The 1st September signalled opening season on river fishing for Bass and Estuary Perch. They have finished their spawn run and are now heading back up river towards the brackish waters.
It is my experience that river Bass fight a lot harder than those in a Dam. They are normally leaner than a Dam fish because they have to swim in the tidal movement. The river Bass have a lot more stamina and will put up a great fight.
If you have never spent the time on your local river system I have included below a few things that will help get you started.
WHAT YOU WILL NEED
You will need to arm yourself with a good sounder, a couple of rods and reels, and a range of lures such as blades, hard bodies, surface lures and plastics. The rods and reels I use are the G-Loomis GL2 Rod and Lure Project Bibless LP691L Rod, one armed with a C14 1000 Stradic & the other with a 2500 Stradic. For the lures blades, hard bodies and surface lures take your pick I have found them all to be equally successful, although I do have a preference in plastics, which is an 80mm Squidgy Wriggler. It doesn’t matter what colour and normally a 2gram or 3gram jig head is ample. I have fished for Bass with 3lb braid and 4lb leader but if you hook a good one and depending on what type of structure you are fishing for them in, it might be game over. My preference in leader would be between 6lb to 12lb.
WHERE TO START?
Firstly, I would suggest planning your trip. In your initial exploration days ensure you will be fishing the outgoing tide. The last two hours and into the lull of the tide is when I have found Estuary Perch and Bass to be in their best feeding mode. From here you may learn different spots that fire on different times of the tide but it is always a good starting point.
Start half way up the river system and then upstream from there, as the fish are starting to move back up from the salt into the brackish water. For example, you will find Estuary Perch and Bass in the Shoalhaven River from the main bridge and up. Of course you will still find some Estuary Perch in the lower reaches of the system such as Broughton Creek and down towards the front but they will be more prevalent in the upper reaches and it is just a good starting point if you have never fished for them before. It is a great idea to plot a weigh point of your catch so you can accurately return to the same spot year after year.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR?
Estuary Perch and Bass usually cannot pass up a good snag or rocky outcrop. They will normally hang tight to the snag so an accurate cast is the only way to lure them out. A good weed bed is definitely something a Bass frequents. We have had great success on spinnerbaits and subsurface lures around the weed beds. The not so obvious choice, which is what you will need a sounder for, are deeper holes, they will normally adjoin a shallow area or you will find them more common on bends in the river system. You will need to sound out if the fish are holding in these areas. I have included a sounder shot of what they may look like on your screen. Even though you find them doesn’t always mean they are going to eat. We have found in some river systems they can be quite tide dependent and although they are present they don’t start feeding until the tide has stopped running. It could be different in your system but that is just my experience on the river systems I have fished.
A great idea while you are exploring is to keep a record in a diary of when you caught them, time of the tide and conditions you feel relevant to your catch i.e. if it is a wind blown bank, if you had a lot of rain, moon phase etc. Most importantly don’t forget to have fun. It is great fun just exploring and you are certain to be entertained with by-catch while trying to catch your elusive Bass or Estuary Perch. See you on the water!