Australian Bass are extremely popular with Australian fishos. It’s not surprising numbers have been on the decline since the 1990s due to the regulation of rivers across the range. That being said, the range of Australian Bass has been expanded through stockings and the fish can be found in a number of impoundments in Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria. Australian Bass have also been caught at sea several kilometres offshore suggesting that these Bass share a common gene pool with those found in freshwater.
More organisations are pushing for catch and release fishing with Australian Bass because of declining numbers in native habitats. However, where dams and weirs are being restocked, legal requirements are in place so that more Aussie fishos can enjoy catching for the table.
Australian Bass are often confused with Estuary Perch even by experts.
HOW TO IDENTIFY BASS, AUSTRALIAN
Australian Bass can reach over 4kg but a fish around 2.4kg is considered a large catch. The Australian Bass looks very similar to the Estuary Perch but can be distinguished by a rounder or straight forehead compared with the concave profile of the Estuary Perch. Males are smaller than females. A large male can weigh up to 1.5kg.
A fish that behaves somewhat similar to pelagic fish, in that they race through the water, near-surface, is probably an Australian Bass.
WHERE TO CATCH BASS, AUSTRALIAN
Australian Bass are easy to find in the freshwater reaches of coastal rivers in the warmer months. Australian Bass are found in coastal rivers and streams from as far north as Bundaberg in Queensland to eastern Gippsland in Victoria although Australian Bass start to migrate towards inland estuaries to breed in winter.
Australian Bass look for quality clear water with native riparian vegetation and in-stream cover. Australian Bass like to sit under cover during the day and are not fussy about what type of cover they can find, including cover they can find in shallow water of around 1m.
HOW TO CATCH BASS, AUSTRALIAN
Australian Bass are arguably considered one of the best sport fishing species in Australia. It is common for them to dash out from structure to grab a lure, bait or fly and dash back into cover. Australian Bass can be quite aggressive feeders.
Most Australian Bass fishos use small to medium sized cast and float fishing lures. Many lures work well. Surface lures are very effective when fishing for Australian Bass. It’s common to see a Bass angler with a huge selection of fishing lures including surface lures, shallow divers, deep divers, soft plastics, spinnerbaits and tailored lures of every imaginable colour and design.
Casting a lure close to getting a bite is important even if the area is a difficult location to cast your rod. You should be aiming to get within 30cm of structure so a slow retrieval will get the attention of an Australian Bass lurking close by.
Live baits also work very well with Australian Bass. A struggling live shrimp, prawn or worm (but not limited to) will just about guarantee a response from any Bass.
Because Australian Bass are easily spooked, it is important to be as quiet as possible. Be careful not to jump and accidentally shout out when a Bass slashes out and takes a bite on your hook.
Australian Bass are great fun to catch and are known for being great fighters as well as being extremely strong swimmers.