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Clarrie Hall & Tweed River Charter, 1st January 2017

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-fishing-clarrie-hall

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.

matthew-and-bass

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.

clarrie-bass-on-hard-bodyThe 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.

Simon Fitzpatrick

bass-up-close

Clarrie Hall Bass

Monday November 28

Ray and I were ready waiting for the gates to open at 7:30am at Crams Farm this morning. It wasn’t long before Ray landed his first Clarrie bass! As usual the feisty bass pulled hard and took every opportunity to head back to the weed. After lunch we headed to the river to try our luck there. Ray managed a further 3 or 4 hook ups there but as is the case sometimes, the fish all managed to spit the hook. In any case it was a great day on the water.

Copeton Yellas

Camping by a lake or river for me is food for my soul. Especially when that water is full of big native fish. Throw in some family time with the kids, skiing, fishing and beer by the fire and I am in heaven.

60cm Golden Perch

60cm Golden Perch

 

Barbless Hooks

I headed to the Tweed River today for a solo ‘bass fishin mission.’ One of my all time favorite lures are the smaller size ‘finesse’ diving minnows that dive to about 2m. I believe the smaller models around the 40-55mm length are less intimidating to a bass than the larger ones. Therefore they are more likely to be snaffled by even the most finicky fish. Most small diving minnows-baits come with two very small treble hooks. These hooks do a brilliant job in hooking bass first time, every time. The fine gauge wire ensures the hooks penetrate the bass’ skin, even if the bass is just side swiping the lure to drive it away from its territory. These hooks tend to stick to anything that comes near them. This is great for hooking fish, but unhooking them can be a real issue.

missing-maxillary

Some species such as bream tend to have a tough mouths for dealing with shells and crustaceans. However the bass’ mouth contains some very fine membrane. This thin almost transparent layer of skin is often where the hook ends up. As the fish kicks and struggles either in the water or in the boat, the membrane can be pierced several times and thus becomes entangled in these tiny trebles.  Major tears in this membrane can result when the angler tries to unhook the bass. These tears can be so severe that the outer edge (maxillary) of the upper jaw can come free. I have even caught bass that were missing their maxillary on one side completely. I can only imaging this is from a previous capture and release where the angler struggled to unhook the fish.

The eyes are another vulnerable part of a bass’ anatomy that can be pierced by these small trebles. With one treble firmly lodged in the mouth, the other treble can end up in the eye. This has happened to me on an occasion where the bass was kicking in the net and landed eye first on the hook. This is a particularly troubling thing to witness. When fishing in waters that are heavily pressured by anglers I have caught bass with one ‘milky’ eye. I suspect these milky eyes are from hook injuries. These kind of eye an mouth injuries mouth injuries would obviously hinder the fishes ability to find and eat food. The good news is that you can make a few simple modifications to lower the risk of injury to our native fish.

Barbless hooks allow for a clean efficient catch and release

Firstly, ‘de-barb’ all the hooks. Simply take some pliers and flatten the barb on all hooks on each treble. This ensures that any hook piercing can easily be removed. This significantly reduces any potential damage from occurring to any fish you plan on releasing. Using barbless hooks doesn’t necessarily mean a reduced hook up rate either. As long as you keep a ‘tight line’ when playing the fish (which you should anyway) there is no reason why the fish could spit the hook.

The second thing I like to do is cut off one hook on each treble, so you now effectively have 2 doubles (not trebles). Again this reduces the chance of injury to the bass whilst not compromising your hook up rate. Sometimes I go one step further and replace the trebles with a single lure hook. But I think modifying the trebles already provided with the lure is cheaper, easier and takes advantage of these small sticky hooks. Both these modifications can be made with a simple set of pliers.

With all my hooks now modified I had a trouble free day on the water today. I managed to land 9 bass averaging about 36cm long. All the strikes from the fish I caught today were converted into landed fish. My customized hooks worked brilliantly.

Simon Fitzpatrick

tweed-24-oct-2

 

Tweed River Fishing Charter October 8, 2016

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.

Simon Fitzpatrick

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Tweed River Fishing Charter October 4, 2016

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 🙂

Thanks Ray.

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Tweed River Charter September 27, 2016

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.

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Tweed River Charter September 13, 2016

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!

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First Day of Spring 2016

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.

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The introduction of Cyprinid herpesvirus in Australia

Here are 4 excellent videos that come from the leading experts that are involved with research on the potential introduction of the carp herpesvirus in Australia. Be informed and have your say.