End of Season??
So another opportunity to head out and chase a few became available last Monday and so I gave a quick text to Stu (Pills) to see if he wanted to join me on a little adventure. The previous weekend had seen a heap of rain hit my local systems and with 106mm on my rain gauge from the last wet I was a bit apprehensive about the condition of many of the waterways I frequent. The overnight temperatures had also dropped into single figures and considering many SEQ and Northern NSW rivers run from the mountains I was a bit concerned the water temperature might be a little on the low side. Regardless it was potentially going to be my last trip for the season and so we headed out anyway in the hope a few bass might be willing to play.
We dropped Stu’s car off at the exit point and headed up to the launch at about 5am. Arriving we realised that there was no need for headlamps as the “super moon” was still high in the sky and shedding light like a large street lamp. The water appeared to be dirty (Bugger!) but a quick inspection showed that there was still a good 3 feet of visibility into the water so we quickly geared up and launched.
I started casting a Black jointed jitterbug in the pre-dawn gloom in the hope I could entice a bass to hit this noisy crawler. At the end of one particular retrieve I lifted the lure from the water just as I spied the dark silhouette of a fish cruising up to the lure. It sat below where the lure had left the water and so I dropped the jitterbug a foot away from the bass. It quickly moved in a sucked at the lure missing the trebles and darting off into the gloom never to return.
This was the last bit of action for a couple of hours as we passed from pool to pool. As the dawn passed and the sun rose to become visible in the sky it was clear that the river was a little dirty and although water levels had returned close to normal the sediment had not dropped out of suspension. It had also been a really cold start to the morning and the heat did not really return to the air until mid-morning.
It wasn’t until the the light of day that I switched from the jitterbug to a Lucky Craft Sammy 65 that I had re-coloured with a black permanent marker that I finally managed our first fish for the session. The bass lay in ambush deep at the butt of an overhanging tree and smashed the Sammy on its first couple of twitches. This was a reasonable fish and after a good fight I netted a good bass of just over 40cmFL. It was clear that this bass was conditioned up and ready for breeding but had missed the chance to head downstream in the last flow. After a quick couple of photos it was released and hopefully it will be lucky enough to head downstream if we get a bit of rain over the next few weeks.
The fishing went quiet again and the journey downstream left me amazed at the damage this system had copped since my last visit. The highlight was seeing a causeway that would have been a serious impediment to migrating bass smashed and washed downstream since my last visit. This was a serious slap of concrete and must have required a massive force of water to lift it 15m downstream. It also meant no portage and we could simply paddle through the gap to continue downstream. Gotta love Mother Nature!
It was soon after that I missed the next bass of the morning. I cast into the back of a snag a few times with the Sammy without any interest from any bass. Switching to my Yozuri 60mm Hardcore Shad it was hit as the lure hit the water only for the bass to miss the lure. Repeated casts from both the Sammy and Yozuri to the front of the snag could not encourage the bass to return. I shifted my focus to the back of the snag and the first cast in with the Sammy saw a bow wave emerge foot from the lure and a bass smash the lure. I managed to fight the bass halfway back to the kayak when the trebles pulled and the Sammy floated back to the surface. When the fishing is slow, it’s moments like this that are very frustrating.
We continued downstream over some significant portage and the fishable pools seemed devoid of bass as both Stu and I struggled to raise a fish. It wasn’t until lunch time that I cast up the middle of a narrow pool to pack the braid a bit tighter on my baitcaster that I managed to hook up on an unlucky bass. I didn’t realise I was onto a fish as the bass had hit it from behind and swam upstream and I thought the lure was just bumping awkwardly along the bottom. As the lure neared the kayak it finally loaded up and after a short fight I managed to net an average bass of 34cmFL.
The fishing was still very quiet and it wasn’t until we reached a pool I had never fished before that we finally managed another bass. I cast into a shady pocket with the Yozuri and about halfway back it was nailed down deep by a good bass. This fish gave me a real workout and I struggled to raise it to the surface. I spun around in circles as the bass refused to yield but luckily I had managed to draw him out into the middle of the pool which evened out the fight. Eventually I netted another 40cmFL bass which like the previous fish was well conditioned and ready to head down and spawn.
With Stu barely getting a touch for the morning I switched over to the bank of the river exposed to the sunlight. There were still small patches of shade and I targeted these patches closest to heavy timber that was close to the river bank. One of these casts was absolutely slammed by a good fish and the lure was reefed down hard. Two metres of braid stripped off the reel fast and somewhere under the water it made contact with some form of structure that cut it high above the leader. Yet again I had lost a big bass in this system and I continued my poor form with large bass.
I quickly retied another Yozuri on and cast into the snag immediately downstream of the bust off. The lure was hit again and this time it was a smaller bass that I was able to bully out of the timber and into the net. It was another 34cm FL bass and unlike the bigger models I had caught earlier it lacked the conditioning needed to spawn.
We headed downstream and cast the rest of the pool but it was still very quiet. The next set of portage was pretty full on with some fast flowing water and plenty of logjams that we needed to negotiate. We fished the next pool and a quick look at the time and GPS indicated that we would need to put in some serious paddling to be back in a reasonable time. The next two hours we paddled a good 5km to reach our exit. Arriving at Stu’s car we were sore and tired and keen to head home after a very slow days bass fishing.
We packed up and drove upstream to my car so I could pack up and head home. It was late as I had underestimated the time it would take to traverse this section of river. I had opened the car from the passenger side and quickly changed out of my wet cloths and threw my keys on the driver’s seat. Closing the passenger side door I made my way to the driver’s side to find it locked. I quickly ran around to the passenger side and leaned in through the driver’s side door to unlock the vehicle with the button there. I closed the passenger side door and ran back around to the driver’s side to open up the door again. It was locked!!!!! With a deep sense of dread I realised I had pressed lock instead of unlock and I had now locked my keys in the car. Insert multiple expletives here! Including calling myself a flippin dumbass!!!!
Luckily Stu hadn’t left yet and a quick few calls and I managed to get in touch with my wife who agreed to drive a fair distance to let me back into my car. Luckily for a very understanding wife and a very patient Stu I managed to get into my car an hour and a half later and was heading home cold, sore and a little sheepish!
Thanks again for accompanying me Stu and sorry the bass were a little shy! Maybe next time!