New Country and Old Country
Well I headed out again on Saturday but this time I teamed up with RAD to explore a waterway I had been keen to test out for a while but never made the time to fish. It was an area new to me but RAD had fished before and so I knew bass resided here and couldn’t wait to hit the water and start casting.
We reached the launch at about 5AM and the spot looked awesome. It was timber heaven and looked ideal for bass but not so ideal in terms of fighting a fish on equal terms. The river at the launch point was really skinny and a bass could head in any direction and still have the upper hand in any tussle.
The excitement of the morning slowly faded away s cast after cast could not get a single fish to rise and hit our surface presentations. RAD had brought his fly rod and it was mesmerising to watch him cast at the various structures. It truly is an art form and worth videoing if I next get a chance. RAD managed a little bit of action when a fish boiled away at his surface fly and I managed some playful bumps from a tarpon and a few small bream but apart from that the first four hours were dead.
The only excitement was an almighty surface hit about 100m down the river where some monstrous predatory fish had hit a school of good size mullet. RAD commented that it was like a besser brick being thrown in the water and he wasn’t half wrong. Both of us dreamt of it being a big barra and hoped hat as we passed the location where the hit had taken place that the mysterious fish would smash our lure and we would be onto fish of the season but sadly it was not to be.
We continued downstream and fished some amazing structure, often commenting when we arrived at some amazing bass real estate that this structure would be the one that would break the donut and begin our session. After four hours I finally succumbed to using what I call a “surface substitute”, only because Iike to think I never fish with subsurface lures, and tied on my trusty Duel Hardcore Shad.
It wasn’t until I cast at a stand of spindly non-descript twigs that finally a fish smashed the lure and I struggle to keep the fish out of the structure. I couldn’t decide whether the bass was fighting like a tiger or whether the hours of inactivity had left me half asleep. Eventually the tough little fight came to a close and I finally raised a bass to the surface. All through the fight I was questioning whether I had found my target species and it was a relief when I finally slipped the net under a healthy 33cmFL bass.
We continued downstream and continued casting at some amazing structure but the only highlight from the inordinate amount of casts were threw was a big old white breasted sea eagle sitting in a big dead tree and staring at us as if to say “Your wasting your time!”. We bit the bullet and decided that it was time to return upstream to the launch.
On the way back we had a few casts at the snags that just had to have another working over just to see if the change of tide had flicked the dinner bell. Sadly the casts continued to go unrewarded until I reached the same set of spindly twigs I had managed to catch our only bass on during our downstream journey. I sent in the identical cast to the previous successful one and after few cranks to get it down into the water column it was hit hard! I struggled again to negotiate safe passage out of the woody architecture but eventually the bass came out to the middle of the river and continued to fight hard until the net slipped underneath it. It was a bigger model than the previous fish at 36cmFL and a welcome addition to a slow day.
We continued upstream and the river seemed a completely different waterway. The exposed timber of the lower tide had completely vanished with the incoming tide and the waterline was now hitting the greener bankside vegetation. What was truly amazing was how much timber lay hidden below the waterline ready for a bass to bury the unsuspecting yak angler in. In a good session it would be a tough “ground” to play on.
As we approached the launch point RAD had moved further upstream and I continued to work the nicer looking structures, still keen to add to my lean account for the session. Again I was eventually rewarded on a non-descript structure when the Hardcore Shad had dived down to its maximum depth and was subsequently nailed by a fish down deep. This fish didn’t fight as hard as the previous pair and when it finally slipped into the net it was much more “well fed” than the previous bass. It was another upgrade at 37cmFl but had nowhere near the fight of its smaller counterparts.
Reaching the launch I caught up with RAD and was keen to explore a bit more upstream but he had had enough and decided to head to the pub instead. I was still keen for a few more fish and couldn’t decide on where to go and so I decided to head to Maccas for lunch and ponder my next move.
At this point the wind was up and I knew that the small afternoon session I was heading to would potentially be uncomfortable so I decided to head somewhere a little more local. Hitting the water the predicted wind was definitely causing position and casting my light Nobroko Softcada accurately was also impossible and so I again had to ditch the surface option. Switching to the Hardcore Shad I was able to get below the surface debris brought in on the big tides and ripped from the trees by the strong winds.
Thirty minutes into the arvo session and a cast between a couple of bushes was smashed and I was onto a solid fish keen on dragging me through the subsurface structure. My kayak was pulled towards the bank and I needed to paddle backwards and control the fish which still amazes me how I can do both at the same time. I was ecstatic when I netted a good bass and at 42cmFL it was in my top 5 for the season and had made a slow day much more bearable.
I continued casting and eventually managed a second fish from another structure that seemed like second class real estate in a system full of prime snags. At 33cmFL it was not huge but a welcome site in a system that has not produced well in the past. I decided to head back to the launch and head home and as I passed another structure that had produced in the past. Again the lure was nailed once it had reached depth and I was fighting another hard fighting bass and eventually netted a 34cmFL bass to finish the day.