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  1. #1

    1st Connect Camp group for this Spring traverses the Brissy River - Fernvale to Kholo

    Hi Guys,

    Well I am just back from my first trip down the Brissy River for this season with the Connect boys (see: http://www.su-connect.org.au/) and an epic trip it was as always.

    We put in at Fernvale Twin Bridges and paddled 42ks in 3 days to get out at Kholo and all of this with 10 year 6 and 7 boys from a Brissy Northside Primary School. What an effort and aren't my shoulders feeling it now!

    So to begin with I'd like to say a BIG thank-you to our newest sponsor, Ken who provided us with loads of free European Crawler Worms for Bait which worked a treat!!
    (see: http://www.gumtree.com.au/s-ad/mount...rms/1026893260)

    I rang Ken on 0423810009 to buy some and he said he had read some of my posts on Ausfish and offered to drop some off to me (as he lives on the southside of Brissy) on his way north one weekend.

    Wow, what a great guy and did they work or what.

    We didn't get much of a chance to use them due to being so flat strap paddling all the time (as our schedule is pretty full) but in the small windows available to wet a line we caught 2 bass (the same boy both times would you believe!!) around high 30's to early 40's (no time to measure them as too busy getting pics and untangling lines). As well as that we caught plenty of small grunter looking things and a bunch of small catfish which the boys enjoyed.

    The river was VERY LOW with lots of gravel patches you had to drag the canoes through and plenty of exposed rocks in the rapids all due to the river height or lack thereof.

    The weather was amazing and I had to pinch myself to be sure it was real with less than 5 knots nearly all 3 days and perfect sunny days around 27 degrees! On the other side of the coin the nights were 'cold as' with some of us freezing in our sleeping bags as we lay under the stars at night but all sorted once you get the thermals on.

    As usual the boys were really impacted by our amazing environment with fog wafting up the river early each day, eagles, fish, various other cool looking birds and good old Moo Cows greeting us all the way down. In fact at one point several cows decided to do the bolt across the river just as some boys were approaching in their Canoe's! Dumb cows. They had decided to go it across a shallow part of the river (though still half their height) and spotted the boys coming down a slight rapid but still went for it nearly taking them down in the process.

    Each night around the camp fire we talked about the things they enjoyed and rapids, mates, splashing and fishing were all up there. Major challenges included paddling, capsizes (of which there were plenty including the School Chaplain twice), and mates not chipping in. All good learning I reckon!

    By the time we got to Kholo Bridge we were all flogged and you think it was over apart from the camp debrief but just as that was finishing a random guy hooked up to something big which he seemed to fight for yonks. An eel, a giant catfish....no it ended up being a good old Lung fish which he promptly threw back.

    Another big thanks to Ken and good old macca's who sponsor the boys each time for an 'all they can eat' feast for lunch on the last day if we reckon they did a good job of sticking to their group deal and treating each other well and that they did.

    Don't get me wrong. Some of these boys face Big Challenges back home and they come in all shapes and sizes (sadly I cannot divulge such) so Connect camps are not the cure all nor do they purport to be.

    But trips like these really are good for these young guys and help them to move from irresponsible kids to the 1st stages of manhood as they learn to overcome, take responsibility, feed and cook for themselves and generally push themselves to the limit and beat the odds!

    All good stuff I reckon!

    Till next installment,

    Mal

    Ps. Thanks to Nathan, Matt, Paul, Dale and Fitzy for all of your tips. Worms definitely work. We even caught one bass at midday near where the boys were splashing about like mad men. Fishing with 10 pound mono seemed to work fine also. No hits on the spinner bait in purple at 1/4 over the 3 days trolling, casting etc so will try another lure next time.

    Pps. Sorry about the lack of pics but I can't show pics of the boys without SU head office and parental permission etc

  2. #2

    Re: 1st Connect Camp group for this Spring traverses the Brissy River - Fernvale to K

    Sounds like you do an amazing job Mal. At least someone is teaching the kids to look after my back yard. The River is a very underutilized asset here in South East Queensland.
    Dale

    I fish because the little voices in my head tell me to

  3. #3

    Re: 1st Connect Camp group for this Spring traverses the Brissy River - Fernvale to K

    We do indeed use, enjoy and care for your back yard Dale and an amazing one it is at that.

    To start with the boys learned that even though it was only a couple of days before the Bass protection period was over they could not keep the fish which definitely stuck in their heads!

    They also learn how to Canoe, how to fish, how to cook, camp, start and observe fire safety, look after their mates by treating each other decently (a job that sadly many parents do not model well these days) and to be sure: LOOK AFTER THE ENVIRONMENT!!

    We run a points system throughout camp and for every time they drop rubbish they lose points (and then they pick it up and put it in their personal rubbish bag!).

    We also pick up after the not so well trained/respectful folks who leave their rubbish alongside the river but thankfully this is nowhere near as bad as what we see when camping up at DI Point. The property owners only allow us to stay on their land if we leave it spotless and fair enough too I reckon!

    We throw back every fish we catch unharmed (if possible) and will only ever keep what we would definitely eat 'that night' which rarely ever happens (hopefully next trip maybe!?).

    And many of the kids we are taking would grow up otherwise without such so it is very satisfying seeing them grasp the importance of such things as we don't just tell them what to do, we educate them as to why which hopefully leaves them with something learned which they can take on board in life.

    Yes and so true re the river being underutilized! We rarely ever see anyone else on our journeys but I'd have to say that that is what makes it so special.

    Aren't we the lucky ones growing up in such a Country!

    Cheers,

    Mal

  4. #4

    Re: 1st Connect Camp group for this Spring traverses the Brissy River - Fernvale to K

    I possibly take for granted that I grew up fishing, hunting and camping with my father. There are a lot of kids who don't get that opportunity unless somebody like yourself gives it to them. Thank you. Having this river less than an hour from Brisbane and only 5 minutes from my front door, we really are spoilt.
    Dale

    I fish because the little voices in my head tell me to

  5. #5

    Re: 1st Connect Camp group for this Spring traverses the Brissy River - Fernvale to K

    Thanks Dale, but I am lucky enough to work for one of the really great not for profit Christian organisations in Queensland that has a mandate which is "Bringing Hope to a Young Generation" and they do just that in so many ways. See: http://www.suqld.org.au/

    "They approach organisations, companies and individuals to raise the money for such kids as the Government gives us none for early intervention with "at risk" kids just yet.

    SU Qld are also the number one employer of school chaplains in this State and the real credit should go to these amazing chappies who live on the smell of an oily rag, get Government funding (very little indeed and not always as some school don't apply for it) for approx 2 days per week and fund raise the rest if they do more days, stand through thick and thin with hurting kids and families across our State on a daily basis and then fund raise some more to get the money required for these 'at risk' boys to come on our camps.

    Like you I grew up with a Dad that taught me how to fish, care for myself and others and he believed in me and helped me to get ahead in life. There were many other great attributes that my Dad had some of which he managed to pass on to me (stinker that I was at times!). But many of the boys we take away have:

    1. No Dad (at home anyway)
    2. Dad's that are hardly ever home due to work commitments or other.
    3. A Dad that is not a good role model and
    4. Even sometimes Dad's that abuse such boys
    5. We do of course have some boys that have good Dad's that tick heaps of boxes but the boy rebels anyway (and that was me back in the day).

    All of these boys deserve help and thanks to School Chaplains (who initiate having the Connect Program most often in their schools) and SU Qld I am able to be a part of the process and I have to say that it is my privilege and a very satisfying one at that.

  6. #6

    Re: 1st Connect Camp group for this Spring traverses the Brissy River - Fernvale to K

    Update on our last 2 camps

    Again covering the same 42 ks we managed 8 bass on the 2nd trip and 6 on the third.

    On the 2nd 3 bass were caught on worms and the rest on hard bodies on the troll behind the last canoe

    On the 3rd trip we could not get a bass on worms and managed 8 hookups on the troll on hard bodies but only landed 6 of which the best went 41cm which really pulled well on 8lb braid.

    No shortage of catfish once the sun went down each night and they loved Ken's worms so again thanks to Ken and if you are chasing some fresh worms Ken's are very good indeed. We actually dropped a large fish one night on them and suspect it was a good bass.
    (see: http://www.gumtree.com.au/s-ad/mount...rms/1026893260)

    Only 2 bass became dinner and the rest went back as we had plenty of food and after paddling 16 ks on the second day of each camp I was just too stuffed to clean, fillet and do them justice so 2 were pan fried whole which was ok but I'm thinking I would just throw them all back next time if we all had enough food as they really deserve better table prep to get the best out of them.

    Again thanks for all the advice guys and I am now a bass man of sorts and definitely would swear by medium diving hard bodies for the mid Brissy River if you choose to troll. A footnote though is to be aware that 'you will' lose some as there are loads of snags and I sadly lost my Jackall Chubby deep diver and also my very productive Lucky Craft Pointer. Next time I will take a lure retriever which I forgot.

    Conditions were amazing for all trips with very little wind and saw 3 brown snakes crossing the river at different times so be aware if camping though we only saw them on the river.

    That's our river camps till next year,

    Mal

  7. #7

    Re: 1st Connect Camp group for this Spring traverses the Brissy River - Fernvale to K

    Sounds like your group had a lot of fun, myself and a mate done a shorter day trip from twin bridges to pine mountain went from dawn to dusk caught a lot of bass, one of the best trips I've had
    cheers Craig

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