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The Bass Lodge

6 Mar 2013 11:01 PM - Feb 2013 saw the first of what we hope to be many trips to the Macleay River to chase Australian Bass
The Rebel Frog-R worked a treat.
The beautiful Bass Lodge.
Surface luring at dawn can be very productive.
Rob Lawson with a great Aussie Bass taken off the top.
Our good mates at Halco produce an awesome surface lure - The Night Walker.
Crystal clear waters on a Macleay river feeder stream.
The boys setting off for a paddle.
Searching out new locations is all part of the fun.
A few smaller fish found our lures too.
A feeder creek bass - check out the clarity in the water.
They all came out to play after dark.
What it's all about, two mates on a river.

There’s a moment on a road trip, well the long ones anyway, where you’ve done all the catching up and the conversation dies a natural death. At least that’s how it is with old acquaintances seem to feel the need to keep the air alive with talk. Silence being almost too much to bare. You’ve found out what’s been happening in each others lives and you’ve discussed your hopes for the next few days of fishing. There’s been the chat about the new tackle you’ve brought and can’t wait to try, the fact that the river flooded but a week ago has even added a good half hour to the conversation but sooner or later it’s just a couple of mates, the hum of the engine and if you’re like me the sound of the world rushing by through the open window that your arm’s now hanging out of getting some sun. It’s as the kilometres slowly rack up and the conversation splutters then stops that you finally start to see the countryside change. And change it should, hell this is the third day of travel since we started the journey back in Carlton; first it was a short trip to Jugiong on the Murrumbidgee, then up to Picton to join up with the rest of the team and now finally to our destination. 

I first started fishing for Australian Bass back when I was in my early teens but the species had always been one I'd wanted to chase ever since reading early copies of Australian fishing magazines like Modern Fishing and Fishing World. I'd been lucky to fish with some very talented bass anglers early on and some of their knowledge had rubbed off. Not a lot but enough to help me catch a few from time to time. I loved every thing about them, the crazy array of lures they'd take, the purpose built baitcaster rods and reels that were available, the fact that they would smash a lure and then bury you in a snag if you weren't quick to stop them. I especially loved that they seemed to have a real fondness for eating things off the surface, almost as if they found it entertaining in its own right.

So finally we were pulling into the drive of the beautiful multi storey log cabin set on the junction of George's Creek and the Macleay River. We unloaded our gear and quickly checked out the river. Yes it was still up and running dirty.......the good news was though that it was dropping fast and wasn't as high or as dirty as I'd expected it might be.

As planned the following day we split into two groups, those with and those without kayaks. We help the kayakers launch and then head off to check out Georges creek. What we find is a beautiful clear flowing piece of water that you can cast across pretty much anywhere you like. The occasional drowned bit of timber offers obvious places to for the Bass to call home. The air's thick with the sound of cicadas and all seems good until a water truck backs down the path we pulled off of, gets himself bogged and then proceeds to muddy the water as he tries without luck to extract himself. So we decide to wander off and find some other water to look at. One at a time we take tracks down to the water and have a look at the access on offer. Our plan now is to check the place out, head back and meet the other fellas for an early meal before hitting the water after dark with surface lures.

Our plan started to unravel when the kayak boys didn't arrive home on time. We gave them an hour or so past time but when the arvo light started to fade it was decided to head down to the take-out point and put some lights in a tree to help them find their way. By the time they arrive and we help them load the kayaks onto the 4WDs it's time to call it a day.  

Next day we drive to a new location after helping the fellas launch, Five Day Creek. This place looks even more inviting than Georges but technically to fish here you have to cross private property so we're pretty cautious abut selecting a spot to park that allows access to the water without having to cross fences or open gates. There's bright sunshine on most of the creek but in amongst the shadows we do find a couple of smaller fish, get follows from a couple of nice ones and land one that would've measured mid forties if I hadn't let it roll off the hook while messing around with cameras trying to get a shot.

Last day arrived much quicker than any of us would have liked and while things had been great and we'd all caught a few fish we really hadn't nailed the kind of session that we'd come all this way for. Shored based we'd done more scouting for access than actual fishing and while the fellas in the yaks were getting plenty of time on the water and were catching numbers the actual size of the fish was the let down.

I really wanted to head back to Five Day to fish after dark on the pool where the big fish had come from the previous day. This time one of the yak boys wanted to join us so we spent most of the sunny part of the day scouting other parts of the river and then with the shadows starting to lengthen and dusk upon us the three of us were ankle deep in the exact pool tying on surface lures.

For a time nothing happened and to be honest I thought that maybe we'd made a mistake. There were several lure changes and it was almost dark before we were given a sign that things were about to happen. A fish smashed something off the surface. Bob covered it with a cast, there was an immediate explosion where his lure landed and he was on. 

While I thought that was going to be the start of things I was wrong. It'd be another hour before anything else happened. While searching through the lure box for one last change I came across a Halco Nightwalker and was about to put it on when I noticed that Bec had beaten me to it so I tied on one of the Rebel Frog-Rs instead. This is a walk the dog style lure (or walk the Frog in the instance) and that first cast was like flicking the switch. Walk, walk, walk, pause.........boof, hookup!! Finally a solid take. After a spirited little fight the fish was photographed and released. Before Bec had put the camera away I had recast and had been smashed again but missed the hookup. Third cast and another strike with another fish in the high 30s. 

It was Bob's turn again soon after with another nice fish taking a Heddon Tiny Torpedo fizzed across the top. More photos and backslapping and another quick release. We were now running out of time. There was a slow cooked roast on the stove back at the lodge and we didn't want to ruin it by overcooking and drying it out but Bec wasn't ready to go just yet. The change to the Halco Nightwalker meant that now with the glowing bib she could see where her cast had gone and also track the lure's path back to the rod tip. It was only several casts after Bob's last hookup and we heard the lure get taken in a loud swirling strike and another fat Aussie Bass was in the head torch lights getting photographed, again a nice fish in the high 30's. Satisfied we headed back to the lodge for an awesome last supper. Tomorrow we would have to pack and start the long haul back to Carlton.  


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