Winter Bass fishing can be tough and you never know if your efforts will be rewarded. I just need to be on the river so the fishing takes a second place from the paddling and camping. I had been promising my mate Dave a trip and as we paddled under the first bridge there was the usual feel of excitement that I sense with every trip.
We paddled for a hour flicking as we went when we settled into a nice pool. I flicked my favourite Atomic Slapper just on the edge of the flow, as I cranked the handle I was woken up by a giant boof that sounded like a shotgun going off. Nooooooo, the fish had missed the lure, I kept cranking and a few turns later the water exploded and I was towed around the pool for the next 5 minutes. I know I go on about it, but the Eastern Cod is truly a remarkable creature. They have been brought back from the edge of extinction and now inhabit nearly all of the rivers I fish. They grow to over a meter and eat nearly everything, including Bass lures. You are not allowed to target them, but frankly its now impossible to fish the river without meeting a few of them.
As we made our way down the river Dave managed a couple of nice Bass as he targeted the pools and moving water. Dave has owned the iconic Bass Lodge for many years and has done plenty of fishing in the stunning Macleay River, but was new to this system.
I however, seemed to be tuned into the Cod. I did managed to finally catch a good Bass that slurped my surface lure down like a oyster, but then went on a mad rampage around the shallows, such good fun.
When we arrived at camp Dave was a little sad as he was keen to be introduced to a Cod, as I mentioned they are a protected species so you can not target them. It would be fairly easy to catch one if you threw the usual Cod lures, but with hefty fines and a moral code you just have to hope the Cod god`s shine on you. When we woke in the morning it was spitting with rain and the weather had taken a turn. Being a Pom the rain shouldn’t bother me but it bloody does, not as much as the wind though. I was still getting Cod and would have landed maybe 10-12 when Dave said “what the F`is going on, we are throwing the same lures but I’ve not even had a Cod hit my lure”?
I paddled over and inspected Dave`s lure. The wings had been slightly bent and needed to be more pronounced so that you could retrieve it slower, but with the same water displacement and noise as when you do it fast. This is really important when it’s a tougher bite as you want to give the fish enough time to think, so it looks like a easy feed “I’m gonna eat that”. He had also tied the leader direct to the lure without a loop knot. This stops the lure working freely and when you retrieve it, it pulls the lure down in the water instead of on top of it where it can displace the water. I retied the lure with a loop and bent the wing stems out and gave the rod back to Dave. Now this may seem like a fisherman’s tale but Dave cast the lure into a spot he had thrown at many times previously, as he started to retrieve the lure a bow wave came up behind it, and then disappeared, he kept winding and then again a second wave, and it also disappeared, and then BOOM!
Being a guide has some really special experiences but this one was right at the top, Dave was so happy, it was a very special moment to have a man that truly is a great all round fisherman thank you from the heart. Here is the nice message he also sent when he got home.
Hey Dave, Thanks for a terrific “Wild River Adventure”! The sequence of events (recounted below), leading to my PB 850 mm eastern cod is an experience that I won’t forget any time soon. The fact that I was getting utterly “towelled up” watching you catch several fish (including your 950 mm giant eastern cod) which then led me to seriously question my lure techniques, thence to our quite remarkable conversation (with you making very subtle changes to the lure presentation), thence to watching that fish’s bow wave on the VERY next cast (with modified and tuned Atomic surface lure), then to catch and release a fish of that quality is truly unforgettable. Totally appreciate it. Dave T