Blue Sky Bassing
Tristan and I had planned another trip for last Saturday but the predicted weather was an absolute shocker. Heavy rain for the early morning and severe storms for the afternoon meant that our planned trip had to be cancelled. Tristan was unable to go on the Sunday due to family commitments but I couldn’t wait another week for a fish so I intently watched the river heights Saturday night hoping that there would not be too much of an increase in water levels.
The following morning showed a mild increase in the system I intended to fush but not enough to stop me going. I only hoped that the water remained relatively clean as I am not a fan of dirty river bassing especially when my preferred technique is surface fishing. I headed off early hoping to arrive just before dawn and the first bridge that I crossed on my chosen waterway showed a swollen river which seemed very dirty in the predawn gloom. I continued on feeling a little despondent and the first causeway that I crossed I pulled up for a better look. The water was very dirty and a few casts had no bass show an interest in an area that usually held a few fish.
I decided to continue upstream to my chosen launch spot which was further upstream with the hope that the water would be a little clearer the further upstream I travelled. The further upriver I travelled the mistier the river valley got as the mix between heavy rains the night before and the impending warm day created a foggy morning. On arrival at my launch I was quietly ecstatic as the creek was running only slightly dirty and was a colour that left me feeling confident that the bass would show an interest in my surface presentations.
Excitedly I set up the kayak and realised that I had set up my new camera mount on the wrong side of the kayak. I prefer to cast out the left side of the kayak and usually kept my spare rod mounted in a rod holder on the right side. It made for some awkward casting but was not unmanageable. This trip I was using my 6’0” 3-5kg Duffrod Sneakystix baitcaster that I won in last 2010’s Trip report of the year competition, and it was also the last chance for me to use the 6’6” 2-4kg Duffrod Camostix rod that I had borrowed off Biggles .
The launch spot had a nice little pool above it that always seems to hold a small bass which are in plague proportions in this river, but always provide hours of entertainment as you try to find the bigger models. The first cast of my black Luckycraft Sammy 65 had a nice little boil at the end of the retrieve that left a smile on my face as the question of finding interested bass was answered. Further casts yielded two more small hits before the bass shied off and I launched the kayak.
Heading upstream I had to negotiate some moderate portage which is one of the drawbacks of fishing some of the skinny water that I frequent. The raised water levels also made the portage a little more strenuous than usual and the thick spider webs crisscrossing the creek meant that this waterway hadn’t been fished for a while.
The first pool that I arrived at was one of my favourites. In the past it has yielded bass in the double figures and considering it is about 100 metres long it can provide some awesome entertainment. The predawn light was also a perfect time to cast a surface lure and so I was keen to get the casting arm really warmed up for some surface smacking bass. First cast landed perfectly next to a nice snag and after a swim and a pause the Tiemco Soft Shell Cicada was smashed and taken beneath the water before my subsequent strike missing the fish and pulled the lure without the trebles biting. The follow up cast was another pearler and after another short retrieve and pause was smacked off the surface and I was connected to a nice bass of 32cm to start the session.
The next cast to the same bank saw me miss a second hit before I eventually turned my attention to the left side of the river to target some structure. This bank had banksias fringing the waterline and a nice weed bed extending about 2 metres off the bank before it feel away into a deep pool. From past trips I knew that bass swam along this fringe in the dawn before sinking to the depths of the pool at first light when the sun struck the water.
The first cast was again hit early in the retrieve and I missed the fish without it feeling the trebles. The follow up cast was treated with equal exuberance by the hungry bass and he fought with tenacity before he was netted. The Duffrod I had loaned from Biggles had an awesome feel and the slower taper than I was used to seemed to help set the hooks with my surface lures.
The great thing about bass in this system is they fight hard and as the weather warms they seem to become much more aggressive. I will sometimes come here in preference to spots with bigger models just for how much they love a surface lure and hit it so hard!. At just over 35cm he was a good start in a system swarming with small fish.
After releasing the bass the follow up cast along the weed bed was smacked again by a bass and I could feel the excitement building as I realised this had the potential of being a great day. Again he missed the lure, but in a repeat of my earlier hook ups, the follow up cast saw the bass successfully connect with the lure. This bass then attempted to bury me in the weed before I managed to fight him clear and net a 33cm bass.
I kept casting at the head of the pool but after a few dozen casts I jumped in the yak and began paddling up the pool. The rest of the pool saw me manage another small bass off the surface and another two small models at the downstream side of the next pool.
Paddling further up the second pool I continued casting up the edges of the river with occasional casts to the water in the middle. At this point the river narrowed significantly and long casts up its length enabled me not to spook any wary fish. Eventually the lure was smashed again and a nice fight saw another bass of 32cm slide into the net. The morning was really shaping up to be a cracker with the bass absolutely smashing the lure.
The next fish was caught casting along the edge again and its hit was an absolute cracker. It’s hard to believe that such a small fish could displace so much water but for those addicted to their surface fishing this hit left me with an awesome rush. At 36cm it hit well above its size and the video footage gives you an idea of why I head back to this river before many others. The hit was so hard that in the video you can hear the drag peel off as the rod loads up.
As I approached the head of this pool I managed another small bass on the Sammy before I reached the rapids at its source. This spot had seen me manage numerous small bass in the past on a diver, and off the surface, but the Tiemco couldn’t entice a strike from any resident bass. I then tied on a Yo-zuri Hardcore 60mm Ghost shad and after a few casts the lure was whacked and the rod loaded up onto a nice fish of 37cm.
I continued upstream to my final pool before I turned around and headed back downstream. The first part of the pool was in full sunlight as I had put a lot of effort into the lower pools and probably chewed up a bit too much time. I cast a few speculators into the exposed parts of the pool without interest before I copped a small surface hit between two submerged Banksia branches and then finally was smashed off the top by another bass on the opposite side which was 30cm plus. This was repeated soon after by another30cm plus bass along a banksia fringed bank further up the river.
With the sun now fully lighting the pools I had been fishing, I switched to the diver as I headed to the more foliage covered pools downstream of the launch. The top pool yielded another bass on the diver off a sun exposed snag before I headed downstream to the pool where I had managed my first bass of the morning.
By this point my video sunglasses were flat and so I placed them on my portable charger so I could re-use them later in the trip. When I reached the bottom pool I cast the diver into the deepest section of the pool which was fringed by structure and in about 30 minutes I managed another 5 bass ranging from 20-38cm. In the three hours of the early morning I had managed 18 bass and was ecstatic, if I could keep this up I would manage to break my previous PB of 44 bass in no time (which happened to be in the same river).
Heading downstream the river became very skinny with small pools that lacked significant depth. The good thing was that this isolated the bass into pockets of suitable habitat and made them easier to target. The Tiemco continued to perform even when the video was off and I managed another three in quick succession downstream. The first was a 25cm bass who hit the Tiemco after an ambitious cast over the back of timber. Lucky it was a small fish as the awkward cast would have had me destroyed in seconds by a larger bass.
The next bass was the last cast just before I headed down a set of rapids into the next pool. As I picked up pace at the top of the current I fired out a quick cast at an undercut bank that was heavily shaded. The creek at this point was at most 3-4m wide and the cast was a speculator but previous trips had amazed me at the places bass would hide and the size that they could be in unlikely structure. The water erupted and as I spun helplessly down the rapids I fought a 38cm bass at the same time. It would have been some entertaining footage on video ! (Blue Sky Bassing 1 & 2)
The trip downstream yielded more bass mostly in the twenties both off the surface and sub-surface. The surface bite began to slow and the bass seemed to be found more in the deeper parts of the pools than on the fringes. I wondered whether this might have been a reaction to the swollen creek and stored this info away for future reference. At one point a small whip snake swam across the creek and there were huge numbers of turtles about and I managed to catch one on the Tiemco.
I arrived at another favourite pool of mine where I had managed to get my first video footage of bass surface strikes and I put the video sunglasses back on after they had recharged over the morning. The first cast at a snag at the head of the pool yielded another surface hit and in the next 20 or so minutes I managed another 4 bass off the surface with the Tiemco. Three of these were tiny but still entertaining. One though was a good fish and in the tight country caused me a little grief. After the numerous small fish I was also a little complacent and wasn’t prepared for the significant hit. At 38cm it was another good bass for this system. I managed another high twenties fish at the back of the snag with the Yo-zuri after I had jumped in the kayak to head downstream
This pool yielded more fish off the diver and some hits on the Tiemco. It was a beautiful looking pool and a wish I had more time to fish it but time was getting on. The Tiemco got smashed deep under some foliage after numerous small bass played with the lure. I managed to get the bass out and into clear water but part way through the fight the hooks pulled. In the same pool the Yo-zuri which is a 60mm lure managed to catch a tiny bass. It just highlighted how aggressive the fish in this system are!
The final major pool also yielded a huge number of bass on my last trip and I was keen to start casting when I reached it. First cast up the middle of the pool I managed a small bass and then began a bass bonanza! I managed most fish on the Yo-zuri including another 38cm bass. It seemed no matter where I cast the Yo-zuri was getting smashed and at one stage I hooked up on a good bass which pulled the hooks only to get another good bass casting in a different direction on the next cast. The surface bite was almost dead and so I switched lures to the Jackall Kana Kana in the hope that the slight change might liven things up. After this I did manage a small fish off the top to reach my 40th fish for the day and then managed another bass that hit the lure in spectacular fashion metres from the kayak.
At this point I had managed to catch my PB number of bass which previously was 45 in the same section of the river. At this point I was just having fun seeing how many bass I could catch. I soon reached 50 bass and then hit 60. They were everywhere and I was catching multiple fish off the same structure and catching one bass just didn’t seem to spook the others. At one point the small bass I was catching had managed to spike my hands so many times that I lost some feeling in them. The worst was a spine that had gotten under my fingernail about a centimetre which hurt like hell!
I kept kayaking down to my exit point and had switched to a Luckycraft Sammy 65 in Archer Bee. I managed to catch my final bass off the surface on this lure and although small was a satisfying end to a great days fishing. The final hit wasn’t to a bass but to a water dragon that launched from a branch to chase my Sammy 65 which I retrieved quickly to prevent an awkward hook removal.
At the exit point I did manage to spot a large Tiger snake crossing the road which highlighted that Summer was very close and hopefully the arrival of the cicadas would fire the surface bite up more! I had managed to catch 64 bass which smashed my previous PB and left e a happy man! I can’t wait for a few years when these bass have grown because it will be spectacular if the average fish is over 30cm! I had also collected 5 hours of video footage which had videoed 40 bass being caught thus the time it has taken me to write this report!