It’s not very often I head far from home to find water, but I’ve been always keen to fish the lower Macintyre river system. John Everett was also interested in venturing to the rich broad acre cotton farming region and hopefully find a few fish.
5am road trips and country roads can sometimes involve white knuckle driving, dodging crazy kangaroos that seemed determined to inflict damage on my Toyota.
Calling into the first property, we were rewarded with a yarn and also fishing access, oh and the obligatory mud map that farmers always tend to favour.
Spotting the river gums we knew that the water wasn’t too far away, but it wasn’t going to be easy as we weaved our way through the thick mimosa bush that choked the prime grazing land.
A little unsettling was the number of black snakes sunning themselves in the morning sun. We knew we’d better keep our wits about us on this trip.
The river twisted and turned down through heavily silted sand banks. Little cod eagerly darted out from thigh deep water, pinning them with our flies wasn’t easy.
Finally we floated to a descent hole, but still the fish persisted with playing hard to get.
A black rattling clouser raised interest with not many takers. It was very frustrating when a big cod had three goes at the fly, but no hook up.
As the sun settled, we watched several feral pigs slipping down for their daily drink.
We decided to walk back upstream, to find and collect the ute. Our plan was to figure how to reach the large pool by vehicle. Somehow we worked our way through the maze of gates and Mimosa bush, back to our chosen campsite. The decision was to fish the rest of the large hole at first light.
While darkness fell, pigs grazed on previously ploughed paddocks not far from the campsite. Next morning while having breakfast we watched as a steady flow of pigs travelled from a distant cultivation, leading them right past our campsite.
Even though we worked some really prominent snag structures, the morning session remained very quiet. We decided it was time to pack the Hilux, head down the road and find the next property.
At the next farm they gave us the rock star treatment, happily showing us around and pointing out the better water. Even though the water was quite shallow, the hole looked similar to the New England water we fish regularly. Bottle brush and overhanging trees formed structures for Murray cod, which is the water we like to fish.
The cod seemed a lot more willing to strike on rattling flies. Pigs and snakes were ever present as we finned quietly upstream using our Floatboats, but we were here to fish, not hunt!
Although we struggled to encourage the bigger fish on our trip, I was assured the water held good quality fish. When the colder months arrive, I think I’ll return to the warmer Goondiwindi water with both flyrod and rifle. Nick
There’s no bigger rush than pursuing Murray Cod on a surface fly. The anticipation and knowing, that any second, your top water bug could be detonated upon. It’s a sound that travels far across the water, instantly your mates know you’ve been ambushed.
Unfortunately a week can bring so many variables to our sensitive Murray Cod. Just last week, it was a case of having to fish the top layer or miss out on the action.
Today I found out that our native fish can quickly bring you back down to reality. Valuable light quickly faded as I struggled to raise any interest on my usually successful poppers.
The “Light Horseman Fly” (a tribute to the heroic Aussie Soldiers and the Emu feathers that adorned their Slouch Hats), it is a fly we fish with confidence, when using Intermediate sink tip fly lines. It has several features that could also serve duty as a dual purpose fly.
- Flymen Fish Masks provide a very slow sink rate.
- Big Game Articulation shanks, movement and positive hook set on a static fly.
- Reverse tied Buck tail and natural Emu feathers giving the illusion of life.
- Front loop weed guard, we’ve popularised and perfected this awesome snag reducer.
Switching to a floating flyline I began to cover the same snag systems with Light Horseman, areas I usually reserve for a surface bug.
Most times I’d let the fly bulge the surface and sink to a maximum of around 40cm in depth.
It was nearly as much fun as surface fishing, watching fish rush up through the submerged limbs and climbing all over the snaking fly. It always pays to try new tactics and ideas when the usual techniques fail. Nick
Talk about a tough cod season! We have really put in some big days on the water looking for willing fish. Most times it’s been a battle to find just a handful. I guess that’s why there are so few people committed to targeting Murray Cod on fly.
Every one of our trips involves heavy packs, overgrown rivers, spills, hot temps and a whole lot of sledging. Keeping the confidence up and constantly casting tight into structure all day is tough, but with a few laughs we’re always up for the challenge.
Lately we have been taking notice of what overseas Musky fly fishermen have been getting up to. Both species of fish are very similar, lots of casts, big flies and heavy gear. The flies they use are a work of art, we’re talking articulation, thanks to the use of Big Game Articulation Shanks. Check out this clip and you’ll appreciate the similarities and dedication involved. https://vimeo.com/83142246
Being a bit of a gear nut, I threw down $250 for a Ross 10wt 7’11” Flystik. At less than half the price of Sage’s Bass version, I never expected much for such a minimal outlay but damn I was wrong.
Both Jason and I worked the rod over after loading it up with Rio’s 10wt Outbound Short Flyline. At the end of the day, we agreed the very progressive action made difficult casts a breeze, bloody accurate too.
Exploring river systems during drought conditions is never a good idea. On my latest trip, many hours were wasted in the attempt to find enough water to hold fish. Most of the bigger pools had turned a nasty green colour and the idea of inflating the float boat to enter the slime seemed crazy.
Hot, oxygen deficient water usually means tough fishing, as a rule the morning session usually provides the better results with such unforgiving conditions.
Strangely the small pools looked a little healthier and a lot less affected by the dry conditions; my main goal was to explore the river and find what fish the river held, while knowing there was so much stacked up against this particular trip.
The leaves on the trees in New England are falling and winter is slowly creeping in. The fishing in our region is going to slow down considerably. This will mean more time at the vise and our focus on the blog will be to showcase some of the flies that we have developed over the course of the last couple of seasons. So stay tuned…