We arrived at the dam at 7am ready for action. As we were unpacking the gear the natural beauty of our surrounds demanded our attention. The mist slowly rising from the lake, revealing lotus flowers in the morning light. I heard someone comment “just being here was worth it already”. It is always such a pleasure to hear people appreciate the natural beauty of this wetland as much as I do. My job was already done and we hadn’t even wet a line yet.
The 5 of us diligently peppered the lake with our lures throughout the morning. We cycled through a number of different presentations, altering our retrieves and changing lures. But we had no bites at all. The water at Clarrie Hall is currently very turbid. I haven’t seen it this colour before and I am not sure what has caused the turbidity. With no significant recent rainfall, the discolouration it is likely due to an algal bloom. These events can strip the water of oxygen leaving the bass lethargic and unwilling to eat. High temperatures alone also decrease dissolved oxygen levels and may have resulted in a die off of some aquatic weed. This could further exasperate the issue. Either way the fish were certainly ‘off the chew’ so we decided to head for the river.
It was good to see the Tweed had recovered from its previous turbid and somewhat stagnant state. There had been just enough rain to flush the system and it looked great. Using spinnerbaits and hard bodies the boys worked all likely looking snags. By 5pm the boys had caught about 10 bass between them. They worked hard for their fish and deserved every one of them. Their enthusiasm, appreciation and help throughout the day was awesome. Days like this its a real privilege to be a guide. You guys are welcome back anytime!
What do you do when it’s too hot to go fishing?……”MAN UP GIRLY BOY” and go fishing anyway!! With temperatures forecast to reach the high 30’s/ low 40’s it was always going to be hot. So with plenty of sun protection and plenty of fluids Ned and I hit the dam nice and early. To make things more challenging, there was not a breath of wind until about 1pm so it was a little sticky to say the least.
With the surface temperature so warm we chose to give surface fishing a miss and immediately tied on the Jackalls. Although diving minnows appeared to be the lure of the day for Ned, my lures attracted no fish. Ned’s little Jackall swam and swam all over the dam and by the end of the day he had racked up a total of 10 fish! I, on the other hand couldn’t raise a fin. I flogged the water with the same Jackall lures but in every other colour variation than Neds lure. It seems he had the ‘go to lure’ for the day and it was the only one in the tackle box. This for me confirms the importance of colour. On this day it was clearly the difference between an abundance of fish or none.
Over the years I have noticed this particular colour consistently catches more fish. It has always been my favorite colour for cod and bass fishing, but today really highlighted just how dominant it can be! I am almost at the point where I could throw out all the lures in the tackle box and replace them with ……….. ones. Anyway it was a huge pleasure to show Ned around our beautiful dam and put him onto some nice bass. Especially on his birthday. …..Happy birthday Ned!!
After a long drought the heavens finally opened up last night. Parts of the Tweed Valley received 150mm of much needed rain. When Dave and I launched the Slayer kayaks on the dam this morning it was still drizzling. The overcast conditions remained with us all day which was a blessing compared to spending a day in the punishing sun. The low light conditions also provided an opportunity to fish closer to the surface.
Dave busily prospected using a variety of lures throughout the day. We fished the edges, we fished the surface and we fished out in the open. Fish could be seen on the sounder at all these locations around the dam. When the wind picked up a little we found a large school of bass on the sounder, suspended in the current created by the wind. We busily cycled through all that we had in out tackle box. We danced, slow rolled and trolled our offerings through the school, but the schooled up fish were simply not interested.
Using a variety of techniques and lures we caught a number of solid bass in various locations around the dam. The fishing was by no means easy, but with a little persistence, patience and know how, Clarrie once again offered up her gems 🙂
What better way to start the new year than a day fishing for our native Australian bass. Matthew, a bream tournament angler was eager to sample the bass fishing in the Northern Rivers. We were lucky to have some low light overcast conditions in the morning at Clarrie Hall Dam which often results in some surface luring action. At this time of year under such conditions popping sounds can be heard as the bass suck in frogs, bait fish and insects from the surface among the lilies. However today the bass were holding down deeper. Plenty of fish could be seen on the sounder out in the open water at varying depths. There was no shortage of fish to target with the finesse hard bodies that Matthew bought with him.
Matthew worked the edges of the weed with his lures and was stoked to land a couple of bass for the morning. With the sun inflicting its punishing rays upon us we opted for some lunch in the shade of the pines at Crams Farm. After lunch we fished the Tweed River. By this stage the temperature had reached mid to high 30’s and the water temperature in the river was like a warm bath. The water at the dam was crystal clear in contrast to the rivers murky soup. We worked our lures for hours on the river but didn’t get so much as a touch. The bass were obviously shut down in what must have been very challenging conditions for them.
The Tweed River has seen very little rain in 2016 and it is showing signs of stress. With little rain to flush the system nutrients can build up in a water body. This initially promotes vegetation and algae growth. But as water temperatures and turbidity increases this growth can die off. The microorganisms that assist in the decomposition process have a high oxygen demand. The decomposition process ultimately strips the water of oxygen. Turbidity reduces available light and therefore photosynthesis and productivity is further reduced. The hot spell we have been experiencing warms the water which in turn reduces the capacity of the water to carry dissolved oxygen. The combination of these processes often lowers pH levels too. Bass could be seen on the sounder but there was no way they were going to feed in the river.
The dam however looks great! The water was so clear that fishing with a light fluorocarbon leader of about 6lb is wise so as not to spook the fish. A stealthy approach is also necessary under these conditions to ensure the best results. Bass could often be seen as streaks on the sounder that would rise diagonally towards the kayak. When the bass spot a boat or kayak they rise to the vessel out of curiosity. Once they spot you however, they are unlikely to fall for your bait. They must have seen many anglers before and know to be cautious. So, long casts, light lines and a quiet approach should all be part of the plan at Clarrie Hall Dam.
The bass continued to bite well on the Tweed River today. Edward and Craig were more than happy to take advantage of the great weather and the hot bite. Using spinner-baits and diving minnows the boys racked up a respectable tally of bass between the two of them. Neither had caught bass before so it was a great introduction to our native fishery. Once again the Tweed river offered up its gems. Thanks for a great day gentlemen 🙂
Some of the fish had damage to their mouth parts which might be the result of injury caused from previous captures. If your intention is to catch and release, remember to flatten the barbs on your treble hooks. I like to snip one or two hooks off each of the treble hooks, just to reduce injuries to the fishes mouth parts and eyes. I don’t believe it significantly reduces your hook up rate.
Today was no ordinary fishing trip. Whilst paddling our way up the river we came across a calf in the water. It appeared the poor little fella couldn’t make its way up the steep river bank and we feared it would drown. So I jumped in the water to help it out. After lifting the calf out of the water and placing in on the river bank I realized it couldn’t stand. On further inspection I could see an umbilical cord still attached to its belly. I soon realized the mother cow must have recently birthed the calf in the river and it was yet to take its first steps. After a little encouragement the little calf stood on its back legs and eventually propped itself up on all fours. The calf was a little wobbly but immediately made its way over to me, presumably for a feed.
By shear stroke of luck Ray knew the property owner and he called the farmer and notified him of the calf’s dilemma. You’ll be happy to know that mother cow and calf have since been reunited and all is well. Now that’s a fishing trip with a difference! Oh and we caught some bass too 🙂
An early start had us on the water by 6:30am. Pip and Thomas adapted quickly to their Slayer Propels and were soon stalking the bass among the snags. It wasn’t long before they both had a few takers. Fishing the snags in this river is always interesting because half the time the bass take the lure back into the snag before you even know you are “on”. Within a few hours we had tightened our drags to virtually ‘locked.’ Strong line and leader of about 10lb is necessary with this style of fishing and the locked drag seemed to do the trick. The boys managed about 20 bass between them today. An excellent tally for a mornings work.
Some of the fish had a ‘cloudy eye’, probably from encounters with treble hooks from a previous capture. Its a good idea to flatten the barbs with some pliers on all your lures especially when using 2 treble hooks. This greatly reduces the risk of injury, both to the fish and yourself. Staying connected to the fish need not be compromised as long as you keep a tight line.
Conditions were perfect out on the Tweed today; a slight breeze, some cloud cover and mild temperatures. Niya and Anthony were keen to enjoy the conditions. Anthony scored the first bass using a cast and retrieve technique. Niya was next on the score board with a feisty bass on the troll. The fish were certainly in the mood for food and all that was needed was good lure placement. Anthony ended the day with about 5 bass and Niya clocked up 2. An excellent effort considering neither had been bass fishing before. Well done!
Lenore and Ben showed up this morning bright eyed and bushy tailed ready for action. We spent the best part of the morning at the dam. It was dead calm, not a breath of wind. The water was like glass and all around us the mountains were mirrored. After lunch we fished the Tweed River and managed a couple of feisty bass. Ben scored his first bass ever so it was smiles all round. Awesome day and great company. Thanks guys.
For me the biggest challenge when fly fishing from a kayak is line management. During the retrieval of the fly, the line must be stripped into a pile somewhere. Once the fly is retrieved and a subsequent cast is made the line inevitably becomes tangled around any conceivable nook, cranny or edge that the line can find. This can be very frustrating. So let’s look at some options.
My first preference is to strip the line into a clear space. But with a pile of tackle, rod holders do hickies and gizmos that I like to take fishing, this is usually not an option. My second preference is to use a towel. A simple towel can easily be draped across any rod holders, sounders, pliers etc preventing your line from becoming snagged. In addition a towel serves a number of other purposes when canoe/kayak fishing. It can be used as a rudimentary bailer, mopping up every last drop of intruding water. It is amazing how much water even a standard bath towel can hold. On long sunny day trips I often use the same towel to keep the sun off my legs.
A more familiar choice for fly anglers is the stripping basket. This can be any container that simply collects you line as you retrieve. I have seen fisherman using everything from their hats to a washing basket. However if you are fishing from a kayak with very limited space such as a pedal kayak, you can’t go past a personal stripping basket.
I recently tried out a new basket from South Pacific. The basket is easily fastened around the waist using the plastic buckle. When in the standing position the basket sits nicely around the hips. When in the seated position you can just slide the basket up your torso a little and collect the line just above your lap. At first it took a little practice to deliver the line into the basket, but it became second nature after a short while. I must say I was very impressed with this bit of gear and will be sure to bring it with me on all Fly Fishing Charters in the Native Watercraft.
Had a great trip to Clarrie Hall today with Tim and Tyson. An early start saw us on the dam which was completely enveloped by the mist. I believe the low light conditions the mist provides usually gives the bass the confidence to feed near the surface for as long as the mist hangs around. However the fish had other ideas today and we saw very little surface activity at all.
By around 9am the mist had dissipated revealing a picture post card day at the dam. Not a cloud in the sky or a breath of wind all day. All around us was mirror images of the horizon and each others boats as we persistently peppered the edges of the lilies with our lures. As the sun rose we switched to deeper presentations. Tim ran a 1/4 oz Slider across the points and flats and Tyson chose a 1/8 oz Revehead Jig Spin with a Slider Grub.
All 3 of us got a number of bites but on this day the bass appeared to be apprehensive in committing to an all out attack. Tyson came up trumps with a solid bass of around 36cm. Once hooked it gave him plenty of curry and soon Tyson had his first bass on a soft plastic/spin. One of many more to come no doubt. Another great day on the dam!
I tried out Austackles ‘Shimmer Stik’ today at Clarrie Hall Dam. After first hearing about its ability to swim backwards away from the angler, I was very keen to give it a go around the edges of the weed. Sure enough when cast out to the edge of structure, as the lure slowly sinks it shimmers backwards away from the direction it was cast. I have always thought that if a someone invents a lure that swims backwards they would surely make a million dollars. Because by casting to the edge of a tree or weed like lily pads, the lure will actually swim under the structure where the fish are!
Once the lure has rested on the bottom I would slowly lift the rod and impart a few twitches. This provided an excellent darting action that I imagine would be very tempting to a hungry bass. I would then wind up some slack before letting the lure flutter back to the bottom. To a bass the whole show must have looked a bit like a wounded bait fish trying to regain its senses between epileptic fits! Whatever the case I was very pleased with the action and the bass appeared to like it too.
There are plenty of lures on the market that wiggle or shimmy on the drop but most are either too light and don’t cast very far or too heavy and sink too fast. The beauty of the Shimmer Stick is it casts a country mile but sinks at quite a slow rate. This allows the lure to hang in the face of the target species which should improve your strike rate considerably.
After giving it a go today and catching a couple of bass I am convinced it is a great addition to the tackle box. The Shimmer Stik is no magic bullet, but it certainly comes close.
Check it out here Shimmer Stik
Here is the latest video showing some highlights catching bass on the Tweed River. On a still day this place is heaven on earth!
I fished the Tweed River on a solo mission today. I am pleased to say the bass are starting to make an appearance back in the freshwater. These bass move back into the fresh after they do their spawning business in the estuary over winter time. Over the next month or so I expect they will be showing up in ever increasing numbers so now is an excellent time to book a charter.
I must say that fishing these waters in the Slayer kayaks is an absolute pleasure. Not only is the scenery on the Tweed River picture postcard, but the versatility and comfort these kayaks offer just makes the day effortless. Having the ability to sit back and maneuver around the waterways hands free is just ideal.
I managed 4 solid bass for the day with two around the 39 & 42cm mark. They were all too eager to snaffle my Destroyer jerk baits from Austackle, one of my favorite lures for targeting bass around the snags.
Here is how I installed a Lowrance HDS 4X, transducer and battery in a Slayer Propel 10 kayak;
After reading an article on a kayak fishing forum written by a guy that worked with industrial ulrta sound equipment, I decided to go with an in hull or ‘shoot through’ hull transducer mount. He explained that the sound waves produced by the transducer would not be effected when travelling through the hull and that no sensitivity would be lost. At least nothing discernible at all!
Until I found this article my research (watching YouTubes) revealed all kinds of different arrangements when mounting transducers in the hull. Some people advocated having a certain amount of water in the hull to prevent loss of sensitivity and others would simply glue the transducer down. Some used Vaseline and others used duct seal putty. Some people went to the trouble of mounting a water filled container on the hull with the transducer mounted inside. Mounting the transducers externally was also an option. The transducer could be mounted through the scupper holes or even beside the kayak using a retractable arm hanging off the side of the kayak.
After contemplating all these options I decided I would keep it simple. If the article was right and no sensitivity was to be lost with a ‘shoot thru hull’ installation, then that’s what I would do. So I spent $5 on some BlueTac and simply stuck the transducer on with that. After a test run on the water I was satisfied with the results. The images revealed solid returns from the bottom and from structure such as logs etc. Fish symbols also appeared along with the indicated depth.
As with the transducer installation I wanted to keep the battery mounting simple. I didn’t want to drill any holes but I needed the battery to remain firmly in its place yet quick removal for recharging was needed. After much thought I discovered some battery carrying bags at Jaycar Electronics. These bags were $20 each and easily fastened around the molding structure inside the Slayer Propel 10. Unzipping the bag provides easy access for recharging.
Despite transporting the yaks on their side and after several trips the transducer and battery have remained in place. I am still getting good readings and would recommend this installation to anyone.
Simon Fitzpatrick 🙂
Fishing for natives in our impoundments can be tough. It takes a lot of planning, preparation, checking weather forecasts, organizing time off work, preparing tackle etc. But if the fish aren’t willing to play all the best laid plans go to waste. I am happy to say this was not the case with my recent trip to Clarrie Hall. One of the most beautiful dams in Australia.
It was an extremely hot and humid day and shortly after I put the boat on the water I had to seek shade for an hour or so. This gave me some time to collect some underwater footage and do a little research as to the bass’ potential food source. There was certainly plenty of bait fish swimming amongst the lilly pads. Probably Firetail Gudgeon and Gambusia. So I made a mental note to collect some next time for identification.
The other thing I noticed is there appeared to be more weed than usual. There has always been a thick perimeter of lilly pads around the edge of the lake with another rim of feathery submerged weed, I identified as Ambulia, leading into deeper water. I think this ambulia has spread since last I visited the dam and it is my theory that the extra cover provided by the weed has drawn the bass out of from under the lily pads thus making them more susceptible to angling. In any case the fishing was great!
I worked the edges of the ambulia with hard bodies, jerk baits, soft plastic frogs and dahlberg diver flies. I caught fish on all my presentations and finished the trip with about 12 bass. Watching the bass crash tackle the surface flies is always a highlight! As usual the bass aren’t huge in Clarrie Hall but they are a robust and hard fighting population with a very respectable average size of around 35cm. I also managed my personal best for Clarrie Hall dam landing a fish of 38.5cm.
I have fished many impoundments on the east coast of Australia but perhaps none as beautiful as Clarrie Hall Dam. I find it necessary to be on the water at sunrise to achieve the best results. At that time of day, as the rising sun slowly dissipates the mist covering the dam, the true beauty of this wetland materializes from the early morning haze. Lush green lily pads, purple and yellow lotus flowers come to light as the lake margins are revealed. The calls of water fowl echo and the popping sounds of Bass feeding are all part of the morning symphony as this ecosystem begins another day. Finally when the fog lifts, Mt Warning watches over the lake.
This particular morning I fished a tan coloured Dahlberg Diver, blooping it across the surface like a frog or insect of some type. Initially upon touch down I let the fly sit there for a while then gave as little action to the fly as possible. If that drew no response I would make short ‘bloops’ back to the boat. I had about 5 hits and boated 2 fish of around 33cm. About average for this dam. Once the sun rose higher I changed tactics, pulled out the spin rod and flicked out a small diving jerk bait. I immediately got smashed but the fished shot into the snags and spit the lure.
All in all not a bad 3 hours of fishing. If I had managed to convert a few more hits into fish landed then I could have had 5 Bass in the live well. Clarrie Hall is my local impoundment and I have fished it numerous times. The Bass are of modest size and I rarely come home with cricket score card numbers of fish, but the place is just so incredibly scenic. I will be back!
Last summer I was able to dedicate some quality time to fishing. Chasing Australian native fish in my local creeks, rivers and dams I was lucky enough to tempt many fish on both lure and fly. By-catch included some very nice eastern cod that can be a real test on light bass gear.
A couple of valuable lessons were had during these fishing trips. On overcast days, fishing the surface is an excellent proposition even in the middle of the day. On some of my local dams, it is difficult to raise a fish at the best of times. However, tying on a surface lure in any low light conditions, be it dawn, dusk or during overcast day light hours can produce great results.
As an added benefit I found that often the larger fish are the most eager to scoff a well presented surface lure or fly. During a recent trip in the canoe down the skinniest of creeks I managed a 42cm bass on a cicada surface lure. I was amazed at the size of this fish inhabiting such a small creek. Upon closer inspection I noticed a small water dragon protruding from the bass’ mouth! What a guts! He had obviously just eaten the dragon and then decided to have a go at my lure too. No wonder he was so big.
On a different trip I was using the same cicada lure, again targeting Bass. This time a nice 65cm eastern cod snaffled my offering. The loud implosion when he smashed the lure at the surface nearly caused me to wet my pants. The fish then proceeded to put up an excellent tussle on my 6lb outfit.
Our Australian native fish species often appear to react to a lure out of instinct. ‘Reaction strikes’ can be triggered if a surface lure sounds just right when it hits the water. If the lure or fly touches down with the same sound as an insect such as a cicada, a bass for example, will smash the lure in a split second without a second thought. Similarly a jungle perch will follow a lure as it is cast through the air across the river with tremendous speed and crash tackle the offering as soon as it touches down. If not in the mood for food a cod will simply chase away any intruding lure from its territory. However if you can provoke the cod by landing the lure in it’s face, the fish will smash the lure in an instant. In these cases the strikes are lightening quick. There was no time elapsed for contemplation.
The challenge of catching our natives lies within figuring out how to trigger a reaction strike on any given day. Ya just gotta love fishing for Australian natives!
Simon Fitzpatrick (Fitzy)