Holiday fishing around Canberra

It’s been a while between drinks, so to speak. Between catching up with friends and family, tending to my small acreage outside Canberra, or the rollercoaster of Christmas and New Year, it’s been difficult to focus on fishing and blogging. Nonetheless, I had an amazing time in New Zealand in early December (Hamish wrote a great blog here), and have had a few memorable and successful sessions over the busy and brief break.

The first proper session was with my dad, off the beach near Bermagui. We found a bunch of salmon holding in a deep gutter, and had an action-packed hour long session hauling in these beautiful sportfish on 30 gram slugs tied to bream sticks. It was a memorable session, because it was one of the few times I can remember when I was outfished by dad, with him landing three to my two. I reckon he could probably remember a few more sessions where he’s outfished me, but it’s good to have a bit of healthy competition. We both lost a lot of fish, and in all honesty, dad only fished for about 20 minutes before complaining (or gloating) that his arm was sore from winding them in; so in truth, I was comprehensively outfished. There’s another story in there about single versus treble hooks (and it’s not what you might think), but I’ll save that for another time. All in all, a very enjoyable session. It makes me super happy to fish with family and loved ones, so it was an excellent way to open the holiday fishing account.

Hooked up in perfect salmon conditions
Hooked up in perfect salmon conditions

The few sessions I had down the coast certainly didn’t scratch the itch, so I decided to dedicate the last few days of my break to focus on my burning compulsion to fish. New Year’s eve isn’t usually associated with fishing, but I was lucky enough to be up in the mountains with a few friends, not far from a little trout stream. Graz and I got an hour for a leave pass, and were fortunate to take Grazza’s car, because it goes a lot faster around corners than mine. We arrived at the tiny little stream and found it was much smaller than we had thought, being able to cross in numerous places without getting our feet wet. The first pool was surrounded by rushes, but by ‘wading’ through the tall stalks, it was possible to get a small underarm cast into a few square metres of water. On the first cast, a beautiful little rainbow trout shot out and smashed the Rapala, only to throw the hooks. I was sure that no more fish would be in the tiny pool, but had another cast, and hooked another fish. Then another! Two little rainbows from a perfect little mountain stream…a perfect way to end 2014.

Wading through the rushes
Wading through the rushes
Grazza having a crack
Grazza having a crack
A nice little rainbow
A nice little rainbow
Matching the 'hatch'
Matching the ‘hatch’

The rest of NYE was a relatively quiet affair. A few of us walked up to Booroomba rocks (quite a challenge after a few beers) to watch the fireworks. They appeared like tiny little dots, some 50km in the distance, and I mused at how odd it seemed to be out in nature, watching ‘civilisation’ from afar. I also mused how fireworks are analogous to sex, and we all had a few laughs as we ooohed and aahed at the explosive display.

I was in bed by 1am, which is a lot more civilised than my effort last year, when I was singing Bill Withers at the top of my lungs at 11am the next day. Rache and I were up early and decided to head home, which, as the crow flies, is only about 15km from the Namadgi National Park. Ignoring the ‘road closed’ signs, we decided to see if we could get across the Murrumbidgee River at Angle Crossing. On arriving at the crossing, there was a bit of water, but Rache walked across and it looked fine, so crossing in the Subaru was easy. Despite being 8.30am, it was warming up, so we decided to have a quick dip in the river. A wonderful way to bring in the New Year.

The early morning swim and lack of a hangover had me feeling pretty upbeat, so I decided to head up to Googong Dam to try my luck on the local redfin population. It was a bit of a walk to my ‘secret’ spot, and in about 30 degrees Celsius it felt like a long stroll. The good thing was that it felt a bit too hot for the old ‘legless lizards’, so I wasn’t too concerned about them. I reached the spot and tied on a little green wriggler and started catching the odd small redfin, but nothing too exciting. I found a big yabby, who for some reason climbed completely out of the water and onto the hot bank, and considered putting it on a hook, but decided to persist with the plastic. I found two really nice redfin under a deep ledge, basically jigging vertically, and decided to take them home for dinner. Filleted, skinned and crumbed, I think redfin rival pretty much any fish you can buy, saltwater and freshwater.

Half of dinner
Half of dinner
The other half of dinner
The other half of dinner

I was pretty dehydrated so headed home. It was a bit cooler and the snakes had woken up. I nearly trod on a small black snake before it shot off towards the water. I don’t mind the blacks so much…it’s the big browns and tigers that make my skin crawl.

After the delicious redfin for dinner, I figured that I might as well continue my little fishing sabbatical and headed down to the Murrumbidgee to try my luck throwing big surface crawlers around. I had been studying google earth and had found a potential access point, where I could avoid a stretch of sandy, shallow water and head strait to Cod Town. After battling some blackberries and tea tree I found the water, a short stretch of rocky bars where the river narrows.

About 30 minutes into the session and I had my first hit. I was walking the whalloper past a few rocks adjacent to a backwater and the lure was smashed. There is something about cod hitting a lure that is incredibly addictive. I guess it’s the adrenaline. The sound is like a muffled gun shot…not dissimilar from a barra boofing. Amazing stuff, especially for us southerners.

A lovely stretch of the 'bidgee
A lovely stretch of the ‘bidgee

I had the fish on for about 10 seconds before it thrashed wildly on the surface and threw the hooks, but it looked to be about 60-70cm long and about 3-4kg. I wasn’t too miffed, knowing from experience that if I had one hit there was a good chance the fish would be on and I’d have another. Sure enough, about 20 minutes later I had another hit, but the fish missed the lure. I continued the retrieve, watching intently, before the fish smashed the lure again and I was on. It was only a small fish, but it was my first cod on a surface lure, so I was completely chuffed. I’ve had numerous hits, a few hookups, but none landed, so it was a great little milestone, and a fantastic way to top off the beginning of the New Year.

Weapon of choice
Weapon of choice
A beautiful green fish
A beautiful green fish

All the best for 2015. Thanks to everyone for reading, for the valued feedback, and sharing your own experiences with us over the past year.

Lee

 

 

flickandflyjournal.com

Hamish Webb, Dan Firth, Graham Fifield and Lee Georgeson have been fishing the south-east Australian region since 1987. Since then they’ve become avid sportfishermen who are constantly looking for new ways to challenge themselves. They are all scientists and conservationists who are passionate about the long-term sustainability of the ecosystem in which they live. They promote understanding and appreciation of the complex socio-political, economic and environmental issues surrounding fish, fishing and fisheries, while never losing sight of the various motivations that keep them coming back. In English, that means they love all things fishing and have a damn good time on the water, and that’s all that really counts in the end!

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