Tough Day but Rewarding!
It has been a few weeks since I have hit the water chasing some Australian bass and so I decided to hit somewhere a little more local with Rod on the weekend. Many of the systems I usually fish were all up a fair way and I was concerned that a long distance trip may have resulted in a little disappointment if I found flowing chocolate. In the end we decided to explore a system I have not fished in a while, that has a reasonable population of solid bass well above 40cmFL and the occasional fish above 50cmFL.
The reasonable drive was a novelty, and as I live a little closer I arrived at our exit point before Rod . I needed to shuffle my gear around the car to prepare to pack Rod’s gear in it as well and so I decided to have a cast while I waited for Rod to arrive. The sound of running water in the dark was a clear indication that the river was flowing and this was a marked improvement from my previous trip to this river where there was not even a trickle. Standing on the causeway I sent out a cast along the bank and began walking the Nobroko Softcada back to the causeway. Within a couple of metres the lure was belted and I was onto a reasonable bass on my first cast of the morning. I thought I would lose the fish as the causeway was a good couple of metres above the waterline and I was forced to climb down to thumb lock the 38cmFL bass. Just as I lifted the bass from the water the headlights of Rod’s car appeared and I proudly held aloft what I thought was a great omen for the day’s exploring.
I had a couple more casts with no luck and we quickly stowed Rod’s gear so that we could make the journey upstream to the launch point. Arriving at another causeway I was pleased to find a good flow of water passing through the culvert although it was clear that the recent rain had not created enough flow to rip some of the weed from the bottom. Conditions were also ideal for surface fishing with the water perfectly flat across the top pool and creating the perfection reflection of the surrounding vegetation on the surface.
We commenced peppering all the structures we could find and there were a few new ones to cast at since my last visit but we could not find a bass. Towards the end of the pool my Softcada was finally hit by what looked like a small MRC, sadly not the target species.
Over the next few pools the bass appeared to be clearly off the bite with a huge number of casts returning to the kayaks un-rewarded. In the past these pools had provided some cracking bass but we just could not find a fish. Arriving at one of my favourite pools I hoped that one of us might finally find a bass or two but I must admit my confidence was low. Paddling up into a little pocket that was once the main part of the river I found much of the typical haunts blocked by a flotilla of surface weed. I decided to cast into any clear water in a hope a bass may be lurking beneath the floating mats of vegetation. A few casts in and my Nobroko was absolutely belted with a big tale slap and I was finally onto another fish. The hit was characteristic of a MRC and sure enough after a spirited fight a little slab of green slid into the net. At 52cm it was not my biggest but it was still a little bit of a confidence builder.
The bass were still a no show as we continued downstream but the only high light was the lack of portage. The river had increased enough in water level that previous stretches of portage were now deep enough to paddle down.
Reaching a large pool the bass were still a no show and we had started to reach a certain degree of despondency. We were too far into our journey to return back to the launch so we decided to continue on hoping something would change. Halfway down the pool I reached a large fallen tree that was well out from the bank and had a large root ball at one end. The structure and its surrounds screamed bass and so I cast at every promising location that I could see. Finally after a series of casts the Nobroko was smashed again and I thought that I was onto a cracking bass. After a solid fight another silhouette of green rose from the depths and netted another MRC of 53cm.
We continued downstream enjoying the runs down the rapids between pools that had been missing from all our sessions this season. At some points we even had to get out and drag the kayak as the flow was too strong and passing through a few “tea strainers”. We cast and cast and cast and cast with almost all our retrieves not even enticing a ripple. I found an old section of the river that rain adjacent the main river bed and decided to back track up into its narrow confines. Finally as I approached the final structure I twitched my cicada deep in its shaded confines and a bass finally engulfed my lure and took off at speed for the opposite bank. The back creek was very narrow and the bass was giving me hell as it put my kayak and me out of position continuously before I finally netted a solid 39cmFL fish.
We continued paddling and casting and even though I finally had another of our target species on the board the fishing remained quiet. I was switch baiting between a surface and diving lure in the hope I would increase my chance of finding a few fish. We reached a pool that had some substantial structure on its bank varying from timber to partially submerged Callistemon and grass lined banks. As we cast at the multitude of “bassy” looking haunts I finally heard a bass smash Rod’s lure and turned to find him in all sorts of trouble as a solid fish got the upper hand. He was bricked in moments and initially I left him to extract his prize until I realised he was having difficulty. I joined him and after a careful operation involving removing rotten timber we finally dragged a 44cmFL bass from underneath an undercut bank and slid it into the net. To say Rod was relieved is an understatement as it was his first hit for the morning and a season PB to boot!
After managing a couple of bass within the hour and in consecutive pools positivity had returned. When I managed another 38cmFL bass in the following pool things were finally looking up. This fish was sitting below some submerged bankside vegetation and after a few twitches belted the lure and headed out to the middle. This was my fourth bass of almost the exact same size and the fact that they were all high thirties fish was awesome.
Five minutes later a cast adjacent to a rocky outcrop saw my Nobroko hit as the lure touched the water surface. The bass headed straight towards the kayak and I cranked frantically to re connect with the fish. To be honest I fully expected to pull the hooks as I had not had a chance to set the hooks but when the line came up tight and I gave the rod tip a flick I was ecstatic to feel a solid hook-up. The bass was another 39cmFL fish and I must admit although the fishing had been slow at times the quality of the fish was outstanding.
Our confidence had received a massive pick me up and we anticipated great things when we finally reached the largest pool on this stretch of river. It offered everything a bass could want and we donated across its entire stretch. As we exited the bottom of the pool I knew we had a long stretch narrow running water that we involve some awesome kayaking as well as some portage around the gnarly sections. Sadly in one of these sections Rod was driven into the bank and there was that cringe worthy sound of a snapping rod that many of us have heard before personally!! He had also only brought a single rod and so I offered him my spare as he miserably contemplated his new two piece rod.
I re-rigged, removing the diver so I could continue fishing the surface. I switched back to a Luckycraft Sammy 65 and we continued fishing the next pool where I managed another solid bass of 38cmFL in textbook structure.
We were near the end of our adventure and the next few pools were dead except for a small Spangled Perch that took a liking to Rod’s lure just next to the kayak. Although the fishing had been slow the fish had been of enough quality to make the journey worth while.