This was going to be the last time that Joe and I would chase the elusive Australian Bass for a while. It would also be a while before we fish together again. Joe would soon take off on a trip that would see him in Scotland, England and Canada. But for now we had a mission and tight schedule to adhere to get the most out of the short time.
We decided to meet at our favourite river system, late on Friday afternoon. Our plan was to hit the water around dusk and fish on into the late evening. Joe brought along his dad for the trip, who is a keen angler in his own right used to tackling the predatory species of the Northern hemisphere.
As we started paddling, dusk was setting in and the action was beginning; of course surface lures were the prime choice. The first couple of strikes didn’t result in any hook-ups, it wasn’t until a long cast into a little pool shrouded by an overhanging tree that I got a solid take. It was a monster of a fish, at least I hope it will be in 15-20 years time. It is good to see these little fish in a system; it shows the health of a river.
We paddled on with the surface strikes coming thick and fast. Joe’s dad was baffled to see the native Australia bass hit surface lures with such force that they were punched clear out of the water. Joe managed to land a solid mid 20’s bass.
Twilight was proving difficult to get hook-ups. The fish were hitting wildly in the vicinity of the lures but constantly failing to connect. It was a good way to get your heart rate up. The sun had all but set, the head lamps came out and a change up of lure was in order to see if our luck could change.
We decided it was a good time to change over to a surface wobbler instead of the walk the dog style lure that is a favourite. I tied on a Black Jitterbug; Joe went with some locally made purple thing. It was tranquil with the last lights illuminating the sky above; there wasn’t a sound but the tiny splashes and some mozzies chewing on us. I was fishing the right bank as Joe was fishing the left when there was an eruption from the front of his canoe. I am sure Joe jumped from the canoe nearly throwing his fishing rod at the sound. He was however on, and the fish was desperate to make its way back to the structure from which it had come. After a good fight the 34 cm fish was in the net.
We fished on into the night, with several more fish being taken and lost. Every time we felt that we should head back and make camp there would be another strike. At around 1100pm we did start making our way back. There was significantly more water in the river than I remembered, enough water that I experienced riding my first set of rapids (by head lamp).
The next morning we were up at daybreak with the billy boiling and plans to fish until lunch time, which was the very latest we were able to be out. The morning started off slow on the fish front, fishing the downstream section of the river to try our luck. I began as always with my Sammy 65 tied on, but with nothing biting I soon decided to change lures, tying on something that I had no previous experience with; a black Tiemco Soft Shell Cicada. It couldn’t have been more than half a dozen casts later that I had a fish on. I must admit I was fairly impressed with the action and feel of the SSC and the lure will keep a spot in my surface lure tackle box.
Once the day hit 9am and surface strikes had shut down, it was time to go subsurface. We still only had one fish between us for the morning, and I could feel Joe’s disheartened gaze fall upon me as he saw the distinctive bend in my rod, a sneaky mid 20’s. This was however the last one I would land for the day. Joe managed to land his first for the day from a deep pool on a plastic, a nice fish well into the mid 30’s.
Oh and we found a wild watermelon.
The final bass of the trip was taken in one of those amazing circumstances. Joe shoots a cast into some tight structure where he knew a fish should be hanging out. The cast itself is a little too high and lobs over a branch. We have always joked that when this occurs you have to make it look like you tried to do it, so give it a few dunks like a tea bag.
Just after his first dunk the water explodes and the lure is engulfed, the bass darting immediately downwards towards some thick submerged logs, wrapping the line around some branches. Joe persuades the bass to come out; however not going to give up without a fight it takes another mad dash towards another dense section of timber. After some hard work and determination Joe gets it out still attached, landing a personal best 38cm wild bass. Not a bad way to finish a trip and to see off the country. Good luck on your adventures Joe, until next time!
Thanks for reading,