The river less fished

A few weeks ago, Hamish reported on an unsuccessful trip that he and I made to the Cotter River chasing pan-sized rainbow trout.

The section of the river we fished was just upstream from Vanity’s crossing. The spot is easily accessible to the general public and is also popular with 4WD enthusiasts, trail bike riders and of course fishermen. The trampled scrub and footprints in the mud were a subtle hint that perhaps we weren’t the first ones to fish that bit of the river on that day.

Hungry river trout have a reputation for attacking just about anything that moves. They also have a reputation for being easily spooked, especially in clear mountain streams. That suggests to me that unless you’re the first person there, your pushing the proverbial uphill to catch a few quality fish 🙂  With this in mind, I was keen to return to the Cotter and fish a section of the river that has a lot less fishing pressure. But when the access points are few and far between, the only problem is – how do you get there?

All the ingredients for a remote fishing session

A mountain bike and a backpack opens up kilometres of rarely fished rivers

Simple! You throw the mountain bike into the boot of the car with your favourite trout rod, a backpack and a handful of trout lures. You get as close as you can to the river by car, and then plummet down the last couple of kilometres on your bike. 

The reward for the ride up hill and down dale

The reward for the ride up hill and down dale

On our previous trip, Hamish and I found out the hard way that the water was COLD! Now for the record I don’t own a pair of waders. I do however possess that great Aussie ‘can-do’ spirit, and decided that this time I would fashion some home-made waders out of gum-boots, semi waterproof pants and gaffa tape 🙂 While this made the ride down the dirt tracks more challenging, it meant I was able to withstand the freezing water for a couple of hours when I got there. It also meant that I didn’t have to fight and hack my way through the thick tea tree scrub. My DIY waders were not only very fashionable, but leaked like a sieve when the freezing water was higher than the gumboots 🙂

The fishing itself was a lot of fun. Slowly wading up the river, casting lures into small rapids, deeper pools and anywhere that looked like it might hold a trout. My weapon of choice was a Celta lure as it is virtually snag proof, can be fished at any depth and provides enough flash and vibration to attract hungry fish. The session was dotted with hook-ups of undersized fish and the occasional bigger specimen. There were many more follows than strikes including a couple of cracking fish in the larger pools. In shallow water it can be difficult to get really solid hook-ups, and about half a dozen of the 12 or so fish I hooked threw the hooks.

The best fish of the session, around 30cms long

The best fish of the session, around 30cms long

One for the smoker!

Smoking is a great way to maximise the meal from a modest fish

A fresh smoked mountain trout

The contrast with the previous session with Hamish was clear. There were no footprints in the mud and no evidence that anyone had been to this spot recently. The fish were less spooky, more aggressive and bigger.

Lessons learnt:
– Going the extra mile was rewarded with more hits, more strikes and more fish!
– Being in the water allows you to move quickly and easily (and with less damage) than trampling through the mud and scrub
– Combing my love of driving, mountain bike riding and fishing led me to a really amazing part of my backyard that I never would have stumbled across otherwise
– Sometimes having the right gear makes the whole experience more enjoyable – my new waders are on order 🙂

Cheers

Graz

Author’s note: As of this weekend, the closed season for river trout is now in effect until October 3, this session was two weeks ago

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