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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.He 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….