Monday, March 7, 2011

Wilderness Exploration

From the comfort of my home I peered down from outer space at the molten dark green of the forested coastal range. The deep valley was clearly evident but zooming in just made a pixelated mess of what I hoped was a navigable creek. Google Earth has it's limits and there comes a time when you just have to gamble that there will be water when you get there.

I had crossed this creek higher up a few years early and it was nothing but rock. I was really hoping that the rain of the last few years had increased flows downstream in the section we were heading to. Thankfully after descending a ridge through thick scrub we found what we had hoped for.

Unsure as to what we may find we had allowed 3 days, this was not so much a fishing trip but rather an exploration adventure. Backpacks were loaded with all the usual toys that make such trips possible, notably our packrafts and of course bass gear.

The blur of green on Google earth where the creek should have been was the full canopy of water gums that covered the deep long upper pools. Every bank was a tangle of bass cover, it was difficult to pick an obvious target to cast at, it was ripe with potential.

As we worked our way downstream the canopy opened up and gave glimpses of the surrounding hills that protect this hidden gem of a creek. Pretty much the only way in was the way we had walked and the only way out was downstream a day or more to our 'out point'.

Despite the amount of cover and appearance of being bass heaven, the bass proved difficult. Hundreds of cast to snags that would normally be a guarantee went untouched, perhaps it was the cold water, lack of insect activity, bad casting….. As is often the case though, persistence paid off, the Storm Hopper Popper and Koolabung Cicada Fizzers proving a temptation to great.

These were fat wild fish of great tenacity. They fought hard, barrelling through the messes of fallen timber, pulling the little Alpackas in circles with deep dives and lunges.

This was an amazing place with some of the oldest and largest Water Gums, giant Yellow Stringy-barks and huge Forest Red-gums I have ever seen. A truly primordial landscape, it is a gift to travel through such places.

The steep nature of the banks and heavy riparian vegetation made camping almost impossible. We were lucky to find a small 'island' that was essentially a pile of debris that had accumulated to the edge of one pool. It made a wonderful camp for the evening, surrounded by towering rock faces, a sky full of stars and the sounds of the water, it made for a peaceful nights sleep.

The creek turned out to be a series of pools connected by shallow rocky rapids that had to be walked. This made for fairly slow going but we still managed to travel the length of the creek by late the second afternoon, albeit a little bruised and worn

2 days paddling on a wonderfully wild creek, we discovered that the real earth is better than the Google one. 

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