Like a most people that work in Brisbane surrounds I had the Friday off, I spend almost all my spare time fishing. The places it can take you and the thrills of the adventure it can produce is something I will never get over and the plan was for this day to be no different.
On Thursday night I made a late decision to fish solo – so I geared up, strapped the Freak Assassin GT in the ute ready to head up north a couple hours and crash at my mother’s, ready for an early start. The alarm rang at 3am and I was up and ready to go for another long drive. Undecided on where to launch I opted for a spot I had been once before and caught some very healthy and sizable Australian Bass. I also knew there was the odd Saratoga in these areas and was anxious to get one of them, having failed numerous times to keep the hooks in these aerial acrobats.
I arrived and was on the water by about 5am and started casting. Surface lures are the main choice early in the morning until the sun gets too high, unless it’s calm enough to throw throughout the day. Just enjoying being on the mist surrounded water, I started to drift off a little not realizing what I was doing when, on the third cast, as soon as I started working the lure back to me – Boof! The heart racing sound, I’m on! A bit of a tussle later and I landed my first for the morning a nice mid 40ish bass – a couple of pics and back in the drink.
I paddled on further downstream and saw a lot of movement – bait fish spooking, platypus and lungfish playing around and breaching the surface was cool to watch but things were quiet on the fish front. At about 6.30 I was retying lures on one rod when I saw some movement off a mid-water snag. I first thought it was a lizard or turtle diving in but put a cast in anyway. As soon as it landed I saw something make a beeline straight towards it from the snag. I had only just started winding when it was slurped in by what I thought was a big bass, until the hooks were set and I felt the weight of it. Instantly I felt my leader rubbing into the timber and that’s always a scary feeling. This is where my Assassin GT came in to help. Back paddling while turning I managed to get it out, and while its big tail beats were going along the bank side snags I managed to keep back paddling into open water. To hopefully subdue the beast.
After a couple minutes of it towing me and more back paddling I managed to lift it up and get a glimpse. I was shocked at the size of this Mary River Cod and noticed I couldn’t see the lure anywhere – oh crap! Now with doubts of the leader holding up, the anxiousness of landing it became higher. I finally got it within netting distance. Winning these sorts of battles is a great accomplishment and the smile never dies. With the net handle under the leg, I paddled into shallower water with water going through its gills making sure it’s returned as healthy as before. I was in such a rush to get it back I only have still shots that I took off my gopro which was recording!! It was 88cm – a new PB!!
Released and still shaking I just sat there in the water gob smacked and smiling at the sheer beauty of the fish I had just landed. After getting up out of the water it was about 7, the lure was destroyed from this fish and sun was blazing so time for a change I had a duo realis 100sp I wanted to try so tied that on.
I began throwing that and scored a couple nice 40+cm bass. I saw a likely spot and put in a long cast. As soon as it landed I noticed a commotion – a toga had seen it and instantly turned on it and grabbed it off the surface. The fish instantly gave me grief with snags around and aerial displays I somehow managed to net it after a great fight. These fish just look wicked and they have fast become a new favourite to me.
A couple of pics and a nice release, forgetting to measure what would have been a new PB of around 70cm, I move on. Another hour or two passes by with another bass landed I see another similar setup snag to the previous toga. Another long cast, the lure lands and it’s monstered by another toga. Back coming clear out of the water but missing the lure. I let it settle, rip the lure down and pause, one twitch and bang it’s grabbed it! Taking plenty of line and some crazy leaps the hooks manage to stay in and I secure my second toga! My Gopro was dead by this time and I wish I’d gotten it all on film but I will be prepared for next time! Some snaps on the phone and another beauty swimming off to grow. This was my new PB and very welcomed at 74cm.
Away I go again, paddling further down and enjoying the day so far – not caring if I saw another fish and just happy to be in the yak doing what I enjoy most. I came to another pool with some promising snags and put in another cast. Instantly a toga rolled on my lure. Not hooking up, water erupted and then it just followed it watching, this time the fish would have gone easily 80cm and I was just happy to see it so close. A few casts – nothing, so I moved on and by this time it was about 10.30 and stinking hot! The water levels were really low and I pulled up to walk a set of rapids and fish them but they just weren’t flowing enough for the hopeful shot at a sooty grunter. So I called it a day and started making my way back up the couple pools back to the launch spot, happy with the 3 species I had already ticked off earlier that morning.
I went past the snag where I missed the brute toga on about an hour later from first encounter and the same thing happened, working it with a few casts I finally felt weight. I thought I had it finally but it ended up being a nice bass instead. Dead Go-pro and too awkward to phone selfie I didn’t bother with a pic.
At about 11.30 and halfway back I couldn’t resist reworking a snag. Last cast was perfect, between the smallest gap of two tree branches, ripped the duo down, pause, rip again pause and there was the quickest flash of light toned colour I thought another toga has come out from the laid down tree tops until I felt the weight. It was the second time I needed to back paddle this morning otherwise I would have been straight into the snag for the devastating bust off everybody fears. This was serious weight and serious water displacement even when the fish was deep.
I managed to get closer to the shallow bank and hop off the yak to fight it with a bit more chance on my end to land it, this fish did not give up easy and I was in the water fighting, trying to gain as much as I could on it. Five or so minutes go by and I finally get a look, yet another jaw dropping moment realizing the size of what I have hooked. It was tough to call but I first thought it was at least the same size as the last Mary Cod I was lucky to get earlier, if not bigger. Some tense netting moments and she was mine! This was the top off on my already amazing morning.
It measured 91cm! This morning just keeps getting better! A couple pics and a little release video with her swimming away out of view, knowing that I will more than likely never, see that beautiful fish again, but happy that I got to see it in the first place. I paddled straight back to the ute after this moment and wanted nothing to spoil the Freak session I just had.
How good is fishing.