The author with a bass extracted from Somerset on a Smak tailspinner.

Big Somerset bass on the bite

BIG dam, big bass, big expectations – where else but Somerset Dam?

Somerset is often referred to as the home of Australia’s big bass, and rightly so in my opinion. This dam creates the hope of catching the fish of a lifetime but can also deflate dreams of trophy bass. Hopefully we can establish the hope and provide some of the tools and knowledge to execute a successful fishing trip to Somerset and turn the empty-handed outings into bags full of oversized Somerset bass. I am Andrew from Somerset Fishing Tackle and I will give you a monthly report on how the dam is fishing and what techniques are required to catch a few fish.

For the established fisho, I will provide up-to-date information on where the fish are biting and what lures and baits are working. For the novice, I will go over the basics and how-to info to get you started. We are currently in the process of moving our shop down to the water at the day-use area in Lake Somerset Holiday Park at Kirkleigh.

Anglers will be able to stop in and see us before launching in the mornings or on the way home in the afternoon. Whether you’re after a report, bait and lures or just want a chat, we would love to see you, so please feel free to come in and check out our new shop. We’ll also have boats and kayaks available for hire at the water’s edge, so you’ll have no excuses for not being able to access Somerset Dam.

Spring is upon us and so are the big bass. This time of year sees oversized fish at their peak as they fatten up for breeding season. The roed-up, voracious feeding fish are some of the biggest bass you will see. This year has proven no different, with absolute monsters coming from the dam in recent weeks. We’ve heard multiple reports of quite a few 50cm-plus fish being landed.

An average fish at the moment is probably around 45cm and 2kg. That’s big in just about every other part of the country, but not at Somerset. Here you can catch 50 bass in one day, with 30 of them over 50cm and 3kg. We have done this plenty of times this year and know many others who have done the same.

The bass in the dams seem to be either running behind their saltwater compatriots or they continue to grow after breeding season. From what I’ve seen, the end of the bass closed season in the rivers doesn’t coincide with the fish in the dams losing condition as they do in the wild. They generally continue to grow through spring, meaning the gigantic fish are only going to get bigger in coming weeks.

Somerset Fishing Tackle customer Craig with a couple of big bass he recently caught on paddle-tail plastics and tailspinners.
Somerset Fishing Tackle customer Craig with a couple of big bass he recently caught on paddle-tail plastics and tailspinners.

The fish are starting to school up in greater numbers and feeding time brings massive catch rates of big fish. These feeding windows vary from day to day and can last from a couple of minutes to all day. You won’t catch fish if there aren’t any fish near you, so a sounder is a must when searching for these schools.

Conventional sonar will find most schools of fish, so you don’t need a big flash sounder, however the more expensive sounders can provide an insight into the exact numbers and true size of fish while also better separating fish from structure. Larger schools are starting to show up all over the dam now, however the usual haunts of the flats above Kirkleigh, Pelican Point and Queen Street are showing the best numbers.

The majority of fish are holding in 6-9m of water. Some fish sit deeper and others shallower, but either way you obviously need to get your lure/bait down to where the fish are and keep it there as long as you possibly can. A heavier lure will make this job easier.

Half-ounce and 5/8oz jig heads rigged with soft plastics, 1/2oz and heavier blades and tailspinners and large, soft vibration lures are all working well at the moment. Tailspinners and soft plastics have been the best lately.We have been using the Hot Bite Jets Tailspinners as well as 5/8oz jig heads rigged with Sliders and Reflexion soft plastics to target the big fish with great success.

We have also scored results by trolling diving hard-body lures. You can choose from plenty of Australian made lures as well as better-known international brands that are designed to suit different diving depths. You need to pick something that will get to the depth at which you’re seeing fish on your sounder.
Smak Lures is an Australian producer with an awesome range of lures that dive to a variety of depths.

We have plenty of Smak lures in stock in case you get caught out on the dam and need replacements. We have exciting news for both the avid troller and fishing family: there is a new social fishing tournament coming up in October at Lake Somerset specifically designed for trolling. Entry numbers are limited and everyone is more than welcome to join the tournament.

For more details on this inaugural event, check out our website at
Time and time again I hear people talk about Somerset and say effort equals reward. It does take patience to fish this dam, and it won’t always provide like a fish farm, but if you put in the effort you will be rewarded.

When this dam rewards your efforts you will not remember the few hard times fishing here. Instead you will remember the heavy arms, aching wrists and shredded thumbs from some of the country’s biggest bass.

For more spring Somerset content, click here!

About Andrew Mitchell

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  1. Hi just wondering if anyone can tell me what date is the kirkleigh fishing comp this year (2018) thanks heaps

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