For those with an addiction, obsession or passion for Australian Bass Fishing

After the Floods

With the heavy rainfall we have had in January in SEQ the rivers have been running as a thick brown coffee with zero visibility and a very heavy flow. Many of my favourite systems have had in excess of 4 metres of water pass through them and I was really keen to get into some of them and see how this had changed some of my favourite pools. For the past couple of weeks I have been watching the river heights on the BOM closer and watched as the initial surface runoff gradually subsided. This surface runoff is where the dirtier water comes from and as often seen as a peak on the river heights graphs. Eventually once this peak is gone the subsoil runoff begins and this water can be crystal clear as it is filtered by the soil. In some locations this means that the water can turn from a horrible brown to crystal clear water very quickly depending on the surrounding countryside.
So after a text message to Rob (RAD) indicated that his local seemed to have subsided a fair bit I was keen to get in and have an explore, to see how the system had changed and whether the bass were ready yet to play. I arrived at the launch spot quite early and was on the water at 4AM before Rob arrived hoping to find some surface feeding fish in the dark. The first pool was not renowned for holding huge numbers of fish mostly because of its accessibility via the bank. Repeated casts were futile and before long the early calls of kookaburras and lighting sky in the east indicated that dawn was near. A head lamp at the head of the pool and the sounds of a kayak being dragged into the river indicated the arrival of Rob.
We made our way to our first portage point that had been majorly altered by the massive volume of water that had pushed through the river bed. It really felt like a completely different river with the grassy edges being completely flattened, new timber and the movement of old timber changing the landscape. Heading into the first pool we both positioned ourselves on opposite banks, the lightening skies unveiled that the water was not as clear as I liked. Dropping the paddle blade into the water it disappeared within 1-2 foot which is not ideal for surface lures. With the lack of sunlight though we hoped that the bass were still cruising the surface looking for hapless prey.
An ideal time to chase bass on the surface

An ideal time to chase bass on the surface

The first few casts were encouraging as my black Sammy 65 was nailed and the bass missed and wouldn’t return for a second look. We continued down the pool and unlike other trips to this system the bass did seem a little shy. We managed to pick up a couple of fish in the 30’s in the main pool. My fish hitting the Sammy 65 after retrieving a long way out from the structure I had cast at. The fish nailing the lure on a long pause on its retrieve and as I chatted to Rob. Rob also managed a nice bass that blasted his Kokoda Bat off the surface, the strike was awesome to hear so I can imagine how visually spectacular it must have been.

First bass of the morning on a Sammy 65

First bass of the morning on a Sammy 65

Rob's first bass of the morning

Rob’s first bass of the morning

Although I managed another surface hit from a small bass , the surface fishing was really very slow. I switched to my trusty Yo-zuri Hardcore Shad. Paddling up to the top of the pool I recast over old ground but the bass were very shy and showed no interest in the sub-surface lure. We moved on to the next pool which was also very quiet and we could not raise a fish either on the surface or sub-surface. At this point I had switched to the sub-surface until we found some interested bass.

As we moved down to the next pool we spied some nice looking water that was usually unfishable but due to the higher water than normal, it now looked like an ideal bass haunt. I cast the Pontoon 21 Loco Perrito into an eddy behind some fast flowing water and an average bass flew up from the bottom and smacked the lure but failed to hook up.

Dragging the kayaks down to the next pool we entered we liked to call tiger country with its huge stands of timber that showed clearly above the surface and we knew from past experience that there was a myriad of further structures unseen below the water’s surface. The time of day that we arrived at the pool was not ideal also as the best structures were fully exposed to the morning light. We peppered all the obvious targets and again it was really quiet until Rob’s spinnerbait was hit hard and he fought a good bass out from the snag he was casting at to net a good bass at 40cm.

First quality bass (40cm) for the morning that fell to a spinnerbait

First quality bass (40cm) for the morning that fell to a spinnerbait

We moved onto the final pool which was quite long and were excited to see that some parts of the pool were still shaded and quite heavily in some places. Making our way down the pool we cast at all the likely spots with both surface lures and sub-surface. The surface bite was non-existent but eventually Rob hooked up again on another good bass that hit his lure hard out from some submerged heavy timber. This ended up being the best fish of the morning at 43cm.

Now that's a good bass Rob! Awesome stuff!

Now that’s a good bass Rob! Awesome stuff!

We continued moving down the river and I missed another hit on me Soft shell cicada and then another on a subsurface lure in a nicely shaded recess in the river bank. Further casts were not rewarded and as Rob caught up I told him to cast his spinnerbait into the area I had been fishing as although I had been fishing sub surface I had not covered it to any depth. Sure enough on the first cast Rob pulled up tight and netted another rat bass.

Making our way to the end of the pool I managed another rat bass on my Yo-zuri Hardcore Shad when I made a perfect cast beneath the fork of some timber lying out from the bank. I hit the striking fish hard and must have dragged the poor bass 2m out of the snag before he had time to drag my lure through as much timber as he could find. He ended up only being a bass in his twenties but and fish is a worthwhile fish on a slow day.

We turned around and began making the voyage back to the launch point, casting at structure that should have yielded a bass on the downstream run. Arriving at the timber that had yielded Rob his 43cm bass I cast in the Yo-zuri shad and was slammed by a good bass that really did not want to be netted without giving me a good fight. It took awhile leaving me to comment that the system had been enriched with a good amount of oxygen during its run the week before and really given the bass a boost of energy. Eventually a 40cm bass slid into the net and ended up being my PB for the day.

 I Manage a 40cm bass for the morning

I Manage a 40cm bass for the morning

Arriving at the head of the pool we decided to cast over a stretch of bank that had it all. It was lined with long grass and about 1-2m off the bank ran some heavy timber. The water running from the pool above had created some significant current just off the snag as well as multiple small eddies to cast it. To put it simply it had to have a bass lurking somewhere in the vicinity waiting for prey to be washed down to its ambush site amongst all this structure. A few casts to the downstream side went untouched but the first cast to the head of the structure was absolutely slammed and my drag screamed as the bass tore the braid off the spool for a good 4 metres out from the timber. It seemed to realise its error and it paused, turned and sent my reel screaming again as it powered back to the timber only to bust me off a few seconds later.

Halfway through the fight Rob had also cast into the same area and his spinnerbait was picked up and he fought another nice 40cm bass back to the yak. That liquefying feeling seeped into my body as I realised I had lost another cracking fish, except this time it was through sheer laziness. I had not really brought a sub-surface outfit with me and had been casting a sub-surface lure with a very short length of mono leader that I hadn’t changed as I was heading back to the exit. Oh well, rookie mistake!!

Rob with another quality fish

Rob with another quality fish

The trip upstream was uneventful as we passed through the pools that we had fished during the morning. I managed to miss another fish in our exit pool before we dragged our kayaks back to the cars. I lamented on what seemed to me a complete loss of mojo on my part and decided I needed an afternoon session as well to see if I could find it again. I thanked Rob for the company and headed off to a new location that would be a fair drive in the hope of finding better water. I knew it was risky and that I would not have a long session but I was hopeful as I loaded up the car and headed for the highway

A couple of hours later I arrived at my next location to find that the water was higher than I had every fished before. I was a little apprehensive as I planned an upstream paddle through some quite skinny water and the current was going to be quite strong. I was not overly concerned for my personal safety and more worried about a potential rod breakage if the current grabbed the yak and dragged it into the surrounding bottlebrushes. I was also going to be fishing this section in the middle of the day which was again not ideal for my favourite technique of chasing bass off the surface.
After seeing a lot of coffee coloured water this was an awesome sight

After seeing a lot of coffee coloured water this was an awesome sight

However, much to my excitement, that’s an understatement as I was ecstatic, the water was crystal clear and a very pleasant grey/green tinge. I could clearly make out a number of fish swimming in the water and couldn’t wait to make my way to my favourite pool. The journey upstream was a mission and required some hard work on my part but I eventually arrived at my first pool. I excitedly grabbed my spin stick and cast the Tiemco Soft shell into the zone around some fallen timber that had a 100% strike rate from previous trips. It was completely exposed to the midday sun at this stage but I was still confident that even if a bass didn’t take my surface presentation that the follow up cast with a diver would get my on the board.

I shouldn’t have worried as after a few twitches the soft shell was hit by an average bass on the first cast and I was a happy man! This system was by far my favourite and although the bass had not surpassed the 40cm mark they always took lures off the surface at any time of the day. The second cast was ignored around the timber but halfway back it was hit again by a small bass and I knew that this location was going to be great. I sent my third cast a bit wider and out into the middle of the pool. Halfway back the water around the lure exploded and the boil that was left was huge. A cod had come off the rocky bottom and grabbed the lure on the turn before heading back to the river floor. Unfortunately it spat the lure on the way down but it made for some great video footage!

I cast the Soft shell back into the area the cod had hit but it was left unmolested so I switched to the diver to see if I could entice a second strike. After a few twitches the lure was hit but it was only small and an average bass came to the bank. The next cast into the area was hit again and although the fish was a little more solid it was not the cod I was hoping for. I realised I would be lucky to get the lure near any cod as the bass were super aggressive and hitting the lure well before I could get the cod’s interest.

I cast from the bottom of the pool for another twenty minutes and managed another 30cm bass off the surface as well as having the lure hit from a number of other fish that failed to hook up. I cast the length of the pool without any luck before doing a short portage to the next pool.

The bottom of this pool was running quite hard so I launched the yak and headed up the current to where it was a little more “cast friendly”. First cast with the Yo-zuri Hardcore shad and I managed another rat bass. Netting it was difficult as the current was still quite strong and I awkwardly managed to net another rat bass. The subsequent cast targeted a bottlebrush branch that was waving rhythmically in the strong current on the opposite bank and was crunched by my first good bass of the morning. It went really hard and I had no control between the powerful run of the bass and the current. Like the morning session these bass were in oxygen rich waters and were fighting like they had been taking steroids. The fish headed straight for the bank and literally climbed it to hook my lure on a branch above the waterline and throw the lure. I questioned the loss of my mojo yet again!!

Moving up the pool I switched between the two lures and copped a few more surface hits from small bass as well as netting a few rats. I was hoping to find another solid fish to tussle with and eventually after casting the diver along the creek bed, it was again hit from a nice fish and I managed a solid hook up. The fish powered all over the pool and like the previous solid bass it desperately tried to bury me in the grassy sedges on the banks edge. The bass in this system had not only powered up after the recent floods they had also learnt how to fight real dirty! I was very happy though when I finally netted a 37cm bass

First quality bass of the day at 37cm

First quality bass of the day at 37cm

I eventually reached the head of the pool which was another location that had a 100% strike rate when chasing bass. In fact it more often than not yielded multiple fish so I was keen to get in and cast a lure. As I approached the area I was a bit apprehensive as the flow was very strong and I was unsure how I would get up to the pool above it. It was easier to pull up the kayak and jump out while casting into the eddies surrounding the head of the pool, so I dragged the yak up the bank and cast on foot.

The headwaters had it all. It was a right angled bed where a lay down tree was submerged along the downstream bank and the flow pushed perpendicular to it. There were also two large sedge tussocks that created some good eddies and bottlebrushes creating more ideal bass structure. The flow was too strong for the soft shell so I cast in the diver and was instantly playing another good bass which went 36cm when netted. The next cast was almost identical and his twin brother gave me another photo opportunity. I then managed a couple more rats and missed a few more hits before I decided to attempt the upstream portage.

Ideal bass structure

Ideal bass structure

 

A 36cm bass taken out of ideal bass structure

A 36cm bass taken out of ideal bass structure

 

His Twin Brother!

His Twin Brother!

After a short explore I realised the upstream portage would be a lot easier than I first predicted. The swollen river had flooded the previously dry river bed and so I was able to bypass the main riverbed completely and travel up some very easy terrain.

New riverbed

New riverbed

Arriving at the next pool I was very pleased to find that a number of my favourite bass structures were shaded still in the middle of the day. The first likely location was a steep sided bank that rose a good 2 metres off the water surface and was lined with various small shrubs. This created a nice shade line that would provide the resident bass a good place to hide away from the midday sun. Second cast in and the Tiemco Soft shell was plucked off the surface and another rat bass was landed. I dropped another bass a few casts later before launching the yak and heading further up the pool.
Casting into another shaded pocket the soft shell landed on the water and was immediately inhaled by another good bass. This one like the others pulled ridiculously hard for its size and my fore arms were actually starting to get sore catching sub 40’s fish!!! I just could not believe what a good flush of fresh oxygen rich water had done for their health. I finally managed to net a 39cm bass and was wrapped with how the afternoon session had unfolded.

The final pool for the afternoon

The final pool for the afternoon

The 39cm bass engulfed the softshell!

The 39cm bass engulfed the softshell!

The best fish of the afternoon

The best fish of the afternoon

I cast at the head of the creek but it was flowing a little too hard so I let the current carry me downstream where I switched to a Jackall TN50 that I planned on slow rolling in some of the deeper sections of each pool. After a few casts I managed to hook up on another low thirties bass that again fought well above its size!

I realised that my time was running out very quickly so I made a quick dash downstream to get back to the car and head home. I did manage a few more casts into the best looking structures on the way back and managed another bass in the low thirties on the TN50 before hitting the final portage and reaching the car.

It was a great arvo session and made for an awesome days bassing!