The Endless Summer

The endless summer

With the weather starting to cool off at home and the days growing shorter it was once again time head abroad to prolong the summer and fishing opportunities. The plan for this year was a trip back to North America with a stop on the way for another week hunting triggers and trevally in Kirimati.

Even after a couple of previous trips along almost the same route I still had a number of species that I hadn’t yet taken on the fly, namely a roosterfish (grande from the beach), bull trout, lake trout, and some decent size cutthroat (yellowstone and westslope). With two months to play with the plan was to hit up Montana, Mexico and possibly an excursion into Canada. But first up, the flats of Kirimati.

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South Creek Bass

If a million fish die in a creek and no one sees it, do they make a sound?

No. They don’t.

At South Creek in Western Sydney a group of passionate anglers act as the eyes for this small but unique fishery. And it’s just as well too, otherwise the devastation caused to this waterway might never have come to light and nobody held accountable.

For those that haven’t already heard about the disaster on South Creek and the lack of recognition from the authorities, you can catch up here.

In short, a factory fire adjacent to the creek in January and who knows how many other incidents have resulted in a critical amount of pollutants entering the waterway. Tests and visual inspections have detected large amounts of oil and a pungent acidic chemical smell was present throughout a extensive length of the creek, with dead fish, estimated to be in the 100’s found floating in the slick and washed up on the shoreline. To this date the council refuse to acknowledge a problem or even send inspectors to sample the water. It was easier to just blame a ‘black water’ event and try to flush the creek to get rid of any evidence.

The South Creek Bass Club have created an online petition in order to try and get a proper investigation initiated to prevent this kind of event in the future. The petition can be found here. Whether you have fished South Creek or not, are an angler or not, you need to sign this. We need some accountability for actions that damage our waterways.

The passion and hysteria about the lack of response to the South Creek catastrophe does prove one thing; the importance of anglers as the gate keepers of their local waters. Without these eyes and ears on the water the damage could continue unnoticed with no follow up or consequences.

The simple fact is that recreational anglers protect waterways.

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A healthy Australian Bass

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New Zealand; Part III – Otago

After the week in Southland, I dropped Leo back Queenstown airport, bid farewell to the rest of the group and headed across to explore some new waters in the tussocky high country of Otago alone. Hooking through the Kawarau Gorge and across the highland Lake Dunstan, I headed down the grand Clutha Valley. I had a hankering to fish a large river and the Clutha looked a likely target. The river is huge and the emerald green water flows with enough power to easily intimidate a wading fisherman. Most banks of the river drop of steeply, into fast water that limit the possibly of both fishing and fish being able to hold and feed. I continued down the valley to the quaint town of Roxburgh.

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Clutha River at Roxburgh

I had heard about the Chinook Salmon run that occurs in the Clutha and about fisherman hooking huge specimens from positions high above the water level near the dam outlet near Lake Roxburgh Village. Of course, it would be even more difficult hooking and landing one on the fly and it was still a little early in the season to consider trying, so I continued South and found a nice gravel bar and island near the golf course. By the time I rigged the six weight  the sun was behind the hills and the moon was rising. The perfect time to give the Twilight Beauty a run.

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Evening on the Clutha

Wading and fishing around the island was easy enough, apart from the hundreds of seagulls that must have been nesting close by and continually felt the need to attack me. The waving rod and line kept them at bay, and I managed 2 rainbows and a brown on the Twilight Beauty.  One of the rainbows which was a half decent size must have been recently attacked by a cormorant and had claw marks and cuts along its back and gill plates. The tough little bugger had recovered though and was obviously back feeding.

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Clutha Rainbow with battle scars

I gave the woolly bugger a swing through some of the faster water around the front of the island in the hopes of hooking into something big and got a few grabs but failed to hook up. The joys of swinging big flies 40 feet away with a six weight!

I camped the night and was up early the next morning with a plan to fish Lake Onslow and the Teviot River. I made a quick stop on the way up to Lake Onslow in Roxburgh East to embrace the gold mining history of the area and spent a couple of hours on Pierce’s Prospect sluicing some pay dirt with a couple of the local gold bugs. Stu Edgecumbe owns and runs the site, and is a deadset character who knows as much about the local gold mining history as anyone.

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Pierce’s prospect is still producing

Didn’t get a massive pay out but took home some colour nonetheless.

With the weather looking like it could turn nasty any hour I rallied the Subaru up the winding dirty road for what seemed like an eternity, until finally arriving at Lake Onslow. The lake is incredibly high for its size, sitting at 700 metres above sea level.

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The view over Lake Onslow

As I began to explore the area, the outflow into the Teviot River looked like a particularly tempting spot to wet a line. A quick walk through the tussocks and I was covered in green cicadas. I had a variety of cicada flies, all of which compared well with the size and profile of the cicada.

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(l to r); Cicada, Stu’s Cicada, Elk Hair Cicada, Manic Classic Cicada, Turks Tarantula

Over the next two hours I fished them all, and they all caught fish. A lot of fish. The fish were mostly browns, nothing massive but up to three pounds and beautifully coloured in bright yellows and golds.

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The fish were stacked up waiting for cicadas

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Great water, amazing fishing

I was well into the double figures and had only fished a few hundred metres before the weather started to close in. Being so far up a somewhat sketchy dirt road I thought it best to retreat to lower ground before the storm hit, and boy did it hit. By the time I was half way down I could barely see five metres in front of the car. I was driving in clouds for close to 40 minutes before I found the Clutha River again and recovered some visibility.

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Rain on the Clutha

I decided to leave the Clutha valley in the hope of escaping the weather and so continued driving South. By the time I arrived at the Pomahaka River the rain had stopped, so I pulled up at the bridge and hoped for signs of an evening rise. Conditions were dead still but I did not see a single fish rise in half an hour looking upstream and downstream. According to some locals the Pomahaka has felt the full effect of intensive cattle farming and the fishing in the river had been decimated.

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All quiet on the Pomahaka

I continued along the road and spent the night on the banks of the Mataura in Gore. The moon was out and bright, illuminating some of the towns historic buildings.

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Beautiful night in Gore

The next day I had a quick fish on the lower Mataura and Waikaia Rivers for a couple more nice browns on willow grubs, before heading back up to Queenstown to return the rental car the following day.

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Paying homage at the World Capital

I did actually catch another couple of nice browns in a small creek in the middle of town before I found out that it was supposed to off limits. Whoops.

All in all it had been another great trip to South Island New Zealand, exploring new water and catching plenty of quality trout.

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Weipa

It was a brisk spring morning when I met up with the rest of the group at Sydney airport. There was plenty of gear, especially considering it was for six blokes and we were only on a domestic flight. Getting through check-in took slightly longer than usual and we all crossed our fingers that our gear would make the two flights and arrive at our destination in Weipa.

The Qantas flights ran like clockwork and later that afternoon we touched down amongst the dusty red scrub of Weipa airport. The heat was an immediate force as we walked to the shed to wait for our baggage. Ten minutes later a small cart pulled up with the baggage. You wouldn’t believe it but a bag was missing. After a bit of squabble with the airport attendant she informed us that Qantas had decided to leave that piece of luggage until the next flight for some unknown reason. Luckily we had a night in town at the Heritage Resort before boarding the houseboat the next day. The missing gear did arrive later that night. We spent the rest of the afternoon shopping for supplies for the next week, then had a few beers around the pool at dinner. The heat was fairly dry being September and wasn’t so bad in the shade. The next morning we turned up to the shipyard and loaded our houseboat, the Tillimay, and organised our three tenders for the group of six to fish from.

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Shipyard in Weipa

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The Tillimay crew; Roger Woodward, Chris Harding, Ben Campbell, Paul Dwyer, Kim Prehn & Leo Harding

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Home for the week

We spent the 6 days fishing all the way down the coast to Boyds Bay, the Weipa Harbour and up the river systems. Unfortunately strong winds from the West and the accompanying swells cut short our time at Boyds and sent us on a forced retreat up river.

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Heading back from Redcliffs in the tenders

The fishing was good by world standards but poor against the usual Weipa experience according to the guys in our crew that had been before. Possibly due to the unusual wind direction. We still managed to catch plenty of fish, nothing huge, mostly on white clousers, surf candies and the Kim Prehn rim fly.

During the week our group caught a wide array species including Coral Trout, Queenfish, Oceanic Queenfish, Dart, Giant Herring, Golden Trevally, Spanish Mackerel, Tarpon, Fingermark, Bigeye Trevally, Barracuda, Spanish Flag Snapper, Tuskfish and Barramundi.

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Plenty of Queenfish

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Paradise on the south side of Weipa harbour

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Sight fishing to Trevally on the flats

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Exploring tight creeks at high tide

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A Barramundi that was bullied out from the mangroves using a small white clouser

Sunset in Weipa

Sunset in Weipa

Unfortunately we didn’t get into any Long Tail Tuna, Permit or Blue Bastards. Next time.

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