15 May 2008

A Bad Day Fishing Beats A Good Day Working

Having fished LBG with the Canberra Crew last weekend, and catching good numbers of reddies, plus seeing a couple of yellows caught, I wanted to get out at home and see if there were any fish still kicking about.

Late May is generally too late and cold here for the fishing to be any good, but the last month has been quite mild, and with good weather holding, there was a chance there would still be some fish on the chew.

This year has been very lean in Lake Hume, with a good start to the season on yellows, no reddies at all (most years it would be possible to catch cricket scores), and generally bugger all happening. While I was tempted to try out the Lake, the back of my mind told me it would be a wasted trip, and I would be better off looking elsewhere.

I decided to try in the Murray, just below the Hume Weir wall. It's a funny spot - it looks very fishy, I've heard stories of fish being caught there, but I'd never done any good myself. But the scenery is great, it cops very little traffic, so I decided to give it a crack.

Water was waaaay down - Goulburn Murray Water have pretty much turned off the tap for the Murray, water releases are down to 400ML per day (where they were running at 4000ML). As you would expect, the river was very, very low (I think nearly 2 metres lower than standard), and significantly narrower, as you would expect.

Plan of attack was to troll and cast with a Kokoda Sprog and some Killer Tomato Squidgies. Having seen how good the Jackall Chubby's were on the redfin in LBG, I was keen to see if smaller is really better. No Jackalls in my collection, but I've found the Sprogs to be a passable imitation of the SX40's, which have a similar tight shimmy to the Chubby.

No action bar a few snags for the first hour and a half. Conditions were odd - water temp was down to 12C, there were fingerlings busting the surface, and I could see and hear the occasional boof, as something hit the surface. I was putting these down to carp, but on reflection, whatever was boofing was pretty full of beans and aggro. Carp tend to be fairly lazy about it, really just a big bellyflop more than anything else.

After no joy with the Sprog, it was time for a change. I was convinced I should have had a sniff of a reddie or two by this point, so it was time to return to old habits, and see what else I could tempt with something a bit larger. I changed up to a McGrath lure, in the carp pattern. It's always looked pretty in the lurebox, but never caught me a fish. Would today be the day?

This section of the River has a fairly large island bisecting the river. On one side of the island are the Weir primary outlet valves, and the other the secondary valves (almost never used) and a diffuser wall. I'd launched on the secondary side, worked my way down the island, and then started heading back up toward the primary valves. The water was moving a bit quicker, and about 1/2 degree colder.

I started trolling up current, tight against some snags, in about 3 metres of water. Thud thud rattle, hmm snag? Nope, fish! Off it goes - the Sic Stik 1-3kg and 1000 series reel is getting a bit of a workout. I catch first sight of colour - a very dark, lean looking fish. At first inspection I took it for a cod. After a spirited, powerful run, back it comes yakside and in, and I find myself with a chunky, very dark, little yellowbelly. This thing was almost black! Unfortunately it wasn't a very good sport, and decided to self-release before I could take a happy snap. Probably just as well it did, as I was half-contemplating whether it was dinner-worthy or not.

Size I would put at 36 - 38cm, but a fat little bugger!

The offending snag

I continued to work my way upstream. Things got a bit shallower, we were down to under a metre in places. Mr McGrath was smacking into the bottom all over the place, he must have been making an awful racket. Nothing doing. Back downstream we go.

I continued smacking my way over a sandbar, a little deeper at about a metre and a half. Hang on, what do we have here? Something giving me a bit of curry. Nurse it to the side, and another very phat little yellow. Not so little actually, I thought I might have a new PB.

This one I got a snap of. Not quite PB, he came in at a shade over 44cm. Again, very fat, very dark. I'm guessing these guys have been feeding up like mad before winter.

I hooked back around the island, and started heading back towards the car. Nothing was doing, but the closer I got to the car, the more the hatchlings started playing up. Something was really giving them some trouble. Probably worth chucking a couple of lures into, lets see whats going on hey?

Did a slow drift down a rocky dropoff, firing a #3 stump jumper into the fray. A few half hearted follows from something, but couldn't quite get my eye on what it was.

Got to the 'just one last cast' and finally connected with something. Turned out to be a little pest redfin, all of about 6 inches, with no hump at all. He went home to Mommy, and I made a private pact to have a couple more 'last casts'

Got a good hit and connected to something. It felt good, not great, but better than a pesky little reddie. Unfortunately I dropped him, as I was trying to get the paddle out of the way, and hi sticking the fish at the same time. The stumpie has had a single hook conversion in the past, so I'm wondering if that contributed to the fish not sticking.

Anyway a good afternoon had, a couple of fish I didn't expect to get, and an afternoon away from the computer. It was pretty sweet.

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