I’m a very lucky fellow. For part of my 28th birthday present, my lovely fiance took me down to Eden last weekend for some wining, dining, bushwalking and fishing. It was a great opportunity to show her part of a coastline and environment that I love probably more than any other place in the world.
On the Friday, we drove from the farm at Nimmitabel down through Bombala and took the Imlay road to Wonboyn Lake. This is a great little shortcut if you’re going to Wonboyn and is a beautiful drive in itself, with a gradual and relatively safe descent down the escarpment. The road winds through some beautiful expanses of state forest and national parks, and one can’t help but feel a sense of isolation and appreciation for the vast wilderness in the far south-east of NSW. We drove the nostalgic road to Wonboyn Lake and took the little Nissan onto the Baycliff road to see how far we could get. Despite some pretty gnarly potholes in places and a few tyre-busting roots, it’s not a bad little road and the recent rain had compacted the sandy sections nicely. We had packed the bikes in the car, so decided to stop a few kilometres from the Baycliff carpark and pack our bags and rods and have a ride. It was nice travelling down this road at a slightly slower pace, which enabled us to take in the smells and sounds of the bush. Filled with banksias, bracken, goannas and birds, and the faint din of crashing surf to the east, it truly is a stretch of coastal forest. I usually travel this road much faster and the current record from the Wonboyn boat ramp out to Baycliff stands at 12 minutes and 53 seconds, achieved in Hamish’s dad’s Subaru outback. The gashes out of some of the trees on the side of the track are testament to some serious driving down this road and a gentle reminder that others probably haven’t fared as well as we did on that day from which we’ll be forever in awe of Hamish’s freaky driving ability. It reminds me of another story involving Hamish, a six pack and a dirt road, but I don’t want to spill the beans on that one to be forever etched into Hamish’s digital soul!
Anyway, enough about that…this is a fishing blog! After the pleasant ride we abandoned our muddy, sandy bikes and went to check out the beach and Baycliff. On walking over the dunes, I saw some awesome surf rolling in. The ocean was so churned up and sandy I didn’t even have a cast, and directed my attention to the stunning ‘Baycliff’, which is the rocky headland on the south side of the entrance to Wonboyn Lake. I instantly knew we wouldn’t be getting around the headland to Kelsey’s pool, as huge waves were crashing up onto the platform that is usually high and dry and generally provides a safe platform from which to fish.
Not to be disheartened-which, incidentally, is almost impossible in such a beautiful place- we strolled down the beach and made the short walk over the dunes towards the Aquarium. The Aquarium is a beautiful part of Wonboyn Lake that was formed by an old channel. It’s a few metres deep in places and is often crystal clear. We sat down and had some lunch while the fishing itch grew greater and greater, so after eating I rigged up a few soft plastics to have a cast. I saw what I thought was a mullet jumping and automatically placed a cast right on top of it. As the lure was sinking, I felt a small touch and struck to set the hook. The rod loaded up and I was on! I was convinced it was a big mullet, and it wouldn’t be the first time I’ve hooked a mullet on a lure (both intentionally and unintentionally), but when the fish was getting closer I saw that it was a beautiful big salmon. Meanwhile, Rache had placed a decent cast out into the channel and was also hooked up! With both drags screaming, Rachel’s fish leaped out of the water in a spray of foam and we both caught its glistening flanks in the afternoon sun. ‘It’s a whale!’ exclaimed Rache. This was a pretty good start to the fishing part of things and I can see why Rach prefers ‘catching’ so much over fishing!
For the next 20 minutes or so it was a salmon a cast and we had an absolute ball on the light gear. We were using 3-4 inch soft plastics on 5-6 gram jig heads. At first I had my 3000 size Sustain with 8lb braid and a 10lb leader and Rache had the 2500 sustain with 6lb line and a 1kg leader, but later swapped as Rache was getting a few bust-offs. Perhaps the funniest of them was when she hooked up to a particularly large fish that was stripping braid like there was no tomorrow (there wouldn’t have been if we’d had the esky!). I subtly suggested she tighten the drag a bit as this fish appeared unstoppable and the line promptly snapped. The look on her face was priceless and can be seen in the video below 🙂
After some photos we decided to call it a day and headed back to Eden to find our accommodation. The next day we decided to go and have a look at the Greencape lighthouse, which was beautiful. The weather was pretty inclement and the surf was huge. It was nice to see the formation from a different angle, as I’m usually looking at it from the boat. I can understand why the kingfish like it so much here. The current was visibly flowing pretty hard with a serious ruffle amongst the mountains of water. After a few minutes looking around, the bitterly cold wind got the better of us and we decided to drive up to Bitangabee bay to have a look. We ended up doing a beautiful walk a few kilometres up the coast. The walk took us through some stunning coastal forest and heathland and spat us out on an incredible rock platform overlooking Greencape to the south. The waves were hitting the cliffs head-on and it was amazing to see the back waves hitting the oncoming waves, creating mountainous spirals of water that would have been at least 15 metres high. Photos didn’t do it justice but I’ve included one below of one of the smaller ‘mountains’ that I managed to capture.
After the walk we drove back down the Greencape road and decided to have a look at the Navy wharf, which is a seriously sturdy wharf that extends about 1km into Twofold bay. We were casting small slugs around to see if there were any bonito or salmon around, but didn’t have any luck. Feeling rather lazy and dreaming about Kingfish, I decided to jig vertically and dropped the lure to the bottom before winding it quickly up. Rache had already started jigging in the hope of catching a squid, and promptly hooked up to a decent slimy mackerel. Over the next half an hour, we caught about 30 seriously good-sized slimies and had an absolute ball. It seems that Rache doesn’t mind getting covered in slime, scales and blood when she’s catching so many fish! Needless to say, she comprehensively outfished me, partly because of her casual technique but also because she was using a much smaller metal lure; a 20 gram as opposed to my 40g. In saying that, the green-eyed monster started to get the better of me and I stole the 20 gram outfit off her, only to witness her catch an equal number of fish on the 40 gram. Lady luck is a feminist, it would seem. I’m getting more and more excited about slimy mackerel and can’t wait to try smoking some next time. I also spotted some big mussels on the pylons, so am keen to get back there and harvest a few.
It was a great weekend and I can’t wait to get down again in two weeks with Hamish for some serious catching! It’s nice to share these beautiful locations and experiences with friends and loved ones and I can’t recommend visiting this area enough. Hope you enjoyed the photos and post and watch this space for the next installment of fishing in south east Australia!