Glorious Glenelg Jewfish
  |  First Published: July 2005

At the time of writing, the mouth of the mighty Glenelg River is blocked, although this only improves the fishing.

When the river first blocks down at the estuary, the big tides still wash over the sand bar that crosses the mouth. The river rises about 4cm every day for around ten days. After that, the Glenelg relies on water coming down from upstream. This can happen fairly quickly in a wet winter but as we are in the middle of a drought, I can only see it being blocked for a few weeks.

Up the river there are freshwater springs that continue to feed the river so even without natural flows, it will rise on a daily basis. One of these springs pours huge volumes of water daily. You can explore this gusher in a cave just 100m downstream from McLennan’s Punt Landing. There must be dozens of these springs. Some you would never know were there.

So we now have a very long 75km lake to fish. They can't escape and some might say it’s all too easy. As the river rises, we see an unusually large volume of freshwater as opposed to the normal estuarine levels. The longer it stays blocked, the more fish get pushed down towards the lower reaches. If any fish are caught upstream they’re mainly caught in the middle of the river. I’m aware that this contradicts my normal advice to anchor in about 5m off the bank and fish along the side of the river. In the dirty water scrubworms are fantastic bait.

I'm targeting mulloway in the estuary and Taylors Strait. My best fish went a tad over 20lb and was caught when the mouth was closed. I’d trolled the estuary for about 2 hours for zip. Making my way back to the boatshed I started fiddling with my new fishfinder. Trolling the other way was local legend Fred Wilson, who asked if I’d had any runs. I answered no and added that I couldn't see any fish on the new fishfinder.

Fred in his best dry voice said “those contraptions only catch mug fishermen, not fish”. Right on cue, both my reels started screaming. I picked up both rods and struck hard, reeling a bit on each rod and trying to keep both lines tight. I only boated the 20lb fish. I managed to get the other one to the side of the boat before the hooks pulled. Just the memory of those few minutes will keep me fishing until the grave.

I’ve heard of a good 17lb fish caught around the reed beds landings recently about 10km upstream. I reckon they can just come on down! We’ll try to troll with live mullet and lures and the dirtier the water gets the brighter the colour of lures we’ll use. My favourites are jointed Rebels and Rapalas in light blue and silver. I’ve tried the small Attack lures as well and like the orange/yellow pattern with black tiger stripes. This little fellow has scored some of my best fish. We replace the split rings with better ones because I don't think they were designed 20lb fish in mind.

The bream will eventually head towards the estuary too. I reckon the reliable, tried and tested baits will get the lion’s share of fish. If you have access to fresh sidestepper crabs, bass yabbies or spew worms, then bring them along. Fresh baits are worth the effort.

As for the soft plastic fishers, they’ve been going great guns. When you talk to these guys they just love exchanging information. I guess it’s still fairly new there so there’s a lot to learn and share. I just love some of the names the manufacturers give soft plastics. Some of the soft plastics I hear talked about more often than not include pearl watermelon drop shot minnows, Atomic brown crawdad grubs and Squidgy bloodworms.

Sandy Moorehouse from Naracoorte and two of his mates from Adelaide all bagged out on consecutive days. They were mainly using pearl watermelon drop shot minnows. They fished out of the same boat and covered the estuary and up to the Princess Margaret Rose Caves area. One particular hot session up near the bridge at Nelson saw all of them bag out in quick time.

Sandy imposed a boat minimum length of 30cm on their bream. That's great to hear. Most of the fish were returned to the river. These South Australian lads certainly had some photos to brag about. No doubt they’re sharing them with their mates as we speak! If you need any information on Nelson or the Glenelg River, then call me on (08) 8738 4011 and I’ll send you an information pack.

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