Backwater bream fishing – south coast surface action

I was lucky enough to spend last weekend camping at the Middle Beach Campground in the beautiful Mimosa Rocks National Park. Despite being in the middle of school holidays, we managed to find a great little campsite away from the families. I think the fact that this campsite is classified as ‘walk in’ keeps many people away. Funny thing is, the walk is only 80 metres! Anyway, can’t complain…not many people can be bothered carrying a generator 80 metres, which makes this spot a great choice during busy times.

Anyway, the camping was in celebration of a friend’s 30th birthday, so not a huge amount of fishing was had. In saying that, I probably spent about 50 percent of my time fishing, so managed to scratch the itch. First up I tried the beach. Armed with my new rod (I snapped the last one while harvesting mussels off the pylons at my local playground), my 3000 sustain and a few metal slugs, I walked the length of the beach in search of salmon or tailor. I had it on great authority from one of the campers that he’d caught salmon and tailor every other day except this particular day, but after looking at the near perfect tides and structure I was confident of catching a few fish. Casting into perfect gutter after perfect gutter, I started to think it just wasn’t going to be one of those days. Oh well, I think: a good opportunity to socialise with friends and pretend I’m not a total fishing nut.

After a few hours the itch started again and a mate and I wandered down to the rocks to try our luck. On the way I decided to have a feel around in a big rockpool in the hope of finding an abalone. After moving some kelp around I got a bit of a shock when a moray eel poked its head out of a crack to see what was going on. I decided to lure it out with a piece of cunjevoi and marvelled at its awesome dog-like teeth and bright green skin. It seems they have excellent smell but very poor sight, as it had trouble locating the cunje even when it was right in front of it. Once it got a whiff it would lunge in the right direction, opening its gaping jaws to gobble it down.

We found a nice spot that wasn’t too exposed and started casting lures into deeper water. It looked fishy but we weren’t able to raise a strike. Resorting to bait, we started getting bites fairly quickly and pulled in a few good wrasse. I managed a good one of about 1.5kg, which put up a spirited fight on the little bream stick.

One of a few nice little wrasse we caught. Sometimes it’s nice to try the lucky dip off the rocks

Swimming came next, then more socialising, but the itch still hadn’t been completely scratched. After an ice cold beer, Steve and I decided to head down to Middle Lagoon and have a look. This is where the fun really started. I had tied on a plastic and was getting weeded up consistently in the shallow water. Second cast with the popper and a slight pause only metres from the bank, and BOOF! A robust bronze shape had materialised beneath the Rebel Pop-R and had a go! Over the next half an hour or so I had about 20 strikes. Only one fish was hooked and landed, but it was nonetheless a great little session. All of the bream struck on the pause. I was giving the lure about 5-10 pops before pausing for 5-10 seconds; sometimes longer if I suspected a fish was following. Sometimes the fish would have a go and miss the lure, then after another twitch of the lure would return and smash it again. Some of the bow waves following the lure were a dead giveaway and made for some heart in the mouth fishing.

Bream on a Rebel Pop-R…doesn’t get much more fun than this!

It’s amazing that one fish can be so satisfying. What the session really taught me was never to neglect a weedy, seemingly stagnant, shallow lagoon, especially on a warm summer’s day. All of the strikes came from water that was no more than 20cm deep. I doubt this lagoon has been open to the ocean for a long time, and it became evident that the resident bream had been happily hunting poddy mullet, cicadas and prawns, getting nice and fat and aggressive. The other thing that made this spot special was that I doubt it sees much fishing pressure. It is small, shallow, stagnant, weedy, with a penetrating sulphurous smell and no shortage of future acid sulfate muck in the making. Needless to say, the healthy fish was released to fight another day.

A great little spot. A great reminder to never ignore the quiet backwaters!

If you’re looking for a good spot to go with the family, better half or friends, or if you’re a keen fisherman, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the diverse options within 5 minutes walk of this stunning campground. Add to this the plethora of other wildlife, including some insanely confident goannas (almost grabbed one by the tail as it was poking its head into the rubbish), black cockatoos, bandicoots, possums, black swamp wallabies, eastern greys and a bunch of waterbirds, and you can’t go wrong!

Lee Georgeson, January 2012

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