Everyone has a secret fishing spot. The fish never stop biting there. The sun always sets on glassy waters while tailor feverishly compete for the evening hatch. The beer esky is always full and cold, and sleep is only broken by the smell of fresh butcher-cut bacon. John 'Bear' Willis has a secret spot. Many in fact. And this one didn't disappoint.


It's on the far south coast of New South Wales, east of the old splintery saw mill and north of the limestone lighthouse. These locations are not real locations. They've been disguised to protect the real location of 'the secret spot'. It had everything I was hoping for (and yes, these are real things). Oyster-fringed rivers and lakes, native savannah bush-land cascading from the Great Dividing Range. Indiana Jones would not be out of place here. His mode of transport. Two Bar Crusher boats. Our quest. A boat test for Trade-a-Boat Magazine and to catch a 40cm bream.


A secret worth keeping.


The old Land Rover bounced down the corrugated dirt road. My nostrils filled with chalky dust rising from the old vinyl dash.  I quietly contemplated how many times Bear had made this journey. I thought about his rickety old trailers and weathered hulls and it all made sense. I arrived just before sunset. Just in time to catch the lads, slinking off into the sunset with a hand full of Coronas and rods. We caught a couple of flatties and found our home for the next two nights. 


If heaven had a jetty.


Danny developed a twitch as the sun went down.


Three beers later Peter Cleeland from Bar Crusher arrived. His steed was a 490C to compliment our 490WR. Double barrels of Barcrusher goodness.  


The 490C breaks cover.


Team Young Gun in full mount.

Image: John Willis


Bear has several good qualities. One is he can test a boat. The other is he can cook. We were lucky enough to get breaky in bed. An omlette fit for the king of Spain. We hit the glassy waters as a couple of pelicans prepared for take-off. We found a nice drop-off near the river mouth. Bear and Pete in the 490C snagged a nice flathead before team Young Guns in the 490WR could even thread a plastic onto a jig head. It pays to make the old fellas look good. They buy the beer.


Bear with the first legal fish of the trip.


Danny admires the clean lines and open spaces in the 490WR.


The fishing was a little slow. Somebody questioned the credentials of 'the secret spot'. Nobody told Bear. We called a halt to the plastic assault and started pumping nippers. Three blisters and 20 nippers later we again straddled our Barcrushers into battle. The tide filled the shallow lake and team Young Guns found a nice little patch of structure to deploy our livies on.


Some people took nipper pumping more seriously than others...


“Tap, tap, tap”, and the braid was tight before the nipper had even touched the bottom. The line peeled off as Danny and I grinned at each other in a way that straight men are only allowed to while fishing. The next 60 minutes was a flurry of fast paced hooking, fighting, netting, re-baiting and dainty man-elbowing. We caught tailor, blackfish, trevally, flathead and some King-Kong black bream – all in the one session. We had smiles from light-house to sawmill.


This old  bream couldn't resist crunching down on a nipper!
Beautiful colours. On the flatty and the Raymarine.
It doesn't matter if it's as big as a marlin or as small as a bream, when you work hard for a bite it’s always rich rewards. That’s what I love about fishing.

Secret spot ... I'll never tell.



Is there a fish you want me to attempt to catch? A location I should fish? A photographic challenge? You tell me. Either email or leave a comment below.


Until next week.


Jack Murphy


© JackMurphy Fishing and Photography



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