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.

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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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.

The Perfect Trip?

We had changed our minds a few times over the last few weeks in regards to where we will fish, but we finally agreed on some high Northern New South Wales hills and we made the drive towards some access I had secured the year before.

When we arrived there was a local fixing up something by the gate so I jumped out of the car for a quick chat and things escalated quickly. He was aggressive and in my face within seconds and it looked like we were about to have a dust-up. After some short words and when he accepted the fact that I was not going to back down or was not there to rob his house, he softened just like Jackal and Hyde. He was all smiles and now giving me advice as to where I can drive in and what to look out for.

Some odd people live in those hills.

Laughing this off we unloaded the Canoes and said our goodbyes to poor old Joanne who had to make the drive home past our new friend’s place (Mr. Hyde).

 

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Always good to have a launch picture so the rescuers know what to look for!

 

We got to camp in a few hours with no sign of a fish and made ourselves comfy for the night around a small fire and a couple of cold beers.

The next morning Frank was up like a shot and paddled out to a small hole not far from camp.

Twenty minutes later he was back and he shouted: “get the camera”.

 

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Frank with his 48cm Bass

 

Now with high expectations, we set off around 9am and fished hard but with the massive Moon, I didn’t expect to see much till late morning.

Around 11am the fish started to show and we started to clock up some good numbers.
Just around Midday, I hooked a fish with my Mazzy Popper that had some weight. It took me straight into a snag and I was bricked. I instantly jumped into the water like some lunatic and swam towards the snag leaving my canoe and paddle to start to float down the river.

I managed to untangle the line from the snag and to my amazement the fish was still on. Soon as she broke the surface I could see it was a big Bass and in the excitement, I was shouting all kinds of nonsense at Frank (he has this on Video and may hold me to ransom one day).

 

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54cm of Wild River Bass

 

By the time we finished up at camp we had 20 or so fish. We set up camp and went back out straight away. We fished from a single canoe, walked the banks for a few hours just picking off Bass and Cod until we had over 30 fish in total. That night around the fire we talked about the crazy wind we had been competing with and of course the amazing Bass & Cod we had landed.

The next day we were up early and as keen as Mustard.

We picked our way down the river and targetted pools with the Mazzy Poppers, Alive Chatter Baits and anything else we could use. Frank used a spinnerbait in the deep holes to upset the Bass that thought they were safe. With this type of fishing, Eastern Cod are a bycatch but as they are actually a protected species so you need a quick photo and return them to the water to go about their day.

In the late afternoon, Frank hooked onto a really big Cod that had him in all sorts of trouble. His reel was given a run for its money but he landed the 80cm chunk and it was not till later when we stripped it we noticed he had totally melted his Clutch.

The fishing on this trip was as good as it ever gets and even with the wind and the giant Moon, the fish played the game.

The final score was 114 fish and by the time we got to the car (on Franks 40th Birthday) we had both had enough.

Dave.