Back To Where It All Began
4th September 2012
I had an opportunity to head out for a short session chasing bass again the other day and after some serious deliberation I decided to head back to a section of river I have not been back to for about 3 years. My first trip to this section of river had me addicted to bass fishing instantly with 17 bass netted although the average size was well below 30cm. Over the years the average size of the bass caught increased and eventually I was managing a few in the high thirties and early 40’s until I ventured into the kingdom of kayaks and began exploring SEQ. During this time I had also had some spectacular bust offs from unknown piscatorial predators that dragged me through the multitude of unseen timber below the water’s surface.
After my previous season opener where I froze in the frigid early morning temperatures, I had no intention of repeating that chilly adventure and so I arrived at my pre-determined launch spot filled with eager anticipation. Arriving at dawn the light had turned everything that perfect shade of grey that enables accurate casting, without turning the bass off their night feeding pattern.
My previous visit to this location had been a quick look without the kayak and it had appeared like a wasteland as the sheer power of millions of litres of floodwaters had scoured the riparian fringe of all forms of vegetation. At that time it had been a depressing sight as the river had appeared lifeless and devoid of the ambience that many of the other SEQ creeks and rivers emanate, with their abundance of vegetation and fauna that inhabits their river banks.
I had vowed not to return until this vegetation had returned and after launching I was pleased to see that much of the riparian fringe had regrown considerably and the river now seemed to have almost returned to its previous state.
I was a little apprehensive after not fishing the area in such a long time, and especially considering I was targeting the area after the weekend of the season opener, when for all I knew a flotilla of yaks had peppered every snag with every lure known to man. However, I was looking forward to see how the river had changed since my apprenticeship to bassing and hoped that my improved skill set might enable me to attract a few bass as well.
Much to my excitement the first few structures that I saw were one of my favourites, thick Melaleuca branches growing partially submerged and right along the waterline. They were also leafy and green and flowering meaning all many of insect life would be crawling throughout the branches and potentially falling into the awaiting mouths of hungry bass. Within ten minutes of targeting said structure with my Duel Hardcore Shad 60SP the lure was nailed and I managed to net my first mid-thirties bass. Unfortunately like my previous adventure I managed to fumble the bass as I removed it from the net and it managed to make an early escape pre-photo! Hopefully this will not become a habit for the rest of the season!!
A couple of casts later the lure was nailed again on similar structure and the bass came out of the timber and took off parallel to the bank. The water was that clear that I could clearly see another thirty something bass before it vanished back to the depths as the trebles pulled. Unfortunately, this was something I had predicted might occur as I had set the drag high to give me enough pulling power in the likely eventuality that a big bass might take a liking to my lure and bury me if the drag was et too light. The trade-off of setting the drag high was going to be an increased likelihood of me pulling hooks on fish but I had accepted that possible outcome.
After managing a couple of fish within minutes of each other my expectations of a good session soared. Unfortunately, the sun rose soon after and a combination of the bright light and mist on the water made the most intense blaze of light across the river’s surface that it was no wonder the bass abruptly ceased their feeding behaviour. The mist refracted the light in all directions so that no structure was able to retain any form of shade, that said it was a brilliant sight that I could not capture on film!
I persisted casting down the river knowing that as I neared the end of the pool that the hills that bordered the river would provide ample protection from the sun and my best chance of finding a few more bass and hopefully getting some photographic evidence of a mildly successful session. I arrived at a shaded pocket that had yielded bass on multiple trips in the past. On my last trip here I had been testing out my first cicada style lure (Megabass Pagani Siglett), and had managed a small bass after a quick session after work.
The few casts were fruitless however eventually I managed to hook up again and finally I managed to net and photograph a 36cmFL bass. This one had some damage to its opercula plate which I have seen a few times over the years and must occur when they are washed over serious rapids. Soon after I was on again as a cast made parallel to a rocky cliff that dropped into the river was nailed by a smaller bass at 32cmFL. This one again played fair and I managed another photo prior to release.
Soon after I was on again as a cast made parallel to a rocky cliff that dropped into the river was nailed by a smaller bass at 32cmFL. This one again played fair and I managed another photo prior to release.
It was at this point I arrived at one of my favourite locations in the river. A small creek drained into the river and just inside it’s mouth was a right-angled bend that was bordered on all sides by a rocky cliff that dropped straight into the river. I knew in the past that a significant tree stump was submerged in the pool and that it was an area where logs were often jammed in previous floods. I wasn’t sure whether any of these structures would still be present so I was pleasantly surprised when I paddled in and found them all still present,
Initially I made a few casts tight into the steep river bank in the hope of picking up a bass holding tight into the bank. I methodically cast at a multitude of angles making sure I completely covered the area before pushing further into the creek and potentially disturbing any feeding bass. Eventually the lure was hit down deep by a solid fish, but unfortunately the hooks pulled early in the fight much to my disappointment.
I pushed further into the creek initially targeting the big stump with no success before moving my attention to the log jam. My initially thoughts were that if any bass of a reasonable size took an interest in my lure that I had a low probability of successfully extracting it from the multitude of timber submerged in the pile of timber. Initially I cast tentatively on the fringes of the structure hoping a bass would push a fair way out to hit the lure and give me a fighting chance. However, when nothing happened my casts became tighter and tighter until I was placing the lure into territory that would need a miracle for me to extract any bass!!
The second cast into “tiger country” was absolutely smashed after a few twitches and I almost had heart failure when I saw the quality of fish through the clear water. However, the bass powered straight towards me, much to my delight, and I cranked the handle fast and hard to maintain contact with the fish. At some point she must have realised the error of her ways and she turned and drove straight back to the log jam. Braid peeled from the spool and only heavy thumb control managed to turn her half a metre from the timber. I managed to coerce her back towards the yak three times with the same massive drive back to the timber only stopped through heavy pressure of my thumb on the spool. How the braid did not part I cannot fathom as I was only using 8lb with a 10lb FC leader, but she did hold and I was ecstatic when I netted a well-muscled bronze-gold 50cm bass.
I took the obligatory “very happy snaps” and could have headed home then but decided to explore a bit further to see how the river had changed further downstream. Unfortunately the river seemed to fish in the same pattern as previous years with the bright sun rising high enough in the sky to leave very few pockets of shade to cast at. I did manage another “hit and a miss” on the way downstream but casts at every likely looking piece of structure yielded nothing.
I made the decision to head back and have a few more casts at the structures where I had missed fish and also at structures that I had left during the earlier part of the morning. On the way back I was hit again where I had missed a fish on the way down before I reached some rapids that I had to portage up. Here there was a nice back eddy that was now covered in shade as the sun had moved behind a nearby hill. A cast in was hammered after a few twitches and I believed I was onto another solid fish as it headed into the current and made life very difficult for me as I tried to force it to the kayak and into the net. The current though had deceived me and I was a little disappointed when a 35cmFL bass slipped into the net.
The paddle upstream to the launch saw me recast at structures that had yielded bass on the way downstream and a few casts at structures that were now shaded as the sun moved to a different part of the sky. I managed another bass of 32cmFL on another heavily timbered structure at it proved to be my last.
Eventually I arrived back at the launch and was very pleased with my morning session. After a prolonged absence It had been very pleasant returning back to where it all began. It is such a lovely location and I may have to do an extended trip here in the future covering a greater part of the river.
Click anywhere to cancel
Click anywhere to cancel