After a 3 month wait September 1st finally arrived and I was schooling at the bit to hit the water and chase a few bass. I know you can now target them in the fresh all year round now but I still like to give them the opportunity to breed without any interruption even if they are waiting for some winter rain to arrive at the party a bit late. For me they are also a little more sluggish in the winter off the top and there are better species to target at this time of year.
So I had big plans for the opening few day staring with an early morning nigh fish on Friday morning followed by an all day session on the Saturday. The bass season started with a trip with Rod chasing bass in the darkness at a local river. We arrived at the launch at about 7pm and it was surprisingly balmy as we dragged our kayaks down to the water. We quickly launched in eager anticipation and had our lures walking the surface soon after. The top of the pool in this location has always been a very productive section, and at this time of the year with the bass starting the upstream migration we were hoping to find a few fish on the roam.
It wasn’t long before I coped my first surface hit for the season while my Tiemco Soft Shell Cicada crawled up the narrow river. After the initial hit I allowed the lure to sit and the bass hit again but failed to hookup. As we drifted down the river casting at opposite banks Rod eventually copped a hit and the instant he started up the walk again the bass smashed his lure and he was on. The fish fought well but eventually slipped into the net and Rod had his first bass for the season at 30cmFL.
We continued down this pool with little action except for a major line tangle for me that required surgery. In the warmer months this is a painful process but with numb hands on a cold night it was very frustrating and tedious. The local mullet and water dragons were also reminding me I had a heart with their antics close to the yak making me jump out of my skin.
The next pool fished a little better with me missing a bass in the shallows at the top of the spool and then hooking up on a second soon after that I am glad was nowhere near structure as I had set my drag a little loose. At 34cmFL it was not a monster but still a nice fish to start my season and off the surface too.
It then went very quiet and Rod also managed to get a nice line tangle in the same way I did. Casting a little long he managed to get his lure caught up in the vegetation. Giving the lure a few hard flicks it eventually came loose and came back towards his yak and creating a massive tangle of backed up line around the rod.
We reached our final pool and I eventually found a little more action with a bass that hit me lure right next to the yak. I then crawled the lure along the surface with a foot of line from my rod tip and he hit the lure twice before hooking up and dropping the lure moments later. We then had another session of fruitless casting with no touches. It wasn’t till I found a patch of darkness that a bass followed my lure a long way from the bask and smashed it close to the kayak. Finally I had another solid hookup and was able to net a 30cmFL bass. I have to say that trying to remove trebles from a bass with numb cold hands is almost impossible.
Soon after we headed back upstream towards that cars and had a few casts along the way but with little enthusiasm as the fishing had been very slow. It wasn’t until we reached the launch pool that we cast with a little more precision at its head as we always tended to find bass here. We had almost had our final few casts when they was a cracking “boof” in the darkness and Rod was onto another bass. He managed to net the fish and then in the process of getting set up for a photo it managed to get an early release without waiting for a picture.
So at the end of the night we had managed a couple of bass each. The start of the season seemed to have begun a little bit cooler than in the past and the surface action not as productive but it was still a great to be back in the fresh.
After getting a taste of topwater bass fishing after a long hiatus over winter I was even more keen to head out on the water again Saturday and see if I could find some more action! This time I chose a location where I had a better than average chance of finding some solid bass as I was really eager to find my first 40cm+ for the season.
I headed off really early with the intention of chasing a few bass in the darkness before the dawn light headed over the horizon. When I finally launched it wasn’t long before the cold crept into my fingers and I was casting like a man with a severe case of arthritis. That said it was a magic morning on the river with a thin mist rising off the waters surface and mirror calm conditions making it a perfect environment for surface fishing. After having no luck in the dark with the Arbogast Jointed Jitterbug I quickly switched to the Luckycraft Sammy 65 as the sky lightened.
As I made my way up the pool it was very evident that the late Autumn weather event we had experienced had dropped a huge amount of timber into the river. For me this makes targeting bass so much harder as they are no longer isolated to random structures and instead have a huge number of ambush options.
It was hard to find them and it wasn’t until I sent in what I like to call a suicide cast that I finally had a cracking bass smash my lure. Of course it was one of those casts that you do out of desperation landing plum in the middle of an upturned tree and I had to do some serious playing to extricate the fish from the thick timber. Eventually after some hectic rod angling I was able to negotiate the bass free of the tree and it slipped safely into the net. At 42cmFL I had achieved my goal within the first hour of launching.
After finding a bass hidden deep within the timber this now became the focus of my casting. There was plenty of timber to choose from and eventually I was able to find my second fish of the morning in similar circumstances. At 36cmFL it was another solid fish and I had that feeling that the day was going to be a cracker.
Sadly as the sun rose the fishing seemed to drastically slow down. I moved up the pool without a touch and although the fishing was slow the river was in immaculate condition. The only problem was that the water was shallow and absolutely freezing. It was actually cold enough that every time I had to get out to do some portage in the shallow sections between pools I would lose feeling to my feet.
I arrived at the second pool and cast at some very reliable structures without any interest. It wasn’t until I reached the top of the pool that I found another bass with the energy to smash my lure from deep cover and increase my morning’s tally to 3. At 34cmFL it was not a monster but it was a welcome catch on a slow day.
I continued exploring upstream with no action at all and after fishing a huge isolated pool with absolutely no interest on surface or sub-surface lures I decided the huge portage to the next pool was just not worth the effort. Instead I decided to head back downstream to the car and try another system to see if the water temperature was the issue slowing down the bass’ eagerness to hit my lures.
On the journey downstream I had a few casts at the more obvious structures again with no success. I did manage one more small bass of 28cmFL after he gave away his position booking away in the Lomandra at fallen insects. On the first cast he boiled at the lure and gave a subtle hit soon after. The follow up cast had more success when the bass flew up at the lure and smashed the lure vigorously and fought like a monster!
I reached the launch and quickly packed up my gear to head to my new location. This system was much smaller and also much further into the mountains and so I knew if anything the water temperature would be much cooler. I also knew there was a large population of resident rat bass and so if I couldn’t find any interesting fish there then they were definitely off the bite.
I launched to again find massive changes in the river with new deep pools and large stands of timber changing the landscape. After only my second cast I had a rat bass aggressively smash my lure a couple of times in ultra shallow water only for it to eventually shy away. This pool was by far one of my favourites as in the past it has produced large numbers of bass and some crackers to boot!
Sadly on this occasion I could not find a bass anywhere and I worried that my choice of location may have been a poor one. The following pool was also devoid of any fish and if the river had not looked so good I possibly would have headed home early. As it was the crystal clear water, perfect blue skies and serenity kept me going and I am glad it did because I then managed to find a few more bass.
After my failure to find any surface action I arrived at a pool in direct sunlight and no shade. I switched to my deep diver and cast alongside a submerged tree running parallel to the bank. Halfway along a bass struck my lure and after quite a period of time with no hits I was quite rapt. It fought really hard and after a prolonged fight I netted a nice little 34cmFL bass.
The pools shadowed significantly and in the crystal clear waters I realised that long casts were now necessary to avoid spooking any wary fish. The pools were also a little shy of structure and so I cast into the deepest sections of the pools hoping a fish may be hiding down deep. This proved to be a successful strategy as eventually a solid bass came off the bottom of one pool and smashed the lure like a freight train. In the open water it was a tough fight but there was no fear of being bricked so the 37cmFL bass quickly slipped into the net.
The river looked amazing as I continued upstream but the fishing slowed down as I went. I did manage to find a few fish keen to hit my Sammy 65 but they were all rats and most missed the trebles. I did however manage one bass of 24cmFL to finish a slow but satisfactory session.
I headed home with the addiction to bass given a big hit over the weekend and realising I still absolutely love this style of fishing. I’ve got a feeling I’ll be back at it real soon!