by Mason Paull
All my adult life I have pursed big fish. With my trout fishing I really only got serious when a mate showed me a monster from Lake Crescent. From then on it became an annual trip to Crescent, for 5 days at a time. We would fish hard for the days were there using bait and spin gear. My biggest fish from the Crescent was a neat 10lb.
Now with the closure of my hallowed lake, I was left with no big fish location. So I started fishing the Arthur and Pieman rivers hard during the white bait runs. I have put many hours in-mainly trolling in the early years, with moderate success. My best fish out of the Pieman was an 8lb resident brown trout and as for the Arthur, well everyone has seen the monster Peter Morse caught right under my nose. See the cover of TFBN Issue 70 Oct/Nov 2007. Now don't get me wrong, I was pumped for him but it's not the same as hooking one yourself, operating the landing net for someone on their first trip to the river just doesn't cut it I'm afraid.
Now with the introduction of the soft plastics, I have became addicted to them. If my wife ever sees my arsenal in one spot, Im a dead man.
With the rivers frustrating me I turned my attention to the Reece Power Station. I had been told that they held big fish, not heaps, but with the right technique, some good fish can be extracted from the fast water directly out of the turbines.
I stopped using anything but rubber and later adding the Gulp Range to my weapons of war. Such was my success rate, if I didn't land 20 or more at the Reece Power Station, I would come home slightly depressed.
When I fish plastics, including Berkley Gulps, I use them like natural bait. You must fish them slow and deep. You will get snagged, and if you're not, you're not in the zone-simple as that.
All the big fish I have caught have been on big plastics and big jig heads. I look for where the water eddies back towards the power station. Just flick the plastic into the eddy and let it sink to the bottom. Braid is a must, so you have the feel of the lure hopping across the bottom. I slow roll the lure across the bottom so far and slowly lift them to the top and then repeat. The big fish will be found in these back waters. They will not be in the fast water.
My hot lure was always an 80 mm Neon Squidgy on a 9 gram head. It sounds insane I know, using a huge head like that but trust me, it works. But, on one trip by myself, I kept getting these small rattles, nothing serious, but could not hook up. I decided to put on a pumpkinseed Berkley Turtleback Worm, first drop bang solid 6.5 lb trout, followed by another serious brown. Well, from this time on, I only use Turtleback Worms, and with great success. I think with the Gulp, just the look of the worm matches the eels and glaxia that are present at these hot spots.
As time went on the range of Gulps increased and one day with my good mate, Leroy from Bigfin Sportsfishing, I saw the camo Sand Eel in 6". I thought I might grab a pack and see how they perform.
Over the long weekend in November, the planets aligned and my pursuit of the mega brown trout came to fruition. I took my son Daniel, his best mate Jeremy Shaw and my good mate Stephen Mace. We had been fishing hard with not a lot of success. I had a huge follow from what I though was about 7 to 8 lb.
I had been using a small lure and thought maybe "big lure-big fish" might be more on the money. On went the seven gram jig head with the 6" sand eel. We fished on with moderate success, then Jeremy yells out for the net. I raced to his side to see a lovely brown trout of about 7 lb. With it safely in the net we took some digital shots and placed it back into the water.
Jeremy at this stage was giving us all a lesson, his lure of choice was the 3" Berkley Fry in watermelon. Normally a quiet lad, he was letting us all know he was in front. I was fishing the Sand Eel slow and deep and started to get results-all small fish though. But, like big fish they come out of the blue. After standing at the same spot for two hours, I twitched the Eel off the bottom and it came up rock solid. I thought I had a snag. Taking one hand off the rod and giving it two sharp tugs all hell broke loose. The fish powered off like a freight train.
What was to follow was my Personal Best trout. After seeing it lay in the net, people would have heard my screaming some kilometres away. The fish was a tad over 14 lb in the old measurement and for a split second I was going to take it home, by my son, who is a firm believer in releasing all big fish said "Dad, lets get some great pics and let it go". I just had to agree, this magnificent fish was too good to be caught once. With all the pictures taken, it was put back and it went on its way. To say I was elated is an understatement, and to see the fish swim away unharmed, well it doesn't get any better than that.
I use a 2 to 4kg rod, coupled with a 1000 to 2500 size reel. I have one reel loaded with 4 lb Fireline with the other loaded with 8 lb. I use 6 to 12 lb Berkley Vanish fluorocarbon leaders about two metres long. You don't need bulky heavy gear, you will land all the big fish you encounter on this tackle. I use TT tournament jig heads, they have quality hooks in their jigs and are seriously strong.
Fish for the future
Anyone that knows me, know I am all for release. I very rarely bring a trout home. With the introduction of soft plastics, fish have become so easy to catch that we should sit back and ask ourselves "how many are enough?'. By all means take a feed, but if you catch a monster like I did, think twice about killing it. Take a digital camera and record everything on this, your memories will be recorded forever and the blown up picture will be a great reminder of the great catch.
My son is an avid angler and even though he witnessed the catch, I want him and his mates to experience the exhilaration that I did landing this beautiful trout.