ACT region spoilt for choice when it comes to pristine fishing spots

The capital region is spoilt for choice when it comes to pristine fishing spots.

Graham Fifield with an Australian bass.
Graham Fifield with an Australian bass. Photo: Supplied

For recreational anglers, the capital region is an amazing place to live. Within a two-hour drive we have more than 20 species of fish that we can catch on lures, flies and bait - and that's not counting the offshore possibilities.

Why am I telling a local audience how wonderful the capital region is? I've been living in Hanoi for the past three months and one of the great things about travelling is coming back and seeing your home town with fresh eyes.

Graham Fifield shows of a trout.
Graham Fifield shows of a trout. Photo: Supplied

Vietnam helped me to appreciate things I take for granted in Australia. In Hanoi, the angling options are largely restricted to the freshwater lakes across the city which act much like Canberra's ''pollution control ponds'', and the vast and imposing Red River which, as the name suggests, carries coloured silt down from the mountains. I missed the clear waters of home, and wanted to rediscover the many wonderful fisheries on our doorstep as quickly as possible. So last week I set out with my fishing buddy (and fellow Flick and Fly Journal blogger) Lee Georgeson, to see what we could catch in just three days.

The adventure started solo on Lake Burley Griffin. I launched the kayak at dawn and peppered lures into the nooks and darkest underwater caves in search of the mighty Murray cod, or possibly a golden perch. Unfortunately the big storms we had a few weeks ago have left the water discoloured and the visibility poor. Not even the hordes of introduced English perch could find the lures. So it was on to plan B, which was to fish a bait of sweet corn in the shallow sections of the lake favoured by European carp.

It wasn't long before one was tempted and within 60 minutes I had two more, the largest measuring 61 centimetres and weighing about 4 kilograms.

Lee and I then drove down the highway to one of the many trout streams in the Monaro region south of Canberra. As the sun set on a gorgeous tussock-lined river, I cast my lure upstream. A bow-wave erupted near my feet and a large fish took off up the river to investigate. Moments later my little lure connected with nearly 50 centimetres of brightly-coloured brown trout. Wow.


We crossed the mountain range the next morning and descended towards the coast in search of the mysterious Australian bass.

After two hours of wading up a coastal river we were ecstatic to hook three and land two of these beautiful fish.

As expected, they sat tightly in the cover of fallen trees but accurate casts with a bass-coloured lipless crankbait was enough to tempt them to leave home.

We continued to the South Coast beaches. The tide and the sun were dropping but there were nice gutters to focus our casts.

We were targeting predatory salmon on lures. On the final day we launched a small tinnie and fished Wallaga lake. Typical of all South Coast estuaries, Wallaga can produce enough varieties of fish to fill an aquarium. Over the course of a few hours, we caught a dozen flathead, three small tailor, two baby snapper, a leatherjacket and a garfish on an array of soft plastic and hard-bodied lures.

So in just three days, we were able to catch eight different fish from five unique fishing environments. Some of the fishing was world-class and nearly all of it was in a spectacular landscape. Importantly, there were fish that were ''easy'' to catch and others that were much more challenging.

So whether you just got your first fishing rod for Christmas, or are looking for the next frontier in sports fishing, there is something here for you.

■ Graham Fifield writes for Flick & Fly Journal