Bass fishing in Hinze DamJames Dainton
I have an old mate that is ex army who was from the Gold Coast many years ago, he has told many stories of finishing a day on the barracks and heading out to paddle around Hinze dam throwing surface lures for big bass. Upon arriving to the Gold Coast I was pretty excited to finally get a chance to fish Hinze dam.
My good mate Neil and I met John out on the dam early in our kayaks. Neil and John started off using all the regular bass lures like beatle spins, lipless crankbaits and spinnerbaits. I would have started on surface but the sun was already up so I decided to tie on a small diver called the Trance, it’s a 50mm suspending minnow with an LED. It didn’t take long to get a small bass on the Trance, I released that and the boys said we were going for a paddle so I threw my lure out the back and started paddling. They looked at me like I was stupid trolling whilst paddling to the next spot. I wouldn’t have got 20 metres before the lure got smacked, in the middle of nowhere it was surprising to hook on out there, a little bigger but not what we were after at around 30cm. We paddled up to the corner where they wanted to begin, Neil got smacked on the surface on a little walk the dog style lure, a healthy fish around 30 odd cm. As he was releasing his fish I hooked onto a fish around the same size as Neil’s.
I was at the front of the pack I started paddling towards a bay. If one of us were casting a bank the others would give plenty of space and work another section, as I got close to the bay I noticed both the boys were hot on my tail. They paddled past me and into the bay, I thought that’s ok I’ll fish the edge of the bay it looks just as good. John got on the board with a bass in the bay, they told me later they always catch fish in there hence why they were so quick to get in first. Shortly after John had to make a move as he had swimming lessons with his kids so as he went home Neil and I kept paddling on our way. The further we paddled the skinnier the water got, the water looked sensational, a combination of trees on the left and a rock bank on the right. I cast deep to the back of a tree on the right and got smacked by a nice bass, whilst a big bass is comparatively small to a murray cod gosh do they give you a run for your money. I never thought I would be so happy to land a 41cm fork bass, not a big fish but out of tight country it gave me a hell of a run. We continued our run up further, the clouds were starting to roll in and it was now quite dark. The water was getting shallower, there were a couple of spots we had to get out and drag the kayaks, in doing this we stumbled on a ripper pool, it had a lot of weed but had plenty of depth in the middle. We started casting away, I got 3 fish within a hand full of casts, finally Neil piped up and said have you got any more of those trance’s with you. I said ‘of course but you don’t want to know what the on water price is’. The general gist of Neil’s response was bloody throw one over here. Neil tied one on and made an interesting observation, when he was retrieving the lure he had around 10 bass following his lure, given how overcast it was the LED light in the tail was really bright, the bass were fascinated by it. We both kept casting getting heaps of follows and every second cast we would get a bite or a hook up. This situation reminded me of the initial testing that was undertaken at James Cook University in Cairns where we tested the flashing red LED on barramundi. I remember in that scenario as well the barra were fascinated by it, and very specifically with a red LED, they would sit underneath the lure watching it, half the time they would hit it whilst stationary, we didn’t get that response on any other coloured LED or on a lure without an LED. Back to the point of the story we were both curious as to whether the bass were super active and would follow anything, or if it was the LED. Neil tied on 3 completely different styles of lure and repeated the same cast and could not get any bites or any follows for that matter. Its one thing to see fish respond to an LED in a tank, it’s completely different to see it in the wild like this. I’ve been using the LED for many years and only a hand full of times have I seen it be so obvious where fish are visibly following the lure, most likely because usually I wouldn’t be able to see if there are fish behind the lure or not. We decided to make our way back to the car and fish the best bits along the way. As I was paddling along I saw rock bank with two trees next to each other with about a 1 metre gap between them. I threw a cast in between the trees, as I clicked my reel into gear a big fish launched itself at the lure and half out of the water. It took off on a blistering run away from the trees, I was quite powerless I couldn’t go any harder on it as I may damage the terminal hardware and lose the fish. I wasn’t sure what it was, Neil had mentioned there were Saratoga I thought it had to be a Saratoga as it looked too big to be a Bass when it struck it off the surface. As quick as the fish had powered away from the trees it powered right back into the middle of the trees and buried me deep. I knew that he was still on there but was not able to pull any line back on him. Neil came over we spent a minute or so discussing a potential plan of attack to try and get him out of the snag. The water was a couple of metres deep so there was no real point getting in the water. Neil ended up getting out of his kayak and onto a rock adjacent to the snag, with my paddle I maneuvered a submerged snag up for Neil to grab hold of, he pulled that snag up out of the water, as he did I felt the fish move around but again buried me into another snag. I could also see the other snag so again I maneuvered it up for Neil to grab hold of, as Neil pulled the snag out of the water he kicked my kayak out into the open at the same time the fish swam free from the snag and took off into the open. This time he had nowhere to hide and I was able to guide him into my net, more luck than good management that’s for sure. The fish was decent, it wasn’t as big as I was expecting it to be, the shear power of it was absolutely insane, I was expecting it to be 50cm. I went and retrieved Neils kayak for him and we went over to the opposite bank to get some photos. We measured him up he was 45cm to the fork, not a monster but still a nice fish and a hell of a fight. A couple of quick pictures and he was on his way. We were now out of time as Neil had somewhere to be and we had to paddle back to the car. It was the toughest paddle back when the fish are biting its brutal having to leave. We’d had a great session on Hinze, landed a dozen bass with all but 2 fish caught on the trance. At 50mm its that nice bite size for Bass, the suspending buoyancy and LED light work well together as you can pause it in the zone flashing away, many times angry Bass will slam it on the pause. Neil hadn’t really been into using minnows on bass but I get the feeling he might be coming around with the amount of photos I’ve been receiving from him and his mates on following trips.