The Trip North – Kinchant – Paul Chew 2016

Over 12 months ago, some of the lads from far and wide that have met from fishing forums online did a two week jaunt to Lake Kinchant near Mackay. Unfortunately I missed out on that trip, but this year was determined not to miss it, so mid October finally rolled around, and it was time to head up, after packing and repacking the car and boat 20 times.

I picked up Pete and off we headed around 6am,arriving at the dam around 2pm, with a pretty uneventful drive up. Pretty sure Pete was the happiest man at the campground, after putting up with 8 hours of me singing along to country music. A few of the boys were already there, with Nath setting up the main camp, and a couple of the jet setter lads flying in Saturday morning. The lake itself was low, and dropping fast, which was a bit disappointing for us, as one of the drawcards of the dam itself is being able to step out of bed and into the boat. As it was it was a bit of a walk,  with the last few metres in nearly knee deep mud. By the time this is published, I’m sure rain will have fallen and the lake will be near full again and the grass nice and green again.

So Pete and I quickly threw up the gazebo, lights and camp cots, and sat and had a quiet beer discussing tactics with the rest of the boys. Around 5 I pushed the poly in, fired up the Suzuki and took Pete for his maiden lap of the dam. We ended up nearly back at camp, found a few bony bream flicking the surface in the late afternoon glow, so began throwing a few lures around. I had had a few taps for no result, when in the near darkness I heard a squeak, and then the unmistakable sound of a reel giving line grudgingly. Flicking my headlamp on, a nice fish launched out of the water. After untangling it from an underwater weed tower, we eventually slid it into the net. At 104 it was a nice fish to break Petes Kinchant virginity. Couple photos and we headed back to camp for a shower and drink.

The next morning was pretty quiet, and we spent some time searching the lake for likely areas to fish in the afternoon once the water warmed up from the 22 degrees it was currently sitting at in some of the bays. By afternoon, Bracey and Azza had arrived by car, and Pete  and Deano had flown in. The whole crew was by now here, so fishing began in earnest.

We had strong Sou Easters each day, so Pete and I targeting shallow bays in the afternoon where the wind was blowing in. As always there was a bite period, albeit pretty short, so the aim was to be fishing as much as possible, not driving all over the dam looking for fish. We drifted into a bay, which had clean water at the entrance, but lots of warmer, really dirty water in the back. Turns out there were quite a few fish sitting in this dirty water line, and Pete cracked a couple of nice fish on a brightly coloured Zman 6” Swimmerz in Sexy Mullet, rigged weedless on an 8/0 TT Chinlockz. Again, I showed unparalleled skills with the net, scooping them up without a hitch, snapping a pic and sending them on their way. If only my fishing skills were that good. Back at camp, I was copping plenty about having “straight rod syndrome”, but that’s half the fun of going away with a group of lads like this. We went back in the morning, even though it was cold, and had a look at the bay, and were surprised to find that, with the wind easing, and water clearer, we had only been fishing in around 400 mm of water, the fish happily laying there, while it was dirty.

That afternoon, my luck finally changed, as we drifted into a bay, the Minn Kota just ticking over to slow our progress as the Sou Easter eased slowly on dusk, I tossed out a paddle tail, landing with a splat on the water, and had only just turned the handle of the Freams and the rod buckled and a nice Kinchant fish cartwheeled across the water. Again, finding some underwater weed clump, the reel felt like it was falling apart as the braid sawed it way through, and eventually up popped my first fish of the trip. High fives all round, a few pics and back to it. The rest of the trip was pretty much like this, but I will elaborate on a few highlights, which may prove useful to anyone thinking about heading to the dam, or any other for that matter.

One arv, we had been getting a few hits, think Pete may have landed one fish, and I had the music up pretty loud, fishing away. Anyway, I had cast out and was retrieving, and Pete said something that I didn’t quite catch, so I stopped winding, and turned around to turned down the music, then was asking him what he had said, when the rod was almost wrenched out of my hand, as a barra picked up the Swimmerz off the bottom. I estimate it had been motionless for at least two seconds before it was scoffed, as we were only fishing a metre of water. Whether the tail was still moving a little with its buoyancy I don’t know, but it certainly pays to be prepared for the unexpected, as I nearly lost the rod and reel because I wasn’t, and I won’t get caught like that again.

The second one, we were slowing working around a point, and I noticed a couple blobs on the sounder, so I opened the bail arm and dropped the lure down. It hadn’t hit the bottom when line started peeling off, so I flicked the bail arm over and set the hook. I don’t use the sounder much in the dam, as I like fishing over the top of weed beds in a metre or so of water, but this proved to me it doesn’t hurt to keep your eye on it and drop a lure down if you suspect it might be a fish.

While I didn’t kayak this trip, a lot of fish were caught slow trolling Swimmerz rigged on TT Snakelockz along just under the surface just after dark and dawn. While we caught plenty of fish in some pretty trying conditions, one thing was evident, the slower you could retrieve the lure, the more bites you got. I got towelled up in the last session with Pete landing 7 and losing more, and I got one hit which I managed to lose. Same lures, same hooks, Pete was just winding slower, and I could not convince my brain to get my hand to wind that slow.

Something I want to talk about is the weeks experience, not the fishing, but the week as a whole. Generally Kinchant is a good fit, with bankside camping, stepping out of the boat into camp basically, the bar within easy walking distance if we didn’t have the urge to make something to eat, town not far away if we forgot something, and generally enough fish to keep everyone happy. The tide was low this trip meaning muddy feet, but it was still manageable.  You can have a fire, and a couple of the boys did a cracking couple of camp ovens, with everyone pulling their weight washing and cleaning up, it just makes it a stress free trip. The wind was a bit of an issue on the trip, and Pete and I found ourselves tying the gazebo to the car for the most part, which worked a treat, the car also providing a wind break. Some of the boys did massive hours on the water, some not so much, but everyone was happy. My favourite parts of the trip were the time spent around camp, with some knot tying lessons over a few beers, and just shooting the breeze in the camp chairs in the shade of the big tree with boys we maybe see once or twice a year, and I can’t wait to get at it again, wherever it might be. Location sometimes makes a trip memorable, but mateship always does, the fish are a bonus.

Bring on Summer, misty morning, surface walkers…BOOM..

Tight lines