If you are a regular follower of this blog you will know by now that we write about much more than “just fishing”. To us, fishing is a lifestyle, an escape from work, a chance to see this great country of ours (and others), and an excuse to turn off the main road for the slim chance of making a cast into a forgotten river. It is also a reason to dress like a lunatic, plummet down a hill on a mountain bike, wade in freezing waters for two hours only to do it all in reverse with a huge smile on your face and dinner in the bag (see the river less fished post) 🙂
Nothing encapsulates this philosophy more than “fishwalking”.
Fishwalking was a fun name I came up with when trying to describe our favoured form of fishing. Simply put, Fishwalking is bushwalking with a fishing rod. Bushwalking has always been one of the best ways to see and experience the outdoors and fishing, well it’s just an excuse to go bushwalking near some water 😉
Now it could be that we all have Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) or it could just be that we struggle to sit still long enough with a piece of pilchard, a worm or a ball of white bread on a hook to catch a decent fish. When most people question our love of fishing, they recall hours of doing just this: sitting on a jetty with their dad or grandad bored out of their brains on a family holiday. Fishwalking is different. When fishwalking, you find the fish (they don’t find you). You are always on the move, searching new water. By constantly casting and walking, the scenery is forever changing and you are always doing something.
Fishwalking also catches you more fish. Why? Because as you walk up a river or along an estuary you are exploring shallow water, deep water, slow moving and fast, shady and sunny. Now all good fishermen know that fish are infinitely complex creatures. Only by exploring all the different conditions will you find out exactly where they are hiding and what they feel like eating (at that exact time and place!).
When we (the team here at Fishing @ SE OZ) are not fishing from a boat, we are fishwalking. OK, we make exceptions sometimes for night fishing or for relaxing with a beer. But fishwalking describes the way we would approach any estuary, river, beach or headland. It has proven itself time after time, often when bait fisherman have struggled to raise a bite.
In the last few years we have refined our fishwalking gear list for maximum efficiency and comfort. This is typically what we take:
Backpack – essential for keeping your hands free and being able to carry other gear. I really like backpacks that have chest and waist straps to stop them sliding around and distribute the weight more evenly. Also, if you can fit one of those Camel Back water pouches in it, you can drink and continue to fish at the same time (very important when a mate is one or two fish up on you!)
Light spin rod and reel – The gear needs to be as light as you can get away with in the conditions. You’ll be carrying it all day, so it needs to be well balanced and comfortable. Over time, we have treated ourselves to graphite rods, $200+ reels, braided lines and so on. But we started out with reasonable quality (and very affordable) fibreglass rods and cheaper reels. Braided lines can be daunting in the beginning (extra knots, leaders etc.) but they consistently catch more fish than mono or nylon line when using lures. You can cast further, are less likely to spook fish because you’re further away, you can react to any bites, and generally fish the water more effectively. Watch this blog if you are thinking of making the switch …
Lures – you should only need a handful of lures when fishwalking, preferably ones that let you fish the surface (poppers, walk-the-dog), deeper pools (diving minnows) and any depth if you allow them to sink (celtas, crank baits, metal slices, soft plastics). In many environments the last type is the most versatile and the best place to start.
Chuck in some replacement leader and braid scissors (if using braid), a ruler to measure your catch, a small net or lip grips (not essential but can stop a lot of heartache when trying to land your fish), a good knife with sheath, suncream and a snack!
Keep everything to a minimum as the grams really start to add up after a couple of hours and get out and give fishwalking a go. It will take you to some amazing rivers chasing trout, redfin, cod or bass. Estuaries for flathead, bream and whiting and the beaches for big Salmon and Tailor. Keep it light, keep moving, keep experimenting and work out what the fish want on that particular day. The results will speak for themselves and you’ll see some great parts of this country along the way!