Wednesday, April 21, 2010

South East Wilderness Trip

The bumpy dirt road to our launch site climbs and winds up and over spectacular forested peaks that allows glimpses all the way back to the coast. Gus and I shout at each other over the noise of the Landrover as she rattles along throwing a shroud of dust over Duncan following behind in his trusty rusty Japanese wreck. I had literally pushed a canoe down this remote stretch of river once before, I caught some good bass but it was the toughest trip I had ever done and I vowed to return when water levels gave me easier access. 5 years later...

We were to spend 3 days paddling and fishing the river, exiting some 25k's downstream. The mandatory car juggle sees us on the water as the last of the morning mist drifts gently upward and then suddenly disappears.

The top section of the river is essentially a series of grade 2/3 rapids, so nerves kick in as we face the first of the white water. Fear of losing expensive fishing rods is soon forgotten as adrenaline takes over.

The morning is quickly consumed shooting white water. With only small fast flowing pools, very little fishing is done; the pace of the water dictates rapid fire casts into cover with bettspins.

As we head further downstream, calm deep pools become more common. The towering hills, giant casuarinas and dark tannin stained water add to the grand scale of the landscape.

By mid afternoon we are in a steady rhythm of shooting rapids and leapfrogging each other along the edges of the pools throwing at every likely bass hold.

The fish are not playing at all, it could be the cold water or perhaps they headed downstream on the recent floods to take the opportunity to meet like minded bass, share some brackish water and some loving'.

The sun sets on the first day. The warmth and smell of a fire in the wilds under a billion stars is hard to beat, even dehydrated meals taste good out there, dark chocolate and nip of port taste better. Sleep comes easily.

As we head lower down we finally find fish, no monsters but they are thick set tenacious fish, a deep rich bronze colour that only really wild bass get.

The river begins to slow, less steep drops and more running riffles, paddling and fishing are easy and relaxed.

The fishing remains difficult; snags that really should yield fish are not giving them up. We try everything with only minimal success. We all love catching fish but it does not seem to matter as just being on a river like this is enough

Time looses relevance in these places, the flow of the river dictates the pace you go, the day passes slowely; there is a lot to see but little to do. Cast retrieve, drift, cast, paddle, cast, yawn, drift....

So another day passes, not so many fish but it ends with another star filled sky, humorous banter and comparison of dried menu items. There are blokes in the cemetery that would like our problems.

The final stretch to the out point is pretty uneventful, the fish continue to be shy, the river continues to be beautiful and we continue to chill and relax. By the time we reach the car our collective souls are cleansed, the worries of the world are gone and the next half dozen adventures are already being planned.

We only landed 4 bass in 3 days but what I learn from these 'fishing' trips is that fishing is not so important, it's the other stuff that it gives us that is.

Here is a bit of video footage of the whitewater sections of the trip which made for an intresting trip by itself.

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