Taking the bush track home
  |  First Published: May 2015

There's a lot to be said in support of living in the bush, and a lot to be said for fishing there too. I realised how different fishing out west was after a recent trip.

I grew up out there, and spent the first half of my life fishing for catties, yellowbelly and cod. I even caught a few of those, and also managed to hook tortoises, rats, snakes, and even a platypus, many, many years ago. For the conservationists amongst you, the platypus went back. Not real good eating apparently, and also it was undersized.

The creeks, rivers, billabongs, dams and lakes I fished ranged from the sandy bottomed creeks at the head of the Mary River near Conondale, through the water-stained mud of the Dogwood out to the majesty of Coopers Creek and tributaries of the channel country. Bait ranged from worms dug out of the septic overflow to frogs, bobbies, yabbies, roo meat and even the tag off an old singlet during one desperate and baitless trip. It was also unsuccessful. There won’t be a range of Jackie Howe lures coming out anytime soon.

Nearly all trips have been from the bank. Only very occasionally do you get to take a watercraft of any sort off terra firma and onto the water. It was always a dream to paddle or motor around pulling or chucking lures, but it never seemed to pan out. Probably a good thing given my record with boats.

One thing that has been a constant companion in the entire time I've been fishing freshwater, has been patience, and I reckon learning to fish away from the coast gives you an edge because you learn the waiting game from an early age. And it sort of goes with the lifestyle too. Living on the coast is all rush and bustle, and parallel to that, fishing along the coast is all about scoring a fish and moving on. There's no time to sit and wait in most situations. If you haven't got a fish in a few minutes, it's off to the next spot.

That ASD type of fishing doesn't work on the freshwater scene. On the inland waterways, it's always about sitting back and watching. The little tickle on the float gets the heart pumping but it’s usually just a wiggling yabby or a breath of wind.

And on the coast, it’s all about wind. Very rarely does wind come into it in the bush. There are other environmental factors that tend to impact more on your fishing trip. Like heat. Or flies. Or mossie plagues. Or sandfly plagues. Or fires. Or floods. Or drought. In which case you’re casting into a waterhole the size of a tablespoon, except not quite that deep.

And more often than not, you catch nothing. Which is okay, because I’ve always fished for the company. Not the company I work for; I mean I fish inland because of the people I get to mix with. Which is usually the same Dudds I fish with on the coast. But they’re calmer Dudds in the bush. And more patient. And my ADHD keeps me calmer when I’m…hey what’s that shiny thing over there…

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