Since my last disastrous session I've been really putting the effort in researching how to catch bass during winter. The change is season definitely means the fish act differently but that doesn't mean they're completely uncatchable, it just means you've got to work harder for the bites. The first thing was a change in tactic, mainly no longer casting at the weed beads but heading to open, deeper water and 'jigging' rather than casting and retrieving. To be completely honest, jigging isn't really my thing... In addition, there's heavy reliance on a sounder to work out the depths and where the fish are and as I don't yet have a sounder, I needed to come up with an alternative method.
Which is when I started thinking about how I used to approach winter fishing in the UK. One of the main methods I'd employ was a 'sleeper rod' that could be out fishing whilst I was concentrating on another rod in a different area of the lake. It could be seen as lazy fishing but the idea of the 'sleeper rod' is to maximise your chances of picking up a fish whilst not actively fishing the rod, maybe targeting a quiet area of the lake and possibly using a different bait, in most cases a natural bait.
So I got to thinking, could I apply the same idea to fishing in Australia from the kayak?! The plan that I came up with was to have a 2nd rod rigged up with a very light sinker and smallish hook baiting with (wait for it...) worms. Yup worms. Seriously, there's not a fish that swims that won't take a worm and I had a hunch that the Australian Bass may well be partial to these wiggling delicacies and as luck would have it, we have a composting worm farm in our garden!
The other benefit of having the 2nd rod with a sinker was I could use it as my depth and fish finder: paying the line out slowly would give me an indication of the depth, once the weight hit the bottom of the lake I'd get an impression of what I was fishing over and if I was lucky to get a bite, it would also act as a fish finder.
But would it work?! I'm pleased to say the answer was a resounding yes!
I got to the lake earlyish around 7am and was greeted by a lovely warm sunrise and virtually no wind. Rather than spend any time in the usual spots at the foot of the lake, I decided to head up to 'toga point'. Due to the amount of weed here I decided only to fish the lure but after no signs of fish, I headed across the lake to work the tree line along to a small bay I've named 'Stag Bay' due to the massive stag I spotted in the water on my 2nd trip to the lake (it was a bit of a double take, I didn't quite believe what I was seeing...). And it was here I got my first bite of the session..
The conditions were perfect, virtually no wind, flat calm... I baited the sleeper rod with a bunch of worms and cast out, feeling the line to the bottom through my fingers. It was pretty deep and the sinker hit the deck with a good donk so I knew I wasn't in weed. I got to casting the lure around but I was only on my 3rd or so cast when I noticed the sleeper rod tip jangle and then hoop over - fish on!
Only a small one, but it was a start and it meant I'd avoided the dreaded blank. I stuck at the area for a while but with nothing to show after 20 minutes I pressed on down to the bay which amazingly produced another fish on the worm rod. After attempting to 'triangulate' my position I recast the worm rod and started chucking the lure in a wide circle to see if there were any more fish around. As the fish were clearly deep, my tactic was to cast, count to 10 and then retrieve, stopping occasionally to let the lure flutter down. If I didn't get a knock after a couple of casts, I'd have another go increasing the count to 20, 30 etc until I located fish...
And again, it worked! I got an absolutely clonking bass followed by a smaller one and a couple of aborted takes. Meanwhile the worm rod was still producing bites, I just had to keep one eye on the rod tip and the moment it started jangling or hooping over - strike! I was so happy the tactic was working, the bass were clearly loving the worms and picking up the bonus couple of fish on the lure was keeping me more than busy.
After an hour or so the bites dried up so I moved on to the next bay around the point (no name yet!) and again, the worm rod produced another small bass after a couple of casts and I also managed to pick up another on the lure. This spot was proving tricky through as the weed beds extended out into the lake a lot further than I figured and due to the wind picking up the worm rod kept getting snagged...
So I decided to give Kangaroo Point a quick go, mainly to see if I could prove/disprove that the fish had indeed all moved into deeper water. After 20 minutes or so of casting around I found out two things: the water was very shallow, probably under half as deep as everywhere else I'd been getting bites and there were indeed no fish (well, that I could find!). So point proven, I headed back into open water again.
Time was marching on by now and with only an hour or so on the clock I decided to head back to Stag Bay to see if the bass had drifted back in and sure enough, I picked up the last fish of the session on the 3rd or so cast on the worm rod. I had a bit of a cast around but with the breeze getting up (as always seems to happen in the afternoons at Kurwongbah) it was making keeping position and casting difficult so having filled my boots, I decided to beat for home.
So a surprisingly good day on the water! It was a bit of a result the 'sleeper-worm-rod' had done as well as it had, I wouldn't have caught as many as I did without it and thanks to it's fish and depth finding abilities I learned even more about the lake. It's a stunning bit of water, I'm really enjoying exploring it and can't wait for the coming months as from what I've been told, it's prime bass fishing time. Bring it on!