Bassing with Fraser
So with 3 weeks between bass trips I had used my time planning my next trip with the usual military precision. I continued my current trend of exploring new waters mixed in with fishing a system that held good numbers of good sized bass. So the trip was mapped out on Google Earth and covered a 9km stretch of two waterways. The first leg was in a small creek than joined the main system then a small trek upstream to the exit point. No rain or wind were forecast and it was shaping up to be a perfect day bassing.
As usual an early start was in order and the only difference was that I planned on meeting up with Fraser as Tristan had used up too many brownie points at home. Arriving at the exit at 4.20AM, Fraser arrived within 10 minutes and we had loaded up the two yaks to head to the launch. The fog was really thick in the early hours of the morning and the 20m visibility made for an interesting trip. Arriving at the launch we were both buzzing with excitement so the set-up took no time at all and we were on the water pre 5AM.
The first plan was to head upstream in the dark and with the fog our head lamps were virtually useless. Casting into a foggy haze we had no luck in the first pool which was quite shallow but filled with Tandanus catfish that were roaming the shallows in search of food. After a little portage we eventually reached a really nice looking pool but had no interest on the Sammy (My usual choice!) or Mark’s Siglett.
With the morning light appearing in the hazy sky we decided to make our way downstream as we had a fair bit of distance to chew up to be out of the water at a reasonable time. When we reached the pool just above our launch spot I finally managed the first fish of the day on the Sammy. He was only small at 31cm but the first fish in my book is always one of the most important!
We continued downstream casting into some great looking bass structure and not far downstream from our launch we came across a causeway. Casting above the causeway my Sammy disappeared in a spray and a nice bass began a series of barra like acrobatics in the shallow water to try and throw the lure. He gave a good account for himself and eventually a beautiful bass of 42cm slid into the net. I was ecstatic as two of my objectives on my typical “bass trip checklist” were ticked off, first bass and 40+ bass. The trip could only get better.
The upper section of this creek was new territory for both of us and even though we were picking up a few average bass it really wasn’t performing as well as I had expected. Heading downstream it was obvious that the series of causeways and natural waterfalls must have seriously impeded bass movements upstream. Just before reaching familiar waters there was one final causeway that was a metre above the lower section of the creek. Above this I had managed 4 bass and Mark 1. It was a disappointing section and really gave great evidence for why causeways should be removed from freshwater rivers or if essential upgraded to be fish friendly!
Below this causeway was familiar ground for me and new territory for Mark, Tristan and I had caught good numbers of bass in this hole the last time we visited and I was hopeful for a repeat performance. Within a short distance from the causeway my Sammy was again engulfed and another 35cm bass was netted. We continued downstream and Mark cast into a nice structure with his Sammy and the water around it exploded before his lure was dragged back in. His yak was dragged towards the log which was a very entertaining sight and after a tough fight he landed another nice bass of 42cm.
As we had hoped this pool yielded some great bass. The most entertaining catch was when my Sammy disappeared as another bass took it from the surface and the fish buried me in the timber in microseconds. No form of persuasion would get him to budge and so I decided it was time to get wet and either land the bass or the very least save my precious lure. So much to Mark’s entertainment I stripped off from the waist up and in I went. To my delight both bass and lure were retrieved but Mark thought it was very amusing and was already writing his trip report before it was over.
The bottom half of this pool gave us some great bass fishing with 5 fish caught in under 20 minutes and one boil that was so big it had to be either a cod or a seriously big bass. Repeated casts though failed to raise the offending behemoth much to my dismay.
The creek continued to yield bass and the average size was awesome. The smallest fish were about 35cm with many in the early 40’s. I hooked up on another serious bass in some very shallow water and he managed to whack my line and lure into every large boulder before dislodging it much to my frustration and left me cursing clever bass. This sort of bassing is awesome because some parts of the creek are really skinny and the bass came out of some amazingly tight structure.
We finally reached the main system which was running very dirty after recent rains. As usual my shoulders slumped at the sight like a petulant child who doesn’t get what he wants and I typically exclaimed “I hate dirty water bassing!”. Mark commented that it was just a confidence thing which is true but as usual I hit that mode of going through the motions and wasn’t really concentrating on my lure.
After about my fifth cast in the coffee coloured water the lure was smashed and I missed it. A few more casts yielded another missed strike and my confidence rose. I missed the fish because I had switched off and although disappointed with the loss it gave me a confidence boost. I missed another smaller fish and then Mark managed another fish which was the smallest for the day at sub-30cm. As I continued to cast into a small pocket in the river Mark called from the distance that he was on again and when I asked “How Big?” he called back bigger than the last one. Thinking it was another rat I continued to cast but eventually curiosity got the better of me and I paddled around to check. I found Mark with a 40cm bass and commented on his tendency for understatement
At this point we reached some serious rapids and in his attempt to exit his yak Mark managed to knock his rod into the water after a frantic scramble to catch it. His rod and Daiwa Certate disappeared into the murky water to both our horror! After securing his Yak, it was Mark’s turn to enter the cool water and after some searching with his feet was extremely relieved to raise his rod like Excalibur from the murky depths. It would have definitely been a sour note on a very good day’s bassing.
We continued upstream and Mark was managing to catch fish regularly on his Jackall Aragon and I was managing a few hits and a few fish but nothing the calibre of the morning session. At one stage I spent a bit of time hammering a particularly good looking tree with my Sammy and then moved on when no fish had taken an interest. Mark also liked the look of the tree and cast in his Aragon which was subsequently smashed down deep and eventually yielded him another 42cm bass. It just goes to show you should always cast a surface lure followed by a diver when structure screams bass.
We continued upstream spending more time paddling than fishing as the day wore on and we got more and more weary. Eventually with the launch spot approaching we entered the second last pool. Here there was a man and his kids catching numerous Tandanus catfish while we cast at any good looking structure hoping for a few last minute bass. Mark managed another average bass down deep on the Aragon while I peppered the edges where over hanging limbs provided perfect ambush sites for hungry bass. Eventually the lure disappeared on a solid strike and my rod doubled over. For the first time this trip drag started to seriously peel off the reel as a solid fish fought for his freedom. I nervously played it out expecting the lure to pull free and was very happy indeed when my biggest fish for the trip was netted. How could the day get any better!
We hit the last pool and began our final few casts before exiting the river. I headed to the top of the pool where Tristan had landed bass on all our other adventures to this system. I cast the Sammy in and the water seriously boiled beneath the lure but failed to follow up. Knowing the fish was reluctant to hit the surface I switched to the Yo-zuri 3D minnow on my second rod and cast in. I allowed the lure to slowing sink and on its first couple of twitches it was slammed. Drag peeled and the Yak was dragged towards the timber as the fish headed home. I managed to turn his head but this fish knew the river much better than me and headed for an alternate snag and the line locked up as he pinned me down deep. I nervously gave him his head and then coaxed him free and he header to open water. My arms burned as he continued to fight hard but I ecstatically scooped a 45cm bass into the net. What I way to finish the trip!
We were exhausted yet again as the trips we go on are a seriously physical workout but they are well worth it. Fraser managed about 15 bass with 3 over 40 (biggest 42cm) and I had managed 16 bass with only 3 under 35cm and 7 over 40cm (biggest 45cm). It was an awesome day, thanks Mark!