Attack of the Clones
On the following day I decided to head south again. A friend of mine (Brett) who had given away his fishing gear to his brother (the mad fool!) , a few years ago had developed the itch again and asked to be taken on a trip chasing bass. The wind forecast looked horrible with 20+ knot winds all day and so I had made the decision to head up into the mountains where it would be a little more protected from big wind gusts.
A 3.30AM start was in order and I secured two kayaks to the roof of my car for the first time before starting the long drive across the border. Halfway down a few showers began and a quick check of the BOM Radar showed a few scattered light showers so we continued on.
Arriving near our launch site I couldn’t find the hidden turnoff to the river and so I accidentally reached another launch point further up the river. Instead of turning around I made the decision to launch higher up at a causeway I knew of. Dawn had arrived and so I rigged the two kayaks and gave the Mantra Noa to Brett and I used the sit in. He had had multiple major knee surgeries and at 6’4 and 100kg it was the perfect platform for him to chase his first bass.
We launched into the top pool above the causeway for a few practice
casts and give him a brief guide into how to retrieve the lure (Arbogast jitterbug) and which structures to target. The top pool yielded no action and its proximity to the causeway and easy access to land-based anglers meant it probably received a fair amount of pressure.
We headed downstream and I indicated the left bank as prime bass territory with its overhanging foliage and large stands of submerged timber. It was heavily shaded and was the ideal place to start casting. I fished the opposite bank which was relatively devoid of cover and although there were small pockets of shade it wasn’t the ideal bass habitat I would usually target. Within the first 20 minutes I managed a small rat bass on my Luckycraft 65 in its custom colour I call “Black Sharpie”. Soon after I managed a 33cmFL bass on the Yozuri Hardcore 60mm Shad which I used to target large stands of timber in full sunlight.
Strangely enough the picture perfect left bank was dead and apart from a cracking surface hit by a good bass Brett had not yet caught his first bass. Watching someone knew to bass fishing and especially surface fishing the first thing I noticed was his retrieve speed which was a little fast. His casting was awesome considering he was new to bass fishing and I would have to say I was extremely impressed with his ability to cast the lure tight into the bank.
The rest of the morning the action was fairly consistent and it was soon obvious that the bass were holding on one bank rather than the other. All the bass (except one) were caught on the day were caught on the northern bank of the river and the southern bank was very quiet. It also felt like the “Attack of the clones” with 80% of the fish measuring from 28-33cmFL. The Sammy had been the choice lure and after an hour of my lure attracting all the fish I gave Brett the opportunity to try his luck with the Sammy 65.
Now I have seen many posts on the forum asking for advice on how to get the Sammy to swim well and have just taken it for granted that the skill just require a little practice. Brett persevered for an hour and could get the Sammy to walk in short bursts but couldn’t maintain it over long periods. Either I am a terrible teacher or it just requires practice to develop the rhythm needed to “walk the dog”
We continued downstream and the pattern seemed to be the same with average bass in the low thirties being the norm and they seemed to want nothing to do with any lure except the Sammy.
The best two fish for the day went 39cmFL and 35cmFL. The bigger bass was one of the toughest fights I have had for awhile mostly due to his chosen ambush site We had just had to drag our kayaks around some significant rapids and had decided to launch into some fast flowing water for the pleasure of paddling some mild rapids. Just after launch I noticed a large granite boulder where the current had dug a large pocket of deep water on its upstream face. The moving water eddied into this pocket and it was clear that there was a shaded undercut area below the boulder. I quickly grabbed my rod and cast into the pocket as the current grabbed the kayak. The lure plopped onto the surface and a good bass immediately nailed it with barely any time to engage the reel. I spun down the current as I put a lot of pressure on the fish to get it under control. Paddling with one arm and maintaining pressure with the other, I managed to negotiate my way into a large back eddy and onto the bank where I managed to net the biggest bass of the trip.
As I reached double figures for the morning Brett had struggled and not managed a bass even though the casts he was making and structures he was targeting were perfect. I think there must be a very fine line between a good retrieve speed and one a bass will ignore. Finally we settled onto a Megabass SR Griffon. Finally after a tough morning I heard the call of “I’m on!” and I felt a little relief as he had caught his first bass. I dropped everything and paddled over quickly to make sure this fish was netted. I treated it like a 50cm + bass. We really had to laugh though once netted as it was the smallest bass for the trip, but at least he had managed one!!!
The final bass for the trip was the 35cmFL which was the best hit for the morning. I large log was set against the bank with a beautiful form dropping into deep water. I cast the Sammy between the fork and with a subtle twitch there was a loud “Thuk!” as the bass smashed the Sammy hard. I goof fight ensued as the bass dragged the kayak around and around before he slid into the net.
We continued downstream after lunch and the bass disappeared. We continued casting for awhile before we decided to head quickly to the exit point and try to head to another location for a quick fish in the hope of getting Brett onto a few more bass. Arriving at the exit point I began the long walk back to the car. On the way I checked Google Maps to see exactly how long my walk would be and when I read 7.2km (1 hour and 38min) I began a long run up hill!! Now running up hill with wet Dunlop Volleys is not a pleasant experience and I do not recommend it to anyone! By the time I reached the car not only was my upper body sore from almost 17 hours paddling over the last couple of days but my legs were burning from a 7.2km run!!
By the time I arrived back at the Exit point and packed the gear with Brett the day was fairly late and so we reluctantly decided to head home. Regardless of only catching a single small bass, Brett said it had been an awesome experience and I’m pretty sure we will soon have another convert to kayak fishing!!