Easter Bass and By-Catch
Sorry guys I have been a bit busy lately and although I have been on a few trips I have not posted any of my reports! At least I should have a few for the closed season to post up!
Well although it is school holidays my opportunity to get out and go for a fish has been quite limited and as such I managed to only get out on Thursday last week for a paddle for the first time these holidays. I decided not to head to the systems I have been regularly fishing this season and instead decided to go to a location which has been very hit and miss recently. In the past it has been the place I have broken many PB’s and I know it holds some big fish that love to smash surface lures.
As always I headed down early and arrived much earlier than I anticipated and was forced to fish the first half an hour in the dark with a baitcaster which is very challenging to say the least! I managed ok as twilight started to seep into the river valley and I was luckily using a much lighter Luckycraft Sammy 65 colour than the usual Archer Bee (black). As the sky lightened I was amazed at how clear the river was and it looked healthier than it had in a while. It was also dead still and ideal for a surface session which was very exciting!
I started casting at the fringes and every now and then I would cast a diver up the middle of the stream especially where there was a bit of current. It was here that I eventually had my first hook up and although short lived (hooks pulled) it was a promising way to start the morning.
I continued to cast at structure and especially concentrated my attention on Melaleuca trees that were growing on the waterline. At one particularly bush I cast the Sammy 65 in next to a thick branch and allowed it to sit for a length of time. I then walked it a short distance before pausing again before initiating another walk and pause. On the next twitch the water exploded and I was onto a solid fish. I was very thankful that the bass had hit the lure a long way from the structure as it took a bit of drag on multiple runs before finally slipping into the net. Although only 44cmFL it was thick across the shoulders and had a massive tail accounting for the strong fight. I also noticed that my rear treble was missing a hook and that by some miracle the fish had remained hooked on a single hook on the rear treble. As such I changed to another Sammy65 instead of changing the hook.
The fishing went quiet then although conditions seemed perfect. The rocks in the portage points were also very slippery with all many of algae coating the rocks from the low water conditions all summer and made traversing them very difficult. I eventually reached the next pool that had changed considerably since my last visit. The recent run had literally ripped a huge part of the bank away and unfortunately filled a deep hole with a considerable amount of river stones. The large fig tree that had once sat upon the bank had now become a large feature in the middle of the pool with its root ball sitting upstream of its trunk.
As always my first cast went into the corner of the root ball furthest from the bank and after a short pause I gave it a twitch and there was this great thunderclap as a massive fish smashed the Sammy65 off the surface. Now I know the term “thunderclap” seems a little excessive but when the caudal fin came down it was like someone had slapped their paddle on the surface. The fish came wide much to my amazement and although it had the upper hand and could have driven me deep into the root ball it chose a path to open water. It took ages to get a glimpse and when I saw a thick green body I knew I was onto a quality Mary River Cod.
As the fight came to a close I had no idea how I was going to handle this fish on my own but managed to make my way to the shallows where I could get a rough measure before release. My home made brag mat optimistically goes to 62.5cm just in case I manage a unicorn on one of my adventures and the cod hung over this measure and was on an odd angle so I am guessing she was over 70cm. I managed a nice little video of the release as well.
A quick look over of the Sammy found that the rear treble had broken a hook (again) an the front treble had been bent so much it was useless so I switched to yet another Sammy 65 and this time it was in Archer Bee. I worked my way down to the next pool and could not find an interested bass on the surface. Switching to the diver I managed another brief hook up on an average bass before I decided to head back to the car and try a different system before I headed home.
I decided to head to another system where the bass were not as large but the numbers were a lot higher and I could have a bit of fun to finish the day. Arriving at the lunch I was happy to see the water was up but it was still a little dis-coloured. The first pool was quite large and usually heavily shaded but it seemed the deciduous trees surrounding the pool had already started to lose their leaves in preparation for winter and the season close.
I was a little dismayed to find that the pool was very quiet, which was not a great sign, as typically it held a large number of willing small bass. As I approached the top of the pool I finally found a bass that “blooped” the lure a couple of times although I was not convinced it was really that keen on eating the lure.
Soon after a cast at a tree trunk on the waterline saw my lure get belted by a 30cmFL bass that missed the lure on the first go but managed to find the trebles on its second shot at the lure. Unfortunately this was the end of the action in this pol and I contemplated heading home as the fishing was a little slow for this part of the world. However, I couldn’t help myself and decided to head to the next pool to see if I could find a few more.
Reaching the heart of the pool I spied a small patch of Lomandra that always seems to hold a fish. I am fairly certain that the bank beneath this bush is undercut as I have managed a hit here almost every session and at times managed some action on the return trip as well. As I knew it would the first cast in was belted and I was on to another bass. The fight was quite tough with the bass darting in all directions and finally when I had it at the surface it gave one last flick and threw the hooks. Funnily enough it sat at the surface as though it was still hooked for a second or two before it vanished in a splash of water.
A few metres downstream there is another severely undercut bank where the root ball of a large fig tree is exposed at the bank. Usually there is a lot more bank to cast at, but due to recent rainfall half the pool was filled with some major debris which made the casting of surface lures difficult
In these situations I try to find small patches of clear water and cast a looping cast that plops the lure down on the surface in the middle of the clear patch. Firstly it tends to make the clear patch larger when the ripples push the debris a little wider and secondly it allows you to twitch lures like the Sammy 65 on the spot without it getting caught up in any debris.
Using this technique I managed another 30cmFL bass casting beneath the exposed Fig roots and missed two others all in the space of a couple of minutes. The four hits in under 10 minutes encouraged me to head downstream however the fishing went very quiet. I managed another 3 hits from bass, two from tiny fish that would have needed a miracle to connect to the trebles and one from a solid fish that belted the lure when I was a little distracted and felt the hooks.
I finished the session there knowing that the next bit of portage was pretty full on and happy with the day’s efforts. Hopefully I will get out again before the holidays come to an end!