The Australian Bass
What's in a Name?
The Australian bass (Macquaria novemaculeata) is a member of the Percichthyidae family, unlike other named bass that are a member of the Centrarchidae family such as the Largemouth Bass, which is actually a member of the sunfish family and not at all related to the Australian Bass. However, the Australian Bass is in no way similar to the North American Smallmouth Bass or Largemouth Bass.
As it's name implies, the Australian Bass is native to Australia and can be found in the rivers and streams with access the ocean.
Australian Bass Popularity
Australian Bass is very popular among Australian anglers. It has many of the same characteristics and traits found with other bass. Their fighting abilities make landing a four to six pound fish exciting and challenging, which is a large fish for many new anglers afraid to fish the ocean.
They are well known for their flavour both in the home and on fishing expeditions, very similar to that of the smallmouth bass.
As the scientific name indicates, the Australian Bass and estuary perch are the Macquaria genus, but this was not always the case. Prior to the 1970s, the Australian Bass and estuary perch were placed in a separate genus, Percalates.
Similarity to Estuary Perch
However, results from recent research, which used DNA analysis, provided solid evidence that the Australian Bass and estuary perch do actually belong in a separate genus to the golden perch and the Macquarie perch.
The research provided some other interesting facts about the Australian Bass. While currently a member of the Macquaria genus, it is genetically much closer to the cod species (Maccullochella).
So, are we ready to reclassify this fish again? Well, we think so and there is a good chance that they may be both put back into the Percalates genus. While uncommon, reclassification has occurred before and most likely will happen again with enough supporting evidence.
Currently, there is some disagreement over the classification over some Peacock Bass peacock bass, which are also not true bass as they are of the Cichla genus. However, as with the Australian Bass, the Peacock bass are known for their fighting abilities and the name has stuck.
The Australian Bass eats fishes, crustaceans and other invertebrates such as insects and can also be caught with worms, both live and plastic. And in most cases, plastic worms offer more advantages over live bait as they do not expire, do not have to be kept at a particular temperature, can be reused and come in a large variety of shapes, sizes and colours.
While many claim that the Australian Bass can reach close to nine pounds, anglers are more likely to land a two pound fish, or even a one pound fish rather than an eight pounder.
The largest Australian bass on record is recorded at 3.78 Kg (about 8.33 pounds). It is a rather large bass, growing to as much as 3.79 Kg (8.36 pounds), however, you are more likely to catch a two pounder.
As mentioned before, many of fish labelled as bass are actually not true bass. And, other than the Peacock Bass, most of these fish are very similar in appearance and proportions, offer similar fighting traits and often chase after the same bait types.
The Australian Bass is dark olive-green or greyish on the back and sides with darker scale margins. The belly is silvery or whitish, and the fins are mostly dusky brown to black. The tips of the anal and pelvic fins are white. Juvenile fish under 12cm long are banded and have a dark blotch on the gill cover.
The average length of the Australian Bass is just under 14 inches with the large lunkers reaching 24 inches in length. But again, most Australian Bass caught today are much closer to the 15 inch size.
The Australian Bass has an evenly arched dorsal profile, a snout that is straight or slightly concave and a forked caudal fin.
It has a protruding lower jaw with a moderately large eye and a notch between the spiny first dorsal fin and the soft-rayed second dorsal fin.
While we will get into greater detail on their distribution in later sections, for now, know that the Australian Bass is found in coastal rivers, lakes and estuaries of eastern Australia from Fraser Island in the state of Queensland all the way to the Wilson's Promontory in the state of Victoria.
While other bass have been transplanted to other regions of the world, we were not able to find any research or news that found the Australian Bass anywhere other than what we listed above, with the exception of a few reservoirs in the state of Queensland.
If you come across the Australian Bass in other Australian states or other countries, please provide us with a picture and location. GPS coordinates are greatly appreciated.
Getting back to Australia, the Australian Bass can migrate considerable distances upstream and has been historically recorded up to an altitude of 600 metres in the Hawkesbury River drainage, New South Wales and can be caught with a wide range of tackle and lures, which we will get into in later sections found above.
In recent years, population sizes have declined as building of dams and weirs has made potential habitats inaccessible.
Australia has also encountered a significant draught that has effected the water level and volume of many inland rivers and streams.
River regulation is reported to interfere with spawning cues. In winter, adults migrate downstream to estuaries to breed.
There are many sport fishing clubs located on the east coast of Australia that provide support, tips and comradery where one can share stories about the one that got away. Bassfishing-Gurus.com tries to keep a record of all fishing clubs, if you come across one that is not listed, send it to us through out contact us page.