Bassing in a Submarine
I had been looking forward to this trip for over a week when the day finally arrived for me to travel to one of my favourite systems with Rod. He often calls it our “epic adventure” as it is a very physical day with about 9km of paddling through some very tough portage, however the trip is often very rewarding with good numbers of bass usually around the 35cmFL+ range. We arrived at twilight dropping Rod’s car off at the exit point before heading upstream to our launch point. When we reached the water we were very happy to see a good flow even if it looked a little discoloured in the low light! We have fished this location a few times in low water and it can make the portage a nightmare and so we were really keen to hit the river and run a few rapids. It also often reduced our travel time by up to an hour!
We eventually reached our first pool after a short paddle and began casting in earnest. As always I targeted all the usual producing structures and this disappointingly yielded no bass. Rod likewise was having no luck and it wasn’t until I made my way to the bottom end of the pool and made ready for our portage downstream that we eventually found our first bass. A cast at a small boulder and the top of the first rapids had a good bass motor down the boulder to smash the lure and I managed to net my first bass of the day at 36cmFL.
We headed downstream to a pool I have fondly named the “Platypus Pool” as it seems to be the home of an extraordinarily large number of platypus. At times we have even been lucky enough to see Mum’s cruising round with bubs hot on their tail. Sadly it fished quite poorly and it was only when I spied a feeding bass on a mid-water snag that I managed to hook-up on another bass of 35cmFL to keep the action at least reasonable. Rod soon managed his first also in this pool when a cast to a boulder that had yielded a fish to him on our last trip rewarded him yet again with a another small bass.
It then went very quiet over the next few pools with almost no action in parts of the river usually full of bass. It wasn’t for two hours that I finally managed another bass. The only consolidation was that the bass in this system were typically a good size which was making up for the lack of action.
My next bass was forty minutes later and I had to throw a “suicide” cast to catch it. This involved casting across so much timber to the back of a snag where it would involve some serious angling and luck to negotiate the bass out of cover. In the end it did involve me paddling into the structure to manually manipulate my braid from amongst the skinny twigs to net the fish but when the fishing is slow the casts sometime need to become more adventurous
We moved from pool to pool and although the portage was reduced due to the increased water flows, it was high enough to make portage necessary at some points as the flow was too strong at times. We continued picking up bass intermittently but the fishing was not as intense as other trips to this system although the quality was at its typical best.
At one point we passed through “bass alley” and managed to miss a few fish at the start until I cast at a midwater snag that didn’t seem like much. If anything it was a large spindly branch that had fallen from the surrounding vegetation and nothing permanent but a cast an inch away from it had a bass smash my lure and I managed another to my session tally. Rod was paddling down the opposite bank and I noticed another similar snag two metres to his left. Sure enough an almost identical cast to my previous one saw another bass netted and released mere minute after my last one.
It was then that the trip took a slight “turn south”. I reached a set of rapids that I decided I would attempt to paddle. The water depth was not too high and just enough that I though I could negotiate its length with relative ease. Sadly I was mistaken as about five metres into the run a rock put me sideways and tipped the kayak on an angle into the current. The angle was sever enough that water poured into the kayak and within 5 seconds I was submerged. Luckily the depth was low enough that I was able to quickly exit the kayak and remove all my gear with almost no damage until….
I had managed to remove all the important gear that had a chance of being water damaged and was in the process of trying to get my kayak to the river bank and empty it of water. The force of the current made the kayak seem like it weighed half a tonne and we simply could not budge it. Eventually by working what seemed counter intuitive, by sinking the kayak further we finally managed to move it slightly. Unfortunately this allowed my water bottles and a packet of dry biscuits to pop up and head downstream at a rate of knots. This didn’t worry me too much, and I simply planned to see if I could find them when I had righted my kayak and resumed my paddle downstream. That was until my GoPro box finally popped out as well and started to head downstream as well.
I wasn’t overly concerned about/losing the other gear but the GoPro loss set me into a panic. I quickly made my way to the riverbank and sprinted across the cobbles down the river in hot pursuit. Unfortunately in my haste I managed to snare one of my lures in my pants and as I watched my GoPro box sail away I quickly grabbed my knife from my life jacket and cut the lure free. I then sprinted downstream dived into the water if the next pool and eventually managed to grab my GoPro box and even my packet of biscuits.
Once I made my way back to the kayak we managed to drain it and resume our trip downstream. Luckily I managed to find two of my water bottles as well but not the third. At least I had some water for the rest of the journey.
The fishing went quiet again for about an hour before we found another patch of fish. The fishing seemed so hot an cold and I then managed another three average bass over 20 minutes before it went very quiet again.
The rest of the trip involved a lot of paddling and casting with little reward. I managed another two fish over the next three or so hours which was ridiculously slow for this particular system.
To make matters worse the wind had come up quite strongly and we had reached some more exposed parts of the river which made our paddle even harder.
By the time we reached the launch spot we were actually quite keen to pack up and head home. This particular system spoils us so often that we be a little jaded when she fails to produce. That said we never hesitate to return!