I checked the PO box for fulfilment each day this week. It arrived in the form of an oversized box with oversized gulps on Friday. The G4IJSCLICPN (a mouthful even as an acronym) was glowing even in bright daylight. My reports were being reviewed. Why waste a day thinking about it? A quick pack and I was off on the all too familiar pilgrimage to Local No 4.
It was a late decision and a late start, somewhat offset by a rapid pack and setup. Unfortunately the cost of such packing haste was that I left the camera at home. Forgive the quality of the i-Phone photos to follow. I was on the water by 11:45, giving be around four hours to prove that Wednesday’s debacle (http://www.akff.net/forum/viewtopic.php?f=17&t=54985
) was the fault of my local tackle shops and not me. How I hoped it to be so, but deep down I knew otherwise. It’s hard to believe that I could learn so much so quickly after half a decade of ignorance.
Conditions were similar to Wednesday, meaning they were quite different from a week ago. The weather was crystal clear, but there was a gentle sea breeze to take the sheen off the water’s surface. The water temperature was 14 degrees, the air temperature not much greater. It didn’t feel anything like the tropical interlude that the weird warm front of last week had conjured. It was instead a typically stunning South Coast autumn day. Fine and fresh but not so fishy. Bait balls were again evident on the sounder, with the occasional fishy beep to accompany them. The paradoxical omens were therefore not good.
I trolled my Ecogear blade this time, heading straight for the dropoff. I reached the southern extremity and reached for the destroyer in Neon. This section of the dropoff had not proven fruitful in the past. Instead of using proper good technique, I slowly pumped the mirage and twitched the G4IJSCLICPN very slowly behind me. Occasionally I retrieved it to free it of detritus, before flicking it back to the 2m depth contour that I hugged.
I had a few hits. They showed the aggression of small bream rather than the poise of the larger varieties. This suited me as it was flathead I was after. It took maybe a hundred metres or more of slow troll before a twitch was followed by subtle dead weight. I let the rod tip fall behind, felt a microsecond of weight and struck hard. A bent rod, a rod pulse and a quickening of mine was my reward. It was another Marlin mimicker. It headed straight for the surface. A salmon, surely not. Instead a flathead launched itself from the calm waters, doing a Marlin proud with a tail walk and head shakes. It was a sizeable model, but more half a meter than a HOF contender. But still this was a welcome change from the complete lack of colour that Wednesday had revealed. As soon as it hit the water again, the fight stopped. It came straight for me. This was not good news if experience was anything to go by. Sure enough as soon as I touched the net to the water it went crazier than the plastic only just visible from its now gaping mouth. It soaked in its final bid for escape. I turned it, still shaking and guided it to the net. But one final head shake on the now slack line was all it took. I tried a final desperate lunge as it slowly sank below the surface but to no avail. Another one lost to add to the dozen or so from Wednesday.
I stopped trolling and started casting in a radius. Sure enough, the flathead showed their herding tendencies. Another twitch and subtle weight, another strike came up tight. Again it headed straight for me, negating the double twist and half pike interlude. This proved to be a smaller model, probably just legal, but once again the slack line, created as I dipped the net at a headlong charge, was enough to allow the release. It dipped just below the surface and just below the net as my desperate lunge was just too slow.
What was I doing? Here I was, drifting in the middle of a pristine lake that I may well have called my own. The sun was shining, no rain, hardly a breath of wind. Most people were digging holes, tapping keyboards, or staring out office windows pining for the very position I found myself drifting in. I made sure I had my perspective, before resuming what I realised was my pleasure.
I don’t have a GPS, and the tree-lined banks made for little to triangulate. I took the best sighting I could, using the 2m depth reading as my second coordinate. Dimensions can be found in many pairs. I drifted and pedalled my way slowly to my honey pot. I was met with considerable interest along the way, but this had the feeling of small to medium bream. I decided to test my coordinates and try a return to the area that had just yielded two contenders. I was satisfied when it worked.
The hookup was the easy bit. This time I had to make it count. I tried my best to delay the trip yak side. I backed the drag right off once I could see it was close. It worked. It took a run, then another, subduing its energies and allowing a more controlled skim to the net. This of course was not the end of it, not with flathead. A wet towel subdued it further as I retrieved the jig head. This was no time to tempt fait with a measure or the i-Phone. It was manoeuvred into the front hatch with skill built on recent repetition. Later it proved to be 48cm. Pan sized perfection.
I peppered the drop-off for another hour or so. It was time to explore. I headed for one of the inviting bays to the west of the lake where a prominent headland suggested a reefy dropoff. That was exactly what I found when I got there, with prominent rocky features coming to within half a metre of the surface. This proved decidedly lure catching. I headed around the corner to try the wooded shadows.
My first cast into the snaggy shadows gained some interest. Small bream yielded a slightly different tap and slack line, typical of a plastic inhaled. A slow lift of the rod tip conjured a subtle bend. I struck aggressively to snag … that moved. A more robust battle allowed me to subdue the beast before it came yak side. I slid it into the net. It was a virtual twin of the previous model. I’m still yet to hook the monsters that I just know are lurking in there somewhere.
I drifted into the bay that contained mud flats below a glass-like surface. It was fishing perfection even without the fish. There was considerable interest from what seemed undersized bream.
Time was running short, so I returned to the reefy section. More interest but no more trips to the front hatch. I slowly made my way around the northern shoreline, more as reconnaissance for future sorties. There were more rocky reefs and sandy shores amid the standard 3m muddy bottom. I’m yet to find any deep holes that will contain the crocs I know are there.
My eventual return to my dropoff mark faired no better. The sun was getting low in the sky. It was time to capture the ambiance rather than a feed. I landed and rolled off a few shots from my humble i-Phone. Forgive the picture quality as the picture is painted.
It may not be the fishing paradise that the first two encounters suggested, but paradise comes in forms other than piscatorial.