IT had been a number of seasons since I’d last dropped a line into Lake Cooby.
With a combination of kayaks and a boat at our fishing party’s disposal, we could thoroughly examine more fishy locations than ever before. I decided to employ a variety of fish-enticing tactics from a range of live baits and artificial deceivers to cover a wide variety of options on Lake Cooby.
The fishing hasn’t changed even though the water level may have risen and fallen more times than a honeymooner’s bed sheet between my visits. No doubt the 125mm of rain received in May, 80mm in October and 70mm in November gave the capacity a significant boost. Sporadic afternoon storms since have kept drawdown to a minimum.
I had to go back through my fishing journal a full decade to find when I was last able to visit these fishy spots at such a high water level. As customary with Cooby, the water was gin clear, forcing the fish into deeper retreats or to find shelter under a mass of weedy shoals.
Using kayaks saves time and physical effort compared to fishing from a tinnie. Paddling is a great way to keep fit and I can still pack all the hardware required to catch fish. Kayaking may limit the total amount of gear carried but if you fish Cooby regularly, a small box containing half a dozen lures and a gauze bag to hang over the side and keep shrimp and yabbies alive is ample.
A strong breeze greeted us and the advantage of launching a kayak in these conditions compared to pushing an aluminium shed wall off a trailer speaks for itself. Exploring the main creek beds adjacent to points and coves around the lee shoreline was the first port of call.
My casts in the first hour to these comfort zones were habitual practices that I should have skipped. These covered areas are good for the angler’s comfort but they are not necessarily going to hold fish during warm water cycles. Fish, like humans, use as little effort possible to get what they want, and in this case fish want an easy meal without exerting too much energy. So with an easterly wind blowing, the western banks that provide access to deepwater drop-off zones were likely to provide better results at the expense of comfort.
Natural baits roam the shallow flats, where they can become dislodged and disorientated by wave action, freefalling into the depths where lazy mouths are waiting. I moved off and searched these lumpy zones, landing quality yellowbelly within minutes of arrival. Holding over the drop-off proved to be a critical factor and this is where an anchored boat bests an un-tethered kayak.
It took a number of attempts to maintain my position after the first bite. Once secured though, the hard bottom pattern visible on the sounder gave me a positive feeling that the session was going to be an active one – just like a decade ago. It failed to disappoint as yellowbelly and Murray cod that patrolled the ledge running underneath the kayak came in one after the other.
Live shrimp collected from traps while waiting for the rest of the team to arrive proved the winning bait over frozen saltwater yabbies and worms that I brought along. A small, light sinker tied above a leader with a 1/0 or 2/0 long shank hook proved an irresistible rig. The worms also proved fruitful on eel-tailed catfish, which tested any weakness of leader knots tied with early morning bleary eyes.