Putting in the Hard Yards
  |  First Published: July 2006

I like sneaking off to out of the way places for a fish. I’m not sure what it is that makes me walk for miles up and down hills, through soft sand, and in the dark just to escape the crowds but there is something special about catching fish in remote places with no one else around.

There are some places I fish where I swear I am the only person to ever step foot near the place. That’s not an easy thing to accomplish in today’s society. Why walk all over the countryside when I live less then one minute’s drive from a river and the ocean?

Maybe it’s a case of the grass being greener over that next hill or maybe I just have a screw loose. I don’t know. What I do know is that while most people were at home in bed on a recent morning, I was half way up a very steep hill, sweating but cold, sore and still 1km from my car. I remember struggling to put one foot in front of the other and thinking to myself, why do I do this?

But for some strange reason I was grinning from ear to ear and had a deep feeling of satisfaction inside me. I turned to my mate who was walking beside me and without him saying a single word I could see the look on his face and tell straight away that he wouldn’t rather be anywhere else.

We were fishing a remote beach near Cape Otway in search of gummy sharks. On arrival, we threw a few lures to see if we could get some salmon for bait. Before I had my rod set up Darren had three fish on the beach. They just kept coming every cast until dark. Whether you think salmon are great food or better used as bait, this was great fun!

As soon as the salmon stopped biting we changed rigs and set up for gummies. On went a fillet of salmon for bait and the waiting game began. Two hours past for only a couple of rock cod when my rod doubled over and the drag sang loudly in the cold night air. Then, for some reason, the line parted with a crack and the fish was lost.

Another hour and all the talk began to focus about getting up that hill. All of a sudden my rod started to shake violently, I set the hook and this time managed to land a gummy shark of around 4kg. Not a big fish but believe me, after reaching the top of that hill, it was a very rewarding one. I reckon even the rock cod would have tasted good after that walk!

Perch, Salmon & Bream

Other notable captures lately have included several big estuary perch landed on soft plastics by Josh Lee and Nat Barry. Their secret weapon has been a Squidgy Bug rigged on a resin head and retrieved very slowly, just under the surface. This makes for some great sight fishing as they smash the lure in a shower of spray and head straight back into the snags.

Other anglers have taken salmon from Wild Dog and Johanna beaches but the average size has only been around 600g. The salmon schools should be around for the next few months so hopefully they get bigger.

The Aire River is still giving up plenty of bream, with the best baits being scrubworms and prawns.

Trevally have been moving in and out of the harbour daily with the high tide and garfish have been responding to berley in most of the sheltered bays along the Great Ocean Road.

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