Spring Is Coming – Yakking Tips For Early Spring

As we say goodbye to Winter and start welcoming Spring , Jamie Robley gives us Yakking tips as Kayak anglers are full of anticipation with all the opportunities that lay ahead over the coming months.

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Right around the country new angling avenues are opening up, but it’s along the eastern seaboard, down into Victoria and even Tassie where the majority of kayakers will be out in force.

Each angler has their own favourite locations, species or style of fishing. There’s no doubt though that casting surface lures for bream, bass, perch and whiting is right at the top of the list for many. Even if top water fishing isn’t a priority, longer days and warmer weather generally mean fish of all types are more inclined to be sniffing around for food and hopefully be tricked into biting the odd lure as well. The only catch is though, we’re still in between seasons and most fish haven’t fully kicked into gear just yet.

The general pattern is that weather and water temperature begin to warm in northern regions first and Victoria or Tassie may be a month to six weeks behind southern Queensland. Of course, this may also depend on prevailing weather patterns and each year is different from the previous. Even as we approach the guts of summer a cold snap or heavy rains can still dampen proceedings.

There are however, various techniques and tricks that can be employed to tempt fish in places that are still a bit on the cool side or just gradually starting to warm. So firstly, it’s a matter of keeping an eye on weather and then having a think about which type of fish or location may be worth trying.

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Bream are probably the most accessible species for the majority of kayak anglers. Yellowfin bream in northern regions are far more inclined to respond to surface lures or other more animated techniques than black bream down south, but as spring moves towards summer similar lures and techniques work well on both species.

While it’s possible to tempt bream with surface lures at any time of year, including the guts of winter, the more logical or successful approach is to wait until water or air temps have warmed enough so that prey items ranging from prawns and shrimp through to various terrestrials are more active and in good supply. So bream will then be more tuned in to looking for lively food above their heads, rather than muscles, worms and so on down on the bottom.Until then though, it’s probably best to stick to winter techniques which revolved around lures that sink or dive deeper. The usual array of small blades, vibes, soft plastics and diving hard bodies will continue to interest bream in the north and south for a while yet. They’ll also remain a good back up through summer should it suddenly turn colder at any stage.

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However, at this time of year, with a minor rise in temperature, bream may be moving out of deeper holes or channels, into middle ground. In other words, places around two or three meters deep and occasionally into shallower spots if it’s warm enough for them or food is present.

As it gets a little warmer those surface lures are more worthy of some use. Very slow, subtle retrieves, with plenty of pauses are the order of the day and the same goes when casting sinking or diving lure types. It’s also a good idea to stick with smaller lures at this time of year, leaving the bigger models for hotter times.

Bass are similar to bream in the way they’ll respond better to more subtle lure fishing techniques while water temps are still a bit on the cool side. Some shallow divers, soft plastics and topwaters that work well on bream are also top notch bass lures. However, the ever reliable spinnerbait is an excellent between seasons bass lure. Many anglers, including myself, favour purple spinnerbaits, either with a dash of black or white in them. The smaller eighth oz models may also be a better choice than larger quarter oz spinnerbaits in some places.

When we think of bass fishing, particularly in creeks or rivers, casting right into the snags is the standard approach. During the first half of spring though, I’ve enjoyed great success by casting further out into the middle and allowing spinnerbaits to sink down to the bottom before retrieving. So if traditional snag bashing isn’t working, that’s an idea well worth trying.

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The exact location is also an important consideration when trying to score early season bass. In average weather conditions, most wild bass are still in the process of making their way upstream from lower or brackish sections. While some fish may be present in smaller upstream areas, it’s probably a better bet to concentrate your efforts in the lowest freshwater reaches, within a kilometre or two above any sort of barrier, weir or fish ladder that separates pure fresh from brackish or saltwater.

If heavy rains cause some sort of flooding it may encourage bass to move back downstream again or higher water levels can help them navigate falls or barriers to push on further upstream. It can definitely work both ways and may depend on the exact river, the extent of flooding or how far into spring it is. Over many years of bass fishing, I’ve seen them move up and downstream during rain events in spring and early summer and it’s not always predictable

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Whiting are another warm water favourite that many anglers are now chasing with lures as well as bait. Two of the best cool water whiting lures I’ve used are the Ecogear ZX30 vibe and the Berkley Gulp 2 inch worm in camo or motor oil colours. The vibes tend to be a better for covering a lot of water quickly or as a searching lure, while the small Gulp worms are perhaps more effective in depths less than two metres, used in spots where you’re quite confident whiting will be.

Both of these lure types are more inclined to take whiting when they are retrieved very close to the bottom, with only small lifts or hops so they don’t rise too far up in the water column. Unlike bream, whiting lose interest if a lure isn’t constantly moving, but if the water is a bit cool than that movement should still be kept slowish.

Sometimes whiting are easy to hook, but quite often you’ll feel plenty of nipping sort of bites. If they’re still not getting pinned, check to make sure the hook points are razor sharp or that the hook isn’t too big if using the Gulp worms. Normally a size 4 jighead is fine for these artificial baits and I like to bend the hook just slightly inwards, which increases the hook up rate.

If all else fails though and you’re still keen on a feed of whiting, nothing beats good quality bait. Live bloodworms are at the top of the list, but can be a touch expensive to buy and can easily be wasted if too many little pickers are around. Close behind bloodworms are freshly pumped pink nippers, live soldier crabs and beachworms, either live or preserved. I’ve also enjoyed some good whiting sessions with old fashion frozen bait prawns and pipis are another reasonable option.

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Flathead are another great species to chase at this time of year. Just a slight increase in water temperature really gets these fish going and they’re generally keen to feed up after the winter doldrums. As with bream and whiting, I lean towards what I call middle ground or depths around two or three metres for flathead at this stage of the season.

There’s no denying the effectiveness of blades or vibes for flathead, but when specifically chasing them I definitely prefer soft plastics. Overall, I reckon softies are just that bit extra irresistible on flatties and I have a soft spot for white or lighter colours. Having said that, flathead aren’t exactly the fussiest fish in the world and I’ve seen them caught on all different colours, including purple and black.

In summary, successful lure fishing techniques at this time of year are generally about keeping things small, slow or subtle, while leaving the full hot weather surface fishing for another month or two yet. Don’t forget too that trolling is a good fall back strategy when casting isn’t producing the goods. More kayak trolling tips can be found in my previous Kaydo article.

Jamie Robley

About Jamie Robley

Based on the New South Wales Central Coast, less than two hour’s drive north of Sydney, Jamie Robley started fishing around his local lakes at an early age. Bream, flathead and tailor were the main source of entertainment for a young Jamie but of course, like many other kids who’ve been bitten by the bug, he quickly became interested in other species and more advanced styles of fishing.

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