Good trips! Shame I got Smoked!
With the school holidays finally here I had planned on making the most of everyone working and head out chasing some bass locally rather than far afield. With Monday approaching the weather again took a turn for the worse with rain and possible thunder predicted and a brisk soothly cooling the temperature to the early 20’s.
Continually monitoring of the weather showed some rainy patches and on early Monday morning I made the decision to head out and hope for the best. Within an hour of arriving at my first destination the wind came up and the rain started and I made the decision to head home early and grab a couple of DVD’s.
The return journey saw me hit peak hour traffic and I came to a standstill. After 20 minutes of barely moving I noticed an opening in the clouds to the south and took this window of opportunity to head to another spot I knew. I arrived and the weather was holding out but I knew that eventually even this little piece of sunshine would succumb to the oncoming rain. I decided to drop in somewhere new knowing I wasn’t going to get far before having to pull the pin.
I used the opportunity to test on my new travel rod, a Shimano Raider 6’6’ 3 piece. I tied on a Tiemco Soft shell cicada which seems very popular with the bass in this particular creek and launched the yak.
The first pool I arrived in looked like bass paradise and didn’t disappoint I managed about 7 bass in the space of 20 minutes although they were all small ranging from 15 – 26cm. I travelled downstream but the portage started to get a bit far between decent sized pools and I managed only one hit in the next hour even though the pools looked awesome. I turned around and headed back upstream, arriving at the pool I had managed 7 bass in on the downstream stretch I managed to catch another two which were again quite small.
Heading upstream the clouds became overcast and the drizzle began, luckily the surface bite was still on and I managed another two bass in the pool just above the launch, one of them finally sneaking across the 30cm mark.
I headed into the next pool which again looked like a bass haven and managed to release another two rat bass before the heavens opened. I was drenched and the cool southerly went straight through my wet clothes making fishing very uncomfortable. So I headed back to the car and decided that if the weather looked even slightly bad in the future that I would pull the pin before I left home.
I managed to catch about 12 bass in this little session but they were seriously on the small side. Sorry folks between the small bass and the rain I didn’t manage to take any photos.
The weather again looked potentially miserable and so I decided that if I did head anywhere it would be on foot so I could head home quick if the weather turned. With a few appointments planned for the morning, I decided to do a little reconnaissance into a creek where I intended to yak down the following day. This particular system has a habit of running hot and cold so I wanted to see if there were any keen bass in residence.
I arrived at the creek at about midday and out came the travel rod again. This time I tied on an Evergreen Combat Pencil Jr which is a 75mm “Walk the Dog” style lure. I walked down to the river and spied a potential bass structure. The first cast came back to the bank with no interest so I changed the angle of my second cast. A few twitches and it was engulfed by a good bass. He had me buried in the snag and I was waiting for my leader to break but somewhere I line remained free and I managed to coax him out. Just as I brought him into the shallows the lure came free and the bass lay calmly in the shallows. Luckily I was able to belly lift the bass and he measured 43cm. What a way to start.
I waded upstream and the second pool was permanently in shade which always seems to hold bass. The opposite bank was fringed with grass and there were a few likely looking bits of timber that looked promising. I came across a tree trunk that lay parallel to the bank. At one end the root structure made an awesome looking home for bass and so I cast a foot from the root ball so the lure landed in front of the grass and to the left of the root structure. As anticipated a few twitches of the lure and a bass launched at the lure and a nice 37cm bass was lifted from the water.
I walked up to the next pool which is my favourite in this system and never disappoints. It has a large cliff face that always has a bass sitting below it and a large set of snags at the opposite end where I have been smoked by big bass on other trips to this waterway. After a few casts at the rock ledge the lure was absolutely smashed by an awesome bass that left the water and then took the lure down deep. As soon as I connected with the bass though the lure came free without the trebles touching the fish. Bugger! Repeated casts could not draw the fish into having another go so I moved on.
I cast along this pool repeatedly but its wide width made casting accurately to the opposite bank difficult and so I decided to head back and leave the far side of the pool for the trip for the following day. As I prepared to leave I spied a small bass in some timber directly below where I was standing and when the lure landed above it the little tacker hit the lure with gusty and I landed a small 34cm bass to finish my scouting trip. Bring on the next day as I was pumped!
The plan was to head back to the creek fished on Tuesday but further upstream and explore some new country. Unlike many of my other trips I was to be on the water late (9AM) and off the water by 2.30PM.
Launching the yak the water looked very “bassy” as this system always does but numerous casts into the first few pools yielded absolutely nothing. Not a hit, follow or boil showed any sign of a fish. The morning was completely dead and it wasn’t until I reached a massive causeway that I realised why. The wall was a metre above the top pool and then dropped into a pool below. It had one culvert where fish and water could pass with the other culvert blocked by stones.
The pools below the causeway and for the next kilometre or so were lifeless and even though the system looked like it should hold numerous bass I couldn’t raise a fish. I finally reached familiar waters and eventually, casting into a rock face in deep shade the Lucky craft Sammy 65 that I had tied on my line was hit solidly and the rod loaded up nicely. The fish fought hard and I knew I was onto a reasonable fish. The net came out and a nice 41cm bass slid into the net. Phew! I was very thankful that the “donut monkey” was finally off my back.
The next pool usually held a few fish at the top of the pool but this time there was no luck. It wasn’t until further down the pool that a large boil beneath the Sammy gave away that a large fish had taken an interest. Repeated casts into the boil “zone” yielded no further signs of the fish much to my dismay.
The next pool was the same pool I had fished the previous day and I eagerly anticipated the potential for the big bass I had missed on the previous trip to make a show. The first cast was halfway back to the yak before a feisty bass hit the lure so hard it flew a foot into the air before landing. On the third cast back into the shade he finally hit again and connected. A quick fight and a 36cm bass was landed.
I moved onto the next snag which is my favourite in this system as it usually always holds a good fish. My last trip here had seen my Sammy smashed by a large bass that buried me in the timber before I had a chance to react. The snag was a series of trees that lay perpendicular to the bank and came out about 3 metres. In amongst it were logs that had been caught up amongst it in earlier floods. On the first cast I braced myself for a big hit and readied myself to react if a bass launched itself at the lure. The lure returned to the yak un-molested and I quickly returned fire with a second cast. Like the first the second cast returned without a second look and so I eased into going through the motions as the likelihood of a bass coming out of the snag dimmed.
On the third cast I must have twitched the lure three times before an enormous bass smacked the lure off the surface and turned in a heartbeat. It dived hard for the timber and line peeled from my reel as if I had forgotten to set it. The rod loaded up hard and I had nothing that could stop this beast from burying me in the multitude of woody structure below. The leader must have been rubbing on any number of logs and inevitably the line parted and fish and lure were gone. I was devastated! This was the second time on this snag that I had been smoked by a big bass.
After a few more glances at the spot where the fish had hit the lure I gut wrenching moved on in the hope I would find another bass of equal proportions to battle against. Hopefully this time I would be able to battle in less formidable surrounds and have a greater chance of landing it.
I moved on and it wasn’t long before I reached the cliff face where the big bass (I like to think it was the same one!!) had hit my lure yesterday. Casting on the edge where it met the grassy bank the lure was smacked again and after a reasonable run I managed a bass of 38cm. It’s funny, I should be happy with a 38cm bass but after having an awesome season a wild 38cm bass seems quite small!! I seem to be getting a bit ungrateful in my old age.
At this point I was travelling over territory I had fished pretty hard the day before and apart from a few speculative casts I left this part of the river alone. I reached the bottom area of the river where I hadn’t cast the day before and casting into a log on the edge of some reasonable rapids the Sammy was plucked off the surface by an excited little bass. A short fight and another standard 36cm bass slid into the net.
Surface fishing just isn’t the same in rapids when the hit and the sound is masked by the moving water. It made me realise that surface fishing is all about using as many senses as you can whilst fishing. Fishing with divers you “feel” the hit and maybe hear the drag peeling which causes the adrenalin rush. With surface fishing there is the visual aspect of the hit, the sound of the bass hitting the lure as well as the rod loading up and sound of peeling drag. For me the rush is so much better when casting surface lures because of the sensory overload, it’s probably why I have hardly gone sub-surface all season.
At this point time was becoming very limited and I needed to quickly reach the last pool before heading back upstream to the car. I kayaked down a series of rapids and reached the pool and allowed the current to carry my kayak along the bank that was my intended target. I managed two bass in this pool both of which came off very similar structure.
The first bass was another 36cm model that hit the lure below another rock face. My theory with this sort of structure which lacks any timber or overhanging branches is that the bass tuck under overhanging sub-surface ledges and wait for unwary prey to take a miss step on the rock face and inevitably fall into the water. Quite often I will overcast where possible to allow the lure to hit the ledge and simulate falling into the water. I may be wrong but I reckon the bass may feel the noise through the rock wall as sound travels faster through solids and then into the water where they are sitting. Last years trip to Clarrie Hall Dam had me catch 5 bass off one such wall over the two days and the bass all hit the lure the second it hit the water like they were waiting for it.
The final bass for the trip was caught on a similar looking rock face. It hit the lure on the first twitch and tried to wrap the line around the nearest log. Luckily for me the log was not fixed and it slowly slid from the bank as the fish dragged it clear of the bank. For a few seconds I thought I was about to reel in 2 metres of 75mm thick timber with the bass but eventually he freed himself and headed for open water (very nice of him wasn’t it). The rod loaded up nicely and he fought well and eventually I netted a nicely conditioned 42cm bass to finish the trip.
I cast along the bank to the end of the pool but had no more luck except for a sub 30cm bass boiling at the lure a couple of times without committing to a strike. I headed back upstream and exited the creek feeling strangely unsatisfied with the trip. I always find it hard to let go of that “ if I only did…!” I would have had an awesome report and memory of that day I caught a monster bass. Instead I have a “one that got away story” which I was the only witness. Oh well maybe next time!