I wrote a post a few weeks ago about my growing fishing itch that needed to be scratched. Well, I have to admit that I didn’t end up fishing that weekend…moving house and other life-related admin got the better of me, and needless to say, I have been pining for some fishing. Graz and I headed down to Wallaga Lake over the weekend to see if we could find a few fish.
It started pretty slowly on Saturday morning. We decided to head out on the boat and tried all of the usual flathead haunts, only to draw blanks. The water was cold and a little dirty after the recent rain, and we eventually changed tactics and decided to fish some of the deeper water, which we figured would be saltier. In hindsight, there was no bait or food in the usual winter haunts, which are generally shallow north-facing bays, so it made sense to try some of the sparse bait schools we could see sounding up in the deeper holes.
We started catching flathead and I landed a nice black bream on a plastic before it went quiet again, and we decided to head around to the front of the system to try our luck there. It was in this salty, deep and clearer water that the fun really began, and we cleaned up on the flathead and baby snapper in about 5 metres of water.
Heading further around the front, over towards the flats, we started fishing the channels and it became clear there were fish everywhere. Baitfish were busting up around us, we were catching the odd tailor and flathead, and every now and then we heard the subtle kissing of hungry bream. I think we both tied poppers on about the same time and had a fun little session trying to tempt some crazy bream on the surface. These fish were going bananas…I have never seen bream repeatedly hit a lure up to five times. Graz hooked and landed one, but I couldn’t manage to get one to find the hooks. A few tailor made it pretty fun too, and it was exhilarating to experience the split second decision whether to keep the popper stationary (for a bream) or rip it back towards the boat (tailor), for fear of losing the little expensive bits of plastic we were throwing about.
Graz also caught probably the weirdest catch I’ve seen from Wallaga, and no it wasn’t a flying gurnard (which a fairly common), an octopus (also common), a trumpeter (less common), a squid (also less common) or a jewfish (almost unheard of in Wallaga). Something hit his plastic on the drop and the rod bent over double. A few sluggish runs and this thing, whatever it was, did not want to become acquainted. I called it for a big octopus, but some of the runs and the odd headshake soon made it clear it couldn’t be. For a second or two we thought that it coul;d have been a monster flathead….but surely not in Wallaga!? I soon saw some colour and despite doing a double-take knew instantly what it was…a porcupine fish. We eventually had it in the net, and that’s when the fun really started. It proceeded to blow up to the size of a basketball, and looked completely ridiculous as it fully filled the net. As I leant closer, it let out an almighty ‘schwoooosh’, and I jumped back thinking it had actually exploded. We took some photos and let it go, only for it to roll over on its belly, exposing it’s bizarre, spiny white belly, and float for about 10 minutes before making more whooshing noises and finally deflating enough so that it could right itself and swim away. Completely amazing survival strategy and a sight I’ll relish for a long time to come.
The sun was setting so we headed off and went home to clean a few fish and have a coldie. We decided to head out on the boat again on day two, and went straight to the deep hole near the front and had a fun little session on the flathead. I also hooked and landed a nice snapper of around 35cm, which put up a great stoush on the light gear. The afternoon session was spent on the beach, and with a rising tide and some great structure the fish were pretty easy to come by on the light spinning gear and metal slugs, and we landed a few tailor and a nice salmon.
We decided to make the most of the end of the trout season and fish one of my favourite trout streams on the way back up the hill. Shortly after leaving the car my little hardbody was crunched and I wound in a spectacular brown of around 3lb. We walked further upstream and dropped another fish each…both beauties at least as big as the first. It was a pretty good way to finish the weekend. From sunshine, boating and beaches, to icy cold sleet on the Monaro, it was pretty cool to be able to experience so many different environments. We also didn’t have one ‘bad’ session, landing a diversity of fish using lots of different techniques. All good fun, and the itch was definitely scratched.