It Can’t Get Much Better!
With a very successful night session to open the season I was very keen to head out again for my first epic session after a very long winter’s break. I teamed up again with Rod and we had planned to tackle an 18km point to point section of one of my favourite systems. We all geared up and ready to go when unfortunately Rod fell really ill and had to pull out 30min before our very early morning departure. As a result I had to alter my plans, and although my Plan B was to fish a smaller section of the same river a quick look at the BOM river levels showed a slight rise so I decided to go to plan C.
Plan C involved an entry/exit at a river I have been fishing for over 10 years. To be honest it is one of the prettiest systems I fish and has such a diverse array of structures you really need to get the bass sussed to figure out what they are doing. It is also home to some cracking bass and although in previous years the numbers have been down the possibility of catching a few beasts keeps me coming back. Last year at the same time I only managed a single fish but at 45cmFl I was not really complaining.
So I arrived at my launch point just before twilight at a mist shrouded bridge to find a river running strongly but relatively clean considering the previous days rain. As I geared up the yak a set of headlights drifted to the mist and I met another keen basso who recognised me from my Facebook page. His intention was to head downstream and mine was to head upstream so after a quick hello we hit the water in different directions.
Hitting the water my first thoughts were how warm it was and although I was rugged up I knew it was going to be a great day. The water was dead calm and enveloped in a blanket of mist and that unmistakeable earthy freshness clinging to the air made me feel like I was at home. As you can imagine it wasn’t long before I was casting at every structure that looked like it would hold a bass and eventually I got a serious swipe at my Sammy 65 that completely missed but I was still electrified by the miss.
As I headed upstream I missed my first 4 hits which started to rattle me a little and shattered any leftover confidence I had from my previous session. What was worse was that the bass were only hitting the lure once and then taking off without the repeated hits I had experienced a few days earlier. The bass seemed to be holding in mid-water snags and casting past them and retrieving though the structure was getting their attention. Eventually on my fifth hit I finally connected and had my first bass for the session netted and photographed.
It was a bit daunting to realise the bass were holding really tight to some serious structure, and that only suicidal casts were attracting any attention. I soon had another three bass on the board and although they were not huge ranging from 27-35cmFL they were giving me all sorts of grief amongst the sticks and extraction was really quite difficult. In reality I was quite fortunate that nothing serious had honed in on my lure but I knew in this system the likelihood was high. This river has cost me more lures than any other that I regularly fish.
Continuing upstream I passed through some picturesque country and the sounds of whipbirds and the delicate fringes of Lomandra lapping the waterline had me anticipating a big hit but it didn’t eventuate. As I reached my first bit of portage I found a couple of interested fish in the smaller shallower pools that I had to traverse on foot and finally missed a stonker in half a foot of water that sadly was a one hit wonder.
I finally reached one of my favourite pools and decided to set up the GoPro to see if I could capture a bit of footage but I had forgotten to put in an SD card that was packed deep in my waterproof bag and with my wet hands I had no intention of remedying the situation when I was all hyped up and needing to get a few casts in. Initially the pool was very quiet and I reminisced about how hot and cold this pool could be. To be honest I believe it is more about the sheer volume of structure rather than the absence of fish. Too many hidey holes, and too many places a bass could hide that I just could not target with my lures due to the high water levels and thick cover.
I eventually reached a massive laydown that I have rarely been able to target while shaded over. Mostly because earlier trips have started at the opposite end of the river and typically I reached the pool at midday when the sun is at its zenith and most of the pool is lit up like a beacon. Not this day though, and as I do I sent my first cast out wide to attract any bass on the fringes and therefore leaving me with a few other lines to target without disturbing them.
Walking the Sammy back it was eventually absolutely smashed by a solid bass and it was on. My saving grace was that it ripped across into the middle of the pool and gave me the best chance of netting the fish without having to negotiate it through the timber. After a daunting battle to get the bass near my net I finally slipped a beast of a bass into its webbing. The first few fish I had caught obviously still had their post conditioning and this bass was no exception, however this one was also thick across the shoulders and was in superb shape. At 44cmFL it was a fish that quickly tipped the session’s status to awesome and left my start on par with last year.
After a few quick happy snaps I was ready to get amongst the structure again and this time I cast along a different line and had the lure landing tight against the main trunk. I gave it a few twitches and sent it into a walk when “Boof”, there was another almighty explosion of water and I was on again to a cracking fish in subsequent casts. Unlike the first fish this one began darting through the timber and I though my lure was a goner. The fishing gods however seemed to have given me their blessing and I caught not miss a trick and I eventually had the bass out in the open where I was able to net her. My session had just got even better when I realised this bass was slightly bigger than the last and I had caught myself a 45cmFL beast.
To be honest I could have turned around and headed home and been happy as but I couldn’t help feeling maybe I can get one even bigger!! I started picking up bass regularly after this and by 9.30AM I had netted another five bass between 29 -39cmFL. It was the best feeling ever at the time I just hoped I wasn’t using up all my mojo early in the season.
I then reached a point where I knew the portage was going to be hell!! Those who have fished with me know that I am up for any form of physical and mental exhaustion to reach pools that are hard to get at, but this was one of my hardest portages ever. The water levels were high after recent rains and there was some serious flow that I had to battle against, as well as some serious log jams. I also knew that the distance to my final pool was about 1km of hard yakka over steep muddy banks just to get around the massive obstacles. The things I will do to find a few bass!!!
Eventually I reached my final pool and I was absolutely knackered, the wind had come up a little and there was a subtle change in the weather that seemed to have slowed the action up a little. The surface bite had almost vanished and so I started targeting some shaded sections of the bank to see if I could find some bass down deep with a diver. It wasn’t long before my Duel Hardcore Shad was smashed down deep and I was fighting a good bass in open water. Although the fight was good I knew I held all the advantage and eventually another solid 41.5cmFL bass slipped into my net.
The fishing really slowed and I decided to switch banks and head back downstream. I managed another 39cmFL bass on the diver before I found a beautifully shaded pocket that screamed for the Sammy to crawl through it. I sent the cast in and halfway back it was smashed and I netted another 40cmFL bass.
This session was amazing and I was amassing my best tally of fish in this system for years. I have to say that late winter rain has done wonders for the first two rivers I have fished so far. The last two years and seen rain arrive in time to send the bass downstream but we have really lacked a good run to get them back up. This session had so far netted me bass ranging from 27-45cmFL, the greatest size range in about three years and really boded well for the rest of the season.
Just as the pool reached its downstream end there was a small creek mouth that in truth has never yielded me a fish. It didn’t go in very far but it held some of the bassiest structure I have ever seen and the fact that it was running for the first time gave me a little confidence. I began casting along its entirety and eventually a cast at a grass lined undercut bank had my lure smashed by another cracking fish. Again the lack of surrounding structure gave me some advantage but this bass ripped drag and tried to bury me beneath the banks. I could not believe it when another 44cmFL bass slipped into my net.
I missed another solid fish further up the creek but after this I decided it was time to head downstream and head home. The downstream voyage was much more pleasant as I could run the rapids although I still needed to get around some quality log jams. I kept casting a lot more sporadically but the bass had gone quiet and to be honest my effort was a little low. Eventually I reached the car absolutely spent and headed home absolutely buzzing with success. It didn’t last long however as my exhaustion caught up with me really quickly that night and I was out cold by 7PM. This would have to be one of my best season starts ever!!