Freshwater fishing? It’s all about the bass
Australian bass (Macquaria novemaculeata) are a small to medium sized, primarily freshwater (but estuarine spawning) native fish found in coastal rivers and streams along the east coast of Australia.
Tiemco Soft Shell Cicadas, Jackal Chubbys, Megabass Siglett Pagani, Squidgie Bass Bugs, fizzers and Jitterbugs are a few of my favourite Australian bass lures.
Australian bass are perhaps one of Australia’s iconic sports fish and why wouldn’t they be, their surface takes can be explosive, they fight tough, they are a great looking fish and some of the locations you can fish for them get you thinking “How’s the serenity?”
You can catch them on bait, but nothing beats tightly casting a surface lure into a timber snag or rock wall, then getting your lure smashed in an explosion of water as a bass comes up and inhales it.
In the local area you can find lure munching Australian bass in both the fresh and salt water, including parts of the Shoalhaven River, Bewong Creek, Broughton Creek, Flatrock Creek Dam, Danjera Dam and Lake Yarrunga.
A big shout to the Southern Bass Fishing Club as this year they celebrated 20 years of stocking local waterways with bass fingerlings to ensure the future of the species.
Fishing for bass is all about fishing for structure which they like to hold.
This includes rock walls, deep holes in creeks, tree snags and weed beds.
The end of spring and throughout summer is generally the best time of the year to go flicking for bass.
A good rule of thumb is when the cicadas start to hatch it’s time to get serious about surface lure fishing for bass because cicadas are one of their favourite snacks.
There is no doubt that early morning and late afternoon is the best time to target bass.
You can also experience some serious surface lure action at night.
Although there is no definitive scientific studies on the influence of barometric pressure on fish, most anglers that are tuned right into their bass fishing watch the barometer closely.
Take advantage of high pressure systems, bass will also really come on the chew when there are muggy conditions before a storm front hits.
From experience low barometric pressure tends to result in slower fishing, particularly in freshwater environments.
In terms of tackle I use a quality 1000 model spinning reel spooled up with 2 or 3kg gel spun line and 2–3kg, 6.8 to 7.2 length carbon fibre rod.
I like to use around a rod’s line of 3 or 4kg fluoro carbon leader and attach the lure using a loop knot.
You really need to fine tune your casting techniques if you are going to chase bass on lures as the trick to catching them is getting the lure underneath snags and hard up against rocks.
It’s pretty common for bass to take the lure as soon as it hits the water.
If the bass doesn’t strike straight away leave the lure there for about 10 seconds, then give it a bit of a twitch as they will often sit underneath the lure waiting for it to move.
Retrieve the lure back using an erratic retrieve, with lots of pauses and twitches.
When using diving lures or crank baits use a slow roll retrieve, with pauses and flicks of the rod tip.
Everyone’s got their favourite bass lures, but for surface fishing it’s pretty hard to go past Tiemco Soft Shell Cicadas and Megabass Siglett Pagani.
In the Teimcos I like to use ones that resemble the cicadas that are around, like the green grocer or black prince pattern.
Bass are also very partial to the bumble bee colour.
These lures are in the $20 to $35 price range, but they definitely catch more fish.
Australian bass are a sports fish and most are released.
Between May 1 and August 31 each year, a zero bag limit applies to Australian bass to protect the species while they spawn.
Catch and release is permitted in rivers during the closure but any fish must be returned to the water immediately.
The next couple of months are prime time to go fishing for Australian bass, so duck into your local tackle shop, get some lures and get bassin.
Next week we’ll have some tips on fishing for close cousin to the Australian Bass, the Enigma of the Estuary, the Estuary Perch (EPs).