Under Grey Skies
After the recent rains I was keen to get into one of the local systems to see if it had managed to stir any bass up and get them on the move. Although the rains hadn’t been as heavy as I had hoped they had still managed to get a few rivers to flow with a 15cm rise in most SEQ locations. With Rod unavailable for a fish I decided to hit up another mate of mine who had hung up the bass gear and sold his kayak 4 years ago. When he said he was keen to hit the water I must admit I was looking forward to the trip even more, even if it was only going to be a cameo from Tristan (Enjoyfish1).
We hit the road early and headed up to our chosen fishing location. It was quite a quick trip actually and I was surprised how the time flew when you had someone in the car to take with in the early hours. Arriving at the launch site we were met with really warm conditions for the early morning and it wasn’t long before we slipped into the water and started casting. We had launched before dawn and so I had the opportunity to try out my new Jackall Pompadour Micro. It wasn’t long before it’s noisy crawl drew some attention and a 38cmFL bass smashed it and eventually slipped into the net. Unfortunately it was covered in ulcers which was a clear indication of the water quality over winter.
Twilight soon arrived and I broke down my spin outfit and switched to my baitcaster which was fitted out with my one of my Luckycraft Sammy 65. Tristan couldn’t believe that I was still using the same lure for the last 4 years but I still find them by far the best lure for Australian Bass. That said he had tied on the exact same lure as well so he was obviously confident it would find a few fish.
We continued upstream and I eventually found a patch of keen bass that was a clear indication that they were trying to move upstream. In the space of 5 minutes I managed to net a 35cmFL bass and a 27cmFL bass and miss two others. The bass were very pale and some were covered in ulcers.
We continued upstream where it went a little quiet before I finally managed a resident 33cmFL bass. These bass don’t head downstream during the autumn migration and tend to hold their colour and health much better as they hide on the banks edge unlike the bass that school up deep over winter.
We reached the end of the pool and dragged the kayaks up to the next. I decided to set-up my GoPro as in the past this pool had always fished well and I hoped to get a little footage on film. After about three casts I finally sent a cast in between a lay down and the bank it was running parallel to. After a couple of twitches the lure disappeared beneath the surface after being swiped off the top by a solid bass. I managed to negotiate the fish down the bank and away from the timber and eventually swam a 40cmFL bass into my net.
The next bass was one of a few during the day where I must admit I wasn’t really paying attention. While the lure is in the danger zone, which I like to call “tiger country”, I am fully focussed on where the lure is swimming, but once out of the snag I tend to be looking for the next cast rather than what is happening on my lure. This was the case on this cast when it ran parallel to a large root ball and before the lure returned I was scoping out my next cast when bang, a 31cmFL bass nailed it.
As we headed up the pool we continued to find bass holding close to the timber. I managed to find a rat that was very keen to smash my lure after missing the first time and finding its target soon after. Tristan’s then found his first bass for the morning after casting close to an undercut bank. At 34cmFL it gave him a good tussle mostly because he had set his drag so light.
As we approached the top of the pool the river narrowed significantly and the banks had some significant Callistemon growth extending over the water line. It typically always holds fish and often the bite can be intense. As we began casting at the twisted trunks I was first to net a 35cmFL bass and Tristan hooked up soon after. He had left his drag still too light and had managed to hook a good bass that buried him in the timber moments later. Both of us had to dig amongst the submerged timber to try and extricate the wily fish and it was only luck that we managed to net her. I had placed the net below the bass and as I tried to remove the trebles from the wood she slipped free and swam straight into the net. At 37cmFL it was a great bass to remind Tristan of how tough a little fighter these fish can be.
We moved from pool to pool and picked up a bass here and there but the fishing had slowed considerably. The bass were all good sizes and the average fish was around the 35cmFL mark.
In one pool Tristan cast to the bank and his lure was smashed but the bass missed. Most of the bass were only hitting the lure once and shying away so I had dismissed the hit only to hear an even bigger hit when the bass returned to rip his lure off the surface. The bass gave a good fight on Tristan’s light drag and again found some submerged structure to give us a few heart stopping moments but he eventually netted his best bass for the session at 40cmFL.
In the next pool I managed a 34cmFL in some really tight country thick with timber but Tristan’s next fish was the highlight. It was a good fish that smashed his lure near a root ball and then took drag as he still had it set to light. It wasn’t long before the bass had wrapped lure and line around a submerged log and had slipped the lure. We couldn’t get Tristan’s Sammy to release so I ended up stripping off and getting into the water to remove the lure. As you can imagine we had a conversation about appropriate drag settings afterwards, lol!
It was about 11am when we decided it was time to turn around and head back downstream. We intended mostly to target the bigger structures and places where we had missed fish before we exited and headed home. The first bass was a text book cast into a structure that I had missed a bass in on the way home. The bass smashed the lure much to our delight and I netted another standard 35cmFL bass. I even managed to find a brand new Megabass DogX Junior in a tree to add a little icing to a cracking day on the water.
We then did a long stretch of paddling through country where we had managed a fish here and then but the fishing had not been consistent enough to warrant a few repeated casts. When we reached the narrow stretch of Callistemon the casting intensified and eventually I was rewarded. I spied a trunk that was well out from the bank and had a deep pocket of shade behind it. I had managed to send a perfect cast beneath part of the bough so that the lure sat a little way in the pocket behind the trunk. As I walked the Sammy under the trunk a bass rocketed out from the dark along the surface to smash the Sammy and miss. I quickly repeated the cast and wasn’t confident the bass would return but it destroyed my lure and I managed to het a heavily scarred 38cmFL bass. We also got a close look at a nice little carpet python as it swam across the river which Tristan paddled away from and of course I paddled up close to to get a good look.
A few casts later I was on again to a 35cmFL bass and as I was trying to remove the trebles I heard an almighty hit behind me and Tristan was on to a good fish as well. When he finally netted his 40cmFL bass we were able to get one of those rare moments where we could photograph a double hook up.
This started a hot bite for about 20 minute where the bass just seemed to switch on and were hitting the lures everywhere. I sent an absolutely crazy cast across three thick tree branches into a structure I had cast at multiple times on the upstream journey. It was sort of an afterthought as I really didn’t expect to find a bass there but of course it was smashed and I had to high stick madly to try and lift the hard fighting bass over the boughs and avoid a bricking. I’ve gotta say it was some quality angling on my part as the bass went 38cmFL and these fish were pumped up after the recent rains.
The next few minutes I was almost a cast a fish and I managed another 34cmFL bass just as Tristan managed another the same size before I was smashed by absolute stocker of a bass that lacked the length at 39cmFL but made up for it in weight and muscle.
The fishing died off as fast as it had heated up and we continued downstream at a nice sedate fish hoping to pick up a fish here and there. I managed another mid thirties bass again looking for my next cast which almost ripped the rod from my hands as I adjusted grip.
We headed to our launch pool and even though the fishing slowed up we were still picking up bass regularly and missing a few even though the size dropped off a little. At the top of the final pool I manged another 35cmFL bass from the bank and then spied another carpet python hunting in a log jam as I launched.
I then managed another 3 bass off the surface as we made our final paddle to the car and Tristan picked up a couple of rats on the diver.
We reached the launch and were happy to exit after my first big session this season and Tristan’s first in 4 years. It was an awesome day with me netting 22 bass and Tristan 8 on his return to this form of fishing. He observed that the only difference between our fishing styles was casting accuracy with my casts consistently landing an inch from structure where most of the bass were hiding.
It was great to catch up and I hoped that the bass addiction may have taken a little bite just to get him a little keen to come again sometime. That night I was wrecked and it required a good 12 hour sleep to recover. Must be getting soft!