Boutique bass at Bakers Creek

Nestled into the head of a valley in the foothills of the Great Divide inland of Macksville, Bakers Creek Station could best be described as a ‘boutique’ bass fishery – but what a boutique.

If you’re tempted at the thought of a private fishery for bass to about 1.5kg in lily-fringed dams set in a stunningly landscaped valley, read on. And if you like the idea of luxurious accommodation within a short cast of the lakes, and fine dining in the classy restaurant with fish swimming only metres away, Bakers Creek Station is for you.

Two interconnected dams, totalling about seven hectares (18 acres) contain around 1000 bass, as well as some big silver perch. The bass are dark, fat, fit and aggressive. Nylex two-person lightweight poly canoes are available to get guests out on the water and while a small, stable dinghy would suit the less nimble, the canoes are fine for most people to explore these beautiful dams. Or you can venture out on foot and follow the trails around most of the lakes’ perimeters.

Sam Aboud and family took over Bakers Creek Station about 25 years ago and, after working it as a cattle property for many years, he had a vision of sharing this paradise valley with other people. He put in a 2ha dam 12 years ago, then two or three years later boosted it to a seven-hectare lake. After an initial stocking of silver perch, Sam began stocking with bass around seven years ago. A number of semi-detached villas were built, each featuring quality accommodation for couples or families, and the lakeside restaurant topped off the attraction.

Then Sam tagged a number of bass. Catching a fish with a blue tag will earn the angler all his or her accommodation for free. Catch a red-tagged fish and you’ll get one night’s accommodation paid for, and a white tag is worth a dinner for two in the restaurant. If ever there were an excuse to go fishing, this provides it!

NSWFM South West Rocks writer Phil Bennett and I sampled Sam’s hospitality while the area was in the grip of drought and still managed to catch fish despite the curse of all bass anglers, a low barometer accompanied by a southerly breeze. Sam kept apologising for the ‘ordinary’ fishing and for the depleted state of the dams, which were down about 1.5 metres from normal levels, but we still had a good time exploring and sussing out the fish in the magnificent surroundings.

My little Eagle sounder’s suction-cup transducer plumbed a maximum depth of around six metres in the bottom lake, where the original creek bed meandered around near the restaurant. The two lakes showed markedly different water clarity, with the larger bottom lake a little more turbid because of the cattle coming to drink in its headwaters. Come to think of it, we had only one strike in the bottom lake during the two fishing sessions while we were there, but Sam assured us that there were plenty of fish in it and they bit freely at certain times.

As the sun went down, we had an interesting surface bite going in the top lake, whose waters were stained dark but clear. Vegetation in the top lake is a little more lush, with quite a few species of water plants which don’t appear in the lower lake. Both bodies have plenty of lily pads to provide shade, ambush cover and aquatic life for the fish and some interesting casting. While there were few free rises, I had enough willing strikes on my soft surface lure to appreciate what a hot scene this could be on a warm, still Summer evening.

Unfortunately, Sam had diligently removed almost all the timber before constructing the earthworks for the dams, a move he now somewhat regrets in the light of the additional structure sunken snags would provide. But with all those lily pads and other vegetation to provide cover from predatory birds, it’s only a minor thing.

Restaurant delights

What wasn’t minor was the feed we had in the lakeside restaurant that night. While a chef normally provides for BCS guests in season, we were the only ones there during the pre-Christmas lull and Sam looked after us himself, plying us with good conversation, home-made sweet potato crisps, rack of lamb with Davidson native plum sauce, potatoes and crisp garden vegetables. So generous were the servings that we had no room for dessert, although the blackboard menu announced a whole heap of goodies to force down, including sticky date pudding with caramel wattle seed sauce.. The menu also announced that this was a top place to eat, with prime local meats and seafood accompanied by sauces with a distinctively bush-tucker flavours. Hmm, this is starting to sound like the Good Food Lover’s Guide to Bass Fishing.

But BCS isn’t just for high rollers – you can cook in your villa’s excellent kitchen or you can even pitch a tent and set up a campfire – it’s just a great place to have fun the way you’d like to.

Additional attractions include a games room with pool table and table tennis, a tennis court, a golf driving range, 15 acres of gardens with many trees and plants labelled, miles of walking trails and clear, soft water in the lakes for swimming and a pontoon to laze on. Baker’s Creek Station also offers horse riding on many kilometres of lowland and mountain trails. Then, of course, there’s always the original Pub with No Beer at Taylors Arm, a few kilometres down the road.

For more information phone 02 6564 2165, email --e-mail address hidden-- or visit [url=http://www.bcstation.com.au/] for more details.

captions

1

Phil Bennett with a popper-slamming Bakers Creek Station bass.

2

There are a number of lightweight poly canoes available for Bakers Creek Station guests.

3

The bottom lake, with its cluster of villas, games room and the lakeside restaurant.

4

Bakers Creek Station covers more than 350 hectares and sits at the head of a scenic valley inland of Macksville.

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