Upcoming & Past Weekends

Churchie Yr 3/4 Father & Son Fishing Weekend 09 #1

There were a record number of golden perch, commonly known as yellowbelly, caught at Hinze Dam last month. The Year 3 & 4 father & son group from Churchie had a ball catching 19 yellows in one session, with the smallest measuring 40cm. For some reason, the yellows obviously schooled up. The main catch took place opposite the Numinbah boat ramp in the far upper reaches of the western arm. I've been fishing Hinze for the past nine years now and I can't remember catching more than a few yellows in one session and quite often catching two yellowbelly is months apart. A normal day's fishing at Hinze usually yields a 95% catch rate of Australian bass. And considering there were lost yellows as well, with the landing net not being used quick enough, it certainly was incredible fishing.

Churchie is a school that prides itself on excellence, whether it's in the classroom or on the sporting field and the boys certainly excelled on the water with their time away with their dad. We also had a grandfather in the group as well, which always makes the weekend special. There is so much knowledge to be passed onto these young minds and it's invaluable to have granddads involved.

The group of 40 fished the far upper reaches of the western arm and on the Saturday alone, used around 1200 live shrimp. Using live shrimp ensured everyone caught plenty of fish, but one reason why we used so many was because of the banded grunter, which is causing more problems than ever. Banded grunter were introduced to the dam by accident several years ago and because they can breed in the dam, they are causing bait fisherman real headaches. It was only a few years ago that if you were fishing with shrimp, 15 shrimp would produce around 12 bass, not now, to catch 12 bass, you're looking at using 50-60 shrimp. If you consider the purchase of shrimp at most aquarium shops is between 80 cents - $1, it's becoming an expensive exercise. Using a SureCatch collapsible shrimp trap and exploring local creeks and reservoirs is the best option if you're going to head to Hinze and have a fish using live shrimp as bait. Alternatively, small freshwater yabbies may be an option, which are a lot tougher with their hard shell and the banded grunter don't have the same impact on them, but the catch rate may be affected as well. If the problem keeps escalating, I can see Hinze becoming a lure only fishery. The Gold Coast City Council has identified the problem on a fishing brochure and instructs that all banded grunter caught should be killed and not returned to the water. One of our favourite options is to leave the grunter in the bottom of the bottom of the boat to dry out and crisp up. The eagles regularly hover above and when the grunter is dried out and thrown onto the water, it floats, which gives the magnificent wedge tailed eagles the opportunity to cruise down to collect the fish and it makes for spectacular viewing for those close by. If you're not sure what a banded grunter looks like, it's a small fish, usually 10-15cm and it has three black vertical stripes on its body. The grunter start by pecking the legs of the shrimp, which kills it, and then they return pecking at the shrimp piece by piece. If you're fishing with shrimp, you really don't want bites, you want a bite, which you know is an Australian bass which strike hard and when your rod is curling in half, you know you're on.

Even though the grunter at times can cause frustration, I don't think the young kids mind too much. It ensures there is always something happening with plenty of bites and excitement for the fish just around the corner. The Churchie boys also caught some great Australian bass with the largest measuring 40cm. But for the first time, dinner on the Saturday night comprised mainly of yellowbelly. The boys helped peel some potatoes, but because of their age, they were much more excited about breadcrumbing all the fish fillets. It was certainly a team effort preparing the meal. After dinner the boys also enjoyed the campfires and the toasting of some marshmallows.

The following morning provided the opportunity to venture farther into the dam, which some did, but some were also content to remain in the far upper reaches where they enjoyed success the previous day. Again, there were some great yellowbelly caught on the second day, along with an excellent silver perch, which is a very rare catch at Hinze these days. However, to start the second day of the program, all the boys were put through a casting workshop and with boys being boys, there was a small competition held to see who had the most accurate cast. Humminbird & Minn Kota provided the prizes to the winner, which happened to be a three way tie, but the boys collected a Humminbird cap and fishing shirt. All the boys also received McDonald's vouchers for participating, so thank you to those sponsors. Shortly after the casting workshop, Angus Gorrie presented a soft plastics workshop to the group before they all hit the water. Having workshops throughout the weekend provided all the participants with that little bit of extra knowledge and catching fish using different methods also adds to the excitement level. There were bass and yellowbelly caught on the Sunday using spinner baits and the Jackal Chubby: Dredge.

Due to the fact that we couldn't fit all the boys who were interested into this weekend, there will be another one held this month, so it will be interesting to see how many banded grunter we do catch as the weather starts to cool, because the warmer months are when the grunter tend to be most active.

The boys loved getting their hands amongst the flour, eggs and breadcrumbs to prepare the fish fillets.

There were a record number of yellowbelly caught for one session on the water, 19 in total. Steven, Harry, Charlie and Granddad Burt all got amongst the action.

Taylor picked up this great silver perch which is quite a rare catch at Hinze.

Jeremy & William enjoyed catching these great sized yellowbelly using live shrimp as bait.

The first fish landed during the weekend was Josh's 40cm Australian bass. It was a great start to the father & son weekend.