Waking up the following morning I had the opportunity to head out and chase a few more bass for a few hours in the middle of the day. I decided to use this time to explore a new location that I had heard held a few bass in its upper reaches. Unlike most systems I usually fish this creek had a very small catchment and was more or less tidal for its length.
I headed south and eventually launched from a location that I had cased out the previous week and was an unusually kayak friendly launch. The water was fresh and even when the tide pushed in the salt was very dilute at the top end of the creek. The structure looked very bass friendly and being a research session I stuck to a Yo-zuri Hardcore 60mm Shad to increase my chances of locating a bass.
After 10 minutes of casting I eventually had a hit but the fish missed the trebles. Continuing to cast I coped a few more hits and a school of small bream followed the lure up to the kayak and giving it a good working over. I continue to cast into the shaded timber that the small bream had emerged from in the hope something bigger would maul the lure and eventually it did.
The rod loaded up and the fish headed under the kayak. It didn’t feel like a bass and the distinctive head shakes gave the impression that it was a flathead but I wasn’t ready to accept that as the water was so fresh. I have seen many anglers catch flathead at the upper reaches of estuaries where the water lacks most of the salt but until that 45cm flathead slipped into the net I couldn’t quite accept it.
I made my way downstream and the creek became perfect bass habitat. Both banks were covered in timber and thick vegetation. However, being in brackish water the shrubbery was unlike most of the systems I fish. The tide was also flooding in and it was an unusual experience to travel down a stream that was virtually freshwater but find myself paddling up rapids. As the tide flooded I found a narrow section with boulders on either side that created the usual back eddies that bass love to sit in awaiting unsuspecting prey. Casting into these eddies I eventually hooked up on a small fish that again didn’t fight like a bass. The furious flicking of the tail why the small fish strained against the line indicated that I had managed my first bream and sure enough a 21cm bass slipped into the net.
The flooding tide had brought with it a massive amount of debris and this made casting very difficult but the desire to see what lay around the next bend kept me casting and heading downstream. The debris was evident in a number of the downstream pools but I eventually reached a part of the creek that had a large bend that was free from debris. It was covered in shade and large stands of vegetation grew out into the creek providing ideal bass habitat.
Repeated casts could not entice any fish and I eventually began to contemplate that the rumours had no truth to them. However I eventually cast into a nice looking structure and the rod loaded up hard and I was fighting a good fish. This felt like a bass but with the myriad of other potential estuary species that could of inhabited this creek I wasn’t going to call it early. I could barely hold in my excitement when a good bass came to the surface. I don’t think I have ever been so nervous about losing a fish and so I was ecstatic when a 41cm bass slid into the net.
I continued downstream casting and any structure that looked like it would hold a bass. I didn’t really care if I couldn’t find another one as I had already decided to return and give the creek a much better explore on another day when I could spend a bit more time paddling and casting.
On one of the many casts I made, the lure was only metres from the kayak when a large flathead came up from the depths and engulfed the lure about a foot from the surface. Amazingly it didn’t even seem to register that it had eaten a lure as it leisurely began to cruise to the bottom again. I loaded up the rod and the flathead began to shake its head to dislodge the offending “fish” but there were no strong runs as I gently raised it to the surface and slipped my “bass net” under the flathead.
That was my first mistake as the flathead had not used any energy at all and being removed from the water sent it berserk. I spent the first few seconds struggling to keep the 58cm flathead in my net and eventually it thrashed around so much that it completely wrapped itself in the silicone netting. After it had lost some of its unspent energy I was eventually able to untangle the fish take a happy snap and release her unharmed.
I continued downstream and the creek continued to amaze me with how bass worthy it was. Eventually time was becoming an issue and I turned and began heading back upstream. The tide had now turned and so I was again paddling against the current. Eventually I reached a pool that had been virtually unfishable earlier in the day due to the debris the incoming tide had brought in. However it had now cleared and all the structures in the pool were now easily targeted.
I cast at any structure that looked like it might be home to a bass and eventually the lure was smashed and I was fighting another solid fish. The powerful surging runs and silver flash after the hit indicated that I was onto another bass and I couldn’t believe my eyes when I netted another solid bass of 43cmFL.
I was now confident that the system and this pool could potentially hold a few more fish and so I became a little more focused on targeting some quality structure. I cast again into a possible bass haunt further up the creek and the lure was hit again. This time the bass had me buried in some timber well below the surface. I gave the bass a bit of free reign and after a little bit of coaxing I managed to extricate him from the timber. This time the bass was only a small one measuring 32cmFL but I was becoming increasingly aware that this system held a healthy population of bass.
I reached the top of the pool and cast under some thick foliage that created some deep shade. The cast created a line parallel with some thick timber and a couple of feet into the retrieve it was whacked hard and I was thankful that the fish played nicely and headed to the middle of the creek which I hoped was devoid of timber. This was another solid fish and refused to come to the surface to be netted. When I finally slipped the net under another bass, I realised that my little exploratory mission had proved to be an awesome session. The bass measured 44cmFL and was in perfect condition with beautiful golden flanks and was a great end to the session.
I paddled back to the launch with that warm and fuzzy feeling I get after a great few hours on the water. The trip had exceeded my expectations in a huge way and I could not wait until I had a chance to return again and explore a little further,