Light and Shade
The recent rain had managed to soak the local catchments enough that many of the systems that I fish have managed to keep a sustained flow for a couple of weeks. In the last two weeks a couple of systems have had two flow pulses which I had hoped may initiate some upstream movement which has not been possible for the rest of the season. In the past one system had always shown an increase in the number and size of bass present after these flows and so it was here that I planned my latest adventure.
I teamed up with a mate Justin and I made a plan to fish the lower section of a river we had fished a couple of weeks back. This system had been very flow and had an influx of a variety of water weeds with the low flow and warm temperatures. We reached the launch point at 4.20AM and although the river looked a little muddy the conditions seemed perfect with mirror calm water and a light fog providing an extended dawn.
Once we launched and started to cast we found sadly that the conditions were not so perfect. As we hoped the recent rise in river heights and water flows had ripped a lot of the weed from the bottom but it had not been fully flushed from the system. With the brightening dawn it was clear that the weed had coated everything and was floating everywhere on the surface. As a result our surface lures were picking it up on every cast. Being the filamentous type of weed, even weedless lures would get entangled as the braid would pick it up and slide down to the lure. That said we did find a few fish but every fish was missing the lure and after 4 failed strikes and having to clean the lure on every cast we decided to change systems.
We packed up and made our way to a neighbouring river where the water was just as dirty but because it had less land clearing the riparian rainforest provided enough shade to slow any weed growth.
Hitting the first pool it was bit slow in the dirty water and I felt my confidence waning a little until I missed a good bass in my complacency from a large log. We continued downstream and the first couple of pools fished a lot slower than I expected and I made the decision to pull the pin early again if the next pool (which I had received close to 15 hits on a previous visit) was just as quiet.
Reaching the pool and first cast and my Nobroko Softcada was smashed by another reasonable bass which returned for another crack, got pinned and then pulled the hooks. This was the 6th fish for the morning that I had missed and so I decided to change back to my ever reliable Sammy 65 to see If I could reverse my luck!
We cast over the pool and it was not fishing even close to my previous successful visit but eventually a cast into a shaded pocket adjacent to a basalt rock wall was smashed on the pause by a good fish and I was finally hooked up solid to a good 37cmFL bass. Landing it gave me the confidence to continue downstream and as long as we were finding a bass in all the usual pools I was happy to continue downstream.
The next pool Justin and I passed along a stretch that was completely shaded by the canopy. In the past I have found that this type of pool fishes like it is night time and that bass can be found anywhere in the pool and that structure and depth were not so important. I indicated for Justin to fish the right and that I would fish the left side of the narrow pool feathering casts 1 metre and 2 metres out from each bank. After a few casts my Sammy was smashed in 2 foot of crystal clear water and near no structure and I had managed my second fish for the morning.
I missed another bass further down the pool before we moved to the next pool were I managed another couple of bass in structures that had held fish on previous trips. One of the bass was caught after I had sent a dozen odd casts into every nook and cranny of a long lay down that extended into the pool. After peppering the snag a bass came up and smashed some debris metres in front of the kayak. A quick cast into the mix and sure enough a bass hit the lure and I was onto my 4th bass for the morning.
At the end of the pool it shallowed out and I spied a small piece of timber that peaked my interest, In the past I have caught bass in similar shallows and so although the sea was exposed to the sunlight I decided to send in a cast as Justin finished working over a snag further back in the pool. The cast was a little off and was a good foot and a half to the right of the structure. This didn’t matter as a bow wave appeared from the structure and a bass launched in the shallows and smashed the lure in a shower of water.
The bass started to hit more regularly the further we moved from the launch spot. In one pool Justin finally picked up his first bass which although small it gave him a bit more confidence. He had been practicing his casting at home and he was getting hi lure much tighter to structure than on previous trips. After getting a photo and releasing his bass he moved to the opposite bank where there was a huge pile of rocks that had been washed out from a small side creek that was still running slightly. It also had a nice exposed root structure adjacent to it and when Justin cast in with his Nobroko Softcada it was belted and he came up with an equal PB bass of 35cmFL.
We finally reached my favourite pool and I switched the GoPro on knowing that I would more than likely pick up some good footage. It was approximately midday and the payches of shade had darkened even further. Towards the head of the pool a cast into one of these deeply shaded pockets was smashed by a good bass that once netted measured 37cmFL. The immediate follow-up cast received similar treatment but the bass missed the first cast only to smash it on the follow up cast and hook up. On the opposite bank Justin had also found some bass, pulling the hooks on one and missing the second bass.
As we drifted along opposite banks Justin continued to find a few bass but miss the strike and I managed another couple as we reached the head of the pool. Most of the bass were typical of this system and ranging from mid-twenties to thirties with the average fish being a tad over the thirty mark.
We reached a pool that had a large creek running into it. Unlike the water of the main river this creek was crystal clear and if it was North Queensland it would have been the ideal spot for barra or two. Initially casts into the creek mouth were fruitless but eventually a long cast tight to the bank further in was hit and I was onto a smallish bass. The follow up cast between a couple of vines also appeared to be walking back without interest until I spied a bass sitting directly below the lure and following it casually back to the yak. I paused the lure for an extended time and he just sat there before I gave it a very subtle twitch and bang I was on to a very skinny 35cmFL bass.
The system change in the early hours of the day had cost us a little time and so the casts became a little more selective as we honed in on the most bass worthy structures. This seemed quite effective as we started to find a few bigger models it was just a shame I kept missing them which was quite frustrating.
We reached a small pool where I had regularly caught bass before and it was an ideal place for a bit of video footage and so I got Justin to take out his new waterproof camera. The initial cast came back unmolested but the second cast had a bass hit the lure as it walked away from a long lay down parallel to the bank. It missed but it gave Justin the opportunity to zoom in on the spot as I sent the follow-up cast in which was subsequently hit and we captured it all on camera.
As we approached the exit point Justin was finishing casting at his bank which had considerably more shade than the one I had fished. I had moved down to the next small pool which I could clearly see a large dead tree below some running water. As I set myself up for a cast I heard Justin yell that he was on, as he fought his bass I sent a cast into the eddies at the front of the tree and in the first twitch or two the water sprayed and I was onto a bass as well. This gave us a great opportunity for a double hook-up shot.
The river dropped a little through a few rainforest corridors and we managed a few small bass roaming in the shade but eventually the river entered an area heavily cleared and exposed to the sun. The combination of high light, shallow water and low flow was ideal for weed growth and this made the conditions a little difficult for surface fishing.
The exit point was the next pool, and so we packed the rods away and paddled pack to the cars. I had managed over 20 bass for the day and Justin had managed 6 bass and equalled his PB. He had also missed many other bass during the session and he was extremely happy with the improvement in his new milestones!