Monday/ Tuesday/ Wednesday
Back out to Blackwater for the last time (for a while). I had the afternoons to myself, so I went exploring along the Mackenzie River. There had been a couple of good rain storms, since I was last out here, which had raised the water levels. It had also made the track alongside the river, to the south of Bedford Weir, too sticky to negotiate on my own. As soon as I hit the muddy ruts, the standard tyres I have, just clogged with mud and started spinning. I did not get stuck but without someone on hand to pull me out – it would have been silly to carry on. The weather had warmed up and the rain had brought the humidity up to very unpleasant levels.
One of my blog followers had recommended I have a go, fishing upstream of the weir, where the Mackenzie river runs alongside Rileys Crossing Road. This is also a dirt road, but it is a real road, not a dirt track, so it is in pretty good shape. I drove along it until I could see some tracks down to the river bank, then turned down one of them. I parked up and climbed down the still fairly steep banks to the water’s edge.
The rising water level had covered the base of many of the trees that line the river. The water was pretty stirred up. There were three dried catfish hanging off a fence post. I am not sure what the correct fishing etiquette is for disposing vs releasing catfish. The locals often seem to throw them up the bank or hang them off a tree branch. I appreciate they compete for food with the stocked fish in the impoundments, but they are a naturally occurring species. There appear to be so many of them that it makes me think killing the ones I catch will hardly make any difference, so I just release them. I would love to hear what others think – should we destroy them or release them?
I think by now you can predict where this post is going. I caught more catfish. I fished from about 5.00 pm through to 6.30 pm. I fished with the GULP Ghost Shrimp soft plastic in the Pink Belly colour, on a 1/12th ounce, 1/0 jighead and 8lb fluorocarbon leader. As the sun dropped the fish came to the surface to swallow various insects and you could see them ‘rising’, in all directions. Occasionally, I would make out the wake of a Saratoga, cruising just below the surface. I would cast the plastic in front of its nose and it would usually turn and come over to have a look, but I still could not illicit a strike. There were catfish sitting under just about every fallen branch or submerged root. I caught about ten – and was beaten by two or three who tangled me up.
The next afternoon I fished the pool below Bedford Weir. The increased turbidity from the rain had definitely turned the catfish on. I started with a 1/8th ounce, Zman Chatterbait in a white/ yellow colour. This is like a mini spinner bait lure. I cast next to the big branch, sticking out of the water in the middle of the main pool, below the weir. As the lure sank, a fish grabbed it. It was a weighty beast and took a while to subdue. As I pulled it to the surface I could see it was , of course, a catfish. I caught another, smaller one on the Chatterbait and then swapped to the other side of the pool. The catfish were so thick I could see their fins breaking the surface. I swapped to a small soft plastic GULP 2.5” Crabbie in the Camo colour in the hope of attracting something else, but this just caught more catfish.
I decided to move downstream to a pool just below the road, which crosses beneath the weir. There was a bad smell on the bank and the flies were buzzing. The source was four big dead catfish lying in the grass. I moved away from the smell and cast out my soft plastic with predictable results – another catfish.
On my final afternoon I drove out to Riley’s Crossing and walked a little way along one of the tracks, up stream. This is another beautiful spot – even if it was stinking hot and humid. The results were exactly the same as the previous two days. I varied my lures, swapping between spinner baits, soft plastics (in various colours) and hard bodies, but I could not find anything other than catfish.
I have had great fun exploring some freshwater fishing in Central Queensland, over the past few months, but now it is time to head home and reacquaint myself with some Moreton Bay flathead.