Australian bass lives in rivers and dams around Australia, hang around thick vegetation, fallen trees or deep pools and to get to this fish with a fly rod, good casting skills are required or some type of watercraft. There are two types of Bass in a place I fish, the ones that stays in schools (brighter colour) and the one that cruise along the dam (darker colour).
When targeting Bass, you don’t really need to be very specific about the fly you use, since their diet source is very wide from little damsel nymphs, grasshoppers, different baitfish and pretty much anything that will pass in front of them. Bass will strike at anything from two reasons - either its hungry or it protects its territory, which make it great sport fish for a beginning fly anglers.
After reading a lot about "breaking the code" I thought I am on to something with this bugger Aussie Bass, so I start researching, reading, and talking to locals about it.
I am lucky with my fishery. The dam I’m fishing is very close, has easy access from the shore, superb spot for family picnic (so everybody is happy), plenty of backcast space for long casts, it is not very deep where I fish, so it is good for the only set up I use - floating line with 12' fluorocarbon leader -, and most of all it has plenty of fish in it!
I am using very simple patterns to chase Bass.
Most effective time to target bass is very early in the morning (even before the sun rises), or late in the evening (haven't tried it yet). When I get to the dam around 4am, there is a lot of surface activity, Bass are smashing something on top (most of those rises are far away though).
I start with Vincent's Loud Mouth Popper and use the stripping method Paul describe to me once - BLUUUP, BLUUUP - and wait till the rings on the water to disappear. Bass will notice your fly on the water from the moment it lands on the surface. On my last trip while waiting for the rings to disappear I lost my focus twice on my popper, and guess what I missed two strikes and lost my first chance to hook up bass on top.
The strikes had two faces. The first one was an unexpected smash in between strips, the second was a gentle sucking the popper in between lily pads - well won’t happen next time!
Around 5am the sun comes up and all surface become quiet and flat. I change my fly from popper to the Bass Vampire (mixture of Clouser/Crazy Charlie on one hook), cast faaar, let it sink and then STRIP STRIP-pause-STRIP STRIP-pause. I can’t tell in which moment the fish strikes, but it works and keeps me very pleased during short session.
In my further research, I’ve noticed guys really focusing only on bass fishing/fly fishing as their main target fish, and they collect a lot of tackle to get to the bass in different waters and depths. Sinking lines, heavier rods, boats, sounders/fish finders... and suddenly I realised that this is exactly the same set up I complained about not having for my saltwater adventures!
Well at this stage, knowing I have such a great bass fishery next to me as an alternative to my imaginary saltwater fly fishing, it is time to bring my EGO back, and I will go back to salt and try to change the imagination into reality.
I can always go back for a good fight with an old friend the Aussie Bass.
See you next week.