by Shane Murton
The late winter/early spring period in my home state of SA is a great time of year if you're into freshwater fishing. The heavy rains of winter have started to back off, and the water is beginning to settle in a bulk of our creek systems meaning increased visibility for the predators that lurk in these murky waters.
A brace of thumpers. Small water redfin action doesn't get much better than this.
At the height of winter SA's rather diminutive waterways are literally hit with a torrent of water, and many become unfishable because of the sheer intensity of the flow moving down them and also the dark, earthy colour the water takes on. Thankfully with this coming to an end one of the state's top lures targets in the fresh, the redfin, will be back on the job.
Chasing reddies in tight water is about as good as it gets if you like close quarters combat, especially when you can start cracking onto fish over the 40cm mark. I don't think there's a more aggressive customer than this species when they're switched on and smacking plastics and hard-bods like it's their last meal. So with more favourable conditions to chase this species, and a lack of snakes for the moment to run into while walking the creek edges, now is a great time to load up on little lures and get flicking.
A benefit of fishing this time of year for redfin is the likelihood of running into a better class of fish. It is well documented that the cooler season is the prime time to crack a PB 'fin as they school up to breed. These larger fish will still be on the job for a while yet before they again become like sleeping giants and lock jawed.
A common pitfall for many who chase redfin is to treat them as reckless eating machines, where in fact some extra attention to detail can go a long way, and lead to you encountering the kind of fish that will see a life-long appreciation for what these small pool warriors have to offer.
Attention to detail when rigging is vital. I think if you're putting in the time and effort (and money) to catch a fish, any fish, then doing all the simple steps you can to get the odds in your favour is essential. For reddies I'll drop leaders down as light as I can go, often 2kg, and with any plastics used I'll be sure to coat them in extra scent. Generally I fish natural coloured plastics to increase the stealth further, with the 100mm Squidgy Wriggler in Wasabi probably my current favourite for tricking those monster reds with a humped up back. Truth be told most plastics up to this size will get the job done, however I prefer those with plenty of tail action as so many fish are hooked when letting the plastic freefall into the depths of a pool.
When fishing in quite snaggy, cramped pools I have a preference for soft plastics, as the tears don't well up if you snag them on a log, or have them tea-bagging from a tree. In more open areas small hard-bodied divers or stickbaits work a treat, as do blades. Blades, with the TT Ghostblade a favourite, actually allow you to work the water column well and seem to get crunched, but again keep them away from any timber!
Redfin simply adore slow moving pools, and even more so if there's plenty of cover for them to hide in. Sunken timber, a fortress of reeds surrounding the waterway and a reasonable water depth are all characteristics of a likely redfin haunt.
The challenges of fishing a tiny, pinched-in creek system are many, and just getting a lure in the water can be a battle at times let alone subduing a 40cm plus fish hell-bent on burning you into a thick reed edge. However, when you feel that unmistakable 'CLUNK' travel up your braid and everything comes up tight, you'll see why so many fishos will have their gumboots on and be walking the banks of a river system this time of year. I'll happily admit I'll be one of 'em too. Besta luck!