks. The rising water gives the fish an opportunity to get in amongst the snags and catch food, and also enables them to access ground that they couldn't previously reach (well, not since the last tide cycle anyway). And it's during this period that you get to access and fish those productive shallow areas.

The best time of the year to fish hardbodies is largely influenced by where in the system you're fishing, the experience you have, and the biological rhythms of the species. This last factor plays a big part, because it largely dictates where the fish will be and what their main food source will be.

LURES

The ideal lure size for bream is between about 2.5cm and 5cm. If you go any bigger you'll increase your chances of scaring off fish, but the upside is that you'll have a greater chance of scoring decent-sized fish.

When choosing a lure, select one that has a fairly tight shimmying action, rather than a wide, large, cod-styled wobble. They shimmy also has to be present when the lure is being worked at slow speeds. Why? Because bream aren't big fans of fast retrieved lures, and they're definitely not like a bass or GT in their willingness to chase one down at warp speed. Keep the retrieve slow and steady.

You won't always find bream in exactly the same locations and holding at the same depth, so it's vital to have a selection of lures that dive to varying depths. Your arsenal should range from deep diving models, which will dive down into fallen timber, to lures that run shallow and allow you to prospect skinny-watered sandbanks.

When it comes to a deep divers, there are few more effective and more popular than the Rebel Crawdad. These lures have been a long-time favourite with bream anglers up and down the east coast, and they've probably caught more bream than any other crankbait on the market.

There is a saviour though? the deep diving Ecogear SX-40. Not only is the deep version a top bream lure, its shallow running brother is fantastic on jungle perch and equally as effective when it comes to tempting bream in shallow water and over oyster racks.

Another shallow running lure making its mark is the old Halco Sneaky Scorpion. This diminutive lure has long been hailed by Kaj Busch as one of his favourites, and there aren't too many better raps than that when it comes to bream lures.

The range of suitable models on the market is seemingly endless and  "most excitingly for the lure junkies" ever expanding. Every time you go into a tackle store there seems to be a new model or colour trying to get you to part with your hard-earned cash! If you want fit yourself out with the majority of bream hardbodies, models and colours available, prepare for tray after tray of lures, and to be poorer for the experience.

And don't forget that once you've covered the crankbaits, you've then got plastics, surface, and fly to deal with!

TACKLE

Not very long ago the trend in bream luring was short spin outfits about 5ft 6in long. Nowadays the average length is probably around the 6ft mark, or even longer. There are plenty of suitable models and brands on the market in this size range, from the high-class Loomis and the Heartland X and Z range to more economical models such as the Shimano Stella and the Procaster X. Spin outfits are really the only way to go when bream luring. You could persevere with a baitcaster, but you're really pushing you-know-what uphill, and limiting you options and capabilities.

The ideal sized spin reel to match up to one of these rods is in the 1500 and 2000 size range. In most cases they perfectly balance the rod and hold more line than you'll ever need when bream fishing.

As for the line to put on it, the only real choice is gelspun, with 4lb Fireline a proven favourite. You might want to go a little stronger if you're fishing tough country like oyster leases, however.

Attaching a rod's length of leader material to end of this main line is essential, and there are many good options available. Vanish and Siglon are two good brands, but there are plenty of others so don't limit yourself. Also, don't limit yourself to just one size leader material. Match the leader to the location you're fishing and the size of the fish you're catching. A range between 6lb and 14lb should have you covered for just about all eventualities.

Lastly, buy the best and sharpest trebles you can find. Whenever you fail to hook a fish when one strikes it's probably because the trebles didn't stick, so keep them sharp and change them often.

HINTS
1. Removing the middle treble can greatly reduce you snag-up rate yet not compromise hook-up rate. Use the sharpest hooks you can get and religiously check their sharpness.

2. Store your lures hookless. It reduces wastage of trebles and ensures all hooks used are new and sharp. It also makes it faster to retrieve lures from the tackle box.

3. Always use split-ring pliers for removing and adding trebles.

4. Never use snap clips to attach lures, only loop knots.

Spinnerbaits from A-Z

The extreme versatility of spinnerbaits is well-known among bass fishermen, but few anglers take true advantage of this bait.

If a glance at your own tackle box isn't enough to convince you that spinnerbaits are popular, consider this: about 30 million spinnerbaits are sold each year in the United States. Just about everybody makes them, from individual fishermen who build theirs at home to multi-million dollar companies with international distribution systems.
What makes the spinnerbait -- something that looks like a helicopter fluttering over a jighead in a fancy skirt -- one of the most effective bass lures ever designed? Why do so many pros and weekend anglers have a gazillion of them?
The simple answer to both questions: they catch bass year-round.

They're also versatile lures that can be fitted to many different fishing conditions. The bait offers the best qualities of two contraptions by combing the spinner with the jig. A large measure of the spinnerbait's popularity comes from its ability to cover a lot of water in a short time and be effective year-round in the South for putting bass in the boat.

It can be made to offer eye-catching flash with more than a dozen of colors; with a little practice, any reasonably competent angler can learn to fish spinnerbaits using a diversity of retrieves for a variety of fishing conditions (it is ideal from fishing the water column from top to bottom); and these baits can be easily modified to fit specific needs.

Although most fishermen use spinnerbaits and know these baits are versatile, few anglers have learned to take full advantage of the bait's flexibility.
Before getting into details that can help you expand your use of spinnerbaits through a variety of specialized retrieves, the general rule for spinnerbaits in winter is to fish steep-to-vertical structure, fish deep, and select a bait that imitates prevalent forage, usually shad. In early spring when pre-spawn bass begin moving shallow, select a spinner that imitates crawfish in color and size. For an even meatier enticement, add a crawfish trailer.

Now let's get to the nitty gritty of selecting and fishing spinnerbaits.

SPINNERBAIT BLADE
SHAPES AND SIZES

Most anglers carry many spinnerbaits but you really only need a few basic types. Five colors -- white, chartreuse and white, chartreuse, silver, and black -- will cover almost all water color conditions.

Three different blade shapes typically adorn spinnerbaits: Colorado, Indiana, and willow leaf. Often, they are used in combination. The darker the water, the slower you should retrieve your bait. This general rule inspired the Colorado blade, and this blade type remains the standard choice in stained waters. In clear water, use tandem willow leaf blades. For conditions between stained and clear water, use the Indiana blade.

As a rule of thumb, the less visibility (due to dirty water, low light, or no light), the more bass depend on sensing vibrations caused by swimming prey.
Inversely, the better the visibility, the more bass rely on seeing their prey.

The Colorado blade is the most rounded and cupped of the three. It displaces more water than the other two, producing the most vibration. In addition to creating more underwater sound, it can be retrieved slower than the other two types. It's used in low light conditions because it "thumps" the loudest, letting the bass zero in on it easier using auditory senses.

The skinny willow leaf blade is the thinnest and longest of the three blade types, producing the least vibration, but its fast spinning blades throw a lot of flash. These blades approximate the shape of baitfish, another attracting quality when you're trying to match the size of the baitfish. When bass are eating shad, which is most of the time, cast a bait with double willow leaf blades.

The Indiana blade is the hybrid of the above two. It is more teardrop shaped and its vibration ranks between the Colorado and willow leaf. It's a good choice to use in somewhat stained water, or in clear water during low light conditions.

Spinnerbait blades come in many colors and reflective finishes. Generally, dark blades are used at night; a gold, florescent red, chartreuse, or copper-colored blade is used in stained water; gold is good on a cloudy day in clear water; and a silver blade is used on sunny days in clear water.

When it comes to selecting a plain or hammered blade, there doesn't seem to be much difference other than the angler's preference.

Blade size, on the other hand, is very important. The larger the blade, the more flash and sound it produces. Also, bigger blades provide more lift, which means that it will run slower and stay in the strike zone longer than a small-bladed bait will. However, spinnerbaits in many applications are a reaction bait: often a smaller blade and faster bait works well because the bass has to make an instant decision to eat it or pass it up -- and big bass don't get big by being shy about eating things. You can get a selection of spinnerbait blades ranging from size two to seven with four to six being most commonly used.

SKIRTS, TRAILER HOOKS,
AND TRAILERS

Adding to the attractiveness of spinnerbaits are skirts that pulsate during retrieves. They add "life" to the movements, and you can use certain colors for more attraction. For instance, you can slip on a chartreuse or hot pink skirt for more visibility. If you're fishing clear water, try smoke, green, gray, clear flake, or something in a natural color. More times than not though, anglers favor white, yellow, and chartreuse.
Try putting skirts on forward and backward for different silhouettes. The "backward" skirt adds more action when retrieved.

Another item that should be on every spinnerbait is a trailer hook. You can find kits with the hook and pieces of tubing cut to hold the hook in place. A friend and guide swears that a red "bleeding" treble hook is the most effective trailer he's ever used. Experiment with trailer hooks to be sure that the bait runs true after you've added the hook.

Many anglers feel better using trailers. These, like skirts, add an extra fish attracting power. It also adds to the silhouette when bass are looking for a larger mouthful. This occurs when there is a good population of big fish in a lake and competition for food is high.
In winter and early spring, bass aren't usually looking for a big mouthful but do respond to a slow descent. This calls for a pork frog or pork chunk. The common trailers are plastic worms, grubs, crawfish, and pork in its various shapes.

Trailers add buoyancy to let the bait fall much slower when fishing steep drops; and the Colorado blade also contributes to a slower fall rate.
Sometime bass that follow your bait and trifle with it will eat it if you change colors. Rather than change the lure or the skirt, change your trailer to a different color or add a trailer. Large changes in fish eating habits can occur with small changes in your bait.

SPINNERBAIT WEIGHT

The weight of the spinnerbait's head helps determine how deep the lure can run. Your retrieve also has a lot to do with the depth it runs. Most anglers favor 1/4-, 3/8-, and 1/2-ounce baits. Sometimes one-ounce baits are called for.

For fishing shallow, 1/4- to 3/8-ounce baits are best. Increase the weight of your bait the deeper you need to fish. Sometimes conditions, such as high or gusting winds, require the extra weight. In fact, spinnerbaits are one of the easiest and most effective bass baits you can use on windy days. They're relatively easy to throw, and for most retrieves, they run true even with tremendous wind-drag on the line. Thrown across a wind-blown point, they also become deadly imitations of distressed baitfish. If there's any wood cover or rock structure on the point, you have a good chance of latching onto a good bass. Go to a heavier bait to gain casting distance.

The 1/2-ounce bait casts better. It appeals to larger fish and it goes through heavy cover better because of its weight. It also comes with larger blades, producing more vibration and flash. It's a good choice when bass are very active and when the forage is large. The large blades mimic the larger baitfish. The best time for fishing the 1/2-ounce is late spring and throughout the summer.

The 3/8-ounce spinnerbait is good for late winter, early spring, and late fall when bass are less aggressive. It's also a good choice when the baitfish are small.

The 1/4-ounce spinnerbait is not typically a popular size with most bass anglers. But when the barometric pressure rises after a frontal passage, and the activity level of bass lessens, the appeal of a smaller bait is greater. Another time for the 1/4-ounce bait with small willow leaf blades is when baitfish are quite small.

CHANGING COMPONENTS

For modifications made while fishing, carry a variety of extra blades and skirts in various colors and shapes, and trailers. You can store these in a clear plastic box with compartments or in re-sealable plastic bags. Include split ring pliers for changing blades quickly. Other items you may want to include are extra clevis and split rings, high quality swivels, scissors for customizing skirts and trailers, trailer hooks, and rattles.

PRESENTATIONS

Remember that word "versatile?" Here are eight different presentations that prove its versatility. You can create more.

Chunking and winding is probably the easiest and most prevalent presentation. You simply chunk it out and reel it in. For winter and early springtime conditions, a slow to moderate retrieve works in lowland reservoirs. In hill-land and highland reservoirs, let the bait sink deeper before retrieving.

Slow-rolling is probably the most effective presentation for fishing all reservoir types in the South. This presentation is used when fishing deep water. You need to keep the spinnerbait as close to the bottom as possible and bump it into cover and structure.

Cast your bait and let it fall to the bottom or the depth you want if the fish are suspended. Retrieve at a slow steady pace.

Jigging a spinnerbait (it is part jig, after all) can be most effective.

Pitch your bait like a jig next to cover or above bass holding structure and let it slowly fall. Keep a tight line, watching for the pickup. Let the bait hit the bottom, then lift your rod tip a few times, letting the bait fall each time.

Yo-yoing is a cross between the slow-rolling and the jigging technique. When the spinner hits bottom, slow-roll but intermittently and abruptly lift up your rod tip, let the bait flutter down, and then repeat. This technique can trigger strikes when nothing else seems to work.

Dragging the bait along the bottom is similar to slow-rolling but you work the bait like it was a plastic worm. Let the spinnerbait hit the bottom, take in the slack, lift your rod tip slowly, take in that slack, and repeat. Keep tension on your line so you can see a tick or feel the bass engulf your bait.

The next presentation, called "Periscope Depth," is for when the water has warmed and the active bass have moved shallow, usually on sunny winter afternoons. After you cast past your target, wind it in just fast enough to create a swelling on the surface, but don't break the surface. This retrieve is also call "bulging," for the bulge it forms on the surface, like a submarine running shallow.

This works well when casting parallel to riprap or rocks that have warmed in the winter sun.
Flipping is a good technique to use when fishing heavy cover or vertically down a drop. Treat your spinnerbait like a jig.

A long-armed bait is fairly snag-proof when fishing cover. A plastic bristle weedguard helps prevent snags too. Flip the bait in the cover and pay attention for soft strikes; this is where the sensitive tip is most helpful in detecting strikes.

The problem with using the standard spinnerbaits like a jig is that some drop too fast. When the water is cold, bass react slower and a slowly falling bait stays in the strike zone longer to tempt the bass to take a bite. You may want to try a spinnerbait that uses small blades such as a two-armed spinnerbait to offer a slow descent.

The helicopter retrieve works best with a short-armed spinnerbait with a Colorado blade. This technique works well for fishing steep slopes, places bass like during the winter and early spring. Cast and let the lure helicopter on a tight line. The bait will fall parallel to the steep sloping bank. This is an excellent technique for bass in clear highland and hill-land reservoirs.

If you think of retrieving your spinner the various ways you retrieve crankbaits, topwater plugs, jerkbaits, and the other types of baits, you'll add more diversity to your spinnerbait.

SELECT THE RIGHT EQUIPMENT

Slinging a spinner bait does require some special gear. Some fishing conditions require different rods but for general purposes, a long handled baitcasting rod 6 1/2 to 7 feet long with fast action in a medium-heavy power is a good choice. For a reel, select a medium-speed baitcaster, such as a 5:1 gear ratio, with a reliable drag. Line should be no less than 14-pound test with 20- or 25-test being a better choice of clear, abrasion-resistant monofilament. Smaller diameter lines are appropriate for clear water with no cover to abrade it. The heavier the cover, the stronger your line needs to be.

You may want to use a longer rod for flipping spinnerbaits. A 7 1/2-foot rod with an extra-heavy action is needed to pull the fish out of thick cover (laydowns, aquatic vegetation, etc.) but you need flexibility in the tip to make soft presentations.

WHAT THE PROS SAY

Jimmy "Mr. Spinnerbait" Houston, a pro who helped make the spinnerbait famous, says the concept of spinnerbaits hasn't changed much in 30 years but the components have. Improved blades that produce more flash and vibration, sharper hooks, better skirts, thinner and stronger wire, improved paint jobs and smoother swivels make the spinnerbait an important fishing tool.

Kevin VanDam chooses blades to get the amount of water displacement he wants, and he chooses colors to match the hatch or to match the conditions.

The same is true with choosing trailers. In his book, Bass Strategies, VanDam says one of the biggest strides he has made is learning ways to catch bass quickly during the coldest months of the year.

"We get into the rut of thinking the water is too cold," he said. "When the water is in that 50-degree range, a lot of times I have gotten them to strike a spinnerbait when I couldn't get them to hit any other bait. I've caught them in the winter by slow-rolling a spinnerbait over treetops. I believe spinnerbaits are more effective cold-water tools than any other bait. You can fish them in any zone and keep them there. And they can better finesse lures than jigs or even plastic worms. If the water temperature is above 45 degrees, a spinnerbait is a viable tool for anglers to use."

Cold-weather spinnerbaiting usually involves fishing for bass on the edge of a deep ledge or stump; VanDam switches to a single-spin bait better suited for a vertical presentation. He relies on a 7/16- or 9/16-ounce short-arm spinnerbait. He selects either a white or pumpkinseed skirt (depending on water clarity) and a number five Colorado blade. He selects silver in clear water.

In pre-spawn angling in cold water, he uses a slow horizontal presentation with a 1/2-ounce spinnerbait and tandem number one and four-and-a-half Colorado blades in silver and gold on bright days and painted blades when it's cloudy. When the water warms a little, he uses the same size bait but with a number one Colorado and a four-and-a-half willow leaf blade. When the water warms more, he employs a faster retrieve and switches to tandem willowleaf blades because he wants more flash.


BOTTOM LINE

That helicopter fluttering over a jighead in a fancy skirt should be tied to your line every time you go fishing. It's not just a warm water bait either -- try it the next time you go fishing. Happy Hooking!  

Man Eaters

ImageThe river level had dropped considerably since my trip last month. There was still plenty of flow in the river but the water was definitely cleaner. I set off from the camp before dawn for the one hour paddle to the home of the big North Coast bass. The platypuses were out in force to escort me downstream. I never tire of their antics as they bob and weave around the kayak. I think they enjoy the company as much as I do.

ImageI scrambled through the bush in the eerie pre-dawn mist. Keeping a Imagelow profile, I inched my way to the top of the gorge wall. Poking my head over the edge, I could look down into the pool below the first small waterfall. Here I could see where the bass were positioned in the pool. Some were right up either side of the waterfall. Some were hugging the side of the gorge walls and still others were positioned at the tail end of the pool.

A plan was formulated. I would work my way around to the tail of the first pool. Here I could throw upstream from behind the bass; there was no point in casting to the head of the pool. If I hooked a bass, it would surely scare the others in the lower end of the pool. My first cast was a short one, hopefully to hook a bass without scaring the fish further upstream. It's good to have a lure in the water before the sun peeks above the surrounding hills.Image

ImageOne of Bill's 100mm fuzz bugs was gently lobbed over some froth that had formed at the tail of the pool. I let it sit until the concentric circles disappeared, then gave it one short sharp flick of the rod. The propellers fizzed into action and came to rest just short of the froth. Then a huge bow wave parted the foam as a large bass that had been sheltering under it, charged out and attacked the fizzer. "I'm on," I yelled to nobody.

ImageThis bass seemed very upset for some reason. Maybe it was the trebles he was desperately trying to shake out of his mouth. I kept the drag tight so he could not race upstream and scare the other fish as Imageplanned. Then he turned and raced back under the froth, coming directly towards me. I wound like crazy, trying to take up the slack line. Finally fifty cm of lovely gorge bass was lying at my feet. First cast! What a start!

Each cast of Bill's surface lure was getting enquiries. A couple of casts to either side of the walls about half way up the pool was all it took to be on again. The bass were whacking anything that landed on the water. Another good fish came to rest at my feet and after some photos was gently released.

It was time to tempt the bass at the top of the pool. A long cast with the fizzer was landed just to the side of the small waterfall. As soon Imageas it hit the water, the place erupted. Water sprayed everywhere and the lure was nowhere to be seen. Even with a tight drag the reel was singing. I was hootin' and hollerin'. This was unbelievable fishing! Three good fish out of the first pool, all on surface lures.

I used the same tactics on the next pool. Peering over the edge of the gorge wall, I spotted the bass in virtually the same holding positions. There was an old log jammed against the wall as well and I could see two fish sheltering behind it. This was sight fishing at its best! For the first few hours the tactics stayed the same. Surface lures first in each pool, then some chatterbaits or divers to finish off, before moving on.ImageImage

The fishing was consistent all morning. As usual it was quiet in the middle of the day, so I found a shady tree and had some lunch and a much needed snooze. About three in the afternoon I started fishing again, retracing my steps back to the start. As the afternoon wore on the fishing just got better and better.

ImageScrambling up and down the gorge walls is hard work. In some places the ledges you are fishing from are not much wider than your feet. There is very little room to manoeuvre when a decent fish is hooked. At one stage I landed a honker and while trying to set up the tripod for a self portrait, she flicked her tail and my retractable measuring tape Imagesailed into the depths. Therefore no measures, only guesstimates for the afternoon fish.

ImageAll up about twenty fish were caught and released. The sizes ranged from roughly forty five cm to some fish definitely over fifty cm. How far over I cannot say! I think I will just let the photos do the talking. Fishing with ten pound main line and fifteen pound leader, I was broken off at least three or four times during the day.

I never tire of this amazing place.

Words & Photos by Graeme Bowes (the cod)  

Mann River Reminiscing

ImageThe Mann River starts life as a bubbling little stream high in the Gibraltar Ranges on the eastern fall of the big hill. It hurries down to join the Nymboida above Jackadgery and then the Clarence; not far above the gorge. It is a reasonably easy paddle with mostly grade one and two rapids and the odd gnarly portage.

The wildlife is plentiful along the banks and there Imageare always eagles soaring on the thermals above the valley. Cod and bass are your Imagecompanions in the water and when conditions are right will readily take an offering from the fisherman.

The rivers up this neck of the woods are also famous for the characters that live and move around them. One gentleman in particular is a larger than life figure, Dan Frogan.

ImageDan is a legendary back country woodsman and "perch" fisherman extraordinaire. I first met Dan by accident, one day on the river. I had been paddling all morning and the fishing had been slow. At the tail ofImage this particular pool I was lining up a path to shoot through the rapids. "Do you always charge through the perches' front door, without knocking?" came a voice from nowhere. To say I was startled would be an understatement!

Dan stood up from where he had been stationed between some large boulders at the head of the rapid. He blended in perfectly with the boulders and brush. "Slow down mate," he said, "pay more attention to the environment you are traveling through". I suppose the Hawaiian shirt and big yellow hat did make me stand out a bit.

"There are some good perch in that hole," he said, indicating the pool I was just about to launch the kayak into. He pulled a grasshopper off the back of my multi-coloured shirt and proceeded to attach it onto the hook at the end of his large cane fishing rod.

"Watch this," he said. Gently placing the grasshopper in the rapids, it was washed into the head of the pool. The creature came up spluttering and wings flapping, desperately trying to get to the bank of the pool. I'm sure it realized it was in deep trouble. There was a swirl and a splash of a tail and the grasshopper vanished from the surface.Image

ImageDan lent back gently on the cane pole and the bass suddenly realized something was not right. It turned and shot off down the pool and Dan was after it. The bass could not be pulled up the rapids so Dan was jumping from rock to rock to reach the edge of the pool where he had a better chance of landing this good fish.

The bass was heading for some mid stream boulders and Dan was Imagetrying to put the Imagebrakes on. He put the long cane pole to good use and finally a beautiful long lean wild river bass was lying at his feet.

"This one's for lunch," he said. "Care to join me?" I was about to say something, but decided to keep my mouth shut. "Sounds like a great idea," I said. "I'll boil the billy."

ImageWe sat around the campfire, having a cuppa, as the bass sat in the coals slowly cooking. We discussed the river and fishing and the environment in general. I finally got around to the subject of catch and release. "I only ever kill enough for a feed," he said. "The rest I always release."Image

He told me that not that long ago, when coming down the river, he would always find set lines. "I Imagealways cut them off," he said. Nowadays he finds very few. People, it seems are becoming more aware of the fish being a limited resource.

After lunch, (the bass was very tasty) we fished together for a couple of hours. "Lose that shirt," he said. "The perch will only laugh at you." He taught me about moving slowly and blending in with the background. "Try to stay low and not let your silhouette be seen above the horizon."Image

"Instead of blindly crashing into the pool in the kayak, why not get out at the top and walk around the side of the next pool? Then you can cast upstream from behind the perch in their blind spot."

Dan was a real bushman and knew all the tricks. It did not take me long to realize that I could learn a lot from him. "Stealth and camouflage are our best weapons," he said.

Image"Your turn," he said. Next pool I used the cover of trees and boulders to slowly work my way around behind the rapids at the top of the pool. I could see a large bass just to the side of the rapids in an eddy. I cast a shallow diver right into the turbulence at the head of the rapids. Two cranks of the handle and I saw the bass charge in and grab the Imagelure. I lent back on the rod and came up tight. This bass wasn't happy. He charged up and down the pool in a head shaking run. My drag was screaming and I was hollering.

Dan just sat on a nearly rock and laughed. Eventually the beautiful creature was lying at my feet and after some photos he was released to fight another day.

I still bump into Dan occasionally on the Mann River. Whenever we meet we always stop and have a cuppa.

Words and Photos by Graeme Bowes

When the Going Gets Tough

When the Going Gets Tough

 As far as breamin is concerned, early 2006 has been an absolute cracker in Sydney and its surrounding waterways, the Hawkesbury and Georges. Over this period, some awesome bags of bream were spun up, along with some absolute stompers. April and May produced the best fishing, with large numbers of larger fish and a generous sprinkling of kilo plus beasts landed. Unfortunately thats all behind us now and we are already feeling the pinch and effectively looking down the barrel at the slowest months of breaming ahead of us, remaining consistently slow until late October or even mid November. However, with some lateral thinking and a few modifications to technique and tackle, its still possible to eke out a decent bag of bream during the poorer months.

Location, Location, Location

After a busy couple of months putting on weight over April and may bream school up aroumd late June and travel en-masse in schools downstream to breed. Many go to rocks and beaches others stay close to the mouth. While you will still find fish upriver, there si usually a fair bit of water between them and they usually aren't to big. At this time of year look for schools of bream downstream and try to find pointswhere you can intercept passing schools. This means rockbars, holes, reefs, pylons, mooring blocks and other structure in deeper water in or adjacent to a main channel with good current flow. Structure in sucha position offers a stop over point for passing fish to rest out of the main current and snag a feed that either grows on the structure or is swept past by the current. I have also found that fishing in the afternoon is often better because the water has had time to warm up over the course of the day, particularly in shallower water with a dark rock or mud bottom. Due to schooling tendencies of winter time bream I suggest that you don't spend to much time in a spot you are not getting to many hits unles you have reason to. Its what I call playing the numbers game. If you aren't setting the hooks into bream you need to move on and find a bunch of them. This usually means knowing which spots fire under what tide phases or just having a few casts here and a few casts there until you hit a feeding patch of fish. Once found, stick with them, they bare worth their weight in gold.

Tackle

Due to the close proximity to the ocean, the water in the lower reaches is (usually) much clearerand often cooler then upriver ( particularly on the run in tide ). This can mean the use of lighter leader then what you may usually use. I have found 4lb flourocarbon an adequate leader for most situations as the fish are often sluggish and easily handled because of their slow metabolism brought on by the cold water. In super clear water with very touchy fish I often use a fluro carbon main line between 2 and 5 pound. I have the inkling that when bream are really shy, they feel you through a main line and subsequentley don't follow through with the take. The bungie effect of an FC main line takes that feel out between the bream and you making it a little tough to feel anything. However, the fish will often hold on for a long time if you use a cantered plus flavoured soft plastic. I fish these light lines through softer rods to coustion the knots and line itself. Short of that, a super long leader on a slow actioned rod may do the job, although the long leader is a pain in the arse. As mentioned scentered soft plastics are really important with berkley power baits and gulp ruling the roost. Personal favourites are 3' gulp fy's, 2' minnow grubs and power bait bass minnows. REALLY slowly retrieved hard bods can produce the goods in shallow water too.

Techniques

If you want best results the most consistent technique for turning up a bag of bream is deep jigging. Although it is often absolutly stupidly boring jiggling heavy heads around deep water does produce the goods. Use as light a jig head as you can to allow you to maintain contact with the bottom. Always retrieve your lure with a tight line ready to drop the lure back at the smallest touch. Cold water fish usually bite very softly and will often take their time in committing to a lure after the first curious tap. So give a fish plenty of time and slack line to have the lure. When most people think deep jigging people often think reefs and submurged bars but it doesn't have to be so boring. Fishing deep around mored boats or similar structure in shallower water ( 3 - 5 meter ) without too much current flow I'll often fish a natural coloured bass minnow really light and slowly let it sink like an injured bait fish or a creature thats been bumped off and slowly sinking down. Once on the bottom I let it sit there for 5 or so seconds and then give it a tiny twitch. Most of the time the fish are already on the lure once it is on the bottom and the twitch sets the hooks.

At the end of the day

What has been outlined in this bit of scribble revolves prodominantly around fishing deeper water for schooled fish. This does not mean that this is the only way to chase dead time bream. But there are a few take home that you can apply to any spot. Fish as light a leader as conditions allow and fish slowly with smelly lures. At the end of the day it will only be ( hopefully ) 4 months of slower fishing. Or you can chase blake fish. Tight lines John Ryan.

Smokin' Surface Smashes

ImageDriving along the Pacific Highway not far from home, there is this Creek that I never give a second thought too. It passes through a maze of cane farms before emptying into the Clarence River; your typical "Cane Drain". It is not the sort of water that usually appeals to me. Most times I look for creeks and rivers that pass through National Parks or State Forests. The further from civilization the better!

ImageHowever, after checking it out in Google Earth and the topographical maps, I Imagethought it was worth further investigation. The headwaters of this creek were in a coastal mountain range and the creek flowed west to join the Clarence. Some kilometres upstream, according to the map, was a bridge. This would be where I started my explorations.

The next chance I had, I headed off early one Imagemorning. Leaving in the dark, the bridge was located and the kayak was launched into the tannin stained water.

As I paddled into the slowly awakening dawn, I realized I had come across anotherImage jewel of the Clarence. The creek was surrounded by she-oaks and a melaleuca swamp. Water lilies were in flower all around and for company I had black swans and turtles.Image

Eventually I told myself to stop taking photos and start fishing! The creek was only small, and there were snags everywhere. No shortage of structure to cast to. As is customary, I started the day with my favourite surface lures, Bill's Bugs. The action was never far away. Fishing from a small kayak in an ever smaller creek is always interesting.

ImageI peppered the usual locations and it was not long before I came up tight. ImageA flutterbug was bounced off the branch of an exposed snag. The Bass must feel the vibration of the branch in the water, because as soon as it touched down the water boiled and the lure disappeared. Line vanished from the reel as the Bass shot off through the snag and headed for the depths.

I felt the dreaded rasp of line against timber as I held on for grim death. Trying to coax this fish out of its home was always going to be an uphill battle. Twang! He was gone and I was left a shaking wreck with the thought of what might have been.Image

It was time for a change of tactics. How was I going to stop these cunning Bass from just wrapping me around all these snags every time I hooked one? Fishing with a 15lb leader at least gave me some options. I decided to tighten the drag even further and just try to horse these bronze battlers out of cover.

The next snag gave me the perfect opportunity to try out the tactic. This time one of Bill's Fuzzbugs was launched beside the fallen tree, instead of deep into the timber. The theory being I could hopefully drag the fish away from its hidey hole into more open water. The surface lure was plopped with a splash next to the tree. No need to be subtle with surface lures here. Let the quarry know dinner has arrived.

As usual I just let it sit until the ripples had evaporated. A slight twitch and let it sit again. Then a rip with the rod and the propellers sprung into action. The fizzing noise this lure makes seems to draw any Bass in the vicinity. I find the Bass seem to hit the lure when it is stationary rather than moving.

Being an impatient chap I usually only cast three or four times to a snag before searching for the next one. This first cast was worked all the way back to the single man kayak with no results. The next cast landed on the bank a metre from the water (I need to practice those casting skills)! I slowly worked the Fuzzbug to the edge and just let it fall into the water beside the snag.

Bang! An almighty explosion erupted from under the lure and once more I was hanging on for all I was worth. The Bass was heading home and with the locked up drag, the kayak was following. What was I to do now? With one hand I grabbed an overhanging branch and held onto the rod with the other. I felt like I was being stretched on a medieval torture rack.

The rod buckled and the branch groaned. What was going to give first? I could not retrieve any line because if I let go of the branch, the fish would be in the timber. Snap! The rotten branch fell into the water. Composing myself quickly after nearly ending up in the drink I started to retrieve line but the fish had found sanctuary.

The dreaded grind of line transmitting down the rod told me this Bass had wrapped the leader around the maze of tree branches. I was done for once again. My tactics would need to be reviewed for the next encounter.

I am constantly amazed at the size of some Bass that come out of these small waters. That is the joy of fishing these tiny creeks. You never know what you may come across next.

Words and Photos by Graeme Bowes

Just a quickie

I'm obsessed with bass fishing, I'll be honest, but because I'm based in the big smoke it isn't always easy for me to head out west. When that first Wednesday of the month comes around and the sheriff is prepared to let me go to the wsbb meeting, I always manage to squeeze in short hour or two sessions.

This May saw me head to the upper nepean. I had stumbled onto some places where the water was so low that the migrating bass wouldn't be able to get any further down stream. Now this being my first bass fishing summer season I wasn't sure about how successful this two hour session was going to be. I had only read about their migratory breeding run, but if they answered mother nature's call as powerfully as I'd heard, they should be sitting on top of each other.

After dragging the yak on wheels for a short way and setting it on the waters edge, I took stock of what was on offer. A week of sunny 20-24 degree days had reached a high of 25 degrees on this day. The barometer was somewhere around the 1026 mark and it had been too long between bass hunts.

From the moment you push off at this spot on the river you're surrounded by weedbeds, undercut banks, rocky cliffs and plenty of trees hanging enticingly over the bank. Trees hanging over the water are my favourite bass haunt and that's what faced me for the first 50m. Four casts into it and fizzer was sitting deep in a pocket of shade 6inches off the bank. A couple of twitches and bang! I'm on. She's darting back and fourth followed by a bit of line peeling off the reel, not too shy. Eventually the converted badminton racket has her within its clutches and there's no escape. At 320mm she wasn't a prize catch but her condition was immaculate. She had a fat stomach, thick lips and was a lot broader across the shoulders then others I'd caught at that size, which explained why she felt a lot bigger a moment ago. 20m further on and the fizzer was flicked under another tree about a metre off the bank, twitch, twitch, twitch, pause. Now, at this moment I noticed a ripple off the bank that had nothing to do with the commotion caused by the lure; a fish. I let 8 seconds pass before I saw a dark figure slowly approach. At 16 seconds she was 2mm from the rear treble, when, KAPOW!! Another tussle and yet another girl that fought well above her weight class, at 340mm she really had the line cutting the surface. There where a few times I only just managed to steer it clear of the flanking weedbeds. I snapped off a few photos and thanked her; they where getting bigger.

Working my way slowly up river, my next three fish came from a section of undercut banks with the occasional skinny tree seductively dangling into the water. A pattern for attracting hits was becoming clear. Each one fell to a twitch or two on landing followed by a long pause. If they didn't strike after a slow count of around 12 seconds a slight nudge and you would be greeted with a fine spray of water. Instantly your frantically reeling and waving your rod in front of you like a mad man. With any luck your patting yourself on the back while tacking a few photos. They where small fish at about the 300mm mark, but again they all strained the rod a lot more then any I'd caught during the summer. The next came from a skinny tree with vines dangling like a wall across the water. I did a lousy cast that fell well short of the mark. By a small measure of luck the fizzer had only just touched down when the explosion and resulting run pulled the yak towards the vines. Again with the rod waving and the self-congratulatory commentary and yes! The badminton racket held an awesome 380mm. The fizzer was now raised to be my second favourite surface walker in my kit and there was still 40mins to go 15m from that fish I encounted a strike like no other I had seen before. During the pause I saw a flash of bronze under the lure before the fish, that looked around the mid 300s, came clear out of the water with the fizzer clenched firmly between its lips. It was about 20cm above the water and it seemed to just hang there, just bleedn' brilliant. She devised a cunning move because the resulting dive into the limbs of a submerged tree saw her liberate itself.

The blood was pumping and the next few casts where so heavy handed that I deliberately stopped and forced a few deep breaths, though I did blame the unbuttoned long sleeved shirt. A few more swipes and bumps followed but they failed to stick. That was until a cast down the dark throat of yet another overhanging tree came up tight on a Big fish. The tree was over two metres of water and was relatively snag free, so although I could feel a big slab of fish at the other end, she came to the side of the yak without any drama. When I had her bobbing beside me I let slip a ‘yip yeah', she was big and in great condition. At 420mm it was the photo opportunity I was hunting for.

I continued down stream for 20mins and pulled a few more around the 300mm with two of them coming from a steep rock face. The bail arm didn't even have a chance to click over before they where pounced on, like a small unsuspecting creature that had just fallen off the small cliffs edge. The sun quickly disappeared and I was soon racing back to the car so I could make the meeting on time, egar to hear the reports of others. I had caught some top fish and for once a theory I dreamed up had beared fruit, flippn' brilliant.

Rand