Vertically Challenged – Words and Images by Craig Ainsworth

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Anyone who knows me is very familiar with my obsession towards river Bass fishing. I am absolutely addicted to the arm reefing strikes of an angry Bass as it takes a lure close to snags and turns for home. Over the last few years a couple of good mates have been challenging me to try my hand in the impoundments stocked with Australian Bass. Finally at the end of 2012 I decided to give it a go with a camping and fishing weekend at Lake Glenbawn with the Hastings Bream and Bass club and then again this year in order to fish the ABT Bass Pro Qualifier also at Lake Glenbawn.

My first trip with my own boat in tow was a big disappointment as I failed to even bend a rod over the course of two four hour sessions. Leaving Glenbawn frustrated it might be surprising that I headed back just recently for what could well have been more frustration. What I needed to do was fish with someone else and learn something new, which led to the decision to fish as a Non-Boater for the first Bass Qualifier.

Between visits I listened to plenty of people about the fickleness of impoundment Bass and some theories on why they behave the way they do. One of the ideas which were proven over the recent weekend was the concept of hot weather driving the Bass off the banks and into deep water. It just so happened that in the lead up to the Bass Pro temperatures in the Upper Hunter were consistently in the mid to high thirties turning the top layer of water into a warm bath. The Bass then pulled back off the banks and headed for deeper water looking for more a comfortable and oxygenated climate.  With this I was also armed with a few new strategies to try out in the Bass Pro qualifier.

One of those was the idea of deep water plastics presented vertically and slow rolled back up the same way. Now when I say deep water in my local rivers I mean 6 metres or (18 feet) of water. Some places in Lake Glenbawn deep water means 26 – 30 metres (80 odd feet).

Once I had this worked out the baitcasters with rigged Spinnerbaits were shelved in favour of 2-4kg spin rods more suited to finesse bream fishing added to the outfit was a 2000 Diawa Freams Reel and a 2000 Diawa Tierra spooled with 4lb braid and around 2.5m of 6lb Fluorocarbon leader.

After this the process was very simple, open the bail arm and free spool a quarter ounce Jig Head to the bottom. Wait until the line stops running off the spool. Second flick over the bail arm and begin a slow roll back to the surface. When a bass was interested in the lure there would be a series of bream like taps. When that happened there were two choices simply keep slow rolling until the fish grabbed it or give the rod butt a shake and resume the retrieve. If nothing happens then drop the lure back to the bottom and start over.

When I was first introduced to this technique it sounded like positively mind numbingly boring way to fish. That is the case until the fish stop their tap bites and get serious with many strikes being downright jolting and the power of the initial Bass run is felt through gear normally set aside for bream fishing. With the light spin rod every head shake and driving change of speed and direction becomes a challenge to control.

Not only is it a feel style of fishing but with the modern sounders it is also highly visual as the technology picks up the lure dropping to the bottom as well as fish that follow the lure down and also respond to its steady rise.

In conclusion I learned two very important things while fishing the Bass Pro recently. As simple as it might sound, the more people I listen to and fish with, the more I learn and broaden my own understanding of fish and fishing. Secondly I shouldn’t ever dismiss a style of fishing as being boring because it certainly isn’t when there is a fish taking charge on the other end.

Craig Ainsworth has been fishing most of his life, starting out catching Bream and Luderick with his father in the late 70′s.  A member of the Hastings Bream and Bass Club, Craig has made a move into the tournament fishing scene as well as spending time coaching his son and daughter in the hope that they will grow up to share his passion of fishing with him.

One response to “Vertically Challenged – Words and Images by Craig Ainsworth

  1. Good read Craig, I experienced the frustration today. Fished Hinze Dam for the first time and got zilch. Maybe next time the vertical slow roll might be in order. Cheers

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