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Kayak Bass Fishing Charters

Join me on a Kayak Bass Fishing Charter. Your courtesy pick up from your Northern Rivers accommodation will take you to the most pristine local waterways where the bass are fat and healthy. I will accompany you throughout the day, sharing all the local secrets on catching Australian bass.

Simon Fitzpatrick Bass Fishing Guide. Bookings and inquiries

North Coast Shark Net Trial

I discovered some interesting truths about shark nets whilst writing an evaluation on the Shark Net Trial that is taking place off Northern NSW beaches. It is quite long so if you want to cut to the chase just read the Abstract and Introduction at the start and the Conclusion at the end. Enjoy! and be informed.

An Evaluation of Shark Nets and Drumlines for Northern NSW Beaches

Simon Fitzpatrick

Hinze Dam Feb 16, 2017

Tom showed up keen as mustard ready to fish Hinze Dam for the first time. The weather had cooled since the previous days, so conditions were very pleasant out on the water. First up we headed straight for a nice looking bay where we fished the surface for saratoga. Tom tied on a popper and it wasn’t long before he had his first inquiry. The toga snaffled the lure on the pause, jumped a few times and spat the hook. Saratoga have hard mouths and throw violent head shakes when they jump, so staying connected with a toga is a volatile thing. I have heard many say “expect to land about 1 in 5 toga hook ups.”

We continued to fish the area but with no luck we decided to tie on spinnerbaits and fish the structure. We fished the edges of the timber where plenty of fish were identified on the sounder. But with no wind the fish just didn’t appear to be feeding. I threw everything I had in the tackle box at them but the bass were very tight lipped. In the afternoon the wind picked up but it appeared to make little difference. The bass were there but just not interested

As the shadows grew longer towards the end of the day we came across a school of bass that were keen to play. Both Tom and I had several hits from the school and we landed a fish each. We certainly worked hard for those 2 fish and we were very happy to take a couple of photos and release them to fight another day. Hinze Dam is a beautiful place and a valuable fishery. I can’t wait to get back there soon.

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Spinnerbait Me!

Spinnerbaits would have to be one of the most versatile lures for Australian native fish. Bass, cod, saratoga, yellow belly and sooty grunter all love ’em. They can be worked horizontally, vertically, deep, shallow and are quite snag resistant.  When fishing heavy structure many other lures would see you snagged up again and again when trying to present the bait to the fish. Fish will often strike after the lure has hit some structure, so it is best to get the lure right into ‘tiger country.’ The spinnerbait design allows you to clank and clang the lure right in among the timber, with only the occasional snag-up.  A tackle retriever such as a Tackle Back will help you ‘de-snag’ and about 9 times out of 10 you should get your lure back.

Today after a solid 2 hours fishing the surface I finally conceded that the surface temperature of 30 degrees was just too warm for the bass. Out deeper the bass could be seen on the sounder at around 7-8m holding tight to the sunken trees in the dam. There appeared to be a thermocline at around 6m and the bass were consistently sitting just below it. Using a 5/8 spinnebait I would cast and allow the bait to sink whilst counting to 12. This put the lure right in the strike zone. A steady roll back to the boat was enough to entice a number of bass. I landed 6 fish up to 40cm and had several other hits. I had a stinger hook on so it appeared that the fish were hitting the blades.

Happy days.

Simon Fitzpatrick

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Clarrie Hall Charter Feb 11, 2017

What do you do when it’s too hot to go fishing?……”MAN UP GIRLY BOY” and go fishing anyway!! With temperatures forecast to reach the high 30’s/ low 40’s it was always going to be hot. So with plenty of sun protection and plenty of fluids Ned and I hit the dam nice and early. To make things more challenging, there was not a breath of wind until about 1pm so it was a little sticky to say the least.

With the surface temperature so warm we chose to give surface fishing a miss and immediately tied on the Jackalls. Although diving minnows appeared to be the lure of the day for Ned, my lures attracted no fish. Ned’s little Jackall swam and swam all over the dam and by the end of the day he had racked up a total of 10 fish! I, on the other hand couldn’t raise a fin. I flogged the water with the same Jackall lures but in every other colour variation than Neds lure. It seems he had the ‘go to lure’ for the day and it was the only one in the tackle box. This for me confirms the importance of colour. On this day it was clearly the difference between an abundance of fish or none.

Over the years I have noticed this particular colour consistently catches more fish. It has always been my favorite colour for cod and bass fishing, but today really highlighted just how dominant it can be! I am almost at the point where I could throw out all the lures in the tackle box and replace them with ……….. ones. Anyway it was a huge pleasure to show Ned around our beautiful dam and put him onto some nice bass. Especially on his birthday. …..Happy birthday Ned!!

Simon Fitzpatrick

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Clarrie Hall Charter, January 3rd, 2017

After a long drought the heavens finally opened up last night. Parts of the Tweed Valley received 150mm of much needed rain. When Dave and I launched the Slayer kayaks on the dam this morning it was still drizzling. The overcast conditions remained with us all day which was a blessing compared to spending a day in the punishing sun. The low light conditions also provided an opportunity to fish closer to the surface.

Dave busily prospected using a variety of lures throughout the day. We fished the edges, we fished the surface and we fished out in the open. Fish could be seen on the sounder at all these locations around the dam. When the wind picked up a little we found a large school of bass on the sounder, suspended in the current created by the wind. We busily cycled through all that we had in out tackle box. We danced, slow rolled and trolled our offerings through the school, but the schooled up fish were simply not interested.

Using a variety of techniques and lures we caught a number of solid bass in various locations around the dam. The fishing was by no means easy, but with a little persistence, patience and know how, Clarrie once again offered up her gems 🙂

Simon Fitzpatrick

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Clarrie Hall & Tweed River Charter, 1st January 2017

What better way to start the new year than a day fishing for our native Australian bass. Matthew, a bream tournament angler was eager to sample the bass fishing in the Northern Rivers. We were lucky to have some low light overcast conditions in the morning at Clarrie Hall Dam which often results in some surface luring action. At this time of year under such conditions popping sounds can be heard as the bass suck in frogs, bait fish and insects from the surface among the lilies.  However today the bass were holding down deeper. Plenty of fish could be seen on the sounder out in the open water at varying depths. There was no shortage of fish to target with the finesse hard bodies that Matthew bought with him.

matthew-fishing-clarrie-hall

Matthew worked the edges of the weed with his lures and was stoked to land a couple of bass for the morning. With the sun inflicting its punishing rays upon us we opted for some lunch in the shade of the pines at Crams Farm. After lunch we fished the Tweed River. By this stage the temperature had reached mid to high 30’s and the water temperature in the river was like a warm bath. The water at the dam was crystal clear in contrast to the rivers murky soup. We worked our lures for hours on the river but didn’t get so much as a touch. The bass were obviously shut down in what must have been very challenging conditions for them.

matthew-and-bass

The Tweed River has seen very little rain in 2016 and it is showing signs of stress. With little rain to flush the system nutrients can build up in a water body. This initially promotes vegetation and algae growth. But as water temperatures and turbidity increases this growth can die off. The microorganisms that assist in the decomposition process have a high oxygen demand. The decomposition process ultimately strips the water of oxygen. Turbidity reduces available light and therefore photosynthesis and productivity is further reduced. The hot spell we have been experiencing warms the water which in turn reduces the capacity of the water to carry dissolved oxygen. The combination of these processes often lowers pH levels too. Bass could be seen on the sounder but there was no way they were going to feed in the river.

clarrie-bass-on-hard-bodyThe dam however looks great! The water was so clear that fishing with a light fluorocarbon leader of about 6lb is wise so as not to spook the fish. A stealthy approach is also necessary under these conditions to ensure the best results. Bass could often be seen as streaks on the sounder that would rise diagonally towards the kayak. When the bass spot a boat or kayak they rise to the vessel out of curiosity. Once they spot you however, they are unlikely to fall for your bait. They must have seen many anglers before and know to be cautious. So, long casts, light lines and a quiet approach should all be part of the plan at Clarrie Hall Dam.

Simon Fitzpatrick

bass-up-close

Clarrie Hall Bass

Monday November 28

Ray and I were ready waiting for the gates to open at 7:30am at Crams Farm this morning. It wasn’t long before Ray landed his first Clarrie bass! As usual the feisty bass pulled hard and took every opportunity to head back to the weed. After lunch we headed to the river to try our luck there. Ray managed a further 3 or 4 hook ups there but as is the case sometimes, the fish all managed to spit the hook. In any case it was a great day on the water.

Copeton Yellas

Camping by a lake or river for me is food for my soul. Especially when that water is full of big native fish. Throw in some family time with the kids, skiing, fishing and beer by the fire and I am in heaven.

60cm Golden Perch

60cm Golden Perch

 

Barbless Hooks

I headed to the Tweed River today for a solo ‘bass fishin mission.’ One of my all time favorite lures are the smaller size ‘finesse’ diving minnows that dive to about 2m. I believe the smaller models around the 40-55mm length are less intimidating to a bass than the larger ones. Therefore they are more likely to be snaffled by even the most finicky fish. Most small diving minnows-baits come with two very small treble hooks. These hooks do a brilliant job in hooking bass first time, every time. The fine gauge wire ensures the hooks penetrate the bass’ skin, even if the bass is just side swiping the lure to drive it away from its territory. These hooks tend to stick to anything that comes near them. This is great for hooking fish, but unhooking them can be a real issue.

missing-maxillary

Some species such as bream tend to have a tough mouths for dealing with shells and crustaceans. However the bass’ mouth contains some very fine membrane. This thin almost transparent layer of skin is often where the hook ends up. As the fish kicks and struggles either in the water or in the boat, the membrane can be pierced several times and thus becomes entangled in these tiny trebles.  Major tears in this membrane can result when the angler tries to unhook the bass. These tears can be so severe that the outer edge (maxillary) of the upper jaw can come free. I have even caught bass that were missing their maxillary on one side completely. I can only imaging this is from a previous capture and release where the angler struggled to unhook the fish.

The eyes are another vulnerable part of a bass’ anatomy that can be pierced by these small trebles. With one treble firmly lodged in the mouth, the other treble can end up in the eye. This has happened to me on an occasion where the bass was kicking in the net and landed eye first on the hook. This is a particularly troubling thing to witness. When fishing in waters that are heavily pressured by anglers I have caught bass with one ‘milky’ eye. I suspect these milky eyes are from hook injuries. These kind of eye an mouth injuries mouth injuries would obviously hinder the fishes ability to find and eat food. The good news is that you can make a few simple modifications to lower the risk of injury to our native fish.

Barbless hooks allow for a clean efficient catch and release

Firstly, ‘de-barb’ all the hooks. Simply take some pliers and flatten the barb on all hooks on each treble. This ensures that any hook piercing can easily be removed. This significantly reduces any potential damage from occurring to any fish you plan on releasing. Using barbless hooks doesn’t necessarily mean a reduced hook up rate either. As long as you keep a ‘tight line’ when playing the fish (which you should anyway) there is no reason why the fish could spit the hook.

The second thing I like to do is cut off one hook on each treble, so you now effectively have 2 doubles (not trebles). Again this reduces the chance of injury to the bass whilst not compromising your hook up rate. Sometimes I go one step further and replace the trebles with a single lure hook. But I think modifying the trebles already provided with the lure is cheaper, easier and takes advantage of these small sticky hooks. Both these modifications can be made with a simple set of pliers.

With all my hooks now modified I had a trouble free day on the water today. I managed to land 9 bass averaging about 36cm long. All the strikes from the fish I caught today were converted into landed fish. My customized hooks worked brilliantly.

Simon Fitzpatrick

tweed-24-oct-2

 

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