Sneaky Backwater Bass options for the Holiday season

Ok we all know the summer holidays are upon us and on most of our more popular waterways it is going to be hectic at minimal with all the added water traffic. Seriously for kayakers it can be downright dangerous if we do not keep our eyes wide open!

Please do the right things like bright clothing, flags, lights plus all the correct safety gear. Remember old mate in his high powered boat towing his children on a biscuit may not be really looking out for you? If you are like me you probably don’t want to be in this situation to start with so let’s look at some places to avoid the perils of crowded waterways so that we can relax and get some quality fishing time. ms8

One of the great things about being a yak fisho is mobility, this may sound strange as we cannot race from one end of the river to the next but what we can do is pick our launching spots and a lot of these can be a very long way from where the average holiday boater will travel leaving very good pieces of water that are just fished by a reasonable few and in a lot of these waters travelling upstream that means Bass! ms4

Where and what do we need? First up we need to look at the region we will be targeting and as always this is where Google earth maps plus topographic maps can come to the fore when looking for promising back waters and launching areas. By doing this research you will find places that will give you plenty of options.

Going back a decade or so we decided to explore the upper reaches of the North Coasts Macleay river for bass, we did this from a Swagman canoe, this was not overly difficult as we used two vehicles one at drop off and one left at finish point to transport back to other vehicle we would enter at one bridge and fish our way down to the next taking anything from five hours to a full day depending on the quality of the fishing and also the level of water. ms

A few things amazed me about those trips firstly all these adventures took place throughout January and guess what in five consecutive weekends the only time we saw another person was when we were ending our runs and we would find swimmers cooling off after a hot day. The other thing that remains in my memory is the great bass fishing we had all to ourselves.

Once you have chosen a system to fish it will be just a matter of deciding what gear to take and for bass fishing we may need a few specific styles of lure especially if your new to the area. Nothing worse than paddling or pedalling down river to find out that every time you cast out your surface or hard bodied lure gets fouled with weed. ms3

In locations I haven’t fished before I always carry surface lures, shallow and deep divers, vibes, plus a few spinnerbaits and beetle spins with a few different sized jig heads and plastics to suit.

These are lures that will cover the different scenarios we may encounter. This may sound like a bit of gear but it is usually only a single tackle tray made up for the session.

On my yak I carry two rods for my creek and upriver bass fishing and one of these will always have a surface offering on it and because most of my fishing will be in narrow pools with overhang and shade I can use my surface lures all day and expect to catch bass.

I love this style of fishing where the casting is extremely important to your results, it is so important to put your presentations up the back of the snag piles and work them out slowly if you can do this on a regular basis you are going to have some exciting sport. ms1

Most surface offerings will get smacked if presented correctly to the fish. Some of the popular ones are the cicada patterns such as Tiemco Soft shells, Austackle Insecktas, Koolabung soft fizzers and the list goes on, just remember if the cicadas are singing then the bass and bream as well will not be far away.

The other style of lure I like is the Sammy style and with these lures they are exceptional for skip casting under the overhanging growth which can help if you are having trouble getting your cicadas under the trees!

A fair few of the systems I encounter on the mid North coast will have varying habitats for the fish and sometimes as you go along a system you will encounter weed beds, or heavy rock formation and if the sun is high in the sky you may need to put your surface lure down and reach for the second rod. ms5

If I’m fishing weed depending on thickness I will be using spinnerbaits and weights from 1 quarter to 3/8 will be adequate using these lures I tend to slow roll them to start with and change the retrieve to suit the fish on the day.

Another style which this season I have been having a lot of success with is the beetlespins and the Fish Arrow J spins have been my go to spinner.

I match this too a 1/8th to ¼ ounce jighead size1 to 3 hook and matching plastic and one of the favourites in the Maclaey this season has been the Strike pro enticer grubs in motor oil when you drop these in the gaps of the weed beds then slow roll them out they have been irresistible to the bass but once again look at what bait is predominant and match your plastic to suit. ms6

We have looked at edges,snags and weedbeds and in a lot of creeks and rivers this will be the main structure however in some of the deeper pools you may encounter rock and big chunks of it around these areas.

I like to swim a vibe style lure and these lures have saved my day when other methods have failed the reason being I believe is water temp remembering we are fishing in the middle of arguably our hottest month so it may be that it can be a bit more comfortable in 5 to 7 metres than the shallows in some of these waterways especially if you are doing a full day trip those midday hours although probably better for sitting in the shade can still produce. ms7

A couple of things to finish off with, make sure you are well equipped for these trips by that I mean plenty of fluids and food to keep you going also let others know what your plans are for area fished and time expected back and also if going to be in night time remember lighting and where you parked the car these spots can look decidedly different of a night.

Don’t forget the camera as memories of great fishing will keep you going during those off months looking forward to the next trip.

Mark Saxon

About Mark Saxon

I Am based in Port Macquarie on the Mid North Coast of NSW and my position is Owner/ operator Castaway estuary charters, Fishing guide and co-developer with Mandy Saxon of Sax Scent.

I suppose I’m like most obsessed fisho’s started angling as a young wharf rat and quickly took my place as a permanent wharf rat when at 14 I became a professional commercial fisher, and was in that industry for close to 20 years.

Even though I was pro fishing from the port of Ulladulla I was always an avid rec angler, fishing the Rocks, beaches and estuaries of the south coast and participating in many tournaments with a great degree of success, you could say I lived and breathed fishing and still do! My passions are for teaching anglers what to look for and how to apply different lure techniques in our river systems for catching their chosen target the satisfaction from this when a client achieves his goal is hard to beat as any guide will attest to.

My business “Castaway” has made it possible over the years to show my fishing operation on television angling productions and my writing has seen me write about my passion for both estuary sport fishing and rod building. If I was too say a certain target fish was my love it would be impossible for me to split between the mighty Mulloway and the Aussie bass both hold a spot close to my fisho heart and kayaking for bass in the river and creek systems is certainly right up there but in saying that be it fly fishing for trout, hooking a rampaging barra or even in a dam chasing cod I am still just as excited as always to be on the water. As for the amount of days on the water per year it would be around the 250 mark and my enthusiasm remains the same.


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