After much eager anticipation for the upcoming bass season, Tristan (Enjoyfish1) and I had made our plans to explore our favourite bass system and venture into the wilder less accessible parts. The planned trip was estimated to be about 20km and would be a real push to complete in a single day but with a months worth of adrenalin coursing through our veins we did feel slightly superhuman!
After dropping Tristan’s car at the exit point and putting his kayak and gear into my car we headed to our launch spot. The excitement was palpable in the car and the short journey to the launch point felt like an eternity. We arrived and geared up at a small creek that emptied into the main system and after a short journey that involved a bit of portage we arrived at our first fishable location.
Tristan sent in the first lure and with a whiz and a plop the first cast had been made to open the season. I followed suit and flicked my Sammy towards the nearest structure. With a whiz and a dink I found that somehow my braid had pinched somehow at the spool and that no gentle teasing could remove it. With some serious cursing I had a few casts on my threadline reel with a Megabass Griffon and then decided to sort the problem with my baitcaster which involved some serious cutting and re-tying of knots.
During the operation there was a shout in the morning light of “I’m on” and I turned to find Tristan had opened the season after only a dozen or so casts. With a less than steady hand I reset my outfit and sent out a few long casts to pack the line on a little better and I was set. A few casts into the first pool yielded another surface hit for Tristan and then we dragged our yaks down a small series of rapids to the next pool.
We cast along the banks with Tristan focusing on the rocky side of the waterway and me focusing on the banks with nice grassy overhangs with the occasional shrubbery creating some structure. I noticed a feeding bass and sent out a few speculative casts in his direction. Eventually after a few twitches and a short swim the water exploded around the Sammy and the line went tight. The drag made a lovely sound as the bass took line but after a small fight a well conditioned fat bass made it yak-side and into the net. I had opened the season with a 38cm FL bass off the surface for my first fish of the season and I was stoked. A few photographs on the brag mat for the comp and I was ready for another. Then I realised, bugger I forgot to put my UFN in the photo! With a feeling of dread which included thoughts such as “What if this is my only fish or best fish?” I realised I had disqualified my first fish.
We continued down the waterhole and reached a bend in the creek. On the corner was an overhanging shrub that created some really dark shade and just as we reached it there was the beautiful sight and sound of a “Boof” directly under the bush. I judged the cast needed to get the lure in and with Tristan watching I commented that this cast would need to be extra special. I then managed a cast that you would normally make once in ten casts and with an “Oh my God” I began my usual retrieve. Twitch Twitch Twitch Twitch Twitch Twitch..Pause Twitch Swim Pause Boof! Much to the entertainment of Tristan who had watched the whole thing and my second bass of the day was 37cm FL and this time I remembered the UFN!
We reached the end of the hole and I found a large log laying across the bank. The majority of the log was in the sun and was not my preferred structure but the root ball created some heavy shade and so I threw in a cast. The first twitch was a bit heavy handed and it made the Sammy dive in a small arc beneath the surface. There was a silver flash and a boil and my Sammy disappeared. Some frantic cranks of the reel removed the bass from the danger zone and out into the water. This fish reached 38cm to the fork and I again managed to remember the UFN when I captured the photo for the comp. With excited trepidation I realised that for me to upgrade I would need close to two 40cm Fish to the fork and the sun had barely risen.
Both of us continued to catch fish but I failed to upgrade for most of the morning. I caught quite a few fish between 30 -38cm FL and even managed one undersized fish at 27cm. It became a bit of a joke between us as we started to joke about the person with the smallest bass would take home the most successful basser for the day.
Tristan knew the location of the 7km way-point of our journey and we only reached this point at 12.00PM and had at least another 13km to go. The nerves started to kick in at this point and the casting became a little less frequent and the paddling a little more furious. After reaching the 7km mark the next 8km were unknown to both of us and at some points the portage was strenuous to say the least. We clambered down numerous waterfalls and at one point had to negotiate some very large boulders. The strain of dragging a 40kg plus kayak took its toil with numerous bruises and scrapes. This was however soon forgotten the minute you caught a glimpse of the next hole and the structure it contained.
My first upgrade came off an area with typical bass structure. Timber in the water, deep shade, overhanging shrubbery and a nice granite cliff face dropping into the water. It screamed bass. I managed a small bass first of about 32cm FL, missed a good fish that hit the Sammy twice before moving on, missed another small fish and then found a nice log that lay in deep water on one end and shallow water at the other. The first few casts yielded nothing at the deep end and then I threw in a cast into about two foot of clear water further up the log. A bow wave appeared at the shallow end that must have been in about 20cm of water and then the bass smacked the Sammy and I was on. This bass was beautiful, golden in colour and reaching 39cm to the fork. I had managed my first upgrade.
As the day wore on a small sense of impending doom began to settle in as we came to the realisation that there was a good chance we may not make t back to familiar territory before dark. The fishing lessened and it hurt to see so much potential bass holding water drift past as we tried to get some km under our belts. We stopped occasionally when the temptation became too strong to let a potential snag go untouched.
On one of these very short stops I cast into another nice bit of timber and the lure was engulfed by another nice bass. It came up at 39.5cmFL but only 39cm in the photos and was my second upgrade for the day. It didn’t have the glossy golden looks of the previous upgrade but it still fought hard before being netted
To write about the entire day would be a little overbearing, needless to say that my first few fish that had all been on my favourite lure the Sammy and I stuck with this lure all day. The hits kept on coming and as is the tendency for me when I am surface fishing I missed a fair number of hits probably a dozen all up. I also managed to lose a Sammy to a fish after it hit the lure and the line parted within a second of the line tightening. All I can think is that I was unlucky and that the line hit the gill raker on the bass’ first turn as the line had been cut cleanly.
We made it back to familiar waters before nightfall much to our relief and a few quick casts yielded a few fish and a few hits my last fish of the day going 37cm FL. I had stuck to the Sammy all day as I am completely addicted to surface hits. I probably would have caught a few more fish if I had occasionally switched to some diving lures. The scenery was sensational and I loved every second of our trip. I will definitely head back very soon. I can tell you that the next morning had me feeling like I had been bounced down a mountain. The drive between cars showed that the driving distance was 18km and we don’t really want to know how far we traveled through the winding hills.
In the end I had a tally of 16 fish all bar one over 30cm and the majority between 35 and 39cm and all off the surface. Tristan caught a few too but I’ll let him post his own story. Was the aching muscles, cuts and abrasions, ripped pants and lost lure worth it! Hell yeah!!!!!!