By Kylie Cornish
Cold weather has returned across NSW particularly and in certain months of the year, you will find that in these conditions, impoundment bass will school up in large groups which can happen anywhere from 10 foot to over 100 foot of water. It usually happens before and after spawning in the colder months of the year but cold snaps may also send them scurrying for cover. The easiest way to catch fish when schooled is by the method of vertical jigging with soft plastics. This is a method that takes time to master but once you have it sorted can be the most rewarding method of catching bass when you may struggle pulling them off the banks.
I have listed some of the gear you will need to when setting your self up for the task of tackling this type of fishing: Firstly you will need to set your boat up with an electric motor as this is essential for holding your position over the fish. The next thing will be a good sounder. I use HDS Lowrance colour sounders but you will have no problem with black and white if that is all you have access to. The sounder is best mounted on the front of your boat with the transducer and the reason for this is so, after locating your school you will drop the electric motor and this will hold you directly over the fish.
Most important is the tackle and I use a Samurai Reaction rod 203 spinning rod. This is the most versatile rod I have in my collection and would not go past it when it comes to vertical fishing. As far as line is concerned you do not have to fish heavy as you don’t usually have to worry about structure, so normally I use 4 to 6 pound only down grading if the fish are extremely finicky. Jig heads are to me one of the most important aspects of the tackle and for this the Atomic Seekerz jig heads are perfect as they as they prevent a lot of the line twist that is associated with going straight up and down. I select my jigheads according to the water depth being fished and can be anywhere from 1/16 to 1/4 ounce matched with either a mega bass counter grub or atomic fat grub.
It is crucial that you hold position over the school. You will find that fish in top area of the column are usually harder to catch than the fish that are in the deeper water. Once you’re over the fish, you can drop your jig head down directly in front of you motor. In most cases you will see you line on the sounder, so let your jig head sink to the bottom and slowly retrieve (you may have to be patient as the fish don’t just feed). You will also find the fish may tap at your lure and the most important thing is do not strike. Deep jigging requires patience, so let the fish load itself and set the hooks carefully. I have found when teaching people the hardest thing for them to learn is to hold back as the fish will hook itself and this is where so many people go wrong.
Kylie’s Top Tips
Let the rod load itself, do not strike hard.
When you get one fish to bite you will often have you the whole school jumping on your lure.
Do not let fish go back into the school as this may shut them down, move off your school to release any unwanted fish.