Tumut – the Goobarragandra River – 9 May 2014

Friday

Every cloud has a silver lining and last weekend work left me in Tumut, at the base of the Snowy Mountains, about 2 ½ hours drive from Canberra, on Friday afternoon. The weather forecast was for a few showers over the weekend and it was cold – about 3 Celsius, up to a top of about 20. But Friday afternoon was beautiful, with bright sunshine and no wind.

I have never traveled down here before. At this time of year, the trees form a bright tapestry of colours that brought back memories of Octobers in England. I have not experienced a real autumn for a while. I do not miss the rain or cold but the colours are fantastic.

I changed my flights home, found a motel in Tumut and decided to fish the nearby streams. First stop was the local tackle shop – to buy everything (I had not planned to fish). When I say I had not planned to fish, I do always have a packed bag of small DUO lures, soft plastics, and an old spooled up Shimano Stradic 2500, that goes everywhere – just in case. Barry from Tumut Fishing, Camping and Outdoor, on Wynyard Street, soon sorted me out. He is a helpful and friendly cove and has a full range of tackle. I ended up a few hundred dollars lighter with a nice, light 6’ NS Blackhole Trout rod, some thigh waders and few other bits and pieces. I do this quite often when I am on the road. It is my way of directly supporting regional small business. Joe Hockey should really give me some kind of regional development grant. I suppose, theoretically it would be a tax deduction, but I would have to make enough money to pay tax, from my fishing exploits, first. At present, that seems fairly unlikely.

Barry suggested the Tumut River or any of the other local streams and explained that the trout should be sitting near the fast, oxygenated water, at this time of year, looking for whatever prey comes by. When I pressed him for more specific locations he said they could be pretty much anywhere along the river. Although the local rivers were quite low they were, apparently, still deep enough to hold fish.

 

 

I had a look at the map and did a quick survey of fishing forums for any local advice. I decided to drive out of Tumut and fish in the Goobarragandra River, which is only 30 minutes away. At this time of year it is a shallow, fast running, rocky bottomed stream that pelts down a narrow valley.  I wanted to fish the fast water in the upper reaches. There a number of points where you can access the water from Goobarragandra Road. I drove upstream and stopped at the first point where I could park. near the river bank. I surveyed the stream and cast a small Rapala F3 floating hard body, at some likely looking pools. I got the hang of the new rod and moved slowly upstream. The water was bracingly cold but the sun was out and the scenery was fantastic. I fished for about an hour with no luck. So I went back to the car and drove further upstream.

I stopped at an accessible stretch of river just before the trout farm. When the river got wider, I would wade in the shallows. When it was narrow, I tried to stay on the bank. I saw I couple of fish following the Rapala F3, but I could not get them to strike.

I reached an area where the stream narrowed and ran fast, against some big rocks on the far bank. I swapped to a soft plastic – a GULP 3” Minnow in the Rainbow colour. I put it on a 1/12th ounce, size 1 hook jighead. I was fishing with 6lb fluorocarbon leader. It was about 4.15 pm. There was a big boulder mid-stream. As I hopped the soft plastic past it, a fish came up on the lure and I saw its tail break the surface. A few casts later, I was hopping the lure past the boulder again and this time, the fish grabbed it.

I had forgotten how ballistic trout go and I was instantly worried about the 6lb leader. Once I pulled the fish out of the main flow it was easier to control and I soon got it into the shallows, at my feet. It was a nice small brown trout between, 30 and 35cm long.

I now had only about 30 mins of good daylight. I moved further upstream to an area of very shallow fast moving water and started casting and hopping the plastic down along the bottom. The water was moving so fast that I did not need to do much. I just took up the slack after each cast and flicked the rod tip up a few times. I got snagged often but was usually able to move up stream and release the jighead from the rocks.

Just as I was about to give up, a small rainbow trout leapt out of the white water with the minnow soft plastic firmly lodged in the corner of it mouth. I landed it, took a picture of it and let it swim away.

It was the perfect end to my session and I headed back to the motel to thaw out.

Bribie – the channel marker to the bridge – 31 March 2014

Monday

With massive downpours all along the Sunshine Coast on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, I was concerned that the recent flathead bonanza might come to an end. On Monday, I found myself driving up to Bribie to see how the big flush of freshwater had affected things.

I have been doing well fishing the last few hours of the run out tide, over the last few weeks. But after a major rain event this is not ideal. The water is at its freshest and cloudiest in the estuaries, as the tide runs out. All of the water that is running off the surrounding land changes the salt levels quite dramatically and this can force the fish or what they are eating, out to sea.

The trouble is the best drains and hiding spots around Bribie are hard to reach at high tide. So even though the incoming tide makes the water saltier and more comfortable for the fish, you cannot get at them from the shore.

I decided to fish as close as I could to the mouth of the Passage, next to the green channel marker, on the mainland side. This involved a long walk from the Bribie Bridge. I arrived at the sand spit, beside the channel marker at about 1.30 pm. Low tide would be at 4.00 pm. It would be a very low low tide at 0.3m, as we were only a couple of days off the new moon.

I tried a few GULP soft plastics – the 4” Minnow in Pearl Watermelon and the 2” Shrimp in the Banana Prawn colour, with no luck. The water was running out quickly, but it was very dirty. I swapped to a 5” Powerbait Minnow in the Pumpkinseed colour and started casting close to the green channel marker pole. This worked and just before 2 pm, I got my first flathead of the day. It was a decent 55cm fish.

I slowly moved back towards the bridge, casting into the run out tide and following the fringing weed beds. It took almost an hour to find the next fish. By this time, I had swapped to a GULP 4” Minnow in the Smelt colour. It was another flathead, just over 40cm.

As the tide ran out, the fishing got harder and harder and the water got dirtier and dirtier. I dropped another fish, closer to the old oyster jetty but, by low tide I had really only had three serious bites in 3 hours.

Finally, I picked up a few tiny (under 30cm) flathead near the bridge, but overall it was a disappointing session. It is too soon to say that the fish are gone for good. I suspect that if there is no more rain, we may well see them build up again after the new moon.

 

Bribie – the oyster jetty flats – again – 12 March 2014

Wednesday 12th

I paused, reluctantly, to dry out the fishing bag and finish filleting and skinning a few flathead, on Tuesday. By Wednesday I had spotted an opening for another fishing session. I was working around the low tide on the flats at Bribie.

I drove up to arrive at about 10.00am – very civilised. We had the same wind pattern as we have now had for about ten days – a 10 to 15 knot east-south easterly wind. It was a bright, sunny day and the wind was building. The water was clear and running out and the full moon would be on Saturday. Low tide would be at 1.10 pm.

I started to fish the small patch of reef just south of the Bribie Island Bridge, on the mainland side. The rocks were just visible above the receding tide. I started the day with a soft plastic. As you will have noticed I prefer to prospect with a soft plastic lure – once I find the fish I will then start to experiment. Today I chose the GULP Jerkshad in the Cajun Chicken colour. I was fishing with 12lb fluorocarbon leader and using a 1/8th ounce, size 1/0 hook, jighead.

I soon found a fish, just to the south of the bridge. This flathead was just below 40cm long. I would release everything I caught today – there is plenty of fish in the fridge. I cast back in the same area and found another, smaller fish.  I moved closer to the jetty and caught 3 more, before wading under the jetty.

As with the previous sessions, the fish kept coming. I swapped from soft plastics to hard bodies and these were even more successful. I caught a 60cm flathead on the MARIA 90 mm MJ Twitch suspending minnow and a 66 cm fish on a RIO Prawn lure, in the 13 g size. The DUO range chipped in with some good flathead on the DUO Tetraworks Toto and, my current favourite – the suspending DUO Realis Shad 59 MR. This one really is a flathead slayer – the action and rattle seems to drive them wild.

I fished from 10.30 am to about 1.30 pm and I rarely went 5 minutes without a fish. I finished the session with some good sized flathead on the Powerbait 5” Rippleshad paddle tail soft plastic, in the black and gold colour (which I usually reserve for chasing Jewfish).

For the fish to be here in such numbers I can only conclude that they are feeding up to spawn. A few of the fish I kept last week were full of roe. It is early but apparently flathead can choose to spawn at any time and do not do it on mass, like bream.

Whatever the reason, I hope they stay for a while –  it’s a great time to be out there fishing.