Wild Bass

Come along with Squidgy has he talks tackle and techniques for catching wild bass

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Wild bass fishing started for me a long time ago when I was about 6yrs old. Back in those days all I had was an old oyster bottle with line on it a rock as weight and a bit of stick as my float. As kids we would run down to our local bridge and set our oyster bottles in the water with a bit of meat we had pinched from mums block ice fridge, put it in the bottle and catch shrimp. These would be our bait for mud gudgeons or small bass but in those days we called them perch. They were a bit on the small side but to us kids they were bloody big and quite frankly the wild river bass had been a passion for a long time, but I sort of fell out of love for them when I moved to Newcastle. Don’t know why, but I did and it took twenty years to get the passion back again.

In the seventies all I used was a 4/8lb fiberglass 7’ rod and an Abu egg beater reel with 8lb mono line and bait. Sometimes if I could get hold of a Celta trout lure I would use that, but sand crickets, worms, grasshoppers and Christmas beetles were the go on a 1/0 hook under a round float. Still to this day fishers are fishing the same way except maybe the rods and reels have changed for the bait guys but areas are the same deep holes, snags, reefs and deep banks. Floating a bait can be relaxing and some of the areas you can walk into can be spectacular but being a summer species you have to watch out for snakes and trust me I have run into heap of red belly blacks, they seem to love the water as much as me!

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Wild river bass can be your best and worst enemy when they are playing the game. You can have a brilliant day on the water but when a cold change hits they shut down really quick and near not a thing will bring them on the bite. Sometimes spinner baits will bring a reaction bite but you will have to work hard to get it. When fish close down I target deep drop-offs or snags. You need to get up close and personal. This is why spinnerbaits work, they are near snag proof. The new chatter bait by Jackall will also work but for me it is Bassman SpinnerBaits. The colors I like the best are No 7, 25 and 31. You could also try any spinner with purple in them.

When fish are playing the game I will target drains, rock walls, mid river reefs, deep drop offs and snags. Because I only use soft plastics, hard body lures and spinnerbaits and it’s been a very long time since I used bait for bass, I will just talk about artificial baits. My top water lures are Megabass Dog X jnr, Megabass Singlets, Luckycraft, Sammy’s Atomic Poppers, and now the new Megabass and Dying Fish, Flying- X and Popping Duck. These lures are not cheap. I’m here to catch fish and you only buy what you can afford and I’m a bower bird when it comes to lures and rods I just can’t help myself.

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For deep water or if I’m hard body luring I tend to use just a few. Luckycraft DRs and MRs, Atomic Crank 38s, Jackall chubbies, Jackall TN60 or TN 50s, Jackall Chatter baits (these are just released), Bassman Spinnerbaits, Shake and Bake blades and soft plastic 2 ½” grubs on a bet spin are what I use. There are a lot more lures on the market but you can only fit so many in ones tackle boxes.

I tend to use lures around weed beds, reefs, cane drains and rock walls. You need to once again be up close and personal with hard body lures. The closer to the back or wall you can get the better with rock walls. I will hit the wall and slowly roll the lure back. When fishing banks cast just as close as you dare as you will snag up, but if you aren’t snagging you are not close enough! I have even been known to go koala hunting spending so much time in the trees you would think I was hunting them but once again you need to get under trees and snags to get the bite. The best bass hang in the shade of the trees and if you find a tree that is dropping heaps of critters you’re in for a great day. Early morning or late arvo surface lures in these areas go off and the bite is spectacular. Top water fishing is adrenaline pumping stuff!

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When top water fishing bass tend to strike but miss a hell of a lot of times. Your lure will get tossed in the air but no hook up. I use Ecogear ZX tails on my back triple. I don’t take the triple off I just add ZXs. Your hook up rate will improve dramatically. On Jackall frogs I do the same. I add ZX tails to the hidden hook in the plastic. With soft plastics a bet spin adds to the attraction of lure so Z Man 2 ½” grubs in Motor Oil work a treat or sometimes any grub with green in it works. I use these lures right up in reed beds and any overhanging grass area. With Shake and Bake blades I target mid river reefs. These spots can be brilliant especially the beginning of the season. Fish them on a run –in tide. Get to back of reef and cast up current and slowly wind back with tide, trying not to get snagged. On one occasion we had five boats last year fishing in a line and not one fisher missed out on catching fish. I lost count of the amount of fish caught and released that day, boy oh boy that was a day to remember!The only explanation we can think of is there was a big school of prawns coming over the reef.

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After the surface bite is over I use Bassman spinnerbaits and I target all banks, rock walls, cane drains and mid river reefs. This is not till the sun is up and depends on water quality to which blades I use. In dirty water I use gold and in clear I use silver.  I also use more 3/8oz than any other weight. Cast into the bank, count to five, quick couple of winds then slow down and feel the blades working through your rod.  You can let them sink to bottom or you can change your count down till you find the fish. Bassman Spinnerbaits are without doubt are my favorite bass lure I own, well let’s not let my wife see how many I own.

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I use 6/12lb Samurai Reaction baitcaster rod with a Daiwa Sol Gen 11 reel and a 251 4/10lb Samurai Reaction baitcaster rod with a Daiwa Alphas R edition for spinnerbaits. For top water and hards I have just purchased 2 of the new Samurai 181 3/6lb rods. These rods rock. They tick all the boxes for top water as well as deep diving lures when coupled with Daiwa Luvius 2506 reels. I’m a bit fussy with my line and I like Toray Radius. It is my favorite line for this type of fishing. 10 or 20lb will do and you just have to adjust your leader to suit the conditions.  I like flurocarbon  FC Rock  for my leader line.

You don’t have to go to the expense that I have to buy your rod and reels. Stick to your budget but buy the best you can afford. Remember, you don’t want to be going back every year to buy a new reel so look on the internet at Bass web pages to see what the guys are using in rod, reel and line and buy what you can afford. Bass fishing is the ducks nuts and once you are hooked, your hooked!

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About Gary Palmer

My name's Gary Palmer, I live on the North Coast of NSW and most fishers up this way know me simply as Squidgie. I have been fish since I was a kid growing up down the South Coast of NSW and cut my teeth on bream and flathead in Lake Illawarra. I've been living up here for over 30 years and have not used bait for many years. Soft plastics and hard body lures are my drug - well they say once you use these rubber bands it's welcome to the dark side. I write for fishing mags and had my own radio show on fishing for a long time until I became ill and couldn’t continue, but still do small reports on radio. I love bass and estuary perch fishing but bream and flathead are still up there for me. I also love blackfish don’t think there is anything better than watching a float go down with fish on. I am a river rat I love fishing rivers but I do fish beaches and occasionally go out in the deep blue.

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