Fishing can be a tough caper, especially when there is nothing but a story to tell and no fish to back it up.
This is my story and I am sticking to it.
Last Tuesday I decided to spend some quality time wetting a line in the Goulburn River at what is now a favourite spot at the rear of a friend's home in Shepparton.
After lunch I gathered up my gear — a trusty Trelly Bandit Rod and a reel loaded with 5 kg mono line, a couple of cubes of Colby cheese and a lot of high hopes that this time I would land a decent fish.
After about an hour of listening to the birds and staring off into space, I watched in surprise as my rod began to curve; not twitch, as in a fish bite, but a steady bending of the tip. Then it all happened so fast: the bending increased in speed and the butt of the rod began to lift.
With catlike reflexes I grabbed the rod and applied some pressure. What followed next is the story legends are made of.
There was no epic battle, no verifying photograph, just two head shakes and my line became nothing more than dental floss. Whatever had grabbed my bait snapped the line and returned to its hole under a nearby snag, while I was left holding a rod with no hook, sinker or bait.
All I could say was what I had felt through the line and rod was something that was incredibly heavy and strong. And it gets heavier and stronger every time I tell the story.
Then I remembered that a couple of years back I had been battling a cod that had made a habit of taking me to the cleaners on a number of occasions and at that time I called it Moby Dick after the mythical whale featured in the novel by Herman Melville.
So it was with no surprise that I came to the conclusion that it could be this self-same fish back to tease and taunt me once again.
Logic would suggest I use heavier gear, double the rod capacity and the line strength.
But what is the fun in doing that? Stay tuned for a story update.
I had a visit from ardent Collingwood supporter and keen angler George the council worker and he showed me some images of a recent release by Vic Fish of 1000 cod fingerlings into Shepparton's Lake Victoria and several thousands more into the Goulburn River at two locations as part of the Vic Fish re-stocking program.
Such realeases will be good for fishers in the coming years; but at present, fishing around the region has been restricted by the smoke and fires that are ravaging the country.
Although, Mick from Stanhope is still bagging quality yellowbelly in the channels around his region and has not been slow in letting me know all about it. He gets the fish while all I get are stories of near misses.
Shepparton anglers Baz and Dave reported catching three nice cod while fishing in the Goulburn last weekend. Unfortunately none were keepers, but they had a lot of fun all the same.
Waranga Basin is still worth a try for redfin; and while most fish are in the smaller size range, an occasional bigger fish is being caught around the pumps at Harrimans Point and also near the old quarry.
Trolling a diving lure along the bottom is the best method but drifting a yabby or a bunch of worms is also worth a try.
Saltwater fishing is continuing to produce good bags of snapper, according to Rod Lawn and Peter Smallwood from Adamas Fishing Charters at Queenscliff.
Rod said fishing the reefs off Ocean Grove and the bluff at Barwon Heads continued to produce the goods. He said they were also picking up flathead and couta as well as other table fish.
Rod said they were starting to see signs of kingfish moving into the rip, following the schools of salmon.
He said when it was too rough to go outside the heads, fishing the grass beds around the mouth of Swan Bay for whiting was also getting good results.
Westernport is also fishing well with snapper along the rubble beds and whiting among the grass in the shallow water.
Reports of gummy shark were also coming in from anglers fishing the deep water off Cowes, and fresh fillets of salmon as well as calamari squid were getting the best results.
North of the border at Eden, John Liddell said things were only just starting to get back to normal following the bushfires.
He said there had not been any tourists into the region and Mark from Freedom Charters was having a quiet time.
At Narooma, further up the coast, Graham Cowley gave a similar report and said there was little to no fishing. He said while his son Nicholas had no charters, he had wet a line in the lake and bagged some nice bream and flathead fishing around the oyster leases and piers.
According to James Luddington at Flinders Island, now that the winds have backed off he plans to get out among the islands off Lady Baron.
He said big flathead and gummy shark were the norm but he was also catching some salmon and an occasional kingfish.
Lastly, when you head off into the bush to go fishing, stay safe and make sure you are aware of where the fires are and which roads are open.
Let someone know where you are going and what time you plan to return.