BASS FROM YOUR BOOTS

Bass have an amazing spawning journey which is filled with natural and man-made obstacles. Travelling large distances up to 100 kms to the salt to spawn, then swimming their way against the current gives bass their tough muscular bodies, as well-known angling identity Michael Guest explains here.

One of my favourite forms of fishing is strapping on the boots, fighting my way through dense vegetation and fishing on foot. My prime objective is to get the perfect cast in and fool what can only be described as one of the best eyesight hunters that swims. This situation is amplified with shallow gin clear water as they are sensitive to any deflection in the water’s surface tension above their heads. Native bass are still very much switched on to feeding off terrestrial insects along with other small reptiles, even baby birds, worms, maggots – the list goes on. DSC_8555 episode 17

Attack Signals

Bass are looking for any break in the surface tension. Once this occurs their lateral line sends a signal to attack. They hone in for an immediate strike then retreat, at pace, back into a shadowy position tight against the cover. Cover can be a grassy bank, submerged log, rock faces or low hanging shrubbery. All of these places make great bass pads, a place to chill out and explode at the right moment. Walking the bank can certainly have its difficulties but this challenge is all part of the process. In a kayak for example you can fire casts in at both sides of the creek, but this can be a tough ask in higher country in real fast flowing skinny water. As your drift speed especially entering from a rapid into the lead pool will be too fast to fish the area properly.

Fishing Bankside

Fishing from the bank allows good casts into the prime feeding areas such as top hole of a stretch where the rapids run in. Bass will often hang in bigger numbers in these areas as they will get first crack at any food source washing down. The majority of really good accessible bass creeks are on privately owned land. You’ll find nine times out of ten if you do the right thing and ask, especially as most of us are catch and release fishermen, the answer will be yes. The creeks and rivers up and down the east coast of Australia are home to not only bass but all types of snakes, leeches, ticks and an array of stinging and prickly plants. So long, study trousers, an old pair of jeans for example are highly recommended. Solid boots and a long sleeve shirt help round out a good protective package. DSC_6816KA

What To Take

Other things to think about in the backpack are fresh water, first aid kit, hand-held GPS, mobile phone and in remote areas a personal EPIRB. I generally take one 3 kilo spin rod with a five piece 2-5 kilo spin rod that breaks down to only 400mm long and fits in the backpack. It’s easy to fall over and break a rod so a spare is a handy thing to have. A 1500 size reel with 8 pound braid and 6 – 10 pound leaders works well for me. Bass are just fantastic sport fish on light tackle such as this.

Lure Options

As far as lures is concerned I would rather catch one bass on a surface lure than five sub-surface, so any chance I get I’m always working the top. In saying that, it pays to have a variety of different presentations depending on water clarity, local food source, etc. Small poppers and walkers, bibless minnows, small bibbed deep diving and shallow running hard bodies, spinner baits and a variety of soft plastics pretty much cover my tackle box. One of my favourite surface lures are Sebile splashers, they move a lot of water for not a lot of movement. I generally like the natural colours in darker tones such as dark brown to black, though it pays to look at your surroundings. One creek I fish regularly anything with yellow or gold is extremely effective due to a large population of green and bright yellow grasshoppers. DSC_5199stew

Matching The Hatch

It goes without saying if you can hear cicadas buzzing everywhere then match the hatch. For a bit of fun try and catch a couple of live cicadas and spear them quickly into the water and watch the explosions happen. Bass are sensitive to bright light so in the middle of the day they tend to hide in the shadows. Early and late then into the evening are the prime surface lure fishing times. Darker creeks with heavy canopies will often yield bass right through the day especially with accurate casting right into the dark places. DSC_5443KA

Surface Action

Once the surface bite slows down it’s time to rummage through the tackle box and find a lure that will reach the strike zone. Days where the barometer is low the fish will be tough to say the least, slowly worked presentations such as soft plastics and spinner baits can be the key to success here. A rising barometer will always yield the best success on all Australian natives and certainly bass. Stormy conditions where the barometer is rising and falling quickly will also provide plenty of rod bending action. When you’re fishing from the bank quite often the best snag or structure is right at your feet. A stealth approach is needed to extract a bite from these fish in such close quarters. If they see you then the chance that you will get the fish to eat your presentation has already gone.

Bass are an amazing fish, I always practice catch and release and continue to look for that 50 cm plus wild fish. I hope you manage to get stretched by one yourself. Guesty

Guesty

About Michael Guest

Michael Guest’s love of all things aquatic was instilled at a young age, fishing, spear-fishing and windsurfing. His passion has grown into an addiction and whether it is catching bait off the wharf, teasing Marlin on the continental shelf, or crashing through undergrowth and casting at bass this is where he is most at home. A fisherman with the environment at heart, Michael loves to spend time fishing with his family. Catch and release and take only what you need are the two philosophies Michael wants to instil in all young anglers. From the watery depths to dusty roads Michael cut his teeth in the most spectacular of motorsports – rallying. Wins at State, National, Asia/Pacific and International level elevated him to be the first Australian to tackle a regular ride in the World Rally Championship.

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