Australian Bass Habitat
Rivers, feeder creeks or lagoons that are open to the sea through estuaries are the ideal spots for Australian Bass. They can also be found in dam lakes as they’ve been introduced to these locations.
They migrate down from the rivers and streams to spawn in the ocean in the winter months. The rest of the time they prefer the cover of sunken logs, tree branches, on the edge of weed beds, under rock ledges and undercut banks.
Most bass, like the Smallmouth Bass or Largemouth Bass of North America, also prefer the same river conditions.
For Australian bass though, the preference for these condition is due in part to their position in the food chain. This fish is a predator and this habitat provides it with the cover to lie in wait to attack its prey while also offering it protection from other predators both land based and water based.
They prefer the water temperature to range between 66°F degrees and 70°F degrees (19°C – 21°C) with a Ph range from 6.5 to 9.5.
Tip: It’s important to remember that the Ph, salinity and temperature in the estuary can change hourly. Some of the factors that cause the change in conditions are rainfall, tides, river flow and warm weather. Australian Bass still prefer the same habitats in estuaries as they seek out in rivers.
They can tolerate salinity from freshwater to saltwater where they spawn in estuaries but they’re not a saltwater fish. They venture to the estuaries and in to the salty areas during spawning, but prefer the fresh water during the rest of the year.
The Australian Bass population has dropped significantly over many years due to the construction of dams and weirs that prevent upstream migration of post-spawning fish and their fry.
By preventing upstream migration, the range of their distribution is significantly reduced even though their habitat is largely unchanged below the dams. The significantly changed habitat above the dams doesn’t allow them to migrate to the sea.
To reduce the effects of the dams, many freshwater dams and weirs have been stocked with Australian Bass and this forms the basis of growing recreational fishery in these areas. As the fish cannot head downstream to spawn, the reservoirs must continually be stocked.
Concern for the Australian Bass population has caught the attention of the Australian government.
Zero Bag Limit
A review was conducted over several years by the Minister of Primary Industries that resulted in a zero bag limit placed on the Australian Bass during the winter months starting June 1, 2009 and ending August 31, 2009.
The limit affects the Australian Bass caught in estuaries. While it doesn’t prevent anglers from catching the fish, it does mandate immediate release once caught. However some critics note that not all fish survive release and there should be an outright ban and more consideration given to dams arguing that if fish ladders or streams are built along side the dams, fish populations may increase.
Unlike other freshwater bass, the Australian Bass cannot thrive in habitats such as reservoirs, lakes and ponds without constant human intervention.
While other bass can spend their entire lives in streams or lakes, the Australian Bass needs brackish waters in order to spawn and sustain it’s population.
Regardless of the watershed, the Australian Bass prefer structures such as drowned brush piles, logs, stumps, old creek beds, changes in bottom formations, ledges, submerged islands, deep points, docks, water lilies and bridge supports where they wait to ambush prey and take cover from the sun and seek protection from other predators.
Electronic equipment, such as fish finders or sonar devices, are helpful in finding underwater formations where you’re more likely to find concentrations of fish.
Fishing hot spots you should look for are brush piles and other underwater structures.