Wallaga week

I’ve also just returned from a relaxing holiday at the coast. I spent around a week staying at mum and dad’s at Wallaga Lake, near Bermagui in New South Wales. Similarly to Hamish, it’s a bit difficult readjusting to reality, but planning the next trip away is keeping me sane for now!

The fishing was fairly tough by normal standards, even despite having a week to play with. I guess when you’re on holidays for such a nice long time, you’re less inclined to go incredibly hard, so I kind of ran out of time in the end. Nonetheless, I had a few good sessions here and there. The first few days were spent catching fairly consistent flatties, with the first good session being one of the land based walks I like to do. Using a 3 inch minnow-style plastic, I caught about 5 good fish in an hour or so, had a heap of hits and dropped a few fish. Wallaga Lake is typified by a large amount of ribbon weed along the banks, which can make land-based fishing difficult at times. However, with a decent cast, you still get about 10m of fishable water before you’re in the weeds. Added to this, you’re right in the strike zone: usually a bank with weeds and then a sharper dropoff into deeper water. This can provide for some pretty entertaining fishing at times, and it’s a relaxing way to spend a few hours. I’ve also caught a heap of tailor,  snapper and bream using this technique, although the snapper and bream are usually absent when there’s people around.

Speaking of walks, I thought I’d share an experience that for anyone arachnophobic will send a shiver up their spine. The family and I went for a walk in the bush and noticed a large number of beautiful orb-weaving spiders. However, at one point, dad ducked to avoid a particularly large one and alerted us to the potentially unpleasant opportunity of encounter. Slowing down and having a look up, mum, my sister and I noticed no less than 15 BIG, BLACK SPIDERS hanging in the air above our heads. Luckily, none of us made contact with any of them. Dad ran hastily back towards us under the ‘arbour’ of shiny black beasties, joined by Kym and mum who all ran back down the track. Acting confident (but in reality a little bit freaked out myself), I managed a few photos of the nightmarish spectacle. During the day I can handle this, but if you walked into that at night…hmm.

A selection of the glistening, black arachnids

Anyway, back to fishing! Another good session was had chasing mullet and garfish near the front of the system, under the bridge towards Murunna Point. Using cheap white bread for berley, I soon had a heap of excited fish in the trail. A small, long-shank hook, tied unweighted to a super light leader was the undoing of a number of nice fish. I ended up smoking the mullet and gar. The garfish were delicious, but the mullet would have benefited from some more salt and possibly filleting instead of doing them whole.

I put in a relatively half-hearted effort at catching a jewfish. It was a beautiful afternoon with a high tide at around 4.30. My plan was to use one of the fresh mullet as bait, throw it into a deep hole and cast big plastics around until I found a fish. Unfortunately, as I was in the boat and was fishing in about 12-14 metres of water, I was too lazy to anchor up and instead drifted across the bay. This resulted in the bait getting a bit fouled-up with weed, which I don’t think would be too appetizing for a jewfish. Despite the lack of the elusive mulloway, I landed a few nice 45-50cm flatties in some of the deeper sections.

Some nice bycatch while fishing for a jewfish. Taking photos of fish underwater with rod in one hand and camera in the other is quite difficult!

Contrary to many of the reports I have been reading, the beach was relatively quiet. The tides for the first few days were basically opposite to how you want them, and then the swell picked up and churned everything up. I did get one nice salmon earlier on in the trip, but that was (embarassingly) it! I find the churned up conditions really tough…I think it’s far more suited to baitfishing than throwing small lures around. There are some techniques worth a try in these conditions (see ‘beach spinning for salmon’ on this blog), but I was more keen to chase the estuary species on this occasion. In saying all this about the beach fishing being tough, I didn’t actually put in any serious sunrise or sunset missions…very lazy of me!

Good structure and energy but poor tides and lazy effort = 1 fish

Another notable catch was a 40cm trevally, which, if anyone’s been lucky enough to catch one this size on light gear will know, puts up an incredibly good fight. The fish took a 3 inch gulp minnow fished relatively heavy and deep. I haven’t caught many trevors in the main basin of Wallaga, so it was a nice surprise.

Finally, I thought it would be worth mentioning that I made some prototype ceramic lures and fishing sinkers. I love the idea of being able to make heaps of slugs and sinkers for virtually nothing. Mum’s got a good kiln, so hopefully next time I head to the coast I’ll be able to give them a try. I’m looking forward to experimenting with different glazes. I figure that as long as I don’t cast them at rocks, these ceramic lures should be just as effective as the comparatively expensive metals I’m used to. Anyone who has experienced hot sessions on salmon and tailor will know that you go through a few of these lures, so losing something that’s far more environmentally conscious and far cheaper sounds like a winner! The idea of replacing lead sinkers with ceramic ones also appeals to me. They will be slightly larger for the weight, but I think they’ll work wonders. It crossed my mind to quit my job and start making sinkers and lures full-time, but I suppose I should see if they work first!

A selection of clay sinkers

A selection of prototype clay lures

Anyway, about that next trip…am going to try to twist Hamish’s arm into committing to an Eden session to chase the winter hoodlums!

Lee, May 2011

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