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Owen McPaul

Emerging through fog, lifting from waters in scenic locations, with building anticipation of that first precision cast that may lead to the whistling of a screaming drag, a quick violent tussle that lasts for seconds, maybe minutes, while the whole time feeling like an eternity, never knowing what the outcome will be until that scoop of the net lands the species you set out to target. This may not be everyone's cup of tea, but for myself and many other keen anglers there is no better feeling or adventure than trying to tame the iconic Australian wild river bass.

This is one fish that holds a special place in my heart and I spend every spare second imaginable on the water with the hope of doing battle with this special freshwater species. I will brave the early morning starts and just about any weather conditions possibly thrown at me in the hope of just one memorable encounter.

As any keen angler will be aware there is always room for improvement, regardless of your skills and just when you think you have a particular species worked out something will change and you will question everything you thought you once knew. At times this can make it as difficult as the first time you ever threw a lure. Of late I have spent multiple trips trying out one technique, until I feel I have it perfected. By doing this I am hoping that when I target these species when they are hard to catch and seem shutdown, meaning we know the fish are there and it's just a matter of presenting the right presentation to trigger them to bite, I'll have a range of techniques to draw on. Tackle Tactics have the ideal lure for tough bites in the ZMan 3" MinnowZ and I have had some tremendous results while targeting these shutdown fish.

I have taken a technique we commonly use on shutdown bass in Dams during the cooler periods of the year and converted it to work for me in the rivers. It is a very slow approach, unbelievably easy and I look at it as going back to the basics because anybody can do it... the hardest part is the precision of your cast. I'm choosing to fish the deeper drop offs and sloping banks, that range in depth from 15' to 30'. One thing we do know about bass is that they are often harder to catch as they go deep and appear to be inactive. This is why I decided to start working the bottom rather than snags and structure.

I'm choosing to fish 1/8 and 1/6oz TT Lures jigheads with 1/0H hooks, to try and expose as little of the barb on the hook as possible, rigged with ZMan 3" MinnowZ. My favourite colours have been Houdini and Rootbeer Gold, but there is a great range of colours to roll through. These two colours seem to stand out for me, as the waterway I have been spending my time on has dark brackish, tea tree stained water and is the run off for a swamp marsh.

My approach has been very basic. I cast hard up against the bank and let the lure work its way to the bottom, allowing the weight of the lure and the wobble of the paddle tail to do all of the work. I watch my line for any twitch, if attacked on the way down, at the ready to strike. Once on the bottom I let the lure rest for up to fifteen seconds; anybody familiar with the ZMan range will be aware that the plastic is naturally buoyant and once hard on the bottom will sit with the tail up, wobbling. I am having a few fish suck the lure straight off the bottom!

I also strongly believe that a bass will follow a lure down and hold above it, watching and waiting for any sudden movement to strike. It is often that first movement, after settling on the bottom, that will trigger a fish to strike and I have found this technique pays dividends when fishing with spinnerbaits also. Once I have let the lure rest, I follow this with the slowest of retrieves, barely ticking the reel over and covering around 4 to 5 metres at a time, before dropping the lure back to the bottom and repeating this sink, pause and slow roll back to the boat.

It is so simple and this is why I refer to it as going back to the basics. This is a technique that is working well for me and I know it will pay off for anybody who has had trouble catching bass on plastics and is willing to give it a try.

Owen Mcpaul

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