Well it finally happened, after 6 months of planning and waiting Wes and I headed off on our big fishing trip, which we decided to call “The Great Southern Loop”.
As I write this, we’re over halfway through already and I’m sitting on the bank of the Tumut River after having a stew cooked on the camp overn and Wes is asleep in his camp chair.
It all started last Monday when we set off from Nowra and made our way down towards Bega to fish Brogo Dam. We had been told by plenty of people about how tough this place can fish, especially at the time of year we were heading there. The place is stunning, surrounded by huge mountains covered in trees, not a man made structure in site…apart from the dam wall of course, and it’s stocked with one of my favourites, Australian Bass!
We had been told of a free camp ground in the upper part of the dam by one of our Facebook followers and Bega local Matt Owens. After looking around on the iPad in the WikiCamps app we found the place we were looking for and had it point us in the right direction. The road in is in really good condition and is easily accessible even for those with 2wd cars.
We arrived at the campgrounds to find no one else around, so took prime position at the waters edge. We ummed and arghed about setting up then and there, but opted to go for a fish before anything else. We arrived later than we had anticipated, with stops for fuel and groceries meaning we were on the water at around 4pm. We headed off for a bit of an explore when we came across Matt doing exactly the same thing.
He suggested that we fish with red lures, as that’s what he had heard had been working well. We had a chat then went on our way, and it wasn’t long until we heard Matt yell out across the dam to let us know that he had hooked a good one. We worked the edges with spinner baits, but failed to tempt anything into eating our offerings. It felt like only minutes later (but more like 2 hours) the sun had disappeared and we had to realise this might not happen for us at this location. We headed back to camp where Matt met up with us. He pulled out his fish for a quick photo then release, one of which you will notice a stumpy fish, a deformity which tends to be quite common with stocked fish. We parted ways and Wes and I got the fire going so we had somewhere to cook and a bit of warmth, as the cool air started to roll in from the hills.
The following morning we arose to what was looking like a stunning day. We heard a trailer coming down the road into where we were camped. 3 guys from Wagga had turned up to launch at the dam and after a chat we we all our way for a fish. We took Matt’s advice on board about going for red lures, so Wes tied on a Jackall Chubby and I went with a Daiwa Baby Crank. We worked along an edge, casting and slow rolling the lures back and it took only 15 minutes until I came up tight on the first fish of the trip. A very solid 41cm fork length Bass, which from all reports is a big fish for this little impoundment. I was chuffed to say the least!
We pluggged on for another half hour, then Wes hooked his first for the tour measuring in at around 30cm fork length. We fished on some more, but decided that it was probably best to move destinations, as the fishing was tough and we couldn’t see it improving.
We hit the road again, next stop Mallacoota! A place renowned as being Australia’s Bream fishing mecca. We arrived just after midday and unfortunately could not locate a free camp area, so booked in an unpowered camp site at the Mallacoota Foreshore Holiday Park. Luckily for us Victorian’s had returned to school the week before, so we were able to secure a waterfront site with a boat mooring. This was great as it meant we could set up our swags under the car awning and have the boat in the water ready for whenever we wanted to go for a flick.
We went for a fish that afternoon and headed for Goodwins Sands, a place Wes had fished before. I had picked up a couple of Jackall Squirrels earlier that day at the local servo, so was eager to try one out. The water was really dirty as reports were that 7 inches of rain had fallen only days before our arrival. We started flicking away and it wasn’t long before I hooked up to the first fish for our Mallacoota leg of the trip, 2 from 2 destinations for me! It wasn’t the intended target species but a 45cm Flathead took the honor. Even though I don’t really eat fish, Wes had planned on us having Flathead for dinner that night, so we popped him in the livewell to see if we could find anymore. Another 2 Flathead came aboard before I got our first Yellowfin Bream which at the same time Wes hooked the 4th Flathead. Things went quiet as the sun went down and with us not being too familiar with this waterway, we decided it was best to head back where Wes cooked the fish with a salt and pepper crinkle cut chip crumb.
The following morning we had a late start, heading for the western side of Goodwins Sands this time, where it took us both a while before we hooked up to a couple of Bream. I continued with the Suji Shrimp Jackall Squirrel and Wes was still throwing a Jackall Chubby, both using a slow roll. Our rods of choice, the Samurai Reaction’s in 2-6lb. We saw a couple of bream tournament boats scooting around and word in town was the an episode of AFC was being filmed which was confirmed when we sighted the camera boat, so keep your eyes peeled for our cameo appearance as they blasted past!
The flat wasn’t doing much for us, so we changed locations and techniques, this time I went for a Fish Arrow J Flash soft plastic and Wes with an Ecogear VX35 blade. The new location was at the Narrows, where there were plenty of fish marking on the Humminbird 898 sounder but the water was looking even dirtier than before! We only pulled a small flatty from here, so decided to move again, this time to the Top Lake. We arrived to find the water with at about the clarity of the Murray River, muddy… But we were there, so we had a go. Back to our diving hardbodies and Wes punched out a cast then started fiddling with the Minn Kota to set us up to run a bank. When he was done making some adjustments he started to wind in the slack and to his surprise found tension on the line. A short tussle and the first Black Bream of the trip was in the net!
Not much else happened from here, so we went to find cleaner water. We scoped out google maps trying to find some good edges and flats, seeing as we couldn’t see them physically due to the clarity. We went back to Goodwins Sands, this time fishing the eastern side. I took the opportunity to send the drone up and while I was getting some ariel video and images, Wes hooked up again! This time a Yellowfin Bream and still on the Jackall Chubby.
After another half hour or so, we headed back for lunch at the bakery. After a pie and a little planning and some phone calls to some of our more knowledgeable contacts, it was time to get back to the boat and head to Cemetery Bay. This place looked promising! A nice even flat with some structure dotted along the edge and it wasn’t to far into the afternoon when Wes hooked a screamer that buried him into some fallen timber and took his Jackall with it. After cursing for a bit it was clear that today was Wes’ day as only minutes later he was one again and again….and again. From memory I don’t think I got one all afternoon.
So the afternoon was pretty uneventful for me, but I managed to get some good footage for the video which I’ll get around the editing when we get home, but Wes killed it. Maybe he had his lure in the water more than I did?
Anyway, it’s getting late and bitterly cold here in Tumut, so I’m off to bed. Next part of the story will be from Tamboon to the Eucumbene. Here’s a sneak peak!