Recon in the Mighty Clarence
After spending some time down at Yamba on a family camping holiday I managed to arrange a very small window where I could quickly drive down to Grafton and chase some bass in the Mighty Clarence. Initially I had planned to fish a small creek that I had scoped out on Google Maps that looked the goods and had easy access. However when I arrived at the launch I found the water was very dirty and covered in leaf debris from the high winds and a recent storm cell that had passed through the area.
I decided to launch anyway and the creek looked awesome. There was timber absolutely everywhere and I was unsure how I was going to handle any reasonable bass that hit my lure. However after an hour of casting I only managed to entice a single hit from a small bass and with my confidence down I decided to head to more familiar territory. I did however manage to find this amazing carpet snake with one of the most unusual colourations I have ever seen.
So I quickly exited and packed up the minimal gear I was carrying and headed to a new launch I had not been too in 10 years. The spot had very easy access and it meant that the spot most likely coped a lot of pressure from locals but when you only have a couple of hours to fish the simpler the better.
Arriving at the launch there were a couple of free campers having their breakfast and I imagined the bass might have been hit pretty hard over the last few days. That said the Clarence looked absolutely amazing and I was drawn to it like a moth to a light, regardless of the potential for a donut I could not go anywhere else.
The pool immediately opposite the launch was covered in leaf debris and so I decided a fats paddle to the lower pool was a better option and so off I went. The bank I decided to fish was long and completely shaded by an immense cliff face that sheltered it from both the wind and sun. As a result the water was absolutely still and green and the sound of my Sammy 65 hitting the water sounded like a brick when it hit the surface.
It wasn’t long before a cast adjacent a fallen boulder was hit softly and I was finally onto my first Clarence bass. That said it was the smallest bass I had caught this season but also ticked off a successful foray into new territory. After a quick photo and release I sent a few more casts into the same area. On one of the casts a monster Clarence bass absolutely smashed my lure and missed never to return which was a little devastating. This was then the pattern for most of the morning with bass having a single crack, missing the lure and shying away which was very frustrating.
Thankfully at least one stayed connected and it just happened to be a solid fish. I had retrieved the Sammy a long way from the rock face I was casting at when she hit the lure hard. The great thing about fishing these sorts of structures where the rocks are sitting in deep water is that the bass are relatively easy to extract and battle in open water. So after a few solid runs in safe territory I finally managed to net a solid 42cmFL bass. It was a great reward for minimal effort to be honest.
I continued fishing for another hour but the bass just weren’t sticking. I must have had a minimum of 15 hits for 2 fish which is probably my worst conversion rate in a long time. I just assume that the colder waters has them not quite switched on to surface mode as up north they are now actively chasing lures. At least the carpet pythons are now very active as i also spotted mother at this location hunting bank-side.
As the sun rose higher in the sky and the shadows disappeared the temperature rose rapidly. The wind also picked up and my perfect water surface was roughed up so I knew it was time to depart. My return deadline was rapidly approaching and so I quickly exited and hit the road. On the trip home I decided that the 4 hour drive was potentially well worth the effort and so I vowed to do a weekender here after the first rains arrived. Watch this space!