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Back to the bass
  |  First Published: September 2016



Many anglers will not miss winter – cold westerlies, early starts, numb fingers and face! It’s now September and the start of spring, which means mild days and the changing of the fishing seasons. What really gets my casting arm twitching this month is the time to re-acquaint ourselves with those bronze river brawlers, the iconic bass.

Bass season opens on the first of September. I’m sure dedicated bass fishers have the lure boxes sorted and the rods and reels in tip-top condition, ready for another great season. Each year’s opening can pose questions like, which lure to use. I will definitely have a surface lure on for that first cast, and this year I will not be hesitating to put on some bigger surface offerings of a night, such as the Jackall Pompadour. This lure accounted for some big bass last year. Move to smaller cicada imitations for casting into the structure as the day progresses. If the surface bite slows, then it’s time to try some spinnerbaits or hardbodied lures, as this is a consistent way of getting into some early season bass.

Rivers

With the water temperatures starting to climb, a whole new pattern starts to emerge in our waterways. Baitfish and prawns will become more active, creating a shallow-water feed zone, which means flatties and bream will not be far away. This month will see seriously big female flathead encountered, so please use good handling techniques for all these fish destined for release. You shouldn’t have much difficulty securing a feed of smaller specimens, using either soft plastics or bait. Remember to put your lures or bait near a probable feeding area, like weed beds, and it won’t take long for an ambushing flattie to find.

Bream fishers will now start to change from their winter deep-water tactics. A lot of fun and excitement can be had casting mid and deep diving hardbodied lures into the bankside structure. If your casting is not up to scratch, it also pays to throw divers around the shallow flats, especially if there is weed present. The complete Maria River arm with plenty of snags and overhang is an area of note. You can spend a full day exploring this bream haven.

Whiting usually kick into gear this month and Lake Cathie will be high on the list of places to try. This lake is one of the best whiting fisheries in our area, and I’m certain there will be many skittering Sugapens to imitate fleeing prawns worked across the surface in coming months. Whiting are an excellent table fish and a great scrapper on the appropriate gear. As always, when chasing a feed, take only what’s required. Check the fisheries regulations regarding quantity and size.

Offshore

September will start to see the ramps get a bit more activity, as the weather is more inviting. This month, let’s look at bottom bashing: firstly, this is a great way of securing a feed of fish and can be great fun. You never know what will take your bait next. I take a definite plan, start off in a desired depth and drift. Use several types of bait on different rods: cut baitfish, squid, a livebait if available and a humble prawn. These baits work on a simple paternoster rig with a snapper lead on the bottom. The current will decide weight, but usually a 3/0 Big Red is the preferred hook.

When drifting, if fish are playing the game, then drive around the area and recommence the drift. If not, either move in or out 5-10m of depth, and again current will help you decide. It’s nothing to do a drift where you pick up a few nice reds, and then some sand flatties as you drift off the reef patch. If you do this a couple of times, your fishbox takes on a favourable look. Species that are caught doing this can be snapper, mowies, pearl perch, teraglin and flatties. If you secure some livies then anything is possible! Enjoy the warmth this September.

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Should be a few cool flatties getting around this month. Mandy caught and released this one from her kayak.

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You never know what might show up. Jake and Brock got some cracking tailor on surface lures, fishing the racks!

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The only thing that changes for bream is technique. Here Elliot and Jordan hold up some Samaki Vibelicious victims.

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Spring is great for fishing mulloway on the Hastings. Here is one Koolabung’s Eddie Studman caught with me recently.

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