Monday, August 25, 2014

The Eildon challenge

With the family fishing competition sitting at Dad 2 wins (Nelson, Winter snapper challenge) against my 1 (Bemm river) for the year, the Eildon trip would either tie up the year or give Dad a near unassailable lead.

We decided to head up Saturday morning rather than head up Friday night and got to the lake at about 7.15. We launched and put out a spread of lures. I had my old favourite the pink Tassie devil (Backwards this time for a bit of extra wobble and flair!), Dad had a clown pattern Tassie devil, Will had a RMG bibbed brown trout and Ben had a tiger minnow pattern poltergeist, so we should have had the water column fairly covered, at least for a boat without a downrigger! With no electric motor we maintained a speed of about 1.5 knots all day by both stopping and starting the motor if it got too fast, and also trailing a drogue. I’m not sure what the appropriate troll speed is (I’d love for someone to enlighten me!) but we did manage a few fish.

We didn’t actually deploy the lures until we were about to enter the Big River arm, and about 15 minutes in I had a thud and line started peeling off my reel. I thought I must have hooked some weed or a stick as for all but the last 5 metres of the fight the brown trout I hooked did nothing. Whilst Dad fumbled with the net (Will was standing on it) the trout woke up and took a jump and a bit of a run, but with 2 barbs embedded we got it to the net. It went 62cm and weighed 4.06lb. Not a monster, but the biggest trout that we have managed from the lake!

As the competition is on the length of your best fish, I was already crowing about the win, as not only was it the biggest we have ever gotten out of the lake, but I think that you would have to get an 8-10lb fish from the Pondage to be 62cm, as they are generally fatter.

We trolled unsuccessfully for another couple of hours, with Will having a hit on the bibbed brown trout pattern and the fish jumping off before we pulled over onto the bank for breakfast. Not only did Dad cook up some sausages, bacon and eggs but he also handed over the red jersey as he started with it as the “carry over champion” but I was now in the lead.

After the cook up we kept trolling up the Big River arm without much success until we hit the corner where we managed about 5 fish last year. There were two other boats trolling near us and as we exited the section Dad was driving and we were going to turn around so I went to pull in the rods. I said “I’ll leave yours out until last just in case you get a hit!”. As it turns out in the minute or so it took to pull in the other three rods he did get a hit and landed a 42cm brown trout, which managed to loop around a tree but we managed to manoeuvre the boat and get him unstuck. Again the fish was quite docile.

We headed in about 3pm and hit the coffee shop and checked in. We walked the pondage for about 30 minutes however Will in that time managed to run through all the water and be covered in mud so we headed back to the cabin. Some fish and chips for dinner followed by watching the Hawks Vs Cats rounded off the night nicely.

The next morning we packed up the cabin and returned the keys, then hit Bourke St where there were already a few anglers around. We threw in some bait rods with powerbait on them and cast lures around, but after an hour or so the weather closed in and it was pouring. The kids (And the bigger kids!) weren’t having much fun so we hit the cafĂ© for a sausage roll, coffee and the paper. We made the trip home and with the 62cm trout the competition now stands at 2-2 for the year. It should be a good next few trips!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Winter on the Glenelg river

Another trip to Nelson and another round of the friendly family competition. This time we purchased a Berkley long sleeved fishing shirt, not because of the design (I personally would have gotten one with subdued colours and a nice bream on it!) but because it was the brightest red, and it has become known as “The red jersey”. This was awarded to the competitor who was currently leading the competition and Dad got to start with it due to winning the last competition at Corinella when he nailed a good snapper a month or so ago.

We also had Patto come along, as well as two of my sons, who at 4 and 2 years of age also entered the competition with gusto!

We arrived at “The Shack” after the obligatory McDonalds stop at about 10.00 on Wednesday evening and had to put the boys into bed and settle them down before casting in off the back deck. The shacks along the river, particularly at Donovan’s landing are awesome! We were using the squid for bait that I had caught earlier in the week and almost instantly I was onto a mulloway, the first of 3 for the night and Dad had only managed to hold onto the red jersey for about 15 minutes before losing it. The mulloway were from 42cm-45cm so I was on the board with 45cm.

A later than expected start the next morning as intermittent showers and cold winds had put us off (Fair weather fishermen who enjoy a good breakfast) and we took the boat to Nelson to launch, where it was extremely windy. Hindsight says that we should have launched at Donovans however you can’t get a good gauge of how windy it is there as the cliffs protect you. Patto, myself, Ben and Will were in the boat whilst Dad was doing some recon for the first half an hour. I managed a 27cm bream and a 25cm EP on a strike pro cyber vibe but the rules of the competition stated that the fish have to be size to count (Except mulloway as they are respectable at any size!) so we were still at square one. We saw Dad at the ramp so went to pick him up and it turns out that the Canoe hire place wasn’t open so he had been sitting at the general store with an egg and bacon sandwich and a coffee. Reluctantly he left these nice surrounds and joined us on the boat for about an hour and a half of fruitless lure casting before they dropped myself, Ben and Will (Who were both a bit over it by this stage) at the car and we drove back to the shack for a rest. Dad and Patto met us at the shack later that afternoon and had not managed to trouble the scorers, except for one lost mulloway.

All of us went out for the afternoon session where we managed a few fish, with some more undersize mulloway coming in (Dad on the board with 42cm) and a few near misses. Still no decent bream though.

Friday morning was another leisurely launch and the fishing was a bit slow, but I managed a couple of EPs to 36cm and some more mulloway. Dad got in on the action with some soapies as well however failed to upsize.

Back to the shack for some lunch and a change of plans saw us on the river with some pilchards and I took Ben and Will’s rods. They both managed to catch fish, with Ben nailing 2 mulloway to 44cm on lightly weighted pilchard cubes and Will getting in on the act with some small bream, and managing to photobomb the first picture of Ben with his mulloway.

Ben didn’t understand the significance when I told him that it took me almost 30 years longer to catch my first mulloway! Patto got a few small bream as well.

Saturday morning saw us all put on the vibes and heading towards Dry Creek. Again it was the mulloway dominating with Dad and I getting a few each – Dad upsized to 44cm and mine were all again 42cm-44cm. The boys once again needed a rest so we returned to the shack and Patto and Dad took out the bait rods. We started by driving into town for some supplies and I found the canoe hire place open so went in to get some local advice. They agreed that vibing was the best method and all the recent rain had all but driven away the decent mulloway and put a few fish off and I left with their #1 recommended lure – A strike pro hummer in black with an orange underside. I got a coffee and the boys played on the park and Patto and Dad returned about 5 hours later, whilst myself and the boys fished off the shack intermittently, with Will getting on the board with a 42cm mulloway and a 29cm bream - I even managed a 29cm bream and these were the first fish kept for the trip as we were having fish and chips for dinner. When they did return it was an ominous sign – Dad had managed mulloway to 45cm, a 38cm bream on a pilchard cube and in a couple of casts of the vibe just before they left nailed a 27cm EP to give him the red jersey! Patto was also happy with a 44cm mulloway and 31cm bream. Patto was tired so Dad and I headed out for the last hour of daylight. My new strike pro hummer was nailed first cast but failed to hook up and didn’t have another sniff for 45 minutes, whilst Dad managed two small EPs. Then just before dark I pulled in 2 mulloway in two casts, both around the 44cm mark.

Sunday morning was our final session with us having “lines in” at 10am. It started exceptionally slowly and we were about 1km north of Dry Creek and it was about 8.30am before we found a school of fish to cast to. I then got about 4 fish in 6 casts (All on the new hummer), with a few good EPs and an upgrade of my bream to 31cm. Dad was a bit slow, but suddenly his line went tight and after a short fight he landed a 35cm EP and was suddenly 6cm ahead. I landed a few more fish, including another bream of 32cm to take the lead down to 5cm however the quantity of fish was not enough for the size of Dad’s one, with his 38cm bream (Controversially caught whilst I was stuck at the shack with the kids!) putting him ahead and giving him the championship.

The final tally was as follows:

Monday, May 26, 2014

Winter on Westernport

When you plan a trip a few months in advance there are always variables, however this time it worked out for us. The weather was kind and there were even a few fish around! We also counted it in our annual fishing competition so there was more than pride on the line.....

It started last Friday night when I picked Dad up from his house and we headed to Coronet Bay, via the obligatory McDonalds apple pie and coffee stop. It was decided to have an early night and fish first thing in the morning. We launched about 5.45 and headed just north of Pelican Island. Casting out two rods each for not much as dawn broke I decided to throw out a little rod with a squid strip and a healthy 36cm whiting took a liking to it. This competition we had decided to count the total length of our 4 biggest snapper, gummy, whiting and (yeah right!) mulloway. This had been a good start! 

Soon after that we moved up near Freeman's point and sounded around, stopping over some likely looking arches. Although we didn't manage any reds, we did manage a lot of yakkas and salmon on the smaller rods, with some coming aboard for bait. We then went looking for warmer water to try and tempt a snapper so headed up slightly north of Jam Jerrup where we have launched the kayaks in the past. It was dead, with a couple of moves for zilch. The highlight was the bacon and egg sandwiches, cooked on the portable stove. Just as the outgoing tide was slowing to a halt and we were reeling in the rods my only remaining rod out had a bump.... then another bump. It soon loaded up and I was finally onto a gummy. It came in very easy until it saw the boat where it screamed off. I had it to the boat a few more times, where I swear that Dad was doing his best to knock it off with the net and he finally got a good net shot in for a gummy of exactly 1m in length. If you're wondering about the photos you should know that apart from being excellent fashion statements, the hats are mandatory Winter fishing attire!

We cast the other rods back out and sat out the low tide change hoping for another gummy but it wasn't to be so we moved in to the other side close to Spit Point. We sounded up an arch and cast out. After a while we cooked up lunch (Sausages in bread) and kept waiting, knowing that the yakka fillets were wafting temptingly in the current. Dad had an inquiry and managed a 79cm gummy, putting him on the board in the competition. Shortly after his rod loaded up again and he had a massive run. After slugging it out for 5 or so minutes I had cleared out all of the other rods and the burley pot he decided it was a ray. It broke the surface about 2m behind the boat in the current and I saw the biggest snapper I have ever seen. Dad got one that was 94cm a couple of years ago and I think this may have challenged that for size! Unfortunately, it got a second wind and flicked its tail for another run. About 15m into the run it spat the hook. Slightly dejected, Dad cast back out and within a few minutes was on again - This time to a 65cm snapper. 

He missed one more run then caught another snapper of mid fifties. It did get its revenge because as he was attempting to cut it he sliced his finger open - Because the fish were on we decided it didn't need a stitch so we got out the first aid kit and bandaged it up.

Just before sunset I had a small bite that could have been a snapper but it didn't hook up. Dad had caught all of his fish on the same rod, which was not attaining legend status. By now the water had flattened out and we were treated to a nice sunset.

As we had been on the water over 12 hours we decided to call it a night about 7pm and headed back in.

The next morning we headed straight to the area and sounded up a few fish. We sat for about 3 hours, including the bacon and eggs but only managed a small gummy and a small port jackson shark. Two of my sons came down so we picked them up at the ramp and went back to Freeman's Point at about 11am and had some more fun on a dozen salmon and some flathead and then called it a day, keeping the salmon as bait for our next foray.

In the end, Dad won the weekend by 8cm, thanks to my complete inability to tempt anything red!

As I prevailed at Bemm River earlier in the year it makes the score for the year 1-1. This will make the next trip to Nelson very interesting as we are heading there in early July!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Mornington squid hunt

An early start to the day today with a squid hunt. Was on the water just after 6 and it was a little lumpy. The wind was about 5 knots, which was enough for a quickish drift. The first 4 or 5 casts produced nothing and as I drifted out further I started getting them. This may be due to the water being very shallow as it was low tide and my usual productive spot was about a metre shallower than normal.

It was hard and fast and I had bagged out by 7.20, with a few good ones amongst them. I went home to show a couple of my sons who were clearly impressed with the capture!

They are in the freezer awaiting a secret silver over the Easter weekend where they will be re-introduced to the water at Corinella.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Bemm River annual trip

Another trip to the fabulous Bemm River and this time the kayaks were left at home as we had a few newish fishermen joining us. My sons Ben and Will decided to come camping so we needed the boat (However all are now in agreement that “we ‘re gonna need a bigger boat”) after the fun that was had.

As it was the Labour Day weekend we expected it to be busy, however nothing like what greeted us when we arrived at the ramp at about 1pm Saturday afternoon – Pandemonium! Trailers taking up all spaces, plus both sides of the road to the ramp and some even on the main road near the pub. Apparently two boat clubs had annual tournaments there.  As Dad was towing the van he had taken the scenic route through Lakes Entrance (We powered through Bruthen) so we arrived earlier than him. The boys and I saw Mark at the general store, purchased some prawns and hit the fishing platform. It was a bad start when Ben’s hat blew off on the way out and sunk just when a nice gentleman’s Labrador had almost swum out to it but it improved with many bites. We got a few small bream and lost what felt like a good flathead.

We made our way back to the caravan park to agree on the species for the family fishing competition and decided on bream, EPs, flathead, trevally and tailor. Once again we would take the best fish of each species and add them together for a total length.

As it was still blowing a gale Saturday afternoon we hit the fishing platform again. Not much to report except for a small bream and I pulled up a massive conger eel which bit me off when I got it to the platform.

Sunday morning was a bit blowy but with a 6am wakeup call (And the kids in bed being babysat!) we hit Sydenham Inlet. Motoring towards the entrance you could have been forgiven for thinking this was the Carrum outer artificial reef during snapper season, as the approximately 100m square weedbeds just out from the entrance had 15-20 boats fishing it, some within 10m of each other! It turns out Mark at the general store had live prawns and they were fishing them under floats for perch. We decided to sit out from the river and drift over the drop off. As there was still a fair breeze blowing we deployed the drogue and started casting. Dad had on a 3” fry in banana prawn and I had a strike pro cyber vibe. Within the first 10 minutes Dad had managed a nice flathead of 42cm, a bream of 30cm and another smaller bream so I made a switch to the fry. This meant his early competition total was already 72cm and I was yet to trouble the scorers!

After about 15 minutes I finally managed a hit and pulled aboard a 30cm bream. We both followed that with a few flathead, Dad increasing his best to 44cm and I pulled out a 45cm flathead. At about 9am we headed in so I could pick up the boys from the caravan park (And cook up some bacon and egg sangas) and Dad kept fishing, landing a 31cm bream. After many deliberations, this fish was allowed in the competition and this gave Dad a current total length of 75cm (44cm flathead and 31cm bream) and I was also on 75cm (30cm bream, 45cm flathead). Below is my 30cm bream.

I had picked up some live prawns on the way so we went to the entrance where we anchored and whilst Dad and I flicked plastics around the boys got to put out some bait. It was absolute pandemonium on the live prawns with the boys each landing multiple flathead and bream and having a ball. Ben got a good chance to practice his lift and wind!

We kept a few flathead for the table and all of the bream were released for the day. Back at the ramp I think the most enjoyment came from feeding the pelicans! One great thing to see is fisheries at the ramp checking everyone’s catch, and I had a chat to the fisheries officer and he said that they had already caught a few people with undersize bream on board.

We had a relaxing afternoon and the boys were tired so went to bed about 7, and Dad and I hit the water again. It was quite windy but we persisted for a bit in Sydenham Inlet where Dad managed a 48cm flathead, bringing his total to 79cm. We then decided the wind was a bit strong and headed into the entrance, where it got dark without another hit. As it was dark I tied on a vibe and actually managed a fish – A 31cm yellowfin bream. According to Dad, the self-appointed rules master “a bream is a bream” so it didn’t get added to the total length as we include black bream and yellow fin bream together.

The next morning was Monday and we had until midday, and once again got up early and left with just Dad and I on the boat. I nailed an early 34cm bream taking me to 78cm, still one shy of Dad. We both caught numerous flathead and Dad soon after landed a 33cm bream, taking his total to 81cm. I managed a 46cm flathead soon after but this only got me to 79cm. We both at various stages were bitten off by tailor which it would seem were going to be the competition winning fish!

We moved to the entrance where we drifted from one side to the other a few times and got an enormous amount of fish. Most casts we had hits and landed heaps of flathead and numerous bream every drift. About halfway through the second drift I hooked up and had an extended fight, and at the end surfaced a lovely 34cm trevally. This took me to 114cm (34cm bream, 46cm flathead and 34cm trevally) against Dad on 81cm (33cm bream, 48cm flathead). We decided to head in and get the boys.

When we got the boys we once again got some live prawns and headed back to the entrance. Almost immediately they were on, and below is Ben netting a 32cm bream that Will had on, and the subsequent fish.

Soon after Ben’s rod went off and he managed a 45cm flathead whilst Will got a 22cm bream, and both proudly posed with these fish.

We called it quits at midday to pack and head on the long drive back to Melbourne, and the final results are as follows:

A great trip was had with 3 generations all getting into some fantastic quality fish.  The only disappointment was that we didn’t find the EPs this time, but that’s why we will be back soon!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Australia Day squid bash

A quick trip out today with my eldest son Ben, who is nearly 4. I awoke at 4.45 and stayed in bed for about 10 minutes worried what it would mean to take him on the poor old Perception Swing and how stable he would be. We had a practice run at Aura Vale Lake the other day so I decided if we stayed in close we would be ok, so I got up.

I made breakfast and did a final pack of the car and woke Ben up and put him straight in the car. We were off to Mornington by 5.15 and launched about 6.15.

First cast he got a bit of a fright and wobbled a bit but after that it was absolutely fine, plus we were within about 50m of the shore at all times. Second cast we were on to a squid and he even helped bring it in, until it got near the kayak. I handlined it in for the last few metres and made sure it wasn't pointing at Ben. It was abundantly clear that it wasn't pointing at him as when it broke the surface I copped a face full of ink! I quickly dispatched it to the tub behind me and had another cast for the same result.

Although we were only out about 30 minutes before he was done we managed 5 quite good squid and then had to come home via McDonalds. We arrived home at 8.15 meaning that for a 3 hour round trip we got about 30 minutes fishing time - Lucky the squid were on!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Glenelg River Holy Grail 2013

This year was our third trip to the Glenelg River. Over the past trips we have caught some amazing estuary perch, great bream but never a mulloway so that was our target species. I was also keen to actually land a fish in my new Hobie Outback. We headed there on wednesday afternoon and arrived at the shack near Donovans Landing about 8.30pm and unpacked. I quickly threw a couple of rods off the balcony baited with the fresh squid from last week's trip and within half an hour I had about 10m of line stripped from the reel. Last year I struck here and lost the fish, so I played out more line. I knew he was still there so reeled in the slack and struck, and by this stage the mulloway had swum under the next door neighbours shack and got me stuck amongst the pylons.

When I lost a mulloway at this early stage in the trip last year it turned out to be our only opportunity for the entire time we were there - Luckily this was not to be the case this time!

The next morning we awoke at 5.30 and headed to Nelson. The boys went in the boat and I took out the new kayak. As vibes were successful last trip when I got to a spot I flicked them around for 5-6 casts. With no hits I turned to my rod with a 3" fry in the peppered prawn colour. Second cast with this and I was onto my first fish in the new yak - And after a spirited fight on my 3lb line up came my first ever mulloway! Although it measured at 49cm and was well undersize, it was a massive thrill and a culmination of hundreds of trips!

Shortly after that I flicked the plastic near the old jetty and was on again - This time to a 30cm bream who was also quickly released to fight another day after a quick picture. I managed one more bream and it was time to head in to the general store for a coffee and egg and bacon roll (The highlight of each day's sessions, mulloway notwithstanding!).

That afternoon it was decided to launch the boat at Donovans and head up river. I took a seat in the boat for this trip and didn't get onto anything myself, but watched Dad pull in his first ever mulloway, which was caught on a turtleback worm and measured 51.5cm.

Friday morning saw me back in the kayak near the mouth at Nelson and it was time for an explore, so I headed right up towards the entrance. There were a few boats collecting bait and I threw around a 3" fry as I explored and managed a small bream and half a dozen salmon. The guys in the boat weren't successful and we again had the standard coffee with egg and bacon roll at the General Store.

Back to the shack for a rest and then once again we took the boat upstream. We played with the new sounder (Lowrance HDS 7) and figured out some settings so we sounded along as we went. We marked up a good school of fish and I threw in a 5" jerk shad in peppered prawn (Recommended by Brett and the boat hire place).This resulted in another mulloway (My first in SA as it turns out because Donovans is over the border!), and despite sounding up a few more for the afternoon there were no more hook ups.


Saturday morning I took up the offer of heading out in the boat (It was windy, raining and I am a bit soft!) and it turns out that it was quite a good decision. We sounded around "The Poles" area and marked up a tightly packed school. Upon casting into them I had a hit and managed another mid 40's mulloway. It went a bit quiet then so we went to meet some mates who were staying at the shack with us for the customary brunch.

We then headed back to "The Poles" and had only just rounded the corner of the river when the sounder lit up with fish. We quickly anchored and in the next 10 minutes myself and my Uncle nailed 4 between us, including a double hook up at one stage. It was chaos but died off after this until about half an hour later I managed another one. With 4 for the day I was pretty confident, however all fish we had caught were between 44-55cm, and although great fun on light gear we were after something bigger. 

My Dad (Unusually quiet through all these fish and had not troubled the scorers at this stage) finally hooked up. As you can see below he was quite excited.


This excitement lasted about another 5 seconds  when he realised a couple of things:
  1. This was a bigger fish.
  2. 3lb line with 6lb leader may be underkill for a big mulloway.
  3. A Stradic Ci4 FML does not hold nearly enough line on its spool.
This led to me upping anchor and backing up on the fish as Dad could now see his bare spool. This continued for about 10-15 minutes, during which time the fish decided to head into the shallow bay (Rather than around any of the poles near us) the back into the main channel. It finally came up and was gleefully netted. The plastic had just pinned it in the corner of the lip meaning that it didn't manage to bite through the 6lb leader, and at 77cm was our best (And only legal!) mulloway of the trip. We headed in shortly after for a rest.

Saturday afternoon saw us back in the same spot, sounding until we found the school again. In the two hour session I managed another 2 mulloway, but both were around 45-50cm yet again. Dad had switched off a bit by this stage and was messing around making coffees and flicking a turtleback worm up the banks catching small salmon!

Sunday morning was the last opportunity and we had to be off the water by 9.30 so a quick session was the order of the day. It was quite uneventful, with the only capture being my 9th and final mulloway of the trip.

All in all this was our most memorable trip to Nelson and in our 3 trips we have experienced the river holding its 3 main target species in a variety of different locations so I think that local knowledge or a little bit of luck (Preferably both!) are the order of the day if you intend on paying the Glenelg River a visit.