Frequent bouts of lightning during recent storms in the Canberra-Monaro region highlight a danger of which some anglers may be unaware. Often, an angler fishing in an open area is the tallest object in the vicinity and thus a tempting target for a lightning strike. To make matters worse, most modern fishing rods are made of carbon fibre, which is an excellent conductor of electricity. Surf and fly rods in excess of three metres in length may add to the risk of a lightning strike but even shorter rods may act as a lightning rod.
It does happen, too. During recent storms in the Sydney area at least six people were struck by lightning and although no one was killed several were hospitalised. During recent storms, too, several fly anglers fishing in a Monaro stream reported tingling in their fingers and hair standing on end after a nearby lightning flash. That's too close for comfort.
Some years ago a colleague and I were fishing on the breakwater at Coffs Harbour when a fierce electrical storm developed right over our heads. It was so intense and so scary that we dragged our carbon fibre rods behind us on lengths of fishing line as we vacated the area.
We left safely but heard later that a chap and his son on a canoe fishing trip in the nearby Orara River had been struck by lightning and killed. A sad but salutory lesson.
The message for anglers consequently is a clear one. In addition to not sheltering under a tree during an electrical storm, a message which most anglers already understand, it would seem sensible to take additional precautions by ceasing fishing and stowing your rod away until a storm has passed. A short break from fishing that could just save your life.
Mammoth Googong cod
Keen cod chaser Sam Hancox cut a lonely figure at Googong this week as the only angler on the reservoir, fishing in pouring rain and a howling gale. He was well rewarded, however, landing one of the largest Murray cod ever recorded from the fishery, a 124cm specimen which took a Canberra-made spinnerbait. The fish came from a secret location at the southern end of the reservoir and took 15 minutes to subdue. It swam away quite happily after the mandatory photos were taken for the memory book and local brag sites.
Some big cod were recorded from other sites this week. A 98cm fish was caught on a Predatek deep diver in Burrendong, a 114cm fish came from Ginninderra on a Burrinjuck Special during a night fishing session and at Burrinjuck Jess Ralph and partner Warren landed fish measuring 109cm and 123cm, trolling at night.
Plenty of goldens
There were numerous reports of golden perch caught on lures, fly and bait in the local lakes. One angler landed five goldens on small spinnerbaits in Lake Burley Griffin and a junior angler fishing at Scrivener Dam landed three golden perch and a smallish Murray cod.
Other golden perch were taken on lure and fly at Yerrabi and some outsized goldens came from the rocky shoreline at Googong.
Plenty of marlin, mostly striped, are showing along the south coast. Anglers working wide of Bermagui are recording numerous strikes and hookups during the day and landing some nice fish by switch baiting. At The Banks one marlin was caught on a jig by an angler fishing for kingfish.
Kingfish are showing in numerous locations, including Montague Island, The Banks and off Durras. They are taking jigs, live and dead baits and small and medium-sized white flies.