Making the most of small Windows
For the past few weeks I have been analysing river heights, rain forecasts, wind forecasts etc etc in an effort to find some small window to get out and chase a few bass. The majority of the systems I usually fish are running chocolate and running very high but after doing a lot of research and travelling I now have a few locations that I know run clear very quickly after heavy rain. Last weekend I was very disappointed to watch the rain roll in and swell the creeks and rivers of south east Queensland yet again and make the weekend unfishable. This weekend though the forecasters had predicted only a few showers and one of my systems had reached a fishable level.
Leaving early I arrived at the launch spot at the crack of dawn and almost launching myself from the car and grabbing a rod I was casting into the small pool at the launch in under a minute. The bass in this system absolutely love cicada style lures and the prolific cicada population is this area on a hot humid day make it clear why they do. The Tiemco Soft shell Cicada was left alone on the first cast but the second cast was belted and I had started the day with a 30cm bass(and no that is not the full moon in the photo below it is my ugly mug!).
The next cast was hit metres from the end of the retrieve and the follow up cast had a twenties something fish hit the lure. I had to put my hat on for the photo below as the reflection off my forehead was making a very ugly shot! I cast for a bit longer with the only interest being a turtle that created that typical bow wave behind the lure and resulting in a quick retrieve to avoid any damage to my soft lure.
This adventure also saw me taking out a new kayak for the first time. For the first time in a while I was taking out a sit on top into a sneaky creek in the form of a Mantra Noa. Hitting the water it was pleasant getting into a kayak with ease and paddling upstream it was a very easy and comfortable paddle.
To reach the first pool I had some fairly serious portage through a section of water with very tight vegetation on each bank and some fair rapids down the middle. Having no other option put walking through the fast flowing water and dragging the kayak I eventually reached the first pool. I had fished this section 4 weeks ago and was interested to see how quickly it recovered from that previous visit and some more raised water levels. Numerous cats proved futile until a change of lure to a I also had the pleasure of a platypus deciding I was no threat and coming over to play at my feet as I cast from the bank.
Jumping into the kayak I began my journey up the next three pools and cast at every bit of bass holding structure I could see. Unfortunately apart from a good bass hitting the Loco Perrito twice on the first cast into one bit of structure that consistently holds fish, and again on the follow up cast the bass were very quiet.
At the end of the third pool I had the choice of heading back downstream which has consistently held fish in the past or continuing upstream into pools I hadn’t fished for a few years. In the end I decided to head upstream and the first pool was one that I had missed a bass in on my previous visit. It was a very narrow pool and on one side it had an awesome little bit of structure. The current had undercut the bank beneath a tree leaving the roots exposed into the water. The first cast was a poor one and ende up a lot further from the structure than I had anticipated. This didn’t seem to be a deterrent to the resident bass who rocketed out from cover and picked up the Tiemco before dropping the lure after a short run. I was pretty confident that he hadn’t felt the trebles but all attempts to interest him in a second strike were fruitless.
Above this pool was some significant portage through some very shallow pools that were either deep enough to paddle up but not cast , too shallow to paddle and required some portage or running so fast that they had to be bypassed over the dry riverbed.
Eventually I reached the next pool which had a shallow reed covered bank on one side and an eroded clay bank on the other. The eroded bank rose high above the waterline and for me this typically indicated deep water below it. Casting along the bank the Tiemco was ignored for the first few minutes before being blasted off the surface at the end of a retrieve. The hit made me jump out of my seat and the subsequent fight was typical of this system where the bass were well muscled and refused to quit. Eventually though, as my forearms began to burn, I finally netted a 37cm FL bass. This was a great fish for this system and he was broad across the shoulders and very healthy.
I continued to cast the Tiemco but eventually switched to a sub-surface lure to see if any bass were hiding in the depths and too lazy to hit the surface. This switch proved successful when another mid twenties fish took the Yozuri 60mm Hardcore Shad.
I moved to the next pool that had awesome structure all through it and the Tiemco copped a number of hits from small bass that failed to hook-up. I spied some submerged timber on a bank that would normally be exposed to the sun. On this occasion though the heavy cloud and increasing light showers meant that all parts of the river were good bass options. Casting in the lure made a few twitches before a good bass exploded from cover to smash the lure and take off into the middle of the pool. The fight was a hard one and the Mantra Noa was dragged about the pool with ease before the bass reluctantly came to the net. Again the fish was well muscled and I was amazed at how hard they fought. The fish measured 39cmFL and was by far the biggest bass I had caught in this system.
As I neared the approached the top of the pool memories came flooding back and I finally remembered the backwater that screamed bass. It had everything that I would normally look for in a bass pool. Granite boulders with adjacent timber, sedge lined banks and banksias growing along the waterline that were almost fully submerged in the high water levels. I eagerly cast at the narrow opening at the start of the backwater, placing the Tiemco inches from a partially submerged banksia. The lure was twitched a couple of times before another bass launched up from cover to take the Tiemco off the surface. The narrow opening to the backwater was lined with numerous Banksias and within moments the bass had me stitched up amongst the timber. The leader rubbed back and forth and I was thankful that I had switched from my usual mono leader back to FC Rock fluoro.
In the end I was forced to paddle into the snag and try and net the tricky bass that I could see on the surface. Between the current moving past the opening to the backwater and having to juggle a rod and net as well as maintain position in the current it was no wonder my alternate rod got caught up in the banksias compounding my dilemma. Eventually though I managed to extricate the fish and untangle my spare rod without losing any gear or the bass. It measured 37cmFL and I was very thankful I had made the decision to head upstream.
Usually this system had a huge population of small bass but they were completely absent on this trip unlike the larger models that were keen to play. It had me wondering whether they had been flushed downstream during recent floods or whether they were still in hiding to avoid being flushed out of their favourite pools.
I continued casting in the backwater and was very confident that I would find a bass around the large granite boulder that dominated the pool. I cast into a few of the nooks and crannies around the boulder before the Tiemco was delicately plucked off the surface. Initially I thought it was a small bass as the hit was not even remotely spectacular. The drag started screaming as the bass tore all over the pool and even came out of the water in what seemed an attempt to tangle the lure in a dangling branch. The bass then headed straight for the kayak causing it to spin in the narrow section of water as it tried to bury me in the submerged banksias. The bass slipped into the net after a good struggle and another 39cmFL bass was I the kayak.
It had been an awesome session but the weather had taken a turn and the rain had become much more persistent. I explored upstream a little way before the developing weather worsened. In the end I decided to head back towards the launch with the intention of making a decision on whether to head downstream a little later.
I managed another 34cm bass in the pool with the eroded cliff on the Yozuri Shad before doing the long portage to the narrow pool with the undercut bank. Hoping that the bass I had missed early in the morning had returned to his ambush site, I cast the Tiemco into the zone where a hungry bass hit the lure without a twitch. It tore up the pool and I had to move to a more advantageous position to avoid the timber at the bank at my feet. Netting the bass I was pleased to measure another high thirties fish at 38cm FL and add it to a respectable morning tally.
The rain was now becoming significant and the thoughts of heavier falls higher in the catchment had me paddling back to the launch with a few speculative casts at my favourite snags. I eventually reached the launch and made the decision to fish the large pool below the launch and then head home.
Casting at the top of the pool at the various timber and banksia laden structures the Tiemco was blasted off the surface well out from any timber. The bass had clearly come off the river bed and had been hiding next to an average sized rock in the current. At 35cmFL he was not a big fish but still better than average for this system.
Continuing downstream I missed another small bass in the middle of the pool before I reached the next pool that was fairly shallow except for the far bank where it seemed to drop off sharply. A snag in the middle of the pool and on the edge of the drop off looked very bassy. Early in the retrieve a bass hit the lure hard and missed only to repeat the attempt and miss again. The follow-up cast was missed again and no repeat casts could entice the bass to hit it again.
I ventured downstream but the water was running extremely fast and the potential of rising water levels forced me to head back to the car. A few casts on the return journey saw another small hit off some structure before I paddled back to the car and headed home. I was happy with the Mantra Noa that I had christened in nice fashion on its first journey and looked forward to tweaking my setup which was not quite right.