Not every trip is about numbers. Being on the water, near water or simply just being wet at times leaves me feeling at peace. Having said that when a reel screams from a big fish peaceful isn’t the word anyone would use to describe the situation.
This particular day the Fish Whisperer was off doing family duties so The Padawan and I were by ourselves in the trusty Polycraft out on Lake Macquarie. This body of water rivals my own for size. It takes a lifetime to find out that you really need to spend more time out on the water to get to know it. We were in the getting to know you mode and thought that trying some areas around the bottom end of the Lake system might prove interesting to say the least. Whether the fish came or didn’t wasn’t so much of an issue as being out in the boat.
This attitude was, in hindsight, a good thing. We didn’t catch a lot. In fact we caught very little. But what we caught couldn’t be described that way.
Two fish made the day. Two fish from two casts in an area devoid of features but with some promise that anything could happen and did.
The area we were targeting had a couple of small outlets into the Lake and a corresponding flat that extended out into the Lake proper. It was mid morning, very little breeze and still cool enough to be comfortable. We had been fishing for some time with no success but just didn’t care. Why would we? We were out on the water enjoying nature and doing the only exercise a sedentary individual can do other than the proverbial bending of the elbow for liquid refreshment that builds the arm up. Cast after cast. Each one a hope that some poor fish would be fooled into trying the soft plastic and fighting it’s way into the boat for a quick photo or two, or for something more permanent and a decent meal.
Now, we have a rule in the boat that says that the legal requirements for length of fish are a decent guide, but not definitive. We normally don’t keep fish unless they are well over the legal limit and when they get into the trophy territory we prefer a photo or two and to let them swim off to produce more of their kind. Why, you ask. Well we are firm believers in wanting to manage the system wisely to ensure we have another reason to go fishing again. That doesn’t mean we agree with all the regulations that come out of the NSW Dept. of Fisheries. Being contrary comes easy to an opinionated person and a decent feed of fish never hurt anyone. Besides, with so many mouths to feed you need good quantities of fish just for one meal.
We went toward the mouth of one of these “creeks” and decided to let the current flow push us out into the Lake and across the flats. We had Flathead in mind but like every fisherman anything that bites would do for some fun. The Padawan was at the stern, his normal spot, next to the tiller and I was at the pointy end (bow. No, not you…that’s what it’s called). With the mouth of the creek covered by The Padawan I did my normal trick of casting in the opposite direction to “just see what might be there”. To be honest I wasn’t very hopeful as this area was devoid of any structure or any apparent activity to warrant belief that there was anything there to cast to. So it was with some surprise that the rod bucked in my hands and line started peeling off the reel at a reasonable rate.
For anyone who has had a large fish powering away on the end of your line you will know that the physical activity is much the same at both ends. The fish is startled, heart racing and moving hard trying to get away. You are doing much the same at your end. I was startled, my heart was racing and I was doing everything I could think of to ensure that it didn’t get away. I’m also sure that every person who has wet a line has also felt that one of the worst things is to have a fish on the other end doing it’s species proud and you have no idea what the species is. The “one that got away” is a cliché for a reason. We all want to see what the fish is at least. Experience helps. Not just in having the right gear, the right technique or the right way to hold your face. It can often tell you what the fish is before you see it. In this case the fight was confusing. The fish felt heavy and was fighting suggesting it could be a small jewfish. Why? Well it was just too good to be a smaller species and too small to be a Kingfish.
Imagine our surprise when a “once in a lifetime” bream finally made it to the boat. Now everyone involved was giving their cardiologists nightmares as The Padawan was being called upon to net the fish. True to form and with his normal aplomb the Yellowfin Bream slid into the net and into the personal record books.
There are a number of milestones we diehard fisherman like to cross off our list. The metre plus flathead being one. For me the concept of a 50cm bream was a holy grail. I was to be disappointed in a very good way though as this fish went on the brag/lie tape and topped the tape at 49cm. Wow. So close and a fantastic fish to boot. To say it was a fish that was going to be bragged about seems superfluous as here I am bragging about it. Some quick photos, a good swim to recover and off she went into the Lake to ensure that her genetics would keep hearts pumping for the next generation.
After the standard necessary lull to let your body recover from the adrenalin and to discuss the whole affair from cast to catch we decided to keep on drifting and stick with the previous plans and casting directions. When a plan comes together it sure comes together and yet again my cast into the middle of nowhere came up tight on another thumper.
Two fish in two casts…looked like the day was going to be massive. At least the first fish had been so there was some hope for this one too. It fought much the same and for a while I thought it couldn’t have been possible to have hooked the same fish twice, but this one had a little more and surely after the last fight the same Bream couldn’t have had the same amount of energy. This time we were ready for a Bream and The Padawan was ready with the net, knowing that he had a decent job to do.
Up the fish came after some screaming runs and flashed it’s silver sides in the sun. Under it went the net and into the boat and my dreams came my Moby Dick. The tape didn’t lie and here before me was a 51cm Yellowfin Bream.
For those interested, this fish went back too. Why not? I had photos and any fish that makes it to this size deserves the opportunity to pass on it’s genes. If nothing else happened for the rest of the day I would still be in seventh heaven. Nothing else happened. We tried to emulate the same drift, tried several other locations and tried many different colours and shapes of plastics. Nothing.
Oh well…we were on the water, I’d caught two fish of a lifetime and could brag about it. I didn’t need any more and I get to share this experience and the photos with you. Like I said….Seventh Heaven!
Until next time.