TheTight Line Vol 8 Part 2 - page 38-39

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as an invaluable resource in this regard.
While Riccard served an important role
in the organisation of the trips, our local
guides have always been pivotal to the
success on a day to day basis. These guys
live and breathe black bass fishing, know
the rivers, the locals and conditions like
the back of their hand. The rivers present
themselves with an overwhelming
abundance of snags, ledges and banks
to fish. An inexperienced angler could
waste a lot of time casting at aesthetically
pleasing structure for no result. With this
in mind, I cannot recommend enough
to listen to the guides! Often we would
bypass seemingly awesome terrain in
favour of something quite mundane,
only to hook up first cast. With an innate
understanding of feeding patterns and
local bait, the guides were also excellent
commentators when making lure
selections. As weird as some suggestions
sound, once again heed their advice!
The Fish:
Black bass (
lutjanus goldiei
) look and
act much like their close cousin the
mangrove jack. In fact, the systems black
bass inhabit are liberally populated with
jacks as well. You know you are a spoiled
angler when ‘it’s just another jack’
becomes a catch phrase to the trip. One
key difference is unlike jacks, bass do
not appear to leave the rivers to inhabit
the reef once they mature, remaining
among the snags of the lower and middle
reaches. While estuary jacks over 60cm
are uncommon (unless land locked),
black bass regularly grow far in excess
of this and can weigh up to 40lb. James
Cook University are currently doing
studies on the black bass movements
around Baia and the results should
be very interesting. Another stand out
difference is theweight ratio. On average,
black bass far outweigh an equally long
mangrove jack. For example: Two fish
were weighed on a recent trip, both
60cm and both healthy. The mangrove
jack was a respectable 7.5lb while the
black bass was a chunky 11lb. This
emphasises the need for tiptop gear as
extracting a jack, let alone a huge black
bass from tight structure can prove tricky.
Not much is known about the spot tail
bass (
lutjanus fuscescens
), probably due
to their limited geography and unfair
second placing next to the mighty black.
They seem to inhabit the same sort of
snaggy country (although push much
further upstream) as the blacks but
also seem far more inclined to school
up. If you cast or troll up a spot tail, it
is more than worthwhile peppering
the area with some more casts. One
fact that did seem evident however,
was that schooling fish seemed to be
dominated by the smaller specimens.
A few larger fish are alleged to hang in
with the schools, but the larger spot tail
bass we have caught were solitary and
hugging the snags much like black bass.
Pouring rain can’t dampen Henry’s joy at catching a monster spot tail!
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