Cool Weather Bass – Back to basics

Winter Bass – Back To School part 1

The author, Dane Radosevic, at a recent bass tournament with a brace of quality fish.

The author, Dane Radosevic, at a recent bass tournament with a brace of quality fish.

Have you ever been in the situation where all you needed was a bite and that one bite had the potential to turn a dream into reality? If you asked me this question four years ago I would have replied with a ‘No’. However ask me the same question today and you’d receive a very affirmative ‘Yes’. What changed my opinion? Tournament fishing… There’s honestly no greater excitement and anticipation than sitting in the driver’s seat of a vessel capable of reaching speeds of well over 100km/h plus, racing 40 other competitors to reach a spot and catch your two fish limit each session to claim victory. Until you have been placed in this situation one bite might not mean a lot to you, however to me now one bite is the difference between success and defeat. Through this article I wish to unveil and hopefully guide readers through a process that I would typically use to locate, target and trigger bass to bite during our cooler months.

Change of Seasons

Bass schooling in deeper water.

Bass schooling in deeper water.

During the winter months as the water begins to drop in temperature bass generally move off the edges and school in deeper water, where they gorge themselves on baitfish and grow into football shaped power houses. To some anglers targeting these schooled fish can often seem daunting as it isn’t as simple as pulling up to a bank and casting at visible structure. A typical area to start searching for schooled bass is over flats, easiest described as a slow descending bank that levels out, however not visible to the human eye and can be found towards the middle of a dam.  

Flat Country

A thumper of a fish pulled from the depths.

A thumper of a fish pulled from the depths.

Flats generally have no visible structure unless populated with standing timber and this is where having a good quality sounder is imperative. The introduction of structure scan technology to sounders has definitely made searching for these schooled fish much more efficient than ordinary sonar, which can only project a beam beneath the boat. Structurescan projects a beam either side of the boat covering a much greater area, which in turn means less sounding and more time fishing. Having all this technology is great however if you don’t understand how to use and interpret the information it is giving you then it is pointless.

Know Your Sounder

  It is crucial that you spend the time learning how to use your unit and be able to distinguish between the different forms of underwater structure like boulders, stumps, pre-existing creek beds and most importantly tell the difference between baitfish and bass. Having the patience to spend quality time sounding around plays a very important role when it comes to targeting schooled fish successfully, as locating schools isn’t always easy when searching large bodies of water. Sounding in a prolonged snaking motion across a flat is far more effective than sounding in straight lines. For example, I might begin at a depth of 20 feet and motor out to around 50 or 60 feet and then do a loop back to 20 feet, continuing the same pattern working my way along a flat. This allows me to cover a large area of water faster and it creates a better image of the fish’s concentration and activity at different depths. Pay close attention and you will soon begin to decipher a pattern. Take particular note of the depth where the best shows of fish occurred as there is a good chance that they will more often than not be consistently found all over the dam at that depth. With this information acquired a more concentrated search can be focused on in this depth range.

All About Presentation

Whether you are using fly or lure presentation is the key to success.

Whether you are using fly or lure presentation is the key to success.

Another top-quality bass is revived prior to release.

Another top-quality bass is revived prior to release.

Once the fish have been located hopefully it’s as simple as casting your lure presentation out, beginning the retrieve and drawing a bite. Unfortunately the fishing isn’t always that easy. Quite often bass can have two reactions to boat pressure. Oddly enough they could sit right underneath the boat, which can make them very hard to target and draw a bite. When they display this behaviour moving off the school, within casting distance, will usually be enough to draw a bite again. The opposing and more understandable reaction they can display is to disperse which can sometimes be attributed to the ticking sound produced from the sonar which is surprisingly loud underwater. In this instance finding the fish and stopping your sonar completely may be enough to trigger them to bite. Likewise I have been amazed by the amount of times the fishing has been relatively tough, the tunes were cranked up and all of a sudden the fish began to reappear and bite. I’m not saying go out and blare music every time you’re sitting on a school but it is something to keep in mind and try as there are no hard and fast rules to fishing, especially when it comes to targeting bass.

Dane’s ‘Back to Bass – ics’ article will continue next month on Kaydo Fishing World.

Dane Radosevic

About Dane Radosevic

My name is Dane Radosevic and I am 18 years of age, born on the Fraser Coast and raised in Hervey Bay, QLD. I enjoy participating in all forms of angling from bait fishing to my preferred methods of lure and fly.

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