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Robbie Wells

With unstable weather patterns and less than favorable boating conditions often falling on the summer holidays, it's a great time to hunt down some skinny water and chase some Aussie icons.

Our summer wet season is fast approaching and unlike previous years we are experiencing our driest few months in recent times. With the last few years of excessive flooding in all of our creeks, rivers and of course dams, the systems have well and truly had a flush out. In the process this water has been carving new waterholes and creating new snag areas and log jams, not to mention replenishing our freshwater species like Mary River cod, Aussie bass and yellowbelly (golden perch).

Armed with Google Earth I target areas to the west from the Sunshine Coast to Maryborough, but skinny water is available nationwide and holds a wide range of species, depending on the location. I target feeder creeks with high banks and look for holes or long pools, with runs of skinny water either side. These runs might only be 50-100 metres long, but with the previous mentioned dry spell a lot of these areas are landlocked, or are only a few inches deep. So unless heavy rainfall occurs the fish have a very limited area to escape, condensing themselves in the deeper water. My favorite country is the tight windy stuff with high creek banks, normally indicating large volumes of water have travelled through the area, in turn gouging deep holes on every bend and creating large snag areas.

What blew my mind was the quality and the quantity of fish I encountered in such skinny water. Our current honey hole is no more than two metres wide in sections, pooling out into around five metres wide and around twenty metres long, with water just trickling over gravel beds each side of the hole.

A stealthy approach is paramount, as clear water, high banks and shadows hinder the angler's potential to catch fish. I always stay low and work the water ahead of me from a distance. I start by flicking my plastics in close against the edges, slowly working my way into the middle and then toward the opposite bank. Work an area every five metres or so and avoid casting down the creek as far as you can in no real pattern, as the skinny water spooks mega easy.

Hide behind trees and bushes, keep low, wear dark clothing and basically do anything you can to maintain a stealthy and hidden approach. My arsenal consists of two rods. On the first, a baitcasting barra combo, I normally run one of TT Lures Spinnerbaits or ZMan's ChatterBaitZ, both in gold and black, or purple and black. This combo is mainly used for the, so far elusive, Mary River cod. Elusive as I've had two run ins with old Mary so far and been dusted up both times, with the fish taking me into a thick timber log jam on both occasions.

Once it was all over in a Nano second and the other time in a mere five or six seconds. It's amazing the power of a 90-95cm Mary River cod; even 30lb braid and 40lb leader on a tight drag was no match. The second combo consists of a 2000 series reel and a light 1-3kg, 7' spin rod. This can be a real pain to hike through the bush with, but in steep and bushy areas they are a pleasure to use, casting light plastics around most objects with ease.

The stand out Jighead and soft plastic combo is without a doubt the TT HeadlockZ HD 1/8 - 1/4oz 1/0H jighead rigged with a ZMan 2.5' GrubZ in Watermelon Red. This is sometimes blinged out with one of the TT Jig Spinners; that extra flash is killer on yellowbelly. You could also use a TT Rev Head jighead, but I believe the Jig Spinner gives more action at a slower retrieve speed. I prefer the 1/8oz in the skinny, but when fishing the high banks the 1/4oz will stay in the deeper water, or the strike zone required, a lot easier. The Baby Bass colour in the ZMan 4" StreakZ Curly TailZ fished on surface with the TT ChinlockZ scored a couple of bass last trip, while the Motor Oil ZMan 2.5" GrubZ are holding their ground for second in the sub surface plastics. While the cod hooked were both on gold and black; one on a spinnerbait and the other on a ZMan Original ChatterBait 3/8oz.

In all, the couple of times we have done the mission to Jurassic Creek we have caught and released 12 football sized yellowbelly, 4 solid bass, a couple of silver perch and a small Mary River cod, not to mention the couple of hosing's from a larger specimen.

Plus, the bonus is the whole experience, or the journey and where it takes you. It may take ten missions before you find those one or two honey holes, but if you keep these in your memory banks, you will always have some secret spots or back up spots I call them. I don't fish them very often, but they're always reliable and there if the weather turns bad. With all fishing there's always the unknown and I wonder what's around that next bend. So next time it's blowing its head off, or less than favorable, go on a skinny water mission and you may be surprised what you find around the next bend...

Cheers on the water

Robbie Wells.

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