I presume that for many of us, we’re back at work now and holidays are a distant memory as we settle back into our routines. I for one, struggled the first week back and spent many moments thinking about the fishing I did during the break. The highlight for me, aside from watching 7 or 8, 30cm+ bream muscling each other out of the way to eat my Luckycraft Sammy on the Hawkesbury, would have to be the little morning Bass session I did with Craig Ainsworth on the Maria River in Port Macquarie.
It was one of those impromptu fishing trips, without expectation, that you do when on holidays. I travelled to Port this year minus the boat, and Craig was good enough to offer to take me out. I brought only 2 rods, and a fistful of lures, and was keen as, to get into some Port Macquarie River Bass.
The hardest part of the trip was waking at 4.50am after having spent almost a week catching up on some much needed sleep.
On mornings like this, running up river, it’s easy to get lost in your own little world as the engine hums loud enough to prevent a conversation, and the scenery drifts past. I actually caught myself sitting completely blank a couple of times before Craig pulled up on his first little spot. Now before anyone asks me where exactly we were, I have no idea, except to say it was the upper reaches of the Maria. I was blissfully ignorant of location and was content to have someone else at the reigns and making the decisions. Actually more than once Craig offered me to take over the electric and fish from the front, and I happily declined, content to fish from the back of the boat.
The morning started slowly with a few boils on our surface lures, without a hookup. The Bass seemed noncommittal, often circling under the lure or following it out from the shadows, keeping a safe distance from the foreign disturbance on the surface.
We persisted for a while, fishing the snags and edges, when suddenly on the up-current edge of one particular sunken tree I got the “berjesus” scared out of me, as I was drifting off into that blank place again, and a Bass slammed the surface, missing my lure. Startled, I wound the Sammy in and pitched it back onto the edge of the snag. Two twitches and “BOOF” on the surface again, my lure gets inhaled and I’m on to the biggest river Bass I’ve ever caught. Biggest by a long shot in fact. My previous biggest river Bass was one of those 25cm brutes from the Nepean, so this mid 30’s Bass had me all pumped up – I’m starting to understand what it is that Josh has been ranting and raving about all this time.
That was the last fish we got on surface, and after a period of hesitant swirls and misses, I changed over to a crank bait to see if I could tempt one sub surface. I had a stack of large bass crankbaits that I wanted to try out on my new Team Daiwa X 641MLRB and T3 Ballistic combo – and, yes they make the Ballistic in a “Lefty” that I spooled with 6lb Finesse Brave .
I pulled a Rapala Crakin Rap out of the tackle box first and motioned to Craig, asking if it was too big? “No” was the answer, so on it went and second cast hooked up to another decent fish. This was followed by another, and another and continued on throughout the morning, with the largest being a healthy fish around the 40cm mark. Craig tried the crankbait also, throwing a selection of smaller bream sized lures, with not a great deal of success – it seemed as though the fish were reacting to the big profile and the loud rattle of the Rapala.
Towards the end of the morning we ducked into a little creek off the main river. Barely wide enough to fit Craig’s tinny down and first cast on the Crakin Rap, it got hammered on the edge. This was probably the best tussle of the morning, and low and behold, what swam into the net was a nice bream – what did we learn? Bream like big crankbaits too.
It was an excellent morning of fishing, where we landed over 10 Bass and more than a handful of very respectable Bream. What topped it off was that we had the boat washed and back in the garage before midday to settle back into our holiday routines with our families!
Thanks Craig, looking forward to doing that again soon!