My freshwater adventures continued on Wednesday afternoon. I had a bit of work to attend to in Blackwater and decided to go and have a look at Bedford Weir, when I had finished. I was getting good at catching common catfish but I was really after something a bit more interesting.
Bedford Weir is about 25 km from Blackwater. There are saratoga, yellowbelly, sleepy cod, black bream, the odd barramundi and of course, catfish. There is a camping area beside the weir and a boat ramp. Above the weir there is a fair amount of boat traffic and it is a hard slog to find areas where you can fish from the bank, so I decided to try the pool immediately below the weir wall.
The area is drying out as there has been no significant rain for a while. I arrived at about 4.15 pm on a very hot, still afternoon – the car thermometer said it was 34 degrees. The moon would be full on Thursday. I started by fishing downstream of the weir wall. Water runs over the edge of the weir, down a horizontal channel and then cascades into a small pool, before running off under the road.
On the Burnett River, I had established that Catfish will get stuck into soft plastics, if they are left on the bottom for a while. The action does not seem to interest them, but I think it is the GULP smell that attracts them. I could see a few turtles around and there were a few swirls and bait scatters, as fish came up for a feed.
I decided to fish light, again. My light spin combo rod and reel with 2.8 kg Fireline, 8lb fluorocarbon leader and a 1/8th ounce, size 1 jighead. I chose a 2.0 inch freshwater yabby style GULP soft plastic called a Crabbie, in the peppered prawn colour. I lost a few rigs as I felt my way around the snags on the bottom but also felt a few bumps and nudges.
I cast at the point where the water cascaded over the small wall and let my lure sink. I counted to about 15, very slowly and then gently flicked the lure off the bottom and let it sink again. The next time I did this, something grabbed it and took off. I struck too quickly and too fast and it was gone. This happened two or three more times over the next few minutes. The strikes were cleaner and more distinct than the Catfish, slurp, so it was something else.
I slowed everything down and cast as close to the wall as I could. I paused until I was sure the little yabby-like lure was on the bottom then gave it a gentle hop. I felt the bite and paused for a few seconds then set the hook. This time I thought I had it – its broad tail broke the surface but I was still not sure what it was. As I looked for place to pull it up the rocks it slipped off – bugger!
I swapped to a lighter 1/16th Gamakatsu, size 1, round hook jighead and put on a fresh soft plastic – these jigheads often hook up when the traditional pattern is having trouble. They are incredibly sharp.
The sun had now dropped behind the weir and I had some shade. I repeated the procedure from the last cast and after a few attempts; I felt the bite and hooked up. The fish tried to bury itself in the snags but this time I had it. It took a few minutes, but I soon slipped it out of the water at my feet. It was my first golden perch/ yellowbelly on a soft plastic. It was a chunky fish, just over 35cm long. After a few pictures I returned it to the water.
I continued casting, same spot, same technique and about ten minutes later I had another one. It fought pretty hard and headed straight for the snags but I pulled it out and landed it. It was another golden perch / yellowbelly. This one was shorter but a bit fatter than the first. I released it, things were hotting up.
It was now around 6.00pm. It was getting dark and the full moon was clear in the sky behind me. I kept getting bites but they were quite gentle and hard to convert. Suddenly there was a very solid thump, gentle pull and then powerful run for the rocks. This felt like a big fish. I could feel the leader rubbing on something so I loosened the drag and kept very minimal tension on the line. I waited about a minute and slowly the line started moving through the water. Once I was sure it was out, I tightened the drag and pulled hard with the rod.
A fat fish popped up on the surface. It looked a bit like a drummer or luderick. It was not particularly fast but it was heavy and had a powerful tail. After a check on the web I assume it was a sooty grunter, although it was quite a pale colour.
It was still stinking hot and as with all good fishing sessions, I was now getting eaten alive by midges and mosquitoes, so I gave up. I was very happy with my first freshwater session at Bedford Weir. The hot weather and the full moon may have had something to do with my success – I would be back.