The spring bass season is upon us and I know that there will be quite a few anxious anglers just waiting to hit the rivers and creeks in search for the wild Australian Bass. Regardless of whether fishing, ponds, creeks or puddles that you can literally jump over, I have been constantly amazed by these creatures; their hardiness, movements and the habitats they live in. If you’re planning to target Australian Bass this season, here are a number of things to keep in mind that might assist in your success.
Moon – There are a lot of mixed opinions about the moon and whether it helps or hinders the quality of fishing. In this case, I believe it plays an important part and the new moon is prime fishing time. During this phase of the moon, tidal movements are greater and can influence how the fish progress upstream as they move in schools in search of food.
Time – I have caught Bass right throughout the day from early in the morning, pre-dawn, in the middle of the day when the sun is high in the sky right through to hours after the sun has set. However if I were to pick a preferred time, I would generally look to time my session earlier in the morning or late in the afternoon and ensure it coincides with some moving water in the tide.
Equipment – Discussions around rods, reels, line and leader is always going promote healthy discussion.
Personally I like a heavier, faster tapered rod like the Battler Thunderstorm. It is light and has plenty of power for wrestling fish from submerged snags but it also has enough finesse to cast your lure with pin point accuracy.
My preference is to match this rod with a 3000 size high speed reel such as the Sol II 3000H. Using a high speed reel has several advantages. You can slow down the retrieve for a slow crankbait or spinnerbait action however it generally suits my faster fishing style where I’m seeking the aggressive reaction bite and once hooked up to a fish, you can easily wrestle the fish out of structure at speed with less chance of the fish tangling you in the structure.
On the reel, I like to use 20lb braided line with a short 15-20lb fluorcarbon leader. Generally, with murky water, the shorter heavier leader doesn’t impact the bite and at the same time allows you to pull your lure free from any snags you may encounter.
Lures – In spring, the favourites would have to be without a doubt topwater, hollow bodied frogs, cicadas, pencils and poppers. The explosive response and heart-in-mouth fishing is addictive. Unfortunately though, Bass do not always bite the topwater. This is where having a good selection of spinnerbaits, beetlespins, soft plastics and worm hooks are essential. Providing a degree of weedless functionality, these are perfect for pitching to stumps and logs, into holes or down the face of rockwalls. And then there is the humble crankbait or vibration baits. These aren’t so snag friendly but used in the right locations such as along banks, rockwalls or even down the sides of laydowns, they can quite often be just what that bass is looking for.
Tactics – When stalking these fish it can be tempting to cover a lot of ground in search of the fish, quite often though they are sitting right at your feet. My tip would be to cover your ground thouroughly. Hit every nook and cranny until you find what and how they are biting and generally you will find a pattern, often you can pull multiple fish from the same structure whether it is a snag, a bank or an eddy back from the moving water. Don’t get too comfortable though as the bite can change in an instant. It only takes a some cloud cover, change in wind, barometric pressure or even a change in the creeks layout, then it’s back to the drawing board.
I’ve only been up here in Cairns a couple of months and loving the prospects it has to offer, but one thing I’m surely going to miss this spring is stalking those wild river Bass.