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SCHOOLED BASS TACTICS

By Reece Thomas

The Australian bass is renowned as a prized sportfish for many anglers targeting the freshwater. One thing that personally appeals to me when fishing for Australian Bass is the numerous fishing styles and lures that can be used when fishing for them.

Bass will happily accept many different styles and lure techniques, from the traditional spinnerbait, hard bodied crankbaits and surface presentations, to vibes, jigs and fly. This brings me to my favourite techniques for targeting schooling bass in the freshwater impoundments, micro jigging and blading.

Jigging

At certain times within the year bass will school up in impoundments which makes for some great fishing when these schools are actively feeding. A lot of my fishing is land based or from kayak or boat, which I have fitted with a sounder that includes side and down imaging sonar to make it easy to locate schools of fish and pinpoint their location. The areas where I start to find fish schooling varies, however following old creek beds or targeting points that have steep ledges is a good start, looking for water from 6 to 20m deep.

Once fish are located on the sounder I will deploy a TT Lures Vector Jig of either 15 or 25 grams, depending on water depth and wind strength. The 15 gram Vector has proven to fish well in most situations and I only find myself tying on a 25g Vector when there is depths greater than 12m or strong winds causing a faster drift.

Micro jigging has boomed considerably in the last five years and the development of specialised tackle has grown alongside this, from rods to jigs and assist hooks. When Tackle Tactics released the TT Vector Jig to the market I was keen to try this on the local bass, of which I had been achieving good results on micro jigs at the time. The shape and design of the Vector gives it an appealing 'Flutter' on the sink, which means more time in front of a school of fish.

The technique to fish these jigs is to simply drop or cast into the direction of a school of fish and keep a close eye on the line as the lure falls to the bottom as it can be common to get a hit from a bass on the initial sink and upon closing the bail arm find your rod loaded!

Keeping an eye on the sounder and how the bass are schooling will give you an idea of what depth to work your jig at. There has been times where the schools have been thick and working the jig at a moderate pace through the water column, with small, sharp lifts of the rod, making the lure rise a foot or so then sink slowly before being repeated, has accounted for many fish. However some schools can be harder to tempt or shut down. I remember sitting on one school of fish and throwing just about every lure at them to no avail. I could see these fish sitting tight to the bottom, tied on a 15g Vector and worked this on the bottom with small, slow lifts of the jig, keeping it in front of them as long as possible until I could trigger a reaction bite.

The stand out colours in the Vector range have been Pink UV, Pink Hussar and Dorado. I choose to fish these over a slow action spin or micro jig rod, with a jig rating of up to 40gram,  matched up to a 2500 sized spin reel, spooled with braided line in the 6-8lb rating and 10-12lb fluorocarbon leaders.

Blading

Switchblades are a metal vibration lure that has accounted for many species and is right at home fishing for these schooled bass. The 1/4oz, 3/8oz and 1/2oz Switchblade, in numerous colours, are plentiful in my bass tackle trays.

These lures can be cast a considerable distance, which makes them perfect for covering water when land based or they can be fished on deep schools out of a boat or kayak. Long lifts of the rod allow the blade to rise off the bottom and through a school of fish with a strong vibration, enticing hits from aggressive bass. These blades have up to four tow point holes where you can attach your snap clip or line, changing the action slightly with each placement. Adding Pro Cure scent to these switchblades has helped to convert hits into hook-ups.

Tail Spinners

TT Lures Flash Point tail spinners are another lure that performs well in freshwater Impoundments. Having briefly fished a few other tail spinners before the release of the Flash Point I grabbed a few and headed to my local that afternoon. I was impressed with the colour range that the crew at Tackle Tactics had designed and the way the tail spinner actually vibrated as well as performing like a traditional tail spinner. The 14g and 20g weights are more than heavy enough to deploy a good cast walking the banks of the dam.

I use these in a very similar way to how I would work a Switchblade, with long lifts of the rod, keeping in contact with the line on the fall while waiting for a strike. It didn't take long before I had landed a few bass and topped the afternoon session off with a nice 50cm bass. I also incorporate these tail spinners into my kayak and boat fishing kit, using the same technique and have successfully caught fish trolling the tail spinner whilst covering ground sounding for bass.

I hope this article has encouraged you to try some of these lures and techniques next time you're fishing for bass in your local Impoundment.

Reece Thomas 

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FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 22, 2017