Fishing. It’s a funny old game you know. The single most popular hobby, sport, pastime in the world by a long shot.
Every day people head out to ponds, rivers, lakes and oceans for pleasure, sport or survival to hook, net or spear a fish.
Everyone remembers their first fish. Mine came on a family holiday in the east of England, a 2.2lb chubb. Not a big fish by a long shot but hugely memorable when you’re eight years old.
That feeling of snatch on the line, the accelerated heartbeat, the game of tug and war that goes on until finally the invisible force materialises as a splash on the waters surface.
I’ve never been good at it but I’ve always enjoyed it.
Dotted throughout Queensland are lakes, lots of them. And where there’s water there’s usually fish. This week I escorted six fishing journalists on a trip through Central Queensland that any potential angler would enjoy – the Bass to Barra trail.
At 4am we roll out of our beds. Apparently fish prefer to do things early in the morning. Very early.
We arrive at Lake Monduran, the first of our freshwater locations, as the eastern horizon is turning tangerine. Our guides are waiting at the lake’s edge, tinnies beached on the bank, (that’s an aluminium-hulled boat to anyone not from Australia) engines purring quietly away.
This is ‘Barra-Country’ – home to the elusive Barramundi, one of Australia’s finest table eating fish. Although we won’t be taking these home, they’re one of the best fish to try and hook.
Lake Monduran Holiday Park sits on the banks of the dam. Rob Howell runs the place with cosy cabins and camping available, and there’s also charter boats should you feel the need to give-it-a-go yourself.
Two years ago the dam was only 7% full, this year it’s up to 107% which means the scenery is spectacular. Cruising about the still waters, winding our way through the dead tree stumps and skirting along the near-full dam is a very special feeling. I learn to cast pretty quickly, cleverly dropping my lure at the edge of lilly pads and by submerged stumps, right where the Barra hang out.
In four hours of fishing I fail to catch a Barra. A couple of slimy catfish yes, but the elusive fish remains…elusive.
We finish up and drive onto our next location, Lake Cania, 90 minutes away. The motivation continues enroute “you’ll catch something here for sure”. Let’s see.
Cania Gorge is home to some stunning scenery, the eucalypt sandstone hillsides are cut into by the rivers creating towering lookouts and deep gorges. The lake is rumoured to be over 300m deep in places.
A scorching afternoon on the water is amply rewarded with a bounty of fish for all of us. I totally lost count of how many tiny Spangled and Silver Perch I caught but it felt SO good to be successful for once. We retired to the comfort of BIG 4′sCania Gorge Caravan Park for the night exchanging stories of “the big one that got away”. I’m feeling more like a fisherman every day!
Our final day of freshwater fishing is another short drive through the green central Queensland countryside to Biloela and Lake Callide. The local fish stocking community have turned out to host us for the day. They’re all prepared and whisk us out onto the water to test our luck once more, three tinnies depart and four hours later three tinnies return….with nothing…not even a bite this time.
Fishing in the heat of the midday sun is definitely not the best time to be trying our luck. Luckily the committee have something else up their sleeve for lunch – Red Claw.
These interesting little critters closely resemble crayfish and are particularly easy to catch, if you have the right equipment of course. Kev Banks from Creek2Coast tackle, our host, laid his traps a few days ago and as we haul them up lunch begins to materialise. It’s back to the clubhouse and 30 minutes later lunch is served; yummy, fleshy red claw meat cooked in garlic, ginger and chilli.
We’ve all tried our luck against the freshwater fish of central Queensland with limited success. But you can’t expect the world from a whistle-stop tour. Fishing is all about patience. It has given me the chance to learn an entirely new vocabulary though. Here’s a few of the classics and what they mean;
- “I can see colour” = the moment a hooked fish appears for the first time
- “had a couple of follows” = caught nothing
- “lost it on the reef” = had a bite but lost it
Next blog coming very soon, this time we hit the bluewater - or the ocean for the rest of us!