Anticipation was high as the 4wd lurched down the bumpy road. We had planned a week on the river and hopefully the bass would cooperate. “Stop” my fishing buddy yelled as the vehicle crested over the mountain and the panorama of river valley opened up before us. Once again the big digital SLR camera was produced. “I can’t believe how beautiful this country is” was heard between the clicks of the camera. Having a pro photographer on board was going to be interesting, as the trip in was taking twice as long as usual because of all the photo stops!
The Northern Rivers has had a very wet bass season and a lot of my favourite places has been running high and dirty for some time. On reaching the river I viewed it with mixed feelings. There was still a strong flow and the water was still coloured, but it was looking the best I had seen it for a couple of months. The 4wd was unpacked and camp was set up with the roar of the river in the background. The lure of a cool swim beckoned after the hot dusty ride in and it was about this time that I was thankful that my pro photographer fishing buddy was a female…
The trip had been organised because Deb wanted to do a photo expose of the river and I need some decent photos for a magazine article that was being put together. A blue moon was also in the offing. This was the second blue moon of the year and this rare event of two blue moons in a year only happens two or three times a century. Most fishermen try and give full moon fishing a miss but to me there was something magical and romantic about this rare astrological event. I was hoping the fish and the photographer felt the same way!
Backpacks were loaded with fishing gear and camera equipment as we headed off early the next morning with great expectations. The mist was still laying low in the valley and there was a slight chill in the air. As we surveyed the first decent pool that was encountered I tied on a Dreamfish Buzzbait. I had been having great success with this surface lure over the past two seasons. It imitates a lizard or some fast moving creature scuttling across the surface of the pool. The retrieve is much faster than an ordinary surface lure and the strike can be spectacular.
The first cast was landed just passed the foam that had formed in the pool from the turbulence of the still fast flowing rapids at its head. As the lure touched the water I started the retrieve. There was a swirl and a bump of the buzzbait but no hookup. A promising start, at least I knew there was somebody home. The next cast was put slightly to the right of the previous one. The bubble trail that the buzzbait leaves as it travels through the water is like an open invitation for any hungry bass in the area to come and dine on this poor creature.
Crash! The water exploded all around the surface lure and the braid peeled from the reel at a rate of knots. “Bloody hell, what was that?” Deb yelled as she was perched on a nearby rock capturing all the action. This felt like a decent fish and she tried for all she was worth to shake the buzzbait free from her mouth. As the lovely female bass finally came to the edge of the pool, I gently held her so Deb could get some close ups of the head and the lure. I explained that all the big bass are females and such a beautiful creature is too good to be only caught once. As the camera clicked away, she was gently released and swam away defiantly.
As we continued our hike downstream I would probe each promising pool or backwater for our elusive prey. One of my old favourites, a Bill’s Bug fizzer, was tied on. The bass were still showing an interest in surface presentations and being surface fishing tragic, I still had high hopes. As the bug spluttered and fizzed across the smooth surface of the pool, it was bumped by a good fish. I paused the bug where it was and just waited. The fizzer was bumped again but still no hookup. I gave it one quick sharp fizz and as soon as it stopped, it was hammered.
“Wow, did you see that?” Deb yelled, stating the obvious. It is always interesting to see the reaction of a bass fishing novice to such a massive strike. I could hear the digital camera clicking away as I once again battled with a monster from the deep. The bass was trying to head for the fast current out in the middle of the river and I knew it would be trouble if she made it that far. There was also a rock jutting from the water and I tried desperately to turn her by tightening the drag and just hanging on. Worn out, she came to the bank for some great photos before being released.
As the sun peaked over the surrounding hills, I tied on some diving lures. I explained to Deb that the bass would go deeper in the water as the sun’s rays penetrated the surface. A Dreamfish Wild Thing was tied on. This is basically a spinnerbait with a plastic tail and it can be bumped over logs and rocks to attract the wary bass. When the fishing is slow, I have been experimenting with adding some scent to the plastic.
The rod bucked and lurched in my hands and I was on again. A serious curve developed in the rod and once more I knew that there was a good fish on the end.
As we sat around the campfire that night we reviewed what had been a perfect day. Some good bass had been caught and photographed and Deb had been blown away by the whole experience. This was only day one of our adventure and it could only get better from here. Two tired individuals looked at each other in the flicker of the flames. Then the blue moon appeared from behind the clouds and bathed the surrounding area in a soft romantic light. No bass fishing tonight…
Graeme “The Cod” Bowes
Click here to buy some Buzzmasters or Wild Things!!
Remember: Dream it, See it, Catch it