For our annual fishing trip to Lake Monduran last October we decided to hold a friendly competition with our old friends from Sydney, a State of Origin fishing test with the magical metre barramundi the ultimate prize.
For the last four years this dedicated bunch of fisherman from the Barrenjoey Sportfishing club in Sydney have made the sojourn north to God’s country: Queensland.
For our QLD vs NSW friendly rivalry Paul came up with some unique embroidery ideas thanks to our wives’ embroidery business, and so we had State of Origin badges made for all competitors.
Our Queensland team was called Team Zulu!
The NSW team looked pretty formidable. With the NSW contingents, Chris Bird, Frank Best, Willy and Ryan Osinga, Bert Langford, Greg Dare, Ross Kerr and Bob Hamilton, all regulars in ANSA comps in NSW.
Unfortunately for us Paul’s son, Andrew, and son-in-law, Mick, could not make it so the State of Origin looked a little lopsided. Two players for QLD versus eight from NSW, but it was too late to back out, so the challenge went ahead.
Coming into Gin Gin we thought we had the jump on the cockroaches, but surprise, surprise, a line of Quintrex Hornets indicated they must have had an early start out of Morayfield, their overnight stop. It wasn’t hard to find them; where else would they be? The tackle shop!
It was good to see all the old faces plus the young smiling face of Ryan, (now 15) with a firm hand shake it was easy to see he had grown into a fine young man, as it been nearly ten years since I last saw him.
Finally at the camp ground it didn’t take long to set up our tent and get our gear organized, then Paul and I headed off for an afternoon reconnaissance.
On the way to the ramp we stopped at the rental house where the boys were staying and Paul started the stirring by handing over the State of Origin badges and a photo of his 40kg monster from a couple of years ago to give the NSW contingent the catch me if you can signal!
If we only knew what was coming!
The first few days of our trip produced nothing. Conditions were tough with strong winds and low water temperature combined with dam levels of just 30%. So Paul and I headed upstream, well up the Kolan looking for warmer water and some protection from the wind.
On previous trips this area had produced the goods but this time it looked pretty quiet. We put casts in to every imaginable cover, trolled endless miles and drifted from sunken tree to sunken tree. Apart from a big catfish and a small barra that attacked Paul’s frog as it drifted down beside its snaggy lair, we had no luck.
The trip was starting to look like last year when we caught just one fish.
But all was not lost. While trolling well up past H we were keeping an eye on Chris and Bert as they trolled over a section we had tried not long before them. The stillness of the upper Kolan was interrupted when the water erupted around the Hornet. Chris was on, at last some action!
The Barra jumped several times exploding out of the tight cover in showers of water and Chris did well to keep him out of the garden of timber finally subduing the barra after a 10 minute struggle.
Approaching the boys it was evident that Chris had broken the magic metre. The fish was difficult to lift but when it finally made it on the mat it went 118cm – a fine catch from the sticks.
Things looked grim for Queensland. At the end of another long, hot day we still hadn’t managed that long awaited hook-up.
We were sitting on the bank in the shade having some lunch with Chris and Bert discussing the days events when word arrived from downstream that Ryan had not only managed his first barra but had followed it up with a second only minutes later, with both fish in the 90cm range.
As Willy’s Quintrex approached us the beaming smile and raised arms of one happy, young angler was the perfect picture of what fishing is all about! And although Willy was gesturing behind to push him overboard, he was one proud dad.
Overall the week went quick and by the end we had not raised a strike, but that’s fishing. Paul and I packed up and headed home on Friday so we could take our frustrations out on the jacks and muddies. The NSW lads fished through to Sunday, and as you would expect things started to improve once we left.
From Monduran the NSW convoy headed up to Awoonga where Willy caught his first 1m barra. They then backtracked and called into Somerset, where Bob nailed a 48cm bass before heading down the Pacific to Sydney.
It was good to see the boys again as we always have a laugh or two. Let’s hope the adrenalin once again stirs their soles and we can entice them north again so as we can take up the Monduran challenge and have another crack at them.Reads: 2053