Let’s talk 50cm + bass – They’re big because they’re cautious, they avoided being eaten as a fingerling, they avoided the shags as they grew, they stayed clear of the anglers as the grew more.
It’s this higher level of alertness, more cautious behaviour that has allowed them to grow big in a world where they have been a target all their life.
But even the most careful fish have an Achilles heel – a weekness, for bass it is the annual spawning ritual in Winter, they are so focused on trying to do what comes natural, they can let their guard down, which is why the biggest bass are always caught in Winter.
If you’re like most anglers, you go fishing to catch fish and if you’re catching fish you don’t leave them biting… but if you want to catch that fish of a lifetime, you’re going to have too.
Trophy bass don’t live and feed with school fish – a bit like Gina Rinehart shopping at Aldi, it just not going to happen.
Tip No.1 – Move away from the schools of fish you locate on your sounder.
Big bass don’t graze all day like school fish do, they look for the biggest bang for their buck – the biggest meal they can get while using up the least amount of energy.
Why chase small fry around all day wearing yourself out when you are the apex predator in the Lake, you can fill your belly with one boney-bream that’s too big for school fish to eat but an easy meal for a big bass.
And if it’s easy prey, a slow moving baitfish, all the better.
Tip No.2 – Work large lures slowly
All fish, in fact most species on earth, have a pecking order, the biggest and baddest gets the pick of places to live and feed. There’s an old saying the biggest fish get’s the best snag – same applies in an impoundment.
The preferred location for any wary fish is away from danger – the further away the better.
Their cautiousness makes them seek out areas that see less fishing pressure, less boat traffic.
Instead of starting to fish at the boat ramp, don’t un-rack your rods until you’re a long way from where the majority of anglers fish. Seek out areas that don’t get any pressure, the more remote and hard to get too the better they are.
Because these areas don’t get any boat traffic, the slightest noise alerts wary fish of your presence so you need to be super stealthy.
Tip No.3 – Fish remote areas in super stealth mode
The first time a predator species sees your lure they make the decision to eat it or not.
If they choose not to, you can cast that thing past their nose for the next few hours and they will ignore it. The solution is to keep moving, slowly and stealthily, tempting different fish with the lure or, if you’re on a sensation spot, introduce a new temptation, one that looks nothing like the last one they ignored. You do that by changing lures often – hardbody to spinnerbait to blade to plastic – and change colours – black to white to purple to green.
Tip No.4 – Change lure types and colours often
Lake Wivenhoe had a reputation as the big bass capitol of SE Qld for many years then in 1999 consistent heavy rain saw the Dam floodgates open for an extended period allowing a lot of trophy fish to go over the wall into the Brisbane River system.
Wivenhoe struggled to produce trophy fish for many years, during this period North Pine Dam took the limelight as the trophy impoundment. The pendulum has swung back – NPD is still producing trophy fish and the techniques mentioned here will work there as well however Wivenhoe is back – there are fish over 60cm to be caught. Who knows how big bass grow – a Fisheries research program electrofished an 83cm bass – you just need to put the time in targeting them.