Ahhhhhh! So it finally arrived after a looonnnggg wait. I must admit I did not fish much over winter and barely hit the salt at all over the 3 month break and so I was really looking forward to hitting the water. At the same time I was actually quite anxious as last season my opening session was shocking with one rat bass the only fish caught after a loonngg first session peppering the water to a froth!
It felt good to hit the road in those early hours again although it was a little bit of a struggle after all those winter sleep ins. The can of V helped and the excitement of what I was hoping would be a morning of surface smashing bass and spraying water. I must admit I mistimed my departure time and so I arrived at my launch point a little late and missed the morning twilight that I love to fish. I also had that gut-wrenching feeling when you arrive to find another car at the launch and knowing it was a long way to go elsewhere and so I hit the water anyway hoping for the best. The perfect conditions also helped encourage me to stay.
With the knowledge that someone was fishing upstream of me I changed my typical targeting of the obvious structures and spent a bit more time targeting grassy fringes, undercut banks and where I knew the less obvious submerged timber lay. That said I couldn’t help casting at the typical bass snags as well, I just didn’t work them too hard.
Soon after launching I started casting and realised that my new reels combined with my brand new braid was going to complicate casting. The Magforce C cast control system on the new Daiwa Sol II baitcasters had a different feel to my old Sols and I needed to figure out the right balance for my casting needs. That said it was within 10 casts that I had my first hit from a quality bass on my Luckycraft Sammy 65, which he missed, and his second attempt was not much better before the bass lost interest and disappeared to the depths.
Although the fishing was slow the river was absolutely teeming with wildlife. The platypi were everywhere and more curious than ever and I even spotted an early season carpet snake in the trees as I extracted a wayward cast. There was a he number of ducks as well with ducklings all over the place and rainbow bee eaters later in the morning swooping at insects from a branch on a high bank. The turtles also seemed to have exploded in numbers and covered any sunny log until they were competing for space. Luckily there was a lot to see as the fishing was not going as I had hoped.
Eventually though a cast in some heavy timber was belted as it walked past a log and I was finally hooked onto my first bass for the 2014-2015 season. After a few anxious moments the 32cmFL bass slipped into the net and I was a happy man.
The happiness soon faded as the fishing literally dried up for the rest of the pool. The bass were very quiet, shut down, not there or I had lost all my mojo over the off season. I reached the first postage point that was a run of about 100m and had a couple of smaller pools that had a significant depth with some fast flowing running water at its head. Pools like this have often produced for me in the past, and so I pulled the kayak up and waded across the shallow water and over a couple of fallen trees.
Standing on a log I had a bird’s eye view of the small pool which was surrounded by timber and had multiple back eddies around the flowing water. The first cast in targeted the furthest back eddy and the retrieve entered the flowing water before finishing its walk in the closest back eddy. Just as it entered the second eddy an average bass shot off the bottom and smashed the lure. In its eagerness (and mine) the bass missed and I quickly sent another cast in for an identical retrieve. This time the bass belted the Sammy 65 in the fast flowing water and I had managed a nice 30cmFL bass as my second fish of the day. After a quick photo I returned to the small pool and had another cast. This time a much larger bass came off the bottom and had a lazy look before swimming back to the bottom. On the follow up cast he returned and sucked the lure in really slowly before spitting it back out without touching the trebles and losing interest.
I dragged the kayak to the next pool and soon had another bass pick up the lure lazily before spitting it without hooking up. Soon after I cast at an eroded bank that had multiple undercuts sections and after a few twitches it was belted and I was onto my third bass of the day at 33cmFL.
I reached one of my favourite pools and the fishing died again with not a bump or swirl for almost 500m of casting at every structure along its length. I had even switched my alternate rod from my home made popper to the every reliable Duel Hardcore shade and still nothing. I eventually decided to paddle to the top of the pool where I knew there was some more flowing current.
Initially I sent the Sammy 65 in without interest and so I switched to the 60mm Shad. I cast to the eddy on the far side of the current and as the lure entered the flow it was belted and the bass swam straight towards the kayak. Eventually I loaded up and by some miracle it was well hooked and after a short fight I netted a nice 35cmFL bass. At this point I had decided to head to another system on the way home to see if I could manage a bigger bass to finish the day. However I knew there were a few more small pools in the short portage upstream and so I pulled the kayak up on a nearby bank and went for a quick walk.
The first couple of pools were quiet but eventually I found one that was quite deep and had some serious current flowing into it. Casting in I had no control of the Sammy 5 as it flowed in the current and so I gave it some twitches as it floated downstream and eventually it floated into a large eddy. As I walked the lure back a quality bass smashed the lure and missed. The follow up cast mimicked the initial cast and almost made it back to the bank before the bass returned and smashed it again. This bass was a much better fish and in the current gave me a serious fight before it got hooked up in some submerged weed. I could see the fish in the clear water about a foot from the surface and so I waded in and extricated it from the weed rather than risking losing the 37cmFL fish.
This was it for me in this system and I decided that I would check out another system on the way home in the chance I might find a bigger bass to finish the day on. However this system was very low and full of a multitude of algal species in a wide range of colours. It didn’t look healthy at all and needed a good flush. I did manage to attract the interest of one bass that had two unsuccessful swipes at the lure before it swam off. The wind had also come up and was making the fishing uncomfortable and so I decided to pull the pin.
It wasn’t the season opener I had hoped but it was a solid start!