'Gympie, you're the greatest,' says top chef and angler
WHAT happens when one of the world's best chefs encounters one of the world's best and most picturesque fishing environments at Gympie region's Borumba Dam?
Zaiyu Hasegawa takes food and fishing seriously, but was seriously overjoyed when he caught his first Australian native fish. That happened yesterday, at Borumba Dam, when the internationally rated restaurant royal and globe trotting bass angler caught five of the elusive Australian native species.
Mr Hasegawa rated his day at Borumba one of the best experiences of his fishing life.
"It is my first experience of Australian bass,” he said, with the aid of interpreter Sachiko Forsyth.
"I've never caught an Australian native fish before,” he said.
His Tokyo restaurant, The Den, is rated not only one of the world's top 50 eateries, but comes in high on the list at Number 12. And, with a Japanese-style emphasis on fish, The Den is also rated the best in Japan.
So he knows his fish, in the water and on the plate.
He released all five of them.
Cook, Rei Mochizuki, who travelled with Mr Hasegawa to help with his involvement in the Curated Plate foodie event at the Sunshine Coast, almost upstaged her boss when she landed a good sized example of the smaller Australian species, showing it off with a grin at least as ear-to-ear as Mr Hasegawa's.
"There's fish under us,” said champion bass angler Braden Schuch, a regular visitor to Borumba Dam and Mr Hasegawa's fishing guide for the day.
"It's just a matter of whether they're feeding,” he said.
"We put in 100,000 fingerlings last year and another 100,000 this year,” said Lake Borumba Fish Stocking Association stalwart Don MacAulay.
"That was a mixture of bass, yellow belly (which is really golden perch, he said), silver perch and the endangered Mary River cod.
" I can't tell you how many are survivors. They tend to face a lot of challenges, including being eaten by bigger fish.
"There's a stack of fish here at the moment,” he said, consulting his fish finding sonar to show we were floating over one such "stack”. "Do we know any good cooks?” Mr Schuch said.
Mr Hasegawa, however, accepted a particularly local lunch - a steak sandwich prepared by fish stocking supporters at the dam.