Following a year’s absence from my local fishing hole Lake Wivenhoe, a day off work thanks to a public holiday prompted a day on the water in the boat, mainly to give the neglected vessel a run.
Great friend and regular hunting companion Michael Sunner accepted the invitation for an early start to run a few lures around to see if we could find a fish or two while burning the cobwebs out of the outboard.
Mick’s timing for his drive out from Brisbane was perfect and saw him rolling into the car park at 5.30am, just as I slid the boat off the trailer.
With gear stowed below deck, the Honda fired on the first crank and we idled out of the bay while selecting lures to try.
A pair of Predatek B65D Boomerangs was clipped to our respective lines, with Mick running the usually reliable purple, while I selected a black beetle for my outfit.
Now, not being on the lake since before the floods of February 2022 meant the water levels had changed greatly.
My hot spots of the pre-flood months were now under an additional 6-7m of water.
That significant increase in water level dictated that this outing was to be an exploration to establish where the fish had relocated.
We’d also updated depths on my charts of the lake-bed with the ‘quickdraw’ feature of my Garmin Striker Vivid 9SV sounder, which creates contour maps on the fly.
Beetling along at trolling speed, we made our way down the lake to an area that was very reliable about 20 years ago, when the lake was at a similar level.
Unfortunately, it appeared that the memories of the fish weren’t as long as mine and they had not moved back into that spot.
After an hour without a touch, I changed lure colours to run an Aussie Gold still in the Predatek B65D Boomerang, while we changed locations.
A pass along a nearby rocky bank produced a hook up on a well-fed golden perch on the Aussie Gold, but repeated runs yielded no further action.
We continued along the lake’s fringe, sitting in about 7m of water while ‘colouring in’ the chart on the Garmin.
Occasionally, to break the monotony, a rod tip would bend to a strike – usually from a school-sized bass – which was enough to keep us keen.
What was surprising was the scarcity of fork-tail catfish hitting our lures, as these things can be present in plague proportions during summer.
Boredom was never a risk because we are both avid observers of natural Australia, so birdwatching and lungfish-spotting whiled away the time pleasantly.
Crested grebes dived for fish from the depths in open water, while whistling kites and white bellied sea eagles snatched a feed from the surface.
Schools of snub-nosed garfish dimpled the mirror-smooth water among splashes of bony bream taking unfortunate insects.
As the hours ticked by with only an occasional smallish bass finding our lures, the mercury climbed to what could best be described as a withering heat.
Every surface in the boat was scalding to touch and the levels in our bottles of sunscreen dropped as we doused what little areas of skin were exposed to the savagery of the sun’s ultraviolet rays.
By about 2pm, our drink supply was exhausted, so we trundled back into the bay to winch the boat onto the trailer and take some respite in the shade.
A year away from the lake and radically different water levels will require re-familiarising ourselves with the lake, which will be enjoyable.
Let’s see what our next exploratory outing brings.