No I’m not talking about a bad case of the measles or chicken pox. One of the goals of this site when we first started was to write about stuff, read techniques & tips that we would have liked to read when we were first starting out.
When I was first starting out, not all that long ago in the grand scheme of things, one of the things I wanted to know was how to rock up to a new waterway, where everything looks fishy, and work out where to start. Systems like the Hawkesbury with all that natural structure, Forster with all of those racks, Sydney Harbour with the kilometers of pontoons and flotilla’s of moored boats. Where do you start in a system like these?
The trajectory of my learning curve is still pretty steep, I don’t have anywhere near all of the answers, but Sydney Harbour seems so much less daunting these days – well most of the time anyway. I generally have a plan of attack, and a milk run of spots, and even after a long lay off the water there, I feel pretty confident that I can scrape together a reasonable day of fishing.
I’ve been fortunate to spend a bit of time lately gathering all manner of fishing media with Carl Jocumsen and Steve Morgan. Time on the water behind the camera gives you good opportunity to observe, digest and ultimately ask questions.
Steve Morgan is undoubtedly a skilful angler, who pays a lot of attention to reading the water. A fan of statistics and record keeping, and having spent many, many, many and countless more hours on the water, has managed to break down his years of fishing experience into a series of formulas.
Ok, that may be an over simplification, but at least it’s series of check lists that he works through to try to break down a system, to reveal it’s patterns. For example he starts with topwater lures if he’s fishing clear water on a run in tide, or crank baits if it’s dirty and running out. If it’s still and clear and he’s fishing vertical structure, he’ll pull out his stick minnows. He fishes the most likely structure – points, points, points, points and you guessed it points and is always looking for a pattern to the bite. If it’s not working then he rotates through his bag of tricks in a structured manner.
This is pretty straight forward right? We all do that?
Break it down a little more, and the thing that I noticed is that he fishes really quite quickly. He fishes the 50 -100 or so meters either side of the points that create current breaks and eddies in the system, and he fishes them thoroughly but very quickly, allowing him to cover a lot of water in a day. He explained to me that he concentrates on those high percentage points, but then keys in even further on those even more likely high percentage spots within those spots. You know the ones, the lay down log or secondary rock that creates a secondary current break on the point, the shady pole on the up current edge of the pontoon holding prime real estate on the point. “Spots on spot” he calls it – keying in thoroughly on the higher percentage spots on the high percentage spot.
Justin and I put the theory to the test at Lake Macquarie during the BETS Bream event there last month. We went up and prefished a couple of days before the event. Neither of us had been there since a miserable trip the July before, and I’ve only fished the lake in summer once before.
Our game plan was to concentrate on the pontoons and boats in the middle reaches of the lake. I’ve generally done pretty well there, and it’s a big lake to try to break down in a day. We caught a decent fish on the first run of “likely” pontoons leading onto a point. Up with the electric and we pulled up onto the next “likely” run of pontoons and we pulled another fish. The pattern was looking pretty strong already, but we worried that it would be a pattern that would get hit pretty hard by the 100 boat field.
As we went around the corner, we were greeted by a lone boat on the point, and Justin motioned that we should fish it. “Spots on spots” I think he said to me. I pulled out the crankbait rod, and first cast pulled a nice fish on my trusty Ghost Gill Brown Atomic crank 38 deep. That ended up being the pattern that secured us a fourth place on game day, and was the same pattern that won Aaron Horne and Peter Jarvis the event. We spent the day running and gunning, fishing only the isolated boats on the most likely looking points and entrances to bays. I’m guessing that being the only decent structure around to shelter the fish out of the bright sunlight, the bream were schooled under these lone boats. The pattern was that clear cut, that if we made a good cast and managed to swim our crank baits down the length of the boat, clipping the keel on the way through and we didn’t get a bite, we’d just move on to the next boat – one cast per boat, allowing us to move quickly.
So when I break down my “milk run” of spots on Sydney Harbour I can see that I’ve inadvertently, or maybe subconsciously, adopted this approach. It’s a pretty simple but effective technique, and the spots that have consistently yielded me good fish, definitely fall into this category of being a high percentage, “spot on a spot”.