Each spring, diehards from central Queensland to Gippsland in Victoria rub their hands together at the thought of ‘going bush’ and tangling with one of Australia’s greatest fishing icons. This icon, of course, is the Australian bass, and there’s no better way to target them in the beautiful freshwater creeks and rivers that are their native homes.
This primal style of fishing can be done either from the bank or a vessel, with canoes and kayaks being preferred for the latter. Larger waterways such as the Clarence, Maclaey, Manning and Shoalhaven rivers in NSW are often fished by trailer boats, particularly where the freshwater meets the salt in the upper tidal limits.
Getting set to chase river bass is not an expensive venture, and some anglers choose to have inexpensive gear with them for the sole reason that the harsh environment can give equipment a short life! With a bit of extra care though, there’s no reason why quality gear can’t last many, many wild river bass trips.
Spin rods such as the Abu Garcia Rayrex Spin Rod in 2-4kg or Atomic Arrowz Spin Rod in 3-8lb are fantastic mid-ranging sticks for bass. A Shimano Stradic FL 2500 HG Spinning Reel is a great match for either of these rods, whether fishing from a boat, kayak, canoe or trailer boat!
When choosing lures to chase bass, you need to remember that the river dwelling versions of this tough species are opportunistic and will crunch most things if they’re hungry. Therefore, having a good range or topwater, diving, soft plastic and skirted lures is important. To name a few favourite lures among bass fans, the Tiemco Soft Shell Cicada, Atomic Hardz Crank 38mm Deep, Daiwa Bait Junkie Minnow, and Storm ST-1 Spinnerbait all take their fair share of bass.
In the calm, cool summer mornings or the humid, muggy afternoons in the fading light, the trick is to toss lures into the shady pockets. Sometimes, landing your lure 40cm away from cover is not close enough! Casting accuracy cannot be stressed enough for river bass fishing, and the closer you can get to the cover, the better. Bass will often hit lures beside the boat, or at your feet toward the end of a retrieve, but this almost only ever happens if the initial cast was a good one and coaxed the bass into following the lure out of its lair!
Make sure to take advantage of the warmer months and take in some of the nicest scenery our east coast has to offer! Who knows, you might just land a few bass while you’re at it!
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