Nelmac- The unorthodox angler that makes it work

Nelson McIntosh the matriarch of Nelmac Construction and Piling
Gary Brown
A few months ago, I have to go and deliver a demolition course to a company in Yackandandah, Victoria. At first I thought where is Yackandandah, but after a bit of research on Goggle Maps I then realized that it was not far from places like Lake Hume, Lake Dartmouth and the Mitta Mitta River. All of which I had fished a number of years ago chase trout on fly and golden perch and Murray cod.

Upon a bit more research on Goggle I learnt a great deal about this small, but unique township with an approx population of 650 people and visitors to Yackandandah, Chiltern, Rutherglen, Beechworth and surrounds have long been popular destinations for holiday makers attracted to history, food and wine, festivals and events, shopping, unique historic streetscapes and some great fishing destinations.

One of those places is a small water hole called Allan’s Flat, which is situated approximately 9kms from Yackandandah Visitor Information Centre off the Wodonga Yackandandah Road. Turn right onto Allan’s Flat Road near the Strawberry Winery. This family lake has picnic area with tables and off-road parking. Fishing from banks and canoes. It is also a popular deep swimming lake in summer, Allan’s Flat Water Hole is managed as a Family Fishing Lake and stocked twice yearly with rainbow trout and annually with golden perch. The lake was created by gold dredging operations. For more information you can go to the Yackandandah visitor information centre or go to

While there I stayed there I bunked down at the Yackandandah Townshiphill Motel and ate at the Java@Yack and the famous Yackandandah Bakery. If you like the thought of going gold prospecting you could always drive along the Indigo Gold Trail that encourages visitors to explore many of Indigo Shire's fascinating historic sites and stories based on the discovery and pursuit of gold across Indigo Shire. In and around Beechworth, Chiltern, Rutherglen and Yackandandah, and the villages and countryside in between, evidence of gold mining remains - from the perfectly preserved streetscapes of the towns to modest miners' cottages, from mine shafts and mullock heaps to astonishing water races carved through solid rock; from Chinese Burning Towers and pioneer graves to historic government buildings, schools and museums all dating from those early, heady days of the gold rush of the mid 19th Century.

The Indigo Gold Trail ties these many fascinating elements together and offers visitors of all ages a new reason to embark on an entertaining and educational journey of gold discovery through the Shire's picturesque towns and countryside. Click here to take you through to the Indigo Gold Trail website.

Now back to the reason I was down in this part of the woods. I was there to help out a construction and piling company called Nelmac to get the qualifications for a NSW Work Cover demolition licence to demolish bridges and structures in NSW. The company was established in 1960 and was founded by the matriarch Nelson McIntosh some 50 years ago. For more information, click here

While going through the teaching I might have mentioned that I do a little bit of fishing and Nelson, more commonly known throughout Victoria and NSW as Nelmac told me that on a few of his properties he owned there were a few dams that had been stocked with Murray Cod and he invited me to have a go at trying to catch a couple after class had finished.

Not quite sure what the lure was, but it sure did work
Gary Brown

The first dam we went to was about the size of half a football field, about ten metres deep in the middle and weed beds around the shoreline. There was a small feeder creek coming in at the top of the dam with a small run-off on the opposite side. Nelmac ensured me that every time he had come to the dam they caught at least one Murray cod. After about 40 minutes of working lures around the edges of the dam I didn’t even get a hit from one of the 30 or so Murray cod that were supposed to be in this dam, so it was decided to go to the next dam.

Now this dam was about the size of a three bedroom house and it was nestled in the side of a mound. At least half of the dam had what I would call reeds growing out of it, the water was about five metres deep in the middle and it was very shallow around the edges. There was plenty of floating and suspended weed in the dam as well, meaning that every second cast you would come up tight to some weed.

It looked great, but alas after about 45 minutes of casting I came up short again. Still no cod, even though Nelmac ensured me again that the dam was full of Murray Cod. So it was decided that we would try again the next day, but arrive about two hours before dark.

The next afternoon Nelmac picked me up in his Ute and we headed off to this dam that supposed to have about twenty to thirty cod in it. Yea, I believe it when I see one was the thought going through head. Not that I doubted Nelmac at any time.

Once we got there I suggest that Nelmac show me how it was done. Now you would have to be there to believe what happened next. His first cast was an absolute shocker as it nearly went straight up in the air and about five metres out from the edge. Nelmac was complaining that it didn’t go anywhere near where he wanted it to go and it only took about three turns of the handle and the lure got smashed.

The borrowed tackle box
Gary Brown

I couldn’t believe my eyes and as I fumbled about getting my camera Nelmac had virtually sculled drag a beautifully coloured three to four kilo Murray Cod out of the weeds and up onto the bank. Not only did he prove me wrong by catching a cod on his first cast, he did it with a rod that had three guides missing, a reel that made noises when you turned the handle that on had two positions of drag. Locked and not locked. The reel was spooled with10 kilo braid that had been tied directly to the snap swivel and to top it off all Nelmac did was select the biggest lure he had in a completely un organize tackle box that he had borrowed off one of his sons.

Told you Gary, there are plenty of cod in the dam all you need is one of these green things and you will catch them. I went through my selection of lures and tried about a dozen different types, colours and sizes and still no cod, but I did get two hits. Well I think I did.

The second cod that was caught sure engulfed the lure
Gary Brown

Just to top it off Nelmac caught another cod about ten minutes later. Just to rub it in.

Even though Nelmac casting was a bit astray, his fishing gear needed a lot of loving care and repairs he still out fished me. But I tell you what I will never ever again doubt him when he tells me there is cod in that dam and as they always say you are never too old or young to learn something new about fishing.

Check the rod out. Three missing guides
Gary Brown

The Murray cod didn't know where it was after being skulled dragged out of the dam
Gary Brown