This weekend I had the pleasure of fishing Tuross Lake for the second time. The first was a few years ago with my boss, and unfortunately we didn’t catch much. The boss and I didn’t go fishing after that…I wonder if you only get a return invitation if you catch a few. Anyway, regular followers of the blog might have read a recent post titled ‘Tiddly Tweed’. Perhaps the title for this blog should have been ‘Triumphant Tuross’, as the contrast between the two systems is amazing.
After a pretty smooth run from Canberra, we were on the water by about 12.30pm on Friday. We didn’t have a huge amount of time, and spent the first few hours focusing on an island in the main northern basin. I caught a little flatty on the third cast and then another one on the next cast, so we were filled with enthusiasm as it was clear the fish were hungry. Or were they….we didn’t get another touch for about two hours. Deciding to try another spot, we drifted through some oyster leases, but the flathead weren’t playing ball. I tied on a popper and had a good swirl from a bream and then caught a little chopper tailor, but we were really seeking the flatties. We eventually moved spots again and fished the famed ‘four ways’, where we started getting the odd fish. Unfortunately, by this time, we had to call it a day and made it back to the ramp on dark.
The good thing about this session was that we had started to suss out where the fish were, which was in places with warming water but also a bit of current. The next day we headed straight back to four ways and started casting away, but didn’t have any luck. We decided to try to find some warmer water and headed up towards the leases at the top of four ways and started catching fish. Every now and then we would come across a patch and land a few before it went quiet.
While enjoying one of these patches, I made a nice little cast right up into the pegs with a 120mm bloodworm wriggler and felt the telltale tap of a flatty taking the plastic on the drop. I struck and set the hook, and casually wound what I thought was another smallish fish towards the boat. However, the fish saw the boat and took off, and I instantly knew it was something a bit bigger. After a few more runs, we had it boatside and netted a beautiful 61cm flathead. We got a few shots and watched her swim off back towards the racks. This is one of my better flatties of recent times, so I was pretty cheering.
After a while we ran out of patches and decided to head back towards the deeper water with a bit of flow, and that’s when the fun really started. The size of the fish was better, and we were pulling in a few 40s and 45cm fish. My fishing companion, Jim, had tied on a 120mm paddle tail and it was crunched. It put up a spirited fight and I was careful with the net, but as the fish entered the net, I lifted it out of the water, the fish gave a kick, I lifted some more, and managed to launch the fish clear out of the net and back into the water, much to Jim’s horror. The next attempt wasn’t so bad, and soon after we had another good fish in the boat. Much to my disappointment, it went 62cm, meaning Jim was in front in terms of the ‘fish of the trip’ awards. I think he was a bit suspect of my netting attempt, but I honestly was not trying to lose his fish!
A few more average fish followed, before Jim’s lure was crunched again. This fish took off fast and was on for about 5 seconds before everything went slack. Whether or not the fish chewed through the leader or it was knot failure was unknown, but I could tell by the way this thing went and the look on Jim’s face for about 20 minutes afterwards that it was a really good fish.
Just as we were getting over it, Jim, once again, connected to something big and with a far more clinical netting job, we had a 70cm beauty in the boat. By this stage, we were both completely chuffed. To get three good fish in a session was fantastic, and it makes me start to understand how great recreational-only fisheries can be.
Day three and we were on the water early, full of enthusiasm and hoping to catch an even bigger girl. The weather had changed a bit and the fish were harder to find, but once we hit some 17 degree water the fish started to play ball – for me anyway. For some reason the fishing gods weren’t smiling on Jim, and I managed to catch about 10 flatties and 4 tailor to his one flathead. Sometimes that’s just the way it goes….I know how frustrating it is (see this post about losing your fishing mojo).
All in all we had a cracker of a weekend. I was so impressed with this system. It’s partly the diversity of habitats. Compared to Wallaga, which is my ‘home’ playground, Tuross has a multitude of channels, bays, rockbars, oyster leases, tidal flats, rivers and snags, all with their own unique fishing potential. It’s obvious that the rec-only fishery is paying dividends, based on the thriving fishery but also the number of boats out on the water. Compared to the Tweed, which is relentlessly thrashed by commercials and reccies alike, this system is healthy, clean and full of fish.
Can’t wait to do it all again soon! I’ll finish with a bit of a report wrap-up for those of you who have made it this far:
Target species: Flathead
Gear: Light spinning; 6lb braid and 10-12lb flurocarbon leaders
Plastics: 100-120mm wrigglers and paddle tails; 6 gram jig heads. Bloodworm, Gary Glitter and Silver Fox the pick
Water temperature: 17-18 degrees (no fish were caught in 16)
Clarity and colour: Cloudy (about 2 foot visibility) and green colour
Depth: 1-2m for the smaller fish; 2-3.5m for the bigger ones
Current: Some flow for the bigger fish, still for the smaller ones
Habitats: Around the racks and the lips or dropoffs for the bigger fish
Bycatch: Tailor on 20 gram slugs ripped fast along the surface.
thanks for reading 🙂