New South Wales Fishing Monthly March 2020

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The Tweed 30 Ballina 32 Yamba 34 COFFS COAST Coffs Harbour South West Rocks MACQUARIE COAST

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From the Editor’s Desk... FROM FIRES TO FLOODS You know you live in Australia when you’re driving to a fishing trip through drought and bushfires, and then driving back through floods. There’s nothing abnormal about these two extremes, although it’s rarer for them to happen in consecutive months. Because this is a fishing magazine, you’re not going to get a political rant from me about it – I’ll leave that to the millions of bushfire experts on social media (who are all rapidly morphing into flood experts). You’ll just get an editorial about how the rains usually kick-start a period of solid breeding and recruitment that refreshes our fisheries in years to come. Of course, in a perfect

world we would have plenty of water to end the drought, but not enough to wash all of the stocked fish away from their homes. Still, beggars can’t be choosers and we’ll take what we can get. I think a lot of anglers were concerned about what would happen when some moderate rain washed ash into the rivers. Historically, fish don’t fare too well in

ash-filled catchments. Fortunately, it seems as though a lot of the areas got so much rain that the ash was washed well away. Wherever you are in the state, we hope that your fish benefit from the rain and that you reap the rewards for years to come. A REEL TEST It’s about time we got back into some serious tackle


testing at Fishing Monthly. We used to do plenty of it, but more recently boat testing has taken up most of our resources. However, we’re getting back into tackle testing, starting with a major test of threadline reels in this issue – ones that cost around $200 and are in the 2500 size. We decided that we needed a broader set of opinions than just the staff here at Fishing Monthly, so we recruited some of our Facebook fans to come and quantify their opinions for us. So a big thanks to our intrepid tackle testers, who you can read about inside. You can also watch the video review on the Fishing Monthly YouTube channel to see the reels being put through their paces.

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Toby Grundy with a healthy golden perch from Googong Dam.


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Golden Perch

The Googong gold bank CANBERRA

Toby Grundy

There haven’t been a lot of positives to come out of the drought, which is currently affecting much of Australia

started dropping quickly through 2019 and into this year: you can now walk certain banks at Googong that had been underwater for some time and target golden perch. I call these areas ‘gold banks’ because

also work particularly well on other dams like Windamere, Burrinjuck, Wyangala and Lake Burley Griffin. LOCATION, LOCATION When I first started walking the banks at Googong a few years back,

Pack a good pair of polarised sunglasses to spot the fish. (42% at the time of writing this article) and so a lot of the best structure is now in full view, due in part to the water level and also because the visibility is excellent and always has been.

which feature from the middle of the dam all the way up to the top. The rocks act as hideouts, ambush points and a place to warm up in the cooler months for the resident golden perch.

are the active fish that I like to target first. TACTICS One of the best parts about this form of fishing at Googong is that it is based on an angler’s ability to

Now is the time to visit Googong due to the low water level. including my hometown of Canberra. At one point the Murrumbidgee in the ACT almost stopped flowing entirely, and the water levels in the local lakes and ponds have dropped markedly. However, there has been one positive that became apparent after Googong Dam

of the large numbers of fish that congregate in these areas, and because of the lures required to land these shallow water footballs. Outlined below are the banks to look for, the types of lures to use and the techniques needed to fish these banks to ensure success. These techniques

the water level was high and therefore a lot of the bigger boulders and sunken logs several metres from shore were shrouded from view, as Googong is a deep dam. Even with polarised glasses, I struggled to recognise the types of snags that I fish today. However, Googong Dam is currently very low

GOLDEN FACTS Golden perch (Macquaria ambigua) are also commonly known as yellowbelly. Their colouration varies according to the water conditions, ranging from cream or yellow through to dark brown or dark olive green, with yellow pectoral fins. Juvenile fish are usually a more silver colour with greyish mottling and grey fins.    Golden perch can grow to over 70cm and 20kg, although most fish caught are less than 40cm and 4kg. Males reach reproductive age at two years and females at four years, although they generally don’t spawn in impoundments. Golden perch are a long living species, with a maximum recorded age of 26 years. Their main diet, depending on the waterway, consists of shrimp, yabbies, baitfish and insect larvae.

A good light spin outfit is essential. When walking the bank, I look for large underwater structure sitting at around a depth of 2m. Logs and even sunken brush along with significant weed beds are often places I cast at during a session. However, my favourite structure to cast at is the array of large sunken rocks,

Often the fish will sit in the crevices underneath the rocks or sometimes around the back of a big boulder, so you often won’t be able to see them, but rest assured the yellas are there. That said, I have seen fish sitting on top of the rock or within a metre or so of the rock in plain view. These

spot fish without the yellas spooking, and then working a lure so that it is presented as panicking prey. The yellowbelly sitting close by a snag or on top of it will be active but also skittish. For this reason, it pays to take a quick walk around the dam edge the day before a fishing mission and identify



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Googong Reservoir is situated on the lower reaches of the Queanbeyan River, around 30 minutes’ drive from Canberra. It is an electric-only impoundment, and a NSW fishing licence is required. It is open to fishing all year.    Species in the dam include golden perch (30cm minimum length, bag limit of 5), Murray cod (55-75cm slot limit, bag limit of 2, closed season from 1 Sep - 30 Nov), silver perch (25cm, 5), trout (25cm, 5), yabbies (no minimum size, bag limit of 200, females with eggs are protected), redfin (no minimum size or bag limit) and Macquarie perch (protected).    NSW DPI’s Fish Stocking Plan has allocated 20,000 golden perch fingerlings and 20,000 Murray cod fingerlings (subject to hatchery production and water quality) for 2019-2020.   Two rigged rods per person are permitted on the dam (if you are fishing streams flowing into or out of the dam, only one rod is permitted).    For more information on regulations, along with maps and activities in the area, go to and search for ‘Googong foreshores’.

Golden Perch likely banks with plenty of rock in the water, and then return the following day. The key to fishing these likely areas is to cast

Having a good pair or polarised sunglasses in this situation really can make the difference and because Googong is so clear, it’s

LURES AND TECHNIQUES I have found that smart lure choice and a few specific techniques will

It’s possible to sight cast right through the day. parallel to the sunken rock and stand as far away from the snag as possible. Also, you should ensure that your lure lands a few metres behind the rock. By standing parallel and casting a long

possible to spot fish sitting high in the water column near a snag from several metres away. I use the Spotters Grit with carbon lenses because I do a lot of my fishing at Googong in

result in big numbers of hits. I like to start with a small blade with assist hooks. The reason I do this is to limit the amount of snags I get from fishing around large rocks. The colours

You can get good results by targeting the submerged rocks. way, the fish is less likely to recognise any change above the water except for a light lure splashing down behind them.

the middle of the day, and these lenses cut down the glare. However, any sunnies will do provided they are polarised.

Open wide! This golden really inhaled that beetle spin.

I have found to be most effective are black. orange and yellow (golden perch are cannibalistic). Blades have a pronounced action and are very tough; which is good, as the technique I use to work the lure does mean it gets smashed around a lot. After casting the blade and allowing it to sink a few metres past a likely rock, I rip the lure up off the bottom by twitching the rod quickly and then begin winding. Sometimes the switch between the rip and wind will bring on a strike but more often than not, I get a strike once the lure hits the rock. I always aim the lure for a likely rock, and I try to retrieve the lure onto the top of the rock and bring it along the top using an erratic retrieve with plenty of quick winds and short pauses. The golden perch seem to see To page 10

MARCH 2020


Golden Perch From page 9

the lure as a small fish trying to bury itself into a rock crevice, or a shrimp fleeing to its home, and they attack it with abandon. If I am not getting any hits on the blade, I switch to a beetle spin (gold blade) matched to a Dragon Bellyfish soft plastic and fish it the same way. However, I do cast

the beetle spin differently. I usually cast the beetle spin with an ‘arc cast’ where I lob the lure as opposed to straight punching it, as I would with a blade. I do this to limit the beetle spin’s impact on the top of the water, so that if the goldens are particularly fussy they won’t notice the more subtle beetle spin landing on the water.

TACKLE Walking Googong’s gold banks can be gruelling so it is important to travel as light as possible. A good quality spin outfit, a handful of lures, two large bottles of water, a portable net, pliers and snake bite kit is about all any angler will need. The spin outfit is important to get right though, especially because

Beetle spins are effective when blades aren’t producing the goods.

Cloudy days are the best.

the goldens in Googong can grow to immense size with the largest caught from the dam touching the 71cm mark. I recommend using a 2-4kg spin rod matched to a 2500-size spin reel spooled with 8lb braid and a 2m length of 10lb fluorocarbon leader. I use 10lb leader because the sharp edges of the rock can slice light leaders. A reel with a smooth but powerful drag is essential as the yellas will dive immediately for the base of the rock. Remember that your combo has to be capable of putting some hurt on the fish, and quickly. CONCLUSION Googong Dam is a great place to walk the bank and

cast for golden perch. Due to the low water level and unbelievable clarity, it is

possible to sight cast at hungry yellas and watch them smash a blade as it bounces along the top of a rock. The Googong ‘gold banks’ are laden with sunken rock, and underneath and around these rocks are the yellow footballs waiting for a feed. The techniques outlined in this article have also been incredibly effective at places like Wyangala, so when you visit a dam with falling water levels and some scattered, sunken rock, grab a blade and retrieve it across a rock, and then hold on!

The author with a solid Googong golden.

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DPI’s ground-breaking approach to artificial reef design is providing reef structures that will not only last for decades but which are scientifically shown to be among the most productive habitats in our coastal waters. A series of reefs of varying designs have already been installed, with two off Sydney and others off Port Macquarie, Newcastle, Wollongong, Shoalhaven Heads and Merimbula Bay. More are being planned for the Tweed coast, the Batemans Bay region and off Jervis Bay. The reefs are designed to provide habitat for key recreational sportfish such as kingfish, snapper and mulloway, as well as abundant bait species. A key goal of DPI’s artificial reefs program is to increase recreational fishing opportunities for current and future fishing generations. Download the DPI FishSmart App or visit the NSW DPI website for GPS coordinates to our artificial reef network. These reefs are built using funds from the Recreational Fishing Trust.





Live baiting for longtail tuna March through to May along the mid-North Coast of NSW is a fantastic time of year to be fishing and one of the reasons for this is the annual run of longtail tuna. It’s easy to see why these torpedos are

slimy mackerel, yellowtail and garfish. If you have a boat, you will be able to get to many parts of the coastline that land-based anglers targeting these fish can’t get to. For this reason, it’s best to show some courtesy and stay

for this are the Black Magic Sabiki Rigs in midnight mackerel. They come with four hooks rather than six so they’re a bit more tanglefriendly, especially when you’re catching full strings of slimy mackerel. They also have the sinker already

Evan Hoskins landed this solid longtail. such a popular fish for anglers to target – they have incredible fighting qualities, grow well in excess of 30kg and make fantastic sashimi. On top of that, they are a coastal species of tuna rarely straying more than a

stuff has superior abrasion resistance and has built up my trust after never letting me down over a long period. For mainline, mono is far better suited to this style of fishing than braid and 8-10kg line is ideal. I use Black Magic IGFA 10kg line. On the business end of the rig, I use nothing but Black Magic DX Point Hooks. I can’t stress how good these hooks are when live baiting – they have the highest hook-up rate of any hook I’ve come across. Sometimes on your deeper bait when fishing with wind or current, you may want to run a size 0-1 ball sinker to keep your baits at their desired depth. I pin all my live baits just behind the shoulder and above the lateral line. The only exception to this is when using garfish, which will last and present better when rigged just behind the anal fin. Once you’re rigged

clear of ledges where LBG anglers are fishing. These fishos are very dedicated and will often trek great distances just to get to a spot, so it’s not really fair to drop your anchor in front of perhaps the only accessible place for them to fish when you have so many more options to choose from.

That’s a lot of sashimi!

The Black Magic DX Point Hooks rarely miss their mark. few kilometres offshore, meaning they can be targeted from the ocean rocks as well as in some estuary systems. WHERE TO FISH The prime areas to target longtail tuna are headlands or shallow, close-to-shore reefs that hold baitfish such as 12

MARCH 2020

TECHNIQUE While you can spin for longtail tuna with a variety of stickbaits and metals, the most effective and popular method is to use live bait. These can usually be caught in the same area you’re fishing by using a bit of bread as berley and a size 6-10 bait jig. The best jigs

attached so they are ready to go out of the packet. Once you’ve caught your live bait, send them out suspended under a torpedo float. The rig is very simple, with the torpedo float running along the leader until it hits the joining knot of your mainline. This knot acts as a float stopper and the leader length determines the depth your bait will sit at. It’s good to have a couple of baits in the water at a time and I like to run one around 1.5m and the other about 3m. While I used to think 60lb was your best bet for leader size on longtail, I’ve backed off considerably since going to Black Magic 40lb fluorocarbon. This

The closing seconds of a longtail battle. and ready, it’s important to anchor up in a position where your live baits are going to drift back over the area of reef where baitfish are holding. It’s no good if

you’re on the spot but your bait’s drift is taking the baits away from the strike zone, so spend the time to strategically work out your position. While you have a chance of catching tuna all day, by far the best time to fish is early morning and late afternoon, especially when you have a corresponding tide change. PREPARING If you do catch and want to keep a longtail for the table, it’s very important you look after the fish after capture. Like all tuna, longtail should be immediately bled and placed on ice. Black Magic also make some of the best knifes for preparing sashimi; their Japanese made Wasabi kitchen knives are the perfect tool for the job.

All the Black Magic gear you need for live baiting longtail.

the best by test...

Mikey Grecco, NEW Equalizer Twin Pin Pro™, 70kg Yellowfin Tuna, Spot X, QLD.

Ryan Potter, KS 7/0 hooks and 80lb Tough Trace, 19.8kg kingfish, mid north coast, NSW.

Brendan Hogg, KLT® 6/0 hook, 60lb Tough Trace, 30lb Rainbow Braid Elite, 75cm snapper, competition winner, Western Entrance, VIC.

Mikey Carter, 30lb Tough Fluorocarbon, flathead, mid north coast, NSW.

Daniel Buck, 2x C Point® 8/0 hooks and 40lb Tough Fluorocarbon, 60lb cobia, Port Stephens Estuary Charters, NSW.

Follow @blackmagictackle on Facebook and Instagram to see the latest catches and enter in our competitions.

Luke Giovanetti, 20lb Supple Trace, est. 20lb+ snapper, Coffs Harbour, NSW.

Check out our range and find a stockist at:

Fishing after the fires NSW STH COAST

Steve Starling

Drought and bushfires have plagued much of the country in recent times, but there are still plenty of viable fishing options, especially if you know where to look.

fish kills in places like the upper Macleay River of northern NSW, there have been hundreds or even thousands of smaller and more localised events. Some waterways have lost most if not all of their fish as a result. It’s all extremely disheartening, especially for keen anglers like us. It

A live well full of slimy mackerel could be the key to a great offshore session! What a tumultuous summer it was! Coming on top of one of the most protracted and widespread droughts in our history, the record-breaking bushfire season presented a whole new set of challenges for many parts of the country. Tragically, lives were lost and thousands of homes and other assets destroyed or badly damaged. It will take years for some communities to fully recover. Impacts on the nation’s natural environment have also been dire. Hundreds of millions (if not billions) of native animals have perished. Fish haven’t been spared, either. Following on from the massive, drought-driven fish kills of 2019 have come a whole

unscathed, or are recovering quickly from relatively minor impacts. The trick lies in keeping up with ongoing reports of major fish kills and obviously leaving those specific locations off your list of potential fishing destinations for at least the next few years, while also working to identify waterways that have dodged the worst of the recent impacts. As a rule of thumb, smaller creeks and streams in especially dry or burnt regions have tended to fare very badly, while larger systems and those away from the main fire grounds are likely to offer much better opportunities. Similarly, dams or impoundments now generally represent better chances of reasonable fishing than rivers, but only if they still hold a reasonable amount of water. Once our dams fall into single digit

A beautiful catch of snapper kept in immaculate condition after being brain-spiked and held in a saltwater-and-ice slurry. major dams — especially where flow rates have been maintained in order to produce hydro-electricity and supply water for

There are quite a few wild bass waters that have escaped the carnage of this past summer. irrigation — are also likely to have escaped the worst impacts of fire and drought, as are larger estuaries with

relatively deep entrances and plenty of tidal flush. And of course, our inshore and offshore ocean waters have remained comparatively untouched. It’s a hard time for our poor old country and the folks who call it home, but it’s not quite the ‘end of days’. There may even be glimmers of light at the end

of the tunnel. Meanwhile, communities and businesses that depend on anglers like you and me for a big part of their survival are desperate to lure us back. We can all do our bit to help the recovery by making the best of a bad situation and continuing to pursue the pastime we’re so passionate about. So keep fishing… and tight lines!

The news isn’t all bad. Like many other anglers, your columnist is tending to head offshore more often for his fishing fix as the country recovers from a dire summer. When the rewards look like this, it isn’t such a big sacrifice to make!

Many of our dams remain at low levels, but some are still fishing quite well. series of new catastrophes. Ash and fire-retardant chemicals washing into already depleted waterways following the fires have taken a huge toll on freshwater and estuarine fish stocks. In addition to well-publicised mass 14

MARCH 2020

would be easy to give up, pack your rods and reels away and turn to other pastimes. But thankfully, the news isn’t all bad. For every waterway decimated by drought and fire, there are a dozen others that have escaped largely

capacities, their resilience and ability to provide refuge for decent numbers of fish diminishes markedly. Look for those impoundments that have remained above 10-15% capacity through the worst of the summer. Tail-race fisheries below

A beautifully dark-hued little bass from a small creek that dodged a bullet this past summer.


Tournament fishing zone expanded! In 2020, the Go Fish tournament zone has been extended to include Murchison – that’s an additional 22.5km of waterways for you to find an $80,000 Murray cod! The boat cap will remain at 1000 so there’ll be plenty more space to play around in. GOULBURN WEIR Goulburn Weir is loaded with standing timber, which means cod! The main river channel snakes its way through to the weir wall, with shallow flats stretching out either side of the channel. The big fish reside in the riverbed and move out onto the flats to feed during low light periods. The best approach is to stay in the river channel and cast hardbodies past the drop-off and onto the shallows. Retrieve your lure over the edge and into the deeper water. KIRWANS BRIDGE This area is loaded with structure, and the old timber bridge is particularly productive. Golden perch school up around the pylons and can be caught by trolling alongside and underneath the bridge. Casting lures at the bridge is also a great way to catch the big cod that sit underneath it in the riverbed. There is also plenty of standing timber, with shallow edges, willows, deep sections, standing trees and reeds.

MAJORS CREEK Majors Creek has standing trees, backwaters, weed beds, reedy edges, large logs, overhanging trees and lily pads. Golden perch hang out close to the standing trees, reedy edges and the spindly ends of fallen trees. You can catch them on 1/2oz spinnerbaits, 50-70mm diving hardbodies and 60mm lipless crankbaits. LAKE NAGAMBIE Murray cod and golden perch can be found amongst the plentiful heavy timber and structure. XOS cod hide out in the deep sections of the riverbed, and feed from shallow to deep water as the baitfish move off the shallows. Large surface lures are successful at first light. It’s productive to fish in shallow areas that are close to the riverbed, with heavy timber and cover, and don’t be afraid to cast right to the bank. MURCHISON This is renowned for its big cod, and there’s plenty of heavy timber, overhanging structure and varying depths. It’s great for kayakers and bank fishing, with slack water pools that form off the side of the flow which hold great fish. There are also plenty of good sand banks for the kids to fish from.

Carp Biggest Overall 5th ............ $200.00 Carp Biggest Overall 4th ............ $400.00 Carp Biggest Overall 3rd ............ $600.00 Carp Biggest Overall 2nd ............ $800.00 Carp Biggest Overall 1st ............. $1,000.00 Golden Perch Biggest Overall 10th........... $250.00 Golden Perch Biggest Overall 9th ............ $500.00 Golden Perch Biggest Overall 8th ............ $ 750.00 Golden Perch Biggest Overall 7th ............ $1,000.00 Golden Perch Biggest Overall 6th ............ $1,500.00 Golden Perch Biggest Overall 5th ............ $2,000.00 Golden Perch Biggest Overall 4th ............ $2,500.00 Golden Perch Biggest Overall 3rd ............ $4,000.00 Golden Perch Biggest Overall 2nd ............ $6,000.00 Golden Perch Biggest Overall 1st ............. $10,000.00 Murray Cod Biggest Overall 10th........... $500.00 Murray Cod Biggest Overall 9th ............ $1,000.00 Murray Cod Biggest Overall 8th ............ $1,500.00 Murray Cod Biggest Overall 7th ............ $2,000.00 Murray Cod Biggest Overall 6th ............ $3,000.00 Murray Cod Biggest Overall 5th ............ $4,500.00 Murray Cod Biggest Overall 4th ............ $ 6,000.00 Murray Cod Biggest Overall 3rd ............ $8,000.00 Murray Cod Biggest Overall 2nd ............ $12,000.00 Murray Cod Biggest Overall 1st ............. $80,000.00 TOTAL CASH PRIZE POOL................................ $ 150,000.00

WHAT’S UP FOR GRABS? A total of $150,000 will be given away at GoFish Nagambie! There’s BIG cash for cod, cash for yellas and even cash for carp. There are also random prizes, daily prizes, lucky door prizes, kids’ prizes, women’s prizes and more.

Entries start at $50 for kids and are capped at $160 for adults. For more info and to book your spot before they reach capacity, head to

Pirtek Fishing Challenge

World’s biggest fishing comp enters 12th year!

Altogether, the prize pool is worth a massive $215,000. Another first for 2020 is the Lowrance Fishing Club competition. Ten lucky fishing clubs will win a Hook 2 Split Shot 7 inch sounder GPS units valued at $800. The registered club with the most members entered for the 2020 Pirtek Fishing Challenge in each state plus the Northern Territory will win this terrific prize. There are two units for NSW/ ACT, QLD and Victoria along with a unit for WA, SA, TAS and NT. All competitors need to do is enter their Fishing Club’s name at the time of registration. Remember, the idea is to grab the family or a couple of mates for the day, have a great time fishing and raise dollars for the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia and the Peter Duncan Neurosciences Research Unit at St Vincent’s Hospital. Hopefully you can also grab some big prizes for yourself! – Pirtek Fishing Team


Size Range: Up to 50cm, more common from 20-40cm. Tactics: Whiting love clear and shallow water where they grub around for yabbies, worms and other tasty tidbits. By targeting these areas with your baits or lures, you’ll encounter plenty of whiting, as well as other interesting by-catch. Rigs: A running sinker rig with a long leader, tiny long shank hook is enough to fool a whiting, even in shallow water. Light braided line around 4lb with a 2-4lb leader is an excellent balance for the anglers throwing lures at wily whiting. Bait: Worms and yabbies (nippers) are two baits that are rarely met with failure. Lures: Small hardbodies, plastics, and more recently, surface lures have all taken plenty of whiting in the last decade. Often, the bigger whiting will be the ones that take lures.


Challenge cap and brag mat. New in 2020 is that each Junior who enters receives a pack of Berkley Powerbait Nemesis lures. There are target species in each state of Australia, plus the Murray Darling Basin, ‘East Coast Freshwater’ and ‘Mountain Trout’. For the longest fish in each species, there are prizes for 1st, 2nd and 3rd, and 1st and 2nd in the Juniors. Plus a $4000 cash prize if your catch is closest to the ‘Mystery Length’ in your category.


(ALL SPECIES EXCLUDING CHINAMEN AND UNICORN) Size Range: Up to 3kg, common under 1kg Tactics: Often considered to be an unwanted by-catch when bait fishing in estuaries and offshore, leatherjackets respond well to a variety of baits and lures. Keeping your hooks and lures fairly small would be advantageous if targeting jackets, however they can damage hooks with their teeth. Rigs: A small running sinker or paternoster rig will suffice. Bait: Small flesh baits will be sufficient offshore, while standard run-of-the-mill baits of yabbies and worms will work in the estuaries. Lures: If using lures, small plastics with enough weight to get to the bottom should be all you need.


The world’s biggest fishing competition the Pirtek Fishing Challenge is now in its 12th year. It’s a one-day catch, photo and release event to be held on Sunday March 15, 2020. Keen anglers of all ages will compete right across Australia fishing their favourite locations. The Pirtek Fishing Challenge raises funds and awareness for the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia and the Peter Duncan Neuroscience Research Unit. The Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia is a broad based community organisation and the peak national body for prostate cancer in Australia. It is dedicated to reducing the impact of prostate cancer on Australian men, their partners and families, recognising the diversity of the Australian community. The Peter Duncan Neurosciences Research Unit has recently been lauded as the number one Neuroscience Research facility in Australia.

YOUR CHALLENGE The focus of the Unit is to study adult stem cells and their role in causing and exacerbating neurological diseases. The goal is to find and apply new neuroscience techniques for patients suffering from diseases such as multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s, and other neurological infections and stroke. Proceeds from the Pirtek Fishing Challenge will be split between these two leading medical research organisations. Registration is $25, plus postage. Everyone who registers receives a limited edition Pirtek Fishing


MARCH 2020

The list of target species is now available on www. pirtekfishingchallenge. Even if you don’t catch the biggest fish, (or any fish at all), just by entering you’re in the draw to win one of our ‘On The Water’ prizes – a Stacer 469 Outlaw tiller steer boat and trailer package, including an Evenrude E-Tec 75hp outboard engine (valued at $31,990), Snap-On Tools tool kits (two valued at $2600 and eight valued at $600), a Lowrance Hook 2 fish finder (valued at $2000), a Berkley fishing tackle pack (valued at $2000), or a $500 Valvoline product pack.

• Enter the challenge via the website and be sure to read the terms and conditions. • After you have registered, a limited edition Fishing Challenge cap and Fishing Challenge brag mat will be posted to you. • The list of target species is available via the website • On Saturday, 14 March 2020 (after 6:00pm) you will be sent via email a repeat list of the target species plus your angler number. You can also log on to the website to download this information. • Anglers will commence fishing at the official sunrise time in their State/Territory on Sunday, 15 March 2020 and cease fishing at the official sunset time in their State/Territory on Sunday, 15 March 2020. • No Lines in water prior to the official sunrise time (State/Territory of the competitor) on Sunday, 15 March 2020 and all lines out of the water at the official sunset time (State/Territory of the competitor) on Sunday, 15 March 2020. • When you catch your target species simply lay the live fish with the nose in line with the ‘0’ (zero) measurement on the Pirtek bragmat. • Photograph the fish so the entire length can be seen in the photograph along with your angler number. • Check out the Photographing Your Fish page for information on how to correctly photograph your catch. • Remember to write your angler number clearly in the white box provided on the brag mat. • Check your photograph to ensure the whole fish is in the photograph and the nose end of the fish is in line with the ‘0’ (zero) measurement and the overall length along with the angler number is clearly visible.

• I f you do not receive your brag mat before Sunday 15 March, you may measure and photograph your fish using last year’s brag mat, a fisheries measuring sticker, another competitors mat (with your Angler Number), or a generic brag mat. • I f you are not happy with the photograph, simply take another one. •Q uickly release the fish and try to catch a bigger one. •O nly a fish caught by the registered angler can be entered. •A ny photograph that shows a fish not alive or damaged will not be accepted. •A ny photograph which has undergone digital manipulation, i.e., photoshop, will be disqualified. • You can only upload one photograph per angler to the website. This needs to be your biggest fish. •F ollow the directions on the website to upload your photograph. • The upload needs to be complete by 7:00am AEDT, Monday, 16 March 2020. •A ny photographs uploaded after this time will not be accepted. • I f your photograph is damaged, blurry or the overall measurement of your fish is not clearly seen with your angler number the photograph will be disallowed. •C heck the website on Saturday, 21 March, 2020 to see if you’re a winner. The National Fishing Challenge committee’s decision will be final and no correspondence entered into.


Rigs: Running sinker rig and a paternoster rig are both good options with 20lb braided main line to 20lb leader. The same line weights can be used for lure fishing.

Rigs: 20-30lb should be your minimum line weights for both your mainline and leader. Lures: Murray cod will eat a variety of surface lures, hardbodies, lipless crankbaits and spinnerbaits. As with bait, lures should be big and annoying to achieve the best results.


Size Range: Up to 110cm, common to 40cm.

Baits: Live baits of herring, mullet work well for larger tailor, but dead baits of pilchard, garfish also work well, particularly on the beaches an headlands.

Tactics: Redfin are a schooling fish, so finding schools of fish before deploying bait or lures is preferred. Redfin are very aggressive and will respond to a variety of presentations in the lakes and rivers where they have been introduced.

Lures: Anything suitable for bass or trout will certainly fool redfin. Small hardbodies, soft plastics, surface lures and even flies will readily take perch.


Size Range: Up to 1.1m, commonly caught 30-65cm.

Lures: Most lures work well on flathead, the trick is to have it in their face. Lures such as soft plastics, vibes, lipless crankbaits and hardbodied lure all take flathead, and they’ve been known to chase down swimbaits and surface lures as well.

Size Range: Up to 60cm, common from 20-40cm.

Bait: Any small invertebrates, such as worms, crustaceans and insect larvae make great redfin bait. Yabbies and shrimps are definitely standouts when searching for bigger perch.


Bait: Flathead will eat anything they can fit in their mouth, whether it’s live, dead, big or small.


Rigs: A small running sinker rig fished vertically from a boat on 6-10lb is sufficient for redfin anywhere.

Lures: Tailor are predatory and will chase down most offerings at speed. Topwaters, metals, hardbodies, and soft plastics will work well, however tailor will make short work of plastics with their razor sharp teeth.

Rigs: A running sinker rig with 6lb braid with a 15lb leader is sufficient for bait fishing. The same goes for lure fishing, but try to attach your lures with a loop knot where possible to maximize the action of the lure.

MURRAY COD Tactics: Murray cod are a structure-loving and territorial species. Therefore, lures or baits fished or cast around big snag complexes repetitively usually get a response eventually. During periods of low light, they will often leave their lairs in search of food.


Tactics: Flathead are classic ambush predators that use camouflage to their advantage, often burying themselves in sand or mud when awaiting their prey. Drop offs, weed edges, hard rock and mud edges are all great spots for flathead. Flathead have a preference for tidal movement, either running in or running out, and don’t feed as much when the water is slack.

Lures: Lures like Australian-made hardbodied lures, spinnerbaits and lipless crankbaits all do damage on yellowbelly.

Size Range: Up to 1.8m, common from 40-80cm.

Lures: Small hardbodied divers, smaller than your little finger, cast around rocky shores and worked with a slow, steady retrieve are hard to beat. When fish go deeper, tiny soft plastics and blades with according jighead size is a sure-fire way to pin a bream. At times, they will also rise to small surface lures.

Rigs: Light braided line around 6-10lb with a fluorocarbon or monofilament leader from 12-20lb will suffice is fine for lure anglrs. Sometimes, tailor can bite through non-wire leaders. Running sinker rigs, paternoster rigs and ganged bait rigs all work for tailor, and some old school angler prefer the use of wire on their trace.

Bait: Baits of yabby, live shrimp, worms and even smelly dead baits are successful.


Size Range: Up to 1m, common from 30-50cm. Tactics: In dams and lakes trout can form huge school in deep water, and this is when they can be caught trolling lures. Trout are an opportunistic predator in streams, meaning they will investigate anything that comes into their domain. At other times, trout can sometimes be very fussy, particularly when there is a specific hatch of insects or baitfish in the area. Drifting baits, or casting small lures and flies is a good tactic in rivers. Bait: Baits of worms, crickets, grasshoppers, mudeyes and shrimps can all be successful at different times. Lures: Winged lures trolled off a downrigger are fantastic for when trout are schooling deep. Hardbodies, small bladed spinners and soft plastics are great for trout in shallow water.


Tactics: Lures and live baits are popular, and they also love to hunt down worms and grubs set on the bottom. Lures cast around fallen timber in rivers and standing timber in lakes are all successful, especially around first and last light, and the warmer periods of the year are generally preferred.


Size Range: Up to 75cm, commonly caught at 25-50cm.

Bait: Because they are omnivorous almost anything found or bought should catch bream, including white bread, which is an under-used favourite.

Tactics: Tailor can be found in rivers and estuaries, coastal lakes and bays, but are at their biggest best in the surf and off oceanic rocks. Beach anglers often target tailor in and around the surf gutters, and those fishing rocky headlands can often expect a few tailor too. Tailor are migratory, and seldom spend long in any one area. Tailor will take live and dead baits, even quite large ones, and will readily chase down lures moved quickly through the water column.

Bait: Baits as varied as scrubworms, corn, bread, dough, shrimp and grubs are all attractive to carp and the use of berley will increase your success rate dramatically.


Size Range: Up to 50cm, common from 25-35cm.

Rigs: Running sinker onto a #1 or 1/0 hook will work for the bait anglers. For the lure brigade, 2-6lb braided line connected to 6-10lb fluorocarbon or monofilament leader is ample.

Rigs: A medium running sinker rig, paternoster rig or float rig with 6-20lb braided line onto a 10-20lb leader. Anglers can obviously go lighter in clear water free of snags.

Lures: Carp will take lures, usually as by-catch. Fly anglers can target carp in shallow water by sight fishing with small nymphs.

BREAM (YELLOWFIN) Tactics: Bream are incredibly widespread and can be found in just about every saltwater river, creek and coastal lake in the state. Bream love structure – especially rock – and if you find rocks or other hard structure in the intertidal zone, you can be sure that bream hang around it at some time of the day. Bream will also aggregate around weed and flooded grass at times. Keep the gear light when bream fishing, as this will get you more bites. If you want to catch a bream on a lure, make sure that it’s small. They’ll eat nearly every bait you can find or buy, it just needs to be presented in a natural way.

Tactics: Smelly baits are very effective for carp. Carp will also get up into shallow water and mooch along the bottom looking for aquatic insects, and this is where fly anglers can have some fun, sometimes landing some huge specimens.


Size Range: Up to 1m, but more commonly encountered at 30-60cm.


Size Range: Up to 65cm, common from 30-40cm. Tactics: Bass in rivers love structure, but when they spawn in winter, they will school up in open water around the tidal reaches. Bass can be a little different in the dams. If there are bony bream or other schooling baitfish present, the bass will usually school up in deep water, chasing the smaller bony bream. If there is a lot of structure around the edges and the food source in predominately insects, small fish and shrimps, the bass will feed in shallow water. Fishing where the bass are with lures or bait that mimics what food source is available is the preferred approach. Rigs: Light braided line around 4-6lb with a fluorocarbon or monofilament leader around 8-14lb is preferred for lure fishing. The same applies for bait fishing, with unweighted, weighted and floated rigs working, depending on how deep and where the fish are holding. Bait: Grasshopper, cricket, worms, yabbies, and particularly live shrimp are successful. Lures: Bass take a variety of lures from surface lures, diving lures, lipless crankbaits, spinnerbaits, soft plastics, jigs and even flies. Match your lures to suit where and how the bass are feeding.





Pirtek Fishing Challenge

MARCH 2020


Preparation is the key to successful fishing SYDNEY

Paul O’Hagan

There has been a lot of excitement lately, with anglers chasing mahimahi on the FADs and taking some good-sized fish. When mahimahi are on the feed they will take a range of baits and lures in a variety of sizes, but if they

difference when you arrive at the FADs. Lately one of our FADs just off Dewy was invaded with black marlin and that seemed to have moved the mahimahi on to another location. While the marlin had control of the FAD it was a special time for some of our anglers in small trailer boats being able to fish for these

were some good hook-ups by pitching live baits at the fish on the surface. For those anglers who have not done this style of fishing before, there are a few factors that need to be looked at. For starters, everyone has to remember that when an angler is hooked up to a marlin, the fish can run a long way from the boat.

someone is on a marlin, please give them a very wide berth and allow them to fight the fish. Further out towards the shelf there have been some very large mahimahi and striped marlin taken while trolling a spread of lures. Closer to shore, Long Reef is still holding good numbers of kingfish and some nice snapper. However, one unwelcomed predator, the barracouta, has moved in along the reefs and is causing havoc with baits and lures, destroying any soft baits that are in the water. Along the rock ledges, kingfish, bonito and salmon are being taken with live baits and surface lures when the sea is favourable. Whale Beach headland is very productive for small rat kings and the odd good one. Inside the harbour it continues to fish like the top fishery that it is.

Bruce Paterson was happy with this nice kingfish. Recently a large quantity of rain pushed the lagoons into the sea, and with prawns and baitfish spilling into the sea it wasn’t long before there were large numbers of tailor and salmon patrolling the area looking for an easy

Narrabeen Lagoon is producing good numbers of flathead while trolling small shallow divers along the back of the lake in the deeper water. Casting soft plastics and surface lures in front of the caravan park has been

Todd Rathberger with an excellent mahimahi taken on a trip with Ocean Hunter Sports Fishing. are a bit hesitant, a live slimy is hard for them to resist. A lot of anglers will prep well before taking a trip out to the FADs, and time spent catching a livewell full of yellowtail and/or slimy mackerel can make all the

magnificent sportfish close to the shore. With marlin showing on the surface as well as on the sounder, slow trolling live slimy mackerel seemed to be the most effective way to get a strike, although there

To watch a boat screaming past at high speed to get to their destination and cut someone off from their fish – a fish that the angler put a lot of time and effort into to get that hook-up in the first place – is disgusting. When Josh Cordero with a feisty kingfish.

Cal Paterson with an enormous bonito caught while fishing with Stuart Reed from Sydney Harbour Fishing Tours.




Every Saturday 5.00pm on 18

MARCH 2020

Through the holidays there were countless young anglers fishing from the land and in their kayaks, hooking up to kingfish all day long through Middle Harbour and down towards North Harbour using light spin outfits and casting Sugapens and Slapstix soft plastics. Live bait has been in very large concentrations along Old Mans Hat and around the artificial reef just off South Head, and that has kept the large concentrations of fish inside the harbour and around the headlands.

meal. With conditions like this it wasn’t long before the reports of mulloway started to come in. For those who have been lucky enough to score one of these silver bars, a lot of preparation has been necessary. These anglers’ success has been put down to good preparation, with ready-made rigs in case the sharks have a go at the baits, and catching live bait at some other location and carrying them to the beach. The best time to fish is in the evening and into the night either side of the rising tide.

picking up good numbers of whiting and bream. In my last report I had questioned the location of were the prawns had been stocked that were supposed to be put into Narrabeen. I sent an email to the Fisheries Department, and they have confirmed that it was Narrabeen Lake that was stocked and not Dee Why Lagoon. Their explanation was that Dee Why just had an exceptional run of very good prawns and they did not make a mistake. As always, stay safe and enjoy the fishing!


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Bread and butter fish fill bags BOTANY BAY

Gary Brown

Bream, flathead, trevally and kingfish will still be on the move throughout the bay. When bait fishing

for them you will need to make sure that you have either fresh or live bait to keep your catch rates up, and don’t forget that when at anchor you will need to berley. When it comes to berleying I try to keep

it as simple as possible. That is why I mainly use chicken layer pellets. You can soak them in saltwater so that they expand, and then squeeze out the excess water and drop golf ballsized lumps into the water. It will break apart as it

Paul ‘Feathers’ Featherstone with his first ever bream caught on a lightly-weighted soft plastic while fishing the shallows at Towra.

ST A O C T S EA 0 2 0 2 S SERIE g

drops down through the water column. Alternatively you could just throw small handfuls out the back of the boat every few minutes or so. If you have a berley pot, you can fill it up with dry pellets and let the motion of the boat do its job. When I have had either pilchards or prawns left over, I will chop them up and store them in a Chinese container in the freezer until I get enough to use as berley. It’s just a matter of dropping them into your berley pot and letting them slowly thaw out. Places that would be worth a shot in the bay would be Trevally Alley, the southeast side of Bare Island on the run-out tide, Sutherland Point, the end of both runways on all tides, wide off Towra in about 4-5m of water and the entrance to Woolooware Bay on a run-out tide. Anchoring at all these spots works best for me. If you prefer to fish with lures for bream and flathead, you could try the flats at Towra, Woolooware Bay, and the stretch of water along from Dolls Point to Brighton in 2-3m of water. Casting 1/4oz blades and soft plastics on 1/4-1/6oz jigheads are a great way to start. Lately I have been trolling small Christmas tree lures around and

Luderick schools will soon start to build up along the rocks from Kurnell to Coalcliff in the south. The end of the breakwall at the entrance to the Cooks River is worth a shot for kingfish, bream and trevally, while just on the inside of the wall, luderick have started to school up. Further upstream in the Georges River at Lugarno, bream and flathead can be caught off the fishing platform on the northern side. You could also send a cast out wide for the odd mulloway or two.

Luderick have also started to show up in the Woronora River. Try the rock wall on the right-hand side just upstream on the entrance, the southern side of the entrance to Bonnet Bay, just downstream from the boat ramp off Washington Drive and at the base of the old Woronora River. In the Georges River you could try the Moons, Lugarno and Soily Point for luderick. The Georges River National Park is producing

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Bic has been at it again, with a couple of quality bream he caught while fishing soft plastics around structure in the Georges River. have been picking up tailor, bonito, salmon and kingfish. It’s a cheap and easy way to get a few fish while trolling. I have had a few reports come in that bream and the odd flathead and trevally have been caught from the fishing platform on the northern side of Tom Uglys bridge on a run-out tide and Bald Face Point on the run-in tide. Mullet and luderick have been berleyed up on the south side of the Captain Cook bridge.

Boating anglers have been anchoring up at the Moons for bream, flathead and the odd mulloway on both the run-in and run-out. The best baits have been live nippers, pilchards, squid, slimy mackerel and poddy mullet. Mullet schools have been seen at the entrance to Bonnet Bay, the old Woronora Bridge and up past the walk across bridge at Prince Edward Park. Fresh bread or pudding baits are working the best.

whiting, bream, mullet and dusky flathead from the shore on chicken breast, Hawkesbury River prawns, strips of mullet and half pilchards. I have had a couple of reports of estuary perch and small mulloway coming in from anglers fishing off the shore under or near the Milperra Bridge, the Deepwater Motor Boat club and Kelso Park. Don’t forget to keep sending in those photos to

Port Hacking delights SYDNEY SOUTH

Gary Brown

Many anglers that I have spoken to over the years have told me that they find the Port Hacking really hard to fish at times. It’s like any place that you fish; you need to put in the hard yards before it reveals some of its secrets, and this may not happen on your first, second or third visit to the river. I know that I have written this many times before, but if you are going to be a successful in the Port Hacking and you bait fish, you need to be prepared to go to the trouble to anchor up, berley, and if you are not catching any fish after about 30 minutes, move. You also need to have top quality bait, and it doesn’t have to be live or fresh. Many a time I have just taken out a kilo of frozen Hawkesbury

Matthew Lumb trolled up this kingy while using a poor man’s downrigger and a strip of squid inside the Port Hacking River. cast it out. This one can be held onto. After about five minutes, throw out a couple more handfuls of chicken pellets. Repeat this berleying process until you get a bite. Then slow the berley releases down to about every 10 minutes. If you don’t get a bite within 30 minutes, find another spot. It may sound simple, but that’s all there is to it. Don’t overcomplicate things and you

Juvenile snapper will also take baits intended for bread and butter species. River prawns and a small bucket of chicken layer pellets and caught myself a feed of bream and trevally. Pilchards are another great bait when it comes to fishing in the Port Hacking. They can be used whole, cut in half or filleted. To get the river to reveal some of its secrets, I would suggest to you pick a spot, and if not successful at your first attempt, go back and try it again and again until you work it out. As an example, let’s try fishing the drop-off on the northern side of the sand flats west of the Lilly Pilly baths. Position your sand anchor up on the flats so that the back of your boat is situated at the edge of the drop-off. To do this, you will need to be fishing the rising tide. Once there, start by throwing out a couple of dry handfuls of chicken pellets and then cast out a couple of rigs. I find a running sinker down onto the swivel with a long leader is a great all-round rig. I then usually place this rod in a holder while I wait. I’ll usually have another rod rigged with a small running sinker down onto the bait and

will master the art of fishing the Port Hacking River. When fishing the river, the other most important thing to have in your boat is a sounder. Once you have learnt how to read your sounder correctly, it will reveal so many hidden secrets. Once you have found a spot and worked it out a bit, I would suggest that you take a photo of the screen and store it away for next time. Other places that you could try from out of a boat are: the drop-off on the southern side of the flats that lead into South West Arm

(run-in), the start of the 4-knot area in South West Arm, the drop-off on the sand flats at Grays Point on a run-out tide (northern side), the northern side of the flats that lead into Gunnamatta Bay and the flats at Bonnie Vale (run-out or run-in). If you can only fish from the shore, I would try Gunnamatta Bay, Lilly Pilly and Gymea Baths, Willarong Point, Hungry Point and Salmon Haul Reserve. All of which can be fished on both the run-up and run-in tides. Whiting, bream and dart can still be caught while fishing from the beaches that stretch from South Cronulla to Boat Harbour. South Cronulla is best fished when there are no people in the water, as it’s a small beach and can get busy. The best baits by far are beach and tubeworms. Try fishing whole pilchards or sea garfish at dawn, dusk and into the night for tailor, salmon, rays and mulloway. You could also try catching a few yellowtail or slimy mackerel and use them whole at night for mulloway. Further south at Coalcliff Point you could try for drummer, bream, trevally, snapper, tailor, salmon and squid. Just make sure that you check out the wave conditions before you cast a line out, as this rock platform is fairly close to the water and the waves can pop up at any time. It’s a great place to fish a whole pilchard, squid or garfish under a bobby cork. Don’t forget to keep sending in those photos to

This month should see sand mullet of this size schooling up in the back of the bays in the Port Hacking. MARCH 2020



Estuary battlers out in force

few decent specimens caught current and forms eddies in around Cowan, Pittwater in the upper tidal reaches the form of bridge pylons, and Broken Bay of late. Dan between lower Portland floating pontoons and marker Small metal slices and Selby and Ebenezer on lures and poles will catch you bream. clear 50-75mm soft plastic live prawns. If you are after that minnows wound as fast as 51 ERA EREHT This time of year has to A lot of the big 40cm trophy fish, I would suggest humanly possible will get TUOonHthe GUplus ORbream HT INencounter EDDIare H Skeeping OGO L leader strength you a bite when the frigates be my favourite your Hawkesbury, and for by-catch when targeting around 6-8lb, and check and macs are being fussy. .YLHTNOM flathead GNIH SImulloway F FO S P nicks EHTand abrasion I like to troll live baits good reason. and onEG forAany With the onset of autumn lures and live baits from regularly from the rocks and for the bigger kingfish and WO LEbream B MR OF YR TNdown E EH NI LLIIt’s F these little bonito, but plenty of anglers the big blue nose Wisemans Ferry to Tbarnacles. usually make an appearance Broken Bay at this time of bits of attention to detail are doing well trolling a HC AE asFthey O Ryear. EBThe MU EGtoA Twill HThelp IW in the lower reaches bestN places tryP forEH that you land that spread of small skirts and feed up on O the plentiful these stud bream are close in trophy-sized fish when it bibbed minnows around the G DNA NOITACOL OGOL baitfish and molluscs found on the abundant natural rock finally bites. headlands. Live yellowtail in the intertidal zone. walls andAbroken reef Flathead have been is my pick of the baits, as !NIW O TW RD E Hlike T O TN I consistent over the summer you can secure a tank full months, with lure fishing in around an hour when The odd legal-sized snapper has been being the most productive they are cooperative. Nosegrabbing soft plastics intended for flathead approach. Whether it be hooked or bridled with a along the edges around Broken Bay. casting or trolling, you strong, small non-offset hook are covering water and and rubber band will have presenting your offering to them behaving seductively great proposition when the jigheads will cover the many new fish constantly. Sitting on the downrigger or flatline. tide is running, as you can scenarios the Hawkesbury has at anchor can bring some Mulloway are back on the keep an offering in their face. to offer. The key is to select the reasonable catches with fresh hit list and some respectable I find it more productive right plastic/jig combination bait and a steady berley trail. fish have fallen to live baits to drift and cast soft plastics for the area being fished. As a Alternatively, a slow drift and lures recently. The fish when the tide slows down, general rule, 1g of weight per with lightly-weighted baits are back in the estuary and covering large amounts of metre of water being fished can be dynamite, especially looking to put on some water to find active schools should give you a steady sink on those days where the condition before the chill of of feeding fish. Paddle-tail rate without plummeting to wind is against the tide and winter sets in. Live baits are shads and stickbaits from the bottom and snagging anchoring is near impossible. still easy to obtain and are a 75-150mm rigged on 3-14g up too much. As it gets later in the season I have found it pays to think outside the square a little, as on a recent flathead foray the fish were not on the drop-offs and creek mouths on the run-out tide. We had ZWONNIM ”3 NAMZ EHT ,SRUOLOC 05 NI ELBALIAVcast A soft plastics on a drift across EGRAL A HTIW ELIFORP HSIFTIAB ETAMITLU EHT SI a substantial drop-off Pushing up the tidal feeder creeks casting for only one keeper, and A OTplastic SLAElures PPA was TAHthe T LIkey AT EtoLDfinding DAP EaVISSERGGcontinued A soft along a nearby EHT HTfeed OB NofI Sflathead EICEPSonFOthis EGoccasion. NAR EVISNEHERPMOrock C wall, where a further ten keeper flathead were boated TLAS DNPoint A HSERinFjust a few hundred meters. Bream in general have Bar Point, .Pumpkin been noticeably absent and the mouth of Marramarra They ate the lures as they throughout summer though, Creek in Berowra. were hopped off the harder and this is rumoured to be Soft plastics are my substrate and onto the sand HCRAM FO DNE EHT TA NWARD SEIRTNE TCERROC 04 TSRIF EHT from the lack of oysters favourite for searching an at the base of the wall. Snags being farmed and grown area quickly, and 50-100mm were commonplace but a .SCITSALP TFOS ZBURG ”5.2 FO KCAP A NIW naturally due to consecutive minnows and grubs in necessary evil, as we had diseases killing off these natural colours fished on to get those lures onto the fragile bivalves Fnearly a O 2-7g where flathead O EN NIjigheads W Ohave T Wproved ARDbottom EZIR P RtheOJ AM EHT OTNI OG NEHT LLIW SEIRTNE LLA decade ago. It’s hard to put themselves over the years. were waiting in ambush. 202to,Lthe IRback PA h t0Kingfish, 3 NObonito, NWfrigate ARD EB OT SKCAP EZIRP EERHT it down to one factor though, Tight0casts and the past dry seasons we edge of isolated boulders mackerel and mac tuna have Summer has turned on some great kingfish captures and this should have experienced live :STCUDOhave RP Dseen NAaSDor NAanything RB FO Ethat GNAbreaks R SCITthe CATbeen ELKCAterrorising T EGUH EHbaitfish T MORF ESOOHcontinue C OT TEGthis SRmonth, ENNIWwith EZIR P baits ROJAthe M key to getting legal-sized fish. THE HAWKESBURY




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A great time to target mulloway SYD ROCK & BEACH

Alex Bellissimo

It has been a while since the full force of the bushfires subsided to a more manageable level. The wonderful firefighters from Australia and abroad have been a godsend, for not just the people and property but for the countless native animals that have also been saved.

on their feet. As time goes on we will inevitably be diverted to other pressing issues, but in the meantime let’s not forget our fellow Australians who need our help. ROCK FISHING Off the rocks, snapper have been in reasonable numbers one day and scarce the next. As with all migratory species, there is always a risk fishing for them. True, it’s not as fickle as fishing for pelagics like bonito, frigate mackerel or kingfish, but

This bag of whiting was caught during moderate seas. It makes sense to fish lighter sinkers when the swell size and current allow, but not so light that your bait won’t reach the strike zone. As well as donating to reputable charities, what else can you do for the longer term? Well, to avoid an economic disaster we can go visit these communities and spend money there. Just take a weekend off to one of the many places that have been devastated by the fires, and support the business in these towns. Even if you can’t fish in the area, you can do so much good by visiting and supporting the local businesses trying to get back

you can still get a shut-down period caused by something like a minor water temperature change from 21°C down to 19°C within a day. You will still catch snapper, but you may notice one or two things. The first scenario is that there are snapper available but they are smaller, ranging from undersized fish to just over legal fish with no sizeable fish on the day. The second scenario is that the run can be really short, for example the crack of

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dawn to sunrise or the sunset to dark period. As any angler who fishes off the ocean rocks knows, it can get dangerous fishing rock spots in the dark, especially with any swell running. You are more likely to get a longer bite period when the water is over 21°C. Another thing that might let you down is not having a variety of baits, and/or your bait isn’t of good enough quality. Fresh squid is always a great asset, along with fresh tuna baits like frigate mackerel or mac tuna. In a lot of spots the big sweep and plagues of yellowtail and mados can make it tough for a snapper to find your bait, so a tougher bait like a squid strip or whole endeavour prawn can greatly increase your chances. The smaller fish either don’t find these baits as appealing or the baits are just too tough for them to demolish. A half pilchard bait or a fish fillet bait, being a lot softer, can get destroyed much faster. Salted pilchards can be a great option, surviving the onslaught of the small pickers. Some locations to try include at the front of Bluefish Headland wash fishing, North Curl Curl distance casting, the south side of Long Reef distance casting, and Bangalley Head distance casting. The distance casting spots have sand and gravel out wider, while the wash spots have submerged deep ledges and harsher reef in close. Lately the king fishing has been on the slow side, although we have caught some up to 70cm using the Rapala X-Rap Saltwater Sub Walker 56g and sea gars on gang hooks. Bonito numbers have been more consistent on a number of headlands, and we have been catching them on 40g SureCatch Knights. My standard bonito outfit is a Daiwa 4000BG, 20lb J-Braid, 30lb Wilson Shock leader, and a 10ft Daiwa Sensor Sandstorm 1002M 2-piece surf rod. I recommend trying The Hat at Manly’s harbour entrance, Bluefish, North Curl Curl and North Whale headland for pelagics. Bream are available in good numbers from similar headlands in the washes. Try using a light outfit suitable for 5-6kg line, and a rod above 11ft. A 1/0 to 2/0 suicide hook (e.g. Mustad 92554) and light ball sinkers from 00 to 2 will suit most situations. Half pilchards, pink nippers and crab segments are top baits. I also recommend to fish from wash to wash, rather than sticking too long with one. You will pluck bream out of one wash, none in another and a few more in another. It’s best to fish in really close because the bream are foraging for crabs and like to hide right in amongst the white

water. Don’t berley up too much otherwise the smaller fish could drive you nuts. Low tide is a good time for fishing the deeper headlands, and you’ll get better results in the low light periods. BEACH FISHING There’s no doubt that some beaches are producing more consistent daytime bags than other beaches are. The run of tailor from one beach will be in the ‘tiddler’ size range, while another beach will have just-legal fish up to 33cm. After dark it is a different ballgame. The tailor are ranging from 30-45cm with the odd bream being hooked on a 3-hook gang meant for tailor. If you are fishing for tailor and you’re getting pecks, there is a good chance that you’re getting bream bites. I don’t mean those tiny pecks which may be dart or very small bream, I mean quite decent pecks – the kind which can take the whole stomach area out of your pilchard. If the bream are around 30cm+ you will find that the whole pilchard bait has been hammered. If this is the case, switch to a 1/0 to 2/0 suicide or baitholder hook and present a half pilchard bait, a small strip of mullet, tailor or yellowtail no more than 2cm wide by 10cm long. Your hook-up rates will greatly increase. When you have a bite, try your best not to strike at the fish until the tip of the rod

TAKING P AND REL HAVE ON Most anglers assume that a sizeable mulloway will smash and run with your bait, but this isn’t always the case. This fish bit POWERFUL tentatively before it took the bait properly. such is their haste to continue hunting. As the discarded half drifts to the bottom, bream are there to pick it up. Bream are opportunistic scavengers, and this is one way they get a free feed. Whiting have been in low numbers on some beaches and plentiful on others. Ribbon weed and kelp are a problem on some of the northern suburbs beaches. If you see kelp washed up on the beach close to the wet hard sand, don’t bother fishing there. Another way to detect kelp is to stand at a higher vantage point to look for those darker patches in the gutter. There are other ways to determine if kelp is in the area or going to be

&E • Superior torqu about 8kg that fell for a live yellowtail.•Usually mulloway Lightest weigh bite with a vengeance but interestingly, this one was • Quicker accele very timid when it bit. Another predator readily • Unprecedente available is the dusky whaler

shark, with specimens from 0.8m to the occasional 1.5m MORE shark being caught. INTUITIV If you’re after bream, tailor, whiting, mulloway • Smoothest, qu or sharks, try the Manly/ Queenscliff of beach,rpm • section Maintain mid Dee Why to Long Reef section of beach, Collaroy and NarrabeenFor beaches as well. new boat pa Remember to check out the kelp first before you commit. I’ll finish this month’s report with a quick tip: to prevent your bait from spoiling while you’re fishing,

Thres Lim caught this beautiful snapper on a 3/4 pilchard while wash fishing. It was caught only 2m out from the ledge in 8-9m of water. ‘loads up’, meaning when the tip bends over slightly, indicating a decent bite. To hook up, strike firmly and relatively quickly. To avoid the bother of re-rigging from a tailor rig to a bream rig, it pays to have another rod on standby when you’re tailor fishing. Often bream will hang nearby when these voracious predators come into a beach gutter. Tailor are aggressive feeders with very sharp teeth, and they will bite a baitfish in half and not stop to finish it,

in the area, but these are the main two ways to avoid that nightmare fishing outing. This month is good for mulloway with the smorgasbord of food available at this time of year. Mullet, whiting, dart, small tarwhine and more are part of their diet, and will encourage the mulloway to forage for food. That tell-tale sign of the rod bouncing intermittently while hooked up is an indicator that there’s a mulloway on the end of your line. I caught a nice mulloway recently of

take a small cold pack and cold bag. Take out what bait you need and keep the rest in the cold pack. You can then take the leftover bait back home if you have any left, and put it back into the freezer, still in good condition for the next outing. • For rock and beach guided fishing or tuition in the northern Sydney region, visit www.bellissimocharters., email alex@ or call Alex Bellissimo on 0408 283 616.

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Rain fires up the fish SYDNEY NORTH

Jay Kim

With the much-needed rain we have received, the fishing certainly has fired up in all systems. Customers and friends have all reported that the flush has brought on the mulloway and flathead, which have been taking advantage of the bait being pushed out. Reports from the

Although most of them are in the smaller size range, you can still run into a larger resident with some luck and persistence. The rats are tremendous fun on the right gear, coupled with lures such as stickbaits, soft plastics and metal slugs. Be prepared to encounter some plagues of bonito! BLUEWATER Lately, everyone has been talking about the excellent gamefish season

bait hard. It’s a good idea to mix the lures up with nice small 6-7” lures, and remember that there’s no need to go above 9” lures for these fish. As we enter the prime blue marlin time we will witness the hot water run down south, bringing with it probably one of the hardest fighting billfish in the ocean. We usually run a spread of 9-12” lures for these fish; they don’t mind

A beautiful black marlin taken on a livebait, ready for release. • For all the latest info on what’s biting and where, drop in and chat to the expert staff at Fishing Station, located on 50 Darley St,

Mona Vale. They stock an excellent range of tackle and bait, and are open every day except for Christmas Day and New Years Day.

You can contact the team on 02 8094 9197, or see regular news and product updates at www.facebook. com/fishingstationaustralia.

A nice bull mahimahi taken by the author while fishing for marlin. local Narrabeen Lake and Pittwater/Hawkesbury have been really positive, and the trusty Samaki Vibelicious in 10g has been dynamite, along with the Squidgy Fish soft plastic. Plenty of bait fishers using the trusty old live poddy mullet have been getting excellent results, as usual. Don’t ever discount the humble pilchard either – the fish are hungry after rain! The ledges and inshore reefs are still producing plenty of kingfish, as is usual at this time of year.

we have had. The mahimahi and marlin have been sensational to say the least. For the inshore guys, a wellpresented slimy mackerel on fluorocarbon has been working really well. Give the fish plenty of time to eat the bait and let the circle hooks do their thing. Trolling around the shelf has still seen the stripes and big mahimahi playing the game. The stripes love hanging around bait in the form of sauries and slimies, so find these and work the

a big loud lure at all, and the bite is mind-blowing at times. When you run into the fish, remember to have a game plan, have an angler on the rod to wind in any slack line if the fish changes direction towards the boat, and have the other lines cleared ASAP. It is best to chase your fish down as quickly as possible to ensure a safe release for the fish and to save the angler’s back! Always be careful of a marlin near the boat as well – safety first.

Hayden with a healthy rat kingfish off the stones.

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Recreational Fishing Update Black Marlin Goes On Epic Journey!

responsible members of the community! We’d like to take this opportunity to remind everyone that portable gas cookers and barbecues are not permitted on the Walsh Bay piers, mainly due to the risk of fire. And if you’re planning on fishing at Walsh Bay, please note also that public toilets are available at nearby Barangaroo. Ensure you know the location of these facilities if/when you need to go! Meantime, NSW Police are maintaining their 24/7 patrols at all of Sydney’s wharves and piers. Our friendly Fishcare Volunteers and DPI officers will also be out and about - make sure you say g’day!

How Old Is Greg’s PB Mulloway? NSW DPI’s Gamefish Tagging Program is sometimes lucky enough to receive information about recaptures of tagged fish from remote communities throughout the South Pacific. Recently, we received a tag recovery form from Caroline Sanchez, who works for the Oceanic Fisheries Program of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community. This recapture was reported to Caroline all the way from Kiritimati (Christmas Island). The recapture features below: A black marlin released by Newcastle & Port Stephens GFC boat Waihora in early February 2018 by keen father and son team Rowan and Josh Nicks had been recaptured in a remote area known as the North Tokelau Trough,

which is almost halfway between Tokelau and Kiritimati. The fish was originally released off Port Stephens, NSW, and was estimated to be 70kg. The fish was recaptured by a US flagged purse seine vessel which was targeting tuna around drifting FADs on 2 May 2019, after being at liberty for 437 days. The skipper of the vessel estimated the black marlin to be 110kg. The fish had travelled an estimated straight line distance of 2663 nautical miles during its time at liberty. If you’re interested in reading about other exciting recent recaptures, head to and search for “game fish tagging”. The Game Fish Tagging Program is another great example of your fishing fees at work!

Guide To Sydney Land-Based Fishing Options

St Georges Basin, Snowy Mountains lakes and rivers and Tuross Head. Stay tuned for info on how to get your copy of this handy free fishing guide. Meantime, if you’d like copies of any or all of our other guides, send an email to fisheries. and we’ll happily send them out. DPI’s “Go Fishing” guides are another great example of your fishing fees at work!

Keep Up The Good Work On Sydney’s Wharves!

As part of our highly popular “Go Fishing” guidebook series, we’re launching a new publication focusing on Sydney Harbour’s iconic wharves, piers and parks. This free 12-page guide features easy-to-read maps detailing the location of productive land-based locations around the Harbour plus expert fishing tips for a range of target species including kingfish, salmon, bream and mulloway. As well as handy fishing tips, we’ve also included info on safe and responsible fishing plus the latest dietary advice on the consumption of seafood from the Harbour. This new guide to Sydney’s wharves, piers and parks is the first in a three-part series planned for 2020 on fishing in and around Sydney. It complements other DPI “Go Fishing” guides detailing the fishing options in Botany Bay, Lake Macquarie, Blowering Dam, Jervis Bay,

From all reports, the fishing from Sydney Harbour’s iconic wharves and piers has been fantastic in recent times, with plenty of anglers out there enjoying quality time with friends and family. It’s been great to hear that the vast majority of anglers are doing the right thing by fishing responsibly, cleaning up any mess, keeping the noise down (especially at night) and treating other users with respect and courtesy. Well done to all of you who are doing your bit to show the wider public that recreational fishers are

Keen fisho Greg Gowlland, a regular contributor to DPI’s Research Angler Program (RAP), recently managed a personal best mulloway and was interested to see how old it was. Fishing in Brisbane Water, Greg landed this 142.5cm, 22.5kg mulloway, a trophy fish in anyone’s books. Greg’s fish has since been aged by our researchers and is estimated at 23 years old. This is one of the oldest and largest mulloway donated to the RAP last year. On this particular trip, Greg was only able to catch one live yakka for bait but it definitely did the trick! If you’re interested in contributing to this citizen science program and are lucky enough to catch a mulloway, kingfish, snapper, dusky flathead, tailor, black bream and Spanish or spotted mackerel of any legal size, donate your fish frame at any participating tackle shop. Like Greg, you could win a $50 tackle voucher plus find out interesting information about fish ages and biology. Head to and search “Research Angler Program” for more information on how to get involved the RAP, plus locations of your closest drop-off point. The RAP is another great example of your fishing fees at work!

Marching ahead in Pittwater PITTWATER

Peter Le Blang

My heart goes out to all the people who have been affected by the bushfires up and down our coasts, and especially the charter operators who have lost their most lucrative part of the year to these devastating fires. I hope that many of you will venture over the coming months to these areas and help support local businesses, including fishing charter operators. Over the last month we have seen some great fishing along Pittwater and Broken Bay, as well as along coastline once again. Squid have been very easy to catch in recent times and this has equated to some wonderful fishing along Pittwater for kingfish. Being able to catch squid quickly and efficiently leaves us more time to chase those yellowtail hoodlums. Recently we have been seeing a lot of captures at West and Barrenjoey heads, with both areas seeing fish caught on yellowtail, so you can save your hardearned squid.

There is also some activity still showing up around Broken Bay, but you have to get out there early to find surface activity and working seagulls. Back along Pittwater, kingies have been showing up all over the place and there is no real hotspot or hot bite at the moment. One

Warm days and hot fishing will put a smile on anyone’s face. day we will be catching fish around Scotland Island and the next charter will see us having great success at Towlers Bay or Longnose Point. As you can see, there seems to be kingfish in most


quite a bit, so anchoring and berleying does not make much sense. When kingfish are moving around Pittwater and you anchor and berley, unless you are on top of fish already you will find



areas and downrigging still appears to be the best way to locate and tangle with a few of these fish. The better bait to use has been squid by far, but there is the odd fish that is eating yellowtail when fishing along the moorings on the eastern side of Pittwater. These fish are moving around


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from Patonga through to Lion Island. The best baits to use are your humble pilly, yellowtail fillets, squid strips or if you are fishing around the moons, try some fresh Hawkesbury River prawns. Flounder are being caught on the Patonga Drift and attacking prawns, but



Big flathead have been plentiful along Pittwater this year.

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the fishing difficult. You may be lucky enough to have a school pass by and hang around for a little while, but you can travel with them if you downrig. Catching squid along Pittwater as previously mentioned is pretty easy at the moment, with most weed beds having a few to capture. Once again there doesn’t really seem to be any best area, but if I had to choose one I would suggest the weed beds just north of Palm Beach Ferry Wharf. These weed beds are quite large, so gravitate towards those areas that have sand patches through them. The squid seem to attack your lures when they are over the sandy patches, as they ambush from the cover of the weed. The best size jigs at the moment seem to be 1.8 or 2.2 size, and the best colours seems to be fluoro colours of orange or pink, but make sure you have a few natural coloured jigs ready to go in case you find a patch of timid squid. Bottom fishing along Pittwater and Broken Bay, there have been some great captures over the last couple of months, with some very large flathead putting smiles on our customers’ faces. The best areas to target flathead at the moment on Pittwater

This 84cm flatty pounced on a yellowtail fillet. Rob now has a new PB! are at the drop-off that runs from Palm Beach through to Mackerel Beach and this is best on the run-out tide. If you are chasing these tasty fish in Broken Bay, try the drift in the channel

there are also a few to catch in close to the Pittwater side of Barrenjoey Head. March is my favourite month to start targeting mulloway on our mixed day charters, as well as the usual

squid and kingfish. It is best if you give me a chance to pick the best tides, so I can supply the best dates to catch both these species during the one charter when fishing along Pittwater and Broken Bay. Offshore reef fishing is going well and shall continue to do so over the next couple of months, with snapper, flathead, morwong and trevally being just a few of the species that can be targeted when fishing the offshore reefs. At the moment we’re finding a lot of activity at reefs in 50m of water. When fishing the reefs, it’s always advisable to find the edge of the reef and hopefully schools of baitfish balled up towards the bottom. If you find this scenario, drop your lines and make sure you have the freshest bait you can find to feed these fish. Pilchards and frozen squid will once again see a lot of fish being caught, but if you have the time or are lucky enough to catch a few yellowtail or slimy mackerel when fishing the reef, make sure that you fillet them up and use them while on that reef. So as you can see, there are still plenty of fish to be caught for those willing to leave the comforts of their lounge chairs. I hope this report sees you excited and gathering a few mates so you can join us on a charter to enjoy a wonderful day on our part of the coast. • We are selling our vessel and license, so if you are serious about becoming a charter operator, give me a call. For those of you who just want to go fishing, give us a call on 0410 633 351.


HOOK Reveal 9” review I have been fishing for the majority of my life. Looking back now with 30 odd years of experience I can see how valuable the humble fishfinder has been over the years and how far they have progressed. While fishing with my Dad in the Victorian lakes in the early 90s our little 4” black and white sounder was an invaluable tool when fishing for big winter rainbow trout and salmon. Fast forward to 2020 and the need for a sounder is much the same, however the technology available is vastly different. A recent move to the Northern Beaches of Sydney and a new fishery prompted me to purchase a new boat to explore the diverse fishery that is Middle Harbour. A little Haines Hunter Seawasp was the perfect option and I was so surprised when asked to do a review of the Lowrance HOOK Reveal 9”. Little did I know at the time that this little sounder was the perfect choice for a small boat like mine. The powerful unit has a HD 9” screen, GPS Chartplotter with built-in maps and a triple shot transducer, providing a multitude of ways to differentiate structure and fish. Never has finding fish been so easy!

The Details Picking up the box I was surprised at the lack of weight after reading up on the multitude of features that Lowrance has stuffed into the HOOK Reveal 9” unit. Navigation is a breeze for those early morning starts with the preloaded AU/NZ C-MAP mapping charts and the ability to use Genesis Live to create your own detailed maps in real-time. The triple shot transducer delivers a triple threat of performance with proven Autotuning Sonar, SideScan and DownScan Imaging. The new Fish Reveal feature makes fish easier to see by combining Lowrance CHIRP sonar and DownScan Imaging on one display. Setting Up Fitting the sounder to the little Haines Hunter Seawasp was very straight forward. In the box was the head unit, mounting bracket, transducer with cable and a power supply cable. As well as some helpful info on installation and a manual detailing the ins and outs of the unit. I had decided to mount the sounder centrally on a swivelling RAM mount to give me a good view when on the run and also whilst up on the casting deck prospecting with

The HOOK Reveal definitely makes finding fish easier.

A swivelling RAM mount is the perfect mounting option for this sounder, as it can be turned to face the angler whether they’re driving from the stern or casting on the front deck.

The author found the HOOK Reveal to be the perfect sounder for his little Haines Hunter Seawasp.

Finding the fish may be easier, but catching them is still up to the angler!

Side Scan is a fairly standard feature on sounders these days, but at 9” this unit is big enough to split with another function and still give great detail.

the electric motor. The install was very easy and the once the layout and transducer position was decided I was finished within an hour or so. The unit powered up straight away and after a quick registration via the Lowrance App it was ready to go. Hitting the Water After playing with the settings and getting a feel for the layout it was time to hit the water. The one thing I did notice straight away is the simplicity of the unit. Upon start up the Autotuning Sonar started doing its thing and produced a crystal-clear image of the bottom and some small bait schools as I headed out into the harbour. Using the pages button, I was able to quickly switch between pages layouts for navigating the waterway and looking for structure and fish. Where this unit comes into its own is the new fish reveal feature combining Lowrance CHIRP sonar and DownScan Imaging. The ability to see the structure clearly and reveal the fish amongst it is a real game changer and one I have been relying upon heavily. Finding More Fish I have found myself taking advantage of the auto features with this unit a lot. Straight out of the box I was able to find fish and key structure points without having to make any adjustments at all. The huge amount of

information the unit pulls in is translated with detail that is easily interpreted even for a newcomer to sounders but is a valuable asset to the experienced as well. You will definitely find more fish with this unit if you make the most of the data presented to you with HOOK Reveal. How Much Will It Cost? The HOOK Reveal 9 Triple Shot with AU/NZ Charts I have been trialling for this review surprisingly has a RRP of $999. When I looked up the price of this unit I was expecting it to be much higher. To get all of these features for under $1000 dollars is real value and only a few years ago it would have cost you double that for a 9” sounder with all the same features. Final Thoughts When I was approached to test this unit, I was excited to fit the sounder on my Seawasp. It is extremely easy to use and can be best described as a plug and play sounder with all of the advanced features you can expect from much higher priced units. As a small boat sounder, the HOOK Reveal is the perfect choice and I am getting more out of the unit every time I hit the water. If you are in the market for a new sounder, definitely consider the Lowrance HOOK Reveal range of sounders from your local retailer. I am certain you will find the pure ease of use a game changer, and you’ll be happy with your purchase. – Brett Habener MARCH 2020


Storms dictate where and what to target THE TWEED

Anthony Coughran

Storms have been shaking things up over the past month in the Tweed, and weather events like these determine

offshore pelagics; the floating debris and river and creek run-off offshore has the mixed reefies, mackerel, mahimahi (dolphinfish), wahoo, kingfish and billfish firing up. The bait moving in the rivers has caused the

OFFSHORE We have had an awesome pelagic season so far, with lots of blacks, wahoo and mahimahi being caught off Tweed reefs this month. The floating debris, FADs, buoys and markers

Leon McClymont found this big mulloway off the rocks. how anglers should target key species. All the fresh in the systems, the fish kills from run-off, bait being pushed around and changes in water temperatures are really affecting where and what to fish for. These storms have definitely fired up the

soapy mulloway and trevally to come on the chew. The run-off has also fired up the beaches and headlands, with a few big mulloway caught off the beach in recent weeks. Bass are also taking advantage of the run-off and the flooding creeks and rivers.

have been fishing best for mahimahi lately. Trolling skirts and pegging and ripping 20-60g metals past these surface structures will normally result in a hook-up from a small to medium size mahimahi. If you’re after a better size class, trolling the 24s, 36s and the 50s has

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been producing the medium to large models. Lots of black marlin are on offer from the 24s out to 200m lines, and there are blues on the 100-400m lines. Purple 6-9” skirts are still fishing the best. Live baits have been key to landing a lot of billfish this month, once you have located the fish. Anglers are picking up the odd wahoo the on 24s and 36s and on the backside of 9 Mile and South Reef on hardbodies and 100-200mm vibes. You can also encounter Spanish mackerel around their usual haunts of 9 Mile, 5 Mile, South Reef, Close Reefs, Kingy and Windorah Banks. They are mainly hitting troll baits, especially bonnies and slimies, but there are small bite windows and it’s still hit-and-miss. There is the odd spotty around the close reefs as well. You can catch them by drifting a float bait such as a pilly, ripping metals past schools or trolling pillies this month. However, like the Spaniards they are few and far between. Try Fidos, Cook Island, Kingscliff and Hastings Point bommie. The close reefs that are copping the fall-out from the storms and run-off are fishing well for mixed reefies. There have been a few packs of snapper, kingies, tuskfish, spangled emperor, pearlies and sea perch patrolling these reefs, capitalising on

Kane Blenkinsop landed some Tweed Spaniards. around; look to Point Reef, Kirra, yellow marker and 10-Minute Reef. ESTUARY What a jack season it has been this year! Massive numbers have been caught in the Tweed and along the Tweed Coast. The bigger models are still being caught at night on live baits around heavy structure. Very large live baits (20-30cm mullet,

allowing them to get as close as they can to the structure will get the best action out of your lures, and will see these reds come out from their cover and smash your offering. Some great blackspot cod have been caught as jack by-catch, and are having most anglers thinking they are onto a good jack. Whiting are still up in the skinny water.

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Anglers have been catching big jacks in the Tweed this month. the flood waters flowing over them. Fishing dusk and dawn with plastics and baits will definitely score you a feed, along with the odd large model. The only problem is that there are lots of sharks, as is usual in summer. Some days it can be hard getting your catches past the taxman. Some great spanner crabs have been caught lately between the 24s and 36s, and it’s well worth soaking a trap. There’s still lots of bait

20cm bony bream, 30cm whiting, 15-20cm herring and whole fillets and heads) are working best with heavy gear. There are still heaps of smaller to medium size jacks being caught on lures. The best plastics to use are 3-5” paddletails on weedless rigs, followed by 90mm prawn plastics. Other good lure options include 90-150mm hardbodies, 20g vibes, 70-150mm surface lures and swimbaits. Working these lures with the current and

Yabbies, beachworms and bloodworms drifted along those skinny water banks of a night are working the best, but you can still score a feed during the day. If you’re after the bigger elbow-slappers, surface lures are the go. Live herring are working really well on big trevally around the bridge lights of a night, with a run-in tide fishing best. Some big crabs are moving around this month

with the run-off, and the deeper holes and river/creek junctions have been holding the better numbers and sizes. Just watch for bullies ripping holes in your pots, because they are out and about at the moment. Large baits on medium to heavy gear and a bit of patience will see you doing battle with these bullies. Eel, whole fish, heads, large live baits, stingray flaps or guts are your best baits, but even bullock’s heart or liver, lungs, offal or some old meat will do the job. Wire is necessary for the bigger sharks, but 80-150lb leader will stop them up to 1m (all sharks over 1.5m are protected and must be released quickly and unharmed). Bull sharks up to 1m can be quite tasty if they are dispatched and prepared properly. Soaking the fillets in milk can help with this process. BEACHES The rains and storms have shaken up the beaches and headlands. Some big mulloway are being taken

With all the bait around it is no surprise that oddities like this golden trevally are getting caught. Then they just drop off most times. It’s a really fun way for the kids to score a feed of eel, or you can use the eels for shark baits. For the more adventurous freshwater fisho, try the upper Clarence. The cod and big bass have been on fire there. MARCH FISHING The storms will continue to work their magic and fill the waterways, dams and systems this month, and

Joel Graham caught some solid whiting in rainy conditions. off the beaches and around the headlands, and live baits, dead baits and whole fillets are fishing best. There have been some great catches of dart, whiting, bream, flathead and odd tailor coming from the beaches too. Small baits like strip baits, whitebait, half pillies, fillet strips, worms and pipis are fishing best in the gutters this month. SWEETWATER The rains and storms have really shaken up the fresh systems and have filled up all those dried up and shrunken pools. The rapids, drains, overflows, spillways, waterfalls, weirs and upper systems are all fishing really well. At first light and last light you can get good results on surface lures. Jig spins, spinnerbaits, hardbodies, swimbaits, plastics, vibes and blades are fishing well once the sun is established. If you prefer bait fishing, worms, grubs, maggots and flavoured doughs are also catching some good bass, mullet, carp, tilapia and catfish. You can also try soaking a pilly wrapped in wool to catch eels. Their teeth get stuck in the wool and you just pull them up on the bank.

this will dictate where to fish in the river and creek for jacks. Finding where the bait is being held up will be the key to finding the red dogs. The soapy mulloway will also be

taking advantage of these conditions, and will be in the various holes and around the mouth. Whiting will only push up into the cleaner skinny water, so find the banks with clean water to score the whiting. Flathead will be sitting in the holes under the fresh, eating the whiting that are seeking shelter from the fresh. Trevally will sit around the bridges eating all the bait getting flushed past, and fishing these bridges with various artificials and live herring will be the go this month. The muddies will be working in most systems throughout the Tweed Coast as well. The mackerel, kings, billfish, mahimahi and wahoo will continue their dominance of the offshore reefs. They will only get hungrier and we will get better numbers coming through. Finding the bait schools will help with your search for these predators. The bass will be a great option when the weather is no good, as the back creeks will still hold fish in bad conditions. Look for drains and overflows to find the bass. Caution is advised during heavy rains.

Andew Wil worked a sand bank for a solid needlefish (longtom). MARCH 2020


The aftermath of the recent big flush-out frames and blackfish frames. The bigger tides seem to have brought the best numbers on. Before the massive deluge last month, the rock walls along the town stretch and up Emigrant Creek were producing some good numbers of quality bream on light crankbaits.


Joe Allan

The Richmond River has been well and truly flushed in the last few weeks. This has caused some species to go into hiding and others to come out and play big time.

if you’re not losing lures, you’re not catching and having fun. There are some good size flathead still being caught along the Porpoise Wall and in Mobbs Bay. Live baits and heavy plastics on the last half of the run-out are always worth a shot, and small

Al Barrett caught this quality mangrove jack on a live bait in the Richmond River.

John Oatley with a 36kg 151cm mulloway off the walls in Ballina. There have been some big mulloway caught off the rock walls, both north and south, up to 150cm in length. There’s real quality to these fish! The mud crabs have been firing with good catches reported along the mid sections of the river. Try baits such as mullet

The rock crab colour in the Atomic Crank 38 has been the standout. You can also expect to come across a few of our red friends, the mighty mangrove jack, so be prepared to either beef up your gear or go back to the tackle shop with your wallet. As they say,

crankbaits and plastics up on the flats in Mobbs are solid performers – especially when the water is dirty towards the bottom half of the run-out. There are some good numbers of bream getting caught off the beaches when the swell isn’t pumping too hard and the water isn’t too



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dirty. The dart and tailor have been a little quiet, but it’s a good time to start trying the gutters around Boundary Creek along South Ballina for some good-size flathead. Blades, slugs and heavy soft plastics will do the trick if you can’t come across some fresh bait. OFFSHORE Offshore, there have been some quality snapper on the 32s as well as some good size trag, and the mahimahi have still been very consistent off the FADs. However, since mid-December the numbers of mackerel have not been as everyone would have liked. The mackerel have been scattered all over the place; one day they will turn up at Black Head and the next at Riordans Reef.

Grant Clements with a solid Aussie bass caught on an Atomic Cicada.


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A surface-rigged Atomic Plazo Fat Grub got this bass around Coraki before the rain.

FRESHWATER Before the rains, the surface action in the freshwater reaches was going really well, and the action should pick up again when conditions settle down. Unweighted soft plastics imitating a prawn or small frog have been working well when skipped under trees, and this is a really fun way to fish. I have also been getting good results on the old favourite Atomic Cicada and Slappa 90. Spinnerbaits and chatterbaits also have been producing good fish, and another standout has been the Bassman 3/8oz jigs. When the drains and creeks are running, big spinnerbaits or big noisy crankbaits are the go. The more disturbance, the better! Until next month, tight lines.

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Seas still warm, fishing still hot YAMBA

Dave Gaden

Autumn has arrived as far as the calendar is concerned, but on the

will still be great, and the fishing should be fantastic. Around our waters, March is the first real hot month for the mackerel, both spotted and Spanish, to appear in good numbers.

far to start catching them either, as some of the best grounds are also the closest. To the north, the obvious choice is Shark Bay/Woody Head. This sheltered and shallow bay is a magnet for

Curtis (14yo) from Wollongong with his first mulloway. water in our part of the world you may not see any real change. Water temperatures will still be up, daytime temperatures

The last couple of years have seen the mackerel turn up in March and run red-hot right through until June. You won’t need to travel

Les with a quality Venus tuskfish.

these fish, with large bait shoals everywhere, and in the calmer water you should find it easy to find the fish. It helps that there will probably be 20 other boats out there catching them for you to work out where they are! I recommend trolling pink squids at first light for the first hour, then find a good patch and either drift or anchor while floating pillies out the back in your berley trail. Heading south, the first patch of reef just past Angourie in about 30m of water will be a good place to start. There is a lot of good trolling ground down here. Troll from the edge of the reef to Freeburn Rock (the

bommie) and back for the first two hours to find where they are and, as with the north ground, float bait for them after. Be sure to have a couple of lines out on the bottom while you are float baiting the mackerel, as there are good snapper on these reefs in March. When you have had your fill of the mackerel, the options this month are endless. Heading out to the FAD will find you plenty of those pretty jumping fish, the mahimahi. This month usually produces our biggest specimens, with some pushing the 10kg mark. They really are the ‘sport of kings’! A lot of the bigger fish will be well down below the surface, so use a larger than normal live bait and let it swim below the smaller fish and get ready for the run. You may even hook up to a few kingfish or even a small black marlin this month at the FAD, so be prepared with good solid gear and even better knots. For those who like to

Thomas Durrington (13yo) with a PB snapper on his birthday. venture further out, this month will find big numbers of good plate-size snapper in the 42 to 50-fathom line. We have had sessions out here with over 100 snapper

coming on board in a couple of hours. There will be the odd big fish but average will be 35-45cm long. Mixed in with them will be some nice pearl perch,

There should be plenty of Spanish and spotted mackerel around this month.

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blue morwong and blackspotted pigfish. The deeper water is a bit harder to fish, and the temptation to put the third hook on the paternoster rig is always there until you have three mad fish and a

don’t get a heap of mackerel up this way but it’s March, so have a floater with a light wire out all the time because they will show up without warning. Try in real close early up here. The South Evans reef is

and big trag in only 8 fathoms of water. Head out to the deeper water as the sun gets high and starts to penetrate the shallows. At the time of writing this, the hope for more heavy

that’s what has happened. March will find flathead close to the river mouth. They have been as far upstream as the falls past Grafton in the dry time. If the water is coloured by expected rainfall, look for the clear water coming in on the making tide and fish with the tide to optimise your chances. So head to Yamba in March and avoid the Easter rush. If you would like to try your luck on the mackerel and other outside fish but don’t havebaaboat, a call agive wn me Bla m jumpPron-board es” onedof “Yaand my charter boats for a day to remember.

Tommy with a nice snapper from the southern reef.

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Richard with a good pearl perch. Head wide this month for these beauties. 16oz sinker on the end and 150m of line out. It hurts the arms just thinking about it! There will be good trag and mulloway up on the northern reefs from Black Rock to South Evans. We

clearly marked on most GPS mapping and it will show you where it can break, but if you fish the edges of these bommies where the kelp ends and the hard rock starts you will find some quality snapper



rain is there. The mighty Clarence, like most others in this country, could do with a good fresh or even a flood to clear it out and get the cycle of life going again. My hope is by the time you read this

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MARCH 2020


Rain delivers welcome flush-out COFFS HARBOUR

Dayne Taylor

This March you can expect to enjoy some great fishing no matter whether

OFFSHORE The Spanish and spotted mackerel are now in full swing, and great numbers are being found in close harassing bait schools on the Coffs Coast. Lure fishers

live baits are by far the best way to get a result, and slow trolling a live slimy mackerel around the bait grounds is sure to get a run. Plenty of good reef species like snapper, pearl

Jason O’Brien with an early season topwater Spanish mackerel. you head offshore, up the creeks and rivers, or fish land-based from the beach or a headland nearby.

are taking them off the top on surface stickbaits in peak bite times such as early morning and sunset, as well as tide changes. However,

perch, tuskfish and teraglin are still on offer out a little wider in 40-80m of water. The current can be testing at times, but whenever there’s

a break in the weather you should give them a crack. A simple paternoster rig with a mix of squid and pilchard baits with a 8oz lead on the bottom seems to do the trick. Any fresh slab baits will do, and live baits dropped to fish marked on the sounder in these depths won’t stand a chance. Stay vigilant for a cobia also while you’re out and about this month, as they have been known to show up in good numbers at this time of year. While you are out wider, be sure to check out the FAD or other fish trap floats for mahimahi (dolphinfish). Small stickbaits, soft plastics and live baits are all on the menu for these hardfighting fish! In recent weeks there has been a great run of black marlin up and down the coast. Coffs Harbour down to South West Rocks had a few good windows of weather, current, and water temperature that all lined up, and the marlin really turned it on, which was great to see.

Jack Nolan took a midweek day off from NCBC to tangle with a few black marlin. ROCKS With the pelagics about, why not try your hand at a little land-based mackerel

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to fish for these speedsters from the stones. You can catch the mackerel and tuna using similar techniques to what

come in close hunting for sea gar, tailor and bonito along deeper rock ledges, so target these locations. Just be sure to stay safe,

the rivers. You can’t beat a well-presented unweighted pink nipper or fresh beachworm drifted along the flats on a red worm

will entice an aggressive bite from a whiting, while a similar retrieve with a 10-15 second pause thrown in will bring a flathead and bream up for a look. Some solid trevally are still tormenting anglers in the estuaries. Although they’re not a great table fish species, you can spend hours upon hours targeting these hard-fighting speedsters. Small metal and soft vibes replicating a herring are a great lure choice, and you will also get plenty on topwater stickbaits also. Simply search the mid region of the estuary for massive

bait disturbances and begin casting. A quality sounder also makes it easier to seek out bait schools in deeper water. If the bait school is balled up tight, there’s a good chance the trevs are harassing it. The recent rain was welcomed by all here on the Coffs Coast. The crabs were pushed down a little but they are still easiest to catch in pots left to soak overnight at intersections or around small drains and feeder creeks. A collection of your filleted fish frames or a whole mullet or bonito cut into halves make for great bait.

BASS These same rains helped the bass and other freshwater species upstream move around between pools and either continue up or down. Unfortunately, it was devastating to see a few fish kills to the south in the Macleay River, but fingers crossed the river will bounce back and stabilise. We do still need some consistent rainfall; at the end of the day it makes the estuaries healthier all around. Until next month, cast like there is no tomorrow and retrieve like you have all the time in the world.


Shane Holding with a typical size juvenile giant trevally from the local estuaries. you’d use from a boat, although it is a lot harder to catch and keep live baits on the rocks. Big metal spinners 10-20cm long, as well as topwater and sinking stickbaits, are great options. The pelagics often

as no fish is worth risking your life! ESTUARY AND BEACH In the estuaries and on the beaches, whiting are plentiful in the gutters and throughout the sand flats on the lower reaches of

hook. You will pick up a heap of welcome by-catch such as flathead and bream as well doing this. Topwater lures are still working well. Long casts across the flats and a quick steady retrieve

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Heavy downpours have switched on the fish SOUTH WEST ROCKS

Paul Martin

The offshore fishing has been a little quiet due to the dirty water, and the northeasters also brought in colder 20°C water, which the pelagics don’t like. However, the southerlies have since moved in, bringing clean water. By the time you read this it should have cleared up, barring further rain events. Prior to that, we had a fantastic run of small black marlin off the Gaol. The average size was only 40-60kg, but they were

in good numbers and the kayakers and smaller boats had a great time catching them around 1.5km from shore. Most of the blacks were caught on slowly trolled livebaits, with a few picked up on skirted lures. Up north off Grassy Head and Scotts Head there are fair numbers of spotted mackerel, with a few Spanish in the mix as well. This time of year is the main season for mackerel. There are still a few snapper, pearl perch and tuskfish on the bottom. An alternative to using a paternoster rig is to float a pilchard out the back while

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you flick plastics up the front. Samsonfish usually come in to Scotts Head at this time of year. I haven’t heard of any caught yet, possibly due to the dirty water, but it’s only a matter of time before the reports come in. These strong fighting fish go really hard, so make sure your gear is up to the task. Out wider at the FAD there are some nice mahimahi, with some big bulls over a metre. They’ll take pretty well anything if they’re feeding. The downside is that they are a popular target; on a good day a lot of guys will go out there, and the current is usually running so you have to form a circle and go one after the other. For this reason it’s best to go at first light to avoid the crowds – just quickly grab some live baits and have a crack. Off the Gaol there have been a few marlin, along with morwong and small snapper. At Fish Rock there have

Is there anything to compare to that marvellous sound of line screaming off a reel? I grabbed the rod and gradually tightened the drag. Most weeks I set aside a whole night to fish on Lake Macquarie. This night, it felt as though I had hooked a decent size mulloway, but then the line went dead. An examination of the line showed a fairly clean bite – probably a shark. That was about 10pm. At 1am I was lying in the bottom of the boat waiting for that thrilling reel scream. I looked up through the fog swirling over the boat to the glow from the full moon,



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sees the mackerel coming in close, and you can catch them off the rocks at Hat Head and Hungry Head. BEACHES The beaches have been fishing pretty well, because the rain has caused the whiting to leave the river and head for the beaches. Smoky Beach in particular has been yielding plenty of whiting, bream and dart in recent weeks. Gap Beach has been fishing well for tailor, which came in with the cooler water brought by the northeasterlies. When cooler water moves in it’s worth heading to the beach with a ganged pilly or garfish to catch a few. On the local beaches, there have been a few whiting and bream at Main Beach around the boulders, and Back Beach has been fishing well for flathead near the mouth of the creek on the run-out tide.

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black/gold. If we don’t get more rain, the river will have cleared up by the time you read this, in which case more natural lure colours should work best. Upriver, anglers are still getting whiting around Jerseyville off the sand flats. Up there you can pump nippers and pretty well fish straight off the flats. The best time to fish is the first couple of hours of the run-in. There have also been a few mangrove jack taking lures from Rainbow Reach in the deeper water. At Clybucca and Fishermans Reach up towards Stuarts Point is fishing well for whiting and flathead. ROCKS There are kingfish around the lighthouse, and I recently weighed a 14kg kingy taken off the ledges there. There have been a few mulloway caught as well. This time of year usually


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been a lot of rat kingfish lately, and anglers have been struggling to get past the rats to reach the bigger kingies below. Upsizing your lures may help. It can also be worth trying for snapper at first light. RIVER The water has been brown following the rain, but you can still catch fish, including bream, flathead and mulloway. The dirty water has really switched on the mulloway, with quite a few good specimens being caught at night on livebaits over the last few weeks. Flathead ranging from 0.5-1m have been taking darker coloured lures in the dirty water. Standouts have been the Squidgy Fish in black/gold, ZMan scented PaddleZ in Houdini and motor oil and Gulp Nemesis in pumpkinseed. Good hardbody choices include the Killalure Jewie in gold/black and Daiwa Double Clutch in

shining eerily in the still atmosphere. The small rod went off so I jumped up and pulled in a 63cm flathead. Just as I reset the line, one of my mulloway rods started getting over-excited, and I raced up to the other end of my 4.2m tinny to grab the rod. The run was strong, so I gradually increased the drag to see what it would take to slow it down. My headlamp was out of reach, but not to worry, as the fish had stopped. With 30lb line I wasn’t worried about breaking off, but when it took a second run I couldn’t clearly see how much was left on the reel. I started pumping the fish back towards the boat. After what felt like 10 hours (actually 10 minutes), I was hoping for my first glimpse. I had a heart palpitation when I first saw it. My goal for 2019 was to catch a 20kg mulloway, and I was here looking at one! It came to life when it was close and shot under the boat. With the anchor rope up one end and the motor at the other, I was worried I wouldn’t see it again. It then changed its mind and swam back out, and I managed to bring it back only for it to swim towards the motor. A few more desperate escape attempts and it’d had enough, and I coaxed it into the net. Now came my problem: I couldn’t lift it into the boat! I’m not the Hercules I was 30 years ago. I tried with the gaff, then the gaff and net at the same time,

but to no avail. Almost 20 minutes later I was exhausted. I repositioned the gaff and had one last attempt. Success! It measured 155cm and weighed 32.2kg. Since then, I have added

a rope and giant needle so I can secure my 40kg mulloway to the boat without having to lift it in. Once I catch that monster, I will just have to get a bigger boat! – David Sykes

It’s almost back to normal THE HASTINGS

Mark Saxon

Port Macquarie and surrounding waterways should be back to normal after a hectic start to our new year, with plenty of summer holidaymakers heading home and back to work. Now is the time to take your holiday if you

rock formations, plus you can check for red weed. Once you have it checked out and you know your game plan, results will come. OFFSHORE The offshore charter fishing boats have had to contend with fresh inflows in recent times, however there have still been some great captures of snapper, pearl perch and flathead. Who doesn’t like a feed of

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Rhett with a flatty he caught aboard a recent charter with the author. haven’t already and head to the Mid-North Coast, because all our favourite species are available. BEACH FISHING Whiting, bream, tailor and the odd mulloway have been worth putting in some time chasing. The whiting have been on at Lighthouse, North and Camden Haven beaches, and as usual beachworms are the prime bait. The bream and school mulloway will also take a live worm. Tailor fishers have been spinning a few fish at Lighthouse and Bonny Hills, and pilchards or garfish on ganged hook rigs or metal slugs cast and retrieved are worth a try and first light or into the evening. If you are looking for an enjoyable way to spend a few hours, take a spin stick and a small back pack with some metals and soft plastics and try walking the beach, fishing the different holes and gutters. Don’t forget the corners of the beach, as there is some great rock structure in these areas that is worth casting at too. An important way to prevent wasting your fishing time is to try checking beaches before your trip, preferably from a higher vantage point if possible. This way you can see gutters, holes, spits and

those species? Small offshore boats have been doing well hanging in from the 40m mark and less, and once again the main targets have been snapper and bluespot flatties. There are plenty of good areas between Plomer Bay and Camden Haven worth fishing, and if


the estuary. Samaki soft vibes in the new 85m size have been getting results, along with paddle-tail plastics in the 120mm size. On my boat Castaway we have been doing a lot since last July with the Atomic Shiner Double Deeps, and these are a great hardbody to fish day or night. The big highlight of the last few months has been the crabbing, with blue swimmers and mud crabs plentiful, and you can find them from Rawdon Island all the way down to the back channel. My crab bait of choice has been the flatty frames fresh from recent catches. Surface activity on prawn imitations will continue this month, and whiting can really fire up at Pelican Island, Maria sandflats and up into the flats in Limeburners Creek. BASS The bass have had a tough season with drought, fires and then heavy rain, and last month there was a fish kill on the Macleay River from the ash and other materials washing into the water causing a lack of oxygen. At this stage it is hard to say what the effects


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‘Find the bait, find the fish’ is an important adage to follow when hunting down mulloway. the current slows a fraction this month out wider it will be worth try as well. RIVER The Hastings and Maria rivers have been consistent, with all the usual species on offer. Flathead, whiting and bream are all worth targeting on lures or bait. Mulloway have been upriver, and if you find the bait you will put yourself in the game for these ghosts of

will be, but either way we look at it, rain was needed and hopefully this will bode well for future seasons. On the Wilson and Maria rivers the bass fishing has been consistent, but most days you still work for them. If you’re casting lures your game needs to be spot on, because they are definitely staying tight to structure in the creeks. Put in the effort and you will get results!

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At the time of writing, the coastal areas of the mid north coast have received over 200mm of rain, and the Manning is running a chocolate brown colour. However, barring further rain events, it should have cleared up by the time this issue hits the shelves. Before the rain, the bream and mud crabs had been more plentiful upstream, but they have since been flushed out to the mouth. The flathead had been numerous up around Croki, Cundletown and Taree, but are now being caught around Harrington and Manning Point. There are plenty of blue swimmers to be caught at the moment but most are undersize. Whiting are all the go at Harrington, taking both bait and lures, and several fish have been caught weighing around 0.5kg. Mulloway and kingfish have been quiet but a 10kg fish was caught in the lagoon a few weeks back. The sand spit at the mouth of the river has produced some great tailor on bait. These fish have been ranging in size from just under 1kg to 2kg in weight. The only problem is that driving on the sand spit has been stopped by the council and it is quite a walk for the oldies to get onto the fish. Luckily, a few fish in the 2kg bracket have been taken on Crowdy Beach, and as the season improves more fish will move onto Crowdy Beach. Usually these larger fish do not appear until the end of February, so it seems as if this year could be a great one for tailor fishing. Some anglers have been scoring good bags of whiting from Crowdy Beach above Second Creek on worms, pipis and yabbies. There are plenty of chopper tailor on Crowdy Beach but some of them are not up to keeper size. With schools of fish like these there would have to be some mulloway and sharks following them. A high tide after dark would be the time to have a go at a big fish. OFFSHORE Outside anglers have been scoring well on snapper from the northern grounds, mahimahi from around the FAD and flathead on the drift. Out wide, bar cod have been plentiful in 100m of water, and a few pearl perch have been picked up as well. The water has warmed up to 25°C, and some marlin and mackerel have been caught and many more lost. There are heaps of bait balls to be found, and yellowtail, slimy mackerel and bonito can be caught around these.

Jacob Bone, 3yo, loves catching bream in the Manning River. Image courtesy of Harrington Bait & Tackle.

THE MONTH AHEAD March should prove to be a great time to chase the big tailor that come with the schools of smaller fish. Remember that those big greenbacks didn’t get large by being stupid; usually they don’t come onto the beach until after high tide at night, and the later the tide the better. Slab baits of bonito

or tailor are the best baits to use, and a couple of feet of wire will help to stop embarrassing cut-offs. The mullet will be starting to assemble in the lower parts of the Manning, and mulloway and sharks will be in the river hunting them. All in all, there will be plenty of action to suit the river and beach fishers this month.

Donna and Mark Herold with a tasty snapper and trag caught aboard Fozzie Fishing Charters in Ballina. MARCH 2020


The pelagic invasion is now in full swing FORSTER

Luke Austin

March is an insane month in and around the beautiful waters of the Forster/ Tuncurry area. The water is warm, teeming with all sorts of baitfish and absolutely alive with those predatory species that we all love to hunt.

and the good water and bait numbers hold, you can find juvenile black marlin absolutely anywhere this month, sometimes even as close as the breakwalls or Main Beach. For the serious anglers though, the more popular marlin grounds are to the south, down around Seal Rocks or to the north up around Dennis Shoals or even Snapper Rock. Trolling

and tying a rig up, as there’s a fair chance your baits are being hounded by mackerel. We normally see the first evidence of these silver speedsters around the end of February or the start of March, and by the end of this month they should be about in good numbers, particularly on the reefs to the north. Spotted mackerel can be insanely thick up

Pearl perch have come from some of the deeper reefs. For a lot of anglers, the focus has now well and truly shifted to all things offshore. Marlin, mackerel, longtail tuna, cobia, wahoo and even sailfish are all on the cards this month. The small black marlin fishery is a spectacular annual occurrence, and we are so lucky to have these fish right on our doorstep. As long as the winds behave

live baits through these areas on 10-15kg gear is the most successful technique for chasing these little guys, and if you put in the time you are almost guaranteed a few fish at the moment. If you do decide to troll for a billfish and find yourself being bitten off constantly, you should consider getting out the single strand wire

around Snapper Rock and Dennis Shoals and anglers have a ball fishing for them, all the while hoping that they manage to run into a big Spanish mackerel in the process! While all of the focus is definitely on our annual pelagic visitors at the moment, it’s still worth thinking about our

demersal species. Shallow water snapper have been particularly active lately and every year I am amazed at just how many big reds get caught while slow trolling live baits for mackerel! The deeper reefs have also been fairly productive, and to the south there have been huge schools of pearl perch on some reefs as well as plenty of teraglin and big flathead on the edges. For rock anglers, this month is when things really start to kick into gear. While we have had a spattering of tuna and cobia over the last month or so, hitting the ledges over the next couple of months will give you the best shot at hooking into some quality gamefish. Floating live baits and casting lures from the outcrops to the south are the most popular methods of chasing these fish, however don’t be scared to try new spots. We often get some really good longtail tuna action off the breakwall at this time of the year, so anything is possible! The popular ledges can be a nightmare this month, with big crowds, rubbish and short tempers often leaving a bad taste in peoples’ mouths. Please, if you are going to fish our coastline this land-based game season, be respectful of the environment and other people using it. With nice warm water bathing our beaches, it’s no surprise that our typical ‘summer’ species are still fishing really well from most stretches of sand. Whiting, dart and flathead have been particularly good lately. Seven Mile and Nine Mile beaches have also been producing some very nice tailor recently, with

‘perfect’ gutter before you start fishing. March is a very interesting month in the local estuaries. Warm currents have been lapping our shores for a while now and they often

flathead, bream and whiting fishing. However, things have also started changing for a lot of species, as they get ready to undertake their annual spawning migrations. We have already seen

Now is the time to be having a crack at pelagics off the rocks. deliver all sorts of surprises to Wallis Lake. It is generally in this month that anglers find themselves hooked up to things like giant herring, giant trevally or even cobia while they fish the weed beds and sandflats in search of bream or whiting! It’s one

some really nice schools of luderick starting to move along our rock walls, and just about any structure down around the mouth is covered in big bream. • Luke is the owner of Great Lakes Tackle, your ‘local’ bait and tackle store. We


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some fish getting up around 2kg. Fishing early is the most important factor when chasing these bigger early season fish. Casting metal lures, stickbaits or poppers is the easiest way of finding the schools, as it allows you to cover a lot of ground in a fairly short period and you don’t have to find the

of the few months of the year where you can target any of the species we have in the system all at the same time. The water is still fairly warm, so it’s no surprise that the usual warm water species have been fishing great. If you focus your efforts on areas up around Wallis Island, you can find some great

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Anglers enjoying the best fishing of the year SWANSEA

Jason Scerri

The hot weather and our run of summer fish may be coming to an end, but it is certainly not at that stage yet and the next month or so can see some of our best fishing of the year. The great news is that regardless of whether you prefer the protected waters of Lake Macquarie or the open ocean this month, there’s plenty on offer for all who are willing to put the effort in. The Lake has not had what we would call a ‘great flush’ for some time, but there has been the odd downpour that has helped it get a flush, but a good soaking is certainly needed. The warm currents are still pushing offshore, so action out wide is still looking promising.

orange or pink are working best. Look for weedy locations if you’re chasing squid and ensure you keep your jigs just above the weed beds for best results and fewer foul ups on the weed. I also use scent religiously on my squid jigs, as I find I get much better results. Anglers chasing mulloway are currently scoring better results chasing them after dark. In saying that it could also be because many anglers are not chasing them throughout the daytime at the moment, as the days are quite hot and often uncomfortable. Live squid set out after hours are scoring good numbers of mulloway, with loads of fish in the 80-90cm range. I know they are a prized fish and the lake is fishing well for them, but I get disappointed to see anglers coming back in with their bag limit of mulloway multiple times

The author managed this lovely bream on a shallow running Strike Pro lure in 3ft of water. Kicking things off in the Lake, it’s basically all on offer this month. Bream, flathead, mulloway, tailor and squid are all about in good numbers and keeping anglers busy. The number of squid throughout the lake is possibly one reason for the good numbers of mulloway about, as we all know that they love nothing more than a live squid. We have been getting plenty of squid and are finding that small jigs in

each week. There is only so much fish you can eat, and when anglers complain about the lack of larger mulloway in the lake they may want to start looking at why that is. If you constantly take every mulloway you land in the 80-90cm range, that certainly reduces the numbers getting through to become larger models. For those anglers who love the sporting aspect of chasing bream on lures, now

is a great time for you on Lake Macquarie. I’ve been fortunate enough to get out for a few trips recently and have scored good bream on each occasion. My preferred method is 3lb straight through fluorocarbon line connected directly to a hardbody lure. Gold and brown are the colours that have been working well for me of late, and I generally like two different offerings ready to go. I use an outfit with a lure that dives very shallow for when I start my drift in close to the shore and am fishing in only 1m of water, and then a second outfit to switch to as I move out into deeper sections in 1-2m. I don’t think I have come across a fish under 30cm for some time and there has been a good number in the 40cm range, so it’s certainly been good fishing. For anglers more content with a feed of fresh flathead fillets, you’re in luck. Anglers are seeing good numbers of flathead throughout the lake, and a little surprising is the number of good flathead coming after dark. It’s not uncommon to get a flathead or two after dark when mulloway fishing, but we are seeing some anglers scoring really good bags of flathead after dark. The size and quality of these fish is great to see and a good sign for the lake. Fresh squid strips are effective baits and bright coloured lures are also accounting for a good number of these fish. Moving offshore, and things have been fantastic for game crews, with good numbers of marlin about this season. It’s often a good indication when we see locations to our north such as South West Rocks get a good run of marlin, because we can generally also expect to see a good season locally. South West Rocks has been seeing better numbers of inshore blacks than they have seen for many years, so that’s fantastic. Both techniques of pulling lures and live slimies have been working well for crews. Fish are ranging from smaller 50kg models right through to some larger black and striped marlin. It’s been a little bit of a windy season, which has certainly limited the days many crews have been able to spend out wide, particularly those trailer boat crews. As with every summer offshore there is a good spread of by-catch in the form of mahimahi, and this season has been no different. Those fish caught trolling lures are generally a better size fish than those caught from the Fisheries FADs, but in saying that not all FAD caught mahimahi

are small fish. If you work the FADs and target them mid-week and early in the morning or into the evening with live baits, you’re in with a great chance of some

very respectable fish. For those crews who just love trolling, I suggest trolling past the FADs and working an area of about 1-2km around them. Just

Kai with a prime example of a Lake Mac flathead he caught land-based.

be mindful and courteous to others that are also out there trying to find a few. Stick to reasonably small lures. I’d happily run a pair of 8” lures off the riggers and a 6-7” lure from the corners then a little 5” out in the shotgun position. Believe me, you’re not going to be the last crew to score a marlin running this spread of lures in close around the Fisheries FADs, as we score them every season with this very same method, so give it a go! With colours I really like bright offerings at this time of year. Brighter pink and green and even orange out back in the longer positions are a good choice. We generally put darker colours off the corner positions in our spreads, and at this time of year I like a blue and a purple offering. I suggest running single hook rigs as we do with all our rigged lures at Colorato Lures. I believe you will not only find a better hook-up rate, but it is also far safer for the crew, so trust me, this is another occasion where less is more. If you follow these suggestions you too might just find a few quality gamefish this season.

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There is no better time to visit Port Stephens PORT STEPHENS

Paul Lennon

March is right up there with the best months of the year to be fishing in Port Stephens.

for dusky flathead. The bulk of the fish at this time of year will be down the system, with areas like Corlette, Soldiers Point, Pindimar, Shoal Bay and Jimmys Beach all proven flatty haunts. Hardbody lures and smaller vibes will also

Bream are still smacking surface lures, lightly-weighted plastics and crankbaits. Fishing the structure around Soldiers Point through to Tea Gardens is the go, with racks, rock bars and points all areas to try.

Bailey Jones with his PB 80cm+ flathead taken in the estuary. ESTUARY AND BAY Inside the estuary you can’t go wrong throwing plastics around the shallows

work a treat on the lizards, as will the old fashioned slowrolled pilchard on a set of gang hooks.

Schools of bonito have been scattered through the lower half of the bay, especially on the incoming

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tide. Keep an eye out for bird activity and have a rod rigged up with a 10-15g metal lure ready to throw, as they will often only pop up for 10-30 seconds at a time. Frigate mackerel should also start to show up inside the bay, especially the later we get into March, and these can be targeted the same way. Late March may also see the arrival of a few early season longtail tuna inside the bay, so keep an eye out for those too. Mulloway are another viable target this month, with the deeper waters and rock walls all worth a shot on the tide changes. Live baits such as squid, slimy mackerel, pike or yellowtail will work best for mulloway, however lures such as soft vibes will also give success around the rock walls and bridge pylons. BEACHES Beaches will be fishing well this month, with good whiting and bream coming from the surf gutters. As always, live worms are the key to success when fishing these areas and will produce good mixed bags, including by-catch such as tailor, salmon, dart and mulloway. Mullet should also start to move along the beach in late March, which will increase predator activity, including mulloway, so stick around after dark and fish with bigger baits, such as live mullet or whiting. ROCKS There’s plenty of fun to be had spinning off the rocks, with 20-40g metals spun from the headlands and points accounting for bonnies, tailor, salmon and rat kings. Towards the end of the month, longtail tuna should start to become a frequent

catch from the headlands, with live baits suspended 2m under a float by far the best method to get connected to one of these torpedoes. OFFSHORE It’s a great time to be offshore in Port Stephens. There are still good numbers of black marlin in close, with 40-50 fathoms off Fingal Lighthouse to the Vee, 21, and Gibber reefs and up to

marlin, with most boats averaging 2-3 fish. The shallow reefs, islands and headlands will all be worth live baiting from this month, with longtail tuna, cobia and big kings all on the cards. Snapper are also there to be caught, with late afternoon bait fishing sessions around Broughton Island proving very productive, while Seal

Bonnies have turned up inside the bay, and are great fun to catch on light gear. and past Seal Rocks all good places to search. Keep an eye on sea surface charts to give you a good idea of where the best water is. On the shelf there are consistent bites of blue and striped

Rocks has been producing the goods early in the morning for anglers throwing plastics. The deeper reefs are also holding good numbers of reds, trag, pearl perch and mulloway.






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Dean Overall with a quality longtail. These speedsters will be moving along the coast at this time of year.

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Heat of summer still lingers HUNTER COAST

Joel Edwards

With the heat of summer slowly leaving us we are faced with the cooler

months approaching. In my experience, March can be a fruitful and all round great month for opportunities in and around the Hunter Coast. From the continental

shelf right through to the creeks and back waters, there’s something on for everyone. SQUID It’s time to get inky! Although us Novocastrians

The author with a school mulloway that couldn’t resist a Zerek Fish Trap. TOURNAMENT TACKLE STORE



are quite blessed with great squid fishing most of the year, March is a great transition month where both arrow squid and their much larger cousins the southern calamari can be readily targeted successfully. Lake Macquarie is the spot if you’re after a feed of arrows or simply want to gather a few baits for a future bait session. Try

rigged with a jig in the rod holders out the back of your drift to catch those less enthusiastic critters. Try and mix up your jig colours. I like natural colours in the lake, and soft greens are a great start. Size 2.0 and 2.5 jigs are a mainstay. If you’re chasing a feed of calamari and don’t mind the sound of your drag peeling with a good run of a big southern calamari, head outside and hit the kelp edges of our coastline with 3.0 and 3.5 size jigs in white and blue. Drifting is key once again, and I have been tangling with some real brutes in close off our rock ledges. Salt and pepper calamari has been a hit with the kids! MULLOWAY ‘Tis the season to be sleep deprived. This month presents some of the best opportunities to tangle with a big croaking slime ball. Whether lure casting or slinging baits is your forte, this time of year it’s all happening in our estuarine and inshore waters. With the mullet on the move, so are the mulloway, terrorizing the poor little morsels all along our beautiful coastline. Try slinging your lures from the rocks or your favourite

Jason Aguiar and Mitch Stafford with Mitch’s beast of a mulloway that ate a live bait from the Hunter River. and chopper tailor is key, so keep that in mind when selecting your lure. There is plenty of suitable water along our local beaches to soak



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MARCH 2020

Kit ‘Black Toes’ Borton with a cracking soft plastic eating snapper. This one was taken on light line and a lightly-weighted paddle-tail. areas close to the dropover, Murrays Beach and Green Point. Wind assisted drifting is the most deadly way to find these aggressive little cephalopods. Cast jigs ahead of your drift and try to be as patient as you can. I recommend putting a rod

beach headland. When the conditions are favourable, try not to ignore the nooks and crannies close to your feet. Heavily-weighted soft plastic paddle-tails around 5-10” and large shallow diving hardbodies are the lures of choice in this scenario. Imitating mullet

a live or dead bait for a mulloway, and studying the conditions can be tricky. Concentrate your efforts along Stockton Beach and Hawks Nest to the north. Mullet, tailor, yellowtail and slimy mackerel, fished dead or alive, are the baits of choice along our Hunter

beaches. Beachworms are another great bait and have been the undoing of many massive surf mulloway. THE HUNTER RIVER It’s been a real smorgasbord of choice in the river of late. Bream have been plentiful, along with some great numbers of dusky flathead keeping anglers stoked and well fed. If you’re after a fun morning on the river chasing some light line bream action, try the rock walls west of the Stockton bridge and as far upriver as the Terrace. Soft plastics and blade lures have been the trick to fool a bream or two. Another great way to target a bream is to fish lightly-weighted mullet in the shallows around Fullerton Cove on the high tide. No water is shallow enough for these bluenosed brutes. Stockton Bridge is fishing well for flathead and school mulloway, both with baits and artificials. Focussing your efforts around the tide change is the ticket. Blackfish are another species that get the juices flowing heading toward to cooler months, so keep them in mind if you’re after the thrill of float fishing. The breakwalls are producing a mulloway or two on live baits, with some real brutes taken in the daylight hours recently. A true brute was taken by Mitch Stafford on a live yakka, coming in at 147cm To page 47

Water at its warmest ERINA

Aaron Donaldson

We have had a slightly up and down summer season. Everything in the

ocean seems to be running about a month later than usual, and the warmest waters of the year have now arrived, with temperatures up to 26°C. There has been a stack

Bream are on the bite and willing to chase down surface lures. From page 46

and 27.5kg. This was Mitch’s first mulloway over the metre mark, and what a way to knock a PB out of the park! OFFSHORE We have experienced a really hot snapper bite of late, rivaling our North Coast friends, with some crazy shallow water reds in close. Kit Borton has been a standout with his light line approach, stopping some true trophy snapper in shallow water on beefed up bream tackle. The reefs off the Newcastle beaches have produced some great fish, as well as the popular stretch off Port Stephens, which has been hard to ignore. Live slimies and soft plastics have been the standouts. For the current chasers, the water can be at its best at this time of year, and although the crowds have thinned out, the marlin and mahimahi are still there harassing the shoals of slimies. Heading far east can be quite fruitful. Kane Hartcher and crew aboard Nothing Suss have been putting plenty of time on the water, with some great results both live baiting and switchbaiting for marlin.

Longtail tuna are another species that make their run along our coastline at this time of year. Ballooning live baits and casting metal slugs is a surefire way to tangle with

of bait around as well, which as we all know leads to some good fishing. OFF THE ROCKS Around the rocks it’s been red hot, with stacks of bonito being caught on hardbodies, soft plastics and the usual chrome lures. We haven’t heard of too many big kingfish getting around, although there’s always a few lurking, so it’s worth a try with a large stickbait early in the morning. Any of the deeper platforms along our area can be productive at times. On the shallower platforms the bream are moving into the shallower water chasing the smaller whitebait, and now is a great time to throw a few hardbody divers into the washes and target these fish. Fishing in this way is so much fun, but you are going to wet! BLUEWATER Gamefishing has sprung to life in a big way recently, and Luke Bell and his crew were once again quick to capitalise on a good bite and had a great day landing several marlin. They even managed to land the boat’s first NSW sailfish! Let’s hope these fish hang around for a bit. BREAD AND BUTTER SPECIES Brisbane Water has been a little slow, mostly these line burners. All in all, the fishing is still hot as the weather cools, so get off the couch and hit the salt and briney – there’s a smorgasbord of opportunity!

Luke Bell and Jason Crease proudly hold their first NSW sailfish. due to super high water temperatures and a stack of boat traffic, although as you read this these things should start to improve.

usual, and it’s been good to see a lot of anglers trolling for their flathead. This technique can be deadly at times, especially when it’s

super windy and casting is too difficult. The best areas to try would be downstream of the Rip Bridge and toward Half Tide Rocks.

Throwing small surface lures will turn up a few whiting this month. There has still been some great surface action on the bream, and there are some true beasts in this waterway. Too often massive bream will just follow your lure right to your rod tip and not commit! School-sized fish are a bit more user-friendly, and most of the time they’ll explode on the lure. Flathead have been about in numbers as per

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Results are in: $200 spinning reel comparison FMG

Steve Morgan

It’s been a while since we’ve done some head-tohead reviews at Fishing Monthly, so we thought we’d start up again having a look at small spinning reels. Threadlines in the 2500 size range are one of the most popular items sold

in tackle stores, and there are usually a couple in every estuary or freshwater angler’s kit when they head out on the water. We reckon that the $200 price range represents the first jump up into a quality reel when anglers begin their journey into fishing, and there are plenty of reels around in that price range. You can spool them with anything from 3lb straight-

through fluorocarbon right up to 20lb braided line and leader, and can catch anything from bream and trout to barramundi and small pelagics. We asked all of the major suppliers to provide a sample of their reel(s) in this price range and size, and most were happy to participate. Some manufacturers (like TiCA) didn’t have anything in the

Scoring started with first impressions.

Our testers at Tide Apparel HQ preparing to face the simulator.

Okuma helios sx


zone, while others (like Shimano) didn’t respond to our requests. In the end, we ended up with nine reels to test, with reels from Rapala, Daiwa, Alvey, Quantum, Okuma, Penn and Abu Garcia lining up for some testing in the office and in the field. THE METHODS Rather than get the

internal staff to rate the reels, we recruited three local anglers from near our office in South East Queensland: Aaron, Jarryd and Brian. They all responded to a social media call-up and made themselves available for half a day to give these reels the ‘shop treatment’ at the Fishing Monthly offices. These three anglers all


have plenty of experience fishing and were great testers who took their job seriously. I know that some of my snobby mates would turn up their noses at testing $200 reels, so thank you to the tackle test team! To baseline the scoring, I dragged an old Shimano Aerocast out of the archives. After 20+ years of

Rapala Maxwell

Rapala R-Type Quantum Smoke

Alvey Orbiter

Abu Garcia Roxani

Penn Conflict ii

SPECIFICATIONS Brand............ Model..................Size.......... Bearings.................Gear Ratio.............. Max Drag............... Line capacity.............. Weight............ Warranty......... RRP Daiwa............. Exceler LT............2500......... 4+1..........................5.3:1........................ 10kg........................ 0.18/230m.................... 205g................ 1 year.............. $149 Rapala........... Maxwell................2000......... 6+1..........................5.1:1........................ n/a........................... 0.25/160m.................... 278g................ 1 year.............. $150 Daiwa............. Tierra LT...............2500......... 4+1..........................5.3:1........................ 10kg........................ 0.18/230m.................... 235g................ 1 year.............. $179 Quantum........ Inshore Smoke.....25............. 11+1........................6.0:1........................ 8.2kg....................... 0.26/140m.................... 227g................ 3 years............ $189 Rapala........... R-Type.................25............. 9+1..........................5.2:1........................ 6kg.......................... 0.25/225m.................... 290g................ 1 year.............. $190 Okuma........... Helios SX.............30............. 8+1..........................5.0:1........................ 6kg.......................... 0.25/200m................... 202g................ 10 years........... $199 Penn.............. Conflict II.............2500......... 7+1..........................6.2:1........................ 6kg.......................... 0.25/180m.................... 225g................ 1 year.............. $219 Abu Garcia..... Roxani . ...............2500......... 6+1..........................6.2:1........................ 5.2kg....................... 0.235/170m.................. 226g................ 1 year.............. $249 Alvey.............. Orbiter SR............100........... 9+1..........................5.8:1........................ 8kg.......................... 0.30/145m.................... n/a................... 2 years............ $259 48

MARCH 2020

inactivity it provided a pretty good indication of what a reel shouldn’t feel like (due to no maintenance for two decades) and it really showed where reel technology is sitting today. Infinite antireverse and balanced rotors are standard, as are roller bearings, efficient bail-return mechanisms and incredibly light frame materials. We rated each reel out of 10 with respect to the testers’ judgement of ‘initial feel’, ‘smoothness’, ‘looks’, ‘handle feel’ and ‘anti-reverse’. After the ‘shop’ test we visited Nick Richardson

by our friends at Tackle Tactics, so each reel had the same line, filled to the same point on the spool with Peter Jung’s line spooling machine on the kitchen table at the office. The team then rated each reel out of 10 for its ‘drag smoothness’, ‘winding under pressure’, ‘drag range’, ‘drag amount’ and ‘overall feel’. There was plenty of sledging, but each tackle tester took a turn fighting the same fish with the same outfit and the same settings. For consistency, we coupled the reels with a trio of Okuma


away for analysis, and got some great video footage. You can check it out by scanning the QR code on this page on your phone, or just search for ‘Fishing Monthly’ you YouTube. THE ANALYSIS There are plenty of ways to skin a cat when it comes to delivering results from the data collected. We have broken it up in a number of ways. First, we collated the overall scores to give us a highest scoring reel from the nine. Second, we compared the ‘shop’ scores to the ‘fishing’ scores to see which reel walked the

Scan the QR code for testers’ interviews and to see the reels in action.

Brian was perhaps the most thorough tester, he could barely keep his hands off the drag knob.

All nine reels were strapped to the same Okuma Duo spin rods we give to subscribers at boat shows. at Tide Apparel to take advantage of his fishfighting machine, and put the reels through their paces in a situation as close to fishing as we could get. We spooled all of the reels up with 12lb Platypus Platinum mono, supplied

Duo-tip rods (the same ones we give away to subscribers at boat shows). These rods copped a flogging but survived the experience well. We have even more confidence giving these to you at the shows now. We ended up with a matrix of scores that we took

walk better than expected. And finally we divided the combined scores by price to give a ‘best value’ rating. This is important, because the most expensive reel was nearly twice the price in stores as the cheapest one. Of course, we could

The author couldn’t stand around watching any more. He had to strap up and have a go for himself.

have increased the data accuracy by sourcing a large number of testers and a more objective measurement of drag smoothness and limits, but our goal isn’t to get published in a scientific journal – rather we are collating opinions to help you direct or justify a future purchase. Also, note that there were only small differences between the best and the worst in each category. Every reel in class will do the job well and there’s only a 22% difference maximum in all of the scores. It shows that our testers were pretty precise when it came to rating the reels on a spectrum from rubbish to brilliant. Let’s have a look at the results, one at category at a time. SHOP VS FISHING This is where we compared the two scores from each tester – the ‘in shop’ score (how the reel looked and felt) vs the ‘fishing’ score (how it performed on the fishing simulator). We averaged the scores per reel per category, and added the five averages together for the ‘in shop’ ratings. We did the same for the ‘fishing’ ratings, and then subtracted the shop score from the fishing score.

That means a positive score is a reel that fished better than it looked and felt, while a negative score meant that it scored better in the shop than with a fish on the end. Here is how the reels ranked:

Conflict all fished better than they felt, but this result is only part of a bigger picture. All it means is that some reels felt better loaded up than unloaded. You need to look at the reels in several different ways to get a thorough assessment. After all, when we researched pricing on the internet, we found that the most expensive reel in the cohort ($259 for the Alvey) was around twice the price of the cheapest ($126 for the Daiwa Exceler). So the next way we worked the numbers was to divide the total point score by their price. We worked off the MO Tackle website for most of these prices, because MO had nearly all

The simulator that kept reel drags singing and the boys smiling! In this category, the two Daiwas, the Quantum, one Rapala and the Penn 1. Daiwa Tierra LT....... +4.5 2. Daiwa Exceler LT.... +3.9 3. Quantum Inshore Smoke.................... +3.6 4. Rapala R-Type........ +1.1 5. Penn Conflict II....... +0.3 6. Alvey Orbiter........... -0.5 7. Okuma Helios SX.....-0.8 8. Abu Garcia Roxani....-1.0 9. Rapala Maxwell........-2.8

in stock. Alvey’s pricing was taken from their online store, and we used the RRP for the Rapala Maxwell, as we couldn’t find it for sale online. We felt that price was important, because if you do have limited money to spend, you can get two of the cheapest reels for the price of the dearest. Here’s what we found. The higher the score, the To page 50

Built for adventure

MARCH 2020


From page 49

better the value for money in this review. If you were to look at these results only, the 1. Daiwa Exceler LT.... 0.52 2. Rapala R-Type........ 0.51 3. Daiwa Tierra LT....... 0.49 4. Okuma Helios SX.... 0.40 5. Rapala Maxwell...... 0.39 6. Quantum Inshore Smoke.................... 0.38 7. Penn Conflict II....... 0.34 8. Abu Garcia Roxani.. 0.34 9. Alvey Orbiter........... 0.31

MOST POINTS WINS? A third way to judge the reels may well be to add up all of the ‘shop’ and ‘fishing’ points averages. With this method, you’re getting the best feeling and performing reel, irrespective of price. With this rating, the Alvey Orbiter came out on top. Indeed, more than one of the testers were impressed by the looks, feel and fishability of this new entrant into the market

1. Daiwa Tierra LT....... 6 2. Daiwa Exceler LT.... 8 3. Rapala R-Type........ 10 4. Alvey Orbiter........... 16 5. Quantum Inshore Smoke.................... 17 6. Okuma Helios SX.... 18 7. Abu Garcia Roxani.. 18 8. Penn Conflict.......... 18 9. Rapala Maxwell...... 23 see which one came up with the lowest number. This is for entertainment purposes only, as it’s takes none of your individual needs

FINAL WORDS FROM THE TESTERS “They’re all good reels and have a different target species. My personal favourite was probably one of the Rapalas – the robustness was right up there for me.” - Brian Smith. “Probably the Alvey for me. Trying that out for the first time I was really impressed. I had it locked up and it was pretty smooth. All of the reels were great for value for money.” - Jarryd Parkinson. “In all honesty they’re all good reels, and they all have their place. I particularly like the Daiwa Tierra. Nice looking, good drag and it makes fighting the fish quite easy.” - Aaron Walker. WHAT’S BEST FOR YOU? If there’s anything we have learned from this experience, it’s that none of the reels failed the fishing test. The difference between the best and the worst drag

Anglers just love the sound of line peeling off a reel.

Everyone went home with a Fishing Monthly goodie bag and a reel of their choice. two Daiwas and the Rapala Type-R represent the best value for money. That’s great if money is the sole

segment. One may also say that this is to be expected, given that it was the most expensive reel entered.

into account. We are prepared for the complaints and tears from some distributors, but hey – we can only report on what the testers told us! 1. Alvey Orbiter........... 79.5 2. Daiwa Tierra LT....... 73.9 3. Abu Garcia Roxani.. 71.0 4. Rapala R-Type........ 69.1 5. Daiwa Exceler LT.... 65.3 6. Penn Conflict II....... 64.1 7. Okuma Helios SX.... 63.8 8. Quantum Inshore Smoke.................... 61.0 9. Rapala Maxwell...... 57.8

Aaron put plenty of thought into his scores.

Tide Apparel’s fishing simulator had the testers playing everything from 2lb bass to 50lb GTs. basis of your decisionmaking, but you may be buying a reel for a specific purpose and it’s very likely that a reel’s unique feature(s) may be more important than value. 50

MARCH 2020

JUST FOR GIGGLES Finally, how about adding all of the rankings together? In all of the analysis, we ranked the reels 1 (first) to 9 (last). Let’s add all the rankings together and

Our independent testing group took their work very seriously.

was bugger all, so it all may just come down to personal preference. After all, you might need a high speed reel, and if that’s the case the Quantum Inshore or Penn may fit the bill the best. Maybe you need the lightest reel to balance that fancy rod of yours? Or maybe you want a reel with a long warranty? The Okuma wins this race hands down, with 10 years of guaranteed back-up of their product. I can 100% say that $200 in 2020 gives you a much better reel than it did 20 years ago. We are also aware that we didn’t test for corrosion resistance or any other measures of durability. That’s because we had neither gear, time or inclination to destruction-test these reels. We’d much rather give some away to our readers!






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It’s time to plan your Easter fishing holiday NOWRA

Johnny Nolan

I know it’s only March but it is time to start planning your Easter break, because it really isn’t far away. With the Chrissy holidays pretty much a write off for most of this year on the South Coast, it would be great to see all you people who love our area to return for your Easter break, as there is always some good fishing to be had around that time of the year and the lead up is looking good, with plenty of fish on the bite. There are many small businesses who need your trade to help them through those approaching winter months, so come on down and book your Easter break somewhere on the NSW South Coast. It really is God’s country down here! SHOALHAVEN RIVER There’s a lot on offer through March in our area, and whether you’re land-

based or boat bound you should be able snare a few. Starting off on our mighty Shoalhaven River, there have been some good whiting and flatties

taking lures over many of the vast sand flats during the high tide. Shallow diving minnows between 70-120mm have been accounting for a lot of these

Dano Corbin was happy with this Jervis Bay snapper.

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flatties. Retrieving your lure and occasionally bumping it along the sandy bottom creates a disturbance like a prawn flicking around in distress, and is a sure-fire way to grab the attention of a lurking predator. Alternatively, a slow roll with an ultra shallow diver in a dark colour gives a good silhouette of a struggling baitfish on the surface. Either way works, depending on the location and fish activity. If you’re after more of the whiting, then your weapon of choice should be a surface lure around the 70mm mark. This skipped quite rapidly across the surface with no pauses should get you more than your fair share of the action, with some pretty solid specimens being taken recently. For both the flatties and whiting you can try pretty much most of the river’s sand flats, but I have heard that the sections from The Canal through to Pig Island are producing good fish. MOVING ONTO JERVIS BAY There are still plenty of rat kings around the cliffs and washes for some early morning fun, and the rising tide has seen some nice reds actively feeding around both deeper and shallow water locations throughout the bay. I always try to get the low tide change early in the morning for the reds, especially inside the bay. Whether you’re flicking the soft plastics or floating baits, you should be able to catch a few keepers for the table and maybe find that big model we all strive to catch! Squids are thick at the moment not only in the bay, but also off the rocks both

up and down the coast. Early morning high tides seem to work better off the rocks, with first light bring prime time. If you’re not keen for an early morning, think back to your last feed of freshlycaught and cooked salt and pepper squid, and that’s usually enough inspiration for me to grab the squid gear

took down the coast from Nowra to Batemans Bay the devastation I witnessed from the summer bushfires was tragic, and my heart goes out to those who have lost everything. However, the areas of fresh green growth in some places is amazing to see; new life coming through after such

The author with a South Coast squid taken off the rocks. and hit the water. I still find that a size number 3.0 jig works best off the rocks. That’s it for the fishing for this month, but remember the South Coast is back in business, so book an Easter holiday in your favorite location and help out some of these struggling towns. On a recent drive I

tragedy is inspiring. If nature can rebuild and come back after such a disaster, humans can too! Once again a massive thanks to all the firies and emergency services who kept us safe throughout these terrible times, and thanks also to those members of the public who helped others in need.




MARCH 2020

You never know what might turn up this month ILLAWARRA

Greg Clarke

Every day is an adventure this month, because you never know what will happen next with fish of all shapes, sizes, makes and models out and about and ready to have a crack at whatever you put in the water. You may start the day with a plan to target a specific species and finish up having a ball on something completely different, and such is the variety of fish on tap this month. The warm water has been pushing down the coast now for weeks and all the northern visitors that come with it are mixing it with the locals, so be prepared for anything. Kingfish are always a favourite these days; they look good, fight hard and taste good too. While not in the numbers and sizes they were pre-trap era, they have come back in some numbers and the next two months are the best time of the year to catch them. A good fish in this neck of the woods these days is 10kg, with a few better ones coming in over the season and most fish around the 4-6kg mark. They’re not like the 25-30kg fish we used to get, but still great fun.

Bass Point and Rangoon Island have good kings at the moment, as do the rock shelves close in at Kiama and north at Bellambi and Coalcliff. Wollongong reef and Bandit have some too but they can be tough to find over the large reefs. Live slimy mackerel are the best baits and easier to get than squid, which are a great bait too, but I prefer to eat the squid. Even better, there is plenty of by-catch this time of the year, with bonito giving your live baits a caning, and some are whoppers that can eat a big mackerel while the smaller ones are nuisance and just kill your baits. Then there are the exotics that come with the warm water like Spanish mackerel and cobia. Big cobes get caught every year locally, generally when fishing for kingfish or snapper, so if you hook what looks like a shark when it comes to the surface and swims around the boat, don’t be too hasty and try to bust it off, as it may just be a cobia. On the other hand, if you cop a couple of bite-offs on your live baits, put on a bit of light single strand wire and a stinger hook and see what happens. Further offshore there is plenty of action, with heaps of mahimahi on the FADs

This is an average size king for around this part of the world at the moment, and there are plenty about! I don’t use length like most do these days, as a fish of 1.3m post spawning may go 11kg while a fat solid school fish that has been feeding well may only be 90cm and be the same weight and pull three times as hard as the longer fish. This is why I don’t think length is necessarily a good indicator of a quality fish. One of the better spots to target them is the islands off Port Kembla, but you really have to share your live baits and fish with the seals that have expanded in numbers over the past 20 years. Some of them are experts at picking off your livies, with surgeonlike precision, and if they grab your fish you have virtually no chance of getting it back.

and as per usual the size and number of fish can change on a daily basis, so you have to get out there and see what is on tap each day. If the current is pushing down hill then there is a good chance of a wahoo or even a stray sailfish. Big blue marlin are out on the shelf, with the chance of striped marlin mixed in, while you could score a black marlin anywhere from the close in reefs to the shelf and beyond. A few yellowfin tuna up to 30kg are always on the cards this time of the year, but again, nothing like they used to be when March saw massive schools of fin invade the local coastline. There are still the odd few that show. In over the reefs there are

A few spotties mixed in with the mulloway was a welcome surprise. some good snapper getting about in the 20-40m mark. Plastics and baits are both effective, with fish to 6kg not uncommon. Mixed in are some decent samsonfish and even a few amberjack if you are lucky enough to pick the right reef. In closer there is plenty of smaller pelagic action just behind the surf, with salmon, mackerel tuna, frigate mackerel, bonito, small kings, tailor, trevally and a few striped tuna churning into the baitfish, with bait balls of pilchards and anchovies not uncommon. When the bait is balled up, it is carnage as the predators slice the water to pieces and grab any lure put in front of them. While this is all happening, the bottom bouncers are having a ball too, with the bottom dwelling predators getting in on the action. Flathead are on the chew over every bit of sand along the coast, and this season they have been really good quality, with fish of around the 1kg mark the norm. Over the reefs, there are plenty of snapper from pan-sized models to 6kg and better, samson, the odd pearl perch, emperor, trevally, pigfish and some good-sized mowies just to top off the bag. On the beaches you can pick your species. There’s plenty of whiting all along the coast, and they are good quality fish this time of year. Bream are mixed in with them, and a few salmon will make a nuisance of themselves, putting up a solid fight on light whiting gear. A few dart have worked their way down the coast. They go hard in the whitewater and are a beautiful looking fish. Flathead are on every beach, just work the gutter edges with fish fillets or plastics, with the deeper gutters throwing up a few school mulloway for some lucky anglers. If you get serious and fish after dark, there are some bigger fish to 20kg mixed in with the schoolies, but there are also a lot of sharks on the beaches as well, so take plenty of big hooks.

On the rocks there is plenty of pelagic action, with bonito, frigate mackerel, mackerel tuna and salmon on the deeper ledges with the northern side of Bass Point again putting on some torrid sessions. Honeycomb, the Port breakwalls and Kiama also have plenty of action, with most fish falling to good old silver metal lures cast out and ripped back fast. If you like bigger fish, there is always a chance of a solid longtail this month grabbing a live bait down Kiama way. Some larger mackerel tuna will be about as well, and they go hard on that first run. A few solid kings will be about just on dark, both in the mornings and evenings, and don’t discount a stray marlin showing up on the deeper ledges this month either. Live frigates are the best baits for both the kings and marlin. Hammerhead sharks love them too. In the washes there are plenty of bream, with a few nice drummer and trevally in the whitewater too. If blackfish are your favourite, they are starting to travel this month, with the big bronzies moving up the coast and around the headlands. All you need is some good weed and a bit of whitewater and you are in business. There are plenty

gathering around the harbour breakwalls as well. For some fun, hit the harbours with light line and small lures for the frigate mackerel that buzz in and out this month, and this sort of fishing is usually best on high tide. The smaller the little baitfish lure, the more strikes you get and you won’t usually have them all to yourself, as it can get pretty crowded when there are a few about. Bellambi, Wollongong Harbour and Port breakwalls inside the harbours, Shellharbour and Kiama are all attracting schools. In the estuaries, there is still plenty of flathead to go around and they have been better than average size this season. There have always been plenty of flathead in the lake each season. You used to struggle to get many over the

50cm mark and a 60cm fish turned heads, but this season they are averaging 50cm and are really solid fat fish, with plenty of 60cm fish thrown in and a good smattering of 70cm and even 80cm fish. The larger fish are mostly falling for live poddies in the main channel, and you don’t need a boat to get them, as some of the best catches have been coming from the land-based and jetty fishos. There are some nice flatties in Minnamurra too, but nowhere near as consistent as the lake. Some nice bream are in the deeper holes and around the bridge pylons in both the lake and Minnamurra, with some really solid whiting over the sand flats. Worms are the best bait, as they have gone off the poppers of late, probably due to the prawns thinning out as the water cools.

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Bushfires can’t keep us down BERMAGUI

Darren Redman

Sadly, the South East Coast has suffered from yet more bushfires. At the

However, anglers will be anglers, and the itch to go wet a line compels fishos out on the water. In between the fire activity, it has been perfectly safe to venture out for a fish and the angling

Ash may have an effect on those that are closed to the ocean, although at this stage there have not been any reports of fish kills or major effects to the water quality. Systems open to the ocean have been fishing

Anglers are still enjoying the offshore delights the coast has to offer. time of writing, there is still fire activity within the areas of Bermagui to Tathra and this has people on edge and not wanting to visit the area, which is totally understandable.

has been surprisingly reasonable. The lakes and estuaries along this part of the coast have suffered some burning close to the water’s edge, however most have not been affected.

extremely well with a variety of species on offer. The wildlife that surrounds the lakes and rivers is also seemingly bouncing back. The likes of wading birds, wallabies,

Once dam levels improve, the FSCBSA will continue its stocking program for the future.

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help? It’s quite simple actually, when people feel confident about coming back to visit the area, we ask them to do so. We still share a beautiful part of the world and with time it will come back to its true beauty. We may be injured at the moment but we will heal!

Despite the smoky appearance, fishers have not been deterred from getting out on the water.

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of the dam levels and will not reopen until levels improve. With the efforts of the Far South Coast Bass Stocking Association, stocking programs will continue and once water levels rise we should see the fishing back to its full potential. So, how can anglers

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Most lakes and estuaries have not been affected and the results speak for themselves.

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roos, goannas plus many more species are still calling these areas home and are surviving quite well. The beaches or rocky shorelines are as picturesque as always and have been producing their share of fish species for those who wish to wet a line. Out at sea, anglers can look back at the coastline to see the scarring left by the fires on the landscape. It reminds us only too well of how volatile our country can be at times, while also reflecting on how resilient it is. With this in mind, anglers can go about finding some fish out on the ocean. Whether it is those tasty reef or bottom fish, some lovely light tackle sportfish through to the many mighty gamefish, all are still on offer regardless of the effects the fires have had. Unfortunately, one area that has suffered seriously is Brogo Dam. With fires burning down to the water’s edge and water levels at an all-time low, it is tough going for the bass and estuary perch that have been stocked. State Water has also closed the dam to the public until further notice because


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Hopefully better times ahead MALLACOOTA/EDEN

Kevin Gleed

The area was full of visitors coming to enjoy the holiday period, but this didn’t last long before everything went pearshaped in the form of a fire that burnt through Mallacoota then headed on to Eden. Prior to this, the fishing was good, with the

beaches, offshore and lakes and rivers all fishing well. The water temperature had been a bit cool but the past month has seen the water temperature on the beaches rise to around 20°C. Salmon have been caught from all the local beaches and if there were people fishing, they would be still catching fish, as they can be seen swimming in the gutters along all the beaches. The jetty at Bastion Point has

been fishing well, with good catches of big silver trevally and the odd decent yellowfin bream. For the few days prior to the fire, the offshore fishing was excellent, with good catches of gummy shark reported. Plenty of big fish were caught along with fish over the legal size of 45cm. Kingfish of 65-90cm have been caught and the hotspot has been down near Little Ram. Flathead fishing has been good, with

There are plenty of big prawns in the Bottom Lake.

both sand and tiger flathead caught out off Eden right down to Mallacoota. The Bastion Point boat ramp is constantly being dredged, as the sand is moving in as quick as they can take it out. The fishing in the rivers and lakes has been productive and dusky flathead have been really on the bite, with plenty of big fish over 80cm caught. The Mallacoota lake system is full of prawns at the moment. It has taken little time for prawners to score a feed, and with the prawns getting bigger, over the next few months the prawning will only improve. Big tailor have also been caught along with the odd big salmon. Bream have been caught further upstream anywhere from the Top Lake through to Gipsy Point. Quickly after the fires, rumours started that all the fish were going to die in the lake due to the ash in the surrounding bush after everything was burnt, but I don’t think we need to be too concerned. This is a big lake, well oxygenated by the wind and the fish will find their way to where the best water quality is, just

Black bream have been caught in the main channel in the Bottom Lake. like how people evacuated to safer areas. We have had nearly 50cm of rain in town since the fires, with 30cm falling in 20 minutes and a lot more rain in the headwaters. Of course we don’t want a flood, but at the moment the bush is being rejuvenated with every shower of rain. As an additional positive, probably a third of all fish normally taken from the lake are caught at this time of year, but this isn’t happening right now as all visitors were evacuated.

This means more fish will be there to breed, making for some great fishing into the future. The Mallacoota area is still not encouraging visitors, as locals are continuing to rely on generator power – it is expected to take several weeks before everyone is back on the main grid. With that in mind, when things get back to normal head to the coast for a holiday and help support all the fire affected towns. The fishing will make it worth it!


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MARCH 2020


Fires don’t dampen anglers’ spirits for long BATEMANS BAY

Anthony Stokman

I apologise for being absent last month. The team at Fishing Monthly know I struggle most months to get a report in, then add a raging inferno that tried to burn my town down and things got even more difficult. A TOWN CUT OFF It was always going to be impossible to not mention fires in this report, because we have been getting bombarded by fires from all directions since the end of November. We went over a month without seeing the sun, which was so bizarre in summer. The sound of planes and choppers became a sound we got used to and we would go to bed with the blades of the chopper still beating in our heads. It was New Years Eve that put us on the map on the world stage, with 50°C temperatures, 40-50 knot winds from the west, and some of the driest conditions on record. These were the ingredients to a series of damaging fires. It was destruction on a massive scale. Obviously a lot of friends, customers and fishers were directly affected. What was to follow was total isolation from the world and the threat of more fires. We had no power, no service, no electricity, as all of our towers were down, destroyed and melted. Powerlines and trees were lying all over roads and power poles were still burning and falling for days afterwards. The services were outstretched and it was soon declared a state disaster. Nobody could reach us and anyone who had friends and family on the outside who were worried and wanted to get in contact couldn’t for days. I didn’t see my family for three days and they lived across the river. The chaos that followed straight after NYE was cars fleeing the

area and grid locking the place, only to find they could only manage to get to the next town north and got stuck there. This mass evacuation blocked up the bay for a couple of days and the locals evacuated to the centres, leaving Batemans Bay a ghost town. The town was completely shut down and there was no way out and no way in. There was no food and fuel was quickly drying up. People were siphoning fuel out of friend’s cars to spread it out amongst each other. Everyone either went to evacuation centres or drove around from friend-to-friend. Coles supermarket opened briefly 2-3 days later with the use of a generator. There was a massive line up, with Coles only letting 20 in and 20 out at a time. EFTPOS facilities were down and it was back to good ol’ cash. I remember as a kid things flowed quite well with just cash. Now, it seemed to take forever as people fumbled with the mathematics. The whole thing felt very surreal, seeing so many empty shelves and with limited light. It had a doomsday feel to it. A few days later, a truck must have got through and delivered a pallet of ice to the drive through bottle shop down from my place and it quickly got rushed by people. It must have disappeared in a matter of minutes. I drove to work at Compleat Angler Batemans Bay and picked up some eskies to put the ice in. I then headed out to Broulee and on my way I stopped past Malua Bay, which got hit pretty hard by the fire, and it lost its local bowling club along with a heap of homes. I noticed the IGA opening its doors and I thought ‘beauty, I’ll grab some food’, and at this stage you take what you can get. So I grabbed an old tomato, block of cheese, and they happened to have baked some fresh bread, which was a massive score.


It was interesting observing what Aussies do when there is a disaster. They drink, of course! Nearly everyone was buying as many cases of beer and wine as possible. We didn’t know how long it was going to last, so Aussies needed plenty of beers and wine to get through this. Then with my food, eskies and ice, I headed out to Broulee, which was a ghost town and visited friends that

Bushfires and bream fishing. Georgia Poyner fishing under the cover of bushfire smoke. could do with the supplies. An esky with ice was a fridge for the next days and was well appreciated. The odd home had a generator and had some comforts, but most didn’t and BBQ set-ups on driveways became the kitchen and lounge room for those who decided to stay. The places with generators had a lot of visitors as they shared the luxury with their neighbours. The places that had BBQ set-ups in driveways also became a meeting point and so neighbourhoods became closer and lots of new friendships were made. One customer told me that having started a family with a young daughter

the mood for fishing. People were on high alert, ready to evacuate, or help family or friends. THE FISHING THAT FOLLOWED Fishers started coming out of the woods on 5 January onwards to discover the estuaries putting on a good show. The summer snapper were firing and a solid run of marlin offshore was chasing the masses of bait. It was like a welcome back party! The estuaries have had a good run of bream, flatties and whiting. There has been some solid whiting and flatties knocking around all summer in the estuaries. Fishers are increasingly throwing bigger

and have been here since January. Blistering runs and bite-offs are suggesting big wahoo, and the fact that two small ones have been caught means they are here. A big spotted mackerel has also been spotted swimming around Topcat Charters, and this shows that water temperatures are high and currents have pushed down. It’s also around this time where some pearl perch come down to as far as Jervis Bay. The highlight of summer going into autumn would be the marlin fishing. Things were looking promising towards the end of December, with some early captures. Then the fires hit and put everything on hold. Once the boats got back out mid-January, it was evident there was a very reasonable bite happening between Batemans Bay and Jervis Bay. You would have been unlucky not to have had some action. The bait was thick and there are plenty of fish chasing the bait. That water later moved south and the bite flared up off Batemans Bay and Moruya at the end of January. Now it looks as though the fish have settled in along the whole coast, and marlin are being caught everywhere. There you go, the fishing is red hot, just like the fires were. We are only hoping that we continue to get short bursts of rain and wetness that doesn’t push land run-off too fast into the waterways. If it does, we may experience fish kills and we don’t want that. We are definitely living in some extreme times. Let’s hope the fishing stays this good! • For more up-to-theminute information on what’s biting where, drop into Compleat Angler Batemans Bay and have a chat to Anthony or one of the other friendly staff. They’re located at 65A Orient St, Batemans Bay (02 4472 2559).


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MARCH 2020

presentations at flathead while looking for that holy grail, a 1m flathead! What has been popular is throwing massive surface lures or swimbaits over shallow sand bottoms to provoke massive surface hits. Flathead have been known to swim up a few metres to take a lure off the surface. Another challenge has been chasing mulloway on bream gear. A lot of young anglers on their school holidays decided to devote themselves to catching mulloway after dark. Starting traditionally with live mullet and fresh squid, it was only a matter of time for many who tried. Most found success, with the majority of fish being between 60-100cm. Once the confidence was built, they soon switched to 2-4kg and 3-6kg 7ft rods with 10lb braid and 16lb leaders, throwing 4” ZMan DieZel MinnowZ. Lots were lost, but many were caught. Inshore reef fishing has seen a good run of solid snapper. In fact, it’s probably one of the better summers I have seen for snapper. There’s not been massive numbers, but the average size is impressive, with some fish up to 6kg. These fish have mostly been found in the shallower waters around 15-20m. Kingfish have been getting around inshore, with massive schools of rats and some big ones amongst them. Some anglers have had their bream gear tested on the odd kingy visiting the estuaries, which is not so uncommon at the moment. There have been some good schools of bigger kings moving out wide, around the FADs and visiting Montague Island. The FADs are in full swing now, and there have been some mahimahi, big and small, getting around them. Usually around March and into April we see some more interesting species visiting from the north, and I can say they have arrived

BATEMANS BAY • Local Knowledge


and being so busy at work and everyone being so to themselves these days that he had never met his neighbours, and didn’t know who they were. Now he has new friends, baby sitters and a connection with his neighbourhood that he wouldn’t have otherwise found. Out of disaster came togetherness. What didn’t come together during this time was going fishing. No one was in



Floods have brought a welcome flush-out MORUYA

Nick Toozoff

The fires are all out for the moment thanks to the heavy downpours we’ve received, which have soaked into all the burning stumps. All the nutrients flushing out of the river systems will become food for krill, which are food for baitfish themselves, and so on up the food chain. Thanks to this nutrient injection, the fishing should really start to pick up in March. As I write this the rivers are full of sediment, more so than usual after big rain events. This is because the fires had cleared out the undergrowth, which would otherwise protect against erosion and the problem has been compounded due to all the ash. However, this should all clear up within two weeks of the most recent rains. It’s possible that Tuross might struggle a bit if the mouth doesn’t open up. If that was the case, the sediment and ash will sit in the system and that would

be a problem. However, hopefully with king tides and more rain the mouth will open back up. When the water is dirty, it’s time to change your tactics. The freshwater sits on top of the saltwater, so you want to get your baits down deeper where the salinity is. Smelly, oily baits

for anything that’s being flushed down from the tops of the rivers. RIVERS With the warmer temperatures persisting through March, flathead, bream and whiting will all still be options in Batemans Bay, Clyde, Moruya and Tuross. In the Moruya

rising tide. The back waters around Preddy’s Wharf on a rising tide are yielding a few whiting, bream and flathead. There are good size flathead being caught in Tuross River, with specimens up to 1m being caught and released. The lower reaches have been the most productive for flatties

This blue groper was caught land-based by staff member Nathan. are the go in this situation, such as tuna fillets, pilchards or mullet fillets. You will catch flathead and bream and also mulloway in some of the bigger rivers. The mulloway will be looking

River, flathead are being caught around the airport or anywhere there are shallows with weed bed fringes or channel drop-offs. Moruya bridge is also producing good bream after dark on a

in recent weeks. Mulloway are being taken upstream around Snake Flat (just keep an eye out for falling timber). Bass may start to be an option this month, given that the major freshwater

sections have had a bit of a flush out and are now flowing again. This will take pressure off all the bass that were held up in shrinking pools. ROCK AND BEACH Bream and whiting are being taken from the near-shore gutters on live worms and pipis. Salmon are patchy; sometimes a school will come through, but most of the time it’s just the odd fish here and there. You can catch them on a ganged pilchard on a surf rig. Squid are still being caught off the rocks. OFFSHORE The warm currents should still be pushing out wide, so we should see good catches of marlin. There are also plenty of mahimahi at the FADs and pretty much anywhere there’s a bit of floating structure they can hide underneath. Thanks to the flush-out of the river systems, there should be plenty of logs and other flotsam for the dollies to hang off. The local reefs are yielding mixed bags of flathead, snapper and morwong. Most of the flathead have been coming

from 30-40m of water, while the snapper are in depths of around 80-100m. VISITING THE AREA As I write this, there are still a lot of National Park roads closed pending the removal of burnt trees, and there are power poles that need to be replaced as well. However, the majority of those issues should be sorted by the time you read this report. The National Parks camp sites should have reopened as well, but you should check their website just to be sure (www. The council camp grounds are all still open, and all the caravan parks at Moruya and Tuross are open as well. Come and visit, and enjoy the great fishing! • The team at Tackle World Moruya are all passionate local anglers who strive to provide the best service and advice on where to fish, what gear to use and the techniques best suited to different species. Drop in and see them on the corner of Ford and Queen Streets, give them a call on (02) 4474 4381 or visit www.

Big flathead are plentiful MERIMBULA

Rodney Vanderdrift

Although the fires have impacted the area pretty heavily, the rain has helped dampen things down a bit, and all the roads are open. The town is open for business and the fishing has been excellent. The estuaries have been fishing really well for big flathead, with most being taken on whole pilchards or 3-4” soft plastics in natural colours. They have been coming from the top lake at Merimbula and also at Mogareeka. At the time of writing, I know of a dozen

fish over 90cm in just the last week and a half. At the Dusky Dash for Cash comp at the start of February, five fish over 90cm were caught over the weekend, plus a heap in the 70s and 80s, all released. There have also been a few mulloway around, taking fresh squid and live mullet. We had several estuaries open up after the rain, which has helped to put them on the bite. The best time to fish is at night on the tide change, preferably a draining tide. Bream and whiting are also on the chew, taking beachworms and pipis, or live prawns if you can get them. We have been getting quite a few prawns this year,

mostly out the front of the estuary around Mitch’s Jetty on the run-out tide around the new moon. On the beaches, anglers are catching a lot of salmon and tailor on 40-50g chrome slices, or on paternosters with a pilchard/popper combo. There are also a few mulloway and gummies coming off the beaches, and the best bait is fresh tailor fillets. Offshore we can expect the snapper fishing to be excellent on the inshore reefs. Locations such as Haycock, Leonards Island and Long Point should all have some snapper in 18-30m of water. They are taking both bait and 40-60g micro jigs, with one of the

standouts being the Shimano Coltsniper Wondefall in colour 26T (pink). March is a good time for offshore fishing, with generally good weather. There will be striped marlin from the 70-fathom line out to the shelf, and a few tuna as well. All in all, it’s a great time to come and fish the area, and the fishing will only get better after the rain. • For all the latest information on what’s biting and where, drop into Tackle World Merimbula at their new location at 30 Market St and chat to the friendly staff. You can also give them a call on (02) 6495 1681 or look them up on Facebook.

Stuart Green of South Pambula with a 92.7cm dusky caught and released from Merimbula Lake. Image courtesy of Merimbula Big Game & Lakes Angling Club.



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Tech Tricks

Processing prawns BRISBANE

Gordon Macdonald

Over the last decade, prawning has become a popular pastime in Southern Queensland. Once only the pursuit of the diehard raincoat brigade, prawning is now enjoyed by many. Most castnetters are simply happy to return home with a few kilos for a feed after a fun day on the water, although some take it more seriously and strive to fill their limit. Personally I enjoy prawning and love the spoils of a good day out with the net. Caring for your prawns and processing them well will increase the palatable pleasure. Banana prawns are the main type caught

for eating in Southern Queensland. These grow a lot bigger than the greasy prawns, which are common bait prawns prevalent in the creeks and estuaries year round. While banana prawns possibly aren’t as tasty as the more open water and oceanic prawns such as tigers, endeavours and kings, they are damn good, and taste even better when you catch them yourself. However, I have found that banana prawns have a couple of nuances that dictates certain cooking and handling procedures. If you boil banana prawns and then freeze them, I find that the shells can be difficult to remove. Queensland Fisheries law states that you cannot possess prawns with heads or any other part removed, unless they are for immediate consumption. This means

that legally you must freeze the green (uncooked) prawns whole. You cannot process them and just freeze the meat for later use, although I know many who do. As I have a big family and plenty of friends who like prawns, we have no trouble disposing of a full limit (a 10L bucket, which is commonly between 6-7kg of prawns) within a day or two after capture. It’s important to keep your prawns cool at all times, as they can spoil quickly. While cast-netting, I like to have a 10L bucket in a small esky with some ice packed around the bucket. Banana prawns, like most seafood, is best cooked and consumed soon after capture, however you can freeze some whole green or cooked prawns for later use if need be. Let’s look at the most common way of cooking prawns, boiling.


Prawns are best boiled in salty water. I usually bring home some saltwater in a bucket from where I caught them for this purpose. Otherwise, make up some to a similar salty taste (usually 1 part salt to 10 parts water) using cooking salt or preferably flossy salt. Additionally, I like to add a bit of brown sugar, but this is not essential.


Bring the water to a rapid boil until it really starts to roll over. Boil for a good few minutes before adding the prawns. This is especially important if you make up your own saltwater mixture, as it will guarantee any salt you put in is fully dissolved. 58

MARCH 2020


Firstly after arriving home, I like to sort my prawns. Generally I will boil a good portion of the larger prawns whole and then peel and use the smaller ones in other ways such as curries, pasta dishes, homemade spring rolls, garlic prawns or stir fries. Similar size prawns will cook at a similar rate, so I sort accordingly.


A gas burner, preferably minimum of a 3-ring burner, is ideal, as it will get the water boiling quickly. Additionally the water will come back to the boil quickly after adding the prawns. Having a lid is an asset and will help it boil faster. A decent size metal pot will allow you to do a kilo or more of prawns at a time.


Add the prawns to the water all at the same time. I will generally do in lots of around 1kg or so in this pot, ensuring the water will come back to the boil quickly. You will notice that the prawns initially sink and the water will stop boiling. Ensure to put the lid back on.

Tech Tricks


Your prawns should come back to the boil after a minute or two. Additionally, the prawns will begin to float and an orange scum and some froth will form on the water’s surface. After it begins to boil again, cook for a further 1-2 minutes, depending on size.


Remove one prawn and check for the air bubbles along the back of the prawn, mainly on the second and third sections behind the head. Undercook the prawns and the shells will stick to the meat. Cook too long and they will be tough. When the air bubble appears they are ready.


Remove the prawns immediately with a scoop and then place in a salty slurry (ice mixed with seawater/saltwater) so they cool rapidly and the cooking process halts. I prefer to leave them in this slurry for a good 30 minutes to an hour, but some will leave for several hours. This salty slurry is imperative for good flavour. It is more important to chill the prawns in salty water than it is to cook them in salty water. Many even prefer to cook in freshwater and cool in saltwater.


If not consuming immediately, whole green or cooked prawns are best to put in a container and then filled with salt water and frozen. Once solid, you can pop the prawn block out of the container and cryovac for longer storage.



Once completely cooled, your prawns can be removed from the slurry and are ready for consumption. However they are also great to eat while still warm. They can be stored for a few days in the fridge if need be, preferably in an airtight container.

Green prawns, (either fresh or previously frozen) can be peeled with just the last tail joint left on and then cooked. Ensure also to remove the digestive tract. This presentation is ideal for crumbed prawns, stir fries or prawn kebabs on the BBQ.


Fully peeled green prawns are great for adding to stir fries, pasta dishes, spring rolls, curries and garlic prawns. You can get a prawn peeler at many kitchen shops that can make the task a considerable degree easier. Although not top of their class, banana prawns are still exceptionally tasty, especially when recently caught and cooked accordingly. MARCH 2020


2020 2020 Local Time



1 1 0119 0648 WE 1307

WE 1307 1955

2 2

0207 0741 TH TH 1352 2039

3 3

0300 0842 FR FR 1445 2128

4 4

0356 0951 SA SA 1547 2217

5 5

0450 1103 SU SU 1654 2306

6 6

0541 1209 MO MO 1756 2353

7 7

0628 1304 TU TU 1851

LAT 33° 51’ S LONG 151° 14’ E Times and Heights of High and Low Waters Times and Heights of High and Low Waters MARCH FEBRUARY JANUARY MARCH FEBRUARY JANUARY Time m Time m Time Time m Time m Time m m 0119 1.27 0648 0.70 1307 1.54 1955 0.52 0207 1.27 0741 0.74 1352 1.45 2039 0.55 0300 1.30 0842 0.77 1445 1.37 2128 0.57 0356 1.34 0951 0.77 1547 1.30 2217 0.58 0450 1.41 1103 0.74 1654 1.26 2306 0.58 0541 1.49 1209 0.67 1756 1.26 2353 0.56 0628 1.58 1304 0.58 1851 1.28

1.27 0.70 1.54 TH 0.52


16 16 0129 0716 TH 1331 1.27 0.74 1.45 FR 0.55

1331 2007

17 17 1.30 0.77 1.37 SA 0.57

0226 0821 FR 1430 2100

18 18 1.34 0.77 1.30 SU 0.58

0327 0934 SA 1535 2155

19 19 1.41 0.74 1.26 MO 0.58

0430 1053 SU 1647 2252

20 20 1.49 0.67 1.26 TU 0.56

0530 1209 MO 1800 2348

21 21 1.58 0.58 1.28 WE

0628 1315 TU 1903

0043 0.53 22 22 0721 1.75 1409 0.41 0043 0721 WE 1409 1959

0038 0.54 0.54 1.68 0132 23 8 8 0712 1.68 23 1353 0.48 0809 TH 0.48 1454

0038 0712 WE WE 1353 1941

9 9 0122 0755 TH 1438

TH 1438 2029

10 10 0206 0840 FR 1522 FR 1522 2115

11 11 0252 0925 SA 1606 SA 1606 2203

12 12 0340 1011 SU 1652 SU 1652 2252

13 13 0430 1059 MO 1739 MO 1739 2342

14 14 0522 1147 TU 1827 TU 1827

0.48 1941 1.31 0122 0.51 0755 1.78 1438 0.38 2029 1.34 0206 0.47 0840 1.87 1522 0.30 2115 1.38 0252 0.44 0925 1.94 1606 0.24 2203 1.41 0340 0.42 1011 1.98 1652 0.20 2252 1.43 0430 0.42 1059 1.98 1739 0.20 2342 1.44 0522 0.43 1147 1.93 1827 0.23

m 0129 1.46 0716 0.52 1331 1.70 2007 0.35 0226 1.48 0821 0.56 1430 1.56 2100 0.41 0327 1.51 0934 0.59 1535 1.43 2155 0.47 0430 1.56 1053 0.59 1647 1.33 2252 0.51 0530 1.63 1209 0.54 1800 1.29 2348 0.53 0628 1.69 1315 0.47 1903 1.28

TH 1454 1.31 2045 0.51 1.78 0218 0.38 0853 FR FR 1535 1.34 2128 0.47 1.87 0300 0.30 0933 SA SA 1613 1.38 2207 0.44 1.94 0340 0.24 1011 SU SU 1647 1.41 2244 0.42 1.98 0418 0.20 1046 MO MO 1721 1.43 2320 0.42 1.98 0456 0.20 1121 TU TU 1754 1.44 2356 0.43 1.93 0535 0.23 1156 WE WE 1827

24 24 25 25 26 26

27 27 28 28 29 29

1.46 0.52 1.70 SA 0.35


1 1 0202 0758 SA 1357

1.48 0.56 1.56 SU 0.41

1357 2023

2 2

1.51 0.59 1.43 MO 0.47

0255 0901 SU 1454 2113

3 3

1.56 0.59 1.33 TU 0.51

0352 1015 MO 1603 2209

4 4

1.63 0.54 1.29 WE 0.53

0451 1130 TU 1718 2309

5 5

1.69 0.47 1.28 TH

0548 1235 WE 1825

0005 0641 TH 1329 1921

7 7

0059 0731 FR 1416 2011

8 8 0148 0819 SA 1501 1501 2059

9 9 0238 0908 SU 1546 1546 2145

10 10 0328 0956 MO 1631 1631 2232

11 11 0419 1044 TU 1715 1715 2321

12 12 0512 1132 WE 1800 1800


16 16 0256 0924 SU 1519 1.38 0.74 1.26 MO 0.63

1519 2121

17 17 1.41 0.74 1.20 TU 0.65

0401 1045 MO 1638 2225

18 18 1.47 0.68 1.19 WE 0.64

0509 1202 TU 1756 2330

19 19 0612 1306 WE 1900

0.48 1921 1.28 0059 0.54 0731 1.78 1416 0.36 2011 1.35 0148 0.46 0819 1.89 1501 0.26 2059 1.43 0238 0.39 0908 1.97 1546 0.18 2145 1.49 0328 0.34 0956 2.02 1631 0.14 2232 1.55 0419 0.31 1044 2.00 1715 0.15 2321 1.58 0512 0.32 1132 1.92 1800 0.20

1223 1846 1.79 1846 0.28 0101 0101 0706 1.60 0706 0.43 FR 1315 1315 1933 1.63 1933 0.39 1.36 0157 1.59 0.62 0157 0811 0.51 1.54 0811 SA 1413 1.45 SA 1413 2024 0.50 2024 0.49 1.36 0.67 1.44 0.54

14 14

m 0256 1.58 0924 0.57 1519 1.31 2121 0.58 0401 1.58 1045 0.58 1638 1.22 2225 0.64 0509 1.60 1202 0.56 1756 1.20 2330 0.65 0612 1.63 1306 0.50 1900 1.24

0031 0.62 20 20 0707 1.67 1356 0.45 1.55 0.59 1.22 TH

0031 0707 TH 1356 1950

FR 1436 1.28 2031 0.54 1.78 0208 0.36 0836 SA SA 1512 1.35 2108 0.46 1.89 0247 0.26 0914 SU SU 1545 1.43 2142 0.39 1.97 0324 0.18 0948 MO MO 1615 1.49 2215 0.34 2.02 0400 0.14 1021 TU TU 1645 1.55 2247 0.31 2.00 0435 0.15 1054 WE WE 1715 1.58 2320 0.32 1.92 0513 0.20 1127 TH TH 1744 2354 1.60 0.36 0553 1.79 1202 FR FR 1815 0.28

22 22 23 23 24 24

25 25 26 26 27 27

0010 1.60 13 28 0607 13 0010 0607 0.36 28 TH 1223 1223 1.79

0033 1.45 0034 1.45 0.47 0034 1.36 15 30 15 0617 0616 15 0033 30 0617 0.47 1.83 0616 0.62 15 WE 1238 TH 1231 1238 1.83 1231 1.54

31 31

1.36 0.71 1.35 SU 0.59

0005 0.60 0.60 1.66 0123 21 6 6 0641 1.66 21 1329 0.48 0755 FR 1436 0.48

0.53 1.75 0.41 0.41 1.30 FR 1959 1.30 0132 0.52 0.52 1.80 0809 1.80 0.36 1454 0.36 1.32 SA 2045 1.32 0218 0.51 0.51 1.82 0853 1.82 0.34 1535 0.34 1.34 SU 2128 1.34 0300 0.51 0.51 1.82 0933 1.82 0.33 1613 0.33 1.36 MO 2207 1.36 0340 0.51 0.51 1.80 1011 1.80 0.35 1647 0.35 1.36 TU 2244 1.36 0418 0.52 0.52 1.76 1046 1.76 0.38 1721 0.38 1.36 WE 2320 1.36 0456 0.54 0.54 1.70 1121 1.70 0.41 1754 0.41 1.36 TH 2356 1.36 0535 0.58 0.58 1.63 1156 1.63 0.45 1827 0.45 FR

1.83 0.28 1.54 WE 1238 1916 TH 1231 1901 1901 0.50 1916 0.28 0115 0115 0703 1.36 0703 0.67 FR 1311 1.44 FR 1311 1940 1940 0.54

m 0202 1.36 0758 0.71 1357 1.35 2023 0.59 0255 1.38 0901 0.74 1454 1.26 2113 0.63 0352 1.41 1015 0.74 1603 1.20 2209 0.65 0451 1.47 1130 0.68 1718 1.19 2309 0.64 0548 1.55 1235 0.59 1825 1.22

1.58 0.57 1.31 SU 0.58


1 1 0113 0726 SU 1323

1.58 0.58 1.22 MO 0.64

1323 1927

2 2

1.60 0.56 1.20 TU 0.65

0200 0824 MO 1416 2015

3 3

1.63 0.50 1.24 WE

0257 0935 TU 1526 2116

4 4

0.62 1.67 0.45 0.45 1.29 TH 1950 1.29 0123 0.58 0.58 1.71 0755 1.71 0.41 1436 0.41 1.34 FR 2031 1.34 0208 0.54 0.54 1.73 0836 1.73 0.38 1512 0.38 1.39 SA 2108 1.39 0247 0.51 0.51 1.74 0914 1.74 0.37 1545 0.37 1.42 SU 2142 1.42 0324 0.49 0.49 1.73 0948 1.73 0.38 1615 0.38 1.44 MO 2215 1.44 0400 0.49 0.49 1.70 1021 1.70 0.39 1645 0.39 1.46 TU 2247 1.46 0435 0.50 0.50 1.65 1054 1.65 0.42 1715 0.42 1.47 WE 2320 1.47 0513 0.52 0.52 1.59 1127 1.59 0.46 1744 0.46 1.48 TH 2354 1.48 0553 0.56 0.56 1.51 1202 1.51 0.51 1815 0.51 FR

0401 1054 WE 1649 2230

5 5

0510 1203 TH 1803 2339

6 6

0612 1300 FR 1901

m 0113 1.47 0726 0.65 1323 1.32 1927 0.63 0200 1.45 0824 0.69 1416 1.23 2015 0.69 0257 1.45 0935 0.70 1526 1.17 2116 0.72 0401 1.48 1054 0.66 1649 1.17 2230 0.72 0510 1.55 1203 0.57 1803 1.22 2339 0.66 0612 1.66 1300 0.45 1901 1.32

1.47 0.65 1.32 MO 0.63


16 16 0225 0915 MO 1510 1.45 0.69 1.23 TU 0.69

1510 2049

17 17 1.45 0.70 1.17 WE 0.72

0332 1031 TU 1631 2200

18 18 1.48 0.66 1.17 TH 0.72

0444 1144 WE 1748 2315

19 19 0551 1243 TH 1846

8 8 0133 0758 SU 1436 1436 2038

9 9 0225 0847 MO 1520 1520 2124

10 10 0316 0937 TU 1603 1603 2210

11 11 0408 1026 WE 1647 1647 2257

12 12 0501 1116 TH 1730 1730 2345

13 13 0558 1207 FR 1815 1815

0.33 1951 1.43 0133 0.45 0758 1.90 1436 0.23 2038 1.53 0225 0.35 0847 1.97 1520 0.16 2124 1.63 0316 0.28 0937 1.99 1603 0.14 2210 1.71 0408 0.25 1026 1.95 1647 0.17 2257 1.76 0501 0.26 1116 1.84 1730 0.25 2345 1.77 0558 0.31 1207 1.69 1815 0.36

1300 1900 1.52 1900 0.48 0127 0127 0801 1.71 0801 0.47 SU 1400 1400 1949 1.36 1949 0.60

15 15


1 1 0215 0909 WE 1506

1.59 0.58 1.19 TH 0.75

1506 2040

2 2

1.57 0.57 1.21 FR 0.75

0322 1023 TH 1628 2200

3 3

1.58 0.54 1.27 SA

0435 1130 FR 1740 2315

4 4

1.54 0.66 1.19 TH 0.78


16 16 0310 1009 TH 1622 1.54 0.62 1.21 FR 0.77

1622 2148

17 17 1.59 0.54 1.29 SA 0.70

0416 1102 FR 1715 2253

18 18 1.69 0.43 1.41 SU

0512 1146 SA 1759 2346

19 19 0557 1223 SU 1835

m 0310 1.55 1009 0.60 1622 1.26 2148 0.82 0416 1.54 1102 0.59 1715 1.32 2253 0.77 0512 1.55 1146 0.56 1759 1.40 2346 0.71 0557 1.56 1223 0.53 1835 1.48

1.66 0.45 1.32 SA

6 6 0016 0634 MO 1304

21 21 0110 0731 SA 1406 1406 2008

SU 1439 1.43 2042 0.45 1.90 0231 0.23 0846 MO MO 1509 1.53 2114 0.35 1.97 0306 0.16 0920 TU TU 1538 1.63 2144 0.28 1.99 0342 0.14 0953 WE WE 1606 1.71 2215 0.25 1.95 0417 0.17 1027 TH TH 1634 1.76 2246 0.26 1.84 0454 0.25 1101 FR FR 1702 1.77 2319 0.31 1.69 0533 0.36 1138 SA SA 1733 2354 1.75 0.38 0616 1.52 1217 SU SU 1806 0.48

23 23 24 24

25 25

26 26

27 27 28 28

0.70 1.61 0.50 0.50 1.34 SU 1930 1.34 0110 0.64 0.64 1.63 0731 1.63 0.47 1406 0.47 1.41 MO 2008 1.41 0153 0.58 0.58 1.66 0811 1.66 0.44 1439 0.44 1.47 TU 2042 1.47 0231 0.54 0.54 1.66 0846 1.66 0.43 1509 0.43 1.51 WE 2114 1.51 0306 0.50 0.50 1.66 0920 1.66 0.42 1538 0.42 1.56 TH 2144 1.56 0342 0.49 0.49 1.63 0953 1.63 0.44 1606 0.44 1.59 FR 2215 1.59 0417 0.48 0.48 1.59 1027 1.59 0.46 1634 0.46 1.61 SA 2246 1.61 0454 0.50 0.50 1.53 1101 1.53 0.51 1702 0.51 1.62 SU 2319 1.62 0533 0.52 0.52 1.45 1138 1.45 0.56 1733 0.56 1.62 MO 2354 1.62 0616 0.56 0.56 1.37 1217 1.37 0.62 1806 0.62 TU

0543 1228 SA 1837

m 0215 1.54 0909 0.66 1506 1.19 2040 0.78 0322 1.54 1023 0.62 1628 1.21 2200 0.77 0435 1.59 1130 0.54 1740 1.29 2315 0.70 0543 1.69 1228 0.43 1837 1.41

0019 0.58 0030 0.58 1.79 0030 0.64 20 5 0541 0637 5 1217 1.79 20 1.58 0.33 0637 MO 1257 0.33 1257 0.50

0018 0645 FR 1329 1930

1.60 0031 1.48 0034 1.48 0.60 0034 1.75 29 29 14 0.43 0031 0636 0657 14 29 0.60 1.41 0657 0.38 29 1.63 0636 SA 1240 SA 1300 1240 1.41 1300 1.52 1.41 0.57 SA 1240 1848 SA 0.39 1848 0.57 1.59 0.51 1.45 SU 0.49

m 1.65 0.54 1.24 WE 0.70

0018 0.70 20 20 0645 1.61 1329 0.50 1.55 0.57 1.22 FR 0.66

0039 0.56 0.56 1.78 0153 22 7 7 0707 1.78 22 1350 0.33 0811 SU 1439 0.33 0039 0707 SA 1350 1951

m 0225 1.65 0915 0.54 1510 1.24 2049 0.70 0332 1.59 1031 0.58 1631 1.19 2200 0.75 0444 1.57 1144 0.57 1748 1.21 2315 0.75 0551 1.58 1243 0.54 1846 1.27

Local Time APRIL APRIL Time Time m

0019 0541 SU 1217 1827

1304 1914

7 7 0111 0725 TU 1348 1348 2000

8 8 0203 0816 WE 1431 1431 2045

9 9 0257 0907 TH 1515 1515 2132

10 10 0352 1000 FR 1559 1559 2219

11 11 0448 1053 SA 1643 1643 2308

12 12 0547 1148 SU 1729 1729

31 31

MO 1257 1.54 1909 0.46 1.87 0110 0.25 0714 TU TU 1327 1.67 1941 0.35 1.91 0146 0.21 0749 WE WE 1356 1.79 2012 0.27 1.89 0222 0.22 0824 TH TH 1425 1.87 2043 0.24 1.82 0300 0.27 0900 FR FR 1454 1.92 2115 0.25 1.70 0338 0.36 0938 SA SA 1526 1.92 2149 0.30 1.56 0418 0.47 1017 SU SU 1559 1.87 2226 0.38 1.42 0501 0.60 1100 MO MO 1636 2306 1.80 0.47 0550 1.31 1149 TU TU 1719 0.71 2353 1.70 0.54 0646 1.23 1246 WE WE 1813 0.79

21 21

22 22 23 23 24 24

25 25

26 26

27 27

0000 1.80 13 28 0650 13 0000 0650 0.47 28 MO 1248 1248 1.31

1248 1819 1.31 1819 0.71 0056 0056 0758 1.70 0758 0.54 TU 1357 1357 1920 1.23 1920 0.79 1.59 0200 1.61 0.61 0200 0906 0.59 1.29 0906 WE 1513 1.22 WE 1513 2033 0.69 2033 0.83 1.56 0.65 1.23 0.75

14 14

0033 1.71 1.59 30 15 0704 0.47 0033 30 0.61 15 1.36 0704 MO 1302 1302 1.29 1.29 MO 1302 1845 0.60 1845 0.69 0119 0119 0800 1.56 0800 0.65 TU 1357 1.23 TU 1357 1933 1933 0.75

0.33 1827 1.54 0016 0.46 0634 1.87 1304 0.25 1914 1.67 0111 0.35 0725 1.91 1348 0.21 2000 1.79 0203 0.27 0816 1.89 1431 0.22 2045 1.87 0257 0.24 0907 1.82 1515 0.27 2132 1.92 0352 0.25 1000 1.70 1559 0.36 2219 1.92 0448 0.30 1053 1.56 1643 0.47 2308 1.87 0547 0.38 1148 1.42 1729 0.60

29 29

m 1.55 0.60 1.26 0.82 1.54 0.59 1.32 0.77 1.55 0.56 1.40 0.71 1.56 0.53 1.48

0.64 1.58 0.50 0.50 1.55 1909 1.55 0110 0.59 0.59 1.58 0714 1.58 0.49 1327 0.49 1.61 1941 1.61 0146 0.54 0.54 1.57 0749 1.57 0.49 1356 0.49 1.67 2012 1.67 0222 0.51 0.51 1.55 0824 1.55 0.50 1425 0.50 1.71 2043 1.71 0300 0.49 0.49 1.51 0900 1.51 0.53 1454 0.53 1.74 2115 1.74 0338 0.49 0.49 1.46 0938 1.46 0.57 1526 0.57 1.76 2149 1.76 0418 0.51 0.51 1.41 1017 1.41 0.62 1559 0.62 1.74 2226 1.74 0501 0.54 0.54 1.35 1100 1.35 0.67 1636 0.67 1.72 2306 1.72 0550 0.57 0.57 1.29 1149 1.29 0.73 1719 0.73 1.68 2353 1.68 0646 0.60 0.60 1.26 1246 1.26 0.78 1813 0.78

0048 1.64 0.60 1.25 1.25 0.80 TH 1354 1920 0.83 1920 0.80 1.61

1.64 30 0750 0.59 0048 30 0.60 1.22 0750 TH 1354 1354 1.25

 Copyright Commonwealth of Australia 2019, Bureau of Meteorology  Copyright Commonwealth of Australia 2019, Bureau of Meteorology Datum of Predictions is Lowest Astronomical Tide Datum of Predictions is Lowest Astronomical Tide Times are in local standard time (UTC +10:00) or daylight savings time (UTC +11:00) when in effect Times are in local Symbols standard time (UTC time (UTC +11:00) when in effect New+10:00) Moon or daylight savings First Quarter Last Quarter Moon Phase Full Moon Moon Phase Symbols New Moon First Quarter Full Moon Last Quarter Tide predictions for Sydney (Fort Denison) have been formatted by the National Tidal Centre, Australian Bureau of Meteorology, Copyright reserved. All material is supplied in good faith and is believed to be correct. It is supplied on the condition that no warranty is given in relation thereto, that no responsibility or liability for errors or omissions is, or will be, accepted and that the recipient will hold MHL and the Australian Bureau of Meteorology Australia free from all such responsibility or liability and from all loss or damage incurred as a consequence of any error or omission. Predictions should not be used for navigational purposes. Use of these tide predictions will be deemed to include acceptance of the above conditions. 60

MARCH 2020


Cioppino fish stew BRISBANE

Lynn Bain

Cioppino is a seafood stew similar to the Mediterranean soup, bouillabaisse. This stew was developed by an Italian-

American fisherman in San Francisco and epitomises a one-pot, seafood-packed, tomato-based feast. You can use any seafood you have in the following recipe. In this month’s addition, the ingredients

include crayfish tails, baby octopus, bay scallops, mussel meat and fish fillets. You may also use uncooked crab pieces and/or green prawns. You could either leave your crayfish tails whole or cut them into halves.

Ingredients • 1/4 cup canola oil • 2 onions, peeled and finely chopped • 1 large green capsicum, deseeded and chopped • 2 cloves garlic, crushed • 2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes • 2 tablespoons tomato paste • 2 cups dry white wine

• Bunch flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped • Salt and pepper • 2 green crayfish tails, cut in half down the middle • 200g baby octopus • 200g bay scallops • 200g mussel meat • 250g fish fillets, cut into pieces





Heat the oil in a heavy-based pot over a medium high heat. Add the onion, capsicum and garlic. Sauté, stirring occasionally, for about five minutes.

Add seasoning and half of the roughly chopped parsley. Stir the contents thoroughly and half cover the pot with the lid and bring the contents to a simmer. Continue to simmer for approximately 15 minutes.


Place the fish pieces into the pot and ensure that they are submerged in the liquid. Continue to cook at a gentle simmer for another five minutes with the lid on.

Add tomato paste and the tomatoes into the pot. Stir well.

At the end of the cooking time, add the crayfish tails and baby octopus to the mixture and continue to simmer for another 10 minutes.


Remove the lid and sprinkle the contents of the pot with the remaining chopped parsley. Season to taste.


Once mixed through, pour in the white wine.


Now add the bay scallops and mussel meat to the pot. Stir well and cook for a further minute or so.


Serve the cioppino with chunks of crusty bread. MARCH 2020




The new Samaki Squid Jig tackle box is now available. This box stores your squid jigs individually without spike hook-ups, thanks to foam compartments which keep your jigs separate from one another. It makes life a lot easier being able to store your jigs in a box free from other jigs and saltwater damage. The double-sided box holds a variety of sizes and weights, and each spike sits within its own foam casing. You also have the ability to place your jig weight within the foam slits for extra jig preservation. Samaki Split Foam tackle boxes come in five sizes, each designed for a variety of lure storage options, holding the smallest of flies up to your favourite vibes, hardbodies, jigheads and squid jigs. The range starts with a small single-sided model, and moves into four double-sided options of medium, large, extralarge, and jig extra-large. The soft slit foam insert has slits and holes for you to use your tackle box to the max, all without hook tangles. The UV-resistant lids reduce lure fade, and the waterproof o-ring and stainless steel hinges safeguard your lures and terminal tackle.



Daiwa has revamped the TD Hyper Series, delivering high-end performance at a mid range price. The heart of TD Hyper is Daiwa’s HVF Nanoplus blank that combines precise resin control with unidirectional graphite fibre to produce a blank with maximum graphite density. Light, responsive, and crisp in action, TD Hyper blank performance is further enhanced courtesy of X45 blank technology, working seamlessly to eliminate blank twist and distortion to increase rod strength, function, and sensitivity. The new TD Hyper receives a significant componentry upgrade in the form of Daiwa’s Air Sensor reel seats. Air Sensor reel seats are made from carbon-infused resin, making them lighter and stronger than traditional reel seat designs. Partnering the Air Sensor reel seats are new taper grips that enhance comfort and control. There is an extensive array of models to choose from, ranging from multi-piece travel rods to technique specific light tackle and heavy models.



The Black Magic Deepwater Slim Jig range just received these five new colours: candy stick, blinky, mahi mahi, night rider and fire tiger, which join the original colours of extreme pilly, pink frost and mad max. Deepwater Slim Jigs are all high in UV and lumo, and are all rigged with super strong 8/0 assist hooks, Kevlar thread and split/ solid rings. These low-resistance, long narrow jigs offer a faster retrieve with less effort, and they are great for deep water fishing. They are available in two models, 200g (246mm) and 300g (266mm). For more information on the Deepwater Slim Jigs, check out the Black Magic Tackle website. You can also find more information, news and catch photos on Black Magic’s Facebook 62

MARCH 2020



page (, Instagram (@blackmagictackle) and the Black Magic YouTube channel.




The Bone Dash is a sinking pencil bait that flutters on the fall and slides on the retrieve giving the angler options like never before. By attaching the line to the front eyelet, the Dash will work like a sinking pencil bait, fluttering on the fall with a side to side glide on a straight retrieve. Smart anglers can give the Dash a realistic sliding, darting action with clever rod work. Attaching your lure on the top eyelet will enable the vibe mode, giving the Dash a tight wobble on a straight retrieve. This tie off position also creates less resistance through the water on the retrieve and still maintains the fluttering sink. Small in profile, but big on action and options, the Dash 60S is a dual function lure that will appeal to predators in any water. It measures 60mm, weighs 10g and comes in 11 colours.


3 5

TiCA’s new Ezi Cast Baitcasting reel offers excellent quality at an affordable price, with an attractive bright white and black finish. The TiCA Ezi Cast Baitcaster has a robust frame with a V-shaped double anodised aluminium spool, brass main gear, Magforce brake system that helps eliminate backlash, star drag with Micronic Click, Quick Remove sideplate and instant anti-reverse. The Ezi Cast Baitcaster comes with five bearings, of which two are stainless steel, one RRB (Rust Resistant Bearing) and two nylon bearings that help to make this reel cast effortlessly and allow the spool to spin freely. The Ezi Cast Baitcaster comes with a 6.3: 1 high speed ratio and delivers 7kg of drag pressure. It is available in both right- and lefthand wind and it holds 150 yards of 20lb braid. This reel is ideal for the likes of bass and estuary perch, and anglers looking for a small, low-profile reel.




Gillies has expanded its Bluewater range of lures with the addition of the Speed Skirt and Speed Plug. The Bluewater Speed Skirts are a high speed trolling skirt capable of searching waters at 15-18 knots, making them ideal for tuna, wahoo and other high speed pelagic species. They are available in four colours – purple black, lumo green, lumo and pink. The Bluewater Speed Plugs are constructed from a hard polyurethane material, are keel weighted in the front for casting, have a luminous ball in the body section, and feature a rubber hook lock that secures the rig. They are available in four colours – smoke, green, purple and blue. You can find more information on the range at the JM Gillies website, or for the latest news, catch photos and competitions, check them out on Facebook ( or follow them on Instagram (@jm.gillies).




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Rapala has added a new colour to the Shadow Rap 3X range: ROL (live roach). It’s available in the 3X, 3X Deep, Shad 3X and Shad 3X Deep models. The 11cm suspending Shadow Rap 3X makes tight turns when twitched, turns to look back and then settles to a head down position with a quiver before starting a slow fade-away dive on the pause. It can be fished almost in place with short twitches. The 3X Deep version dives to 1.8m, and is ideal for a slow moving dying minnow presentation. It can be fished with little forward movement, yet a lot of side-to-side action. With a fast twitch followed by slack line, it turns almost 180° before settling with a flicker to a dying dive. The 9cm Shad 3X swims with the infamous horizontal struggle with a vertical rise on the pause, mimicking a baitfish in trouble. The versatile Shad 3X Deep model can be fished finesse or aggressively, matching the mood of the fish.

The Shimano Tiger Baku Baku is a Japanese designed kabura jig. The Baku Baku’s 3D holographic eyes enhance the colour combinations, and the specialist silicon skirts have been developed to entice fish to bite. The Oceania model has been beefed up with longer, curly skirts, a line-through head design and larger heavyduty hooks to handle the toughest fish in the ocean. The Baku Baku design uses a low centre of gravity head shape that creates a resonance when moving through the water. Its shape also produces a complex flow of water behind the head, which creates a unique fish-attracting action from the silicon skirts. The line-through head design allows the skirt to flutter naturally to the bottom, and once hooked the freerunning head means the fish can’t use the weight of the jig to throw the hook. The Tiger Baku Baku is currently available in six colours: red gold, orange silver, red silver, chartreuse glow, blue sardine and black gold. Price: SRP $19.95




Tackle Tactics have teamed up with their Pro Anglers to create a stack of new colours, including foil and glow patterns, in the Fish Inc. Egilicious range of squid jigs. TTs has also added Fast Sink models in the 3.0 and 3.5 sizes, which during testing proved priceless when fishing deeper water, faster currents and when drifting and fishing in windy conditions. The popularity of Egilicious jigs is due to their affordable price, quality, durable tight cloth, super-sticky Japanese Owner squid hooks, a buoyant tail for a natural stand-up presentation, and a tail angle designed a few degrees higher to reduce snagging and fouling. The addition of 15 new colours has the nation covered, with the Pro Team already proving the worth of colours such as bleeding belly, bleeding black, red rack, fluoro green, fluoro orange, neo glow (glow), blue beans (glow) and hot pink (glow). This brings the total number of colours to 27. Price: SRP $11.95-$12.95







The Daiwa luggage range has been expanded with four new additions. The Tackle Backpack holds nothing back in strength and design, and features multiple zippered storage pockets, a front chest strap, and a front access tackle tray compartment preloaded with four 3600-sized Daiwa tackle trays. The new Soft Top and Hard Top bags provide room for all your angling goodies, with external zippered pockets, double handle and padded shoulder strap, and single 3700-sized Daiwa tackle tray, making them an essential item for your next trip away. There are few pieces of luggage more essential than a water-resistant boat bag, and the new Daiwa Hard Base Boat Bag sets the standard in ruggedness. Constructed from durable vinyl material and featuring a waterproof hard bottom, this is the bag to help keep your gear safe and dry.


Winner of Best Saltwater Hard Lure at ICAST 2019, the LiveTarget Flutter Shad jigging spoon mimics a shad fluttering in distress. The Inner Core produces a vibrant flash, the feather hook creates drag and holds the hook in the ideal strike position when falling. You can lift and drop to create a falling shimmy action, or snap the rod tip to impart an erratic twitch action. The result is a strobing flash which triggers a bite. The Flutter Shad comes in two sizes (60mm, 21g and 80mm, 42g) and 10 colours. LiveTarget also took out the Best Freshwater Hard Lure at ICAST, with the firstever anatomically precise spoon: the Erratic Shiner. The lure has a life-like Inner-Core with a pulsating vibrant flash, an Exo-Skin that produces an erratic wide-wobble, and a darting effect imitating an injured baitfish. It has been designed for long casts and is also excellent for trolling. It comes in two sizes (55mm, 11g and 70mm, 21g) and 10 colours.



Samaki’s newest barra shirt features a dark, stormy sky in the background as the beautiful girl leaps from the depths to engulf a Mega Bomb Shad. This brand new barramundi design has been drawn from the ground up, with amazing detail in the mouth, gills and every scale, and the eye is next level fish art at its finest. The lightweight fabric is perfect for all outdoor elements, protecting you from the harsh sun with UPF50+ technology. The soft touch 100% polyester material is comfortable on the body, plus it has the added feature of being breathable, keeping you cool and dry. Samaki designs are brought to you by Australian anglers who love to design Australian species. Big Barra shirts are available in adult, youth and kids sizes from a size 2 through to a 5XL, allowing the whole family to get in on the action and out onto the water. For more information and stockists visit the Samaki website, and like them on Facebook and Instagram to keep up to date.

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Dobyns Football Jigs are hand-tied with custom coloured skirts in a combination of round rubber and premium silicone for a natural flowing action. They are built to the specs of professional bass angler Gary Dobyns, who has won over a 100 major tournament victories in the US. These jigs feature a football head shape that easily crawls over rocks and other hard structure, and have chip-resistant paint. They are built around a razor sharp Gamakatsu 604 Round Bend Hook, which Gary has used on his own jigs for 20 years because of its superior hook penetration. Each jig features a special 4-barb bait keeper to hold the jig trailers securely in place. They are available in 12 proven colours and two weights – 3/8oz and 1/2oz.

PLANO RUSTRICTOR 14 SERIES Plano’s Rustrictor Series brings unbeatable rust-proof protection to the StowAway line. The Volatile Corrosion Inhibitor (VCI) infused walls and dividers provide 360° of protection that blocks rust and corrosion for five times longer than other tackle boxes. The Rustrictor 3700 model (35.5 x 23 x 5cm) brings this technology to Plano’s most popular StowAway size – the classic 3700. It has four fixed compartments, or you can add the provided dividers to create up to 24 compartments. It’s the perfect companion to any Plano 3700 Series tackle bag or system. There’s also a slimmer 3700 Thin version (35.5 x 23 x 3.5cm), and the roomy 3700 Deep (35.5 x 23 x 8cm) for your biggest lures. Designed for terminal tackle, the Rustrictor Terminal model (31.5 x 22.5 x 3.8cm) surrounds its contents with a corrosioninhibiting vapour that won’t leave any residue, odour or film. Other models in the range are the 3600 (28 x 18.5 x 4.5cm), 3600 Deep (28 x 18.5 x 7cm), and the compact 3500 (23 x 13 x 3cm), so there are sizes to suit all situations and angling preferences.



Made with UVF (Ultra Volume Fibre) and Evo Silicone, Saltiga 12 BEX UVF PE+Si line is the ultimate high-density braid, exhibiting supreme abrasion resistance and ultimate strength. With 72% improved abrasion resistance, 20% more strength, an 18% more slippery surface and 30% less line stretch compared to 8-braid premium PE lines, our Saltiga 12 Braid UVF is the ultimate in line technology. A reduced diameter provides an ultrasmooth surface for less friction/resistance on the guides and spool rim allowing for longer smoother casting, less noise, minimal water penetration and incredible sensitivity. Saltiga 12 is perfect for heavy-duty jigging and casting line for big gamefish, and it’s color-coded in 10m, 5m and 1m increments to allow full line control. It’s available in a range of sizes from PE0.6 (200m spool) up to PE8 (400m). 64

MARCH 2020





Jig Star evolved after NZ jigging expert Chris Wong spent years jigging with renowned big fish anglers, testing his products on XOS kingfish and hapuka. The Twisted Sista rod has an innovative ‘acid’ or ‘spiral’ design which draws on the inherent advantages of both overhead and spin rods. The design alleviates blank twist associated with poorly-built overhead rods, and allows the blank to develop its maximum potential. These rods have excellent power and resilience as a result of the carefully tapered nano blank with a perfect acid guide flow. Bend the Twisted Sista to its max and you’ll see what all the fuss is about. There are three models, all with Fuji PSS, PLS palming reel seats with Fuji KWAG and LC Guides, and a lack of binding between the guide feet, reducing ‘dead spots’ caused by excessive binding. The MK-II rod has been redesigned with slightly more butt power and finished with custom artwork and detail. The grips have changed to short, chunky grooved EVA for a greater, more comfortable grip. All rods come with a padded rod bag.





The BlackWolf Strato 40Technical Daypack might look like an ordinary backpack, it’s equipped with a range of handy features. For sticky situations in the bush, there’s a safety whistle and a night reflective daisy loop. There’s also an internal pocket for a hydration tank. Designed with a waterproof rain cover, you can count on this backpack to keep your valuables dry, and the heavy-duty no. 10 zippers are built to last. Say goodbye to an aching back and say hello to relaxed shoulders; the padded waist and shoulder straps mean you can feel balanced, secure and confident no matter the terrain. For heavier loads, the sternum strap across your chest takes the pressure off your shoulders and give you extra cushioning. You can even use this backpack in the city, because it has a padded laptop holder and hardcase, as well as RFID protection from digital theft. There’s also a removable key holder and external headphone port. Price: SRP $199.99





Two effective new colours have joined the growing Squidgies Bio Tough lineup range. These new offerings greatly expand the range’s appeal to finesse fishers seeking downsized offerings for finicky adversaries, ranging from trout, yellowbelly and bass to bream, flathead, whiting and more. The classic Squidgies favourite ‘UV jelly prawn’ colour is now available in the Bio Tough Grubs, Crawler and smaller Fish and Wriggler models. The black grub is a staple lure in many angler’s tackleboxes, and the new UV Black Onyx is now available in the Grubs and Crawler. These new colours perfectly imitate bottom-dwelling critters including yabbies, crabs, nippers and shrimp, as well as all manners of other creepy crawlies living in salt and fresh waters.


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Versatile Palms Turn Pop 50 I have had many years of success using surface lures in the estuaries and creeks around Sydney, catching a range of species. The ones have been particularly successful are the Bassday Sugapen, Nomad surface lures, Rapala poppers and some Prolure surface pencils, both on the flats and near weed and structure targeting Australian bass, whiting and bream, along with the occasional flathead that took an interest.

walk-the-dog style retrieve which was great for a lure of this design and shape. Being a chunky lure with a transparent body it imitated a fleeing prawn very well. With the constant winding and twitching it really brought in the bream, and you could easily see them tailing it like a pack

The pink prawn colour was the most successful during testing

This time I wanted to try something different – the new Palms Turn Pop 50. This popper is 5cm long, which is the perfect size for the species that I target. It has a centre treble and twin rear assist hooks, weighs 3.9g and comes in six colours: clear prawn, black bar prawn, pink prawn, yellow prawn, red/ green prawn and brown prawn. At first glance the Turn Pop appeared to be an overdone popper that was confused as to what it wanted to be. Was it a surface pencil or was it a popper? Would it swim well or would it drag with the assists and be balanced incorrectly with the differing hook shapes and sizes?

of dogs from behind. It wasn’t long before it got smashed by numerous bream, and it was even smashed by an opportunistic longtom and a pike! WHEN TO USE IT In comparing this to a Bassday/Prolure or similar pencil, I still feel they have their own league and can’t be topped in that particular arena. However, for the popper fanatics who need something in windy conditions to create some further attraction, the Palms Turn Pop really is a standout. The assist hooks with attractant tinsel and coloured line adds to the appearance of prawn legs fluttering Something I didn’t expect to encounter during a bream session – a hungry pike. the fish would have a go at the rear but not connect. It’s possible that this was my error in not letting the lure stay in the zone long enough, or perhaps it needed to be worked a tad slower, allowing the assists to flutter more freely, encouraging a stronger hook-up. The one thing I learnt with these style lures is to maintain a constant retrieve. The minute you stop, the fish quickly lose interest, unlike when you’re fishing a Bassday or similar. Overall I found the Palms Turn Pop 50 to be quite a versatile lure. If the wind is up or you are targeting unknown waterways or flats and want to have a crack at targeting a number of species, this lure is definitely something you’ll need to have in your arsenal. It’s dramatic in how it lands, and its motion through the water creates plenty of disturbance that draws the fish in.

To view the full colour range, or to find your nearest stockist, visit www.ejtodd. - Ben O’Brien

The Turn Pop 50 in green/red, ready to be put through its paces.

A bream that took a liking to the yellow prawn colour. TESTING The first cast saw it rocket through the air like a bullet, perfectly weighted, and it definitely got the distance I wanted. The landing is heavy, with the assists and trebles causing a bit of commotion as it hits the water. It certainly makes its presence known. On the first retrieve I noticed that it dispersed a lot of water from the cup face, which was great. With further winds of the reel and twitches of the rod tip I could really get it moving, doing the

along as the lure is whipped from side to side, splashing enticingly. The pink prawn was by far the best performer on my trips; I imagine that the colours would really stand out when it’s moving through the water, and the fish home in on it. Bream found these poppers to be super enticing, and they just couldn’t resist having a swipe at the Turn Pop as I worked it past pylons and around submerged timber structure. I found that the hook-up rates weren’t overly improved with the assists; I found that

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The road to recovery BATLOW

Wayne Dubois

It is with a heavy heart that I try to write this month’s area report. For those of you who don’t know, the Dunns Road fire absolutely destroyed the greater Batlow area at the beginning of the year, and the clean-up process from that has taken up

years to come. When the fires finished and we were finally allowed back into our home town after being locked out for more than a week, I thought I would stick my hand up and help whatever organisations were out there helping injured and starving wildlife. However, as it turned out there were no groups set up for postbushfire care and recovery, and there were literally no

have mostly starved to death, due to the fire completely destroying everything in its path. Just after the fires there was no time for finger pointing though; we just had to roll up our sleeves and get in there and do all that we could. The fact that there isn’t a governmentfunded organisation to come and support these areas after major bushfires is a disgrace, and that there are no charity

Gavin Williams with a cracking Tantangara brown trout taken on the new 67mm Sso Mino. There have been a lot of fish deaths in the area but Tantangara is one place that hasn’t been affected, and is fishing as well as ever. deep and delivered me hay, kangaroo food, macropod food, fruit and vegetables out of their own pockets, and groups like ARC (Animal Rescue Cooperative). ARC raised money through donations and organised these wildlife foods, water and food stations, possum boxes etc. and the amazing volunteers went out of their way and picked these items up and delivered them to

had little to no fish deaths. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said about the upper Murray River. After massive bushfires destroyed the land around the river, a large rain event then washed all the ash into the river and as it made its way downstream it took out just about all living things with it. Giant Murray cod lined the shallow runs and banks, as did the trout cod, golden perch, shrimp

section of river is even a shadow of its former itself. At the time of writing I also just received notification that there was a fish kill in the Tarcutta Creek near Borambola. At the moment it looks as though it’s a similar situation to the Upper Murray fish kill, with noxious water that is killing everything in its wake as it makes its way downstream.

Even though the Tarcutta Creek wasn’t directly affected by the fires, it still had massive fish deaths due to the ash run-off from the rain after the fires. almost all of my time since. The extent of bush and farmland that this fire completely destroyed is incomprehensible, and the amount of livestock and wildlife this fire wiped out will be felt for many, many

individuals willing to get out there and set up water and food stations. I ended up devoting all of my time and energy into helping save the few remaining wildlife left in our bush. If I hadn’t, these remaining animals would

groups specifically set up for this is also very sad in a country that is affected by bush fires every year. The only help I received was mostly from individuals that were doing it the toughest, but these true Aussies dug

DAM LEVELS Dam............................... % Full

Dam............................... % Full

Dam Dec Jan Feb Blowering 45 39 37 Brogo 36 12 48 Burrendong 3 2 2 Burrinjuck 33 31 30 Carcoar 16 13 12 Chaffey 15 13 13 Clarrie Hall 76 69 100 Copeton 7 6 7 Dartmouth 52 50 47 Eucumbene 30 30 28 Glenbawn 42 40 39 Glenlyon 3 3 3

Dam Dec Jan Feb Glennies Creek 43 38 37 Hume 32 22 18 Jindabyne 82 77 71 Keepit 1 1 3 Lostock 60 47 56 Oberon 31 28 27 Pindari 4 4 4 Split Rock 1 1 1 Tantangara 11 8 9 Toonumbar 28 18 28 Windamere 29 27 26 Wyangala 15 11 9

(All levels correct at time of going to press. Dam levels can change at any time, so please check with local authorities to ensure safe boating and fishing.) 66

MARCH 2020

This trout stream in the Batlow district was decimated by the Dunns Road fire earlier this year. Surprisingly, the majority of the trout have survived the fire and the big rain events that followed. The fish are now much easier to target due to all the vegetation being completely cleaned out. me so I could continue to help as many animals as possible. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of you who have helped, as I couldn’t have done it without you. THE FISHING Fires might have wiped out our bush and most of the wildlife in it, but our trout streams were hardly affected and even most of the small lakes in the area

and crays. The introduced species didn’t fare much better either, with redfin and carp also dead and decaying along the banks in their thousands. This section of the Murray River had become super popular with anglers, and the businesses that relied on those anglers will be affected by this for many years to come. It will be at least 20 years before that

Unfortunately by the time this article is printed there will probably have been more fish kills, especially in our slow moving creeks and rivers. Fingers crossed next month’s article has more positive content for me to report on, and resembles what I am used to writing about, where the fish are biting and what is best to target them. Until then, stay safe.

Waiting for the rain to come HUNTER VALLEY

Peter Phelps

Autumn has finally arrived and hopefully bringing some rain with it. As I write this article, we have had some storms rolling through greening

be still a prominent deep bite going on. One of the main food sources in the Hunter Valley’s lakes are small baitfish, especially when the fish are deep. This is why a plastic is such a great lure for targeting these fish. Matching the hatch is important, so 2-3” long and natural colours work

quickly and covering ground to look for active fish. If you can find any weed that has lasted the summer heat and dropping water levels, these are good spots to slow down. Pick apart the holes and edges of the weed. Small poppers work well, as their action will not move them far from the structure and create enough noise to bring them out of the weed. One good pop after it lands and a pause, then shaking the popper on the spot so it just vibrates on the surface looking like an insect can slay them. Lake St Clair is getting low and some weed beds will have hopefully held up over summer. If you are able to find weed, they will hold plenty of fish, but getting these fish to bite is another thing. Low light is always the key when targeting these shallow water fish. Early morning or late evening and overcast days will be the best. They should be keyed onto

Outside the weed beds in 15-30ft there should be plenty of fish. Generally smaller than their weed dwelling siblings, there will be enough to keep you interested. A slow-rolled grub cast parallel to the weed works well and fools the larger of the fish in the schools. Mix it up with a hopped 1/4oz blade as well. Also, a beetle spin rigged on a blade or lipless crankbait works wonders this time of year, producing sheer numbers of fish. Concentrating on bottom contact and working your lure through the scattered fish is key to catching them. A skirted jig with a craw plastic works all year round when presented to the right spot. Shallow water cover that will concentrate the fish is ideal for the jig. Casts deep into the cover on timber, rock and patchy weed are all ideal for the skirted jig. If you are having no success on these shallower

Bailey Oakley was very happy with this nice bass. the grass, but no noticeable changes yet in water levels. Unless we get a ton of rain, weather in March can be fairly predictable, usually with a run of blue bird skies and glassed out days. Unfortunately, those glassed-out days can be still hot and will hang around until the end of the month. Depending on the rain, the water temperatures will most likely be still warm in the local lakes so the majority of fish will be deep. The lure fishing can be hot and cold this time of year, but can be quite productive for the bait fishers. LAKES Lake Glenbawn’s lure fishing is always a bit up and down this month. There will

well. A plastic grub or paddletail is very lifelike and works well on timid fish. Again, the vertical presentation will work best for fish between 30-80ft deep. If you are finding the fishing a little tough with the plastic, try going to something with a more aggressive action to try and draw a reaction strike. Burning or hopping blades and tail spinners may work, and so may hopping an ice jig in their face. The fish should be starting to spread throughout the lake, so you could find them anywhere from the dam walls to the 8-knot zone. If you are on the lake early enough, it’s always worthwhile fishing surface for the first few hours. Try working lures

Jono ‘Big Sump’ Austin took Naoya Hiramura out and ended up with a nice double hookup fishing deep with skirted jigs. the smaller baitfish in the lake. Small plastics, jerkbaits, crankbaits and topwaters will be the key producers. Once that sun gets up, it’s time to move slightly deeper.

fish, try moving out into 40ft+. There should be scattered fish out here that will eat a vertical slow-rolled grub. Tree hopping is a good way of locating deep fish.

Lawson Oakley had a lot of fun fishing for deep schooled bass. The limited amount of trees in St Clair can concentrate the fish around them. The tree gives you a visual target to go towards, without having to spend time sounding around for fish. Moving from tree to tree and dropping your grub down 5-6 times around the whole tree will let you know if any fish are relating to timber. Golden perch love hanging off these submerged trees and this is a deadly way of catching them. The bait fishing in both lakes will be at its finest at this time of year. Tying up to trees in around 30-40ft of water is a good way to start. Live shrimp just hooked through the end of the tail is a great bait if you can get hold of some. Lightly-weighted with just a swivel or a small ball sinker of a couple of grams and a no. 4-6 circle hook is a great set-up. Slowly sink the shrimp down the trunk and with a loose drag, let the fish eat the shrimp before winding the drag up. The circle hook stops any deep hooking of the fish.

RIVERS AND STREAMS Rainfall in the Hunter Valley rivers and streams will determine how the rivers fish this month. If we keep having heavy downpours from storms, I feel this will spread the fish throughout the system. Some fish should be starting to move downstream and some will still be higher in the upper reaches. As with most river fishing situations, in the daylight hours casting close to structure is key. Small deep diving crankbaits, spinnerbaits, bladed jigs, beetle spins and blades work well in stained water. The vibration helps the fish locate the lure. If the water is clear, try a plastic paddle-tail, swimbait or grub. In low light conditions, surface lures will still catch a lot of fish this month. Paddlers, walkers, poppers and wakebaits work in the open water. Use weedless frogs, weedless surface plastics or buzzbaits tight to cover and over weed beds for the best results.



MARCH 2020


Taking on Tumut trout WAGGA WAGGA

Rhys Creed

The weather is cooling down towards a great time of year with some incredible fishing opportunities. March

areas to fish this March, I want to update you on the devastation from the fires earlier this year. Over the New Year break, the Snowy Mountains, Batlow and Tumbarumba region saw horrific fires destroy masses of land as it tore

impacted, with fish deaths due to ash run-off from the recent rains the area received not long after the fires. These waterways have been gutted of all vegetation and it’s extremely sad. Many of these small streams are not worth fishing. Ash run-off has also affected Blowering, with large amounts of floating ash covering the water surface in the Yolde Arm near Jounama Pondage. At this stage, the fish in the lake haven’t been affected. MURRUMBIDGEE RIVER Starting off back

Ryan Shoesmith caught this Tumut brown with a hopper.

Adam Smith landed his PB 98cm cod casting a Tully’s Lure on the Murrumbidgee River. has a good overlap of summer and autumn fishing. The Tumut River is still a great option with active fish that will still take a dry fly, and the Murrumbidgee River will start to drop in flow so it’ll be easier to start casting lures. Before we jump into the report on all the key

through pine forest and bushland. As we all know, this has had a major impact on local communities, the environment and wildlife in this area. What I want to touch on is the effect it has had on the fish. The small streams, creeks and river in these areas predominantly hold trout and many have been

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Tumut River browns are stunning fish.



around home, the river will start to drop over this month, which will open up more opportunities for casting lures. The fish will still be active due to the warm temperatures and it’s a great time to get out on the river. Bait fishing will also be worthwhile. The best area to fish the river during March is downstream of Wagga towards Berembed Weir, as it has plenty of deeper water to explore and is easy to access with a boat. Any heavy downpours of rain can cause a rise and discoloured water, which will shut the fish down. Keep an eye on the weather and give the river a miss for a week after heavy rain.

TUMUT RIVER The Tumut River will continue to fish well with lures and flies over March. As the weather starts to cool down, the river will drop and become more accessible for bank walking, which will help provide better fishing opportunities. Fishing in the township of Tumut and up to the dam wall is the best area to fish at this time of year. As the water drops, you will be able to fish with lighter lures. Some good options are spinners, small hardbodies and soft plastics. If the river is still high, opt for Tassie Devils

There is still some good trout fishing to be had on the Tumut River.


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MARCH 2020

and wobblers. When it comes to fly fishing, using dries will still work, especially if it is hot. Trout will still feed on hoppers for a few more weeks but there will be a mayfly hatch in the afternoons and plenty of white moths, which trout will rise to. As the month gets on and the cooler weather comes around, nymphs will become the best option. BLOWERING DAM Blowering will continue to fish well in the warm stable weather, especially on a high-pressure system. Fishing deeper in that 5-9m

Releasing a brown that took a hopper in a still backwater.

mark is key when chasing cod. Casting and trolling around the wall end of the lake near the rocky banks is the pick of the techniques. Fish will be found out on the more open banks chasing bait, but you’ll need to spend some time and try to find the baitfish cod are feeding on. Casting big plastics like the Ignite Cod Fury and trolling larger hardbodies like the 150mm AC Invader are proven options. March is definitely a month for great fishing options, especially as we lead into April, my pick of the months. Get out there and give these places a crack!

Getting results further afield CANBERRA

Toby Grundy

Over the last few months Canberra, like much of NSW, has been affected by fire and smoke. Obviously, the situation in the ACT has been nowhere near as bad as other areas of the country and I am

and the consensus as to its popularity at the moment is the challenge as much as it is the size of the fish. We ended up finding the fish sitting at about 4m down holding close to steep rocky embankments. All of the fish landed were caught using spinnerbaits, with the fish preferring to hit the lure on the drop. So if the smoke gets too

willows which run along the back of the museum as well as the deep areas along Black Mountain Peninsula. I also really like fishing the new wharves at Henry Rolland Park. It is possible to catch all three lure targets here, with a Jackall Doozer paddle tail plastic slow rolled near the pylons. Now is the time to target cod on LBG, so be

perch cruising under the redfin which respond well to a slow rolled beetle spin coupled with a paddletail plastic. Ginninderra will only get better and better as we head into April, when the really massive yellas come out to feed. Lake Tuggeranong has been hit and miss. The carp are, as always, a staple for bait and lure fishers, and there have been plenty of mud suckers caught over recent weeks. That said, the native fish and redfin have proved more elusive although there have been a few solid redfin caught by anglers utilising a hop/ pause retrieve opposite the dam wall. As usual, the dam wall is the best place to try for a native if you’re fishing from the bank. If you’re fishing from a boat, the deep pocket about 20m from the

Lake Burley Griffin continues to provide exciting lure fishing for locals. weeks. We had sporadic rain through late January and into February and this affected the water clarity and shut the fish down. The rain was very welcome as it got the river flowing again, and many anglers gave the ’Bidgee a good break, which

natives caught, including some massive cod. Though the dam remains low, the fish are on the bite and can be readily targeted from bank or boat. I have been fishing Googong regularly from the bank for several months now (see my feature

Sam Hancox with a nice Googong fish. not trying to compare. However, because of the heavy smoke, Canberra fishos have increasingly looked further afield for their daily, weekly or monthly fishing fix. One particular dam has caught the attention of a lot of local anglers because of its relatively close proximity to the capital and also because of the large fish which reside in it: Wyangala Dam.

much for you in March and is keeping you off the water, I can highly recommend a trip to Wyangala to tie up with some big Murray cod. LOCAL LAKES Lake Burley Griffin is fishing particularly well and should be the first stop for any local angler in search of a golden perch or Murray cod. Kayak and boat anglers have access to the best water, with the points around Yarralumla

sure to always take a heavier rod and a few big plastics on each trip and target the deeper ledges which run around from the yacht club. Lake Ginninderra is producing at the moment, with plenty of fish on offer for bait and lure anglers alike. The carp have been very easy to catch of late with bait, lure or fly, and either Berkley Gulp Grubs in black or woolly buggers

Wyangala has proved to be a good option for Canberra anglers seeking to escape the smoke. dam wall is best if you’re targeting Murray cod. The native fish should really start to get on the chew over the next few weeks, especially around areas like the rocky bank which leads around to the dog park. The Murrumbidgee River has been very inconsistent in recent

This 64cm Murray cod was caught in the Murrumbidgee. Wyangala Dam is situated about two hours’ drive from Canberra and has been relatively unaffected by fire and smoke and with the rapidly falling water levels, the big fish are more concentrated in certain locations. I visited the dam recently and was not only surprised by the fishing action but also by the amount of Canberra fishos on the dam. I had plenty of good conversations with local and interstate visitors during my two days at Wyangala,

Bay producing big yellas which can be targeted using blades and vibes fished deep. There are also schools of redfin holding in these areas, and it is possible to run up catches of a hundred fish or more by using a metal jig ripped off the bottom. As always, the deeper areas in the middle of the rowing lanes along Lady Denman are native hotspots, but a good sounder is a necessity if you’re fishing these areas. For bank anglers, the pick of the spots are the

fished fast will bring on the better fish. There are big schools of redfin holding near the edges of the weed beds running around from the college up to Diddams Close Park, and some large golden perch have also been caught in these areas by anglers slow rolling TN60s parallel to the weed. I really like fishing ‘The Wing’ at this time of year as there are plenty of redfin smashing the surface in this area, but there are also large golden

it desperately needed after being completely flogged through the summer months. SURROUNDS Googong Dam was shut for extended periods during the height of the fire threat, but anglers just before the closure and after the closure have enjoyed significant success with plenty of big

article in this issue) and have caught big numbers of golden perch using a variety of lures and tactics, with small paddle tail soft plastics being the pick of the lures. The action will continue right through autumn and into winter when the massive cod come out to play.



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Murray cod are in hunting mode NEW ENGLAND RIVERS

Adam Townsend

It has been a long time coming, but finally the New England Tablelands and plenty of other places across the country have finally got some much-needed

rainwater that has flowed into the rivers from the run-off has not seemed to cause too much harm, with only a few fish being found dead so far. Fingers crossed there are not too many more as the rivers have just had a bit of a flush and are looking better than ever.

swimbaits up in the shallows or working the rocky banks and trees – when there is fresh water flowing into the dam, as long as you are persistent and confident in the technique you are using at the time, you will have success. I can say from experience that you can’t beat those crazy

A 1m+ river Murray cod taken on a Megabass Megadog walk-the-dog topwater lure before first light. rainfalls throughout the end of January and the start of February that have seemed to do the area wonders. Most of the rivers that surround the Tablelands seem to now have a bit of a flow to them, which is awesome to see as there have been a few rivers that haven’t seen any water for over 12 months now. A couple of the bigger systems even went into flood, which has not been seen for a long time, although unfortunately the massive bushfires left plenty of ashes around on the ground. In saying that, the

The local dams even got to see a bit of the water too after the flood water slowly made its way down from the feeder systems, filling dried holes as it went. COPETON DAM Copeton Dam rose back up over the 6% mark with inflows of over 3000ML per day, which seemed to turn the yellowbelly and big Murray cod on the bite for a few solid days of fishing. It doesn’t really matter what choice of technique you choose – whether that’s throwing a bait off the bank, casting



sessions when the dam is on the rise and big Murray cod are up in the shallows busting anything that looks like food. A mate and I experienced a crazy session one night when the banks were going under and camps were on the move, and we managed over a dozen fish between us with the biggest


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like I mentioned before, with the Severn being so low for such a long amount of time, there needed to be a lot of water to fill the holes before it made its way into Pindari. Jackson Haussler and I managed to be out on the river just as it started to trickle in the lower reaches of the system, and the cod really turned it on for us. There were cod being sighted on the edges feeding, and multiple times cod followed us right in, eating lures at our feet. There were also big river cod coming up and eating the smaller cod mid-fight. That is the epitome of Murray cod

fishing for me, but when the rivers are healthy and the fish are happy and not in sulking mood from the drought, fishing like this in un-pressured and looked after waterways can actually be pretty common when you put the time and effort in. BEARDY RIVER The Beardy River also got a pretty good flush after the recent rains, however there have been no fishing reports of this area of late. Fingers crossed we get many more heavy rainfalls in weeks to come to keep the rivers flowing and fill the local impoundments even more. Tight lines!

Jindabyne bushfires near miss Anthony Bentley

60 Johnson Street, Forbes NSW

A Megabass DeadSlowl Swimbait down the hatch of a healthy cod.

This big wild river Murray cod ate the author’s lure and a smaller fish at the same time. Crazy!



cod going 110cm, as well as a couple of bust-offs to good fish in between. When Murray cod are in hunting mode, there is not much else like it. It’s pretty cool that these amazing fish are native to Australia. PINDARI DAM Pindari Dam did not seem to be as lucky as Copeton, and did not get to see quite as much water. However, with the Severn River being its main feeder river and it also being so low and dry for such a long time, there needed to be a lot of water to fill all the holes upstream first before it could make its way down into the basin. However, there have been some good fish being caught down in the deeper part of the basin closer to the wall end of the dam. Yellowbelly are taking a liking to the smaller natural style baits like lipless crankbaits and small vibes or blades, and some good cod are being caught along the edges on chatterbaits and the odd surface lure. I’d imagine if the water makes its way downstream like it did with Copeton, then all the fish that will be up the top end of the dam will be there for one reason: to feed. SEVERN RIVER The Severn River finally got to see some much-needed rain as holes were starting to clog up with weeds, however

Well, what a summer that was! With the ominous threat of bushfires, high temperatures, and very little rainfall it was certainly a summer to forget! Luckily here in Jindabyne we dodged a bullet on the fire front, but we did see the town evacuated for tourists and visitors, and closures in the national park, which limited our fishing opportunities. The good news is that we are open for business! With the minimal pressure applied to the local waterways over

the summer period, the fishing right now is firing. The upper Thredbo River is fishing very well from the skitube all the way up to Dead Horse Gap. The trout are readily eating from the surface right throughout the day. Caddis and beetle imitations are the go-to patterns right now. Thankfully we have seen a little bit of rainfall in the post summer period, which has revitalised the rivers and should see the fishing improve right up until the close of the river season. The lower section of the Thredbo should see an improvement later on this month as we see some brown trout start moving into

the river from the lake for their annual pilgrimage to the spawning grounds. The picnic area up to Paddies Corner will be the pick of the lower part of the river. The Mowambah River is starting to pick up a little after the heat of the summer, although the flow is still a little low. Eagleview Lane and Big Yard Road are the pick of the spots on the Mowambah, and are best fished later on in the day when the hatches are a little more prolific and you will have a better chance of not spooking fish. The Mowambah has been a little tough on fish lately and a very stealthy approach and a delicate presentation

is a must to keep your catching chances high! Smaller beetle patterns and caddis are working well in this area. Swinging small nymphs like a pheasant tail, hare or copper from behind a buoyant dry fly can also get you into the action. As always, try to fish the undercuts of the stream, as this is usually where the big dogs are hiding. Lake Jindabyne has also been fishing quite well around the edges, although the trollers and boat anglers are having the better results working flies and lures down to 30-40ft, as the lake is quite low at the moment To page 71

Greener times ahead Glen Stewart

It has not been an easy time over summer, with fires, drought and dust storms. The heatwave conditions we experienced were dreadful. Fishing, for the most part, was put on the back burner. Staying alive and protecting property for many people was the priority, and rightly so. We were fortunate here in that we weren’t in the fire zone as such, but we

slowly subsiding, and a text came through on my phone… “The Macquarie has stopped flowing.” It was my young bloke who sent the text, just after he pulled a struggling 70cm fish out of a sandy shallow hole by hand and moved it up into a deeper refuge pool. I’d been watching with interest recently the organised efforts of other people saving fish much farther downstream, but this was much closer to home. It made me very sad, and I wasn’t alone – it turned out that a few passionate anglers, some I knew and

walk I had done many times, but this time without a rod. Thankfully, the deeper refuge pools, especially well shaded ones, were holding up quite well. The shallow margins in between… not so much. The weeks since have seen some rain, and the season feels like it has turned a corner. I just hope mother nature brings her around slowly because one big rain event will send a toxic sludge of topsoil, manure, and vegetation down river, killing everything in its path. I have questions about how we reached this point, but they won’t be answered

Watching a cod eat a lure right under the boat is something that never happened when the author had a bigger boat. still had to make some tough decisions about what would get water and what would not. The veggies and grass would have to wait, as water in tanks collected off roofs can only go so far. I remember one afternoon in particular I was watering fruit trees, making sure that every single drop was going were it should be. The heat of the day was From page 70

and the fish are enjoying the colder water down deep. These deeper fish are usually eating yabbies, so a nice big Woolly Bugger or any other larger streamer fished slowly along the bottom with a sinking line will find some good results. If fishing from the shore, the best times are going to be very early in the morning or later in the afternoon right through the night. Daytime lake fishing will be quite limited initially, but will see it improve as the milder weather approaches later in the month. Lake Eucumbene has been performing marginally better than Jindabyne, with some great reports of rainbow trout starting to make a more regular

some I did not, felt the same way. They, too, had fished these waters, watched the ebb and flow, and caught and released many fish from within its banks. They, too, had watched a watery lifeline slowly dry up and all but die. A space and time in the cycle of life maybe? Regardless, it’s still very hard to watch. I went for a walk, a

with idle talk hereabouts. Actions speak much louder than words, and every little bit helps. Our future, and the environments that surround us, depend on it now more than ever. DAM REFUGE Impoundments, in a lot of ways, have been the saving grace of anglers locally. Waterways such as lake Lyell have been busy with

appearance. Employing the same techniques on Eucumbene as Lake Jindabyne will work well. The upper Snowy River from Island Bend to Guthega and above has had very little fishing pressure this season, with access to this area closed for more than a month. Both the pondage and river are fishing very well. Dry fly fishing with mayfly and caddis patterns up there is a lot of fun. My favourite fly for fishing up there is the good old Parachute Adams tied on a #14 or #16 with and fished on a dead drift. Although we haven’t had any direct impact from the bushfires this season, our little community of Jindabyne has seen a significant downturn in tourist and visitor numbers

to our area. We rely on all you good fishing folk to come to our towns and have a good time and spend some dollars. All of us in Jindabyne welcome you with open arms and hope you can come and enjoy the fishing, hiking, biking, and all the other beautiful outdoor activities we have to offer. Not only us here in Jindy, but all those other small towns that have been directly or indirectly affected by the tragedy of this bushfire season. • We are always happy to give advice on what gear to use and where to go. High Country Outfitters has the best range of flyfishing gear in the Snowy Mountains, and with over 30 years under our belts, we know our trout fishing! Get on down here and have a great time!

The author’s downsizing from a larger boat to a bathtub has been an interesting experience. Modifications have been kept to a minimum. a multitude of water users, but this should subside as the month of March gets into the back end and water temperatures start to drop. The trout will start to rise up in the water column, especially during low light periods, making them much easier to target. The bass will also transition. You can target both species at the same time and sometimes on the same lures, but just keep in mind that if you hook a bass on light leader in or around the timber, he’s probably going to stitch you up big time! I’ve recently made the change to a smaller boat. Well, a bathtub, really! It has made larger waterways interesting to say the least; I now have even more contempt for water ski and jet boat wakes. There has been much not to like. However, I have watched two 70cm-80cm cod eat lures in full view under the boat and I’m sure that never happened in my old boat. It’s very early days but I’m taking mental notes with great interest. Of course, this will come as no surprise to all the kayak and canoe anglers in the district, I’m just a little slow on the uptake! The associated gear purge has been another interesting space to be a part of. It turns out you don’t really need all of that crap, or at least that’s what I’m telling myself. I’m sure it

Everything you need and nothing you don’t. Downsizing your boat is definitely one sure way to purge your stuff. will find its way back into another boat when I finally make the move! From a photography standpoint though, the smaller boat sucks. I’m slowly getting my head around set-ups and

adjustments to suit. It does offer some pretty cool angles though, and the fish look so much bigger in a small boat! Hope to see you on the water soon. Please approach slowly… Until then, tight lines!

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Prime cod fishing YARRAWONGA

Tony Bennett

We are now entering peak Murray cod time for the next few months at Lake Mulwala. The mayhem of the holiday period is all but a distant memory with the lake returning to some sort of normalcy. Hopefully now it will be a lot more user friendly for the more quietly mannered fisher folk. This time of year cod start moving back into the slightly shallower water. Casting or trolling any style of lure, like a hardbody, crankbait or spinnerbait will see you with a great chance of encountering some action. The past few years have seen the popularity of both

surface lures and swimbaits boom, with these two styles of lures producing more big cod than anything else. The prime water depths to look for range from 1.5-3m. As always, there will be plenty of action downstream in the river, especially for those looking to get the kids onto a few smaller fish. Cheese is the go-to bait with bardis, worms, yabbies, shrimp or chicken strips being great alternatives. Last month, there were numerous reports of decent cod but it did prove tougher than usual. For every report we received, we also had several fishers reporting days of donuts. A few of the more commendable captures were Dave Stuart’s 121cm monster taken below the weir on a Kuttafurra Joe

the Rat. According to those on the trip, it was a very unlucky fish! Tayla Quick also had some exceptional results last month. Tayla spent a night throwing around swimbaits with her partner Josh and was rewarded with a magnificent cod, which measured in at a superb 117cm. The fish was caught on a Zerek Affinity swimbait. The Muscat family sent in possibly the best story for the month. They had their own social fishing competition over the holiday period with $500 at stake. Ultimately, it was taken out by 11yo Makaira Muscat, who came out on top when her Bone Focus Swimbait was smashed by a magnificent 101cm cod, an impressive catch for a young angler.

Makaira Muscat scored this winning 101cm Murray cod.

March opens hot autumn bites ALBURY/WODONGA

Connor Heir

The year is quickly moving along, as the summer days end and we move into autumn. The fishing during March is still plentiful for good numbers of native fish, and autumn marks my favourite season for targeting Murray cod. Unfortunately in the part of the country I spend a lot of time fishing, many areas have suffered extremely widespread damaging bushfires. So much farmland as well as national parks, properties, and even people’s homes have been lost, and it has brought so many communities together. This has been absolutely devastating for so many people. The loss of property and livelihoods has become

Seek out new areas if the fires have affected your usual haunt.

March is typically a great time to target Murray cod. an unwanted reality, so I really urge people to show support through these tough times by visiting affected communities, supporting local businesses, donating, or anything else that you can do to help. It doesn’t have to be

Hopefully the rivers will return to their ideal clarity in the near future. 72

MARCH 2020

a lot – small things go a long way and if many people chip in and support each other, the overall result will be huge and it will have a very lasting effect on these communities and areas. Sadly, so much wildlife has also been lost and due to recent heavy rainfall after the fires, the rivers and creeks have copped a lot of ash and fire leftovers that have caused fish kills in a few different areas, with some areas worse than others. Seeing a river that is usually crystal clear turn a dark greyish dirty colour is certainly very upsetting. It is going to take some time for some areas to grow back to what they once were and for fish to move back into these areas. I can’t give approximate numbers or estimates on how widespread kills have been at this stage, but it has hit a number of creeks as well as the Upper Murray River itself. It’s not believed that it’s wiped out the entire system but some of the creeks affected have been turned upside down. I won’t know more until

conditions improve and it’s safe to go explore again, but I will update next month. Hopefully the areas worst

March coming up, I’m confident the fishing will still be good. While I can explain how this time of year has produced in recent times, you just never really know how areas are going to fish as it depends on the circumstances. It’s generally

If you put the time and effort in, you will be rewarded with what you have been seeking. Every time you fish, you learn something and the more you do it, the more skilled you will become as your understanding grows. Just

Quality fish should still be on offer if you persevere this month. affected make successful recoveries and fingers crossed there’s no more fish kills to come! With all the fires hitting many areas I focus on, I have had to venture to other fisheries in the area. With

a time when you can still catch great numbers of fish, particularly smaller fish. Targeting the transition of light periods will still be productive and if you are chasing bigger fish, this is a great opportunity to do so.

do it for the passion and love of the sport because if you are enjoying yourself, catching a fish is a bonus. Tight lines to all, and my thoughts and best wishes are with all affected by the fires.

Strange cod tempters ROBINVALE

Rod Mackenzie

With the full wrath of summer parching the turf and making fishing a tad uncomfortable, it’s understandable the reports have slowed a little. In saying that, early morning and evening sessions have continued to produce some good fish, with both Murray cod and golden perch on the chew. In the warm conditions it seems the bite has swung from lures to bait, but that

This bucket-mouthed behemoth was taken on a Bassman Aussie Crawler.

StumpJumpers are catching both Murray cod and golden perch on the troll. might simply be a case of anglers preferring to pull up in the shade as they wet a line. From all reports it seems natural baits have taken a backseat for those more of the kitchen variety, with some strange concoctions tempting fish. There are no shortage of secret formulas that claim to draw fish to the hook like ants to a picnic. In the past, aniseed was regarded the pied piper of fish scents to the point that at one stage it was rumoured to be banned! This of course was a false claim, exaggerated as many fishing related topics are. But it does beg the question, does aniseed really attract fish? It seems logical that as aniseed is not found naturally in either fresh or saltwater that the unknown aroma might in fact draw the attention of curious fish. Whether the fish come for a look or a feed is irrelevant, as the aniseed has worked effectively as an attractant. Perhaps that is the same as many of the things these fish are dining on. Oily baits like cheese, chicken, processed meats and dim-sims are all catching cod. Many anglers believe it is the river shrimp eating these baits that attract the cod. There is

no doubt that the movement and feeding sounds emitted by these small crustaceans would help attract a hungry cod to the bait. But it’s the oily trail of flavour wafting on the current that holds the most interest for the fish.

of snags, a mix of secret herbs and spices could be blended together to create a fin smacking bait! In the Murray River at Swan Hill several large cod have been caught on garlic-scented chicken fished wide in the rivers flow. It’s a similar story right the way along the Murray River at Boundary Bend, Wemen and Mildura. It seems in the current water conditions the bite has switched from lures to bait, and those less natural, artificially flavoured offerings are working best. Golden perch too have been biting well at most of these locations, but more so on natural baits like river shrimp, worms and small yabbies’. While most of the bigger cod reports have come in on bait, there have still been a few on lures. Several Murray cod to a metre have been landed in the Murray River at

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Gareth Lynch with a solid Murray cod landed on the cast on a Hangman lure. Over the past month some very good-sized Murray cod have been caught on all of the above baits, including others that have been dipped in tuna oil. Small sausages known as chipolatas have also been working well, especially those with some cheese in the mix. There is real scope here for a fishcrazed butcher to create the holy grail of cod sausages. Like the Colonel Sanders

Swan Hill on the troll using StumpJumpers. Murray cod to 110cm have also been reported from the Murray River around Mildura on lures both trolled and cast. Some excellent golden perch have also been good by-catch on the larger lures used by anglers targeting cod. All up the fishing has been quite good at most locations and should remain the same over the coming weeks.

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Name: Address:


The first correct entry at the end of each month will win the prize pack. SEND ENTRIES TO: NSW Find-a-word Competition, PO box 3172, Loganholme Qld 4129


Phone (day):

GEORGE & NEV by Michael Hardy

Complete the Find the Word and go in the draw to win a Fishing Monthly Prize Pack containing a limited edition neck scarf and a Fishing Monthly environmentally-friendly tote bag.






Congratulations to Adam Kalamouni, who was last month’s winner of the Find-aWord Competition! Monthly winners receive a Fishing Monthly prize pack. Prize delivery can take 8 weeks. – NSWFM


The subscriber prize winners for January are S Wykamp of Eugowra, G Taylor of Sydney, S Dawson of Cronulla, R Coombs of Minnamurra, and B Everatt of Gwynneville, who won an Remington Ultimate Series RX5 Head Shaver valued at $150. All subscribers are entered in the monthly subscriber prize draws. Prize delivery takes up to 8 weeks. – NSWFM

Werombi, C Cooper of Boorowa, G Dalley of Thornton, M Ryall of Singleton, G Waugh of Greystanes, K Whillock of Dapto, J Graham of Bogangar, T Duval of Lower MacDonald, N Foot of Lara, B Anschau of Skennars Head, R Fineran of Geurie, P Bak of Monash, A Sinclair of Lalor Park, J Paul of Inverell, H Morrison of Forbes, D Turner of Kincumber, M Callagher of Teralba,

T Refalo of Somersby, D Reeves of Windsor, K Hester of Beverly Hills, D Burgess of Elermore Vale, E Poll of Kiama Downs, R Jones of Werris Creek, C Glenn of Gwynneville, P Lyneham of Fern Bay, V Zan of Echuca, D Nacinovic of North Narrabeen, S Gallacher of St Clair, B Culshaw of Banyo, E Owens of Banks. Prize delivery takes up to 8 weeks. – NSWFM





MARCH 2020

This month’s Guess the Fish Answer: Threadfin Salmon

The Find the ZMan Logo prize winners for January were: R Bland of Forster, T Jennar of Gordon, P Dubbelde of Orange, C Engelbrecht of Wagga Wagga, I Necic of Glenfield, J Thompson of Berry, J Morante of Wauchope, J Cook of Stuarts Point, L Comerford of Penrith South, P Hamilton of Uranquinty, J Gowan of


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Lessons from loss of Fitzroy barra This month I want to talk about a big national problem that seems to be missing in the current discussion of the summer that has been and the emotional reactions on both sides of politics. I despair for rational discussion on dealing with the reality of global warming now and in the coming years. Canberra may as well be on Mars at the moment for how close they are to the problem. December provided the most difficult survey that we have endured in what is now over the hundred survey days. With a tight deadline, we had 10km of the Fitzroy River north of Rockhampton to cover and in the 42°C heat our Humminbird unit was locked up and the GPS on our Biosonics Echosounder self-destructed. Add to that dodging huge mats of hyacinth and the day ending with a collision with a snag that bent the transducer plate to near right angles, and we barely scraped together enough data to do a presentation 24 hours later. With our presentation done the easy thing to do was to pack up and head back to Brisbane. Something troubled me about what little of the survey we completed, which kept me in Rockhampton for two weeks more, including building a GPS solution from scratch to get us back on the water. What troubled me was the presence of small pockets of tilapia nests that shouldn’t be there. The Fitzroy River is unique. I don’t know of any other that has so much data – over 30 years’ worth. Fishers around the region report their catch data to us – most years more than 300 trips – and when combined with results of competitions, we have an accurate picture of what is happening year to year. Back in 2007, the catch rates of barramundi were so low that there was talk of shutting down fishing altogether. That is the climate cycle for barramundi, boom-

bust. In 2007, much of the East Coast was in terrible drought, a state we have headed back into and may be in for another year at least. When the drought broke, the fishery went into overdrive, and with three years of good recruitment the boom arrived with the best fishing for 25 years. That quality of fishing played a key role in the establishment of a Net Free Zone in 2016. Infofish has monitored recruitment as well for 20 years. At the moment the recruitment is so poor it may as well be zero and without unlikely relief in the form of summer rain, that won’t change. Ironically, there hasn’t been a good recruitment year since the implementation of the Net Free Zone. Legal fish currently make

MARCH 2020

A survey in action on a cooler mid-30s day.

Fig. 4 – Example of tilapia nests in shallow water/sand banks. up around 80% of barramundi catches, so if commercial fishing were still allowed today chances are the fishery would be pretty close to back to the state it was in 2007. Instead, the Fitzroy attracts a growing level of fishing tourism. That, however, is the salt part of the Fitzroy. The river is separated by a barrage that keeps the freshwater locked in and

Fig. 1 – Forecast catch rates for 2020 on the Fitzroy River. 76

provides the water supply for the town. That barrier, like so many artificial obstructions in rivers, disrupts the natural cycle of the barramundi. In normal circumstances juvenile barramundi would make their way up into the freshwater part of the river to grow up, but with the Barrage in place that only happens on a one in 20-year flood, where the flood plain gets inundated and large chunks of the town go underwater. There are many other artificial obstructions that limit the movement of juvenile barramundi, over 1200 in all. In years with minor or substantial flooding, off river sites open up, and in the years with poor rain juveniles have to rely on king tides. With a substantial population of big hungry barra to navigate on the

way to safety, predation has decimated the recruitment in the past couple of years. We don’t make it easy for our native species. SCOPING THE TILAPIA PROBLEM Back in 2007 at the peak of the drought there wasn’t much attention placed on tilapia. While there may have been sites where tilapia had snuck in, they were certainly

not there in large numbers and were not reported in net surveys conducted in Alligator Creek, one of the sites in this survey. In fact, the survey region is used as a release site for stocked barramundi and for a brief time in 2010/11 all the traffic on the river was in this region as the stocked fish had grown to the point where they were being caught in

Fig. 2 – Tilapia sites in the survey area.

good numbers. In mid-2018 we did our first ever biosonics survey in Yeppen and Crescent lagoons, located on the southern road into town. Tilapia were known to be present in the lagoon, but once we did full scanning it was clear there was a large, well-established population with an established nesting areas just waiting to spread on the next flood. Interestingly, there were far less tilapia in the next lagoon in the chain – the Woolwash. Geography played a key role in keeping the tilapia under control. The Woolwash is closer to the river system and requires less flooding for barramundi to enter the lagoon. With the current drought conditions the Woolwash is close to drying up, and over 100 fat barramundi were recently rescued by locals and returned to the main river. In contrast, there are no barramundi in Crescent Lagoon and at best a handful in Yeppen. What we didn’t know is how far up the river they have progressed. Once we could get back on the water we discovered the small pockets of tilapia nests were potentially legions, which is not always easy to tell on scans. All up we identified 134 nesting sites in the 10km of river we surveyed, of those 55 were significant sites obviously in use by many fish. While I can’t provide an exact number of nests, it exceeds the 1000 mark, however some will be eel-tail catfish. Fig. 3 shows the locations of the sites, red being the largest sites. One interesting thing we noticed on reviewing the sidescan data was two separate nesting strategies. The largest clusters of nests occurred in shallow water, between 0.5-1.5m depth.

Nests tended to be close to the bank, with very few in open unprotected waters – see Fig. 4. In the main channel, nests were still located in shallower water at the edge but either close to or within wooden structures – see Fig 5. If that wasn’t depressing enough there was more to come. The biosonics surveys turned up big numbers of fish, so many bony bream, that even the biosonics couldn’t count them. In the main channel the number of large balls of bony bream were numerous and sizable. We did some volumetric assessments of larger balls and I have no doubt the total number of bony bream would be closing in on the million fish mark. We haven’t released our species classifier for biosonics just yet, but we have developed the algorithms and we have reference data for tilapia from our very first survey. A conservative estimate in the 2.5km of the main channel surveyed would be 3000 fish classified as tilapia. In terms of the biomass of fish >200mm long, tilapia dominated. It’s likely that this region is attractive to tilapia for its large shallow areas, but with another 40km of viable territory back to the barrage, and more territory upstream, the total biomass of tilapia has the potential to be very significant. Based on the sample size of 10km, which is significant in of itself, tilapia and bony bream are the dominant biomass. THE IMPACT OF ROOKWOOD WEIR There is a plan to enhance Rookwood Weir, another structure further upstream for the purpose of trapping more water for agriculture. Tilapia are going to love the change. One of the reasons that tilapia have managed to take hold so fast above the barrage is the way in

which the system is stable and shallow most of the time, with plenty of territory for nesting and almost no predators, punctuated by floods that allow them to move further up the system. Unlike for native species, the separation of the river into a series of ponds in the dryer periods presents no obstacles to tilapia recruitment. In fact, with their omnivorous diets they can use the dry times to build up their numbers and maximise their ability to spread when the rains come. You have to admire the way evolution has equipped tilapia to dominate systems. It’s little wonder they are among the top food fish species globally. In contrast, most of our native species are all built to ride out the dry times and then repopulate in the good. It’s a strategy that assumes free motion along waterways in the good times. With all the modifications we have made to our waterways that strategy isn’t working out so well. All things being equal, every structure that holds back water without being an impassable barrier is going to benefit tilapia. If that hasn’t been factored into the plan for Rookwood and similar structures, somebody better start thinking about allowing commercial fishing for tilapia in the next ten years. AN ARTIFICIAL FISHERY I made a trip to the Pacific North West in the US in 2017 that left me shocked. Salmon with albacore tuna and dungeness crab make up the majority of the fishing economy, both commercial and recreational. Human intervention through water management practices have reduced the viable natural recruitment for salmon to between 8-10% of its original capacity. As a result most of the salmon fishery is dependent on a massive hatchery program, with an industrial scale of stocking supplementing the natural

stocks. It’s a serious issue, similar to that with Tasmania farmed salmon, and it has raised serious concerns in the community but the biggest concern is the reality the fishery would likely collapse without ongoing human intervention. For some unknown reason it never occurred to me that things are actually worse in Australia. When it comes to our inland fisheries, our historical water management practices have generally had an abysmal effect on the environment and fish stocks. Fair credit has to be given that thanks to habitat work and large amounts of stocking things have improved, but that doesn’t change the fact that without human intervention – we know where that fishery will end up. We have already been there. It’s pretty scary when you think about it, that a wide range of our native species are reliant on us to hang in. What is even more scary is in the next two decades the climate gods will almost certainly throw a bunch more curve balls.

GLOBAL WARMING IS NOT GOING TO HELP I have spent plenty of time listening to climate science over the break, including material that would fit firmly in the denier category. I think that the rush of scientists to have a simple message has not only backfired in terms of community action, it’s killed necessary discussion. That message – that 97% of scientists agree that man-made climate change is real. I mean really? Who cares? Who believes that? I have sat in rooms of experts, the only time you see that kind of consensus is when money or religion are involved – often both. The lay person is right to smell a rat. What we really need to know is how is that going to play out. That is where climate advocates with their doom and devastation approach have paralysed our response. Here is the reality. The world is heating up, but that is a big emotive topic so I want to focus on the part that impacts us. One thing not discussed in the climate change ‘debate’ is most of the ‘warming’ in global warming happens in the oceans, not in the

Fig. 3 – Tilapia sites in the survey area. atmosphere. In fact, without an ocean global warming would have been a lot worse, and this is bad news for Australia. Our climate is largely driven by two key ocean phenomena, El Nino and the Indian Ocean Dipole. How is a larger discussion, but the effect of putting

Fig. 5 – Example of tilapia nests in the main channel among structure.

Fig. 6 – Tilapia candidate biomass in the main channel survey area.

more heat into the ocean is to strengthen their effect – ie. shorter periods of big rain, intense cyclones and longer dry periods of below average rain leading to longer droughts. Australia’s fate is to bounce between having too much water with limited ability to trap it and too little water as water needs for cities and agriculture exceeds what we generate. While everyone is talking CO 2, it’s water that is Australia’s big problem looking ahead. We have wasted the time since 2007 with stupid political ideological positions on both sides of politics. The last summer of horror has been the result. We need less politics and more preparation for what’s

to come. Only focusing on emissions reduction will lead to more areas of the country becoming dangerous to live in for humans and animals. It’s water policy, not energy policy that will be the biggest challenge for Australia in the next 20 years. Less security around inland water means big problems for fish and the broader environment. It means more long dry spells that lead to the kind of fire conditions we have had this summer and less water available in key areas to combat them. In the estuaries and inshore, warmer waters means species migrating to wider areas, something we are already seeing in Queensland and the wider East Coast. As fishers, we should be concerned with climate change as the risks of more changes to our rivers to trap water increase. Accidental overfishing will happen in areas where fish start to find it difficult to recruit. More species will end up on the human life support system, some banned from fishing altogether, while species like carp and tilapia will be advantaged everywhere that native species are under stress. The allocation of resources in NSW to keeping fish alive in drought struck areas is a step in the right direction, but it’s really only a sign of things to come. THE LESSONS FROM THE FITZROY Three to four years ago, an option was on the table for the region above the barrage to join the SIPS program to secure funding for ongoing stocking. Locals objected to having to pay to go fishing in the river and the idea was canned, but I wonder if their decision would be the same if this tilapia mapping was available. It seems to me restocking the Fitzroy is an urgent task, and as the well-established tilapia population in the Woolwash

shows, barramundi can make a difference. The reality is tilapia were able to flourish because they were out of sight and out of mind. Hidden beneath the surface of the water, they were free to go about their business. With that in mind, the big takeaway for me from our mapping session on the Fitzroy was just how much territory we have with almost no visibility to what is going on. Having spent hundreds of thousands of dollars developing the capability to see under the water, I think our most urgent task is to do exactly that, especially in the inland rivers and streams where the risks from water management are greatest. I have set the company the task of mapping out all of inland Australia within five years. That seems an impossible goal as it stands, but without it many more areas like the Fitzroy will be lost and decisions will be made with little regard to their future impacts on ecosystems. It’s our job at Infofish not just to dream up how to do it, but to make it happen. We have already started, and in the next couple of months we will find the best way to build and share the datasets with the fishing community and different levels of government. I don’t want this to just be a hunt for fishing spots with nothing done with the data. We will also be asking the fishing community to help out – if we all work together, not only is the project achievable, politicians will take note. Ignoring climate change is not an option; the fishing community loses out if we do that. If we work together, we can uncover what lies beneath the surface of our rivers – and hopefully this time round we can start to build a water policy that doesn’t leave us with an ecological mess to clean up. MARCH 2020









1 Mar

ABT BASS Electric Round 1 Richmond River

7-8 Mar

ABT BREAM Round 3 Derwent River

8 Mar

East Coast Bream Series Round 1 Sydney Harbour 0403 085 696

11-12 Mar

ABT BREAM Round 4 St Helens

21-22 Mar

ABT BASS Pro Round 1 St Clair

28-29 Mar

Hobie Kayak Bream Series 12 Round 2 Georges River

4-5 Apr

ABT BREAM Round 5 Mandurah

5 Apr

ABT BASS Electric Round 2 Coldstream River

18-19 Apr

Hobie Kayak Bream Series 12 Round 3 Mallacoota

19 Apr

East Coast Bream Series Round 2 St Georges Basin 0403 085 696

25-26 Apr

ABT BASS Pro Round 2 Clarence River

29 Apr-1 May

ABT BREAM Australian Open Sydney

2-3 May

ABT BASS Electric Round 3 Lostock Dam

2-3 May

Hobie Kayak Bream Series 12 Round 4 Blackwood River

16-17 May

Hobie Kayak Bream Series 12 Round 5 Woy Woy

17 May

East Coast Bream Series Round 3 Botany Bay 0403 085 696

23-24 May

ABT BASS Pro Round 3 Glenbawn Dam

30-31 May

ABT BREAM Round 6 Forster

6-7 Jun

Lions Greenback Fishing Competition Pottsville Beach

7 Jun

ABT BASS Electric Round 4 Moogerah Dam

20-21 Jun

ABT BASS Pro Round 4 Cania Dam

20-21 Jun

Hobie Kayak Bream Series 12 Round 6 Gold Coast

12 Jul

ABT BASS Electric Round 5 Hinze Dam

18-19 Jul

ABT BASS Pro Round 5 Wivenhoe Dam

25-26 Jul

ABT BREAM Round 7 Bribie Island

8-9 Aug

ABT BASS Pro Round 6 Somerset Dam

Add your tournament or competition to this list by emailing or calling 07 3387 0800 in office hours. Just supply a date, venue, tournament name and a telephone number and contact name. 78

MARCH 2020

boats & kayaks

In the skipper’s seat

Inside story...

Sea Jay Aluminium Boats has been family owned and operated for over 30 years, and the name has become renowned for strength, quality workmanship and customization with the angler in mind. Whether you’re fishing in fresh or salt, inshore or offshore, Sea Jay will provide you with a model to suit your boating and fishing needs.

Made for...

Sea Jay specialises in boats for sports anglers, offering a stable fishing platform and plenty of storage.

This month...

Editor Steve Morgan takes the Sea Jay 473 Territory with Yamaha F60hp for a spin. Check it out on page 86!

80 Rod holders in yaks

Justin Willmer looks at rod holder options for yaks and which one might be best for your needs!

82 All hands on deck

Decks are now standard on most fishing boats, and Wayne Kampe examines some different types.

84 Paddling around Newy Harbour

Byron Hill shines a light on this under-appreciated fishery only a stone’s throw from Sydney!

MARCH 2020


Placing rod holders in the yak BRISBANE

Justin Willmer Find me on Facebook at Yaks On

When purchasing and fitting out a kayak for fishing, an important consideration is the rod holders and rod storage. Many kayaks come fitted with some form of rod holders, from basic flush mount rod holders to more comprehensive horizontal rod storage. Let’s take a look at rod holder options, their applications and some of the pros and cons. WHY ROD HOLDERS? Rod holders can have many different purposes, such as storage and transport, lure or bait trolling, and static bait fishing. You may require rod holders to protect and secure your rods when punching out into the surf, navigating rapids or for keeping multiple rods secure and at the ready when fishing a tournament situation or socially. They may be mounted to extend

the other end is formed into a flat plate that sits flush against the deck, generally sealed with Sikaflex or

the bottom of the pipe. It is also worth noting that flush mount rod holders are available with the pipe

and mounting any type of rod holder, it is important to ensure the rod holder is in a position that is practical

A track mounted adjustable rod holder allows for easy repositioning. being lifted from rear flush mount rod holders in the process of paddling and lost overboard. The latter could be overcome by attaching a rod leash to your rods, especially when left stowed

and lift the reels away from the water, especially when fishing the salt. You can now get simple extender inserts that slide into the flush mount rod holder and extend the height of the tube,

Multiple rod holder options allow you to have several rods rigged and ready. similar and fixed with rivets. The butt of the rod is simply slid into the holder to secure it in place. When purchasing and

running vertically and also with the pipe angled from the mounting plate. You will need to decide if you want the rods sticking straight up

and functional. I will generally use cloth tape to mark where the rod holder will be placed or to hold an adjustable rod holder in place temporarily while I take the kayak for a paddle and fish. You will soon realise if you are unable to reach the rod holder once seated on the water, if the rod holder is going to be in the way when paddling or anchoring, or any other reason why you may need to adjust the position of the holder prior to mounting it. Flush mount rod holders are inexpensive, included in

A selection of adjustable rod holders. in the rod holders. However, I use the rear flush mount rod holders for stowing my landing net instead, with an accessory float attached to ensure it is not lost if dislodged with the paddle.

plus are quick to remove for easy kayak transport and storage. Quality extenders feature attachment points to anchor the extender to the kayak, along with attachment points for rod

Carrying a selection of rigged rods allows you to be ready for different scenarios, as Jason Milne aka ‘Paddle Guy’ can attest with this solid queenfish. your rods horizontally from the sides of the kayak when trolling or for keeping your reel away from the water and the rod secure when waiting for a bite while bait fishing. TYPES OF ROD HOLDERS Flush mount The most basic form of rod holders is the flush mount rod holders that come fitted in many fishing kayaks. Your kayak may include two flush mount rod holders behind the seat, with some also offering two additional rod holders in front of the paddler, one on each side of the cockpit area. Flush mount rod holders generally consist of a section of plastic pipe that is sealed at one end to ensure water cannot enter the hull of your kayak, while 80

MARCH 2020

fitting your own flush mount rod holders, it is important to ensure that they are sealed at the end of the pipe, as flush mount rod holders available for boats often have an opening to allow water to drain out of

in the air, or if you would like them angled back out of the way when casting or out from the sides when trolling. You will also need to make note of the internal space that is available. Before drilling holes

Rod holder extenders come in the form of pipe extensions for flush mounts or extenders for adjustable rod holders.

An icebox or crate allows you to stow gear as well as attach rod holders and accessories.

the price of many kayaks and readily available. However, they do take up internal space to house the pipe of the flush mount rod holder as well as the large hole that must be cut into the kayak to accept the pipe. I avoid storing rods in flush mount rod holders, as I believe that the reels are too close to the water and I have witnessed two rod combos

Your marine or kayak dealer will be able to supply both flush mount rod holders and the appropriate rivets for mounting them in your kayak. Flush mount rod holder extender As kayak fishing has grown rapidly in popularity in recent years, anglers have realised the need to extend the flush mount rod holder

leashes. As the saying goes, leash it or lose it! Adjustable rod holders With the growth of kayak fishing, it has also become more common for kayaks to come fitted with adjustable rod holders. Back in the mid-1990s when I fitted out my first kayak for fishing, I attached a primitive anchor running rig, a sounder with a shoot

through hull transducer, and an adjustable rod holder for storing and transporting my rod away from the saltwater, along with trolling lures and fishing baits. I basically took three of the key components from my boat fishing and transferred them to the kayak. Quality adjustable rod holders are now readily available from brands such as RAM, Scotty and Railblaza, who all step

or adjustable rod holders to it. This allows vertical storage of rods, plus the space in the crate can store a water container, tackle, wet weather gear and other accessories. MOUNTING TIPS When planning the fit out of your kayak with rod holders, you will need to consider how many rods you wish to carry, whether you will be storing and transporting

Forward mounted rod holders can be useful as they provide a clear sightline for bites and paddling clearance when trolling.

This yak has rods in the front rod holders and landing nets in the back. above the budget models with corrosion resistance, more horizontal and vertical adjustability, locking mechanisms to keep the rod secure, and sturdy mount release systems that allow the rod holder to be installed and removed quickly and easily from the attached mount as required. Running one mounting system across your watercraft allows you to interchange rod holders and other accessories between vessels. I have opted to run the Railblaza system as it is light, affordable, durable and it has a variety of StarPort mounts to suit a variety of mounting positions and applications that mount on a track system, which is then in turn mounted on the kayak. They also offer a comprehensive

them horizontally or vertically, and if the rod holders will be used for trolling lures, holding

to reinforce the mount. LAYOUT OPTIONS The best rod holder selection and layout depends on what best suits your needs. Over the years I have seen a myriad of different rod holder options and mounting ideas, many of which served a specific function for the user. Vertical storage may be perfect for those fishing open water, while those fishing smaller creeks with

Longer tube style rod holders keep reels clear of the saltwater. popular layouts include the basic two flush mount rod holders behind the angler and two in front, however I would suggest investigating rod holder extenders in

own solution for securing four rigged rods behind my seat with two Railblaza StarPort mounts and a TracPort Dash 500 attached to house four adjustable rod

Depending on your kayak, rail mounting can be a good option.

Reels mounted high and tethered for heading offshore. range of accessories, like rod holders, safety flags and lighting, camera booms, storage, platforms and sounder mounts that use the universal mount system. Crate systems Another popular option for storing and mounting rod holders is a crate system like the Hobie H-Crate. Many kayak anglers will simply secure a milk crate in the rear well of their kayak and mount a few basic side mounts

paddling or pedalling, rod butt clearance, etc. prior to mounting. • It is much easier to drill or cut than it is to patch. Measure twice, cut or drill once! • Use quality rod holders, mounts and mounting hardware with marine grade stainless steel bolts, nuts and washers. They will pay for themselves in no time. • Where accessing

an available mounting point or centre hatch, and this can be very effective when fishing with one rod. From here, anglers may opt for an adjustable rod holder on each side of the kayak in front of them, allowing two rods to be stowed, used for bait fishing or trolling, with the option of trolling from either side of the kayak or both simultaneously. For storage solutions, anglers often use sections of PVC pipe to protect tips and elastic strap holders for securing the lower section of the rod when stowing horizontally and milk crates with rod holders for rear vertical storage. I created my

rods while bait fishing or other applications. These considerations will assist you in deciding the number of rod holders, the style of rod holders and where on the kayak the rod holders will need to be mounted. • As mentioned earlier, mark with tape where you are thinking of mounting your rod holder or alternatively tape the mount on so that you can test the proposed position for accessibility and reach, clearance when

inside the hull of the kayak is difficult, due to lack of hatches and access ports, the only option may be stainless steel screws to mount your rod holder. In this case, use Sikaflex or similar to assist the screws in fixing the rod holder or mount to the kayak. The ideal option is to mount your rod holders where you have internal access, allowing you to use bolts, washers and either two nuts or a nut with a nylon washer for a secure fixing. • For heavier trolling applications, you have the option with Railblaza mounts to cut a larger hole and mount the base section of the StarPort inside the kayak and the top section on the outside, sandwiching more kayak between the mount. Alternatively, I have mounted through backing plates made of rotomoulded polyethylene or stainless steel placed inside the kayak

overhanging vegetation may require horizontal rod storage with some sort of protection for the rod tips. Explore what options are out there and don’t be afraid to invent, design and create your own solution if you can’t find what you’re looking for. Kayak fishing has a history of innovation. Some of the most

Track mounting rod holders are becoming more popular as they’re easy to adjust and fit. this instance, especially if fishing the salt. Many anglers opt for a single adjustable rod holder in front of them, mounted to

A side mount increases the available mounting possibilities.

holders securely. It’s not the cheapest option to store four rods vertically and isn’t one that I have seen before, but it has served me well, stood up to plenty of use and allowed me to easily access four pre-rigged rods. The fact that I can have different presentations rigged for different situations or multiple similar presentations rigged in case of a snag or bust off has definitely increased my catch rate. Spend some time thinking about your needs so you can plan and fit out the best rod holder solution for your fishing. It will make your sessions simpler, safer, more productive and more enjoyable. MARCH 2020


All hands on deck! BRISBANE

Wayne Kampe

Back when I first started boating, a deck was not even considered. Boats were open, dinghy-style craft or half cabin jobs, so the boats of today are a huge step forward in watercraft evolution. Today, a deck is generally

or not a deck will be one of the major considerations prior to purchase. A deck can be very useful because of its elevation from floor height, which can assist anglers with more ready assessment of nearby features plus provide a stable place to fish from. For fly anglers, there’s also the benefit of unobstructed floor area for ease of casting – a huge bonus. Under deck compartments can provide

best advantage for the anglers aboard. In some cases, there’s a handy seat spigot in the bow area to allow flexible seating. If you’re considering buying a boat, it’s a good idea to assess how much of the craft is taken up with the front deck and how it’s going to influence things elsewhere. Too large a deck might encroach on other sections of the craft and it’s wise to consider if the deck will suit the majority of the fishing and other boating plans on the horizon. One

This well set up front deck features six different compartments – note the divided catchwell.

Nitro’s dedicated sportfishing rig boasts a very large deck section aft of the cockpit seating with a livewell under the carpet.

with the floor height or are set up to be level with the rest of the deck when closed. Kicking your pinky toe on a protruding hinge is agonising; plus if you’re a fly angler and the line keeps catching on them, it’s a constant curse. Another vital issue just for fly anglers will be deck height. A recessed deck can contain the fly line admirably while a deck that finishes level with the gunwales is a pain in windy or sloppy conditions, as the fly line will quickly slip over the side if allowed to sit on the deck between casts. Without a stripping basket, fishing in such a craft can be very difficult indeed. KEEPING WATER OUT Check how freely the hatch covers open, hinge back

with grime quietly building up and without a chance to use a hose or a pressure washer can be difficult. With aluminium craft, a large expanse of shiny alloy tread plate might look impressive, but it is going to be hard on bare feet and will truly test the worth of your sunglasses in really hot, sunny weather. For some reason, different boat makers persist in leaving their plate alloy decks in the open for the sun to cook so it’s not surprising some owners opt to cover exposed alloy with products such as Seadeck or similar insulating material, as it’s not hard to apply and will be great to walk on. Likewise, some fibreglass owners might throw a bit of Seadeck or carpet down

and whether the seals are snug enough to deny water entry when closed. Most glass rigs seem to take care of water with neatly moulded channels but alloy rigs with flush contact hatches don’t

That’s a mighty neat deck but your toes might take a beating on the prominent hinges. regarded as an important part of virtually every larger craft although we might easily find one on a smaller, under 5m rig as well, given the way that manufacturers are packing in desirable features into smaller and smaller boats nowadays. A deck is pretty much

storage space, catchwells, live bait wells, perhaps an auxiliary or other battery compartment and even engine related accessories such as fuel or other filters. It’s also quite common to find an under deck compartment set up with tackle trays for easy access of those working

Who said a rear deck wouldn’t be useful! The author displays his capture while his son Scott stands on the rear deck of the tinny to play a fish. any flat area that is added on to the front or rear of the main floor of a boat either as a place to work from, a mounting place for a seat or simply part of the overall framework of the craft. The term ‘deck’ can also apply to the bow rider area in these styles of boats, as that forward section certainly makes a handy place to fish from. Many a fish has been dragged flapping into the forward seating of a bow rider rig! STANDARD FEATURES If a boat is going to soon grace the back of the car, it’s important to assess whether 82

MARCH 2020

in the immediate area. Heights vary; a deck can be set up at a level lower than the gunwales, level with them or even stand above to provide extra storage room beneath it. In a purely sportfishing craft, it’s usual for the main deck area to be up front with a lesser area to be aft of the main cockpit seating area, in order to pack in as much fishing area as possible. FRONT DECK Typically, a front deck provides somewhere to cast or play a fish from and also houses the aforementioned storage areas set up to the

thing’s for certain, what you see is what you get and it might be very difficult to change things down the track. If it’s possible, a comparison of deck layouts noted in different makes of boats can help you decide. DECK SURFACE Decks can be covered or simply left unadorned as part of the finished product. It’s normal for most fibreglass craft to have some form of non-skid surface, which provides excellent underfoot grip but might be hard to get really clean after extended fishing time. Cleaning it after a week away of fishing

Neatly fitted carpeted hatches, seen here, can sometimes allow a bit of water ingress. If you’re fishing in wet conditions, it will pay to have a look under them once back at base. up front over the non-skid surface to facilitate cleaning up later. Hatch access covers up front will all have hinges on them and you should assess whether they are out of line

The Nitro’s front deck would easily fish two anglers in comfort. Note the recessed hatch cover latches and hookless carpet.

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do so well and few things are more annoying than having a session fishing out in the rain and coming home to find just about everything under the deck slopping about in water. Most

deck hatch compartments will reveal a lot about water ingress and how well things have been maintained. Stains, mould and furry stuff are all indicative of some possible

and other well-powered planing craft. Hatch covered compartments are normally featured and while some compartments are dedicated to engine related items – batteries, filters and the like – a live bait well in this area is fairly common as well. In such cases, it’s good to have livewells plumbed to ensure total ease of draining and to be certain no smelly bits are left there after fishing.

Like most sportcraft, the Nitro’s paired compartments within the aft deck are set up with batteries and a bilge pump. without digging in from the vibration of the craft. Don’t be afraid of carpeted decks. Yes, a spill on carpet at home can be a real worry but on boats the marine carpet coverings are really easy to maintain in

The well-recessed deck in this image features a seat spigot. anglers won’t begrudge their craft some TLC after fishing but when all under deck compartments are inspected and found to be wet and soggy, there’s no option but to open up the covers and let the cleaning up begin. It doesn’t sound like much fun (and trust me, it’s not!) but the alternative of leaving things as they are has a much higher ‘yuck’ factor. If you’re intending to purchase a used rig, looking within the under

neglect, so buyers beware. AFT DECK While a deck in front of the engine is usually standard fare on dedicated sportcraft, it’s normal to have a pair of small decks each side of the engine on punts and the like because these smaller decks can still be handy for casting when a few anglers are aboard. On the other hand, a deck the full width of the craft is standard for dedicated sports boats (the so called ‘bass’ boats)

the grand scheme of things and can stand up to some sugar soap or hard carpet cleaner after fishing. So, before you invest, consider the features you need from a deck for your kind of fishing.

Exposed checkplate is a feature of some plate alloy craft and while it certainly looks the part, it can get very hot in mid-summer. COVERINGS It’s par for the course to see front and rear decks with a carpet covering. It’s always worth considering the type of carpet. Carpet is a lot easier under foot than fibreglass

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Now’s the time to visit Newy CENTRAL COAST

Byron Hill

Newcastle Harbour is deep, busy and tidal. It’s not the usual arena for the

CAUTION Before we get into the details it is important to note that Newcastle Harbour is an active and busy port. Unless you have a very good awareness of what is

boat ramps, but for those wanting shoreline, the occasional stretch of sand is accessible toward the mouth. Carrington Boat Ramp is a kayaker’s favourite, as it offers plenty of area to

Horseshoe and Little beaches are options right next to the mouth of the Hunter but I’d exercise caution. The current can be strong, so consider the tide and your kayak’s ability to push through it. The last thing any of us want is a stranded kayak heading out to sea, or getting in trouble with tugboats and container ships. If you’re interested in working a vibe or livey at the Stockton Bridge pylons, the Stockton Bridge boat ramp will be your best bet. Depending on the direction you’re driving from you may need a U-turn or two to access the area. Be careful on this ramp, as it can be a little slippery and is on the steeper side. Aside from the

Thorsby Creek gets a little skinny in a few places and offers mangroves instead of rock walls. by default but has a few other options to keep you interested. If you’re flicking at walls, consider working the full water column, including where the rock walls meet the sandy bottom. Crabs, vibes, worms and blades all work on the rock walls in the area. Position

drag sing! There are plenty of rocky and concrete points to target, but the water can be quite clear. If that’s the case, consider longer casts to get your lure to the fish without spooking them. The drop-offs can be steep, with some deep

The author with a mulloway caught around the Stockton Bridge. To find these river gems, look for the bait. kayaker, but it can be a load of fun. The harbour does have a number of offshoots including the North and South Arms of Hunter River, but some of these areas can be very busy with commercial movements.

going on around you, good practise would be to stick to the edges. There are also some no go zones you need to avoid, and a flick to the DPI website will help you out here but big picture: it’s probably not the smartest

This bream fell to a Samaki Vibelicious worked along a northern rock wall on the Stockton side. You can avoid these areas by being smart about where you launch and planning the areas you want to fish. The arena is filled with rock walls, restaurants on the water and trawlers to make a visit worth the trip.

idea to fish under a container ship or tugboat. OPTIONS APLENTY The majority of Newcastle Harbour is lined by concrete boulders and rock walls. Yakkers will be limited to launching from

launch and rig up. From the ramp a kayaker can head north up Throsby Creek to the TAFE facility. If you paddle south, you are two minutes away from the fishing trawlers; a definite consideration if you’ve managed to time their arrival back to port. The current is light in this area. Parking at the boat ramp has never been an issue, but there is plenty of parking if you’re thinking about a public holiday session and are worried about the crowds. There are basic cleaning facilities and because you’re in the middle of Newcastle there are plenty of spots to grab a bite. Stockton North and South boat ramps are also good options if you want to access the main Hunter River arms. These launches get you closer to the edges and structure around the large container ships that frequent the area.

A number of over water cafes and restaurants provide great fishing areas. concrete ramp, the edge is all rock. The parking area isn’t as ‘structured’ as others and there are no cleaning facilities. Without giving too much away, it’s worthwhile standing at the boat ramp just after the turn of the high tide

your kayak near the walls and coast with the tide! As always, fish as light as you can in the reasonably heavy current. If you’re done with the walls there are a number of restaurants on stilts scattered around the harbour that

poles and pylons around the bridges. It may take some time to get your lures down there, but you may also find a nice reward. SUMMING UP Newcastle Harbour is full of structure; its North and South Arms are full of poles,

Carrington Boat Ramp is in the centre of Newcastle and allows easy access to some great bream fishing.

If you’re lucky enough to time the trawlers, make sure you throw a lure in as they’re cleaning their decks. 84

MARCH 2020

and looking north. You will see a lot of water running out of the mangroves and bursting through the gaps in the parallel breakwall. This is prime country. WHERE TO FISH Newcastle Harbour is structure heavy, and it lends itself to edge fishing

are always worth a look. Fish hang out under these looking for an easy feed. An Ecogearaqua (which looks like a discarded chip) will be a good bet. A Cranka Crab or Gulp Crabby cast to the back of a trawler that’s emptying its cargo should also hear your

pylons and rock structures. There are numerous options when considering where to launch, but your main consideration is going to be the tide. Remember to be safe – it is a functioning port, so avoid the no-go areas and you’re bound to have a great day.



The Pursuit DC 235 is packed full of comfortable seating and storage with classic styling throughout. The value and affordability of the DC 235 is delivered through a fully appointed boat with popular options. Notable standards include plush cushions, porcelain marine head, cockpit bolsters and an array of fishing features. A single Yamaha F250 delivers consistent performance for every activity, from fishing to board sports. All Pursuit boats have proven hulls, refined lamination techniques, vacuum-infused stringer grids, and verified installations. These boats are designed and manufactured in the USA. The premium gelcoat is backed by a 5-year hull blister warranty, and there’s also a 5-year hull and deck structural warranty with a 2-year component warranty, all of which are transferable to subsequent owners. The hull bottoms are reinforced with a resin-infused, fibreglass structural grid system, and the lined roto-moulded polyethylene fuel tanks for maximum fuel capacity are designed to eliminate condensation and the effects of ethanol in the fuel. Base price: SRP $134,000 (engines not included)



The new Lowrance HOOK Reveal (available in 9”, 7” and 5”) delivers powerful performance with proven fish-finding tools. Anglers will have an easier time seeing fish with FishReveal, which combines on one screen the target separation of Lowrance CHIRP sonar and the high-resolution images of fish-holding structure from DownScan Imaging. Genesis Live lets you create custom 0.5ft contour maps of your local waters in real time on the HOOK Reveal screen. Genesis Live maps can also be created and saved on HOOK Reveal non-mapping GPS plotters by placing a blank microSD card into the card slot. A simple interface and HOOK exclusive Autotuning sonar make HOOK Reveal easy to use. Autotuning sonar delivers the best sonar image every time by automatically adjusting settings as fishing conditions change, making it easy to pinpoint humps, drop-offs and so on. You can choose your preferred combination of display size, sonar type and navigation, from TripleShot (High CHIRP, SideScan and DownScan Imaging) or SplitShot (High CHIRP and DownScan Imaging) transducers and mapping chartplotters or non-mapping GPS plotters. Price: from SRP $529



Droppings from birds ruin the looks of any boat and can’t be removed with just soap and water. However, just spray on Star brite Spider and Bird Stain Remover and they will begin to break down instantly. The non-abrasive, non-toxic formula won’t harm fibreglass or painted surfaces, and won’t remove waxes or polish. The droppings simply dissolve without hard scrubbing. The formula is all-natural, contains no bleach and is safe for use around kids and pets. It is safe for all marine surfaces and fabrics. To use, spray it directly on droppings, saturating them. Allow it to penetrate the droppings for 30-45 seconds before gently scrubbing with a boat brush. Rinse well with fresh water. Stubborn or sun-baked droppings may require a second application.




Suzuki Marine has announced an upgrade to their 3+2 year warranty to 3+3 year warranty on all outboards (DF2.5hpDF350hp) purchased from 1 January 2020 for recreational use. This upgrade provides customers with further support, security and peace of mind, and endorses the superior build quality and reliability of Suzuki outboards in the Australian marine environment. This means that from 1 January 2020, any 4-stroke outboard from 2.5hp to 350hp purchased by a recreational operator in Australia can be covered for up to six years in total. The first three years is covered by Suzuki Motor Corporation warranty and the additional extended warranty of three years is covered by Suzuki Marine Australia. To maintain the new warranty period, owners must have and continue to have all periodic servicing (within the servicing guidelines and timeframes) and all maintenance carried out by an authorised Suzuki Marine dealership.





The new Southern Formula range is set to be one of the best bluewater fishing boats produced in Australia, and the new Southern Formula 19 model has all the critical features that fishers have been asking for. Built tough for offshore conditions, standard features include a hinged dive door, full-length bunks, dual live bait tanks, long range fuel tank 280L, underfloor storage, heavy-duty deck hardware, 4x cabin storage shelves, full foamfilled hull and ECM stringer system. The Southern Formula 19 is 6.4m long with a towable beam of 2.4m. Horsepower is 175250hp, the weight (boat only) is approx. 1100kg, the fuel capacity is 280L. It has a variable 21° deadrise for a soft, stable, economical and performing hull, and takes a maximum of five people. Southern Formula boats are built in Australia, and the design and manufacturing team consist of qualified boat builders and a full-time naval architect. These boats have been designed to produce superior performance, with better ride quality, better stability, more efficient hull, dryer ride with overall features and benefits internally.



A good thing just got even better with the release of the new Quintrex Top Ender Pro, which is available in 430, 450, 481, 500, 520 and 540 models. The Top Ender Pro features the current Blade Hull with a new and improved Flared Bow. The stretch-formed aluminium side sheets have more curve that run further down the boat’s length to deflect more spray away from passengers. The range introduced the 430 Top Ender Pro, a smaller and more versatile boat with the same pod transom as the other models. The side-console configuration maximizes fishing space, and there’s heaps of underfloor storage for tackle, iceboxes and fish. In the front casting platform, you can chose to have the standard storage or a livewell. Standard features include a marine VHF radio, rear ladder, four rod holders, three seats and a 5-year warranty. Options include a burley bucket, cutting board, twin battery system for electric motors, lockable rod storage and upgraded seats.





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MARCH 2020


Sea Jay 473 Territory with Yamaha F60 4-stroke - SC








launch and retrieve the rig by himself on the decidedly shallow ramp at The Spit. Height-wise, it’ll fit into a standard garage. This rig is a blank canvas for someone who wants to fit out a great little fishing boat that’ll be comfortable anywhere from a freshwater




Steve Morgan

I love dealing with local manufacturers. Fishing Monthly is located between Brisbane and the Gold Coast in South East Queensland and we are surrounded by local boat makers – possibly more than anywhere else in the country. Sea Jay boats are designed and built in Bundaberg, a few hours north of Brisbane, but their National Sales Manager Garry Fitzgerald is located in the South East. The cool thing is that he’s always giving us a sneak peek of all the new models coming out. We snuck this new 473 Territory up to Somerset Dam on a weekday to keep it on the down low, but SPECIFICATIONS Length............... 4.73m Beam................. 2.24m Depth ................ 1.14m Capacity ..... 5 persons Sides ................... 3mm Bottom ................ 3mm Hull.weight ....... 400kg Max.hp ........ 75 (116kg) Fuel ....................... 80L I’ve subsequently seen it in the yard of Stones Corner Marine. It’s the smaller sibling of the larger 493 Territory that was launched at the Brisbane Boat Show late last year. That boat was such a hit the smaller model went into R&D immediately. 86

MARCH 2020

You can see this boat in action in the video boat test (by scanning the QR code on your mobile phone at the top of this article) or by searching on the Fishing Monthly Magazines YouTube page. For more information on Sea Jay boats, visit www.


Main: The 473 Territory is a great looking boat and definitely suits a buyer who wants their first ‘serious’ fishing boat that can be customised for most inshore situations. Above: The test model was fitted with Yamaha’s F60hp 4-stroke, which yielded over 3km/L economy at cruising speeds. Like most Sea Jay hulls, this one performs well with power less than the maximum allowed. Sea Jay calls the hull design used for the Territory the Adrenalin Next Gen hull. It’s their old Adrenalin hull with the full transom of a Samurai hull added. For me, that full transom (rather than a cut out with a low point where water can splash in) gives you serious peace of mind when you decide to take out this boat and catch your first mackerel or marlin. “We had a lot of feedback from dealers and customers that smaller versions of this boat would be in demand so we got moving on the designs straight away,” said Garry, “and I reckon the team got it right with this boat.” Indeed, after a morning’s boating and fishing on Somerset, I can really see

how Aussie anglers can fall in love with these locally made rigs. The hull is beamy (2.24m) for its 4.73m length and the three of us on board for the day had no problems at all with stability and had plenty of room to fish and film. The spacious front casting deck also has a mile of storage underneath and this space now includes an underfloor anchor locker that gives you unimpeded casting access right up to the bow. The test boat was fitted with an F60hp Yamaha 4-stroke outboard. At 15hp under the maximum allowed, it could definitely do with some extra ponies on the back. At wide open, it hit a modest 45km/h at 5,600rpm at 2.3km/L. Drop it back to 4,500rpm and the economy tops 3km/L at 36km/h. Supplied on a single

axle trailer, this rig is easily towable by basically anything with a tow bar. Fitzy was able to easily

RPM....... Speed.(km/h)....... Economy.(km/L) 700 ............................ 5 ............................ 5.6 1000 .......................... 7 ............................. 7.2 2000.........................11 ............................ 3.4 3000.........................15 ............................ 2.1 4000........................ 31 ............................ 3.0 4500 ........................ 36 ............................ 3.1 5000........................ 40 ............................ 2.6 5600 ........................ 45 ............................ 2.3 lake to Moreton Bay. Add your own combination of electric motor and electronics to customise it to the types of fishing you like and enjoy! and check out Sea Jay Boats on Facebook to stay up to date with the latest products and boat show appearances.

With the 60hp, the 473 Territory is definitely no rocket ship, maxing out at 45km/h.

Top: It’s good to have a test boat fitted with the electronics you’d put on yourself. The Minn Kota adds a fair bit of weight to the bow and makes the boat behave a little differently out on the water. Above: You’ll be able to mount as big a sounder as you like on top of the dash. There’s also a compartment for your wallet, keys and mobile phone.

Top: The 473 Territory has a full transom with neat rigging and a fold down step. Above: Like all boats with a raised casting platform, you’ll find plenty of storage underneath.

The Yamaha F60hp definitely matches the styling of this rig.

The front casting deck is high and beamy. Moving the anchor well to under the deck gives unprecedented access to the bow of the boat.

It would be a challenge to fill this room with all of your camping and fishing gear. There’s plenty of open space on the deck.

Top Left: The inbuilt transom gives you covered space for batteries and other storage. Top Right: Concealed under the foredeck, the repositioned anchor well is definitely big enough to keep your anchor stowed while travelling. Bottom Left: There’s a livewell in the port transom, which pumps in and has a gravity overflow onto the duckboard. Bottom Right: The Territory is light enough to tote on a single axle trailer.

Left and Right: Sea Jay typically keeps their consoles and seating simple. Additional seat bases can be added to help you get weight distribution right for the best ride possible. MARCH 2020






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