Adulting seems to have taken ahold of my weekends, with the majority of my time being spent either house hunting or attending kid’s sporting events. And while these are both massively exciting activities, I’m always itching to climb onto my kayak to catch a few fish on fly.
On Sunday, eager to try something new, I headed for Lane Cove River to target Australian bass. Although I’ve caught many an Aussie bass before, they’ve all been impoundment fish, and the prospect of targeting wild fish amongst the snags excited me.
I arrived at the park just after the gates opened at 9am, and headed straight for the kayak launch site. After putting the yak in the water, I headed downstream, focusing on the structure up against the bank, likely to hold fish. The water was extremely dirty, with no more than 30cms of visibility, and a lot of loose debris both on and below the surface. Having never been to the venue before, I was unsure as to whether this was normal, or as a result of the significant amount of rain we’d had in the preceding week.
Heading downstream proved to be a bad idea as more and more people arrived at the waterway, hiring kayaks and swan shaped pedal boats. As the river became crowded, I changed plans, turned around, and headed upstream instead.
Once again alone on the water, I got back to fishing. I chose to spend the day targeting fish on the surface, using small poppers, rather than with subsurface flies. I did this for a few reasons. Firstly, with the poor visibility, I was hoping that the popping noise would attract fish to the fly. Secondly, it was an overcast day, which meant I was more likely to have an all day surface bite. And finally, it’s just more fun when you can see the fish hit the fly.
The scenery upstream was incredible, with limitless snags and overhangs being offered up by the thick forest meeting the river. With endless options, I fished structure selectively, trying my luck on only the most likely bass holding spots.
The first sign of a fish I spotted appeared to be a freshwater catfish. It was swimming slowly, just below the surface in the middle of the river, and was certainly a strange looking species. In fact, for quite some time I was left wondering whether it was in fact an eel. Thankfully, a fish jumped nearby, distracting me from the catfish and focusing me back on the bass.
Up to this point fishing had been slow, possibly due to the off colour water. However things took a turn for the better as I got higher upstream, and the river started to narrow in width. Casting up against a sunken tree, a bass smashed my popper on just the second strip, and the fight was on. After a short fight, dragging it away from the structure, I landed my first wild, river, Australian bass, measuring around 35cms. This fish was followed by another 10 minutes later, at which point I decided to call it a day and head home.
Despite the slow start it turned out to be a very successful first trip. And in spite of (what I believe to be) dirtier than normal water, I produced a pair of good fish, and thoroughly enjoyed the scenery. I’ll certainly be back!