Just before I got into kayak fishing I discovered a system that I managed to catch numerous bass in the 40-45cmFL bracket from my Coleman Scanoe. Since then return trips have failed to deliver good sized bass although the numbers of average sized bass seem to have increased in that time.
So I decided to try to unravel the mystery of the missing bass and first began to explore upstream. On a recent reconnaissance mission I discovered a few new launch points and arranged to explore them with Rob (RAD). As the drive to the location was a relatively long one we left early and eventually arrived at our destination and launched by 6AM.
Unlike my previous trip to the area where the river was running coffee from recent rains there was minimal flow and it seemed that this system like many others this was starting to look a little stressed. The first noticeable feature was the amount of debris that had built up from recent winds and had not been moved downstream from the current.
We began casting and the first pool was dead with no bass finding an interest in our surface lures however the next pool saw Rob’s Sammy hit by a bass and it wasn’t long before he hooked up on another fish and was on the scoreboard. Rob had also made a camera mount to enable him to take selfies and on his very first bass of the day he managed to drop it overboard and watch it fill with water and sink to the murky depths! Bugger! As we moved downstream the surface hits became more frequent and eventually we reached the last structure in the pool. This was a bush covered in old vines all the way to the waterline and we managed numerous hits and misses before I hooked up on a rat to avoid the dreaded donut.
Moving downstream we reached another lovely piece of water and I initially made a cast at the nicely shaded structure only to see a bass smash something off the surface in the full sun just off a long log that lay in the pool. The second my lure landed in the vicinity of the surface strike a plucky bass smashed it off the surface and I fought it all the way to the bank only for the hooks to pull metres from the bank. I continued casting at the base of a couple of trees that were heavily shaded and a good bass exploded around the lure on two consecutive casts missing the trebles and losing interest after it felt the trebles.
We dragged our yaks to the next pool and I ventured up a backwater that was covered in debris and the flow from the upper pool had almost stopped. It looked amazing and if the leafy debris on the surface had been absent it would have been an awesome pool. My first few casts at the first log that lay across the creek found no interest and it wasn’t until I cast towards the bank on the other side of the log that I managed to gain the attention of a hungry bass. The leaves on the surface were causing some difficulty and on this particular cast after the first few twitches the lure managed to get hooked up in a twig. As I quickly reeled in the lure to remove the offending material a bass smashed the lure and missed as it skimmed along the surface.
The next log was a mirror image of the first and I tried to cast into patches of water devoid of debris in an attempt to allow the lure a few twitches and a bit of a walk before it ran the leafy gauntlet. On one cast the Sammy 65 was smashed after a couple of twitches and I had to carefully fight the fish to avoid the huge amount of timber piled up in the pool. Eventually though I managed to net my first reasonable bass at 32cmFL. The very next cast to the log and I began my retrieve which miraculously managed to walk through the debris without snagging up. The Sammy 65 almost reached the kayak when another plucky bass picked the lure off the surface and I had to fight it virtually below the kayak before I netted another 32cmFL bass.
I made my way out of the backwater and caught up to RAD who was casting at the bank in the main pool. We continued to cop hits from numerous small bass and often they would follow the lure metres from the bank before they would hit the lure. Rob managed another rat and on one cast my Sammy 65 was walking back to the yak when it was delicately removed from the surface and I managed to bring a 34cmFL bass to the kayak with little to no fight. Once in the net though that pent up energy was released and it flipped into my lap and went berserk. I panicked as the bass with lure still attached did a merry dance between my legs and I had images of a new piercing flooding my thoughts. Luckily the lure came loose and I managed to get the bass back into the net and into the water.
At the end of pool the stream separated into two branches and we decided to go separate ways to see if we could both find some fishable water. My side was just a trickle but Rob’s branch seemed to be flowing a lot better so I assumed his side would fish better. The portage initially in my branch was quite heavy until I reached a sharp turn in the river. A tree had fallen into the river and had remained upright and as a result the current had dug beneath it significantly to create a small but deep hole. I snuck up quietly to the hole and sent a cast in which was immediately hit after a couple of twitches. The follow-up cast was smashed again and I briefly hooked up on an average fish before the hooks pulled and I was left cursing. The third cast into the same spot was hit again with a hollow “thok” and this time I was connected onto another bass which measured 35cmFL and was a reasonable fish for this system.
Once released I continued casting and missed a bigger fish casting to the back of the structure and then had a couple of tiny bass hassling the lure before I returned to my kayak and continued the extensive portage. Eventually I reached a nice pool and continued casting. Initially I concentrated on the shaded water that was covered with overhanging bushes until I heard a bass hit the surface on the opposite bank. I fired a long cast into the vicinity and again I was rewarded with a good surface hit and after a brief fight I landed another 35cmFL bass. In the middle of the fight I heard crashing through the bushes and eventually found Rob who had been unlucky and had been dragging his kayak for the entire length of his arm.
Rob returned to his kayak and continued portaging down to the next pool and I returned to casting into the shade. I was rewarded with numerous hits but the bass were mostly small although one had a serious go at the lure and may have been a reasonable fish. After exhausting my efforts at the area I continued downstream. While I had been casting I could hear Rob doing a long drag to reach the next pool and was not really looking forward to the long portage. In the end it was a serious slog but I eventually caught up to Rod fishing the next pool which again looked amazing but no bass were willing to play until I copped a good hit towards the bottom of the pool that failed to hook up.
The next pool was very large and the structure at the top of the pool had us drooling with the thoughts of big surface hits. However like the other pools the bass seemed to be concentrated at the lower ends of each hole and absent from the top. When we neared the middle of the pool I coped a hit from a reasonable bass hat sent my Sammy spinning through the air before it landed a couple of feet from the hit. The lure was subsequently hit again after a couple of twitches and I netted another rat speculating that the initial hit must have been from another fish.
Rob was the next to cop a solid surface strike in Tiger country and I briefly watched him battling to keep a good bass free of the surrounding structure. While he battled I sent out a cast on the opposite bank and managed 4 hits from a rat before it hooked up. Rob’s fish measured 39cm to the tip and was the biggest bass for the session while mine didn’t even crack 20cm! Minutes later a cast beneath a Melaleuca branch was picked up on landing and and I netted another 30cm+ bass.
Continuing downstream we reached the end of the pool and as with other pools we had fished the last little bay that had both shade and structure yielded numerous hook-ups, netted fish and missed hits. It was possible the hottest section of creek with both Rob and myself landing a number of bass in the thirties before the bite slowed up and we moved on.
The fishing continued to be hot with a huge number of missed strikes and numerous rats caught. I managed to cast into some deep water in a small pool and allowed the Sammy to float down the current giving it a few twitches when a 36cmFL bass smashed it in skinny water and I eventually netted my best fish of the day. Rob then managed to extract another good bass going 38cm to the tip and these bass were the last reasonable fish for the day.
We eventually reached some serious portage and after traversing some mild rapids we arrived in some shallow sunlight pools that showed some significant algal growth. At this point the fishing went dead and we eventually realised we were at our exit point which was a park that ran adjacent to the river. We dragged the kayaks up the bank and exited the river at 1:40AM. I then began my 5km trek up the road to the car in 33 degree heat before returning to Rob and loading up for the journey home.
It had been a great day and although the bass had not met expectations in terms of size, the sheer number of bass willing to hit our surface lures made it a very enjoyable session. If you haven’t checked it out already here is some video footage of some of the day’s action