Oh what a Sunday!
  |  First Published: June 2015

As enjoyable as it is, fishing can be a funny thing at times. You can plan a trip for months, right down to the finest of details, do all the research and testing you can, and then struggle to catch a fish when the trip finally comes along. Or the complete opposite can happen, and at the spur of the moment you decide to go for a flick just see what happens and land a fish of a lifetime.

That is exactly what happened to me one lazy Sunday, when after a big sleep in and a potter around the yard I realised I pretty much had nothing else to do. Consequently, we decided to load up the boat and head over to Blowering Dam for a few hours’ fishing. Normally we like to put a big day in on Blowering, starting early and finishing late, and on Sundays I normally fly fish for trout in streams and rivers much closer to home, but for some reason we decided we’d head out for a golden perch fix.

The sun was shining, there was hardly a cloud in the sky, very little wind, and it was just about the middle of the day by the time we hit the water.

As we were targeting golden perch, our lures of choice were 60mm lipless crankbaits, in particular my own Insanity Tackle Slap Walkers. As we were heading to the bay I wanted to fish, I noticed another bay that was just screaming at me to go and fish it, so I veered off and decided to give it half an hour before we went up to my first intended spot.

It wasn’t long before we realised we had made the right choice, as my partner Sharon continued to get follow after follow and hit after hit, but unfortunately dropped 2 fish in the process. In the 10 minutes we had fished, we saw a lot of action, so we continued to fish on.

Another 10 minutes later we had fished the whole bay without landing a fish, but we could see another fishy looking bay around the long, shallow north-facing point. Rather than power the required 200m, we decided we would use our electric motor to cruise around and quickly fish the bank as we went.

We didn’t see any fish for the first 150m of featureless bank, and we were just starting to pick up extra speed with the ‘lecky’ when I noticed a monster fish sitting on the sandy bottom in about 7’ of water. Even though I’d seen countless monster cod sitting or cruising the shallows of Blowering before, it happens to me every time and like a kid that just had his first lolly, I couldn’t contain myself. I squealed to Shaz, “Look at the size of that cod — it must be 120cm at least. Quick, cast at it before it sees us!”

Sharon obligingly put a cast in that wasn’t quite on the mark and the fish didn’t notice the lure, so I chucked a quick cast in that landed about 5m away. As the lure started to sink, I noticed the big cod head straight towards it and then right over the top. Unfortunately, the fish was facing away from me and was over the lure, so I didn’t know if it had eaten it or not, but as I was just thinking about winding in, the rod started to load up and I could see the fish powering off with my Slap Walker hanging out the side of its mouth.

As I was targeting golden perch with lightish lures, I had a light rod loaded with 10lb braid and 10lb fluorocarbon leader, so I knew we had to take our time landing it. I backed the drag off and luckily for me he was sitting on an almost featureless bank, so I had nothing to worry about other than a tree-lined bay about 150m away.

As Blowering is crystal clear, we could see almost all of the fight. There was a point where the fish got within 20m or so of the tree-lined bay, but after some sensational chasing with the electric from my other half, we eventually got the big fish into the ‘way too small’ net after a 25 minute battle.

Other then the light drag pressure preventing a bustoff, the other thing that helped to land this large fish on light gear was being able to follow it with the electric. This helped us to keep the upper hand throughout the fight, and ensured it went for the least amount of time possible, which is very important when releasing fish of this size.

To say I was happy once the fish hit the pre-dampened Brag Mat would be an understatement, but what I couldn’t believe was Sharon’s excitement, which was double that of mine. Big fish really do have this amazing presence about them that makes even veteran fishos go weak at the knees.

As we took a quick measure before release, we really got to appreciate its size. At 121cm, it is my biggest fish from this lake, and one I will never forget. To not only spot the fish, but to then watch it take my lure and fight it was amazing, but to catch it on super light gear and on a lure that I distribute was the cherry on top.

We fished the next bay and bank for 4 yellas in quick succession, and we were both then content to call it a day after only a couple of hours on the water. It will remain one of our most memorable fishing trips ever.

So the next time you’re contemplating a spur of the moment trip, just do it. As they say, you’ve got to be in it to win it!

Tips for landing big fish on light gear

Electric motors

No matter where you are going to fish, always pull up a good 100m or more from the intended fishing area, shut off the big motor, then drop the electric in and and stealthily work your way in to increase your chances of not spooking fish.

If you happen to hook a large fish, follow it around with the electric and try and keep the distance between you and it to a minimum. This will ensure you have the upper hand throughout the fight, and will also help reduce the amount of time the battle goes for, which is beneficial for a good healthy release.

Drag pressure

When it comes to drag settings, my thoughts are if you have your drag too tight then the fish will often pop you off, giving you no chance of landing it — a known rookie mistake. If you happen to have your drag too light, the worst that can happen is the fish gets back to its snag. If this does happen, then at least you still have the fish hooked and quite often giving it some slack line might see it swim out of the snag. Or, you can do as we have done many times before; poke a lure retriever pole down into the snag. This might stir the fish up sufficiently for it to take off again, and this will often free the line.

So when choosing a drag setting, I’d suggest erring on the side of slightly too loose rather then slightly too tight. Even when targeting big fish with big rods, I still recommend slightly too loose rather then slightly too tight for the above-mentioned reasons.

Finally, I’ve found with big golden perch and Murray cod that the more curry you give them during the fight, the more curry they give you back. Take it easy with them and you will find that they will too.

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