Plan C is a Winner!
For a few weeks I had planned another one of my long sessions covering approximately 20km in a day with Rod but as the day approached Rod had a mishap with his back and was unable to head out on the water. Attempts to find someone to head out on the trip with me were unsuccessful and so I had to rethink my journey. So I decided to head to another system where I hoped to find a few big bass which so far this season have been a little scarce. Arriving at the river early it was clear that there was no surface flow occurring and the portage points were bone dry. The small pool at the launch point was shallow and stagnant and filled me with a lack of confidence and so I decided to explore elsewhere.
As I headed further afield I decided to head to another system where I have not fished before but had scoped out on a previous drive. As I drove near my intended launch spot I discovered that although there was some flow in the river there was a large amount of surface weed that would make fishing and paddling very difficult.
So plan C came into effect and I headed to yet another waterway in the hope of finding some quality conditions. The third location was a winner and had a steadily running stream although like others it was lower than previous visits. Excitedly I hit the water and although a little disappointed with my late starting time of 5:30AM the pristine inky smooth waters looked sensational. The winds were there and leaves were raining down on the water, but the river surface itself was unmarred by the disturbance in the air.
My kayak slid smoothly onto the water and it wasn’t long before I was casting my Sammy 65. On my third cast I sent my lure for a walk across a long piece of timber and saw it belted by a bass that could be clearly seen flying up from beneath the log to smack the lure and dart back to the bottom. He was only small but he hit with such gusto that my first thought was that summer was finally here!!!
The launch pool was full of quality snags and it seemed that a bass should have launched from every structure but sadly they didn’t. The great thing about this system was the sedges that grew green and lush interspersed along the banks of the river. Bass love these little bushy hideouts and eventually I cast adjacent to one of these sedges and after a couple of twitches a good bass was all over the lure and had me in trouble in some nearby timber. A little bit of negotiation and I had the hard fighting bass in open water and slipping neatly into the net. At 38cmFL it was my best start to a session in a while.
As I approached the end of the pool I cast at a tree growing vertically from the water line and I was onto another surface hungry fish. He smashed the Sammy well out from the bank and at 27cmFl was a great way to finish the pool before I headed downstream.
The next few pools saw a few rat bass smash the Sammy without hook-up until I reached a pool that had some significant depth and a grass lined bank. There was also a nice patch of deep shade that covered the green fringe where a bass might take a liking to. Casting to the edge I walked the Sammy across the small pool and as the lure reached the middle there was a loud hollow “Thok!” as another solid bass hit the lure. A sat the lure still for a few seconds before I gave it a twitch and the bass returned for another take at the lure. It connected temporally and thrashed on the surface before I pulled the lure and had to use my reflexes to dodge it as it shot past my ear.
The head of the pool was fully exposed to the sunlight and in times when the river was flowing more strongly I knew that a strong current entered the top of the pool. On previous trips bass had held beneath the raid where a drop off of sand and gravel created a great ambush site. Without the fast flowing water the location was nowhere near as appealing, but I decided to switch to a diver just to see if I could find a fish down deep seeking a reprieve from the bright light.
Casting to the head of the pool I cranked the lure until it started bouncing along the bottom. As the Duel Hardcore Shad rose off the bottom at the end of the retrieve it was smashed and the rod loaded up hard. The bass took off and stared taking drag and I struggled to get it near the kayak. The pool was devoid of structure and so I could play the fish gently and eventually I was able to net a beast of a bass. I’ve caught a few bass over the years but this one was the most solid bass I have ever caught. It was thick across the shoulders and also well-conditioned and although it was only 40cmFL it would have weighed far more than the 40cmFL bass I had caught earlier in the season.
The next pool held one of my favourite structures where a large granite outcrop was the dominant feature of the pool. I managed a nice little bass at the bottom of the pool amongst some shaded vegetation before setting my sights on the outcrop that always held a fish or two. Casting parallel to the rocky ledge, a bass came up to smash the lure that was walking two inches from the bank’s edge At 36cmFl it was making my session the best for the season size wise, so far.
For the next hour or two I managed multiple hits from rat bass and could not connect to any of them, Any large patch of shade held a fish or two regardless of whether there was any structure or not. Eventually though as I reached my “turn around pool” I finally found a few rats with their radar calibrated accurately and a few started to stay connected.
At the end of this pool was some amazing structure that was a combination of timber, granite and sedge lined banks. There was also a section just before this magnificent edifice that had a series of submerged boulders that often held bass hidden in the shady pockets. The first cast in and a missed a rat bass only to connect on the follow up.
Then I did something rather stupid!! The wind had picked up the kayak and blown me out of position and in my excitement I decided to send a cast over a boulder whose top poked above the surface. A few twitches and a large bass smashed the lure and instantly ran me underneath it. The braid ripped across its jagged surface and eventually parted, I had lost my first lure of the season!
I moved over to the “Bass edifice” where I had managed some quality bass on a previous trip and this time I pulled a couple of rats instead.
Finally reaching the end of my downstream journey I cast yet again at a sedge lined bank which had a pocket of deeper water dropping off from the shallows. A small bass smashed the lure again and I marveled at the switch in aggression since my last trip. Turning around I picked up another rat off the edifice. There were so many bass in this pool it was a shame that the bigger models were not interested or getting a chance to hit the lures with the little fish being so quick off the mark.
I decided to head back downstream and re-cast at all the areas that were now shaded over as the sun had re-positioned throughout the day. This way I managed to pick up another couple of rat bass on the way downstream in quite shallow water that had been exposed to the sun earlier in the morning.
I also spotted his fella hiding in a large tree on the bank at one postage point. It’s amazing what you see when you pass quietly along the river.
Reaching the launch pool that was more or less completely shaded by a large canopy of trees I re-worked all the snags I had targeted on the way up the river. Not really expecting much I was a little shocked when the Sammy was smashed by another 36cmFL bass right on the bank’s edge.
Reaching my launch/exit point I decided to hit the pool downstream before I headed home. Within 20 minutes I had caught another 3 bass off the surface and then picked another on the diver on a large tree exposed to the sun in the middle of the pool to finish my session. All were around the 30 mark except one that hit 35cmFL.
I wanted to continue fishing but it was 1PM and I had run out of water in the heat. Instead after a cracking session I decided to head home happy that I had had such an awesome morning on the water!