Without doubt, one of my favourite ways to chase Australian bass is in small streams on the south coast of New South Wales. This is my home area, however, bass can range from the most southern parts of the mainland up to south east Queensland.
All you need is a rod, a hand full of lures, a back pack and some time. The main reason this fishing suits me is that I can do it as an after work special. With longer days during the warmer months, it is easily achievable for the 9 to 5ers among us to hit the water post work.
The other thing is they are energetic little fighters who will readily hit a lure much larger than themselves. It is exciting fishing and even small fish can run you into a snag in seconds.
I like everything about them, from the way these fish hit the lures with gusto to how visually rewarding the surface strike is. They are such a cool looking fish with a big eye and a bucket mouth for inhaling their prey.
WHEN AND WHERE
Bass are often found in small free stone streams, creeks and rivers that you would more associate with trout than these Aussie brutes. You will often be surprised at how far they can be found inland too.
As for their fighting ability, pound for pound, it is right up there. The fish in creeks and rivers grow fit and strong and will have even the most experienced anglers stretched to their limits trying keep these guys out of cover. Which makes them great sport on light spin tackle.
Your only limit is how far you are willing to trek into the depths in search of these fish.
Wild fish are targeted outside of the closed season, but for me the best time is after the first rains in spring. The warmer weather triggers the fish to move upstream into the skinny walkable creeks and rivers.
As I mentioned before, I usually do this fishing late in the afternoon when the sun starts to make long shadows, this allows the fish to move from cover.
The next big key is a big cicada hatch, this will have the bass’s gaze firmly fixed on the surface with the deafening noise of these insects drowning out everything else. The bass’s diet consists of almost 40% insects so when there are plenty of them flying around and falling in the water, they feast.
At this time of year, I generally use two lures in creeks; sub surface and surface.
Surface is the most exciting way to catch bass for sure. The Atomic cicada has been around for a few years now, it is a must to have in your tackle box if you have not already.
This lure has folding wings and with its weight forward design, it casts absolutely beautifully. Making a longer cast than expected from such a small package, once the lure makes touch down, the wings unfold making it a superb surface crawler and there is something in the colour range for everyone. My favourite colours are something dark or black, making a perfect silhouette, something visually bright like white or yellow, and something natural say brown, bronze or green.
I use a Samurai Reaction 3 to 8lb 6 foot 5 rod which has nice light tip but loads up in the butt section to haul fish from cover. It has been great for making accurate casts into shady pockets with ease.
I’ve matched this with a 1000 size shimano reel spooled with super thin Untika Bream Jr 8lb with leaders ranging from 6lb to 12lb. For the most part 8lb is more than enough but may need to upsize my leader if fishing areas that have a lot of snags.
The Atomic Cicada is fine just to cast out and give it a steady wind retrieve back it will catch fish no worries, but here are some of the little subtlety’s that I’ve picked up over years of chasing these that might help you and result in more hook ups and fish landed.
Firstly, I like to try and make my casts as close as I can to undercut banks, logs and rocks in shady pockets. This seems to be the most effective. This is unless there is a massive cicada hatch that they have keyed in on, then it won’t matter too much where you cast as long as the shape of the lure resembles a cicada.
After I’ve made my cast, I will often let the lure sit for up to 10 seconds (its amazing how often the lure gets eaten just sitting there). If nothing has happened then I’ll give the lure a twitch and then pause it for around 3 seconds and then give it another twitch. After that I wind it back about 30cm or so, then pause and wind back another 30cm (this creating movement whilst keeping close to the strike zone).
If none of that works, I will wind it back in metre increments at various speeds with a pause in between. The fish will tell you how to retrieve it, the trick is once you get a strike you need to remember what you where doing with the lure at the time and replicate it. This is how you start to crack the pattern for that day. For example, it may need to be dead sticked with no movement at all, or on the other hand they may want a steady fast retrieve with no pauses.
Finally, try as hard as you can not strike as they hit. You will need to feel the weight of the fish before you set hooks otherwise you may just pull the lure away from them (they often pull lures under then eat them as they float back up) so be patient.
And when it all comes together hang on tight, and be prepared to lean on these fish because as they love to head to structure and remember a bass is never beaten to you have it in your hands.