New Year’s Day! NEW
On the morning of New Year’s Eve I was lazing around on the lounge when my wife said “ I’ll make you a deal!”. As you can imagine my ears pricked up very quickly! “if I can go shopping today would you like to go fishing tomorrow!” I was highly offended and said ‘Of course I don’t , I really think we should have a quiet day at home watching daytime TV for the next couple of days”. My wife was highly disappointed and we resumed bludging slothfully on the couch. Of course this all happened in an alternate reality!
As you can imagine I jumped on this offer in a heartbeat and possible locations for my newest expedition started swirling in my head as I began my planning. In the end I made the decision to explore another of the locations I reconed last week. However, being New Year’s Eve I did not plan on doing one of my early starts especially after taking my two boys to the fireworks in Brisbane the night before.
Instead I left at 5:20AM and eventually began driving along the road adjacent to my destination and the river looked awesome as its inky depths meandered along the valley. However, my plan had been to fish its upper reaches and seek out some large resident bass and as I drove up the valley I watched the water quality gradually deteriorate until I arrived at my launch to find the water like coffee. Obviously the storms that had hit us last Friday had had a bigger impact on my chosen system than I had anticipated.
So I kicked off plan B and headed to an alternate location. On my exploratory drive this system had looked very poor and the water’s appeared almost fluorescent green in colour. I hoped that the recent rains had also had an impact on this system and managed to give it a bit of a flush and washed the planctonic algae out into the sea. Arriving at my launch point the waterway seemed a little better and although not ultra-green it had improved and I decided to give it a crack instead of wasting my day seeking out better waters. The great thing about this part of the system was that there was minimal portage and that the portage that I needed to do was so easy I could manage it without actually getting wet feet.
Hitting the water I began casting eagerly at likely bass haunts and it became quickly apparent that the weed had not been removed as well as I anticipated. I constantly fouled my Sammy and the diver would get caught up in it beneath the water’s surface. Only the deepest and darkest of structures where the light never penetrated seemed to be devoid of the annoying aquatic vegetation. The first pool, which went for about 1.5km was riddled with the stuff and I only managed a single heat beneath a low hanging pine branch for the entire length of the pool.
As I approached the head of the pool I was pleased to notice that the weed seemed to decrease in abundance and surmised that the fertiliser that I believe caused the problem had come from a farm adjacent to the pool. However, I still wavered between pushing onto the next pool or pulling up stumps and finding cleaner waters. I ended up making the decision to continue on in the current waterway as the paddle was an easy one and that other fisherman if given the same choice would probably return to the launch after a fishless first pool.
I dragged the yak up the very small rock bar where I reached a very small pool between the two larger ones. I had managed bass in this pool before and it seemed that the most recent flood events had deepened it somewhat making it and even better bass haunt. Lying parallel to its bank were two massive lay downs lying end to end. More or less the entire trees with the root balls exposed at one end. My first cast in with the Sammy 65 landed alongside the main trunk and I began my retrieve so that the Sammy walked parallel with it. After a couple of metres the water erupted around my lure and I was on to a feisty bass. Eventually I netted him and he measured 35cmFL but it was apparent from the ulcers and thin frame that the bass in this part of the system had been struggling of late.
Launching the kayak I made my way up the small pool casting at various points along the laydowns. As I approached the final root ball I prepared to have a cast just in front of it. My Sammy’s front trebles caught up on the leader and I gave it a jiggle to try and free them. Unfortunately they were caught firmly and it took quite a bit of jiggling to free the lure and so by the time I was ready to cast I was only a very short distance from the target structure. Slapping he Sammy down hard over the short distance it was twitched once when a bass jumped all over it and ran along the trunk of the tree. Luckily I was able to get his head up and away from the structure and net another reasonable bass of 34cmFL. Like the previous bass this one was quite skinny and lacked the conditioning apparent in the bass from my previous session with Rod
I arrived at the next large pool which was about the same length of the first and I now had a renewed optimism that I would find a few fish. I could see one of my favourite structures in this system about 10m away and began casting at all the other likely bass haunts before I gave it a good peppering with my lure. When I finally reached it the Sammy was belted on its first walk and the bass missed. The follow up cast saw the bass boil at the lure before it finally hit the lure and connected on the third cast under the branches of the overhanging shrub. The great thing about this structure is that it is permanently shaded and that it has a massive log jam beneath its surface. Multiple hook-ups were not an unusual event and more often than not it would produce again on the return trip.
I made my way upstream and the fishing quietened down significantly in the sun exposed shallow waters in this part of the pool. However, I eventually reached more bass friendly waters and a section of the river that rarely disappointed. The first bit of action came when I cast beneath an overhanging trunk and into a patch of dark shade riddled with timber. I twitched the Sammy and a good fish ripped it from the surface and drove straight down to the depths. Through luck or design the bass managed to sideswipe a submerged stick and pin the lure on it while freeing himself very early in the fight and I saw my first good bass from the morning escape.
Continuing along the bank it became more vertical as it evolved into a cliff face lined with sedges and the occasional pocket of submerged timber. I managed to miss another bass that hit the Sammy adjacent to a sedge lined bank and then pulled the hooks on another that sat between some branches in a recess in the cliff wall. I had finally managed to find a few fish and it seemed that my mojo had taken leave, it was very frustrating! However, I did manage to video them!
As I cast over every inch of the rock face I was eventually rewarded with a bass that smashed the Sammy and I was onto another reasonable bass. Initially he ran along the wall and I had to high stick him in an attempt to keep him away from structure. Eventually he turned towards the middle of the river and I netted a 38cmFL bass which was again a little on the skinny side.
Moving along the pool I managed another bass in the open exposed sunlight casting at some timber that was thick in this pool. This bass was really keen as he followed the lure out well away from cover and hit it once before hitting it again a few more metres into the retrieve. I then managed another on a typical sedge lined bank and also when I moved back to the cliff and targeted a large log that formed an elbow in the water and another feisty 29cmFL bass jumped all over it as I walked the Sammy passed the log.
I then lost my mojo again with a series of missed opportunities although I did manage a few fish along the way in the early thirties. As I approached the head of the pool I found another “patch” of bass. The first hit the Sammy off a laydown lying parallel to the bank and very tight that was again in the thirties and couple more hook-ups and misses all within 15 minutes. When I reached the head of the pool I made the decision to turn around as it was getting late. I missed a few more bass on he way down but it didn’t really matter because I had had a great day.
Arriving at my favourite structure fondly named the “Hippo snag” as originally it had had a large branch arching over and partially exposed from the water. It used to look like the back of a hippo. I initially cast at the front next to a vertical tree stump and the Sammy was smashed off the surface and I thought I was in all sorts as the bass had hit in a location riddled by timber. By some miracle the bass swam straight out and after a short battle in open water I netted a 36cmFL bass. What a great finale!! I then had a cast behind the structure in the exact same place I had caught my third fish of the day and his twin brother hit the lure and I had managed 3 bass off the one snag!!
The wind had come up by now and so I only had a few casts along the weedy pool so I could rest my arms from the paddle. Considering the extremely slow morning it had ended up being a very satisfying start to the new year.