WELCOME to 2012 everyone. I hope the New Year has brought you all happiness and joy on the fishing front; by all reports, and if Sydney is anything to go by, you should have tired arms and screaming drags. The fishing has really fired up the East Coast.
Taking part in the great Aussie tradition of coastal holidays during the Christmas break, I went on a sabbatical to one of my favourite pieces of water on the South Coast of NSW, Lake Conjola. My mate Sean Cremin used to reside in this coastal hamlet, which encouraged me to visit and fish regularly, but his shift to the NT has meant I haven't fished the lake in well over two years.
Sean was back in town and I had the excuse I needed to head south and visit an old friend. If you have fished Lake Conjola, apart from commenting on how beautiful the lake is, you would be hard pressed not to mention the depressing Caulerpa Taxifolia epidemic that had engulfed the lake over the past decade. While the fish seemed to adapt well to the invasive weed, many fishermen hadn't. It was downright difficult to fish the lake without getting fouled on most casts. Therefore, suspending lures were prominently used to fish over the weeds. Also, the weed stopped spreading at depths over 22ft so finding these edges was important for those who liked to bounce plastics.
On this trip I was amazed to discover the weed has all but vanished in the lake. Strong wind and seas closed the mouth some time ago and torrential rains diluted the salinity levels of the lake to such a degree the weed began to die off. To put this into perspective, I would estimate 80 per cent of the lake floor was covered a few years ago. During this trip I didn't foul up my plastics once, such is the state of elimination.
The upshot of this for the locals is that nature has done what man couldn't. There have been many ideas over the years about how the DPI was going to eradicate the weed. Suggestions included dumping excess salt in the lake to "burn" off the weed, but in the process killing all the fish – obviously this idea was shelved. In the end natural causes did the job. However, and there always is a however, it only takes a single strain of weed to regenerate. It will be interesting to see in the coming years whether the weed comes back. Let's hope for fishing's sake it disappears for good.
So how did we go? As per usual, the fishing was sublime. We have a few secret spots that used to produce fish years ago and they still produced for us on this trip. One of the things I love about this lake is the shallow water fishery. We were pulling flathead to 65cms in inch deep water. In fact, they were boofing baitfish off the surface so hard it sounded like we were in barra country, I kid you not. We were casting towards the boofs and landing quality fish on 2" Gulp Shrimps – a technique we couldn't have employed when the weed was around. We nailed some thumper bream in the skinny stuff as well. I just love how hard fish pull in this terrain – it's very addictive.
So the weeds gone and the fishing's hot. If you're in the local area give it a go. The lake is back baby!
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