Enter the Darkness!
I try to get out on either Thursday or Friday night for a fishing session chasing bass in the darkness on a weekly basis. Sadly the last few week have either been wet, windy or busy and so I have not had the opportunity to venture out after sun down to try my hand at night time surface fishing. On Thursday the stars aligned and I was able to head out with Rod on a night that screamed out for a surface session. The day had been very hot and when we hit the water the temperature was still about 32 degrees and the humidity was on the rise as there was absolutely no wind.
Arriving at the launch location at 5.00PM the water was like a mill pond and the surface activity was amazing. In my excitement it took me minutes to prepare the kayak and hit the water so that I could start disturbing the mirror calm water with my 60mm Nobroko Softcada.
Initially it was very quiet and I couldn’t get anything to blink at my lure but as the sun disappeared behind the raised river bank I had a nice big boil on my lure and I got my first surge of adrenalin as I anticipated a potential strike. Sadly the fish didn’t return and it seemed reluctant to come back, so I moved on with the current casting at every inch of the river’s edge.
Rod arrived and I could hear him making his way to the water as I eventually reached what was obviously a large tree sitting upright in the water with its many branching limbs protruding from the surface. I sent a cast into the danger zone and twitched it a few times before sending it into a slow crawl back to the kayak. Three metres out from the structure the water exploded and my rod loaded up real quick as a large fish tried to power back to cover. Back paddling frantically, I managed to get the fish into open water and backed the drag off a little so that the hooks wouldn’t pull. The fish battled hard, and took drag in spurts, but I had no fear of it stitching me up in the middle of the river, my only worry was pulling the trebles so I took it easy. Eventually the bass succumbed and I had managed to net a 44cmFL bass to my delight. Unfortunately in the process my net which was tethered to my kayak by a carabiner managed to somehow come loose and sink to the depths leaving me net-less after my first fish for the night.
Rod slipped into the water to find me taking a few photos of my bass and he started casting on the opposite bank while I continued working the structure on mine. I managed a few more hits from smaller bass that struggled to take the 60mm cicada. I decided to head back upstream to the section of the system where I really wanted to be as night descended.
As the sun disappeared the bass came out and the hits were frequent but the size of the fish was quite small. The fish ranged from about 25cm to 35cm and although they kept us entertained it seemed that the bigger models were otherwise too pre-occupied to come up and smash our lures. Rod had picked up a few small bas as well and had also managed a catfish off the top but he was so far up the river I was really unsure of how he was faring. The tell-tale flash of a camera every now and then was evidence he was having some success.
It’s funny how so many people are scared of the night because I absolutely love it. It’s exploring a new world with the different sounds and smells and the fact that you become so attuned to your sense of hearing in the dark. This night more so that others because the darkness was so absolute! During the night there was the usual splashes from mullet as well as cane toads calling at some distant farm dam, there were also the diverse range of bird calls from the enormous river gums that I had never heard before. A few “horny” male koalas were also calling up amongst the foliage either to tell other males to back off or calling to the “ladies”. I even got rammed by something large in the water that rocked my kayak and had me wondering what it was!?
The only element of nature that was not welcome were the insects. The hot night had brought out every insect known to man and some that probably were not! Although there were a few mozzies initially, the minute I turned my headlamp on to extract a lure all hell broke loose! I had bugs in my eyes, nose, mouth and ears in seconds. Thankfully they disappeared seconds after the light went out otherwise it would have been horrendous. The mozzies were regularly finding the backs of my hands and ankles but luckily Rod had brought some Bushman’s and applying that to my exposed skin saved me from further torment. I was also wearing two shirts that stopped the mozzies getting through my shirt which I had experienced in the past.
It went quiet for a bit before I reached a spot on the bank where the bass seemed thick, I missed a couple first and then pulled three in under 15 minutes. Another cast in and the cicada was smashed and I desperately back paddled to get the fish into clear water. I called out to Rod to see if he could net it for me until I managed to get the fish to the surface to find a big catfish. At 54cm it was a solid cattie and it hit so hard, however it was disappointing after imagining a monster bass coming to the surface.
The hits kept coming regularly but more fish were missing than connecting with the large lure. We eventually decided to turn around and head back to the launch casting as we went. We managed a couple of fish early into our return journey and it wasn’t until I reached the last section I planned on fishing that I managed three hits in a half dozen casts and I managed to net two of them. .The biggest going 37cmFL and was a great way to finish a sensational night’s fishing.
We dragged the yaks back to the car keen to hit the road and get to bed knowing that in a few hours we would need to be up and heading to work. The surprise for Rod was waking up to find that mozzies had smashed his back where his shirt was tight across his back and not covered by his PFD. They did a cracking job to his skin and now he knows why I wear a double layer to prevent their onslaught. Regardless I can’t wait for the next trip!