After the Storm
The other night the weather felt really conducive to a hot night session with the temperature and humidity really high and a few storms forming out to the west. With the increase in humidity the insect activity and noise had also increased and all the conditions just screamed hot night session.
I sent a quick message to Rod to see if he was keen for a night fish during the week and he was available that night and so we hatched a quick plan to chase some big bass in one of the local rivers. Our usual meet up time was 7PM but because we were both on holidays we decided to hit the water prior to dusk and we met up at our launch location at 5PM instead.
The local radar showed rain developing out west and moving eastwards but at the time I left home no storm cells had developed and it seemed the patch of rain would skirt our location and although we may get a little wet the anticipation of big surface strikes overrode any inhibitions of getting wet. The one hour drive saw the clouds steadily darken to the west and when I finally arrived a quick check of the BOM radar showed a couple of storm cells had developed but the lack of a severe storm warning had both Rod and I still keen to launch and wait out the approaching deluge.
Conditions when we hit the water were perfect with zero wind and a beautiful green tinge to the river that was so inviting I almost threw myself and the kayak into the water trying to get a few casts in before the storm rolled through. 5 minutes in and the storm arrived, there were a few rolls of thunder but not much to worry about but the rain was pelting down. We took up shelter away from the large river gums that grew high on the bank and also away from the middle of the river where we would have been the tallest object for 2o metres in all directions. Instead we pulled up tight to a high bank with no tall trees and waited out a full 20 minutes of driving rain and wind.
Eventually the storm passed and left us absolutely saturated. I had to pull up and empty the warm bath I was sitting in as the rain had filled my kayak with enough water for a bass to swim in! I decided to head upstream a few hundred metres and threw out a lure to troll the distance just to see if I could find a big bass down deep. 150m into the paddle and the diver was smashed and I was onto my first fish. It fought hard and I thought I was onto my first bass for the evening instead a large tilapia came to the surface and after a couple of snaps it was dispatched.
Arriving at the section of river we had chosen to fish a cast at a long lay down finally had a small bass hit my Nobroko Softcada. The bass was way too small for the large lure and a hook up would have been a tough thing but it was an encouraging sign.
Moving further up the river I finally managed a boil from a bass of much more substantial proportions and moments after Rod yelled out that he was onto the first bass of the session that had chased his lure down and finally hooked up after multiple hits.
The sky after the storm was for me one of the highlights of the trip. The setting sun reflected off the back of the departing storm creating an amazing pattern of colours. The fact that a rainbow had formed beneath and the river had become perfectly calm made for an amazing photo. Sadly my camera lens was wet and I literally did not have a dry piece of material anywhere to dry it with.
Soon after I managed my first bass of the evening casting at underneath some bushy foliage and this was quickly followed up by another as the sun finally set and darkness started to swallow the last remaining pockets of light. Rod was also picking up a few fish on the opposite bank. All the bass were around the 30cm mark with some just pushing over and just under but we were still hoping for a few bigger models before we headed back to the cars.
As the darkness finally settled in and the half moon was obscured by the clouds the casting became a lot more difficult as we could not see a thing and this particular system was full of structure. I sent a cast deep into a shaded pocket where I could just make out some structure and after a twitch the cicada was belted. This was a solid fish and I called it for a good bass as I carefully negotiated the fight to the middle of the river where after a fight down deep I finally netted………….a damn catfish! I have caught them off the surface before at night but it still amazes me that they will take a surface lure considering they are designed for bottom feeding.
I managed another 32cmFL bass soon after and Rod was still pulling in a few bass of the same size. A big splash in the dark in Rod’s direction had me calling out if he was on and sure enough he was. Initially we both thought he was onto our first good sized bass but instead it was another surface smashing catfish and this one was around the 50cmFL mark.
Meanwhile I had spied an overhanging Callistemon in the dark and it looked like the perfect place for a night feeding bass to sit beneath. Casting beneath it would have been difficult during the day but the night added a certain element of risk off being caught up on unseen obstacles. Casting in I thought I had nailed it only to find that my braid was caught up on something in the dark. The Cicada still crawled along the surface and of course this was when it was smashed and then smashed again without hooking up to my frustration. Reeling the lure in I found it had caught up on some thick spider web with spider attached which I had to remove before casting in again.
The second cast was spot on minus the web and the bass absolutely smashed the lure again and missed. I thought my chances were all over but I sent in another and this time the fish nailed the lure and I was onto a good fish that turned me left and right trying to dislodge the lure beneath the tree. Eventually I got the bass in the middle and fighting in the open water I eventually netted a solid 43cmFL bass. Now this is what we had been looking for!
We continued casting at the river edge and missed a few others before we decided to turn around and head back towards the launch point. About halfway back I cast at a branch of a Callistemon growing along the water line and after a few twitches and a walk a large bass exploded around the lure and I was on again to a solid bass. This fish took drag and thankfully fought clear of the structure before I netted another 43cmFL bass. Yeehah!
Soon after, I cast into a shaded pocket when the line slipped from my finger early sending the lure high to plop on the water leaving a great loop of loose line on the water. Of course a good fish smashed the lure a micro second after it landed and I desperately tried to reel in the loose line and connect with the fish that had taken off like a freight train for the middle of the river. 10 metres from the bank I finally connected and I thought that I was on until the fish lunged and the lure pulled free . Bugger!
We continued moving back towards the launch point and I managed to pick up another small bass and miss a few others before we decided to head back to the cars satisfied with the night’s efforts.
The bank we launched from was quite steep and the deluge in the late afternoon had made it very slippery which made for a difficult bit of portage back to the car. The cane toads were also out in force and calling in the night so it was a surprise when this little fella sat and blocked my path up the hill! I never thought that throwing on some dry clothes could feel so good!