Here at That Fishing Shop we've been known to target one particular fish more than any others species, whether its due to our geographic dis-advantage or advantage, depending on how you see it, we've somehow grown synonymous with this cunning and highly prized sport fish. Here's a quick guide as to what you can expect, as well as tips and hints that will help you along the way.
Australian Bass seems to be the flavor of the month leading into the new year. Once the weather starts to warm and bass poke their heads out, the surface and skinny water bass really seem to fire up. Australian Bass are one of the most highly rated pound for pound sport fish in Australia ( Particularly the eastern states). Majority of Australian Bass don't grow much bigger than 45cm and no more than a few kilos, but still they show an absolute mind blowing amount of strength given their size. The rest of this article will guide you through some tips and hints at targeting non-impoundment bass.
Australian Bass primarily are found scattered throughout the many stocked impoundments in New South Wales, Queensland & Victoria, as well as their natural habitat being coastal estuarine waters, rivers, and creeks. Although a mostly freshwater species, Bass can be found in quite salty water, The Brisbane River being a prime example of that.
Australian Bass are a lot more active throughout the summer months. An old saying goes - "Any month ending in an 'R' will provide a fruitful bag". Whilst this rings true with the most active feeding season being October, November & December, Bass can be caught all year round.
When targeting bass in creeks, river and small lakes you need to seek out what they'd find shelter in, these could be anything from reeds, overhanging trees, fallen branches and submerged snags. To maximise your chances of snagging the ever elusive bass, try and stick to dawn, twilight & dusk.
Throughout summer when the sun is at it's highest, Bass will generally head to deeper waters rather than hang of snags in the shallows. Keep that in mind when you do have that midday session, you'll need deeper diving cranks & spinnerbaits. At night time however you'll find them alot easier to land, closer to the banks of your local creeks. Full moon periods in particular, coupled with a barometer reading of over 1020, will nearly guarantee a couple decent size fish.
Bass fishing in Australia is a finesse game. The most common set-up found around would be a 4-10 Lb rod, anywhere from 6'6" to 7'6" in length, given the location you're fishing the length can either dis-advantage you monumentally or give you the edge you need. My pick is a Majorcraft Crostage CRK -702M, it is alot lighter than most rods out there with an extremely fast taper, that's only a personal preference though.
In the reel department, a 2000 size reel does the trick, you don't need big drag or line capacity to chase them as they rarely go over 3 kilos. For an entry level 2000 size reel the soon to be released 13 Fishing Creed GT or a Daiwa Freams/Exceler will get you going in the right direction.
Line selection is one of the most important parts of chasing Bass. These fish are highly intelligent and aren't hard to spook. A good quality 8 strand braid, either Sunline/Unitika/ Yamatoyo in 10 Lb is more than enough to hold up to what you need. Some people will chase them with 16Lb+ braid and that's way more than what you need. Your catching ability will drastically reduce if you start going heavier than that, not to mention smaller lures will be alot harder to throw. For your leader 10 Lb is also a good number, FC Rock or FC Sniper Invisible are two particularly good ones that are worth investing in.
Famously known to be spooked, wary & timid creatures, Bass hit lures harder than nearly all the fresh-water species combined. Whilst a lot of people will use bait for them, hard-bodys are generally the most effective as they imitate a living bait fish. This is particularly good given Bass are a predatory fish, generally preferring to eat living bait rather than pick at dead things.
In the early mornings and late in the afternoon is when the top-water action seems to really pick up. As the temperature is cooler, Bass will sit alot closer to the surface waiting for any stray bugs of mice to fall out of a tree. These times of day are when you can turn to poppers, cicadas, beetles and various other surface walkers. Poppers seem to be the favourite of most people, there's not much more left in life after you get a surface hook-up on a popper. Everything else is just dull after that! Some of the most common go to surface lures are Megabass Pop-X, Bassday Sugarpens, Fish Arrow & Tiemco Cicadas & the Atomic Pop 50.
Throughout the day time you start turning to deeper diving lures. Given that this article is about skinny water and estuarine creeks i'll be talking about the ones that don't dive to deep as you'll end up bottom bashing. Most creeks vary in depth from half a metre to around 3 metres with the occasional hole that could be 5 metres. Given this i find lures that dive from half a metre to 1.5 the most effective as i then reduce my chances of getting a snag down deep, as well as being able to physically see my lure most of the time. Bassday Kangokus are my absolute favourite, they are only shallow floating divers and dive to around a maximum of half a metre depending on your speed of retrieval. I generally work these back on a slow retrieve with a very subtle twitch and pause every wind or so. Jackall Chubby 38's are also extremely similar in the way you can work them.
For the slightly deeper diving lures i generally turn to Ecogear SX-40's and Pontoon 21 Greedy Guts. Be wary of your bib size and retrieve speed with these deeper diving and larger lures. A retrieval rate to fast will only result in them diving ALOT deeper than you intend which generally results in snags and what not. If you know you have enough depth, sometimes it's nice to be able to work them faster and deeper, but that's more often than not the case. If you stick with floating hardbodys you have the advantage of knowing when you bumped a log and then stopping and waiting for it to float up and then retrieving after it floats over said timber.
In saying all this, there's a million ways to catch Bass and even more techniques. But if you're just starting out and want a good chance at landing some fish, this guide should head you in the right direction. Most bass locations are tricky to get to and take a lot of dedication walking and/ or kayaking to, but once mastered, you can experience some of your best fishing to date. With the modern day technology of aerial maps, scour these and if you find any little creek that's murky / brackish, there's a chance it's holding Bass, even if it's in the middle of the city!
If you have any more questions, feel free to pop in and see us at That Fishing Shop and we'll be happy to point you in the right direction.
Phoenix Noffke x