Gayndah – Burnett River – Mount Debateable Bridge – 2 September 2013

Monday

I did some exploring of the Burnett River at Gayndah on Sunday afternoon and spent the night there. I was up before dawn and drove a few minutes up river on the town side to another bridge that leads to Mount Debateable Road.
The river widens here and there is a large sand bar in the middle. The sides are full of submerged trees and rocks. It looked like another good fishing spot, with access to either bank on foot. I decided to stick with what had worked the day before and rigged up with the same small soft plastic and 6lb fluorocarbon leader. I put the plastic on a 1/8th 1 hook, jighead and started casting at the various bits of submerged timber.

I had arrived just after first light and before dawn. As the sky brightened I saw fish coming to the surface in various locations. I walked out about 10 metres, towards the middle of the bridge and cast back towards the snags, along the bank. I lost a couple of jigheads and felt a couple of bites, but by sun up I still did not have a fish.
I started casting close to the bridge and letting the soft plastic sit on the bottom for longer. Just after dawn the line slowly pulled tight and I realised I had a fish on. It did not realise initially but when it did it took off. I played it patiently – with a 6lb leader and my light rod – I could not muscle it in. I let it wear itself out in mid-stream, before gradually pulling it towards the bank.

I could see it was another freshwater catfish. It made a few attempts to bury itself in the snags but it was tired out and I soon had it on the bank. I took a few pictures and let it go. It was time to move on.

Gayndah – Claude Wharton Weir – 1 September 2013

Sunday

Back to work for a while, but it is not all bad. I decided to take the scenic route to the Bowen Basin and try some freshwater fishing along the way. I have no experience of tempting our freshwater species, in Queensland. Every time I drive across a bridge over one of our rivers or creeks, I am tempted to stop for a fish. The high rainfall of recent years has left a lot of water courses looking like they must hold fish.

I decided to stop and fish the Burnett River at Gayndah. The Claude Wharton Weir is about 2km upstream of the town and there is currently plenty of water flowing over it. I arrived in the late morning about 10.15 am and drove along the north bank of the river, to the weir.

I have seen people fishing here before, when I have passed through and there is plenty of structure. The big floods knocked over thousands of tree and these are now half submerged, all along the banks. The weir is carved out of a rocky gully with lots of submerged rock outcrops. I thought of fishing in the reservoir, above the weir but this looked featureless so I decided to try beneath the wall.

I was using my light spin rod – G.Loomis GL2 – Fast Action and my Shimano Stella 2500 reel. I was loaded with 4 kg Fireline Exceed, in the new, yellow colour and I tied on a 6lb fluorocarbon leader. I chose a 1/8th ounce, 1/0 jighead and a Gulp 3” Crazylegs Grub in the Smelt colour. I love this lure in clear still water. The twin tails have a great action as it sinks.

I scrambled down the bank and started casting around some submerged branches. I lost one rig to the timber and re-tied with the same set up. I let the soft plastic lure pause on the bottom, for about 30 seconds after the cast and when I lifted it, there was a good solid weight on the end. The weight started wiggling and then took off into the structure. I let the drag do its work but it felt like the fish had got itself nicely wrapped around a branch. I let the drag off a little and each time the fish moved I put on a bit more pressure. After a minute or two, it swam out. I tightened the drag back up and pulled it out from under the branch. It was not done yet but it was just under the surface and out of danger. I gradually pulled it up to the bank.

It was a big brute of a cat fish – between 2 and 3 kg. I had caught my first freshwater fish in Queensland – not very handsome, but great fun. I photographed and released it and carried on fishing up to the weir. I put in another hour and a half and saw some small silver fish come and make a grab at the soft plastic, a couple of times, but I could not catch them. I gave up at about noon and went to do some reconnaissance of other spots, for the next morning’s session.