My First EP!
Well I have barely hit the water for a bass session all holidays as I spent Christmas at Phillip Island and the weather was hot and cold literally and the winds being a little strong at times. I took the kayak with me as I really wanted to chase a Victorian Bass but as I rarely spend time with my family at home the opportunities to venture to the East Coast just did not happen!
However there was one river an hour from my parents place that I knew held a healthy population of Estuary Perch and having never targeted them I was keen to give them a go. As a kid I rarely fished and spent most of my youth surfing so although EPs have obviously been in this river for a long time I was oblivious to the fact at that time in my life.
I quick recon trip the day before had me itching to hit the water and I had to wait a couple of days for the 30 knot winds to subside and allow a small window of reasonable conditions for me to hit the water. I was also launching very late in the morning at 10AM as with only one car I was reliant on my lovely wife for a drop off and pick up at 2PM!
Hitting the water it took me only minutes to realise I had no idea about how to target EPs! A couple of blokes in a tinnie passed by as I entered the water and commented that they had sound out a couple of schools but that the EPs were not interested. They also commented that the schools were sitting very deep. Handy information although I had no idea how I was going to find these schools.
The river was darkly stained with tannins and the banks were almost completely lined with reeds, structures I had no experience with in Queensland. The small amount of research I had done on targeting EP’s in this system suggested that you either sounded up the schools of small fish (to 32cm) or targeted individual snags for the larger fish (~40cm) that were spaced out amongst the reeds.
Conditions were perfect initially for surface fishing and so I started casting surface lures at the various structures I could see until the wind came up and this became difficult. I drifted in with the tide and cast my Duel Hardcore Shad at every structure I could find for absolutely no result. For the first couple of hours I realised I had no idea what I was doing and so out came the phone to do some more research as I drifted out with the changing tide.
Successful reports fishing this river seemed to be targeting fish sitting deep with large SP’s or vibes of which I had brought neither with me as I had hoped to target some bass and only had my regular bass arsenal with me. Thinking laterally I tied on a Jackall TN50 in the hope that this would suffice as a vibe equivalent! I knew it would definitely get the depth I needed.
As I drifted back to the launch with the tide I focused on the upstream side of the snags where the fast moving water would create small eddies as the water slowed around the snag and create areas where bait fish might accumulate.
Having had absolutely no action for almost three hours I was not really ready for the TN50 to be slammed on one cast and for me to be in a serious tussle deep in the timber with a solid fish. I hoped desperately that I had found my target species and after eventually negotiating the fish out of the structure I got a glimpse of my first ever EP as its bucket mouth emerged from the water before diving towards the timber again. I was a nervous wreck as I awkwardly found my net and finally netted the EP thinking it would throw the hooks and I would lose my prize. At about 40cmFL it was a great fish and I was ecstatic.
With an hour to go before I was expected back at the launch I continued to drift with the tide and repeated the same technique to no avail. The wind had risen considerably and at times the chop in the river was enough to create waves that would splash over the front of the yak.
I eventually reached the launch site and happily exited the water knowing that I had achieved a new first and that my next adventure up this river would have me much more prepared for targeting EPs!