No one wants to be “That Guy”

Day 1

I never sleep well the night before a big trip as my mind goes over all the little and big things such as have I packed everything and what will be the best camp spots. This trip was no different, but I had a little more anxiety than normal as the river I was intending to fish I did not know as well as some of my usual haunts. I woke Joanne who just grunted in disgust as she looked at the clock. No one likes getting up in the middle of the night even more so when it’s not your adventure and you are just the Taxi driver. That said, she got up as she knew we had a long drive ahead and she didn’t complain just gave me a few dirty looks from time to time, bless her.

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We had seen plenty of rain in the North Coast and most of the rivers were high and running dirty but I was still fairly confident this system would be fishable. After a quick chat thanking the farmer for letting me drive through his property, we were at the river’s edge. The river was up and had a hint of tea tree color but looked more than OK to me. I loaded up my gear said goodbye to Jo and the Dog and paddled out into the river.

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I fished hard, throwing all the traditional lures such as my Zipping Ziggy, Mazzy Popper, Pompadour, Crank Bait and I even put on a Spinnerbait in desperation but couldn’t tempt a fish. As I made my way down through rapids and pools I had to be on top of my game a little more than usual as I was paddling my new Pelican Canoe on what was her maiden voyage. She was tracking differently to my other Canoes (Colemans) and I kept finding myself scuppered on rocks or taking a bit of water as I rode the bigger rapids. I was unaware that later on in the trip this was to become a very big problem, but we will get to that later.

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I had been through my tackle box and thrown everything at the fish, but nothing was working in the slightest. Anyone that fishes would know the frustration this can cause. I started rummaging and still in the packet was a lure I was sent by Chasebaits called the “Drunken Mullet”. What the hell I thought, let’s see how this bad boy swims. On my second cast when I had almost finished retrieving the lure (a little too quick) a Bass boiled just below right at the side of the Canoe. After hours of inactivity, it doesn’t take much to get excited and I was back in the game all pumped up. 10 minutes later I finally managed to break the drought and landed a golden Bass in the mid 40`s on my new favorite lure. Now let’s get the bit that sounds like an advert out the way early in this story. I fished with that lure for pretty much the rest of the trip and the Bass really wouldn’t look at anything else. I have to tell you that not only was it deadly, but it was so much fun to fish with. Prop-baits are so visual and there is nothing more satisfying than watching a surface hit on one so go check them out. Ok so back to the story.


I came into a new pool and I could hear some commotion at the end of the pool, it was wild Dogs and I could see maybe 4 or 5 milling around at the end of the pool. I sat and listened to them carrying on and I soon noticed that they had spotted me. Normally they would slip away into the bush but what I presume would have been the Alpha Dog started making his way towards me. He was more Dingo than I first thought and looked awesome with a big Boofhead, he was a brave little bugger and was really vocal and was clearly telling me he was the main man in these parts.  I was filming at this point and you can watch the full encounter here……

As I made it to camp I could see a storm was building so I had to decide to either carry on fishing and get hammered in the storm or set up camp, I set up camp. By the time I had set up everything and messaged Jo the storm was on me and for the next 4 hours, I sat under my tarp as storm after storm rolled through until I finally fell asleep.20181028_061207-01

Day 2

Up with the birds (you have very little choice as they are so noisy) and onto the water right away taking a coffee with me. With my Drunken Mullet, the Bass were active right from the start and I spent a few hours paddling the lower pools and taking good-sized fish.

Late morning and I was on my way down the river and the weather was perfect. By midafternoon I had landed around 20 fish with a couple of Eastern Cod thrown in and I was enjoying myself thoroughly. As I approached a reasonable set of rapids I prepared the boat locking my rod in and making sure everything was clipped in as I always do. Just as I crest the top of the rapid I clipped a rock and the boat was held up pivoting precariously, the boat starts to spin, and I could see exactly what was about to happen but was powerless to stop it. As the boat tipped I jumped out but at this point, she had taken on about 40% water and I was now stuck at the top of a rapid with a water-laden boat. The only option was to try and walk her down but about halfway down the current grabbed her and off we went. We didn’t get far before she wedged her nose in between 2 rocks and then the back was pushed sideways. Soon as water breached the side I knew I was in trouble. She was pinned and pinned well.


I have been doing this for enough time to have had some boats stuck but considering the small amount of water I was in this boat was wedged so tight, I couldn’t move it more than 2 inches. I collected all of my gear out of her and set to work trying to get her out. I opened up my rescue barrel and cursed as I did not have my rescue rope.

I did have 3 good lengths of rescue webbing, some pulleys and other things to get a mechanical advantage to hopefully pull her out. However, 2 hours later I gave up as the light was fading and I was exhausted. It was at this point that I thought I had better get on the Satellite and warn the right people that I may need some help. Now I often joke about not wanting to be “That Guy” who gets rescued, but the fact is the more you play the higher the risk of something going wrong. I was getting messages back and there was the talk of “Helicopters”, and “let us know early so we can get to you in daylight”. So with this in my head, I had a restless night.

Day 3

I was up very early, and I had decided that today I was not being rescued, coffee, food and with a new plan I set off back to the river. The plan involved using a brace and a pulley to lift the side enough to stop the water pushing over the top and then allowing me to bail her out. The river had also dropped 20cm and with the words “Helicopter, Rescue, Newspaper” in my head and the years of ribbing my mates would give me I was a man on a mission. It took about 2 hours to get that bloody Canoe out and as I sat on the bank catching my breath and licking my wounds I came to realise how important keeping your calm is and not panicking. A flurry of messages back and forth giving people the good news that they didn’t have to give up their weekend for me and I was back in the Canoe paddling down the river.
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Now it was clear that my 2-night 3-day trip had now become a 3-night trip. I always take enough food for an extra day and I use a water purifier bottle so I can drink the river water. Now I feel the Canoe may look like the villain in this story and for the next few hours it did feel that way and we had a shaky relationship at each rapid. You see I was paddling her the same way I do my Coleman Canoes and as the day went on I realised that she was too heavy on the nose and dropping to my knees made the stability worse than if I stayed in my seat. With this new-found information she was much more responsive when I had to turn her fast, so it was user error, not the poor Canoe and we are now good friends again.
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Over the rest of the day, the fishing was nothing short of spectacular. Aerial surface hits from hungry greedy Bass and then all of a sudden with the change in weather the Cod woke up!

I hooked into a low 40cm Bass and as I have seen happen many times before just as I got it near the boat a 1m Cod came up and smacked it. It didn’t get the Bass but was now lip hooked on the lower set of hooks, now I had a Bass and a 1m Cod hooked on the same lure (go the Drunken Mullet). Just as I thought Christ get the camera another Cod of about 70cm came up and grabbed my poor Bass and ripped it off the hooks and swam down to the darkness taking my Bass with it. Now I had only the 1m Cod on the line I took my time and just as I tried to lift its head the hooks pulled out, Bugger!20181025_142956-01

Just after lunch I came into some tighter water and put a cast under some dark trees. The second the lure hit, the water exploded. I knew it was a good fish as it kited across the stream and I know there is always a debate about Bream Vs Bass and what fights harder but I can assure you that until you catch a big mountain Bass you can be excused for thinking a Bream does.

As I gripped her lip I could see she was a cracker and on the truth detector she went 52cm. The picture of her isn’t fantastic but It was stinking hot with no shade and she was exhausted so I didn’t spend much time getting a decent camera shot as I was worried she would die on me.
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I made camp on a stunning little hole and tried to work out numbers and I think I was around 35-40 fish for the trip. Not too shabby.

Day 4

Up early and the last bit before heading home is normally average fishing as it sees a few people but not today…. it was going nuts again.

Bass after Bass with Cod thrown in goes to show you can never assume stretches of river as things change so often.20181028_082324-01

So in summary, with 50+ fish landed, near rescue, bruises and dented ego I’d say it was a bloody great trip but probably not for everyone.

As my mate so eloquently said… “That’s why it’s not called “Calm River Tours”.

 

 

Bass, Snakes & Strawberry Shakes

Dave landed at the Airport and on the way back to my place we chatted about options and tied up the loose ends for the trip he had booked over the next 4 days. This being Daves second trip with us he had a fair idea of what to expect and we had chatted about the fact that the rivers were really low and although I was confident we could find some fish this was going to be hard work.

The next morning we awoke but for a change, it was Gentlemens hours and not 3am as I am used to for most trips I do. We had decided that due to the big moon and Daves flight arriving late we would aim to get on the water around 11am. We loaded the Car and put our Canoes onto the trailer and headed West to see what we could find.

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Day 1

When we reached the river it was just a trickle under the bridge but I still had a good feeling and was confident we would see some Bass. A quick picture at the launch spot so the rescue squad would know what we looked like and off we paddled down the river. I had the usual feeling of excitement that I always have had since I was a young boy fishing for Carp, Roach, and various other fish that lived in the UK rivers and ponds.

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It was only 10 minutes before Dave shouted “Yep” but when I looked over Dave was already being dragged into the snags and it was looking like he was in all sorts of trouble. “You bricked” I called out to him but I could see the answer. The fish had taken him down to a big snag and as I paddled over the top I could see the large tail of a really nice Bass. I pushed Daves Canoe over the snag so he could get a different angle for leverage and instantly the fish was free and screamed off pulling line until it found a new home in an adjoining snag. No matter how we tried we eventually had to admit defeat and the fish had won.

Dave shrugged it off and said, “Tell me, it was a big Bass wasn’t it?” I just nodded and off we paddled not mentioning it again.

A short while later as I tweaked my Skinny Dog lure away from a snag a nice Eastern Cod decided to attack it and after a few minutes of messing around it was subdued and with a quick picture he/she was returned safely. This was 1 of only 2 Cod for the whole trip which is surprising as the river is full of the stupid things (I say that with love).

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We fished for the rest of the day picking up a few Bass, some on the surface and as we made camp spirits were high and we quickly set up looking to put a few hours in once it got dark. The thing is with fishing is that you can never tell what’s going to happen, and as we paddled out into the darkness I was really certain we were going to clean up. An hour later and with not one hit between us we decided to head back to camp for a drink and an early night.

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Day 2

We were up early and Dave didn’t waste any time and was harassing the Bass from the getgo. The Beetlespin with a Motor Oil Paddle Tail was doing the damage and after spending some time trying to rescue a Cow (second one in as many days) we went back to camp and packed up as we had some serious country to cover and I was worried about the extra time we would need from the low water and the dragging we were clearly going to encounter.

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After a half hour ride using the 2hp motor, we entered into the skinny section of the river and it was just as I expected, Dave didn’t complain as we spent the next few hours dragging through the trickle of a river and over the grabbing volcanic rocks. There was not much fishing to this part of the river and the only excitement was when we found a small section that held some fish. Dave introduced himself to them using a Spinnerbait whilst I managed to get numerous short strikes.

After setting up Camp we headed out but could only snag a solitary Bass off the surface just on last light.

Day 3

I awoke to a clap of thunder just on daybreak, I woke Dave as he had not heard anything due to having to use earplugs as the frogs were on operatic form all night. We packed up in a hasty fashion and set off down the river keeping an eye on the storms that were missing us by only a few miles. The Bass were slow to take a lure with lots of short strikes and many misses. We were adding numbers but it wasn’t the most exciting fishing and by the time we sat down for lunch we were both knackered from the humidity and heat. Just as I was munching on my Cheese and Ham cracker Dave shouted “SNAKE”, he wasn’t fibbing as the biggest Brown Snake I have ever seen was swimming right at us with his head held high out of the water. This snake was an easy 7ft, maybe more. I jumped up and down whilst shouting “Yaaaaaa YAAAA” and as it got about 10ft from us it veered off and entered the bush just next to us. I really, really do not like Snakes.


We pushed on and as we reached camp Dave was looking forward to his Strawberry Milkshake (this is a continuing joke from a previous trip). We didn’t bother to head out that night as the wind was howling and to be honest, I think we were both a bit exhausted from the day.


Day 4
We awoke to rain and as I lay on my stretcher listening to the rain on my tarp I had time to appreciate how lucky I am to be able to share these experiences with people. It’s bloody brilliant and I absolutely love it.

It stopped raining and we tucked into a big breakfast, as we set off for the last morning of fishing within a few minutes we had to put on the wet weather gear. It didn’t matter though as the Bass were ON! Both Dave and I started to land fish from either side of the bank as we meticulously made our way down the hole. Just as Dave shouted Yep I`m on,  I had a decent bass woof my Mazzy popper off the surface, who doesn’t love a double hookup? I paddled over and helped Dave unhook his mid 40`s fish and we had a quick picture and wasted no time in getting back into the fishing.

By the time we arrived at the bridge to find Joanne waiting for us, we had 34 fish landed with an average of over 40cm. Not bad for a River that is in terrible shape and desperately needs a flush.

The Trip highlights were the Snakes, jeez there are so many up there this season we even had one try and get into Daves Canoe on the first day. We had Echidnas and amazing Yellow Frogs, Eagles, Kites and when you are awoken by the loudest morning chorus of what seems to be every bird in NSW its hard not to be in awe. The fishing was typical Bass fishing with patches of excitement followed by long periods of nothing.

Did Dave enjoy himself? Well, he had already committed to booking again for a Bass trip later this season and also next years FNQ Jungle Perch trip so I think he was happy with the fishing or maybe it’s the Milkshakes.

“You do not simply catch Jungle Perch, you bloody earn them”

A few years back before I was guiding I went on a holiday with a couple of blokes up to FNQ chasing Jungle Perch and Sooty`s. It was an exploration trip and we spent the week driving, hiking and bush bashing.

It was so good that last year I decided I was going back and thought I would take a couple of “select” clients with me. Chad & Cris were both old WRT customers/mates and I knew them well. Gavin however, was the only person that I did not know but he was so passionate from the first contact that it was impossible not to let him join us and I was confident he would fit the group dynamics.

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Sunday

We all flew up and met at the Airport on a warm and humid Sunday morning. After a few logistical things were taken care of we were soon on the road pumped up and sharing Fishing tales and life story’s to pass the time.

With no time to waste we dropped the gear off at the rental house and geared up, jumped in the car and headed for the river to try and get a couple of hours in before dark. The boys didn’t really know what to expect but I did, it was going to be awesome.

There were a few “Jesus”, “wow, check that out” and “F` Me” comments as we headed up the road and passed the river. The “Achtung Crocodiles” signs made things a little more real for the boys and I think the reality of the situation started to sink in. This was Croc country and we would need to be careful.
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We headed down the tracks that judging by the mud and footprints had clearly seen some activity recently. It was raining, raining hard and as it’s the rainforest and the wettest place in Australia I guess that’s no surprise.

The boys wasted no time and started throwing soft plastics and jackal blades. It wasn’t long before the first shout was heard and Cris had lost his first fish in the fast water. Over the next Two hours, Nine Fish were landed and we head back for a cold beer excited for the next day.

Monday

In the morning we set off to the local tackle shop. The guys were friendly and very curious about the fact that some “outsiders” were smashing through the local jungle. After parting with a few Dollars for more lures and other fishing bits one of the staff mentioned that the river had come up considerably overnight and this was due to the unseasonable rain they had just before we arrived (brilliant). He told us to be careful and suggested we check out some other rivers if we found the fishing tough (oddly he didn’t give us the GPS coordinates for his secret Spot X and Honey Hole).

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We headed back up the river and on arrival, you did not need to be a local to see it was up and running dirty.
Bugger!

We only managed a few fish over the next hours, we had a quick chat decided to pack up and head to some small creeks and see if we could rescue the day. We drove around for a couple of hours and finally found a small river that we could access.

We hiked up the river and found some JP`s fairly quickly. After a few hours and some reasonable numbers, we headed back somewhat happy that we had seen some fish.

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About 500m from the car Chad started to carry on a little bit and after a few “yelps” Cris shouted “RUN”. You see Cris had seen the massive swarm of Wasp`s around Chad`s head that was now stinging him, we all ran the best we could whilst laughing like little kids. Poor Chad copped a few but laughed along with us.

Tuesday

That morning we drove back to the main river, the water looked a little lower and clearer but was still pumping. We had decided to try and cross the river to a creek after some Intel Gav had got from a mate. We dropped into the jungle and it wasn’t long before I was stuck and had to be roped out by the boys (they found this amusing). Plan B found a better route and when we reached the river it was one of those moments you face from time to time when you had put so much effort in that you didn’t want to accept the reality. The water was pumping and I waded out to test a few spots but no matter what I did it was clear that the risk was real and if someone slipped there would be no coming back from the raging rapids below us. The boys looked gutted but no fish is worth drowning for. I had noticed a decent back eddy further down the river and suggested we walk down for a fish.

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It wasn’t long before they all had a fish on and Gav had a cracking 47cm Sooty that was almost lost at the bank if it wasn’t for Chad diving in (there is a great video of this). We spent the rest of the day walking down the river and fish were being taken by everyone and spirits were high with loads of laughs along the way. What a Brilliant day.

Wednesday

We headed out West to hike into a Gorge that I had visited on my last trip. It’s a 2.2km drop over about 250m and takes about 30 minutes to walk in and 3 times that (for me) to walk out.

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The river looked amazing and Gav snagged a Sooty on his second cast so hopes were high. After a few hours, we had only managed a couple of fish and we started to doubt the amazing water. One thing about FNQ even if you are not catching fish you are surrounded by the most amazing scenery so it’s hard to be grumpy. Cris flew the Drone up the creeks and River to see if we could cross but again it was running too fast.
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We decided to head out and prep for the next day as we were trying to access the creek we had failed to get to a couple of days before. So another day with low numbers but we did have cold beers.

Thursday

The Creek.

We hiked down further up the river anticipating that we would not be able to walk across the river again. The fishing was slow at first but we could see that the river had dropped. When we arrived at the creek it looked a lot more promising than before. After a bit of chat and debate, Cris stepped up and walked out into the current. The difference today was that if you did make a mistake the pressure waves had gone and it didn’t look like certain death below. We all headed out with wading staffs and by the time we reached the far bank we were all a little giddy from the experience.
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The Creek was something from Jurassic Park. It was truly phenomenal in every way. The fish though were seriously spooky as the water was so clear and on reflection 1 or 2 people would have been the most you would take up there. We pushed up and put 100% effort into the hike and by the time we decided to turn back we had had some decent JP`s and my legs were jelly.
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We crossed the river and decided to fish for the last 2 hours up on the main river and the boys smashed them in the failing light. When I arrived back to the car Cris told me that Gav` had tried to lip grab a JP (biggest of the trip) and the fish had shook its head and put the treble through Gav` thumb. Now those that have fished with me will attest that I go on and on about crushed barbs. They are good for the Fish, they are good for the bloke with the hook in his hand but more importantly, they are good for the poor bugger that has to rip the treble out of your hand. This honor befell Cris and he performed the surgery nicely. There is some video of this but boy does it have some swearing in it.
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It was a great last day and the final numbers were just shy of 100 for the trip. If we had not had the rain it would have been a 200+ fish trip but that’s the way it goes. The big Sooty went 47cm and we also had a few nice Jp`s in the mid 30`s but couldn’t find a big girl.

Dave

When it rains it pours….

The weeks leading up to the trip, the activity in the group chat from Neil, James, and Miles, AKA Rewind (he earnt this nickname as he spent so much time going backward in the Canoe) started to increase significantly. Ignoring the constant banter about who was going to catch the most fish or who was going to capsize and so on, the real topic was the weather.

The trip was booked for the weekend starting the 16th but weather reports and the news were talking of a Cyclone.

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With a week to go, we decided it was better to be safe than sorry and we would delay the trip for another week. Ironically the weekend of the 16th was bathed in glorious sunshine and low winds with a high pressure sitting over the state that would have surely made for great fishing.

Nice work BOM.

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Three days before the boys were due to arrive the weather reports were now talking about significant rain on Thursday and Friday. Now depending on what Weather site you use this would vary by 10-30mm (that’s a lot). I don’t mind a bit of rain (I am English) but if you get 20-30mm up the mountains that can lift the water and affect the fishing (admittedly sometimes in a positive way). However, if you get 50-100mm slow fishing is the least of your worries.

The day before the boys were due there Willyweather was showing 100mm at Dorrigo on Friday. As we were keen to fish the big river this was more than enough of a risk for us to either cancel or find somewhere different.

So I decided we would head North and aim to launch at the top of a system and even though it looked like rain for Friday and the water would be dirty from a flood 2 weeks ago, I thought we had a good chance of finding some Bass.

Day 1

We awoke to torrential rain at 4am so the boys sat at my kitchen table nervously drinking coffee as I checked the Radar and every website prediction I could find. Finally, I looked at them and said: “Its on”.

As we paddled down the river we knew it was going to be a tough day but spirits were high and the lads were just happy to be on the water doing what they love.

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The rain came in small waves and between the showers we managed a couple of Bass and just as we thought we may be OK, we noticed the big black cloud. Then it rained, I mean really, really rained and it didn’t let up for ages. My new waterproof coat eventually gave up and it started leaking. The fellas informed me that they were also in the same predicament and by lunch, we were all shivering and feeling a bit over it. We pulled over and I got the billy on, a cup of soup with some cheese and ham wraps was all that was needed and as we paddled off we all felt much better.

By the time we hit camp there were only Six fish on the board and as we sat and had a quick beer we all decided to have an early night and put an end to the day.

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Day 2

We awoke to no rain and the chaps wasted no time in getting out on the water. Miles took the first fish and it was a cracking 45cm Bass in mint condition.  Neil missed a big hit from a Bass way up under a tree near where a small stream joined the river. Undeterred he jumped out the Yak and stalked the fish from the bank tea-bagging his lure through the reeds. Wallop, it was all too much for the Bass and after a few brief runs Neil had landed this beauty.
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As the morning went on there was a definite change in the weather and as we progressed the fish started to come on the bite. By lunchtime, everyone had had a decent fish and we started to get some really good numbers with Neil also managing a nice Cod out of the dirty water on his Ballista Trance proving they work well in the murky stuff just like it says on the packet.29351560_10215940328443603_1849010619596664689_oAbout an hour before we hit camp it looked like a storm was brewing and the Bass started to really turn it on with acrobatic takes and aggression that only a rapid change in a weather system can bring.

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After we set up camp we all went out again for a paddle and Neil managed another nice high 40`s fish but other than that it was fairly quiet with only the odd surface hit from time to time. We headed back and all sat around the fire for some food, cold beers, and numerous fishing stories.

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Day 3

The boys headed out about an hour before light (I stayed in bed) and as they threw large surface lures into the darkness they just couldn’t tempt a fish. They managed a couple more Bass as the light came up in the fast water and Just before returning to camp Miles lost a big Bass that the other boys said peeled line right across the water.29549959_10160494513370352_14532931_nWe packed up and paddled our way down the river only managing 2 more fish before the trip was over.

With over 30 fish landed and plenty of missed opportunities, I think the boys did brilliantly. I know they enjoyed themselves as I can’t recall fishing with a bunch of blokes that laughed so much.

DC

The Big River

Glen had booked this trip looking for a mix of fish and some amazing camping in the hope that he and his boy Mitch could spend some time on the water before the school term started.
The weather looked great except for a bit of wind. The moon, pressure, river height and all the other factors were as good as they could be.

I picked up the 2 of them at 4.30am from the Motel and we set off having decided to paddle the big river even though the Bass have been on a slow bite lately. They had gone for a walk the night before after we had met up for a beer and Mitch managed a good Bass off the surface on our local river.

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After arriving at the launch point we set off down through the first rapid and I smiled as Glen and Mitch managed to hit every rock on the way. Canoes can take a little time to get used to and Glen confessed he may have only been in One or maybe Two in his life and he was excited to learn some new skills. He was not to know at this point that by the end of the trip he would look like he had been doing it for years.

We navigated a few smaller rapids and as we entered a slower pool Mitch`s Pompadour was smashed off the surface by a nice Cod.

The young fella was stoked and after a few pictures, we were on our way.
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As the day went on Glen picked up a couple of good Cod and a 1mtr+ Eel but Mitch was the top rod at the end of the day landing another 3 fish.

We set up camp and everyone was knackered so after a quick flick and me missing an opportunity of a Bass we decided to have an easy night around the fire and a few beers.

27604263_10160222754440352_791133246_oNext day was a big paddle and for some reason, the fish had shut down even more. Things became really tough, Glen managed a couple more Cod and I eventually hooked a fish but poor Mitch didn’t see a fish all day. I don’t think he cared too much though and we enjoyed the river and Mitch loved the rapids.
27398045_10160212425220352_168398530_oOnce camp was set up we headed out for a walk up the banks in the dark and I managed to lose a big Cod right at the bank (idiot). After a couple of hours fishing and no fish, we headed back and had a quick drink then bed.27605381_10160222754400352_1409864189_oMorning came and after some Eggs and Bacon we set off for the last part of the trip. Just as we were about to stow our rods away Mitch had a Cod smash his lure in full aerial strike. There is nothing better than a hungry Cod hit surface strike.
27535909_10160222754585352_174452098_oThis trip didn’t really deliver the numbers this guide likes to show but his clients had a great time.

The river was in perfect condition and Glen and Mitch were the most awesome guests.

Lucky Escape

David had booked a trip with us back in spring and we had been exchanging emails and photos of tackle boxes for weeks and weeks.

He was flying up from Melbourne, and when I collected him from the Airport it was clear on meeting him that the trip was going to be easy at least as far as the companionship would go. We headed back to my place to start to load Canoes and prep our gear.

The next morning we arrived at the launch point, parked up and unpacked our gear. I spent some time with Dave loading his canoe as it was his first experience with one and then went and loaded my gear. By the time I had set up my rod and checked everything I noticed something really odd. The river was now up to the tyres of my Ute.

I scratched my head and tried to work out why I had parked so close to the water and then it hit me, I had not, the water was coming up and bloody FAST!

I jumped on the Satcom and asked Curto to check the heights for me and he came back that it was already 1.4m and rising.

So that was that. You can run the big river at 1.54m+ but not with fishing gear and no helmets etc. We packed all the gear away and I thanked our lucky stars that we were running an hour late as we would have already set off and we would have had a problem. Dave, of course, was completely oblivious to how lucky we had been. On the way back he did make a random demand that he wanted a Strawberry Milkshake and I put this down to him being from Melbourne. I drove into town and as all good guides should, I delivered what the client wanted.

By midday, we were now at an alternative launch point. The one I had previously decided not to use as it was still running a little dirty. However, you gotta do what you gotta do.27046666_10160153274235352_511140059_o

After a few hours on the water it was just as I had feard the bite was really tough and unless you put the lure right on the fish’s nose they were not interested.

Dave was going to take a day to get to grips with the Canoe and tune into the situation whilst I picked up a couple of nice Bass with the biggest going 47cm. By the time we hit the first camp he had not had a fish.

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We set up camp and went out for a night paddle but with no hits and the fact it was 35c and humid as Hell we decided to head back and get an early night.26981481_10160149069600352_1733168196_o

The next morning we made an early start after some Eggs and Bacon and paddled our way down the river. Dave just didn’t seem to get a hit and I managed a couple more fish from putting my lure deep into the cover. I was really starting to worry and felt bad as he had come so far and now it looked like it was going to be a rubbish trip for him.

In the late afternoon about an hour away from the next camp I heard “YEP” and was relieved to see Dave getting towed into the bushes by a decent Bass. By the time I made it to him he had subdued the fish and I slid the net under it (thank God).

A quick measure and photo and Daves first-ever Aussie Bass came in at 46cm, not bad hey?

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We made it to camp and followed the usual routine of setting up and headed out for a fish. A few hours later and we were back at camp with nothing to show for our efforts. The wind had started to really blow and the weed floating in the water was seriously becoming a pain in the backside.

Jo had sent us a message saying that there was a weather change coming and I hoped this would be the catalyst for a better bite but sadly I was wrong.
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I awoke in the night to find myself freezing. It was really cold and I didn’t have much more than a light sleeping bag and a small blanket or “Blanky” as Dave called it. Brilliant.

Next morning the Fish were totally shut down and we paddled the river hoping things would pick up. I cycled through my usual lures and tried some other wacky stuff but it was of no use and we just had to keep flicking.

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We found a few more fish as the day wore on and over the next 2 days it was truly a hard slog. We did have some fun on the last night as I paddled Dave around a decent hole. We witnessed a Bass smash something off the top just in front of us and then Dave managed his first Bass at night.26909757_10160149077045352_1622383904_oHe also managed to have an Eel boof his lure off the surface (horrible things) that I had great fun with.

I think Dave had a great trip and even though we had a few things against us he came away wanting more as he had rebooked for spring next year.

Incidentally, amongst the 20+ fish we also managed a couple of deformed Bass that only a mother would love….

 

 

Close but no Cigar (Hat)

Owens wife had secretly organised a trip for his birthday back in August so when we collected Owen from the airport he was as keen as they come.

With the Rivers still running a little dirty, we set off in the late afternoon and headed for our first nights camp. We fished what would normally be productive water but worryingly the fish were completely shut down. After setting up camp we headed out for a night session but after a couple of hours called it quits and paddled back without one hit.

This was not looking good.

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Next morning we were up early and fished for a couple of hours and Owen managed a couple of Boofs off the surface but they didn’t result in a fish.

We set off and made our way to some lower pools. Finally, we found a few small Bass here and there falling to our Spinnerbaits, then a small Cod. We had Lunch and talked about how we hoped things would pick up but the reality is sometimes it just doesn’t happen.

As we neared the end of a smaller hole I hooked a decent Cod and this perked us up a little so we pushed on.

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We set up camp and headed out for an afternoon session hoping that the storm we could see building would get things moving.

Wasnt long before Owen was onto a big Bass and after a bit of excitement (mostly from me), it was safely in the Net.

49cm of Bass is a great fish but being 1cm off the magic 50 left Owen without a “Wild River Tours” hat (50cm Bass or 1m Cod wins a hat) but I don’t think he was that bothered and we paddled back to camp feeling victorious.

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Next morning we were up early and within a few casts, a monster Cod had smashed my Pompadour off the surface. She was a cracker of a fish going 90cm and it took Owen 2 seconds to change his lure from a spinnerbait to see if we could fool another fish.

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With Owen sitting up the front of the canoe, I paddled him up the river and in no time his Lure was destroyed by another monster.

For the next 2 hours, Owen was in Cod heaven.

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With 5 cod over 70cm (90, 87, 84, 80 and 70) we headed back to camp for breakfast and to talk about what had just happened.

I have had some sessions with Cod but never had only Big Fish hitting the lure like that.

Great stuff.

 

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Winners are grinners :)

Some of you may recall that in the closed season we held a competition for an overnight trip and my companion for this weekend was the winner of that competition, Sean Conneely.

The rivers have been difficult of late and last weeks storm had really added some colour to the river but after a recon visit the day before, I was confident there was just enough visibility for us to harras the local Bass. We had already decided that Spinnerbaits (I hate them) and Beetle spin setups would probably win the day due to the colour but we were hopeful of being proven wrong.
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Day One started slowly with Sean picking up the first fish on a paddle tail soft plastic. We cycled through the usual Lures but nothing would work. We decided that I would throw a Spinnerbait (ugh) and Sean started to work the Beetle Spin in the tight edges and snags. Sean had landed 5 or so fish so I changed to match his setup and that set the tone for the rest of the trip.
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We soon worked out that the Fish were tucked right into the bank and snags and unless you managed to cast and put the lure on the fishes nose you would think that the river didn’t have any fish living in it what so ever. As the day progressed Sean was smoked by a monster Bass and he then realised why us country folk use 20lb braid and not 10lb braid like those city fellas (isn’t that right Sean)?
At the end of the day we had managed 15 fish and as we paddled back to camp we were treated to one of the most stunning sunsets I have ever seen that went on for over an hour.

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Day Two and we awoke to a Satellite message from Joanne saying that Super Cells were expected and severe storms were heading our way. Brilliant!

As an experiment, Sean changed from a Motor Oil to a White plastic. After I had picked up 4 fish casting at water he had already fished we agreed that there was only one colour (Green) and that was that.
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The Fish were on fire and so was Sean, we were having a blast. That is right up until I noticed a big white cloud forming in the distance. Within no time the storm was all around us and I was feeling a little silly, you see I had reassured Sean 10 minutes before that it will probably miss us.
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This was by far the biggest Hail Storm I had been caught in and when I can I will upload the Video. It was actually frightening at one point.

We had a Beer and some lunch (Tin of beans) as we took shelter from the remaining storm and after 30 minutes we were back fishing. The fish didn’t seem to care about the storm and we picked our way through the tight rapids and bottle brush trees adding another 25 Fish to the tally before we hit camp.25198705_10159975576060352_1507789230_oThe final day and we awoke early and were fishing just on first light. I was smoked by a big Bass on my second cast that made for its home in the mess of bottle brush roots. Sean was on form (again) and was landing fish after fish. We went back to camp and packed up and made our way down the river. As we progressed nearer the exit point the fish shut down and we closed the trip on 56 Bass and 2 Cod. We had lost maybe 20-30 fish and considering the terrible water quality Sean had done brilliantly.

Such a great trip, Joanne and I are really happy that Sean had a great time and I can honestly say he was a very deserving winner.

On a side note check out this amazing Python that we passed that had just had breakfast from what looks like some poor Duck or maybe a bush Pheasant.

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Up from the Big Smoke!

The boys from Bass Sydney Fishing club were waiting for me when I drove in and after a few handshakes and G`days we loaded up my Ute and headed off to our start point. Doug, Rico and Damien had a million questions and couldn’t wait to get going. We set off in the morning mist and the boys started cycling through Lures trying to find something that would get us on the board.

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Ricos stunning Cod

Reports had suggested that the river was shut down and after a tough day fishing, we had only a few Cod to show and one small Bass so it looked like we were in for a fairly challenging trip.

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Doug having a swim

Whilst portaging a main rapid we had a small mishap with 1 of the canoes and after some panic, shouting, leveraging the canoe from its pinned rock and then retrieving all the dry bags and gear Doug had earnt the nickname “Dangerous Doug” or “DD” (to his friends) for the rest of the trip.

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O dear

We set up camp and at dusk we went out for a paddle only for Doug to have a fish hit his surface lure and whip the Rod out of his hands. He couldn’t believe it and it looked like it was lost to the river. I was fairly confident we could find it in the morning, so the boys pressed on and fished into the late hours for only a couple more smallish Cod.

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Another tough day at the office

In the morning we managed to get “Dangerous Doug`s” Rod back and headed off down river hoping to pick up some bigger fish. Over the next couple of days, the boys focused on trying to find a decent sized Bass but the river was on lockdown.

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Damien at the end of the falls

On the last night, Rico managed to sneak a perfectly conditioned 40cm whilst throwing large surface Lures as we all walked the bank for a few hours.

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Rico with his Bass

29 Fish with a 40cm Bass and a 60cm Cod was the final tally. I think the boys had a great time and from a guides point of view, you couldn’t ask for easier clients.

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I’ll say nothing.

 

 

 

When it blows from the East the fish bite least

23 fish may sound a lot but when you put 4 experienced Fisho`s on New South Wales premier river (arguably) over 3 days the numbers should be 60-80.
However, Bass can be moody little buggers and we were faced with the fact that the weather had turned to custard and the barometer was sitting at 1011. Then add an Easterly wind this was really going to be a struggle.

Day One Scotty upset a great Bass from out in the middle of a decent size hole. It was all smiles and photos as this Bass smashed Scotty`s previous best and it set the mood high and we all thought that maybe things would be OK.23516039_10159838738585352_521606720_oUnfortunately, this would be the only fish landed for the rest of the day and by the time we hit camp the mood was low. A few beers and some very nice Scotch that Chris had brought along (I think it was very expensive) lifted the mood and I ended up having one of the best afternoons just sitting and chatting that I think I have ever had on the river.

Day Two and Chris paddled out whilst we finished breaking camp and within seconds a small Cod had taken a shine to his lure. I wouldn’t call Chris an excitable fella but he started shouting and gesturing as a giant Cod came up from the depths and grabbed the small Cod he had on. The big Cod let go and just before Chris could do anything a different Cod came up and hit the small Cod off the lure and then took the Lure. Chris only had light fishing gear so we quickly paddled out to help to land this stunning Eastern Cod.23584220_10159838735905352_886539610_oThe rest of the day we picked off Bass and Cod mostly from the bigger holes. Jason had sent a deep diver down and was rewarded with one of the biggest hits I have seen and we all thought he had hooked a really sizeable Cod. By the way the fish was hugging the bottom you would have thought it was a 70cm Cod but he coaxed her up and netted this perfect Bass. I think I was more excited than him as it is great to see not only a client but also a bloody good mate catch a new PB.
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When we neared the end of the same hole I hooked a 40cm Bass and just as I had him beaten I also had a giant Cod come up and grab the poor fella. The lads laughed as I shouted and screamed for the 90cm+ oath to let my precious Bass go and after a big tail slap on the surface he/she sunk back down into the darkness.
2 Cod attacks in 1 trip are really unusual but its great to see some big fish around and I really wouldn’t to be a small fish living in that river.

Day Three and we awoke to wind and spitting rain.
We had already decided that we might paddle out and get back to the cars early as work commitments loomed and the weather was just crap.

So on reflection, it was so amazing to be back on the big river again after 3 months I absolutely love it and dread the day I am too old to paddle it. Although we didn’t slay the fish I think 4 new PB`s for the lads on 1 trip is pretty bloody good and spending time with people like Chris, Jason and Scott really make this job pretty easy.

Dave.