Trip Reports • NSW 09/05 - High Brow

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NSW 09/05 - High Brow

Postby Ado » Thu May 10, 2012 3:29 pm

I have a new local.

Well it’s not exactly new. I guess it’s been around since at least the last ice age. I’m sure the real locals, the Koori, have known about it for at least that long. Even I, a recent ring-in, have known about it for half a decade. However, it wasn’t really discovered until yesterday.

Its relative obscurity was due to the fact that it was more than 1km away, much further away than two of my three other locals. The ocean and Mummuga Lake require veritable seconds of driving (harsh I know). My third local, Wagonga Inlet, is around five minutes away, requiring driving faster than 40 km/h and therefore the absurd effort of proper tie downs. This renders it as ‘the change up’ local, after I get board with the smorgasbord on my doorstep. My new local, the fourth, is no further away than Wagonga, but has until now been totally ignored by me and (I guess) all the other locals because, well, it’s such an ordeal to get to. Egad, it even has a section of dirt road; totally uncivilised.

But even this is not what’s prevented its discovery by the modern world (at least as I know it). I once inquired about it on this very forum and was told that it was very shallow, was mostly sanctuary zone (due to misplacement of the sanctuary signs) and generally barren of fish. That was enough for me. I wasn’t about to embark on an expedition requiring 10 minutes of driving and the need to turn my air conditioning to recycle when there was little prospect of fish.

I’m not going to mention its name here for reasons that will soon become obvious. Anyone with two brain cells and access to Google Earth will find it in less time than it takes me to drive there. There is also a big hint in the report title (shhh, don’t tell anyone). I’m just not compiling the name in binary so search engines won’t find it. If you are reading this, then you can, if you could be bothered. You should.

This local is a lake that is typically isolated from the ocean. It only opens up after very heavy rains and typically for only days or weeks at a time. It is bounded by National Park with public road access to only one small section of shoreline. Best of all, it has no ramp. I think I may have to start a pilgrimage of rampless lakes of the south coast. The experience I just had was extraordinary and compelling. But I’m ahead of myself.

Last weekend was my birthday. I got the flu as an early birthday present, followed by a secondary sinus infection a week later. This week I got conjunctivitis to complete the set. After more than a fortnight wallowing in various forms of mucus, I really felt like freshening up my orifices. As I wasn’t feeling full of beans, I contemplated such drastic action only after I’d gauged the weather. The ubiquitous weather bimbo had excitedly informed me that a warm front was about to hit the south east of the country, a phenomenon usually confined to the tropical north. I had no idea what a warm front was, but I was quite capable of identifying high twenties, clear skies and absolutely no wind.

By the time I’d made the decision, and packed the car, it was 11am. Parenting duties required me home by 4pm. Mummuga was old, the ocean was swelly, Wagonga was … well, Wagonga. I decided to try Corrunna Lake, though that was half a world away (30 minutes). I loaded the yak on the roof, neglecting to first fit the front and back tie-down loops. Without front and rear tie-downs, highway speeds were out of the question. That long and convoluted lack of planning is what led me to my new local. A short section of highway was negotiated at 60 km/h, then dirt at 40 km/h … then bliss.

The lake was picture perfect. We’ve all witnessed glassy lakes. But most of these have a flutter, some boat wake, or even a swan wave. Not this one. It was a giant reflective mirror, so photogenic that my camera decided to call it quits in shear reverence. My iPhone camera did it no justice at all. I could make out fish boils hundreds of metres away. It was extraordinary.

(1) Launch.jpg


I wasn’t even sure if it was deep enough to use the mirage drive. I selected a shallow diving lure. Paddling was so pure that I almost thought the mirage drive a contamination – almost. After five metres of paddling, the depth increased to over a metre. The high tannin content of the water meant visibility was limited to half this depth. Soon it was over 3 metres. So much for it being too shallow! I wondered what other lies I had held so long as truths. I didn’t wonder for long. After less than 100m my trolled shallow diver got absolutely smashed. A hearty and somewhat weighty fight finally revealed a tailor, bronzed by the water colour and emboldened by the lack of angling pressure. At 38cm it was neither a chopper nor a greenback, but somewhere in between. It was definitely a meal, but not to my taste so it was returned with a flourish. It was a PB for me, pathetic I know, but not the last for the day.

Despite the depth, I was too lazy to change lures. Instead I searched for shallower water. The occasional garfish masqueraded as miniature marlin, tail-walking entertainers, dancing atop the surface tension. Other than that, the surface sheen remained largely unbroken except by me and the occasional bug buzzing loops atop the mercury. It dawned on me that there were no mullet to misguide me. Each boil, no matter how few, was worthy of investigation.

I slid across the solitude. The deep tannin, the cries of the eagles and the robustness of the surrounding forests made the scene somewhat Jurassic. The water colour especially added eeriness that conjured thoughts of plesiosaurs that kept me strangely on edge. What would emerge from those tea coloured depths?

My sounder noted a change in depth. My lure noted it soon after, bumping bite mimics through my rod tip and raising my pulse further. Then a snag. Bugger! But bugger me it moved. Headshakes confirmed my target species. The water colour delayed final identification. It was almost beside the yak before it revealed its true colours. Big! Adrenaline. Net, bugger, NET! Off it charged pealing line from my Sedona. But she was mine. At 50cm, she was hardly a trophy, but she was still by far the biggest Flathead I’d caught since moving down here. Like the Tailor, she was also very fat, healthy and feisty. This was no time for the iPhone. It took quite some time to extract the trebles from the net. All the while her gill slashers stood proudly, poised for attack should I lose concentration for a second. The front hatch beckoned. The water beckoned more. But a wet towel and a lot of prayer saw the former win out. I was less than 20 minutes into my adventure and I was already fulfilled.

I found another drop-off. The HB was retired and a Sqidgy Fish deployed. My second cast was monstered. The significantly larger fight belied a slightly smaller model at a mere 45cm. Dinner for the family was taken care of and I’d only been fishing for 30 minutes.

I lost two others soon after. I started wondering what I should set as my bag limit. But this was the day of days. Why be troubled with bag limits when such tasty morsels had eluded me for so long. I cast the Squidgy from deep water to shallow. It was smashed on the drop. This one had real weight. It also pealed line during half a dozen hearty runs on its way to the yak. Silver! Bream. HORSE! I held the net as still as my breath as I guided the leviathan into its clutches. I couldn’t believe my eyes. It was HUGE! I didn’t know how huge, as I wasn’t about to risk a measure. I did risk a photo however, just in case I failed in my manoeuvre to the front hatch. It wasn’t until hours later back at the launch that I confirmed what I knew the moment I laid eyes on it. It was a PB. At 44cm it was only 2cm bigger than my previous best, but the difference was like comparing a horse to a pony. It was 7cm thick and must have been well over 3kg (Edit: OK it's probably not. Got too excited).

And it was only 1pm.

(2) 44cm Bream.jpg
PB Bream, 44cm does not do it justice.

(3) 44cm Bream Netted.jpg


I was in a state of constant wonder. It took me back to my first ever day of kayak fishing. I was alone in a world of wonder, intrigue and tranquilly. My spider senses were tingling. I concentrated on taking it all in, knowing full well it would be impossible to recapture. My random acts and lack of planning had led to a world I had dreamed of but never thought would materialise, let alone 10 minutes from home. I sat in the middle of square kilometres of glass, no wind, no people, bellbirds interrupting the silence and monster fish to add the passion. There was nowhere I would rather be.

The bite fell away, as Flathead bites often do with no rhyme or reason. It wasn’t as though there was a change in tide. There was no tide. It wasn’t as though there was change in wind. There was no wind. It spelt a change in location, so to the far side of the lake I trolled. A deeper diver was deployed, but with no result.

Approaching the opposing bank revealed remnant beaches, craggy rocks, reedy grass and timber. I sounded around for a while but revealed little in the way of structure. The Squidgy Fish didn’t have the slow roll action required of the shallows. For some reason I opted for a five inch Gulp Crazy Legs, a snapper lure. My kayak occasionally produced a boil off the bow. There was life, but in what form? If I stopped pedalling I would sit, absolutely motionless. There was neither wind nor tide to propel me. It was like floating in a vacuum in space. The combination of sandy bottom and tannin water brought back memories of Tasmanian Highland Tarns. I half expected to see a Brown cruising through the reeds.

(4) Mirror.jpg


I decided to mimic a bream specialist (I’d heard about such creatures though never aspired to be worthy). I cast my Crazy Legs towards the shallows. The braid lay web-like on the highly tensioned surface. It twitched. I struck. Nothing. A slow roll, more hits, a constant weight. This time my strike came up tight. A massive boil broke the serenity, then slack. Bugger.

Two revs of the mirage took me 3m further on, still parallel to the shore. Another cast, more twitches, a strike, tight line. The fish felt small, but such is the case given what I had to compare it to. Sure enough it was a veritable pipsqueak at a mere 36cm.

I continued to impersonate a bream hunter … and it worked. I landed another at 39cm and dropped maybe half a dozen more, a product of using an oversized plastic and a 2/0 hook. None seemed juvenile. Other than the tail walking Garfish, I never saw or felt an undersized fish all day.

At 2pm I began my slow cruise back. I trolled and flicked a few times, but I was too satisfied to hold the hunger necessary. My tip runner also kept falling off my flick stick. It was a sign to say farewell. The pedal back was in the same conditions that had greeted me when I arrived. A buzzing made me look skyward, just in time to see a car fly over me, hanging below a powered hang glider. That’d do me. None of it was real. That included the ridiculous weight of the bucket I managed to extract from the front hatch after landing.

(5) Brag Bream.jpg
The 'baby' one next to it is 36cm

(6) 44cm Bream Bulk.jpg
Hard to take shots with an Phone, but this gives an impression of the bulk.

(7) Brag Bream 2.jpg
The small one is 39cm!

(8) Brag Flathead.jpg


I didn’t want to blink for fear that I’d wake up and find that none of it had happened. But happened it did. I know I will now spend considerable effort to try (unsuccessfully) to recapture it.

Anyone else want to try too?

(9) Landing.jpg
It ended as it started.
Last edited by Ado on Sat May 19, 2012 11:01 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Adrian
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36cm Redfin, 58cm Golden Perch, 35cm Whiting, 38cm Tailor, 42cm Sand Flathead, 62cm Dusky Flathead, 32cm Snapper, 47cm Black Bream, 68cm Salmon, 30cm Flounder, 42cm Frigate Mackerel
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Re: NSW - High Brow

Postby bunsen » Thu May 10, 2012 3:48 pm

Sheer magic.
Nuff said.

The high vis flag may have been overkill!
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Re: NSW - High Brow

Postby onemorecast » Thu May 10, 2012 4:26 pm

What a Bream! - well done to land that mutant monster!
The other "little" one ain't bad either :lol:
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Re: NSW - High Brow

Postby Junglefisher » Thu May 10, 2012 4:34 pm

We nearly stopped at that lake when we were looking for camping areas on the South Coast.
What an awesome day, flatties can be funny like that eh?
Cheers
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Re: NSW - High Brow

Postby Squidder » Thu May 10, 2012 4:37 pm

Monster bream Ado :shock: With the utmost repsect though - it's not 3kg :D
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Re: NSW - High Brow

Postby Ado » Thu May 10, 2012 4:38 pm

Junglefisher wrote:We nearly stopped at that lake when we were looking for camping areas on the South Coast.

The camp site is awesome, one of the best on the south coast IMO. Do it next time JF.
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36cm Redfin, 58cm Golden Perch, 35cm Whiting, 38cm Tailor, 42cm Sand Flathead, 62cm Dusky Flathead, 32cm Snapper, 47cm Black Bream, 68cm Salmon, 30cm Flounder, 42cm Frigate Mackerel
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Re: NSW - High Brow

Postby Ado » Thu May 10, 2012 4:39 pm

Squidder wrote:Monster bream Ado :shock: With the utmost repsect though - it's not 3kg :D

Fair enough. Got too excited :lol: .
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36cm Redfin, 58cm Golden Perch, 35cm Whiting, 38cm Tailor, 42cm Sand Flathead, 62cm Dusky Flathead, 32cm Snapper, 47cm Black Bream, 68cm Salmon, 30cm Flounder, 42cm Frigate Mackerel
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Re: NSW - High Brow

Postby Junglefisher » Thu May 10, 2012 4:57 pm

Ado wrote:
Junglefisher wrote:We nearly stopped at that lake when we were looking for camping areas on the South Coast.

The camp site is awesome, one of the best on the south coast IMO. Do it next time JF.


We were told not caravan suitable.
Cheers
Craig

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Re: NSW - High Brow

Postby theGT58 » Thu May 10, 2012 5:19 pm

Wow. Just wow!

Late birthday present by the sounds. Great trip report, had not considered that spot as yet as it's just beyond my local haunts and, being completely honest, did not consider it would hold such fish being a 'landlocked'. But I may just have to drop in for a few casts now :D . No boat ramp is a big plus too. Once again, great report Ado
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Re: NSW - High Brow

Postby Ado » Thu May 10, 2012 5:48 pm

Junglefisher wrote:
Ado wrote:
Junglefisher wrote:We nearly stopped at that lake when we were looking for camping areas on the South Coast.

The camp site is awesome, one of the best on the south coast IMO. Do it next time JF.


We were told not caravan suitable.


Probably right. It's more your car camping area.
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Re: NSW - High Brow

Postby Ado » Thu May 10, 2012 11:15 pm

bunsen wrote:The high vis flag may have been overkill!


I missed that comment. It does look a tad rediculous. :lol: Scared the Garfish though.
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36cm Redfin, 58cm Golden Perch, 35cm Whiting, 38cm Tailor, 42cm Sand Flathead, 62cm Dusky Flathead, 32cm Snapper, 47cm Black Bream, 68cm Salmon, 30cm Flounder, 42cm Frigate Mackerel
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Re: NSW - High Brow

Postby Dodge » Fri May 11, 2012 7:46 am

Adrian a special outing it seems, and a nice result.
Cheers RICHO

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Re: NSW - High Brow

Postby southcoastmatty » Fri May 11, 2012 8:07 am

Ado wrote:Anyone else want to try too?

:D me please
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Re: NSW - High Brow

Postby Brez » Fri May 11, 2012 3:26 pm

A great write up of what was obviously a pretty special session 8) well done on the pb also , what a cracker of a fish :)
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Re: NSW - High Brow

Postby RedPhoenix » Fri May 11, 2012 4:13 pm

Unfortunately, due to the change in ownership of this web site and the lack of response by the owners to my requests to remove my email address from all administrative-level notifications and functionality, I have decided to remove my posts on AKFF. Thank you for the great times, the fantastic learning experiences and the many many fish. If you are desperate for the old content of this particular post, it is available below base64 encoded and bzip2 compressed.

Red.

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Last edited by RedPhoenix on Thu Oct 30, 2014 4:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Thank you all for the laughs, the advice, and the mateship. Can the last one on the site, please turn off the lights before you leave.
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