A weekend planned to tangle with mangrove jack, trevally and fat flathead - balm for the soul of an angler. Isn’t this the whole purpose of turning your back on all that annoyed you at work during the week?
We planned to fish a couple of the creeks at the southern end of the Great Sandy Strait months beforehand, with batteries charged, lures which were big, small, shallow diving, deep diving, sinking, floating, popping, hard bodied and soft plastics. We were confident and enthusiastic, we were the weekend warriors, ready to win the battle, turn that fish running at a hundred miles an hour up the creek, raise them from the depths, battle them out from the submerged timber before they stitched us up around the sticks. The forecast predicted light winds, rain, and overcast conditions for the entire three days. So what? We had raincoats.
First morning of the first day, we were up before sunrise to reach the area we intended to attack as sun rose. We peppered every nook, cranny, snag and shoal with a full arsenal of lures for the first five hours.
What did we catch? We caught juvenile estuary cod, small bream, and undersized trevally, along with a dozen or so Moses perch. Suckers for punishment, we took to the water for round two, with very little breeze and overcast conditions, the afternoon session we expected to produce all that the morning session didn’t - wrong again.
The weekend game plan was saltwater Friday, freshwater Saturday, and saltwater Sunday. Lenthalls Dam was only a 45min drive from our campsite; once again an early start was the order of the day and the boys, full of youthful enthusiasm, had talked up the fishing venue. I’m the first to admit Lenthalls Dam has what it takes to quench the desire of most bass anglers on the right day, but what we were about to experience would change any plans to fish saltwater on Sunday. I was about to experience my best ever freshwater fishing trip.
Still burdened with the disappointment of the previous day’s fishing, we launched the boat into Lenthalls. The raincoat I was wearing had a loose seam around the shoulder, and I could feel water trickling over my shoulder blade, under my arm and across my ribs. Will, who is always one step ahead, must have switched raincoats during the night, as there was nothing wrong with the one I wore on Friday. We travelled across the dam to the nearest point opposite the boat ramp to start the day off.
It was evident after the first hour that we were in for an awesome fishing session - we had all landed several fish on a variety of lures. The reason this trip was deemed special was the inclusion of barramundi in the catch, and although not big fish, enough were caught to have us asking when we next hooked up - bass or barramundi? The barra entertained us with their trait of getting airborne with electrifying headshakes to dislodge the lures before landing back in the water for another run. I had become oblivious to the discomfort of my leaky raincoat - all our senses had gone into fishing mode as we concentrated on top water before the sun fell below the horizon.
Sunday was pure top water magic. We were ready, having selected only a handful of favoured lures from the previous day. Will and Ben elected to use overhead gear, 3-4kg. My choice was a SJ 701 7’ 2-4kg Gary Howard Shikari rod fitted with a Shimano Stradic 1000 spooled with 3kg Fireline and 6kg leader. Selected lures were: Lucky Craft LV200, River2Sea Twin Vibe Gold, Rattlin’ Rapala Lipless crankbait and Emerald Shad, and for the top water: Lucky Craft Sammy 65, and Rapala Skitter Pop. Again, most areas produced fish. The barra mostly came from areas well up in the arms - generally where the water temperature was a degree or two warmer. They seemed tucked away in more sheltered sections of the arm where stretches of very shallow water gave way to small deeper pockets. The bass were actively feeding on the top, there was very little breeze with good cloud, the bass smashing the top could easily be heard 200-300m away, a dead give-away. Bass fell to all the selected lures; Ben’s perseverance with top water all day paid off giving him the three biggest bass of the weekend.
For a visual insight into how hot top water fishing for bass can be at this dam, grab yourself a copy of this years AFC DVD when it hits the shelf.Reads: 2041