ImageDriving along the Pacific Highway not far from home, there is this Creek that I never give a second thought too. It passes through a maze of cane farms before emptying into the Clarence River; your typical "Cane Drain". It is not the sort of water that usually appeals to me. Most times I look for creeks and rivers that pass through National Parks or State Forests. The further from civilization the better!

ImageHowever, after checking it out in Google Earth and the topographical maps, I Imagethought it was worth further investigation. The headwaters of this creek were in a coastal mountain range and the creek flowed west to join the Clarence. Some kilometres upstream, according to the map, was a bridge. This would be where I started my explorations.

The next chance I had, I headed off early one Imagemorning. Leaving in the dark, the bridge was located and the kayak was launched into the tannin stained water.

As I paddled into the slowly awakening dawn, I realized I had come across anotherImage jewel of the Clarence. The creek was surrounded by she-oaks and a melaleuca swamp. Water lilies were in flower all around and for company I had black swans and turtles.Image

Eventually I told myself to stop taking photos and start fishing! The creek was only small, and there were snags everywhere. No shortage of structure to cast to. As is customary, I started the day with my favourite surface lures, Bill's Bugs. The action was never far away. Fishing from a small kayak in an ever smaller creek is always interesting.

ImageI peppered the usual locations and it was not long before I came up tight. ImageA flutterbug was bounced off the branch of an exposed snag. The Bass must feel the vibration of the branch in the water, because as soon as it touched down the water boiled and the lure disappeared. Line vanished from the reel as the Bass shot off through the snag and headed for the depths.

I felt the dreaded rasp of line against timber as I held on for grim death. Trying to coax this fish out of its home was always going to be an uphill battle. Twang! He was gone and I was left a shaking wreck with the thought of what might have been.Image

It was time for a change of tactics. How was I going to stop these cunning Bass from just wrapping me around all these snags every time I hooked one? Fishing with a 15lb leader at least gave me some options. I decided to tighten the drag even further and just try to horse these bronze battlers out of cover.

The next snag gave me the perfect opportunity to try out the tactic. This time one of Bill's Fuzzbugs was launched beside the fallen tree, instead of deep into the timber. The theory being I could hopefully drag the fish away from its hidey hole into more open water. The surface lure was plopped with a splash next to the tree. No need to be subtle with surface lures here. Let the quarry know dinner has arrived.

As usual I just let it sit until the ripples had evaporated. A slight twitch and let it sit again. Then a rip with the rod and the propellers sprung into action. The fizzing noise this lure makes seems to draw any Bass in the vicinity. I find the Bass seem to hit the lure when it is stationary rather than moving.

Being an impatient chap I usually only cast three or four times to a snag before searching for the next one. This first cast was worked all the way back to the single man kayak with no results. The next cast landed on the bank a metre from the water (I need to practice those casting skills)! I slowly worked the Fuzzbug to the edge and just let it fall into the water beside the snag.

Bang! An almighty explosion erupted from under the lure and once more I was hanging on for all I was worth. The Bass was heading home and with the locked up drag, the kayak was following. What was I to do now? With one hand I grabbed an overhanging branch and held onto the rod with the other. I felt like I was being stretched on a medieval torture rack.

The rod buckled and the branch groaned. What was going to give first? I could not retrieve any line because if I let go of the branch, the fish would be in the timber. Snap! The rotten branch fell into the water. Composing myself quickly after nearly ending up in the drink I started to retrieve line but the fish had found sanctuary.

The dreaded grind of line transmitting down the rod told me this Bass had wrapped the leader around the maze of tree branches. I was done for once again. My tactics would need to be reviewed for the next encounter.

I am constantly amazed at the size of some Bass that come out of these small waters. That is the joy of fishing these tiny creeks. You never know what you may come across next.

Words and Photos by Graeme Bowes