Articles

Throw Finesse out the Door!!

November 2004 - Launching at Waynes World, we hauled butt through Two Tree Pool, up the long rapid and over the rock bar into the Castlereagh Stretch. It's a push we've done before but today we were racing the daylight and therefore in a hurry. Some of the most productive water sits up there below the outcrops of Winmalee and twilight is THE time to fish it. We noticed the Salvinia weed. It was clumped on the shore but fortunately it was upstream.

Wes Paterson and I fished the willows into the evening until the wind reared its head. Beers and conversation was great but we called it a night due to the wind. Paddling downstream towards the rock bar we didn't even notice that the wind had pushed the weed and banked it at the head of the rapid. Ahead of us was at least eighty metres of green muck. We knew we couldn't paddle through it so in the black of night, Dave carefully exited the canoe and felt for the bottom, hoping to guide the canoe to the rocks. Feeling for the bottom while wading chest deep through Salvina clumps at 9:30 pm isn't comfortable. I just couldn't help thinking of the little ooglies having fun attacking my pruned jewels. To make matters worse Wes sat back in the canoe sucking on a Bundy and he's sixfootseven! (being captain I did elect to do the dirty business).

Above is an experience that I will hold dearly in my heart, not only did it resurrect my faith in soap, it gave me more incentive to think outside the square as far as bass fishing went. To stand above Devlins Rd and see nothing but weed and to know that the whole stretch from North Richmond to Penrith Weir is pretty much rooted for the season is a sobering thought. But, surely there must be a way to fish it?

The most obvious strategy is took seek cleaner water. The kind of stuff not affect by the aquatic cancer. There's heaps of it around but when you know there are quality fish at your fingertips, in your home stretch, you tend not to ‘give up'.

1. Throw finesse out the door. This style of fishing has no place for a pussy 1kg spin stick. You need a ballsy rod with grunt down below, spooled with at least 8 pound string. More often than not you'll be dragging fish over the weeds.
2. You're gunna get wet! Forget paddling, socks and jeans. Yes the canoe will be your buddy but you will be dragging, pushing and hauling it..
3. Find stretches of water that will either cop maximum wind or current flow. There are certain sections of the mighty Hawkesbury/Nepean that scream rapids and expanse. Salvinia moves, either by force above or below.
4. Fish below rapids and in shallow runs. Never discount shallow water especially with a surface lure or fly, no matter what time of day. Also, when current and wind is combined, that weed will move DOWNSTREAM. Don't be there!
5. Cop the wind and fish. A perfect example of this is Yarramundi Lagoon, The Devlins stretch, The Castlereagh stretch the Terraces at North Richmond. Yes the wind is uncomfortable but when it blows and is funnelled by cliffs, Salvinia will disperse rapidly opening up clear water.
6. Cast with the wind and target mid-water weed beds. Pockets of clear water siting on bank-side snags are pure gold, BUT are very hard to find (and paddle or motor to). Fish the middle of the water and locate weed beds either with eyes or a sounder.
7. Fish mostly surface and hit those clear pockets. Imagine a bass drifting with the weed and coming across commotion in a clear pocket. Smash, grab thanks for coming!
8. Lures? You want to be able to crank all day with the lure brushing the tops of weed beds.
• Jig spin combos with 1/16-1/32 weight, 2 - 3inch grubs.
• Shallow divers such as Baby Nuggets, Feral Cats, AC Invaders, Attacks etc.
• Suspending lures such as the Sneaky Scorpian or StrikePro ‘Pygmy" (also a fantastic bream lure).

Western Sydney's a great place that has many faces and moods. We have Kakadu flood plains, Amazon jungle creeks, Hillbilly gorge country, Scottish lochs and New Zealand free-stone streams... if you look for them. Add this one to the list and get use to it... weed infested river pools. Adaptability is the key and definitely what makes you a stronger fisho!

Dave Horvat

Bass Basics

The Australian Bass
Our Premier Freshwater Sportsfish
Steve Prott

As one of the principle species our club enjoys catching, Australian bass might be a new species to some members of the club.

Over the next six issues I hope to share some basic information with those new to bass fishing, in the hope that you will come to love and enjoy these wonderful sportsfish.

Profile of Bass

The Australian bass (Macquaria novemaculeata) is probably the premier freshwater sportfish in south eastern Australia. It is also known to some anglers as the freshwater perch, eastern freshwater perch, or simply perch. The Australian bass is found in the south eastern parts of Australia, and ranges from the Mary River system in the southern central Queensland to the Gippsland Lakes of eastern Victoria.

They are also stocked into many man-made dams and impoundments of Victoria, New South and Queensland, where they often grow to trophy size proportions very quickly due to the abundance of food in these dams.

Bass have very variable growth rates depending upon available food and water temperature, and grow very large in large dams like Glenbawn and the dams of south east Queensland. Dams can be difficult to fish, and you might be better to learn about fishing rivers and streams first before tackling dams. If you really want to get amongst them in the dams, going out with a guide for half day or a full day would be well worth the money.

The Australian bass has moderately large scales, large dark eyes, a scooped forehead profile and a relatively large mouth.
The colour of bass depends on their environment, and can vary from almost black on the back, with dark bronze or gold flanks and a creamy coloured belly tinged with yellow, while others are bright coppery-gold on the back and silvery belly. Others can be silvery all over with a greenish-silver upper back. The tail is forked and offers the fish tremendous power, and is usually relatively dark, regardless of the body colour. Bass have a very fine white leading edge on each pelvic fin, and this feature allows the species to be distinguished from the nearly identical estuary perch.

Bass can grow up to four kilo but this depends on where you are fishing and the time of the year. Most fish caught are well within this size, with local fish being around the average 0.2 to 0.8 kg in weight. A fish weighing more than 1.5 kg can be regarded as an big fish, although many of the bass caught in the dams and impoundments where they have been stocked often produce bass in the 3 to 4 kg.

Some of the best bass fishing to be experienced is in rugged bushland where access is only possible by walking in or some form of portable boat, such as a canoe, kayak or inflatable. While some of these trips can be extremely hazardous and strenuous, the effort is often well worth it. Wonderful clear unspoilt streams and pools surrounded by the most spectacular scenery not to mention the most ferocious monster bass makes it hard not to pass up an opportunity to fish such places!

Australian bass have a varied diet including insects from the water's surface, and other organisms from the entire water column, including aquatic insects, shrimps and other freshwater crustacea, tadpoles, crabs, lizards and small fish.

The Australian Nomads

Australian bass, like many fish, have migratory habits, and this revolves around their breeding cycle. The time frame that this involves is not a strict timeline, and depends on various environmental factors, such as cold or dry weather. It will also vary depending on the geographical location of bass, remembering that their distribution range goes from the Mary River system in the southern central Queensland to the Gippsland Lakes of eastern Victoria.

In our region, November to February is when the breeders are back in the high water areas, and this is when small creeks and remote areas yield some big bass. Terrestrial and aquatic insects is what bass are feeding on at this time of the year, and shrimp, small baitfish, frogs, lizards and just about anything else that will fit into their mouths is fair game.

As the summer months draw to a close March to around May is when the breeders start to get the urge and move into the brackish water ready for spawning. Not all bass spawn each year, and some of the breeders will remain in the higher waters.

The months of June to August is when the bass are breeding in the brackish waters of our river systems. This may vary depending on the season, and can extend to October. Once in the spawning areas, the males congregate in large schools of several hundred fish. Females are not found in such large groups. Females may produce several hundred thousand eggs which are small (about 1 mm when water hardened), non-adhesive and free floating.

Around September and October, the bass that have been spawning begin to put on condition on their way back upstream, and this time of the year produces some exceptional fishing. These fish are eager to feed and will consume prawns, small fish and crabs and anything else that will help them make the big swim into our headwaters.

Valuable Reading

There are only two books that have been written about on bass that you may find helpful. Sadly, both are out of print but copies can still be sourced in tackle shops, second hand books shops or from www.amazon.com.

The first book is Fabulous Bass and How to Catch Them by Dick Lewers, which if you can find new costs somewhere in the order of $32 or so, and is worth every cent.

The second book is Bethune on Bass by the club's very own "Mr Bass", John Bethune. It's no longer in print, but again tackle shops and second hand books shops. A reliable source recently has been on the internet. Go to www.amazon.com and you should be able get a copy through there.

There's so much helpful information in these books and they are a vital part to any bass anglers library.

Steve Prott

Starting Over

Devlin's will fire in a month and Yarramundi sooner. Cattai Crk will come on line in early October and the hidden lagoons of the Hawkesbury Delta will follow mid-November. Fish the tight water with larger surface lures to entice the post-spawn bass making their way upstream and bounce small divers over weed beds in more open water.

The above was pretty much my game plan for Spring on the mighty Hawkesbury / Nepean. Since about 1992 I'd continuously scoped new water with mates Wes Patterson, Dale Graham and Mic Stark. Most of the time we'd find ourselves along way from the nearest tap, suffering desert mouth and so close to sweet water we could smell it. Over a decade period we finally sat on a rhythm of fishing similar haunts and gauging results.

In 2002 I met a mad man by the name of Dave George at a 4pm rendezvous in the car park of Devlins Lane. Now he could've been Ivan Milat's ‘assistant' for all I knew.
We took off in my canoe and over the next 4 hours caught bass after bass after bass, laughing all the way. At one point, halfway up a rapid, gushing water riding the thighs, Dave stopped, dove into his green bag and offered me a beer.... need I say more.

A year later I met Daryl Schroder up the same stretch of water. He too became a regular fishing partner. Between the 3 of us we'd fish 4-5 times per week, on the same bloody stretch of water! We'd discover emails the next morning describing the score of last night. It never became vicious but there was always an inkling of jealously if another had done better on snag the night after you fished it.

After meeting these two (and then a heap of their mates) I concluded that a fishing network is a very valuable thing. Not just the sharing of knowledge and canoe assistance when trying to crack a beer mid-rapid, but the mateship that comes when putting the canoe on the roof after a session or taking a photo of that beast of a bass caught on twilight. A club is a network. As closer a network as you make it.

These days, I've moved away from this close network. I'm in the position of scoping new water... starting over again. There's not as much freshwater down here as in Western Sydney... but I'm looking. I've actually got my mind set on this particular creek. Not a big system but does drain into a massive basin. I'm thinkin' large surface lures to entice the fish and then... oh, oh...here we go again!

Dave Horvat

Slow Train Comin

When I left Sydney two years ago and headed north, I was looking forward to landing lots of large bass on a regular basis. Fishing articles written on bassing the Coffs region and beyond, had all served to only convince me that it was as easy as catching a Yarramundi lagoon tiddler.

How wrong I was. I have lived up here for almost two years now and my PB Bass before leaving the Big Smoke was an arm stretching 401mm Nepean beast. Now I have never really been very fussed about the ‘size matters' debate (which is just as well if you've seen me nude!) and always felt very privileged just to catch a couple of fish when I went fishing. Once I started fishing new, unbelievably fishy looking water up here. I was never really thinking about the massive numbers of monster fish I was going to catch. I was more looking forward to just catching lots of nice fish, in a nice place and having my PB bettered in due course. Which I gained would happen sooner, rather than later.

If the ‘size' didn't matter for me then it certainly did for my new bass fishing buddies. Proud mention of my inclusion into the very selective Sydney, ‘400 Club', led to open humiliation as I was told you were no one till you joined the North Coast ‘500' club. Apparently it was all you could do not to catch one, and 400's were simply shaken off with pliers, boat side!!!!

Once again I took it all with a grain of salt and continued to enjoy, some amazing environments and some pretty good bass fishing, absent of monsters, but magic days non the less. It really is a blessing just to get to fish these creeks and rivers. The vast majority of the time would have them all to your own, and their health and pristine states, continue to amaze this former Sydney boy. My mouth is on the floor of the canoe every time I explore new water. Even some of my usual haunts, like the Mighty Bellingen River, never cease to amaze me.

Towards the end of last year (about this time) my blasé attitude to the size of the bass I was catching was changed slightly when I went for a fish with my mate Mic Booth, on the Bellingen. Mic was a guest at the front end of my canoe (Shirley Bassy Jnr) and had an absolute ball-tearer of a day landing many quality fish, most falling into the trophy size. Like a typical local who had previously cracked 500, he was happy at his good fortune, but hardly overwhelmed.

And then it happened. A slowly twitched ‘bass minnow', fished very deep in the mid section, of a very deep pool, was ever so lightly nibbled at by a fish below. Nothing unusual here, it had happen a lot already that day. Bank side and high water column presentations, had only drew minimal interest. Mic's ‘low and slow' approach proving the way to go. It was how the fish reacted to having the hook set that was very, very different. Sustained, (and buy that I mean a lot of bloody metres, not just a ‘couple' on the first hit) line loss, is not something all that often associated in the world of bassing. Well, not in my world anyway. But sustained, incredibly impressive loss this was, whilst we both watched in awe, it suddenly occurred to us that the mid stream snag that was quite a distance from us, was soon to come into the equation. Fortunately outstanding work from the guy at the back of the boat, saw diaster avoided and in the end one very happy Mic. Well you would be happy to if you were cradling 54cm of perfect river bass.

Suddenly the surrounds weren't all that pretty and I imagined just how happy a bass like that could make me. It was around this time that I went to Weipa for a week with my brother, and then two weeks of school holidays rolled around. In that bloody 3 weeks my other 2 main bass mates, both cracked 500! How did I know this? They sent me an email titled " your membership is now over due". The cheeky buggers filled me in on all the details and implied how easy it all seemed. All 3 mates accounted for their bass on "bream gear", soft plastics fished ‘low and slow'.

The summer that followed was filled with many memorable trips, none memorable for me improving my PB of course. The start of this season saw me return to my ‘happy to be fishing' state of mind. That was of course till a few 400's came aboard, for others in my presence. Then I settled in my mind that, if I could only just beat my PB a bit, then I'd be happy. After all by this stage it had been over 18 months since I moved up here. I know blokes who got so focussed on cracking some length milestone, that every trip that doesn't happen is deemed unsuccessful.

No sooner had I made this pact with myself, that all of the Bass in Coffs Harbour, of all sizes, made a pact to not to be caught by me at all!!! The number of bassing hours - to - big one landed (let alone any sized ones), ratio, was not a pretty thing at all.

Last summer came and past, with no truly notable fish being landed yours truly. I had just about gotten over the whole big bass thing when I went on a mid -September canoe trip with my mate Phil. It wasn't a particularly warm afternoon (see how many layers I'm wearing in the pic), but out of eternal optimism, I tied on a surface lure. We had been fishing for about 40 mins with nothing to show and the light drizzle that was now falling, had me thinking about changing lures. If anything was going to work today then it I was going to be the predictable soft plastic thing.

I decided to fire a very long range cast out into the middle of the pool we were fishing, toward the shallower weedy side of the river. This actually works well at night up this way. They seem to leave the deep outer bends under the cover of darkness, and go a huntin' round the weeds. With the lure plip-ploping it's way back to the canoe, Phil asked if I was hoping for a classic mid-stream strike. No sooner than I had said, "you never know your luck in a big city" that I got one! I've only very hooked a couple big fish of different species, but you just know from the moment you connect that they BIG. Your rod and reels doing very different things, compared to what a little rats do to you tackle.

I also had a boil on the surface of the water that was the size of a garbage bin, to let me know I had something special. By now you're guessing that I landed her. She pulled hard, I smiled hard and the camera clicked hard! It was while paddling to the shore to get some pictures that we paddled over where the strike had occurred. Turns out it wasn't such a random spot for a big one to be. A very large completely submerged snag lay below, and on further inspection of the swaying aquatic vegetation near it, suggested that the was still getting plenty of flow from the head of the pool. Turned out to be quite the ambush spot.

At 49cm and surely 2kg, it was to be the best fish of the day (let alone my life). I had created a new problem for myself. I had only ever just wanted to increase my PB (shit even Horvat has now got a 43! I had been thinking to myself), but now I had come infuriatingly close to 50. Oh well next time!!!
By DaletheWhale

Thong Thing Construction

After a squelching hot day at work, you slide your canoe in and make your way to a favorite spot. You know its coming on to prime time, sun just going out of sight, nighttime sounds, bugs starting to buzz around your ears. Slowly, with every quiet stroke of your paddle you are moving closer to a large overhanging willow. This place just looks, breaths and says bass There is a little opening between the branches and inside holds a glass surface of glassy water. On your flick stick you have a little surface lure that is looking at you asking, even begging, to be thrown into that hole. With a flick of the wrist, the lure flys into the hole to land with a perfect plop on that millpond surface.

With no time to be impressed with your casting prowess, the water under that willow erupts in an almighty cacophony of water and noise. Your drag is sounding the alarm that it is letting go of line. Your rod is bent over pumping. The canoe is being pulled towards the snag. It's you against something that is hell bent on winning this tug of war session. Heading this way, heading that way you feel your line sliding and rubbing on underwater structure you can't see. Silently you pray. "Please hold, please hold". With angling skill you direct the bow wave of something dark and deep deep green. Carefully lifting it into the canoe you stare shaking and sweating straight into the eyes of an extremely annoyed' bass.

To top this whole scene off, hanging out of the corner of its mouth, is the lure you made yesterday. The one you were scrutinizing and asking yourself "WiII this one work?"
Like most anglers I have delved into the realms of making my own lures. Some have worked, some have been absolute disasters. I've done divers, surface poppers, bugs, frogs, torpedoes and flys. Made to target trout, bass, bream, flathead and many other fishes.

I started making lures for the challenge and to fill in the hours that I wasn't fishing. This also helped to take away the thoughts of the hundreds of dollars of fish jewellery, which I have contributed to the trees and snags in all of my local fishing spots. I figured the average price of a lure is about $12.00 - 15.00 EACH. The cost of materials for thong things might be $8.00 for a pair of thongs plus hooks wire, split rings and shot. Out of one pair of thongs I have made up to 16 lures! Do it Yourself Lure making is well worth the cost savings, not to mention the awesome feelings you get when they work.

We have all heard of "Thong Things". I remember reading about these things 5 years ago in an article written by Les Baker and I can only assume that they were being made way before that. So I started tinkering and Hybridizing Ideas to see what worked and what didn't.Image

Making Thong Things is easy and simple to do, all you need is just about any closed cell foam you can find. Thongs, kickboards, packing foam, floaties will all do fine. Now before you go and steal the kid's kick board or your partner's thongs, you also have to realize that there are different densities of foam. Hard foam (Thongs) is durable but a little bit harder to work with. Soft foam (Kickboard) tends to be less durable with toothy critters but easier to work with. Think about your target species when selecting your foam.
NOTE: I have found soft poppers are smashed repetitively by the same fish due to the soft body feeling. They don't last long though!!!!
Take the head off a large chipboard screw and put it into the head of your drill as you would a drill bit. Position your drill vertically or horizontally (personal preference) within a vice, clamp in a stable position so as the drill will not move or jump about when you are turning up your foam. Allow a total clear space around the home made lathe area for safety reasons.

NOTE: It is imperative the drill cannot move whilst spinning and sanding foam. Please take time to position drill well.Image

After you have selected your foam for your target species you are ready to start. Cut a length of foam as close to the diameter of your lure as you can. Remembering the larger the piece, the more sanding you will be doing, the less lures you will get from your supply. Position the foam length at the end of the drill so as the foam will wind down evenly along the screw. Do this at a slow speed as to fast will tear out the center ofthe foam rendering it useless. Let the foam go all the way to the drill chuck so as foam does not move
whilst sanding.

NOTE: Foam must spin evenly (straight) when turned, to avoid drill wobble and excess sanding.

Turn the drill on initiating the button that allows you to remove your finger from the trigger. Assess the spin and how much sanding you are going to do. Bend a piece of sandpaper so as you have a round edge. Gently work up and down the length of foam to create a cylinder. I prefer glass paper for this but any sandpaper will do the job. Continue sanding until desired width is achieved.

NOTE: Vary pressure and surface area of sandpaper in contact with foam for speedier results. To.o much pressure will strip the screw internally, rendering the foam useless.

Using a pen, mark the cylinder as to the amount of blanks you want. Fold a piece of sandpaper and use the sharp edge to cut your sections. Sand to shape, then use finer sandpaper to give you a smoother finished blank. Once completed stop drill and remove your lure blanks ready for the next stage of the lure process.Image

NOTE: Complete each blank individually and then remove so as sand paper slip doesn't wreck the next blank

Using fencing wire or another wire similar, measure your required length of wire to be turned up. By inserting an alien key into a drill and holding your wire approximately in the middle of your required length with a pair of pliers, you can twist up a perfect spiral, increasing the strength of your wire. The alien key will leave a perfect hole for split rings later. Proceed with the other end and snip off excess.
NOTE: A slow Drill speed and careful watching will decrease chance of wire snap

Using small nail scissors cut a section from what will be the bottom of your blank. Cut all the way through to the screw hole. Insert your wire up the length of the screw hole. You should be able to see the wire through the section you removed underneath. Insert split shot into hole and clamp onto the wire. Split shot weight is determined by how much buoyancy Imageyou want your lure to have.

NOTE: Glue can be placed around split shot after insertion so as removal is not possible accidentally e.g.: rock hitting or whilst casting.

Nearing completion now!!! Decide what you want to make. What hooks, what eyes, whether you want to add anything else?Image

In my example, soft plastics are added, as well as bulbous eyes. A smaller hook is added to compensate for the plastic legs and presto the "DG frog" has been created.

The range and scope of thong things are only limited to your imagination!! The different materials Imagethat can be used are forever endless. The cost savings are enormous!!

For any questions you can PM me or there are plenty of other fishnetters that delve into their own lure making. Thanks to the continuous swapping of ideas with people my skills and lures have evolved. Why don't you give it a go?

And in completion of my opening story:Image

With hands still shaking, whooping and hollering, I pull over to the bank for some photos. Opening the esky, come livewell. I can see immediately he was still upset. Placing my hands in was not a good idea as with a swift rank of his gill rakers I snapped my hand out. God that hurts! Oh well I guess I deserved that. Carefully supporting his weight I lift him for the photo. I measure him for recording purposes (awesome 515 mm fish). Placing him within the water he gave one final act of disgust. A whip of his tail drenched me from head to toe. Standing up and wiping my face I headed for the canoe with only 2 thoughts in my head. Lets get out there and get another fish and I will have to make more of that lure.

Hopefully this story can be you and you to can feel the satisfaction of DIY lures.

Dave George

Winter fillin Plastics

Standing at the top of the ramp. 6 am.Total darkness. Hands grasping a thermos coffee cup staring out at the cold water while thick fog rolls across its surface. Air temperature at 6 degrees and clouds of mist billowing from my mouth with every breath. It's now or never. I have to decide to make the trip out into the cold mists or climb into the car and head back to bed.

"Splash" "What was that?" down under the light at the ramp. I head to take a look and see the biggest bait ball you have ever seen. "SNAP" Dave the fisho clicks. Was I thinking of going back to bed? Not likely! Down the ramp goes the bitch, park the car and off into the rolling fog I chug up the waterway.

Awaiting the rise of the sun and holding the jewels so as they don't creep to far up inside with the cold, I scan the range of rubber things in the tackle box. Upon selection of jig and plastic the sun has made a showing and is burning off the fog in beams of light on my back. I select my mooring pontoon and minny over to it so as a slow drift towards and past it will be accomplished. My years of casting now come into play. Avoid the boats, chains, tyres & ropes but still land close enough to the pontoon so as the descent takes the grub under with the run of the tide. Slowly the grub sinks to the bottom 4 meters down. Nothing. Not a touch. Slowly wind and flick the rod tip to give life to the grub at the other end. The tell tale "BUMP" "BUMP" signals the interested party are there though not quite enticed enough to strike. Reeling completely in, my grub gets a dunking bath in the scent and flicked back out to the same side of the pontoon. "SPLUNK" not 6 inches submerged and a flash of silver tackles the grub and rips the line sideways and straight under the pontoon towards the moored boats.

Now picture this, the reel screaming off its nut, the rod pumping, the submerged tip in the water, a foot stamping on the control of the Minn Kota in an effort to avoid the moored boats and a now WIDE awake fisherman crapping himself with the fight of his life on 4lb fireline. Cool Huh!!

The bitch glides out into open water. Not having to worry about smacking into the house priced yachts. I can now put my angling skills to the complete test. The flash of silver gradually comes into view. 300mm of lip hooked bream and two of his BIGGER MATES following!! In the gobsmacked millisecond of seeing the other 2 fish my hooked bream also saw the boat and gave a final bolting surge snapping the 3 kg leader like dental floss, earning his freedom to swim away with the other two. Standing on the casting deck of the bitch, Shaking and staring at the limp snapped line blowing in the breeze like a flag. I thought to myself "I have found my fishing fill in for the bass offseason".

I don't claim to be exceptionally proficient in the ways of breamin. As a matter of fact I am so much of a novice I will probably be asking Horvat for some of his kids "Huggies. With Daryl's and fello members results at the recent National Sports Fishing Competition on the harbour and after the recent bragging Dale gave me of his palace within spitting distance to prime breamin waters, I knew I had to talk to someone. I approached some of the boys at the club to pick their brains for information (Thanks Daryl, Dale & Dave H). At the Walkers Beach invitational I got a chance to talk further about plastics and techniques with some of the guys (Thanks Aaron and Jason). All I had to do was find a boat partner and away I went. My first trip was to Chipping Norton Lakes with Ken. We only managed to secure two little undersized bream but I was hooked.

Since then I have had a few more trips this winter targeting structures with plastics. A recent weekend out with Daryl & Ken saw 40 plus fish caught and released over 2 sessions!! Unreal!! Its easy and fun so get out of that bed and take your fishing experiences further and head out on those winter mornings. Once your hooked the cold doesn't bother you anymore! At the time of writing I am planning my next venture. I will be hitting the oyster leases with Dave Horvat. Knowing how tight those leases are I think I'm going to lose some gear!!!

If you haven't had a chance to experience breamin on soft plastics it is an incredible fill in to your bass off season. It will keep your skills honed and your reflexes sharp. Ask around to fellow members at the club, I did and it paid off.

Good Luck and Happy Breamin

Dave George

Land Locked Lunacy

We could just imagine a dozen or so mini-tanks, just schooling around the rootball of the paperbark tree, eyes skyward and intent on smashing anything that managed to fall into the strike zone. Sure enough, I cast towards the snag, hit root B3 to the right and wammo... on. The fight was a blistering affair. Knees buckled, sweat dripped from my brow. The rod arched maybe twenty degrees and within 3 seconds, the fish was swung into the boat. Pheww, I thought looking up to my fishing buddy Andrew who was holding the rails of his Hornet, laughing uncontrollably.

We'd caught and released maybe twenty or so bream in the short two hours we'd been fishing. Squidgy No. 2 Bloodworms /Alvin Purple's and 2 inch Berkley stick baits in purple were irresistible to the hoards of brackish water bream. I pulled the fly gear out and rolled pink and orange things over logs and under snags. The fly would sink a metre or so before the fly line would twitch left, right and then tighten. To heighten the stupidity factor I cast a fluoro orange 50mm Knols Native into the undercut bank... 3 cranks of the reel and sure enough a bream of 135mm decided it was edible.

The session reminded me of the fish-a-cast sessions on the Nepean involving rat bass. You could cast at the same snag half a dozen times and still record hits. You'd be cranking the reel, chatting to your fishing mate and watching the lure get swiped without any inclination to strike. The fish did the work for you.

The only issue we were dealing with was size. We hit one fish that nudged legal length... the rest hovered around 130 - 180mm. Small fish, yes... but I couldn't think of a better way to spend a coolish February Sunday morning.

ImageSwan Lake is a massive lump of water that sits between Jervis Bay and Ulladulla. It once was tidal... may 5 years back and did produce some amazing bream fishing (or so the locals say). At the back of the lake are two creeks that run for a short distance before withering into stagnant coastal marsh. These creeks are very similar in appearance to many of the creeks and lagoons of the Hawkesbury / Nepean. High bulrushes hugging the bank are broken by paperbark and isolated gum trees. The water is tannin and super clear and to complete the comparison, fricken water fowls voice their annoying shriek continuously.

Dave Horvat

Georges River Bass

Over the years the human population has a lot to be held responsible for. Many accessible points on the Georges are strewn with rubbish, cars, shopping trolleys and excess slicks of unmentionable sludge. This has led to many people turning their noses up at the Georges River.

All the better for anglers in the know. These badly polluted areas tend to be localized to populated stretches of the river. Most of the upper reaches of the Georges are not only relatively clean and clear but extremely beautiful. With plenty of snags and long channels of weed beds, Georges River bass fishing can be exceptional.

Bass fishing can be done throughout the season using a range of lures from surface lures, subsurface divers and soft plastics though river conditions will dictate what techniques and strategies are best. The Georges River tends to weed up as the weather gets warmer with weed blooms choking up large parts of the river. Until a good flood comes, I feel that this will continue to be a problem like the other Sydney bass river the Nepean

I have found most success to be during the early season migration. Weed blooms are yet to develop and channels are everywhere. As the weather gets warmer and the water temperatures rise I can’t wait to get my kayak down into the waters. Late afternoon sessions find large bass out on the cruise for any sustenance to assist in their run further up the river. Many bass I have caught during this time disgorge mouthfuls of white grubs. As spring is also the time of larval stage hatches of many insects, the old saying of match the hatch comes to mind at this time.

A small spinning outfit of 4lb fireline with a leader of 4kg fluorocarbon is the weapon of choice. Attached to a small white soft plastic on a 1/32 ounce jig head connected to a number 1 colorado blade betts spin is absolutely deadly within the river. Small spinnerbaits and texas rigged 3 inch worms have also given me success.

Cast alongside snags and weed bed drop offs, allow to helicopter down into the depths. Give the soft plastic some twitches as the lure drops and hold on. 90% of takes are on the drop. Remember these bass are looking for larval grubs at this time of year dropping into the depths from above. If not taken on the drop work an erratic retrieve back along the snag or weed bed. Work structure repeatedly as I have found that the bass cruise from structure to structure in this tight nit water. Very slow retrieves so as blades are just turning are also successful with many pauses on the bottom to entice a strike for the more finicky of bass

Don’t discount small surface lures during this time. Small Heddon Torpedos, Jitterbugs and River to Sea Buggi Pops are all the go. Work them just off the edges of the weeds winding back towards the beds. Expect the eruption of water as they hit the morsel that is trying to get away into the weed beds.

I had the opportunity last year to attend an Advance Bass Seminar held by Mr John Bethune. The seminar was held at Bakers Creek Station up on the Mid North Coast in Taylors Arm. The course taught casting of baitcasters and spinning reels, water strategies and planning, fishing techniques with different lures and soft plastics and understanding sounders.

Johns techniques used with Bucktail jigs and how to work these jigs around structure and lily pads have helped and opened my fishing opportunities within the Georges River. The techniques I learned at this seminar have expanded my fishing immensely. John runs many seminars throughout the year & I can thoroughly recommend them.

The bass fishing within the Georges is not only great but is on the increase. Persistence and patience is the key, look for the signs, read the water and enjoy.

Good Luck.

Dave George

Bass Kissing Back or Blowing You A Raspberry??

I get to talk to a lot of people between editions of NSW Fishing Monthly magazine, and one common topic of conversation is how hard bass can be to catch in certain locations at various times of the year. One reason is that bass in various places, such as Yarramundi and the Nepean River at Penrith, see a lot of the same lures, techniques and retrieves over a very short space of time during what is commonly referred to as the “bass season”. Bass get a very quick education in these areas, as they are some of the most heavily fished waters in Western Sydney.

Rex Hunt is famous amongst other things, for his strange habit of kissing fish. Well it seems our local bass have learnt to return the favour, but it’s not as a sign of affection.

I recently took my son Nathan for a fish on the Nepean and I was experimenting with a few ideas. You don’t tend to get a lot of quality fishing time to yourself when you fish with a three year old, so it’s a good time to try new things. One of the things I noticed on this particular afternoon was that some bass would come up and kiss my lure to test whether it was really edible or not. These bass were sometimes little nippers of around 150mm long or less, but they were whily and smart. A gentle kiss of my lure and they thumbed their nose at me and retreated back into their lair. If I hadn’t been watching them, I would never felt them nudge my lure. Their kiss was that soft. It was a case of bass kissing back and blowing me a raspberry.

I was using slow floating lures just beneath the surface, and stopped my retrieve to see what the fish were doing under the current conditions. The bass got a good look at the lure and after giving the lure a soft peck, left it alone. Working the same lure in deeper water further out amongst the weedbeds, with a quicker retrieve, larger fish were caught after they had to make a choice. They didn’t have time to identify the lure as food or fake, and had to either eat it or lose the opportunity.

Another strange thing happen in the Colo while I was experimenting during a summer afternoon session. Toying with some bass in a large weed pocket, larger bass would appear then disappear, before showing up again with smaller bass and surrounding the lure just like students would gather around their teacher. After careful examination, the fish would turn and be gone, never to be tempted again. It may have been that the larger fish weren’t sure and came back for a second look, but

it certainly seemed strange that not even the little guys were keen to have a go. I really worked that hole hard to see what might tempt these fish, but they just wouldn’t re-appear. After that little session of experimentation was over, I went on to have one of the best sessions I’ve had in the Colo for a long time.

A few weeks ago, while fishing with my brother in law in a secret little spot. We decided we wanted to try getting some surface strikes on video. Despite having the video camera in hand, it was not running sadly for the following extraordinary display from a bass. I’m just glad I had somebody to witness it to prove I wasn’t going mad. I had cast a Taylor Made Fizz Banger out near some lillies when a reasonable sized bass came up vertically and sucked the lure into its mouth, missing both sets of trebles. He went down about a foot before letting the lure float back to the surface.

John “Mr Bass” Bethune, has been on the record a number of times, saying that the effectiveness of spinnerbaits has declined in hard fished local waters because of their incredible popularity when they first arrived on the scene. They haven’t been as popular locally for sometime now, as bass seemed to be educated about spinnerbaits.

Homer Circle in “Bass Wisdom” says this about U.S bass. “.......... some bass are dumb and get caught early, but the majority are survivors. You need to keep this in mind when you’re bass fishing.”

There are other factors which also make fish wary. Banging in boats, talking loudly, slapping water against boats, the hum of noisy outboards, the whir or electric motors and lure sounds which can all put fish on alert.

There has also been some debate about the effectiveness of boats sporting four stroke outboards versus those with two strokes. The different sounds emitted underwater seems to have some affect on fish, with some swearing that anglers fishing from four strokes seem to have better success than those using two strokes.

Electric motors exciting bass in the U.S example. Homer Circle in his book “Bass Wisdom”, says that most U.S bass pro anglers don’t believe electric motors spook bass, especially if run at low speed speed. That may be true of U.S bass, but sensible use of an electric motor would be a smart thing to do.

If you’ve ever fished after a tournament has been in a particular location, you’ll sometimes find things tougher than you might have expected. A group of mates, including Gary Lee and Dave George fished St Clair on a weekend last year and we counted a dozen boats heading back to Singleton as we headed out there. There was a big comp on the following weekend, and the guys leaving were doing a pre-fish. The fishing was tough for us, but the guys like Gary and Dave who used different lures than the pre fish boys did, did well, while those that fished with the popular lures at the time didn’t do so well. The successful guys downsized their lures and used different colored lures than the favorites at the time.

Steve Starling reported in the April 2006 edition of Modern Fishing some amazing news. During the filming of the AFC competition held on Cania Dam in Queensland, some of the competitors had a bit of a swim while others were casting lures from the bank. “Slick” Wright, being a professional abalone diver, swims like a dophin and while swimming

about, surfaced to tell everyone how noisy their lures were under the water. They did some experimenting with some Ecogear VT 55 lipless crankers to see how far away they could be heard underwater.“Slick” kept swimming further and further out, getting close to six hundred metres out and still being just able to hear the lures. If “Slick” could hear them from six hundred metres away, what must dozens of bass anglers using them in a tournament sound like? With lipless crankers like the Jackalls, Daiwa’s and Ecogear lures, is it any wonder that their effectiveness at times doesn’t seem to live up to our expectations?

Once again, Homer Circle in “Bass Wisdom” says, “The moment you credit the bass (that’s U.S bass of course!) with super hearing ability is the moment you begin thinking like a bass” If the same could true of Australian bass, and an VT55 can be heard by “Slick” Wright at six hundred metres away, what does a bass hear when a bass tournament is on?

In Japan, where bass competitions are held on small lakes by our standard, up to eight hundred anglers can fish a tournament. Can you imagine what must be going through the brain of a bass during a tournament in Japan? Experimentation is a very strong part of fishing in Japan, as new techniques are developed in order to take educated bass to the weigh in.

Our mate Homer in “Bass Wisdom” says this about how U.S bass learn. “Larger bass can readily detect a source of danger. If the young impulsive bass grabs a lure, and then struggles to escape, older bass notice. Maybe they’re warned by the struggle or perhaps the sudden emission of lactic acid or urine. Whatever, they watch and learn.” Whether you think this statement has any credibility when it comes to Australian bass, it has to get you thinking doesn’t it? This is why bass fishing in remote locations is often so enjoyable. The fish haven’t seen much angling pressure, and fish are so aggressive and why smaller bass often fight harder than their larger brothers in the rivers. Ever caught a big bass from a kayak in remote water? It’s like being spun in the spin cycle of a huge washing machine! You can’t beat it!

We might wish that bass didn’t behave sometimes like they were on Prozac or other sedatives, wishing instead they always acted like they were on “Speed”. That’s wishful thinking. Rather than becoming mechanical anglers, think about what you’re doing and not doing. Become more aware of the things you do which might put fish on notice and look for ways which might make stop them just being kissing fish and gets you hooking fish. Nobody ever counts the number of kissing fish they had in a session do they?

Steve Prott