Fishing the Blackwood River

Fishing the Blackwood River

A Tour of Some Bridges in the South-West

Fish for bream in the lower reaches of the river (Warner Glen, Alexandra Bridge) and then try for trout upriver (Darradup, Jalbarragup, Nannup, Wrights Bridge).

The wild storms predicted for the south-west corner of Australia for the first weekend in November 2019 didn’t eventuate. Sure, it rained heavily on Friday night but nothing a well-prepared camper couldn’t handle.

The Warner Glen campsite is actually at Chapman Pool, only a few metres upstream from where the Chapman Brook enters the Blackwood.

The Blackwood is the longest river in the South-West. Its source is near Kukerin more than 500 river kilometres from where it enters the Southern Ocean at Augusta. More about the Blackwood River.

We gave Chapman Pool a good try early on Saturday. Nothing. Not even a knock.

We moved a short distance to Warner Glen Bridge, cannily calculating that the bridge would serve as a shelter if it rained. A feature of the Blackwood is the steep banks and it was no different here. A bit of a scramble to get to the water’s edge.

Cast near the pylons. Cast  near the snags, logs and other hiding places. Not a bite.

We moved downriver to Alexandra Bridge 25 kilometres from the mouth at Augusta. Ah, success! Any amount of undersize bream. But where are the adults? Our theory is that the water is still too fresh for large numbers of bream.

The lower reaches of the Blackwood are tidal. In effect it is a long, narrow estuary. The effects of the moon reach all the way to Schroeders Weir, 52 kilometres from the mouth of the river at Augusta.

Time out for a coffee at Karridale Store, a trip into Hamelin Bay to see the rays, re-stock at Karridale Tavern and a visit to Hamelin Bay Wines for a tasting.

We are ready for another session at Alexandra Bridge. We cast close to the snag-lined bank from the platform below the bridge. We cast to the bridge pylons. We cast into the open river. Bored with not catching fish we moved back to Warner Glen – this time we fish (cast out hopefully) about 100 metres upstream from the bridge. Nothing.

Disappointed with our fishing forays we collected firewood outside the National Park and went back to our campsite to relax, prepare dinner and sit around a comforting campfire. We are hypothesising that this part of the Blackwood River is not heavily populated with black bream.

It was an early start on Sunday. We drove straight to Darradup in search of trout.

Onward to Jalbarragup. This spot should be perfect for trout as the waters of the river spill out of the pool over a narrow, pebbly race.

We gave it a good shot but not even a knock. On to Nannup for a coffee. We checked out the rocks at the Riverbend Caravan Park. Nothing. Our new hypothesis is that floods wash the fish away. There is nowhere for them to take refuge.

By this time our hypotheses on ‘fishing the Blackwood’ are fairly well developed.

The road from Nannup to Balingup is one of the great drives in Western Australia. Every sweeping bend offers a wonderful view of forests or farmland. The river on one side, tall lush slopes on the other. Popular with motorcycle and driving enthusiasts alike, the 41 kilometres between the two towns has 90 bends. Do yourself a favour and make the drive – but be aware of the high centre of gravity of your 4WD as you push into those bends.

We stopped at Wrights Bridge, 29 kilometres upriver from Nannup.

Wrights Bridge is an important crossing of the Blackwood River.

Although we had heard reports of trout being caught here the waters did not look promising and we chose not to wet the line.

The Blackwood Valley is always beautiful and worthy of a weekend away, fish or no fish.

© Kim Epton 2019
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