A Slow Night Session
It seemed that it was going to be a nice night last night and so I gave a quick ring around to find someone to head out for a night session chasing bass. I was lucky enough to gain the company of Steve Riding (Simon’s Rat) for an adventure on the dark side and after a few months of high water in the local creeks I was keen to hit the water after sundown. These sessions involve hitting the water around 7.30PM and being off the water by 11.00PM and in bed by 12PM to allow a reasonable amount of sleep.
Hitting the water at nearer to 8pm than my anticipated launch time the first thing I noticed was actually how light it was. The moon was nearing the full moon and was reflecting enough light that there was no need for the head lamp except when tying knots or removing trebles from hooked fish or structure. Now I don’t know if there is a term for it but there were defined areas of “moonshade” on the banks where the vegetation was a little thicker and it was here that I found a few bass.
Moonshade is a little unnerving as most of the river we were fishing was bathed in moonlight but areas that would be normally shaded from the sun during the day became patches of impenetrable darkness of night. No structure could be seen in the inky blackness and casts into these areas saw the lure visible for most of the cast only to disappear once it entered the moon shade.
We had a few speculative casts as we made our way to the first pool with no luck but eventually a cast of my Bassday Feather crank into a darkened part of the bank saw it tentatively picked off the surface by a small rat to start the session. About 10 minutes later another cast into the moonshade saw a better fish hit the Feather crank and I netted another average bass of 34cmFL. Both fish were very lean and it seemed that the floods had really left them a little worse for wear and they needed some serious conditioning.
We made our way down the pool and the fishing was very quiet. We managed a few hits from a small bass at the end of the pool but it really had been a disappointing start to the session. We noted a distinct lack of activity of any kind. Normally this system was teeming with small mullet which seemed to be lacking on this trip although a few larger models were actively breeching the surface.
The next pool was also very quiet and although I had a large bass follow my Tiemco Soft Shell to the kayak at one point before turning abruptly and taking off to the depths it really was looking like a sorry tale.
Venturing to the next pool it wasn’t long before Steve was onto a nice bass that had been hunting in the middle of the pool. It took a liking to his Lucky craft Sammy 65. Soon after I cast into a patch of darkness and began a retrieve. Part way back I heard the great suck of a big mouth drawing the Tiemco into its gaping jaw as a hollow “boof” got my heart leaping. This was a good fish and as I loaded the rod up I felt the weight briefly before the lure pulled out of the bass’s mouth without touching the trebles. The fish was already heading to the bottom when I pulled the lure and I was not happy that successive casts would not raise her.
We reached the bottom of the pool and it was time to head back upstream. I switched to a spinnerbait to see if the bass were holding a bit deeper but the return trip could not entice another bass to hit a lure in the bottom two pools.
I switched to a Arbogast Jointed Jitterbug in black one of my favourite lures for big bass after dark. It is a crawling style lure that is very noisy as it crawls along the surface and very difficult to ignore. Halfway up the pool at the end of a retrieve the jitterbug was hit at the very end of a retrieve as I began to lift the lure out of the water. I quickly dropped the lure back into the water and gave it another twitch and it was hit again but the bass missed again.
It was getting late and Steve called out that it was time he headed off. I wanted to fish one last patch of darkness at the end of the pool here I had managed my first two fish of the night. After about three casts the Jitterbug was blasted off the surface by a good fish and I finally managed a reasonable bass that slid into the net. Like the others it was very skinny and at just short of 41cm FL really had little fight in it compared to bass in other systems I fish.
We finished the night a little unsatisfied. The bass were relatively quiet and the mozzies were thick. Maybe the fear of being carted off by a squadron of mozzies had the bass a bit surface shy? I think it may have been the high amount of moonlight as the bass seemed to have contracted into the pockets of shade and showed behaviours similar to the day time. Unfortunately it’s hard to cast tight into structure at night like you would during the day. I’ll test out me theory later in the month.