Midday Bass Fishing

One of the most difficult times to try and find and catch Bass might be the middle of the day , but not so , as Dave Seaman explains in this article anglers need to adopt their behavior when fishing for Bass at this time and passes on his techniques in catching Bass at midday and why soft plastics are his favourite daylight luring technique for Bass.

Chasing bass on the east coast rivers is often a lesson in fishing with every trip. It doesn’t matter if you have been doing it for 40 years the bass always seem to be able to reveal a different side to their general, textbook behavior.

The truth is the bass and their behaviors haven’t changed and it is us, as anglers that need to adopt an open mind each time we hit the river. Like any good angler, an open mind and drive to change things around, no matter how far removed from the norm it may seem, is a good thing. At low light periods and nights, the convention is to throw surface lures and wait for that thumping, surface erupting strike. It is by far the best bass angling you can experience and sufficiently reliable to make it a favourite form of catching river bass for most.

Perhaps the most difficult time to find and catch bass is when light penetration into the water is at its highest. At midday, during the summer months, when the rivers are clear, warm and may have lost height due to the hot weather, bass can be more of a challenge.

At 51cm FL this fish is a trophy and came out of the base of the rapids most anglers would paddle past.

At 51cm FL this fish is a trophy and came out of the base of the rapids most anglers would paddle past.

It is this combination of conditions that can make the fish lethargic and suggest to the angler the fish have “shutdown”. The reality is they are either seeking relief from the sun in a deep hole or tight to the bank side shade where they will stay until the low light period. Apart from being an aggressive and capable ambush hunter, the bass is also an incredible opportunistic feeder. They rarely let an easy meal drift past them but will draw the line at chasing down anything that hits the water during daylight and escapes the comfort of their hiding place too quickly.

The success you can achieve with a well placed soft plastic anchored with a measured amount of patience is surprising. Perhaps the most important part of the technique is accurate casting where the soft plastic lands as close as possible to the bank or shaded snag pile. Too far from the shade and timber and you simple halve your chances.

Of course other lures like hard bodies and spinnerbaits will catch fish throughout the day but the methodical and mechanical process can get a bit boring. Targeting fish with well placed casts and patiently retrieving your lure across the bottom and eventually feeling that pause, weight and headshake is quite rewarding.

This fish came out of the shade and over hanging vegetation in the right of the photo.

This fish came out of the shade and over hanging vegetation in the right of the photo.

You’ll also be surprised how many big fish fall to soft plastics. While I hate the term “match the hatch” I have to concede that using lures matching the expected food source is necessary, especially when the fish are switched on to a particular bait.

My go to soft plastic has to be the Gulp 2in Shrimp in camo colour. It’s caught more 50+ cm fork length fish than any other plastic I’ve used. Early season the bass migrate (post spawn) back into the freshwater and are looking to put condition on before the height of summer. Perhaps the most abundant food source in the east coast rivers is the shrimp, at least they are the easiest for the bass to catch. The 2inch Gulp shrimp are the ideal size and profile to get the interest of the bass and with a 1/24 to 1/8oz head and No2 hook they are the perfect bait.

Leader size, in my opinion, should never be below 10lb for bass. Any strike or fish advantage you get with light leader is soon countered by the brute strength of the fish, their proximity to their snag and the lost fishing time retying leaders or lures. My standard leader is 16lb fluorocarbon and 20lb during the evening and low light when the bigger fish and wayward casts tangle with overhanging foliage, especially in the dark.

Seeing the fish play up at the boat in clear, shallow water is what we fish for. If they make it to the net it’s even better.

Seeing the fish play up at the boat in clear, shallow water is what we fish for. If they make it to the net it’s even better.

Heavier leader is ideal to tie with a Rode’s loop knot or a non-slip loop knot and not sacrifice too much core strength of the leader material. It also allows the jig head to yaw and roll on the leader providing a much more natural drift.

Obviously the most important piece to the midday bass puzzle is where are the bass going to be? There are two likely spots that the fish will hold up during the day. The first is deep in the shaded areas, whether that is the timber snags or bank sides overhanging foliage, it just depends on the topography of the section of river you are fishing.

The second spot I like to target is the deeper pools that have a scattering of boulders or a heavy weed edge that leads to deeper water and gravel bed.

Perhaps my favourite shade spot is the overhanging vegetation along and at the base of rapids or faster moving water. The fish will hold in the eddies created by the contours in the bank, comfortably darting out as food flows past in the current. The water is often shallow and moving quickly so this is where your casting skills are tested. Cast upstream under or as close to the shade and overhanging foliage as you can and allow sufficient slack line for the soft plastic to take a natural drift.

Like any dead-stick technique you need to watch your line for pauses or ticks, indications that the fish has picked up your lure, and then strike before they can spit it out. The bass have acute eye sight and the lure can be eaten at any time after hitting the water, so you do need to be vigilant, far more vigilant than other lures that are cast and crank retrieves.

Where you have limited options and the bank shade consists of a tangle of snags, from countless floods, I’ll rig my plastic weedless. It doesn’t always prevent your lure from snagging but does reduce the risk, especially when you’re planting your lure deep in the timber. Rigging weedless merely involved hiding or covering the point of the hook level with the body of the lure.

Fishing weedless, behind snags and allowing your lure to sink deep amongst it, is another good reason to use heavy leaders.

The “take” on soft plastic is rarely a bone jarring affair. It is generally an increase in weight and a head shake at which point you should be trying to recover as much line as you can because there is no telling how big the fish is going to be.

My biggest bass (603mm FL) fell to a soft plastic at midday, fished against a deep bank at the base of a tangle of snags. That may be why plastics are my favourite daylight luring technique.

Seamo’s Kit:

Soft plastics: 2 in Gulp Shrimp 3in Gulp Jigging Shrimp and including the Gulp Jigging grubs or minnow grubs.

Jigheads: Nitro Bream Pro jigheads 1/24oz to 1/8oz with No2 or No1 hooks

Leader/braid: Spiderwire 10lb Code Red.

Quality Flurocarbon of 12lb to 16lb and a rod length for plastics. (Berkley Sensi or Vanish)

Rod /Reel combo : ABU Revo Premiere or Revo 2 (size 30) reels and ABU Veritas 2.0 Model: 642SPL

At 41cm FL it’s a fitting prize for midday persistence.

At 41cm FL it’s a fitting prize for midday persistence.

David Seaman

About David Seaman

David was born in the Riverina town of Wagga Wagga and was introduced to fishing and his first catch at the age of 4 along the banks of the Murrumbidgee River. At 14 he secured a regular column with Fishing News and a year later had his first article published in Fishing World. It’s been almost 4 decades since David penned his first publish article and through those years has contributed to almost every significant fishing and outdoor publication, both freelance and commissioned.

David was the first fishing writer in the country to regularly incorporate underwater images of fish, lures and habitat in his articles to better illustrate the world of the angler and the fish they chase. As a writer/photographer and illustrator David has worked on many collective works such as Better Fishing series, ABT Tournament Guide, How to fish with Dick Lewers, and magazines such as, Saltwater Fishing, Sport Fishing, Freshwater Fishing, Modern Fishing, FishLife and produced and filmed the acclaimed Wild River Bass DVDs.

David’s cameras are as much a part of his fishing gear as his rods and reels, and he strives to push the creative boundaries of his photographs, above and below the water.

David is brand advocate of Abu Garcia, Berkley, Lowrance.

www.droplizardmedia.com.au

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