Late Easter Bass
So after spending the majority of my Easter break off the water I finally managed to head out for another day trip on Thursday. Initially my plan had been to target a system where the bass population was quite small but the chance of finding myself a bass to threaten my season PB was on the cards. However, this waterway was also infamous for shutting down and on occasions the bass could be very quiet. On occasions I have had to pull the pin early in the trip and find greener pastures elsewhere.
So an early start (as always) and I was on the water just before the dawn. The predicted winds had thankfully not arrived and I was greeted to perfect conditions for surface fishing. On my third cast at the top of the first pool my Nobroko Softcada was belted within a metre of the kayak. The bass missed although I was fairly sure he had felt the trebles and so follow up casts proved fruitless. After a hit on the third cast I was optimistic that it was going to be a great day, however I was going to be disappointed!!!!
As I traveled downstream I was amazed at the changes that had occurred since the floods earlier in the year. Even after the floods of 2011 this system had only had minor changes but now it was completely different. Pools had merged as the stones between had been lifted and pushed further downstream to create massive banks and the other pre-existing rapids had all changed course. At one point a portage point of 40m had been reduced to 10m although the severity of the rapid had increased dramatically.
After 3.5 hours and fishing 4 large pools I had managed one 25cm bass. It was really quite disappointing considering how hot the river could fish at times. I agonised over making the long trip down to the next pool or heading back to the car and moving to another system and trying my luck. In the end I decided to try my luck elsewhere and began the upstream trip. In the process I switched to a sub-surface lure but even this could not entice any action from the very quiet bass population.
Reaching the car I quickly stowed my gear and made my way to the next system. On the way I quickly stopped at a creek where on previous visits a single pool had provided great entertainment with multiple bass hitting my surface lures but even here the bass were quiet and I began to become a bit disillusioned that winter had arrived early and that the surface fishing had begun to slow.
Hitting the road again I eventually arrived at my new launch and I was amazed to find the river slightly swollen and a little dirty. I couldn’t be bothered looking for a new location and so I decided to launch and hope for the best. This system had changed little since the floods although the amount of timber in the river had increased dramatically. It wasn’t long before the Nobroko Softcada was picked up by a twenty something bass although I managed to pull the hooks late in the fight. I managed another couple of half-hearted hits in the first pool which was disappointing as it usually held a substantial number of bass in the past.
I continued upstream and the next couple of pools were also relatively quiet and it wasn’t until the fourth pool that I finally managed a hit from a solid bass hiding beneath a granite boulder. It wasn’t until the third cast into the structure that he decided to hit the lure and I was disappointed when he refused to return for another go.
I dragged the kayak up to the next pool and spied a nice back eddy at the top of the rapids that looked ideal for a bass ambush site. The first couple of casts went unrewarded, but the third cast saw the Softcada plucked from the surface and the bass screamed off down the current. Part way down he got himself caught up on some submerged timber and I was forced to enter the water and free the leader. I was certain the bass would free itself in the current but through some miracle I managed to remove the leader from the timber and also fight the bass in the current and to the bank. It measured 36cmFL and was a solid fish with broad shoulders.
Continuing upstream the next pool saw me pull the hooks on another bass early in the fight and miss another surface hit. Both bass were tucked away in the sedges of a heavily shaded bank in very shallow water which was very difficult to manoeuvre in and cast at the same time.
I eventually arrived at the pool which always holds a good fish. One side was covered in large trees with exposed root balls and the other a long granite bank. I initially targeted the root balls and it wasn’t long before a plucky 28cmFL bass hit the Softcada.
Moving back to the granite embankment I cast into a well shaded pocket and the Softcada was sucked off the surface subtly and I loaded up on my second bass in a few minutes. This bass went hard but I eventually managed to get him away from the rocks and to the kayak. As I began to raise the fish I had the horrible sensation of the hooks pulling yet again and my lure floating to the surface. Grrrrrrrr!
At the top of the pool there was another extensive section of shade beneath another large tree. The roots had been exposed by the strong current and there were a number of back eddies being created as the current went past. I must have cast into the area 5 times at different angles with no luck and decided to cast in one more time before heading up the rapids to the next pool. The cast was a long one and as the Softcada was halfway back from its crawl the water exploded around it. This would have been my biggest hit of the season and the instant the lure had been belted my drag began screaming for a good 3 seconds before the hooks pulled yet again! WTF! I was gutted!
Moving upstream I missed another bass that launched itself from the water trying to inhale the lure and finally I gave up thinking that there was some design problem with the lure. I had missed too many bass and pulled hooks on more bass than ever before and I was slightly frustrated. I retired the Softcada and switched to the Sammy and after about 5 casts my lure was belted between two granite boulders. I carefully negotiated the bass out from the rocks only for the hooks to pull yet again!!!!!! At this point I decided it must have been me and maybe I had gone off my game and wasn’t setting the hooks properly.
After deciding that it wasn’t the lure I switched back to the Softcada and casting into a pool that was heavily shaded the cicada was belted off the surface in the middle of the pool and I was onto another solid bass. I fully anticipated the hooks pulling again as I was certain I had completely lost my mojo at his point and I was happily surprised when a managed to net a nice 34cmFL bass. I was so happy you would have thought I had broken a PB.
I then had to drag through a long stretch of rapids before I reached another small pool which in the past had failed to produce. The first few casts saw me pick up I tiny bass that measured 18cmFL on the “brag” mat! I then pulled the hooks on another bass in the twenties before I managed another 28cmFL bass that belted the lure much above its weight near the kayak which scared the bejesus out of me.
The next pool like the previous one had always failed to live up to its potential. Initially I cast the Softcada until a wind knot that I exerted too much pressure on caused me to snap the braid and so I switched to my baitcaster and the Sammy. At the pool’s head there were numerous granite boulders with large logs embedded on and between them. The current from the upper pool ripped past some massive fallen root balls and it appeared to be bass heaven. Its only drawback was that it was fully exposed to the sun. I cast and cast for no joy (like previous visits) and could only manage a small 29cmFL bass that was hiding in the only shaded section almost directly beneath the rapids.
I dragged to the final pool for the day which I had fondly named the turtle pool. On my first visit to this system I had reached the start of the pool and found what must have been at least one hundred turtles lining the steep embankment that fringed the pool. When the closest to me saw me he hit the water, this created a domino effect and almost like synchronous swimmers the mass of turtledom entered the water one after the other. It was an amazing sight but as you can imagine the bass were not keen after the Mexican wave diving session.
This time I was lucky enough to find the pool absent of amphibious reptiles. The first few casts saw my lure tickled by a toddler bass smaller than the lure itself. I then managed to miss two surface hits on the way up before I reached another large granite boulder in deep water at the foot of the next rapid. I was a little disappointed to find a pair of black cormorants diving around the rock feeding and knew that no bass would probably be found in the area. Concentrating on the bank behind the rock where sedges lined the water’s edge I eventually had a solid bass explode around the lure metres from the kayak which again sent my heart a fluttering.
At this point it was time to turn around and it gave me an hour to get back to the car and get on the road. I began casting at all the structures where I had missed bass previously and managed another 34cmFL bass in the top pool which I had missed on the way up. At best he was a metre from where he had hit the lure earlier and was a great example of why you should rework structures where you miss fish earlier as the bass will often reset themselves after a short rest.
I headed back to the pool with the granite boulders embedded with timber where I have never caught a fish and I was happy to see that it was now fully covered n shade. After a few casts to cover the safe outer reaches of the structure I put a cast into tiger country and it was belted after a few twitches. This bass went hard and peeled the drag off in spurts. I was sure that it was going to be huge, at points it pulled my fully loaded rod into the water and I was reluctant to lift it too hard for fear of pulling the hooks. I was amazed when a 35cmFL bass finally surfaced, which was again really solid and obviously loving the clean oxygen filled waters in these upper reaches.
After a quick photo and release, I decided to take a photo of the structure from the back and then put in another cast at this angle. As the Sammy walked back to the kayak the water erupted again around the lure and I was onto another solid bass peeling drag. This fish were on roids!! Again the bass worked my arms hard and with the amount of pressure exerted by the bass I fully expected the lure to pull again. Luckily it didn’t and I finally netted a cracking 38cmFL bass that again was just ripped with muscle across the shoulders.
With time quickly eroding I was lucky to be in a system where the water was flowing nicely. This enabled me to do some really cool kayaking down the rapids which in hindsight would have been very video-worthy. It also enabled me to spend a little time re-casting over old ground although for the majority of the pools it was fruitless.
However, I eventually reached the pool where I had missed a solid bass off a granite boulder very early on my upstream travel. At the top of the pool I managed a small bass in the twenties before I re-cast at the boulder. The initial cast was left un-molested but the follow up next to the sedge on its right was smashed by a hiding bass and I was onto another solid fish putting a serious load on the rod. Like before the fish fought well above its weight and I eventually managed to net my final and best bass fro he trip at 39cmFL.
The bass in this system are not huge lengthwise but they seem to grow thick across the shoulders. I think the combination of clean oxygen rich waters that very rarely silt up and an abundance of food makes them a very healthy population. The abundance of wild-life on this system is also astounding. On the trip I managed to see another lace-monitor, a carpet snake curled up in a tree and I interrupted a white and black falcon that had caught and was ripping into a duck on the edge of the creek. It was a very lucky duck as the falcon flew off when it saw me and the bruised and battered duck took off and dived under the water.
When I reached the exit I was thankful that I had eventually managed a few fish considering my start to the day and the number of fish lost. Hopefully I’ll get a couple more long sessions in before winter takes hold and the season closes