Bass at Extreme Range
Alongside summer chub I’ve been back out targeting bass. However, despite amazing clarity, a new challenge has appeared. Launce, mackerel and other large prey have finally arrived. My problem… to overcome, fish at long range. Aside from short feeding spells in low light, everything has been out at extreme distance. The usual crankbaits, soft plastics and surf seekers haven’t quite hit the mark. I ordered a few new lures to try. Jig minnows.
I had recently picked a few up for a charter boat trip with friends, we used them to fish vertically, but after inspecting them properly I realised the potential for my own coastal fishing. With 40 grams of dense weight, casting and slow jigs perform like a tournament weight, capable of reaching an insane distance. With that in mind I spooled up with my slickest 20lb x8 braid and hit the coast.
There are a few areas of coastline near me with a steep gradient, offering depths of 6-8 metres at 100-150 metres out over high water. I picked these areas as the perfect test for the jigs. I targeted high water, wading out as far as I could and performed my best cast. It wasn’t long before I started picking up pint-sized schoolies at around 90 metres. I pushed harder, increasing the distance of the cast, and soon began reaching 100 metres, hitting the backing knot at 120 on a few occasions. From there I would let the jig thump the bottom and pulse it back, much like fishing a soft plastic. Once the jig reached shallow water it proved difficult to retrieve. A straight wind, with a few darts of the rod tip, would prove more than enough action to pick up the odd fish.
After some experimentation it was clear that most of my hits came within the first few bounces of my longest casts. I continued to fish when I suddenly hit a better fish. The fight was unusual, the bass thumping away at such great range, impossible to tell the true size. As the fish came close to shore, it suddenly woke up, tearing off on short aggressive runs and kicking off once it caught sight of me. I soon netted the fish, no monster but a quality bass none the less. Once the tide turned and the water off shore became shallow, the jig failed to perform, and the bass seemed to move to greater ranges. The lesson had been learned and I was keen to return for Round Two.
The next session’s antics proved identical, with the bass holding at long range in deep water. While walking the stretch of coastline I came across a shoal of launce, and the action heated up. I landed three small schoolies in quick succession, then hooked up with a much better fish. The weight was heavy, but the fish seemed to put up little fight as I gained ground, easing the bass towards me from over 100 metres out. As the fish eased close to shore it bolted, taking quick runs and ripping drag.
I continued to ease the fish closer, with the fight seemingly won, and finally caught a good look at a nice bass, probably close to 60cms thrashing on the surface. Suddenly, the fish found a second bout of energy, taking off on a fast run when the hook pulled. I checked the lure to find a blunt hook point, this is something I barely thought about while bouncing the bottom. With a lesson learned, I continued on, losing and banking a few more fish until the tide receded. A great session with no monsters, but I was redeemed by a nice fish in the 50s. I’ll certainly be back for Round Three.
I was using some pretty hefty kit to fish comfortably at these long ranges. I’m by no means an expert caster, so a scaled-up combo definitely helps. I picked a 9ft 6in rod, 15-42g, and a reel, a large 5000 size with a wide spool. I paired it with a 40g jig minnow and some slick 20lb braid. Every inch of the long blank is put to work during the cast, while the wide spool allows line to feed effortlessly. This sort of combo may be worth considering if you fish a lot of open beaches where range is often a success factor.
I have some exciting plans for the weeks ahead as I head down South to re-visit wrasse fishing. It’s been a long time since my last trip, and I’m excited to try my hand at catching these powerhouses again.