25
Mar

With the water levels elevated after some good rain, we hit a local freshwater creek for some jungle perch (Kuhlia rupestris) action!

Second cast at second spot in the main pool and I had a good hit, twitched the lure twice more hoping for a return and bang, I was on. It instantly took to the air and I had it called for a tarpon as it went bananas on the end of the line, then it decided to go deep and pulled some drag and I stated calling it for a small barra due to the strength and deep bodied look of the fish. All assumptions were incorrect and I had my PB jungle perch on the line! After a few tense moments, I got down off the mud cliff and the fish was lip gripped. Impressive fighter and good sized JP!

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Healthy jungle perch caught using a Zip Bait Rigge MD 56SS on 6lb leader

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New PB at 38cm ūüėÄ

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Local Cairns creek scenery.

We did the rounds of all the usual spots for a couple of dropped fish and a fair few missed hits. Most of the fish were not sitting on the same snags as last time the water was this high. Tony caught the only other fish for the short trip, a healthy little guy on the last cast.

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Healthy little JP on a shallow crank

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Don’t let the photo fool you, Tony was stoked with his JP lol!

28
Jan

Yesterday will go down as a trip to remember for all the wrong reasons.

After driving for quite some time we arrived at our fishing destination for the day. There are many freshwater creeks in the area, however this one has it all. Beautiful gin clear water that shone lime green as the sun pieced the dense tropical forest fringes. The terrain is ever changing from shallow fast current with overhanging trees, to more open deep rock lined waters with large back eddies, to small fast running bottle necks, intermixed with sand & boulders of all sizes. Perfect, apart from the overcast day and rain. Target for the day, sooty grunter Hephaestus fuliginosus, khaki bream Hepahestus tulliensis and jungle perch Kuhlia rupestris.

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After a few casts Mark was straight onto a small sooty grunter that fought well. A few more casts and Mark was on again, his little Rapala trout lure was working well in the fast current. We ventured downstream, Mark wading downstream in waist deep water and I cut through the more open parts of the freshwater canopy popping out where I could get a cast in. I stopped and looked as the sun started to shine on one of the most magnificent sights I’ve ever seen. Emerald green water and sublime surroundings, ‘I have to take a photo, this is amazing’, I muttered reaching for my camera. Turn on the GoPro and beep, beep, beep, it turns itself off. Try again, no response – flat battery. Not the best start to a catch and release session so far from home.

By now Mark was some distance away and outcasting me 10 to 1 and I hadn’t caught a thing. So I changed lures, took a deep breath and launched myself into the cool fast flowing stream. Wow, how un-coordinated am I? I stammered from rock to rock in my trusty japanese riding boots, all the while trying¬†desperately to keep my new reel out of the drink. Something didn’t feel right. No it wasn’t the reel, nor the fact Mark was using my beloved Daiwa Exist¬†Hyper Custom 2508 that was worrying me, it was my chosen footwear. Normally my thongs are the ultimate highly fashionable fishing attire but this was a bad move. Past the point of no return off I went downstream into the unknown.

After a few land based detours around water too shallow or deep we found the fish to be quite spread out and their usual super aware selves. We pulled a few more ok small sootys before they started getting larger. Now I don’t know how many times it’s been said, but reading about it doesn’t do justice, these fish fight hard. A small sooty can put some serious hurt on an angler, the same sized mangrove jack you can water ski in with the drag settings required to land larger sootys.

A sooty hit my lure and started taking line on a nearly locked drag, finally, unbelievable I though, however the moment was short lived as I lost him mid stream as he glanced off a rock and flicked the hook.

Another half and hour downstream and the creek got a little deeper, we both changed lures to something a little deeper diving and this proved a good choice with some solid little sootys. We managed to take a couple of photos and then set off again. Now we’d been wading through some pretty deep water, stopping to take check of the situation on a rive bank, I noticed my tackle box quarter full of water. Worse still for Mark and our trip, his phone was now completely drenched in his dry box and wasn’t working. This is the second time Marks so called dry box has failed. Luckily I invest in some pretty expensive solutions and my trusty sandwich baggy did the trick, staying dry (again)! Oh well, no camera, one phone, rain, onward we march. At least we were catching fish!

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Along a fairly¬†nondescript section of river bank we both caught a few more sootys. Some had the blubber lips, some did not (khaki bream + sooty grunter). So two clearly different species. Mark put a cast into some tiger country and snagged his lure, ‘should I get it?’ he asked, to which I gave my normal response, ‘of course’, I love quality entertainment. So Mark swims over and lets out this little ‘shiiiiit’ as the current fires him directly at the snag. How he didn’t hurt himself I’ll never know, but he managed to hold on somehow and start retrieving line working back towards the lure. As he got closer to the lure, unknown to me, his shorts started to slide and nearly came off. I was just wondering what was taking him so long, so he ended up with a treble hook half in his finger, almost lost his pants, but the lure was retrieved. Took a good hit on the shin after letting go of the snag and I almost regretted telling him to get the damn lure. But it was entertaining – yet again!

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At the end of this section was a narrowing s shaped bend. Wading through the fastest & deepest current we’d experienced so far I cast my Duo Slaver Shad 55 at into a nearby back eddy close to a logjam. I only had time to one or two very small sharp rips to wake the waiting fish up then I had to wrestle the lure back across the raging current. Rip, rip, wrestle the lure against the current about 1m and BANG! I was on, I pretty much waterskied this little fish in to find the cutest little jungle perch had smashed my lure so hard he’d effectively sown his mouth shut with both single hooks! I quickly released him and fired another cast at the same spot, almost in disbelief that a fish could swim against the current and take a lure, sure enough, I caught another and another before moving on. Just all small guys, but we had finally found the jungle perch. Skipping the next section after some fruitless casts into likely spots, Mark fired out a long cast that was nailed, he landed a decent little jungle perch after a solid fight through the rocky current.

As we crossed the river at this next bend the current was even faster, much faster. I opted to drift with it and Mark fired a cast downstream straight into the heavy part of the torrent. Bang, he was on, now how a fish could swim in this defied belief, but sootys do that – they defy belief! Another solid sooty to Mark! This is where it got interesting, I’m mid creek, current raging, trying to stay upright, not drop the reel in the water and keep my footing. Wearing thongs was pretty stupid, each time I lift my foot the current moved my foot about 40cm downstream no matter how small and how hard I tried to keep it there. It wasn’t looking good! Then it happened. Lifting my foot I lost balance and a thong. Mark got a hand on it but missed it and we watched it fire off downstream at a great rate of knots. ‘It’s ok’ Mark says, ‘we can get it in the calmer water downstream’, before he could even finish the sentence I’d lost the other thong and was on my side. Saved the reel though and floated around like a bloated animal stuck in floodwaters before I regained a footing and escaped the torrent! We never recovered the first thong.

Ok, no camera, no footwear, this isn’t looking good. To make matters worse, it was becoming too deep to wade and we had to bush bash. I trotted on for a while, really not getting far as it wasn’t that easy barefoot and I was freaking out a bit as to what I could encounter on the bottom of my feet. Mark says ‘here, use these my feet are like rocks’ and so I took his crocs. Oh the shame, but they actually worked really well (for this purpose only of course)! We set off and Mark suddenly fell. Weird I though! He’d stepped into this hole you couldn’t see that swallowed his entire lower leg just over his knee. My reel took some of the brunt of the fall and was now a less than mint Daiwa Exist Hyper Custom (oh no!), more importantly Mark somehow had dodged a serious injury and just had a bruised shin. Amazing! He could have so easily hurt his knee, ankle, or foot and we really would have been up shit creek!

After gathering ourselves we started trekking through some seriously dense and unforgiving terrain. Light was starting to fade fast and it was getting THICK. Firing a casts out almost simultaneously, I noticed LOTS of follows and from much bigger fish. I dropped a total beast, and another large model. Mark hooked and dropped a couple and it was almost last cast. Mark tied on a surface lure and we watched as jungle perch and sootys followed and took swipes at the lures. Mark hooked a horse of a jungle perch it was huge and easily the best sooty of the day, both shook the hooks at his feet. Bugger!

Anyway last cast was exactly that as we really needed to get out of dodge and fast, light had faded and we didn’t know which way out except to the left. We couldn’t go back, forward and with dark fast approaching we just made a bee-line hard left for the road. This is where it got a tad spooky, snakes, spiders, wet, one of us with no shoes, one phone (which later turned out to be down as Telstra lines had been cut north of Rockhampton), no torch and dense jungle to get through. No choice but to do it, we covered ground fast and came to what looked like a clearing, then it hit us, the clearing was just a MASSIVE patch of lantana and unpassable grass that there was no way we’d go near. Panic set in and we were starting to actually get scared, it was almost dark in there. I suggested we go around to the right and see if we can get past it. Sure enough and amazingly, we could. Turns out we had found an opening to the ONLY patch of cane field that had been cleared along the entire creek. How did we manage that we will never know. Crisis averted we walked for about 3 or 4 kilometers back to the car and headed home. Had we not have walked out near a cleared cane field, we would have to walk some cane. Mark used to live on a cane farm and was a snake keeper so we knew this was to be avoided at all costs, especially in that location, weather and just on nightfall!

Many things could have gone wrong here and we both learned a lot from this experience.

  1. Always take a headtorch
  2. Always take appropriate footwear
  3. If it needs to be waterproofed, make sure it is, double sure
  4. Take a charged camera or phone
  5. Don’t lend anyone beloved reels, even mates (I hope you’re reading this Mark :p No, all good, can’t wait to use your Stella!)
  6. Anything can happen, prepare for the worst (broken bones, snake bites, spiders, getting lost etc.)

A simple trek can soon turn south very fast. Welcome to the jungle!