After the schoolie on Friday, I was looking forward to chucking more lures around, as I’m feeling more confident using them with almost every session. However three sessions in and I was getting a bit frustrated, seeing glimpses of fish activity but not being able entice a bite. Its all experience though, now I’ve got a better idea of a usually reliable mark, and tried out another for a couple of sessions.
Wednesday evening I was in two minds, whether to get out for rays, or try again with the lures for bass. Still don’t know what sold it for me but it was the lures bagged up and off I went.
I started off walking up an down the Swellies, an area well known for bass, but for the uninitiated finding the fish feeding times can prove a tricky quest. I made my way along to a likely looking point, casting as I went. Even though the water in front of me screamed bass, tide run pushing over several rocky, weedy pinnacles, clear ground between them and slack water off to the side, I couldn’t tempt a take. One fish breaking the surface was the only activity I saw. It was a good little fact finding mission though, definitely a mark that is worth trying again to get right as I think the potential is for those big solitary fish.
I left the swellies and headed to a mark that had seen previous success for me, and Wednesday I arrived at the same time to attempt to understand how it would fish on a slightly bigger tide. I began working various lures, primarily my reliable Maria Angel Kiss, but also a Nabarone imaX, chug bug and a Flash J- minnow (i think, packaging now in the bin). As the water was a little further off the mark I intended to fish hard I started casting from a couple of sandbanks on the way down as a nice bit of current was creating tempting eddies close to the shore. The wind made things a little trickier than last time, and while the water was slack the water was thick with plankton. The marine biologist in me was amazed by the microscopic life teeming in front of me, planktonic ragworm like worms, what looked like copepods and crustacean larvae all enjoying a feast. However I was here to catch fish, and with the water like soup I knew my chances weren’t as good. I got closer to my intended mark and found someone just packing up. A quick chat about all things fishing, and I now have a few more marks to try in future, the fella definitely knew his stuff.
Recommencing fishing I wasted no time blasting out the lures, sticking to floating shallow divers as the soft plastics snagged on basically everything on the way in. The bigger tide meant the water was ploughing through now, combining that with the wind made it difficult to control the lure the way I wanted. I persisted through, knowing if I was going to get a take it would be imminent, keeping the head torch off as much as possible now I could see the algae clearing slightly.
I flung out a cast towards the expected “kill zone” and as I began the retrieve there was an unmistakable pull and line was leaving the reel. Happy days – fish on! The fight began much as I expected, the fish hit the surface before ploughing off down tide taking 15-20 metres of line. This was the point with the 4lber’s that I was able to turn them and despite some shorter spirited runs I was able to beach them pretty quickly. However this fish had other ideas. I gained a small amount of line before it tore off again, and kept going… and going some more, leaving me wondering out loud “what have I hooked here”. The line was getting down to where I could see the backing so I decided to take drastic action and stop it taking line by sticking my finger on the spool.
It did the trick, the fish stopped and appeared to hang deep in a channel. Unfortunately with about 60 metres of braid out over mixed ground, inevitably it got wrapped around some unseen snag. After a couple of minutes of stalemate it was time for drastic action again. I prayed for no breaks, and applied some sustained pressure. Before long everything relaxed and I felt the tell tale nodding of the bass but it was free moving again. Now the battle was to bring it to where I was standing. It kept making shorter runs, both in towards the shore, and out to deeper water but I felt now it was out of the snags I was getting the upper hand. As it was coming in caught glimpses of it on the surface and it was clearly in excess of 4lb. It made one last short burst before I was able to bring the fish along side me, and in full view I was astonished by the size of it. I carefully guided it up the rocks ensuring there would be no tales of the one that got away. This was the fish I was after, this is the type of fish that for me makes all the effort and blanks worth while.
I set the fish down on some damp seaweed to quickly get the essentials – hook out, photo and measure. I haven’t tended to bother weighing any fish of late, I find the process takes a bit too long for me and I trust in the BASS length to weight conversion. 73cm nose to fork which on the conversion puts it at around 9lb 8oz, a stonking new best. After a couple of duff self timer photos I managed to capture the moment perfectly before holding the fish in the current. After a couple of minutes it started to kick its tail and it slowly made it way back out to its watery home.
While on cloud nine I threw my gear back in my bag a sent out a few more casts. By now though I had lost the eddy in front of me and I believe the fish had probably moved on. Not that I was bothered as after just 10 more minutes I decided nothing was going to top what just happened. As you can imagine it took a while for me to get to sleep, and if I didn’t have it before I’ve definitely caught the lure bug now!