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SURFACE BASSIN'

By Erinn Ball

There is nothing I love more than walking a small, skinny water creek in search of a healthy Australian bass. What attracts me to this style of fishing is that you don't need a fancy boat or kayak, just your feet and a mind open to exploring. Armed with this the land based fishing options are endless. Targeting bass in the skinny water can be physically demanding as the terrain you are fishing can be quite a challenge. I often have to fight my way down large embankments, over trees and through creeks... however it can be beautiful at the same time. Quite often it is just you and the surrounding wildlife; lizards, birds and the dreaded snake!

When it comes to fishing for bass in skinny water locations, everyone has their own favourite techniques that work for them, whether it is casting spinnerbaits, hard bodies or soft plastics. My go-to technique happens to be targeting them via the surface and I often hear people saying that surface lures are only good early morning or late afternoon. I happen to disagree with this statement when it comes to skinny water fishing and I often have my top bite periods during the middle of the day. Bass in this sort of country are opportunists as food can regularly become quite scarce, with limited rainfall causing pools to become shut off from one another. Due to the fact that food can become limited, I find that Bass are willing to eat a surface lure anytime of the day as it could potentially be the only possible meal for a while. ZMan plastics make for fantastic surface lures as they are naturally buoyant which means you can fish them slowly without having to worry about them sinking.

As the ZMan range is so big and forever expanding, my list of favourite lures is quite large. I usually like a lure that is quite large in size... in fact people would often say that it is too big. I like to keep my lures in the 3" to 5" size range. My top 3 go-to lures are:

ZMan 3" Minnowz (Pearl, Red Shad, Opening Night or Golden Boy)

This particular lure is the one that I like to use the most. I like to rig it on a 2/0 TT Lures ChinlockZ jighead, as it keeps the lure completely weedless and with the lure being weedless I am then able to cast it into heavy structure without having to worry about it getting snagged up. The great benefit of this setup is that it casts like a bullet, allowing you to cover a lot of ground with a single cast. It also skips very well, making it great for using around overhanging trees and or branches. This is also when I receive most of the hits.

I often just use a very simple medium paced retrieve, with little to no pauses. The paddle tail on the MinnowZ creates a great wake in the water and the bass find it irresistible. For a little bit of extra attraction I like to dab a small amount of Pro-Cure Shrimp Super Gel on the lure.

ZMan 4" Pop Shadz (Pearl or Watermelon Chartreuse)

This particular lure is the one that secured me my PB 54cm skinny water bass. The Pop ShadZ doesn't only make for a great popping lure, it is also a great 'walk the dog' lure.  With a steady wind and small rod twitch this lure turns into a very impressive stickbait.  It also makes for a fantastic casting lure as it's a little heavier than other plastics, while still having a very streamline profile that is great for casting long distances. The Pop ShadZ is best rigged on a 3/0 TT Lures ChinlockZ jighead, once again making the lure weedless.

ZMan 4" Streakz Curly Tailz (Red Shad and Pearl)

I also find that the Curly TailZ work most effectively when they are rigged on a 3/0 TT Lures Chinlockz jighead and I like to skip a cast into and under over hanging trees. The retrieve I use is a little different, compared to the other plastics, as I like to implement a lot of pauses and twitches into this particular lure. By implementing a pause and twitch action into the lure, the tail of the lure creates a spitting action across the surface and in turn leaves a great wake.  

Locations

Finding a great skinny water bass location takes a lot of time and effort. The theory that I have is, if it is hard to get to then potentially the location may be relatively untouched and therefore possibly fish better.

Websites, such as Google Maps, NearMap and Google Earth, are great tools to use when you are trying to find creeks that will hold bass. Simply zoom in on the creek and begin searching. Key things to look for when searching maps are spillways, bridges, colour changes in the water from fresh to salt, possible structure to fish and entry points.

Don't think that you can only target bass in strictly fresh water. I often target bass in water that is so brackish that I see other species, such as bull sharks, bream and mangrove jack, swimming amongst the structure. At times there won't be an entry point, so you may have to make your own and don't be surprised if you get to a location and there happens to be no water in the creek. This is all part of the fun when it comes to finding the perfect location.

Talking to the locals is a great way to find out information and this can possibly lead to new locations and even access to private properties. When I enter a new town, that I stop in to use the local facilities such as servos, I have gained some fantastic locations just by talking to people and mentioning that I am in town to fish. I often get the response of "you should try here" or "I have a friend that owns a property on the creek" and this gives you a fantastic starting point. Of course safety comes first, so if it seems weird or unusual then best you keep on driving.

As I often fish by myself, safety to me is more important than catching a fish. I always have a first aid kit in the very front pocket of my pack, where it is easily accessible in case of an emergency. I also carry plenty of water, extra snacks and a phone with maps or a GPS in case happen to get lost. Most importantly, as to if you were going fishing out at sea, is I always tell a family member, friend or even neighbour where I am going.

Tackle

I like to take two rod and reel options, one being a spin and the other being a baitcast combo. For my spin combo I generally use a 1000 size reel and 7 foot, 2-6lb rod, with 6lb braid. On my baitcast combo I like to run a heavier rod with heavier braid as this allows me to set the hooks a little quicker and turn the fish's head to drag it out of the snag. I like to run a 6-10lb rod and 12lb braid. With heavier braid on this reel it then becomes more versatile, ready for when I want to target other species such as saratoga. On both of these combos I like to run a rod length of either 6lb or 10lb leader, connected to my braid using either an FG Knot or the Slim Beauty.

I encourage everyone to get into the bush and experience skinny water bass fishing just once, then you will be hooked... The strikes from fish in such small creeks will automatically see you searching for more. Don't go into a session expecting to absolutely slay the fish as it may just not happen. It might take a couple of sessions to fine tune your skills before you nail that one surface bass. Just remember a bad day fishing is better than a good day at work.

If you are wanting to follow my adventures, fishing for species such as bass, bream, barramundi, marlin and dolphinfish to name a few, be sure to like my Facebook page

Erinn Ball - Girls Fish Too.

https://www.facebook.com/Erinn-Ball-Girls-Fish-Too-1402456606749390/

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FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 22, 2017