Catching natives on film

LAST week Fisho hit the road to do a few days of filming for our upcoming online TV series (stay tuned for more details on this exciting project). The venue was Lake Wyangala in central western NSW. This impoundment was formed below the confluence of the Abercrombie and Lachlan rivers, and lies east of Cowra. In past decades it was a thriving trout fishery and enjoyed a reputation for producing quality rainbows.

Although it has received trout stockings in recent years, Wyangala is better known these days as an excellent native fishery. Unfortunately, it has also been overtaken by carp which have found the lake’s rich weedbeds and steep shale banks to their liking.

Scott Thomas and I met Fisho publisher Jim Harnwell and his mate, native fishing expert Ken Smith, at Wyangala after a roundabout five hour drive from Sydney. After travelling through Goulburn and Crookwell, we made it to the Grabine Holiday & Recreation Park where we unloaded a mountain of camping and camera gear into Scott’s Scout 160 and motored off in search of our campsite further along the lake. After arriving the day before us, hopefully Jim and Ken had good some news on how Wyangala was fishing …


There’s nothing like camping right on the water’s edge for getting away from it all…

When we neared the campsite I spied a lone white 4WD parked at a strange angle near the lake’s edge. As we got closer we saw that Ken’s Hi-Lux was bogged to the axles in soft ground and he was attempting to dig it out in the fading light. After trying unsuccessfully to free the Hi-Lux from the mud, Ken walked up the hill – to where he could get phone reception – and made a call. His good mate Col Gordon later arrived after driving 2.5 hours to tow the 4WD out, which he did successfully next morning. What a mate!

As it turned out the native fishing had been nothing to write home about. Jim and Ken had caught a yellowbelly and an out of season cod which they’d quickly released unharmed. They’d also had fun trying to put a dent in the lake’s carp populations with fly rods. More on that later.

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The “talent” putting in the hard yards.


This silver perch fell for an Ecogear vibe. Image: Scott Thomas

The next day saw us targeting natives for the cameras. Jim and Ken were fishing from the flash new Fisho CXC 4.3 with Scott and I shadowing, ready to cover any action when it unfolded. We tried quite a variety of techniques including lure casting, trolling – during the day and under moonlight – and bobbing soft plastics and live baits amongst the timber. Typically as so often happens when cameras are involved, the fish were slow to respond but we did end up with some good mixed action footage for our videos, so stay tuned!

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Scott Thomas playing with one of his latest toys.

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Trolling under moonlight along a likely looking steep bank. Shame the fish didn’t know about it…

Just for something different we also decided to spend a couple of hours targeting carp on fly. While the thought of spending quality fishing time chasing these introduced pests mightn’t sit well with some anglers (Jim especially!) it can be a lot of fun – and you’re doing your bit to reduce carp numbers, so that’s definitely a plus. While this is in no way meant to make light of the damage introduced carp do in our waterways, the fact is they are here – hopefully not forever – so why not have some fun with them? That was our view anyway as we set off walking the Wyangala banks polaroiding for old Rubber Lips… If you’ve never tried it, catching carp on fly is a lot of fun. Most of the fish encountered are 2-3 kilos or more and pull hard. They’ll quickly find any weaknesses in your connections!

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Mirror carp on fly. Good fun, but don’t tell anyone…

You also get to hone your sight fishing skills while polaroiding for carp, which can be put to better use on more desirable sportfish species. To show how effective fly fishing for carp can be, a good mate of Ken’s has caught (and humanely despatched) around 3000 carp from Wyangala alone. Food for thought.

In the meantime, check out a few images from our trip and stay tuned for details of our new online TV show which we’ll be launching next year.


X marks the spot.

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Wyangala has no shortage of timber to cast lures at.

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Action – Jim Harnwell doing a piece to camera.


Moonlight camp.


Ol’ Rubber Lips. Image: Scott Thomas

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