I could have just as easily titled this article ‘Getting That Camp Site Just Right’. That’s exactly what we had to do before we removed the camper trailer from the car on the banks of the Macintyre River, west of Goondiwindi.
We had long organised a five day break and I soon realised that you can’t just set up camp once you reach the river. First, you need to find the right spot.
Our requirements were simple enough: shade, level ground for the camper and easy access to the water. We wanted to be able to go straight down to the bank and fish whenever we wanted to or grab a bucket full of water for the camp shower. Either way easy access to the water was an important consideration and anyone who has fished the Macintyre will understand what I’m talking about. This river has had some major floods and bits of the bank are very steep.
After a couple of false starts we found the right spot but had to do a bit of clearing work first. Mimosa, an introduced sort of thorn bush, was rife and Scott had to use the axe and shovel to clear the chosen area. After ten minutes we were able to lay the shade cloth ground sheet before setting up the camper. Shade cloth can be washed at home and rolled up for the next time.
A long handle shovel is also a must-have on inland camping trips. We often use it to level ground, and it’s always handy to have around the fire or to dig up a few worms.
The days were warming, so we decided to leave the front walls off the camper and put them on at night if the weather cooled down.
We used our handy shovel to build a camp fire. A shallow hole was quickly excavated and we cleared all leaves away to stop the fire from spreading. It’s also a good idea to check the breezes when setting up a camp fire. It’s a pain when your fire sends smoke through the tent or camper as you’re trying to sleep.
The only other thing we needed to think about was the proximity of big river gums to our camp. These magnificent trees are prone to dropping big branches without warning, so we selected a camp site with that in mind.
Our camp was set up in about 30 minutes and then it was time for a look at the river.
The Macintyre was flat. This formerly mighty river was showing its bones due to lack of flow. It was also just a bit too dirty to use lures but we were there to fish, so fish we did.
Bobbing was the technique that produced most action although Scott did hook a 3kg cod by dapping (plopping up and down) a Tango Dancer surface lure next to a good looking snag. He would cast the lure and then dap it around for a bit.
For the unaware, bobbing consists of threading a wine bottle cork (that’s been pierced with a hot needle) up the line around a metre, securing it in place with a little line stopper or couple of splitshot, and then setting up the trace with swivel, size 2/0 hook and larger splitshot right down on the hook.
This unsophisticated method consistently produces catches of inland fish such as cod, silvers, golden perch, freshwater catfish and even carp.
The trick to bobbing is to cover as much territory as possible. Any area with steeper banks or a heap of submerged roots and logs is prime bobbing territory. There are, however, a couple of ways of bobbing. If the snag is mid-river, cast out near it and then give the cork a couple of quick jerks like a surface popper lure. If a fish wants to play it won’t take long for it to home in on the worm, crayfish or shrimp bait. Shrimps are always the best bait, but the water was around 12, which was just a bit too cold for the critters to leave their hidey holes and make them easy to gather in a shrimp pot.
The other method of bobbing involves finding a comfy spot and then lift the cork up and down on the water to make it plop close to a likely snag or near a drop-off. A short stop now and again will often see the float ripped under as a fish latches onto the bait. Our bait consisted of garden worms and we caught four edible species plus some carp on those wrigglers. Don’t forget to take some worms with you in case the shrimp or crayfish are hard to gather on site.
Camping and fishing the inland waters is about as uninvolved a pastime as one might enjoy. Getting the camp site right initially certainly makes the whole trip a real treat with the fishing being a great bonus. There’s nothing better than grilled cod on the coals in the Australian outback, eh?Reads: 916