Freshwater On Surface – Words and Images by Zac Charlton

Freshwater Fishing in Australia has really taken off when it comes to sport fishing over the last 10 years. The fish are harder to find, allure and catch then fishing in the salt. There are many successful methods to catching these freshwater species such as bass and perch but in my opinion the most exciting way to target freshwater species is on surface. Walk the dog style lures, poppers and bent minnows can provide some awesome surface strikes and get you some of the best action a fisherman could ask for.  But as freshwater fishing is so challenging and topwater fishing is also a hard art to master it can take hours and hours of hard work to even get a follow from a bass. But when you figure out your own method for getting the fish you won’t ever look back! Hopefully in this article I can give you a few tips on how to get some top water fun.

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Firstly your rod and reel setup is vital in helping you land that fish of a lifetime. It’s hard to find the perfect balance to what you are targeting. Use a heavier setup and risk getting fewer strikes but landing more fish. Use a lighter setup and run the risk of loosing more fish but getting more strikes. I do prefer using lighter gear, it adds to the challenge of landing the fish and nothing looks better than a buckled rod!  My freshwater choices in my rod and reel setup consist of 1-4kg gear. My rod of choice being the Daiwa TDT 71LXS, which is a 2-4kg 7ft graphite rod. The TDT is so good because it has the grunt on a 4-8kg rod at the bottom and the action of a 1-3k rod in the tip. This is brilliant for pulling Bass and Perch out of very snaggy areas and then being able to fight the fish in more open water. My reel to pair with the TDT would have to be the Shimano Stradic 2500. Another reel that I would match the TDT with would have to be the Daiwa Aird. 9+1 ball bearing, smooth drag and very good looking fits the TDT beautifully and with a fresh spool of 4-8lb braid you are set. All up a TDT and Aird combo is under the $200 mark is suitable for experienced and rookie anglers alike.

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Lure choice is also very important for targeting freshwater species on surface. Purchasing a wide range of lures and colours always increases your chances. My first choice in poppers would have to the Duo Tetra Works Poco Poco. Duo have designed these specifically for sea bass in Japan but they work just a well if not better in Australia. Getting your hands on some of these fellas is a must! Poco Poco’s average around the $20 mark so they do get costly when you loose them. Next in line is the river2sea Bubble Pop, they are half the price of the Poco Poco’s but do work well when used right. Remember big lures don’t always mean big fish so if you match the hatch with small lures your chances of a successful hookup are higher. Surface walkers also work wonders on freshwater fish, the Twitchy Lures “Twitchcada” is one example I like. Their lures have some great action to them and look like a fleeing Cicada that has dropped from a tree.  Freshwater fish love these bug mimics as there natural prey are real insects.

The most important part to catching these fish is finding the spots and using the right techniques. Finding the structure means finding the fish so it pays to have a quick scout of you area before you fish. Structure like vertical rock walls with submerged logs protruding outward provide perfect structure and with some accurate casting some good fish can be scouted. My personal favorite type of structure to fish is low overhanging trees. This is what i look for when casting insect imitation as more fish will be inclined to grab it as it looks like it has fallen from a tree. Sitting opposite to a snag and casting lures towards it is a good method however I find that nudging close up to the bank and casting parallel and working the lure along the structure produces more and more strikes.

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Getting the fish to strike is the hard part. There are countless techniques that you can use to lure a fish but when using poppers the most effective way to catching timid bass is to give it 5-6 small but consistent pops before a long pause. These pops attract the fish to the lure and the pause lets them hit it or have a good view before engulfing it as you begin to retrieve again. Using large bloops tends to put the fish off, as it looks unnatural. Using poppers in the fresh is very similar to targeting bream. Timid fish will often follow lures cast after cast but never strike them. Although on other days you can simply have your lure hanging over the side and a greedy bass will give you a huge surprise!

From personal experience freshwater surface fishing is just amazing. Teach your kids, mates and wife. There is just years of memories waiting and some fat bass and perch as well. Hopefully these hints and tips may help you out and I hope to see you out on the water soon

Tight lines!

Zac Charlton

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