Back to Blackwater – theoretically to do some work but, of course, my true purpose was to have a go at those fussy saratoga, swimming around down-stream of Bedford Weir. I arrived on Wednesday and got the paid work out of the way. On Thursday I had some time in the afternoon.
It was full moon. I had fished the full moon last time I was here and I had found a few good fish. This time I drove down the four wheel drive track, which runs to the east, alongside the Mackenzie River downstream of the weir wall. I followed it almost to the end – about 6 kms in total. The track is reached by turning to the east, off the Blackwater Cooroorah Road (right – if you are coming from Blackwater) just before you reach the weir.
Take care on this track. It is fine while the ground is dry and solid but it would be fairly tricky once it has rained. Also be aware there is a very high fire danger at this time of year, with tall dry grass lining the river banks and tracks.
At this point the banks of the river are quite steep and there is wide pool that has formed as the river runs against a rock bar, which slows it to a trickle, beyond this point. It looks like the fish cannot comfortably travel beyond this pool so it should be a good fishing spot.
Sure enough, as I approached the bank I could see several large saratoga lurking under the overhanging branches. The only thing that had worked on them before was a GULP soft plastic with arms and legs flailing everywhere – the 3 inch Ghost Shrimp. The hard bodies had just spooked them. I was out of suitable plastics so I started with a ¼ ounce spinner bait in a yellow and white colour. The fish were very well protected by the overhanging branches and it was pretty difficult to approach them without spooking them. I managed to get the spinner bait quite close to them a couple of times, before they dived down out of sight. These are very cautious fish.
I moved a little further along the bank and loaded a 1/11th ounce/size 2 hook jighead with a 2” GULP Shrimp in the Banana Prawn colour. I hopped this along the bottom around the snags and soon connected with a small catfish. I caught three of these.
I moved a bit further along and switched to the same soft plastic in the Peppered Prawn colour. I cast this at some sunken branches, which were close to the bank and felt a slightly more urgent tap, as I retrieved the lure. I cast back in the same spot and this time I hooked up. It pulled hard and fast, faster than the catfish. But it was not big enough to be a saratoga. I kept the rod tip up and pulled it clear of the snaggy timber. It was a respectable golden perch/ yellow belly.
I looked for a few more and may have had one on, that I did not land. After a while I could see the saratoga out in the middle of the stream, again. I swapped back the spinner bait and even though I pulled a few directly past their noses, I could not entice them to strike. They would turn towards the lure as it hit the water and sometimes swim towards it – but then lose interest. Its pretty tough fishing in the fresh water but I learn a little more on each session.
At about 5.30 pm, having caught a couple more catfish – I gave up for the day.