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Are you the solution to the carp problem? • Scratching the barra itch • Dreaming of Dunk Island

Boating & Kayaking

Tried & Tested

Ned Rigs in the yak • Paddling and pedaling Samsonvale • More boat towing tips •

Stacer Proline comparison • Black Magic Snapper Snacks and KLT Hooks • McLaughlin’s Advanced Formula Berley •


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ROUND R OUND ROUND R OUND Rnd 01 R nd 0 1 Rnd 01 R nd 0 1 Rnd R nd 0 02 2 Rnd R nd 0 02 2 Rnd R nd 0 03 3 Rnd R nd 0 03 3 Rnd R nd 0 04 4 Rnd R nd 0 04 4 Rnd R nd 0 05 5 Rnd R nd 0 05 5 Rnd R nd 0 06 6 Rnd R nd 0 06 6 Rnd R nd 0 07 7 Rnd R nd 0 07 7 Rnd R nd 0 08 8 Rnd R nd 0 08 8 Rnd R nd 0 09 9 Rnd R nd 0 09 9 Rnd R nd 1 10 0 Rnd R nd 1 10 0 Rnd R nd 1 11 1 Rnd R nd 1 11 1 SERIES S ERIES 1 11 1 A U S C H P AUS CHP SERIES S ERIES 1 11 1 A US C HP AUS CHP

D DATE ATE D DATE ATE January January 12 1a 2n-u13 1a3ry January J 12 12 - 13 13 March March 02 02a-rc03 0h3 M March 02 02 - 03 03 March March 30 30a-rc31 3h1 M March 30 30 - 31 31 April April 06 06pr-i07 0 A l7 April 06 06 - 07 07 April April 27 27pr-i28 2 A l8 April 27 27 - 28 28 May May 18 18a-y 19 19 M May 18 18 - 19 19 June June 22 2u 2n-e23 23 J June 22 22 - 23 23 September September 14 14 1e5mber S ep-t15 September 14 14 - 15 15 September September 21 21 2e2mber S ep-t22 September 21 21 - 22 22 October October 05 0 0 O5ct-o06 b6er October 05 05 - 06 06 December December 07 07ec-e08 0m 8 ber D December 07 07 - 08 08 Jan - March March Jan 2020 2 0 2 0 Jan - March March Jan 2020 2020




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February 2019, Vol. 31 No. 4

Contents NORTHERN NEW SOUTH WALES Yamba 20 Ballina 22 SOUTHERN QUEENSLAND The Tweed 24 Southern Gold Coast 26 Gold Coast Canals 27 Jumpinpin 30 Gold Coast 32 Southern Bay 34 Brisbane 36 Brisbane Offshore 38 Northern Bay 39 Noosa 40 CENTRAL QUEENSLAND Rainbow Beach 43 Hervey Bay 44 Gladstone 46 Bundaberg 47 Monduran 47 Rockhampton 48 Stanage Bay 48 Yeppoon 49 Mackay 50 TROPICAL NORTH QUEENSLAND Whitsundays 83 Ayr 84 Townsville 85 Hinchinbrook 86 Port Douglas 86 Cairns 87 Cairns NFZ 87 Lucinda 88 Cooktown 88 Cape York 89


From the Editor’s Desk... There’s nothing wrong with trudging the riverbanks and doing your bit for the environment, especially if it involves picking up a bagful of rubbish and smashing a few vermin on the head. I think both carp and tilapia have the same brownie points as cane toads. Rob ‘Rupe’ Gaden Jr gets us up to speed on the best way to do this this month with a piece on his favourite carp bashing techniques. Just don’t do what he just did – slip over on some wet rocks and break your foot. Rupe says that his moon boot is as good a tool as you’d expect for sneaking up on carp: rubbish! MEGA CHRISTMAS SUBSCRIPTIONS A big shout out to all of our new subscribers that came on board over the Christmas break – either as gift recipients or via redemption of a gift card. We

know that you’ll love these magazines delivered to your door every month. Remember that you’re in the draw for subscriber prizes each month, too. We’ve been giving cool gear to our subscribers for decades, and we love doing it each month. If you’re not a subscriber yet, give us a call on 1800 228 244 or click the links on www. if you want to become involved. TOURNAMENT ANGLER GUIDE Whether you’re a tournament angler or not, the ABT Tournament Angler Guide stitched into the centre of this issue is a quality read if you like lure fishing. Back in the day when it was a stand-alone magazine (and over 160 pages), it had the nickname of ‘the instruction book for your lure box’. Nothing much has changed. Whether you’re scoping out a new area for social fishing or for a tournament,

Joey and Jamie’s preparation article will help you succeed. And after livestreaming my entire season from the boat, there’s a no-holds-barred article on every lure I used to weigh bream across Australia. It takes ABT’s motto – ‘Who Shares Wins’ – to the extreme. We’re really proud of the improvements in coverage in these catch-and-release events. When the general public knows that anglers are doing the right thing by




the fishery and the fish, the environmentalists can focus their well-meaning but ill-informed attentions elsewhere. And that will help all anglers in the longer term. GREAT DIGITAL VALUE Every month, we are picking up more and more subscribers on our digital platform. Just search for ‘Fishing Monthly’ on www. For the standard subscription price on your own state magazine, you get access to ALL state magazines, every month, for a year. And you get them a week-and-a-half before the first print issues hit the subscribers’ mailboxes. So if you’re fully into consuming your fishing magazines on a computer or tablet, then get clicking! The value is sensational.



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Hayden Goodchild caught this dog tooth tuna on a 60g Gomoku micro jig about 1km off Cape Moreton. The fish was released to fight another day. A Fabian Power image.


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SPECIAL FEATURES Scratching the barra itch Dreaming of Dunk Island 2019 Tournament Angler Guide Better solution to the carp problem? FEBRUARY 2019



REGULAR FEATURES Back to Basics 16 Camping and 4WD 110 Cooking 112 Dam Levels 100 Freshwater 100 Fun Page 118 Sheik of the Creek 108 Sunfish 107 Tech Tricks 18 Tournament News 109 Track my fish 114 Trades and Services 116 What’s New Boating 122 What’s New Fishing 91












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Scratching that barra itch all year round GLADSTONE

Roderick Walmsley

A few years ago, if someone asked if you had heard of the Fitzroy

Northern Territory or the dams around the Mackay, Bundaberg and Gladstone areas – have attracted the attention of Southern Queensland and NSW anglers making the trip

north to target barramundi. The floods that caused Awoonga, Monduran and Lenthalls dams to overflow shut these dams out of the equation and caused them to lose favour with

Barra are a great target species for the kids to get into. This one ate a live mullet and the kids loved it.

King threadfin salmon are a great by-catch when targeting barra. They are also a viable target species in the river during the barra closed season. River, you would be forgiven for assuming that they were talking about the river located up in the northern region of Australia. Up until a few years ago the Fitzroy River in Rockhampton was somewhat of a hidden gem for barra anglers. However, the implementation of Net Free Zones in Queensland (including the Fitzroy River) has really highlighted the venue as a viable place for travelling anglers to come and get their barra fix. Previously highprofile venues – like the

many of these travelling anglers. The introduction of Net Free Zones had social media sites quickly turning the spotlight on the Fitzroy River. The river itself is located in Central Queensland. Its catchment covers an area of 142,665km2, making it the largest river catchment flowing to the eastern

coast of Australia. It is a massive system stretching a length of 480km. It links into another system in its lower reaches, which itself links up to the waterways adjacent to the town of Gladstone. In essence, you could launch your boat in the town reaches of Rockhampton and, picking your tides, could

then travel via water all the way to the town reaches of Gladstone. The enormity of the Fitzroy River and its associated systems can be quite daunting to the travelling angler and local knowledge is a huge help for those wanting to navigate the system safely. The Fitzroy and Port Alma systems are about as

This class of barra is a good average size for the Fitzroy River. Vibe style lures, like this Madness Vibe, account for large numbers of barra throughout the system.


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It’s barra like this that keep people coming back.

Barra close as you can get to a Northern Territory barra fishery. Mile upon mile of mangrove-lined mud banks can give the impression that you are in a remote and isolated creek, when in fact you are only a short distance from the town reaches of Rockhampton or Gladstone. There is a closed season for barramundi on the East Coast of Queensland. This closed season runs from midday on 1 November and ends midday 1 February. It offers the barra some respite from local fishing, however, the closed season

also coincides with the regions wet season and its opening date can quite often occur in conjunction with the flooding of the river. The large catchment in the upper reaches of the river can mean that inland rain could cause the river in the Rockhampton town reaches to flood for up to two weeks after the rain falls. The barra opening on 1 February is one of the most anticipated dates on the Central Queensland calendar. Fishers like myself who have major

withdrawals regarding barra (or the lack of being able to catch barra during the closed season) are again let loose on the system and can finally scratch the barra itch. The good news for barra fishers is that Monduran and Awoonga dams, after great work from the stocking groups, have made a resurgence. Good numbers of barra are now spread throughout the dams with anglers reporting regular captures of fish in that 65-85cm size range. Recaptures of tagged fish have indicated

The author with over a metre of Fitzroy River barra caught in winter.

This sounder shows a large school of barra up Awoonga Dam. It shows how well the numbers are coming back.

exceptionally fast growth rates, so the expectations are that they will go from strength to strength. The plus side is that while the salt is out of bounds for barra anglers the dams are fast becoming another viable option. The town reaches of the river feature large rock bars that offer prime fish holding structure. These rock bars need to be navigated with caution. On a high tide the

area looks deceptively safe, but as the water level drops the rocks become visible. The area is well sheltered and provides anglers with the opportunity to fish out of relatively small boats a short distance from ramps. There are boat ramps on either side of the river giving locals and travelling anglers easy access. Tide sizes or heights are probably the biggest influence that affects how

you approach the system. These tides affect water clarity, where the fish position themselves in the system, or more accurately, where the water forces the fish to hold. A basic rule of thumb is that the water clarity is cleaner over the smaller tides and when there is less water flow. Other issues like trending winds, flood events or time of year can To page 12

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all throw a bit of curve ball at you. Working out these subtleties takes time on the water and astute observations of what tides produce fish at specific locations. As you head out of the town reaches and make your way further downstream the river becomes more exposed to wind and suffers more from the effects of the tide. The rock bars of the town reaches give way to sand bars that require astute negotiation. As bad as the sand bars can be, there is a navigational hazard that is more of a concern. Many years ago, a large percentage of the river was bordered by artificial rock walls and as the river has subsequently pounded by flood events, the inherent direction of the river’s flow has been diverted as its banks collapsed and shifted. Some of these rock walls are still visible but many are not. They have remained in position, but the river’s banks have moved and left the rocks in places that are often exposed on the lower tides. Although they can be a hazard to navigate, some of them have been named ‘the rockpiles’ and can hold good numbers of both barra

This chunky Awoonga Dam barra was caught on a 5” Castaic soft plastic. and king threadfin salmon. If you are travelling up or down the river, take special care of these and other hazards. Probably one of the biggest advantages of the Fitzroy River is that the barra don’t shut down through the winter months, in fact the catch rates can increase as the water cools. Large numbers of barra and threadfin make their way up into the town reaches as the rest of the river cools. They are not only accessible to boating anglers, but impressive catches are also made

from people fishing off the banks and pontoons around the boat ramps. Cast netting mullet and prawns then using them as live baits is the go-to technique and you can often observe bank fishers casting lures while waiting for a bite on their bait rods. Barra in the Fitzroy River are no different to others and the standard techniques work for them. If you are a lure fisher the standout lures are the standard paddle-tail soft plastics, soft vibe lures and shallow and deep diving hardbodies. Cast

and retrieve techniques, as well as trolling produces consistent numbers of barra and threadfin. Bait fishers are not left behind and the river is a healthy system with plenty of bait. Mullets, live and dead prawns fished on weighted rigs or under floats can be just as successful. The river also produces good numbers of grunter mixed in with the other two species. Downsizing your lures will often result in an increased number of grunter being caught. If you travel up from one of the southern systems don’t be disheartened if the water looks a tad dirty, the river is not known for its

The rocks exposed in the town reaches of the Fitzroy River.

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impeccable clarity and the fish don’t have any issues finding your lures. Just fish it as you would any other barra fishery. Local knowledge is a big help and if you are visiting the system for the first time, pop in to one of the local tackle stores for some helpful tips. You could also enlist the services of one of the guides that work on the river if you wanted a good starting point. The Fitzroy River is fast becoming known as a very accessible barra fishery and you have to admit that there are not many places that you can fly into an airport and be fishing for barra almost as quick as you can change your clothes.


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Dreaming of Dunk Island fishing BRISBANE

Wayne Kampe

Like a lot of keen anglers living in the southern part of our state, I’m always keen to have a crack at far off waters, especially if they are in north Queensland. With a son living at Tully, it’s natural that I have the opportunity to occasionally see what’s biting around the Mission Beach, Dunk Island area. A recent expedition saw us launching son Scott’s boat into the Hull River at Hull Heads near Tully just after daylight on a calm, but remarkably cool, morning. It

There’s a lot of fishing potential in this young angler. Amelia was stoked with her coral trout.

even for small craft, but we snuck gently out with a rising tide to assist us. For a Moreton Bay angler the sight of so much great looking blue water at our beck and call was enough to get the group excited. There were family groups of low lying islands off to the north and south, each featuring plenty of sections of rocks, outlaying reef patches and broken ground that are perfect for targeting. With all this and a wide expanse of blue water the hardest part was knowing just where to make a start. Luckily, on this morning the fish were good enough to show us where. As we headed out towards Dunk Island I saw a

The local green zones on display at the Hull River ramp. was a full family affair with with Scott, young Amelia, and Denise and I aboard.

The Hull River ramp is well set-up with a solid gradient. You’ll also find

The handy pontoon is perfect for holding the boat away from curious crocs.

an adjoining walkway that ensures people are not faced with holding a boat in water shared with crocs. There is also a sign nearby depicting the green zones around the many islands in the area. But, the best feature of all is that access to open waters is only five minutes away. The Hull River mouth is not quite an all tide affair,

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since I’d scored a longtail on fly and it was very satisfying feeling those hard runs. The attempts at dogged circling were immediately thwarted by moving straight off to the side with the drag on the Galvan loosened somewhat, and within 10 minutes the fat tuna was in the net. This was a great start to a fishing trip. Sashimi in the icebox already and the day had hardly started. GOOD FISH FOR AMELIA First port of call was a

we decided to try out luck and to my surprise I felt a solid whack on the plastic and shortly landed a croaking trevally. After that, all casts went unrewarded and some sharks around the boat – one bit off Denise’s coveted Spanish mackerel – meant there was no other option but to move. Scott had the area fairly well wired and snuck us quietly into a shallowish reef section where plastics seemed to attract a fish with

The author took this tuna just out from Dunk Island. Looks like it’s sashimi for dinner.



The Hull River can turn up some surprises, as Scott discovered when he caught this queenie on fly.

couple of birds diving not far away and working over tuna. The team were not all that convinced, but I’d seen a tail come out of the water as a fish rolled and was pretty confident on the call. So Scott snuck in quietly with the engine on idle and I had a shot with the 10WT TFO Mangrove fly rod right under a tern that was hovering over something we could not actually see. The fly sank; I stripped it three times and was rewarded for my efforts with a longtail tuna stripping line hard off the Galvan reel. It had been some time

The author with a fly caught jack. In the mangroves, you win some you lose some! quiet corner of Dunk Island where large GTs were reported to live. We’d fished there previously but had not seen one yet, always being broken off by the beasts. But

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virtually every drop. I scored a champion longtom, Denise hooked something that ran straight into the coral but Amelia hooked and landed a gorgeous coral trout that she happily held for the camera. I sure wish I was catching coral trout at her age! SHARKS ANYONE? Luck deserted us on the reef areas as once again sharks moved in, with three fish going their way in rapid succession without even a hint of colour coming towards the surface. It was more than slightly annoying, as the sounder was lit up with bait and some decent looking fish, but it meant it was time to go. Shark predation is a fairly recent source of annoyance, with the general consensus being that shark numbers have greatly increased over recent years and it would appear they were there to stay, much the same as what has happened

in Hervey Bay. Once a couple of fish have been stolen from under the boat it’s certainly time to move and that doesn’t

on predators like jacks and barra, so we motored along gently under electric power and cast into likely spots.

The author’s trevally, with Scott working on a fish in the background.

Jacks love Zerek Live Shrimp. Denise had fun fighting and landing this fish. mean just a few hundred metres either, as the rascals will easily follow and locate the craft again. FUN AROUND THE MANGROVES As it was now mid morning and starting to warm up we decided to have a look at some nearby mangrove flats, so the fly rod tackle was tarted up with some 20kg FC100 leader tippet and Denise set up her spin gear with a Zerek shrimp as did Amelia. Locating small inlets or passages along and into mangrove banks is a challenging method of scoring

As a concession to visiting anglers, I was usually given first shot at a likely spot with the fly rod while the others offered encouragement. In the more gnarly spots my hook ups were sometimes followed by foul ups in the foliage, but there was a small barra for the long rod plus a jack as well. How good was this! Denise also knocked over a small barra on her trusty Zerek, but with the tide starting to head out it was time to return to the river and see what we might find there. The Hull River is an

beds, sand flats, kilometres of mangroves and plenty of interesting channels funnelling current and fish within casting range. Anything from queenies to tarpon to salmon and of course the usual suspects of jacks and barra are on the cards. During that short session Scott scored a lovely queenie and Denise managed a fat mangrove jack. I drove the electric while the rest of the team fished. In all, a great morning on the water and one to remember for quite a while. IF YOU GO The areas around Mission Beach are rich in fish with autumn, winter and early spring as the prime fishing times. Mackerel

catches are legendary in late winter with excursions east from Dunk Island into the shipping channel also offering the chance of Spanish macks and maybe, just maybe, a billfish as well. There are some green zones to consider but that aside there is a tremendous amount of fishable water on hand. The Hull River and nearby Tully River at Tully Heads can offer a good day of fishing even if the offshore area is not looking overly friendly due to weather. There are boat ramps well suited to trailer craft in the Mission Beach area with one at Clump Point plus another at South Mission Beach as well.

That overhanging branch in the Hull River just begs for a fly or lure to be cast under it. interesting bit of water in that it is very hard to predict what will be happening around the next bend. Like many Far North Queensland

river systems it can surprise; red-hot one day yet dead as the proverbial Dodo the next! The attractions are the many rock banks, weed

When drifting the river gaps or holes, mangrove banks are the hotspots to target.

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Catching flatties on fly NSW STH COAST

Steve Starling

With the growing interest these days in flyfishing – especially in saltwater – more and more anglers are looking for readily

distance off conventional spinning or baitcaster tackle. Simple as that. Flies are artificial baits, like any other lure. However, they’re virtually weightless. This presents an obvious casting challenge that’s been overcome by incorporating mass into the

to form a travelling loop that can be extended and unfurled onto the water, presenting the fly on the end of a thinner, less obvious leader that’s attached to the thick, highly visible fly line. So, while this simplified description might offend some purists, flyfishing is no more or less than lure fishing with ultralight lures. But it’s also heaps of fun! It’s no accident that a flathead is often the first species encountered by anyone trying flyfishing in saltwater. The only real trick to success with

Flathead like this dusky are one of the easiest saltwater species to target on fly gear.

Jo Starling with a typical shallow water flatty taken on fly. available estuarine and inshore species that can be effectively targeted this way. One of the easiest options for many of us is the humble flathead. Flyfishing has a reputation for being a mysterious and difficult art practiced by crusty, pipe-smoking old gents in tweed jackets with leather elbow patches. However, times have changed! These days, flyfishing has been de-mystified, and it’s also no longer solely about catching trout… or even fishing only in freshwater. The biggest trick to breaking down any remaining misconceptions is to accept that flyfishing is no more than a form of lure fishing where the ‘lure’ is too light or wind resistant to be cast a serious

line instead of the lure. So, a fly line is really no more than a long, skinny weight that’s used to deliver a very light lure. The best way to throw such a long, skinny casting weight is to swish it back and forth through the air

Weighted flies such as Clousers and Gotchas are perfect for targeting flathead. Simply imitate a small fish or crustacean swimming erratically near the bottom.

This articulated Game Changer from Ammo Flies is deadly on flathead. Note the lead wire on the hook shank.

THE BASICS OF FLATHEAD ON FLY ROD #7-#9WT fly rod, ideally around 9’ (2.75 m) long REEL Simple fly reel with drag or clicker, ideally corrosion resistant BACKING At least 50m of 10-15kg braid (GSP) LINE WF (weight-forward) intermediate (slow sinking) fly line to match rod LEADER 2-4m, consisting of a 15kg butt, 4-8kg main section and short (25cm) ‘bite tippet’ of 15kg nylon or fluorocarbon FLIES Clousers, Bendbacks, Deceivers, Crazy Charlies and other baitfish or crustacean patterns METHOD Identify likely areas for flathead to be lying in ambush in water shallower than 3m. Cast, allow fly to sink and begin stripping. Pause regularly to allow fly to sink again. Vary the length and speed of your strips and the duration of your pauses

flathead on fly is ensuring that your ‘lure’ stays within a metre of the bottom at all times. Closer to the bottom is even better, and making occasional contact with the sand or mud is best of all. All we really need to do with our fly gear is emulate the accepted soft plastic lure fishing strategies that are so deadly on flathead, by placing a fly of a similar size, shape and colour to those soft plastics in that same strike zone and move it in a similar way. How best to do this varies depending on water depth and current strength. In water shallower than about 1.5m (where a lot of flathead spend most of their time) you don’t even need sinking lines or heavily-weighted flies to achieve the desired result. A floating or intermediate line, a leader around 3m or so in length and a fly that sinks at rest (even fairly slowly) will get the job



done. Make the cast, wait a few seconds for the fly to sink, strip line 5-6 times, pause to let the fly sink again, and repeat! As the water gets deeper, or the current strength increases, we need to consider moving to sinking lines, shorter leaders and weighted flies. In my opinion, the efficiency of fly gear in this role diminishes rapidly as we move beyond depths of 3-4m and current speeds above a slow walking pace. In deep, fast water, I’d rather revert to a jighead and soft plastic. But up in the skinny stuff, fly gear

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is right in its element and can be at least as effective as conventional lure fishing tackle. There’s really not a lot else I can tell you in a basic, how-to piece about targeting flathead on fly. Certainly, there are nuances that can be explored (and you’ll find some of these on my website at www., but for now I simply want you to consider the possibilities of having a crack at catching a flathead on a fly. It’s really not that hard, but it is enormously satisfying, and now is the perfect time of year to have a crack. Are you up for it?





Tech Tricks

Learn a bit about the bay M-A-C-K-E-R-E-L BRISBANE

Gordon Macdonald

Mackerel are one of the more popular species to target in Moreton Bay. It is amazing the diversity between the different types of mackerel, and as such how you target them. With this warm weather, mackerel are extremely active and can be caught

the channels and around the Shipping Channel beacons to secure them. Spotted mackerel are more seasonal and most common from December to April. Due to heightened baitfish activity over these warmer months, spotties are more commonly located in surface feeding schools but will also succumb to a pilchard, small live bait or an array of lures fished around the artificial reefs

Paravanes are ideal for trolling the edges of the banks when the mackerel are feeding a little deeper in the water column. This technique is the choice for the commercial sector due to its productiveness. off the surface. So, what better time to learn all about catching some mighty mackerel? M Many different species of mackerel exist in SEQ, however in Moreton Bay the two main types available are the school and spotted mackerel. Even though the occasional Spanish mackerel is caught, they are not in sufficient numbers to make specific targeting productive. School mackerel can be caught year round if you know where and when to look, however, September to March commonly offers the greater numbers. During the warmer months schoolies can be caught off the surface, but for much of the year you will need to probe deeper down in 18


and bay island margins. A Activity on the surface is most common during the warmer months when large schools of whitebait, frogmouths, pilchards and sometimes herring are found throughout Moreton Bay. Large schools can be detected on the surface from a considerable distance as the commotion of slashing fish, wheeling and diving birds and general surface disturbance pinpoints mackerel and other pelagics. School and spotted mackerel will sometimes be feeding on the same bait school and a trained eyed can distinguish which species is present from observing their feeding activity. School mackerel are the less aggressive and will only create small

splashes while spotties are more aggressive and distinguishable by their slashing antics with a rooster tail of water being thrown up with each onslaught into the bait school. School mackerel are usually fairly wanton in their feeding while spotties seem more organised and numerous fish will corral and hold the baitfish in a large ball (often referred to as a meatball) while others will take slashing raids through the bait with scalpel-like jaws gnashing. C Casting lures is the most common way to hook schooled fish, with high speed retrieves required to get the attention of these aggressive predators in this situation. The faster you wind, the more likely it is that you will get a bite. If the mackerel are following your lure without striking then you are not winding fast enough. Lures generally need to be of a similar profile to the baitfish in the school but this is not always essential. Casting to the edges of the school is desirable as lures retrieved through the middle often results in bite-offs due to the numerous slashing jaws. A lure retrieved wider of the main bait ball will be set upon and chased by one or more mackerel. If the lure is moving fast, they will strike at the tail of the lure to immobilise the prey. For the angler this is perfect as it minimises bite-offs and increases hook ups. Casting lures to surface chaos is exciting and extremely productive. K Keeping mackerel for a feed requires they are bled immediately upon capture to heighten the quality of

A broad array of lures can be used to tempt bay mackerel. Some are cast and retrieved while others are trolled to entice these tasty speedsters. the succulent white flesh. School mackerel have a minimum size of 50cm and a bag limit of 10. Spotted mackerel will need to be at least 60cm to keep and there is a bag limit of five per person. Both species are great eating but spotties are considered the more palatable of the two. Learning to tell them apart is very important. Once bled (generally by cutting the fish’s throat latch and gill area with a knife) the mackerel should be put into a slurry (ice and a little salt water) until they are to be filleted. Mackerel flesh can be prepared in numerous ways including grilling, crumbing or battering then fried, smoked, curried or just eaten raw with some soy and wasabi. E Extra deep water is a little harder to fish because you require offerings that

will get down to the strike zone, often in quite a fast current. Some deeper diving minnow lures will work on mackerel, however the more common method is to use a trolling board or paravane to drag a spoon down to the desired depth. Trolling boards are the more popular of the two these days with the Yamashita No.6 a good choice. These look like small upturned surfboards and are fished on a handline or heavier rod with at least 30lb main line. Behind the board you will have around 4m of leader, a ball bearing snap swivel and then a spoon such as a Halco No.3 or No.4 Barra Drone. This is trolled between 4-5 knots until a hook up occurs, which makes the board flip over and plane to the surface. Another way to fish the depths is with a pilchard on a set of ganged hooks.

These are best to be fished with just enough weight to get it into the strike zone. Drifting will allow you to cover more water. The deeper channels, drop-offs along the edges of sand banks and around the beacons are good places to try for mackerel on pilchard baits. Deploying a pilchard under a balloon, while bottom fishing around the bay islands, will often reward for both species of mackerel. R Rods and reels for targeting mackerel can vary depending on your chosen fishing method. For casting lures to surface feeding fish you will need a rod between 2.1-2.4m that has the ability to cast lures between 15-40g and able to handle your chosen line class. Graphite rods will generally give you greater casting distance and are a

Chromed slugs and slices are deadly when retrieved flat out around schools of surface feeding mackerel.

Tech Tricks lot physically lighter. Reels for spinning will need to retrieve at least a metre of line per turn of the handle so you can retrieve the lures fast enough to solicit a strike. Ultimately, you will need a reel that will hold at least 200m of 7kg to 15kg braided line. This will enable you to land the mackerel fast enough to avoid the sharks and also have a decent chance with the occasional longtail tuna that is hooked from around the edges of the mackerel schools. Monofilament lines can also be used, however braid promotes great casting distances. For drifting baits the same type of outfit will suffice yet there is no need to have a high speed reel. You can deploy baits on any decent quality outfit, either spin or overhead. For trolling spoons behind paravanes you will need at least 15kg line as the trolling boards have quite a bit of resistance and can pop lighter line if they hit bottom. I prefer a handline for these as I find it is easier to retrieve the hooked fish on and I can store it

permanently rigged and ready for use. E ‘Eyes in the sky’ is a term referring to the birds that are often found in conjunction with pelagic activity. Birds have the best vantage point and can detect pelagic fish rounding up bait deep in the water column. They will follow this action, waiting until the mackerel (or tuna) push the bait to the surface where they can also feed on them. Observing the birds will give you a great indication of where the surface activity will erupt, enabling you to be in position for a cast at the best possible time. The birds are often a mirrored image of the fish below depth-wise and therefore the same distance above the water as the fish are below. As the birds lower to the water you know the mackerel are pushing the baitfish to the surface therefore idling into position for a cast is desirable. Even if the birds are wheeling high overhead you know it is a good idea to hang around and see what happens, as there is a good

likelihood that some form of pelagic species is down deep and trying to push bait up against the surface barrier. Even from quite a considerable distance, birds will be visible and indicate which direction you should be heading in to possibly get amongst some pelagic action. L Lures for mackerel can vary considerably depending on the situation in which you are targeting them. Offerings such as chromed slugs and slices, jighead-rigged jerk shad plastics, stickbaits, flies, spoons, minnow lures, micro jigs, poppers and numerous other offerings will produce in certain situations. The most readily used lure is a chromed slug or slice between 20-40g that casts exceptionally well, can be retrieved at speed and has a small profile to weight ratio. Additionally, these are the most cost effective lures on the market, and are readily available at any half decent tackle outlet. Due to their fast sinking nature, they are also ideal for jigging around the beacons

An experienced angler will be able to detect which species of mackerel are surface feeding due to their feeding characteristics. Birds will also often be present, allowing you to pinpoint the schools from some distance away. and other deep areas. Rear weighted models will plummet down, minimising bite-offs, which is common with lures that flutter down. Micro jigs will also produce in the depths. Bite-offs can be fairly common when chasing mackerel as their razor sharp dentures only have to touch a monofilament leader to sever it. Adding a short length of piano wire will eliminate biteoffs, however you may

find that you will not get further strikes. Trolling can be done with the aforementioned spoons or deep diving minnow lures to around 140mm in length. The ZMan 5” jerk shad in bubblegum colour rigged on a HeadlockZ 5/0-3/8oz to a 1/2oz jighead is a popular and fairly durable offering and will usually work when they are being fussy. Allowing this to sink below the main ball of mackerel may even score

you one of the decent snapper that sometimes hang around the mackerel schools eating the wounded prey as it sinks. Surface lures can also take mackerel and are an exceptionally exciting way to fish, however far from the most productive. Weighted casting minnows and sinking stickbaits also have exceptional success, although there is no denying the productiveness and simplicity of the chromed slug.


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Fantastic FAD fishing for this February YAMBA

Dave Gaden

February is here, school holidays are over, back to work everyone goes and I get to have a breath after the busiest time of the year for those of us that are crazy enough to own charter boats. All that aside, this a great month to go fishing, especially

offshore. Everything that swims can be caught in February. Spotted and Spanish mackerel will be running thick this month. Head north to Woody Head and Shark Bay for those big shoals of spotties that gather there every year. Troll the basic pink squid skirts around, or my go-to lure the Zerek Speed Donkey, from daybreak

than not they are up to 150m away and in several groups. I like to troll past the FAD three or four times in big sweeping circles before flicking baits at the fish. This can quite often help you find good fish

that appear to be nowhere near the actual buoy. It is also the best way to get those speed masters, the wahoo. These crazy fish will tear into a fast lure you’re trolling and at the same time can sit alongside

Jason Cambridge with a nifty pearly. Where you find wire weed, you’ll find pearlies.

Fab from Yamba with a decent mulloway. Try heading north, as they are hanging out around the reefs there.

to about 8am then find a nice piece of reef, throw the anchor and float some pillies out the back on light wire. It won’t be hard to find the grounds; there will be plenty of other boats around if the fish are on. Alternatively, head south to the 30m line off One-Man. From here I troll to Freeburn Rock (the bommie) and back, until about 8am. You can anchor and float bait here as well, but if you have gathered a few livies early then set

a couple out the back and troll them at dead idle a long way back and just keep going around the bommie. You will bring quite a few big Spaniard unstuck like this. It’s time to hit the FAD! Around 12nm southeast of the bar, the fisheries FAD will be holding some great mahimahi this month as well as quite a few wahoo. As with all FADs it can get a bit crowded some days, but the fish don’t just sit under the FAD, more often

Spotted mackerel are around in numbers this month, as Don Causley found out when he landed this spotty.

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the boat when you drop a livey on their head and just ignore it. Frustration with fins. It keeps getting better, as this month accounts for the most cobia we land compared to any other month. I really like the grounds north for cobia: Black Rock, the Italian Grounds and South Evans Reef. This beautiful reef area is productive all year round and although it

Wild big eyed and bumpy headed snapper, pearl perch to 5kg, samsonfish and my favourite the black spotted pigfish. The ground out here is pretty unremarkable to look at on a sounder as a lot of it is broken rock and gravel. But when you find snapper they will show up brightly and nicely bunched (easy target). Pearlies on the other hand will be spread across the bottom over the

channels along the side of the many sand bars. Try and find a place that has a good tidal flow as they are called swimmers for a reason and will travel back and forward with the tide. Muddies on the other hand will nest in holes in the bank and like nice dark water. This season has seen muddies consistently around the 1kg mark. Not a bad feed. Whiting will still be



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Connor, Shane and Scruffy were lucky enough to score the triple with mulloway, snapper and cobia. doesn’t seem to return us a lot of mackerel, it makes up for it with cobia, mulloway and big snapper you would expect only to catch in August. Obviously, while you’re chasing these fish you will be filling the boat with some sizable trag, as it is trag city up here. Keep an eye on the current and if you get a drop in speed head to the 50 fathom line eastnortheast of the bar. It’s a run of 19nm to the first part of this reef, but if you go 3nm further the fishing is twice as good. This is quality reef fish ground.

patches of wire weed. You will know wire weed as soon as you bring some up, fair dinkum it looks like a piece of rusted spring wire. Take my advice if you pull some up on your line, even if you are not catching fish, mark that spot! That’s the ground you need to fish regularly. Pearlies love wire weed. In the estuary crabs will be around in as good a numbers as any month of the year, that’s if they haven’t been taken by the holidaymakers over the last six weeks. Blue swimmers will be in the

around in good numbers with yabbies being the preferred bait. Try fishing the last of the run-up tide in water a little deeper than you might normally think to look for them. February can quite often bring a few small freshes to the river and for this reason flathead gets nicely concentrated in the lower reaches of the Clarence. All the usual haunts, Oyster Channel from the bridge to the entrance to the Lake, Back Channel on Iluka side and around Nihill and Esk islands, are good as always.

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Quality water makes for good quality catches BALLINA

Joe Allan

Summer holidays are all over and everyone is back at work or school again. Some great times were had on and around the Richmond River over the holidays.

The freshwater reaches of the river have produced some great Aussie bass fishing of late, with the water quality in the upriver reaches of both the Wilson and Richmond Rivers being very conducive to fishing. Cicada imitations have been working really well and accounting for some great

you don’t make them stick out in the sun for too long. In the main river try Mobbs

RSL seem to be your best bet. Live bait definitely produces the best numbers

Curtis Long with an Aussie bass caught on an Atomic Cicada. numbers of fish. During the brighter sunlight hours, spinnerbaits and skirted jigs have worked really well. I’ve been adding the 4” soft plastic cut down. The tail gives off a great action even when the jig is sitting on the bottom. Some favourite colours of mine in the jigs have been black and blue and avocado. Beaches of South Ballina

An Aussie bass caught on a Bassman Jig colour 04 with a black Atomic Prong trailer.




are holding good numbers of dart and whiting. When the swell is down, try flicking blades and plastics for flathead in the low tide gutters. This can be a really productive technique and you may be surprised at how many quality fish you can come up with. Take care when traveling on the beaches, it only takes a couple of idiots to spoil the fun for everyone. Offshore has been producing some quality fish when able, around the 32s is holding snapper of average size but you can pretty much guarantee a good feed with

Scott Lems with a fish of a lifetime. A 1m flathead caught in the Richmond River on a soft plastic. This beauty was released shortly after this picture. Bay, or the weeds flats past the ferry with the little ones. There have been some big flatties caught

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Bream love cicada imitations. these fish. The FADs are holding mahimahi with the bigger models coming from the 48s when the tide is really moving. Mackerel have been a bit quiet since Christmas as have the marlin. In the river there are great numbers of whiting on the flats around Pimlico Island on surface, as well as bream and flathead. This time of year the number of families lining the river with kids just hoping to catch something is great to see. Getting kids into fishing is something that is easy to do if you use fresh bait, the right equipment and

lately in the town stretch of river. The holes from the waterslide up to the

but a rigged soft plastic can definitely bring the big mamas out to play. Crabs are a little quiet, however the new moon should fire them up. Remember, mark your pots properly as NSW fisheries have been around confiscating unmarked equipment and issuing fines. They will take anything either not marked or not marked as per regulations. They are also checking fishing licences, size of fish and bag limits. If you haven’t got a licence it’s worth getting one. The money goes back into the fisheries and facilities and above all else, it’s just not worth the fines. Rules are there for everyone to abide by so the fisheries are sustainable for everyone for the future. If you see anything suspicious please report it to the authorities. Until next issue, tight lines.

Curtis Long with a decent whiting caught on a Bassday Sugapen 70 in colour c393.



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Blazing days, screaming reels and mega fish THE TWEED

Anthony Coughran

The Tweed is on fire. Water temperatures are high, sitting around the 25-27°C mark offshore, 27-31°C in the rivers, and around 29-33°C in the upper rivers, creeks and backcountry. This has really fired up the summer species. Billfish, mahimahi, wahoo, mackerel, kings, GT, jacks, whiting and even the fresh species have all been

biting really well over the last month. The weather is still dictating the style of fishing for most Tweed anglers. Southerlies and no swell sees most anglers out chasing the Spaniards and other pelagics, but the northerlies and storms keep most anglers in the rivers hunting jacks. The high barometric pressure gets anglers out in the back country fishing for the fat natives. Pressure of 1020hPa or above has seen the bass fire in the upper river, creeks and dams.

Richard Holmes with a solid king he caught from a jet ski.



OFFSHORE Everyone is keeping their eyes peeled now for the southerlies and as soon as they show up, so do the mackerel and other pelagics. Once this happens anglers are straight into it to reap the rewards. The Tweed’s close reefs are fishing well this month. A few nice Spaniards are showing up. Troll baits, float baits, live baits, stickbaits and poppers have all been catching a few. Stickbaits, poppers and live baits around the bommies at Tweed, Kingy and Hastings Point have been getting a few kingfish in amongst the macks. Some big kings have been taken around 9 Mile, Deep Southern and any rock in 100-200m. Live baits and jigs are best out there this month. Some big bar cod, blue eyes and bass groper are available out wide, and for these you should try areas in 400-600m for best results. Floating baits around Fidos and Point reefs are catching a few spotties, but there are more numbers up on Palmy and Mermaid. The 36 fathom lines have been fishing well this month. Anglers are raising billfish (blues and blacks) mahimahi,

wahoo and the odd mackerel while trolling their skirts. More fish have been caught south of Tweed and more so east of Cabarita, but still on that 36 fathom line. Look for buoys, FADs, trees, sticks or milk crates and you might find some smaller stick faces close by trolling smaller skirts. The odd tuna will eat those smaller skirts too. There’s still good pan-sized mixed reefies on close reefs out to the 36 fathoms, but be sure to fish with extra weight, as that current is up. Despite this, float baits are still faring reasonably well, but bottom bashing baits and jigs and heavy plastics is turning up the best results. Pilchards, squid and combinations of both are catching good feeds. There’s lots of baits at all the usual haunts, so try Point Reef, Snapper, Kirra, Desal, 10 Minute Reef, the northwest side of Kingy, and the Snapper and Kirra bait grounds. ESTUARY I see red, and so do many Tweed anglers! Because the red dogs are still roaming in packs, they are very hungry and are smashing anglers’ offerings. I hope you have been to the gym after Chrissy,

Troy Pinkstone has been getting stuck into the bass up in the fresh. because you will need it and you better bring your heavy gear to stop those 50cm and bigger models! Lures during the day have been catching some quality jacks up to the mid 50s, but the 55-65cm models are mainly being caught on live baits around the heavier structure of a night. Some monster cod are also being taken at night as jack by-catch. Running double hook rigs and stingers on your livey set-up is a must to get those hooks to stick on these explosive hitting dogs. 4/0-6/0 live bait hooks are the

go. Anything lighter and you will run the risk of straitening them. The length between hooks is determined by the bait size. Big baits catch big fish, so try a 20-30cm live mullet for a big jack. Bait traps and bait jigs are the best way to get smaller baits, but small hooks, bread and dough will get you onto larger baits. I like to spend an arvo hunting bait before a night’s jack session. Lures that have been working this month are 90mm Bassday Sugapens, 100mm Lucky Craft Pointers, 95mm Daiwa Double Clutches, Atomic

Shiner 100 Deeps, 89mm Gold Bombers, 4 and 6” Lively Lures Mad Mullets, 3 and 4” ZMan MinnowZ, Samaki Vibalicous, Berkley Shimma Vibes, Zerek

hook up, which makes for an easy release. If you are going to keep one to eat, try soaking the fillets in milk overnight to get rid of that ammonia smell. Muddies are on the move.

Scott Tonkin with a big can opener ready for the pot. Fish Traps, Live Target Mullet Swimbaits, Western Hypoteez glide baits and Savage Gear 3D. Rock walls and bridges are fishing better this month, with baits best at night and artificals during the day. Lots of good size whiting are getting around. Surface lures are getting some quality fish, but yabbies and worms, both blood and beach, are catching the numbers. Try the Piggery, Cobaki, Terranora, Kerosene Bay, Cudgen Creek, Hastings Point, Potty and the skinny water in the Brunswick River with a combo of lures and baits so you are guaranteed a good feed. There are still a few flathead around. Try those same areas you would for the whiting, as they will be sitting up in the skinny water chasing them. 2.5-5” plastics and trolled hardbodies are currently fishing well. Some good trevally are pushing through the Tweed at the moment. Bridges and rock walls are fishing the best for them this month. Live herring, vibes, blades, hardbodies, stickbaits and plastics are fishing well for these silver bullets. Vertically jigging the bar rock wall is still very productive as well. 3-5” plastics on a 1/6-3/8oz jighead should see you hooked up to a nice lizard, trevally or even a rat king. The bullies are causing havoc in the upper Tweed this month. Showers of jumping mullet at night are an indication that they are around. The sugar mill is fishing well for bullies this month. Try freshwater eel, large live mullet, a tuna head, whole bonnies and large strip baits on multi-strand wire. An 8/0-16/0 circle hook rig should see a corner of the jaw

Muddies are moving around on the full moons. Up around the mangrove lines has been fishing better with pots this month, so it’s well worth soaking a pot for some crabby goodness. BEACHES There’s been lots of dart, whiting, bream, trevally and flathead in the gutters along the coast down to Byron. Fishing the northern corners in the southerly winds and the back beaches in the northerlies will ensure the wind is always at your back. A few tailor have come from around the headlands, beach reefs and around the rocks for those throwing metals at dusk and dawn. No real numbers have been recorded, just the odd one to tease anglers. The sandy river mouths of Kingy, Hastings and Pottsville are fishing well with worms, yabbies, pipis, whitebait, pilchards and plastics and are great spots for a family fishing picnic. Beachworms are great bait,

and can be collected at low tide from Fingal, Casuarina and Bogangar beaches. All you need is a bait of berley or some fish frames in a bag or a stringer and a pipi. I use a pair of needle nose pliers with a piece of wetsuit wrapped on each nose of the pliers. I find it a little easier to get them out of the sand, but if you have strong hands and a good grip, you will be fine. FRESHWATER The fresh is in full swing this month. Surface lures have been working well in the morning and late afternoon. Casting at overhanging trees and slowly twitching a cicada or frog imitation should be irresistible to any bass. Most surface lures will work well this month. Beetle spins, spinnerbaits, hardbodies, vibes and plastics are all working well in the heat of the day. Finding the right depth is crucial to finding them in the middle of the day. Google Maps is your best friend when it comes to the sweetwater. Researching a section of river or creek before heading out will see you finding better grounds and pools without tramping through the bush randomly or paddling for miles. NEXT MONTH Next month should see the macks thicken up, with metals and float baits coming more into play next month. The pelagics should hang around next month as long as the water temperatures stay up, the water clarity stays clear and blue, and we don’t get too many storms! In saying that, lots of anglers are wanting the storms to get the jacks all psyched up. Most anglers are torn at this time of year, offshore anglers want southerlies to get the mackerel and pelagics fired up, but the estuary fishers want the northerlies so the jacks fire up. I like to switch it up and fish offshore in southerly winds and the rivers in the northerly winds. If you follow this rule you can’t go wrong. Don’t risk it in rough seas – know your limits. Most importantly, have fun fishing, stay safe and tight lines!


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Jacks are often released, but do make a great meal when looked after. FEBRUARY 2019


Peak water temperature and great surface bite GOLD COAST

Mark Ward

February is the best time of the year to target estuary and freshwater fish on the surface. Bait anglers can also get amongst the action and there is no better time to wet the feet and allow the waves to roll over the legs while fishing the beaches. ESTUARY Mangrove jack are at their peak this month and



it’s a perfect time to target them on surface lures. First and last light as well as after dark is ideal. Just about any surface lure will work. I like to use cigar shaped lures with a walk-the-dog retrieve when the water is flat and glassy. I use a cupped face popper when it’s choppy. A little trick that I have learnt over the years is to use fluorocarbon leader on my cup -faced poppers and mono leader on my walk-the-dog lures. The reason for this is that mono floats and fluorocarbon sinks.


This allows the cup face of the popper to drop in the water and pop or ‘glug’ as it is moved with the sinking fluorocarbon, while the floating mono gives a better action to the walkthe-dog technique. Soft plastics and hardbody lures will also account for a lot of mangrove jack this month. Use paddle-tail plastics in the 3-6” range. My favourites are the ZMan DieZels, but the softness of the plastic is a problem and I end up super gluing the plastic into place on the jighead. This stops it from slipping down onto the gap of the hook. Good hardbodies include Tilsan Barra and the Lucky Craft Pointer. These lures can be expensive, so keep

hurt as much when you lose two or three in one session. There have been plenty of trevally about and they can be a fun by-catch when chasing mangrove jack. They will also smash a surface lure and after dark they can be found rounding up baitfish in the canals and the lakes of the southern Gold Coast. The bridges, rock walls and pontoons around the maze of canals will all produce mangrove jack and trevally. Trevally like a lot of current flow and eddies where they can use their speed to hunt bait, while jacks will live where there are lots of baitfish and cover so they can ambush their prey.

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Bait anglers will be able to target whiting in the shallows of the creeks and Tweed River. Live worms and yabbies work best but frozen bait can also be effective. Keep the bait moving by drifting or slowly retrieving the bait when landbased fishing. Flathead and bream are more of a cooler weather fish but can still be found if you’re keen. Bream will be located around moored boats and the deeper, cooler water of the bigger estuary systems. My son and I catch quite a few on Cranka Crabs at high tide in the canals. We target the sandy systems and sight cast at patches of bream moving over the sand. Flathead are a lot more active in the cool of night during summer, but high tides with cooler water will still produce the odd fish. For something different, try using poppers on an early morning high tide over the shallows. Surprisingly enough, the lizards will take a surface lure in skinny water. BEACHES Dart and whiting are dominating the catches this month. There have been good numbers all along the southern Gold Coast as well as the Tweed. Beachworms and pipis

have been working best. Target the holes and gutters close to shore. This way there is no need to use big surf gear or cast too far to get onto fish. Early morning is a great time for dart and they like to sit out a little deeper than the whiting. Dart like some white water over their heads to protect them from the sea birds. Whiting prefer to feed where the waves churn up the sand. They can be found where the gutters meet the bare sand of the beach, causing waves to come crashing down on the sand and churning up worms, crabs and pipis. FRESHWATER The dams have been fishing well on the weedy edges. Slow rolling small plastics as well as single blades rigged with plastics such as Beatle Spins or TT Lures Rev Heads is working well. During the day the bass have been sitting in around 6m of water out from the points in the Hinze and around 4m deep in Clarrie Hall. They are slow to bite during the hot part of the day, but I have reports of them taking lipless vibration baits.

The surface bite has been a little hit and miss. With all the bugs about I would expect it to be better but with lots of follows and some half assed attempts at eating the lure, I can’t say I have been impressed. This may improve this month so it is still worth a go with cicada lures or my personal favourite, the Zipping Ziggy. Allow the surface lures to land on the water and wait for all the ripples to disperse. This will often attract the fish and they will take the lure clean off the surface without you even moving it. If not, after a good 30 seconds or so, shake the rod tip to mimic a cicada buzzing on the surface as it tries to fly away. If no takers, work it back to the rod with a steady retrieve. Bass have been landed around Varsity Lakes, Clear Island Waters and the upper reaches of the Tweed River. Finding schooled fish on the sounder in the lakes or even walking the backs with a lipless crankbait works. The upper reaches of the Tweed has seen fish landed from the reeds on the river’s edge.

Summer Ward with a bass that nailed a slowly worked plastic on the weed edges.

Go surface with purpose GOLD COAST CANALS

Josh Dunn Instagram: @josh__dunn__

Fishing has been superb as we settle right into summer and the heat continues to rise. Plenty of species have been on the bite as late, with the local Gold Coast canals firing. Offshore fishing has been rewarding many anglers, and I’ve found some really good days in the canals

from the day. Persist in the area you know produces fish around 4-7pm and you should see results. Good quality whiting have also been on the chew, with most fish caught on surface lures. Small walkers and poppers are producing majority of catches, especially when worked around sand flats, weed beds and rock walls. The trick to remember is when there are fish chasing the lure, continue to retrieve

A perfect way to start would be either using vibes, surface lures or live bait. These selections each have their own qualities that make them suitable for fishing at night. Vibes (as their name suggests) send off vibrations through the water, and at night this can make a massive different. Surface lures make a great amount of noise on the surface, perfect for fishing up close to structure. Live baits are a deadly technique



Quality GTs are getting around lately and won’t pass up a noisy popper. to be empty, as most fishers have gone offshore. That is a bonus in anyone’s books! I’ve heard an innumerable amount of reports of GTs getting around, dominating baitfish on the surface. The broadwater and mouths of the canals are the perfect spot to flick poppers and walkers in search of these brutes. Rock walls, sand bars, bridge pylons and jetties are the better areas to try. I have found majority of the surface action to unfold in the late afternoon, rather than the morning. Only because the heat throughout the day seems to turn the fish on and baitfish seem to hang around the rock walls and jetties, which absorbs most heat

it. Whiting seem to get more excited as they’re chasing it down before they get hooked, rather that when you pause it in their face. Mix it up and see what specific style works for you. Night fishing is also a great opportunity to get out on the waterways when everyone is at home, giving you an even better chance to suss out a certain location. Although night fishing is not easy, it can be pretty tough going. For myself, it took me a decent amount of time to get my head around it. You have to work out certain colours, tides and moons. If you have a sounder, that will make your job a lot easier.

for predatory fish including mangrove jack, trevally and mulloway. Like always, persist and mix things up! Within the next month or two we should start to see more surface fishing action. With the increase in humidity it will be a perfect time to start pulling out the walkers and poppers. Some rain is on the forecast, but that shouldn’t be a problem, other than the odd afternoon thunderstorm. In conclusion, February is going to be a great month in the way of weather and fishing. There will be plenty of late afternoon surface action to come with the heat from the days. See you on the water.


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Pelagics fishing is off with a flying start JUMPINPIN

Mick Morris

February is a great time to head out and chase the pelagics that frequent

usually a couple of large predators pushing the bait to the surface for an easy meal. Troll your lures around the bait schools or jig up a few livies and try float baiting them, as these are good methods to get

usually a good idea to put a wire trace or a heavier mono trace around 20lb to avoid being bitten off. It is still a good time of year for flatties on lure and bait. There are not a lot of huge fish on offer, but still plenty of good flathead between the 50-60cm mark. They can’t resist live mullet, herring or gar if you can get your hands on some, or pillies and white bait are a favourite for those that love bait fishing for lizards. Trolling shallow diving lures around weed banks or working the edges with plastics should get you a few flatties on your next trip and try to target the last of the tide as the flatties start to feed. The pick spots this month should be around the top of Crusoe Island, the Stock Yards, Oak Island, the drop-off of Kalinga Bank and the Panndannus weed

The author’s nephew Jacob getting into the school flathead while trolling near Pandannus.

Spaniards should be on the move along the coast this month. along our coastline and just inside the bar this time of year. They cruise along riding the warmer currents chasing bait and can be caught just beyond the breakers of the Pin Bar. Mackerel, tuna and small black marlin should be on offer with the chance of mahimahi, bonito, cobia or mulloway off the close reefs and bait schools. Look for big marks surrounding the bait schools, that is



the big fish. Tailor should start to show up off the beaches just inside the bar chasing schools of white bait. They love chasing schools of white bait through the bar and can be easily found by keeping an eye out for birds diving and feeding. Try to use lures that mimic whitebait like small slugs or plastics, but beware they have razor sharp teeth and will make short work out of your soft plastics. It’s

The author got this lizard trolling a dark purple Zerek Tango Shad on an overcast day.

banks to Tipplers. Whiting have been about in reasonable numbers and size, with this expected to continue right through January. Live bloodworms and beachworms have been working the best. Using red tube and bead as an attractant, so it appears you have more worm on your hook, works really well when chasing whiting. Berleying up will also increase your chances. Try around Ageston Sands in the Logan, across from Rocky Point on the sand flats, Slipping Sands, the Gold Bank, Never Fail Islands and the Pimpama River. Mangrove jack should become more active with the heat and humidity this month. You will catch more jacks at night on lightly weighted live bait around most snags and rocky spots of the pin as they leave the safety of

their snag and go in search of food. They can be caught during the day but are a lot more reluctant to leave their snag. Mullet, pike and gar are definitely the best baits, and be sure to have heavy enough gear as they can put up an awesome fight resulting in a re-rig. Usually towards the end of February banana prawns start to show up in good numbers up around the Saltworks, near the Powerlines and down towards Jacobs Well. It was a cracking prawn season last year, so let’s hope we have another bumper prawns season again this year. •Thank you for all your reports and if you have any questions on conditions or what’s biting drop us a line at Gem Bait & Tackle on 07 3287 3868 or email

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Don’t let the flow get you low GOLD COAST

David Green

So far this summer the fishing on the offshore

grounds has been quite erratic. But there are still come decent species, and it is looking to heat up the further into February we go. The rivers and

estuaries are producing good numbers of whiting, mud crabs and mangrove jack. With the fishing pressure released after the holiday season we can

Danny Sands caught this impressive mahimahi. They have been quite scattered recently, but hopefully this doesn’t continue into February.

hopefully expect some decent catches offshore and in the rivers and estuaries. OFFSHORE There haven’t been many juvenile black marlin on the inshore grounds (despite having plenty of bait), and mahimahi have been quite scattered. On the wider grounds, such as Spot X and Deep Trag, there have been good schools of slimy mackerel and quite a few 60-80kg black marlin. The current has been running quite hard making it difficult to fish live baits on the troll or drift. Out beyond the 150m line there have been quite a few good blue marlin caught around the Riv Grounds and Jims Mountain, along with the odd striped marlin and mahimahi. Most boats have been getting between one and four bites a day. This month will hopefully see the numbers of marlin increase on the inshore grounds as well as an increase in blue marlin activity out beyond the continental shelf. Hopefully a few wahoo will start to show as well. There is plenty of bait around at the moment and the pelagic

Kane Barclay with his first blue marlin. There is an increase in blue marlin activity out beyond the continental shelf.

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gamefish shouldn’t be too far away. On the inshore grounds the spotted and Spanish mackerel should be in full swing this month and so far the best fishing has been very early in the morning trolling rigged dead baits from a down rigger. Mackerel numbers should increase throughout February, and Palm Beach and Mermaid Reef are worth a look. Anchoring and berleying using chopped pilchards is another good way to catch spotties and Spanish mackerel, and spinning with metal lures is also an easy and effective method. Bottom fishing this month is greatly hampered by current, making the wider 36 and 50 fathom reefs difficult to fish. On low current days there should still be a few pearl perch and rosy jobfish as well as amberjack and samsonfish. In closer to shore around the 18 and 24 fathom line there should be a few mulloway at night as well as the odd cobia and snapper. It is a good idea to fish a live bait or pilchard on the surface while you are bottom fishing as there is always the chance of picking up a mackerel or mahimahi. The Tweed Heads Nine

Mile Reef is a great place to fish this month, especially when the current is running hard from the north and the water is warm and blue. A variety of different methods can be used here. Casting stickbaits while drifting across the reef can produce big GTs, yellowtail kings, mackerel and wahoo. Trolling high-speed metal headed skirts is a great way to specifically target wahoo. A mixed trolling spread of minnows and skirted lures can produce anything from a small tuna through to a black marlin. This area is one of the best pelagic fisheries in the region when conditions are right, and if the weather is good it is only around an hour run out of the Seaway. Another great way to fish this reef is to set out a few live baits and slowly drift from north to south across the reef. I’ve caught 11 different species in a day at the Nine Mile Reef in February. RIVERS AND ESTUARIES February is a good month to chase whiting, mud crabs and mangrove jacks. The banana prawns should also be starting to show around Russell Island and there should be a variety of species to be caught in the Seaway. One

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good tactic this month is to catch some pike and then fish them on the bottom while drifting around the end of the north wall of the Seaway. Catching pike can be quite tricky. The sandflats to the north of Wavebreak Island usually hold pike in reasonable numbers. Small silver minnows, soft plastics and metal spoons are all effective ways to catch pike. They bite best on a run-in tide and in general you will need to catch around a dozen for a live baiting session in the Seaway. I fish my pike on a two-hook rig with 30-40lb leader and a ball sinker big enough to hold bottom. My usual target is mulloway, but everything from big bream, tailor, mangrove jack, flathead and cod will have a go at a well-rigged live pike. The best time to fish using pike is the last of the run-in until the first hour of the run-out tide. At times in the Seaway sharks can be particularly annoying, but even in summer this method can produce plenty of great quality fish. Some of the biggest tailor I’ve ever caught have fallen to live pike. The same system also works well at Jumpinpin, especially around the

entrance to Swan Bay and out towards the beach end in the deep section full of snags. Whiting should be biting well this month, especially if there is a bit of rain. Closer to the Seaway, sight casting whiting using unweighted yabbies is an effective way to fish and when small prawns are skipping in the shallows, surface poppers and small stickbaits can also produce. Some of the whiting caught this summer have been very big fish with quite a few over 40cm turning up on a regular basis. In the Nerang River most of the good whiting fishing is at night using worms, yabbies or shrimp. The area around the council chambers can be a very good area to fish in February, and the run-in tide is usually the best time to chase whiting at night. Mud and sand crabs should be in numbers this month. On the big tides the Pimpama River is well worth a look for muddies, and the central Broadwater between Crab Island and the Aldershot usually produces plenty of sand crabs on the run-in tide. Overall, February is a good month to fish the Gold Coast and I hope the game fishing improves this month.

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Fight or flight this February flow to bring the baitfish to the mangrove jack. The warmer months seem to bring out the speedsters and this year has been epic so far. We have found a few giant herring getting around some isolated wrecks. These are easily my favourite fish and put on some crazy aerial antics. They do however put


Nick Whyte

This month in Moreton Bay there are plenty of mackerel around from northside of Peel Island all the way up to the top of the bay. Size is getting better and it shouldn’t be too hard to get a feed once you find the schools. There should also be quite a few longtail tuna with the mackerel. They should all be reasonable sizes, ranging from 8-12kg with a few fish being up around the 20kg mark. The bigger fish are usually solo or in small schools. Try to work them upwind and drift into the schools without too much engine noise, as the tuna get quite flighty. February is usually one of the best months for mangrove jack. They’ll be out and about and active up and down the coast this month. The Coomera and Nerang have been fishing very well, as well as the Logan and the rock walls at the front of the Brisbane River. The best technique has been live baiting or casting large plastics and hardbody lures. Any bridge is also worth some time and effort, look for deep water areas with some good current

everything into the fight, so be careful not to keep them out of the water too long before release. Threadies have been quite thick at times this month and should continue throughout February. There has been a lot of medium sized fish 70-85cm caught around mid reaches of the river, with those lucky

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enough to find isolated schools towards the mouth getting the better quality fish with reports of fish up to 120cm. Fishing vibes deep has been the technique accounting for most fish. Zerek Fish Traps in the 95 and 110, and also 1/2oz TT Switchblades have been the standouts. They are an



awesome table fish with great eating qualities, but if targeting these fish for sport

and releasing them please make sure you look after the fish and have a release weight on the boat to get them back to depth. Coming from deep water these fish will most likely suffer barotrauma when released. Prawns have started to show up in small numbers and this month should see greater numbers appear. Most reports have been coming from the mouth of the Logan River, the channel just north of Jacobs Well boat ramp and from

around the rocks in the Main Channel around the power lines. As the prawns are quite spread out make sure you use your sounder and find the schools worth casting at. The size will improve as the month goes on. Just remember Fisheries will be out in force, so double check and only take your bucket limit. If you have a great capture from the southern bay you would like to share, email them through to

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Prawning season is dawning BRISBANE

Gordon Macdonald

There has been plenty of variance in the weather over the last few months with too many windy, unfishable days for any fisher’s liking. While this has limited opportunities for most, the rewards have been there for the taking when access to the bay and estuaries has been possible. Pelagics have been a little sporadic at times, however, there has been enough about to keep most satisfied. Additionally, anglers have been able to score snapper, sweetlip, tuskish, sharks, cod, whiting and other demersal species throughout Moreton Bay.

With most back into the full time swing of work and school, Murphy’s Law states that we will now have some cracking weather. For those who can get out, piscatorial rewards await you. PRAWNS February is usually one of the better months for prawns, with most of the major rivers offering up their bounty. Numbers can vary year-toyear depending on rainfall, however, there is always a few buckets to be caught. The Caboolture, Pine, Brisbane and Logan are usually the most reliable but all systems can produce decent captures, including many of the smaller creek systems. There are numerous holes throughout the Jumpinpin and Pumicestone Passage estuarine systems that can

phase. If you are heading out, a quick scan of the various fishing and prawning groups on Facebook and other media will generally give you a decent indication as to where your best prawning options lie. Quality 12ft top-pocket nets with a chain bottom are best for prawning. These will generally cost you $250 or more, yet this cost is soon recouped with a few good hauls considering banana prawns are generally in excess of $15 per kilo. The most readily available cast nets available through tackle stores are the Pro Throw models, however numerous local makers also produce a variety of nets ideal for prawning and bait gathering. For many, learning to cast one of these nets seems

Another thumping Brisbane River thready taken on live bait. Inshore fishing has also been great with numbers of threadfin, cod, mangrove jack, mulloway, bream, flathead, whiting and other quality fish on offer. Additionally, prawns and crabs have been available for those with the appropriate apparatus and a sound knowledge of where to find these tasty crustaceans.

also hold prawns. A good depth sounder (especially a colour model) is invaluable for finding prawns. They tend to show up as a blue or aqua speckled mat close to the bottom. Around the changes of the tide is when prawns lift out of the bottom sediment and begin to feed, however this can vary depending on the moon



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like a daunting task, possibly because there are so many different ways to cast them and it can all seem a little confusing. I know many different casting methods but for prawning from a boat I find the American Shrimper’s method to be the easiest, with minimal impact on the body. I would highly recommend this

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method to newbies. This is mind, many have their own preferred methods that they are comfortable with. Prawning should just get better over the coming months, however, you will be able to secure a few decent hauls in most of the larger river systems at this time of year. During March to April the prawns will again move back out into the bay with common capture areas being Deception Bay; out from Nudgee and down around the bay islands including the Salt Works (southwestern corner of Macleay Island); the eastern end of the channel between Lamb, Karragarra and Macleay; and the Powerlines (towards the southern end of Russell Island). There are also numerous other deeper holes in this area worth prospecting and most of your effort in locating prawns can be done with your sounder, not your net. BAY PELAGICS Moreton Bay is an exceptionally good fishery for pelagic species. The warmer months of the year produce greater numbers of baitfish species throughout the bay, a seasonal spectacular that doesn’t go unnoticed by hungry pelagic. Pelagics will herd the baitfish (predominately juvenile frogmouths, pilchards and whitebait) into very condensed schools (often referred to as meatballs) as they slash and smash their way to gluttony. Large surface feeding schools can be located almost anywhere, however, searching the edges of the main shipping channels, the northern edge of The Paddock green zone, the area between the Harry Atkinson and southern border of the green zone, the Rainbow Channel, Gilligans Island surrounds (especially on a falling tide) and the Mud Island to Four Beacons to Measured Mile triangle are prime places to begin searching. Large surface feeding schools are often heralded by the presence of terns, mutton birds and gulls overhead. These are opportunistically feeding on the baitfish pushed to the surface by the predators. Don’t pin all your hopes of surface action detection on the birds. Mackerel and tuna will often travel close to the surface and only rise for the occasional small patch of bait they come across. In this situation birds are often not present. A keen eye and well placed cast will generally be rewarded when these fish are detected. Anglers heavily target spotted mackerel and school mackerel due to their abundance, awesome

Prawning should be great over the next few months and getting a 10L bucket of these succulent bananas shouldn’t be too hard with a quality 12ft top pocket net. sporting attributes and palatable qualities. Spotties are the preferred of the two yet are more seasonal than the schoolies, who can be caught in the bay year round in varying numbers. Check out my other article in this issue for more information about mackerel, their habits and capture methods. There are numerous tuna species within Moreton Bay including Longtails, mac tuna, bullet tuna and frigate tuna. Unless you are just after a source of bait or some sport, you’ll probably only target the longtail tuna. They can reach weights in excess of 25kg on occasion but are more common in the 9-15kg range. Even though they are a large predator, they will sometimes only eat the smallest of baitfish, often becoming fixated on this food source, ignoring all others. For the angler, this can make things quite difficult. If they are eating 1cm long baitfish, which are usually almost clear with the only discernible feature being the eye, then presenting them with a suitable imitatethe-bait offering is almost impossible. The only anglers with a decent chance are the flyfishers who can use an eyes-fly to tempt the mackerel. These flies are exceptionally small, as flyfishing relies on the cast weight being in the line and not what is tied to the end of it, so it is possible to present these offerings from 30m or so. Additionally, these realistic patterns, often only tied on a size #4 or #2 hook, can simply be allowed to sink like a wounded baitfish. They will commonly be slurped up by a hungry tuna cruising around the main ball of baitfish and a decent strip-strike will soon have the extra fly line zipping up off the deck. Conversely, longtails will often accept something

completely different to the miniscule bait on which they are feeding and I know anglers who have achieved results on prawn profiles, crab patterns plus quite large stickbaits and poppers when the tuna are gorging on miniscule bait. If you can’t get results on what you are using then it pays to continue trying different lures and retrieves. BRISBANE RIVER The warmer conditions and occasional storms can really mix up the fishing in the Brisbane River depending on how much rain we have been getting. Personally, I think a bit of rain is great as it stirs up the prawns and really gets the whole system happening. Threadfin are one of the prime targets for most anglers and are caught on baits and lures at various areas along the river. The lower reaches generally provide the best opportunity as threadies follow the prawn schools down towards the mouth and even out onto the flats either side of the river entrance. After decent rain threadfin can be caught well out into the bay around Mud Island and around the lead beacons. Try working the edges of the declines into the main river basin, the fronts of any jetties (adhere to distance restrictions), the Oil Pipeline precinct, the Swing Zone, the holes adjacent to the gateway bridge pylons and along the retaining wall at the mouth. Fishing live bait in these areas is an effective and relaxed way to get amongst a few quality threadies, but many prefer to cast artificials such as soft plastics, vibration baits and numerous jigs to achieve results. Threadfin are a great target for the flyfishers and will take a broad array of patterns including Deceivers, Surf Candies and Clouser Clones. When threadfin are high in the

water column, such as when they are feeding around lit areas at night, they are easy to present a fly to. However, when they are deep in the water column (which is most common) you will need a fast sinking fly line to get the fly in front of them. It is a fairly difficult, yet not impossible, situation and they are a great target on this tackle. There will still be snapper and mulloway to be caught in the lower reaches of the river but their numbers will be limited. These can be caught around any major submerged structure and deeper holes (such as the dredge holes at the mouth and adjacent the Gateway

muddies, setting pots at the mouths of drains and gutters leading into the mangrove expanse will heighten results. Deep holes along collapsed mangrove banks are also prime position for a few safety pots. Mud crabs have exceptionally strong jaws so putting your baits into a mesh bag or envelope is desirable to limit the mud crab’s destruction of the bait. If they tear chunks off, there is a good chance these will drift away with the current, possibly feeding crabs outside the pot and decreasing the chances of them entering the pot for a feed. The January issue of QFM had an article on making crab pot bait

Setting a few pots throughout the bay will likely reward you with sand crabs. Bridge) where baitfish tend to congregate, with early mornings and night periods often producing the best opportunity. Flathead, bream and estuary cod are also serious options. Target cod along the retaining wall at the mouth, Claras Rocks and also the rock walls on the eastern and southern ends of Mud Island. Working lures including minnows, soft plastics and vibes across or close to the structure is a good ploy. Bream will also be caught in these areas and if you fish a little wider where the rocks stop and the sand/mud bottom starts then you are in with a great chance of a flathead. CRABS February is an excellent month for all species of crabs in southern Queensland. Occasional storms will push the mud crabs out of the small feeder creeks, drains and gutters due to decreasing salinity and into the main systems where they tend to move around a lot more and are easier to access. Really heavy, flooding rains will push them well out into Moreton Bay – after the floods of 2011 and 2013 we had some of the best crabbing SEQ had seen in over a decade. As the floodwaters receded the crabs made their way back up the system and good pot placement would generally see a few keeper bucks in the pots. For those chasing

envelopes if you can’t find any decent ones. Sand and blue swimmer crab numbers will also be respectable during February. Both these tend to increase rapidly in number during this time and good catches can be obtained with a few pots in the water. Setting pots at differing depths is desirable to hedge your bets. If a pot set at a certain depth

is extremely productive, it pays to set other pots at a similar depth. Taking note of the depth and type of aquatic terrain where the commercial brigade have set their pots will also steer you in the right direction. However, have some respect and do not set your pots too close to the commercial pots as these guys are trying to make a living. I generally set pots along the major channel edges, the outer margins of the bay islands and the drain mouths leading off the sand bank systems. Good baits can include fish heads and frames, whole mullet, chicken necks and carcasses or even a few pilchards or old bait in a small bait envelope. Remember to have a crab measuring device with you and be aware of the regulations, bag limits and size limits pertaining to crabbing as breaches of the law can result in heavy penalties. CONCLUSION February is a great month to be out fishing, however, what happens will greatly depend on how much rain is received. Hopefully we will get a few good storms to put a bit of colour and nutrient into the water and stir up the prawns. This will greatly increase the fishing options and abundance of many species. In addition to the species outlined, mangrove jack, cobia, tuskfish, snapper, sweetlip and numerous other species will be serious possibilities. If you like a bit of fun, try to get amongst a few sharks either in the Brisbane River or Moreton Bay. Whether you are a beginner or a seasoned old salt, February has plenty of options.

The bay should be teeming with pelagic species such as mackerel and tuna. Quality longtails nudging the 20kg bracket are a serious possibility. FEBRUARY 2019


The magic of pelagic BRISBANE OFFSHORE

John Gooding

The next couple of months can see the pelagics hot up east of the South Passage Bar. School mackerel, Spanish mackerel, wahoo and yellowfin tuna should all start to make their presence felt, following the bait schools along the coast.

off Point Lookout. Speaking to a couple of mackerel fishers, sharks have been a real issue in the Point Lookout area, nailing three out of four fish hooked. There have been a few wahoo around with Hutchinson Shoal north of Cape Moreton and The Sevens off Point Lookout producing a few fish, and we should see numbers increase in the coming weeks.

birds are working normally results in a hook up or two. Yellowfin cook up good, so they are a welcome addition to the kill talk. They respond well to most lures and the ones we’ve caught of late have been on Halco Lazer Pros and small Jet Heads. These are the same lures I use for wahoo, so you don’t have to chop and change as much. There have also been plenty of mahimahi around, especially around the wave rider buoy. They’ve been responding well to cubed pillies and live baits. As far as bottom fishing goes, it’s been fairly tough. With plenty of strong current pushing south, it makes

A solid catch of amberjack kept these guys busy.

Two solid amberjack from the wider grounds that nailed live bait. You can expect some decent Spanish mackerel catches on the Coffee Rock along the front of Moreton Island and also at The Group

Currently, there have been plenty of small yellowfin tuna in the Point Lookout area. Just getting your lures close to where the

A bull mahimahi that put on a show for this angler.

it tough to fish the wider grounds, which normally fish well this time of year. For amberjack, trag and mulloway, running up to and into the start of the new year saw the current speed off Point Lookout hover between 2-3.5 knots. This made it hard to get a boat in the zone for long enough. I’m a believer in ‘no run, no fun’, but this current line was to the extreme. When I have been out wide the sounder has

looked very positive, so the fish should be firing once that current settles a little. The close in reefs inside 40m are worth a go for mixed reef species this time of year. • Until next month, enjoy your fishing, take care on the coastal bars and if you’d like to join me on charter (max. 8 persons) give me a call on 07 3822 9527 or 0418 738 750 or visit my new website www.

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There are no bad places to fish this February NORTHERN BAY

Grayson Fong

Good sized flathead around the 55-60cm mark are being nabbed during these summer months with flooding tides and sandy terrain being the key clues to finding a feed. Both long slender hardbody lures (suspending jerkbaits) and fresh mullet strips have been the favourites amongst anglers with long wind drifts working for those casting lures or hopping soft plastics. As reefy areas like Redcliffe and Scarborough have been a little quiet on the flathead front, good reports have come out of Cooks and Tiger Rocks at Sandstone Point, White Patch and Turners Creek Road through the passage, Hays Inlet and the mouth of the Pine River from Bald Hills Creek to the Hornibrook Bridge. Solid catches have also come out of Shorncliffe between the mouth of Cabbage Tree Creek and Shorncliffe Pier. Summer whiting numbers have also been steady as anglers have been getting good catches up the Pine,

Summer breaming is at its finest this month. just past the highway bridge. Bloodworms have been the best bait but best to be quick as tackle stores are finding it hard to keep up with demand. Other areas showing good form of late are Red Beach, Coochin Creek and Skirmish Point at Bribie as numbers have been down but quality is good. Anglers in the Bribie area have had most success with fresh yabbies being pumped from the channel, with the incoming tide being

Solid whiting can be found on the Bribie beaches.

the prime fishing time. Bream numbers have been solid throughout this summer so far and are set to continue through this next month as water temperatures and the presence of bait have kept the bream around. High tide spots like the mouth of the Brisbane River, Dohles Rocks, Cooks Rocks at Sandstone Point, Donnybrook Flats, the mouth of Ningi Creek and North Reef have worked well lately with bream around the 26-29cm length being the staple. On the receding tide, remember that bream like to retreat and head for deeper areas feeding in the safety of the deep. Low tide areas are working well of late, including the Bribie Bridge and the mouth of Spinnaker Sound, the deeper reefs off Scarborough, outer Woody Point and The Wells. Also worth a try on the run-out tide is the mouth of the Pine River in between the two bridges, as over the last month it has been holding good bait that has been moving with the tide in and out of Bramble Bay with the assistance of the current easterly winds.

Lightly weighted baits like prawns, chicken and mullet have been working well for the baitos, as for the lure devotees, deeper cranks like Atomic Crank 38, Jackall Chubby Deep, OSP Dunk 48 and Daiwa Spikes working to great effect. Surface lures have also worked really well of late with the presence of warmer waters in most corners of the bay increasing the chances of a surface bream bite. OSP Bent Minnows, Daiwa Slippery Dogs, Bassday Sugapens and Atomic K9 Walkers are the pick of the lures with clearer natural colours doing the trick. Night fishers have been catching solid sized mulloway over the last month with the standout areas being the Brisbane River and the Bribie Bridge. As baitfish are attracted to light, mulloway have been stalking these areas waiting for an opportune time to pounce. Live baiting, large soft plastics and large vibration baits have been the weapons of choice for these eager night anglers, with subtle retrieves working well with the artificial baits.

Try removing trebles off new lures and storing them in separate containers. This keeps your lures sharp and ready for your next trip. Extra caution is needed when fishing the night hours as land-based anglers find navigating a challenge, so be sure to have adequate lighting when both land-based and on a boat, as safety should be your number one aim. Sand crabs have also been reported in decent numbers with Deception and Bramble bays showing good catches over the last month. Outside Woody Point and throughout the Pumicestone Passage have produced the best numbers with anglers leaving their pots in longer for greater rewards.

TIP OF THE MONTH For the lure buffs, when opening up new lures out of their boxes, try removing their trebles straight away and storing them in used treble packets or separate containers (with absorbent material like rice for example) as this small practice could reap dividends in the future. The trebles of open lures in your tackle tray tend to rust quicker when exposed to the elements while in a boat, therefore decreasing their chances of being sharp when wanting to use them in future outings.



It’s the pelagics’ time to shine NOOSA

Peter Wells

February is a great time of year on the Sunshine Coast with plenty of offshore options for anglers. Pelagic numbers really start to pick up, and some great fish are also coming from the bottom. For most anglers it’s all about mackerel! For the anglers in smaller craft and the kayak paddlers, Sunshine

and Halls reefs have seen some nice spotted mackerel along with some quality arm stretching Spanish. Fishing the bottom you will find spangled emperor, sweetlip, juvenile snapper and the odd cobia. For the larger craft, a trip up to the reefs off Double Island have seen some large Spanish along with mahimahi and wahoo. Snapper, pearlies, mulloway and the yummy coral trout should also be on the menu when fishing

the bottom. When bottom fishing offshore or fishing for pelagics, berley is the key. Once you have anchored up on some promising ground, start with a good amount of berley as this will help to bring the fish around. Go easy on the tuna oil as this will bring sharks from miles around. After the initial berley up slow the amount of berley down to a minimum – just enough to keep the fish on the bite. There are also a couple

Stan with an arm-stretching Spanish. Spanish and Halls reefs have had decent numbers recently.

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of rigs that will greatly improve your catch rate. The Snapper Snatcher rig from Black Magic with a half pilchard on each hook has been working. Putting this down the berley trail should see results and, in fact, the odd double header is not uncommon when using this rig. The floater rig is the other, with just enough lead to slowly sink the pilchard or live baits. These are usually picked up by those cruising mid water fish like cobia and mackerel. Another option is to cruise the pressure edges of the reefs with large diving lures. A couple of great performers are the Nomad DTX minnows and


the Halco Laser Pros. For those that love bouncing the bottom, soft plastics have been nailing their fair share of fish. Loading your favourite coloured 7” plastic onto a Berkley Elevator Head gives a great realistic look as well as giving you that extra weight to get to the bottom. Another very popular option has been jigging. Be it micro or knife, there are plenty of anglers that love this method of fishing and when the bite is hot there is not too much that beats the action you get with a boat full of jiggers. On the beaches the Maroochy North Shore has seen some good mulloway on the chew with some nice sized fish taken in the surf. Noosa’s North Shore has also seen some decent fish taken late at night with large baits of mullet, squid, tailor and worms. The slide bait method has really gained in popularity and as it is pelagic season this may be the way to come into contact with a nice mackerel off the beach. These slider rigs are designed to clip on after a larger sinker is cast, this gives you much more casting distance, and live baits seem to be the best as they will continue to swim down the line. Dart have been in plague proportions and this is a great way to keep the kids entertained, with small pieces of pilchard and prawns the bait of choice. Parents don’t think about having a fish yourself, because as soon as a bait hits the water it is usually gobbled up and the kids are back with a fish or for more bait. Whiting is another fish that has improved in size and numbers. Good whiting have come from most beaches, but one of the standouts has been the Peregian Dog Beach. The Noosa Northshore has also seen great fish with whiting and dart around the first cutting and down towards the mouth. In the rivers there have been some great sessions on trevally with the Woods Bays in Noosa and the Cod Hole and Twin Waters in the Maroochy as great options. Low light periods fish the best and having a high tide also helps. Surface lures like the G Splash from Lucky Craft or the Bassday Sugapens are perfect for when fish are feeding on the surface. Look for those early morning or late afternoon tides for plenty of action. This is also a great time to target mangrove jack in the river systems, with the upper reaches of the Maroochy and Noosa Rivers really starting to fire up. Look for that rough ground, rock ledges and fallen logs where jacks loves to hide. The run-out

Sunny Armstrong with a trevally. The rivers have really been firing with them this month. tide always seems to fish better as the fish lay in wait for a passing prawn or small baitfish brought down on the tide. Suspending lures like the Zerek Tango Shad are the go – try and cast those lures hard up into the structure and have the drag set tight as these red rockets will hit and run trying to get back to their snag. Whiting have been in great numbers with the Frying Pan and the Dog Beach being the pick of the spots in the Noosa River and the sand banks around Channel and Goat islands in the Maroochy River. Worms and yabbies have been the prime baits, with surface lures worked across the shallows on top of tide also

working well. Another fish we are seeing good numbers of is flathead. Fishing live baits, dead baits, soft plastics and even micro jigs have claimed some great fish. The Noosa River Mouth, around the Woods Bays and all the way up to the lakes has seen quality fish boated. In the Maroochy the banks opposite Oyster Bank Road have been very productive. • Don’t forget to check in to for all the latest up to date info on fishing and bar crossings. The knowledgeable teams at Davo’s Tackle World Noosa and Davo’s Northshore Bait & Tackle at Marcoola can provide you with the right equipment, bait and advice to ensure success!

Stuart Hargraves with a 42cm whiting from the Maroochy River.


Farewell Telwater’s co-founder Telwater’s co-founder, Bruce Shepherd, has passed away at 75 years old. Bruce spent 30 years as the co-owner of Telwater, the manufacturer of Australia’s leading aluminium boat brands: Quintrex, Stacer and Savage boats. Bruce will be deeply missed by Telwater’s staff, dealers and associates who have always valued his hard work, leadership and friendship. The iconic Quintrex brand was purchased in 1987 by Bruce and his business partner Paul Phelan. Growth was quick with its first major expansion

in the 90s followed by the acquisition of Stacer in 1999, which sparked the creation of Telwater Holding Company. Telwater’s production expanded year over year to keep up with high demand for its boats, especially after the 2008 acquisition of Australia’s oldest boat brand, Savage Boats. An eye for opportunity, Bruce and Paul solidified their strategic partnership with BRP Inc. when Telwater was appointed the official distributor of Evinrude Outboards across Australia in 2016. Open communication with staff and the entire dealer network was extremely important to Bruce. He believed in empowering people to share knowledge and take pride in their opinions, which greatly contributed to the overall success of the organization. Current owner and Managing Director Paul Phelan said over the last 30 years, Bruce was more than a business partner to him, he was a mentor and most importantly, a great friend. “It is with great sadness we say goodbye,” Paul said, “but he will not be forgotten.” - Telwater

After a good fight, John Steinhardt pulled in a beautiful dusky flathead from just inside the mouth of the Pimpama River.


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Blowing us away RAINBOW BEACH

Ed Falconer


Weather conditions have been a bit difficult to get offshore, which has been

with consistent bag outs of these excellent eating fish. At the moment any bait or soft plastic is working, as they are not fussy at all. Snapper are also biting well and floating pilchards is

live potty mullet a huge advantage. Mud crabs are being potted in good numbers. Unfortunately, there has been a bit of ‘share farming’ going on so you need to keep a close

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Bec and Shawn with some of their bag of pearlies. They have been a consistent catch over the last month.

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February is a great month for nannygai, with catches like this quite common. a shame as the offshore species are really firing. Hopefully this month the winds calm down enough for us to get a few more trips in. OFFSHORE The fishing has been great when we have got out, but strong easterly winds have been putting the brakes on us and only allowing a few trips. Pearl perch have been on fire

and approved eye on yourinsurances gear.

the best method right now. Mackerel have been a slow start, but we have picked up a few small Spanish and spotted while reef fishing. There are plenty of estuary cod on the chew still, and this usually continues over summer. GREAT SANDY STRAITS There have been plenty of mangrove jack caught lately with top quality fish caught at dusk, with

FEBRUARY This month should see an increase in mackerel numbers and it’s usually a nannygai month, so let’s hope the weather is with us. • To enjoy a day on the water with Keely Rose Fishing Charters phone Ed Falconer 0407 146 151 or visit www. keelyrosefishingcharters

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There is no grief on the reef HERVEY BAY

Dane Radosevic

I’m sure many anglers have 1 February marked on their calendar and have already begun the tedious task of changing split rings, trebles and tweaking lures as they gear up for the opening day of the 2019 barra season. With a dry lead up, most of the systems are boasting good water quality and an abundance of bait. All the signs are promising for a great barra fishery this season, as long as the commercial netters don’t get to them. River Heads and the lower reaches of the Mary and Susan River systems are going to be good options to start the search for that prized barra. The building tides around the moons

The author and his good mate Gary with a double hook up on feisty GT that destroyed their poppers almost simultaneously. should see good numbers of fish congregating around the rocky outcrops and headlands, however the massive tidal influence can make it a little tricky to fish so timing is crucial in this scenario. Soft vibes are the


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key in this situation as they can sink down relatively quickly and be worked in the run. On the smaller neap tides, efforts would be best focussed further up in the systems, targeting snags and rock bars with areas such as Main Bank and Beaver Rock being good areas to start. Shallow to mid range suspended hardbodies twitched and stalled is a killer technique, along with a slow rolled soft plastic presentation like the ZMan 4-6” SwimmerZ. Threadfin salmon are appearing in good numbers throughout the majority of our river and creek systems as they gorge themselves on the abundance of jelly prawn around this time of year. The lower reaches in the Mary River system, around its many islands and flats, is prime country to start your hunt. This can be a very frustrating yet rewarding style of fishing, and often takes a lot of patience as you wait to stalk out a milling or feeding fish working a bank or drain. Often smaller presentations work best in this scenario, as you can present it more subtly in

front of the feeding fish to entice a bite. Smaller 2-3” plastic presentations in prawn and curly-tail offerings work exceptionally well, as do shallow running hardbodies like the faithful Bomber 13A, Lucky Craft Pointer 78sp and Jackson Bottom Magic. The Great Sandy Straits and its maze of creek systems will be another fantastic option to hunt one down fishing similar methods. The run-out tide period is by far the better producer, however, be careful not to get yourself stuck as it gets deceivingly shallow. Barra, grunter and flathead will be another great target and will undoubtedly jump in on the action at some point during your ventures. The Burrum River houses an abundance of barra right throughout its entire system and tributaries with stocks continually trickle, fed by Lake Lenthall after floods. Although often smaller in size, this system is renowned for producing some serious numbers, but don’t be fooled by this as there are also some trophy fish to be caught. The upper reaches of the main system boasts some incredible rock bars and big snags that hold

Andrew Lindsey with a cracking coral trout taken from the gutters system on a wellpresented soft plastic working a ledge. barra all over them, pair that up with bait holding in the area, then time it right for when those fish are going to switch on and feed. One key factor in locating and successfully targeting barra consistently in any system is finding the ‘back eddies’, as they scream barra! A back eddy is the still water behind structure that is deflecting the tidal influence, often distinguishable by the oil slick looking surface of the water. Barra use this to their advantage exerting minimal energy as they sit and wait in ambush for baitfish to swim by or be swept past by the current. This is the ideal scenario for a lure addict and a variety of different presentations can be used to entice that bite, with soft vibes, suspending hardbodies and soft plastics

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Could you catch a tastier doubleheader? Josh McGuire with a coral trout and coronation trout.

all viable options, and white is always a favoured colour. Estuary cod and mangrove jack will often be a welcomed by-catch while targeting barra and will snap up a well-presented lure tight to structure. Grunter will be another productive species to target in the Burrum as they typical begin to school up around the river mouth in the main channel around the moored boats and over on Black Bank. For bait fishos this is the ideal scenario to present a fresh herring, mullet fillet or banana prawn and fish it hard to the bottom and wait for a passing school. When found, these fish can be schooled in large numbers with quality fish to 60-70cm roaming amongst them. For lure fishos, vibes and heavily weighted curly-tail and prawn style plastics hopped along the bottom will also draw the bites. Typically around this time of year the mouth of the Burrum River and beyond sees large aggregations of baitfish balling in the deeper waters and in turn attracts predatory fish such as mac tuna, longtail tuna, golden trevally, GT and queenfish. These fish can often be there one day and gone the next, so some searching may be in order to locate where they have moved, looking for the working and dive bombing birds is the fasted method to finding them. It is quite a spectacle to witness schools of predatory fish the size of a football field gorging themselves on the helpless schools of bait and the fishing can be insanely awesome. Smaller 100-120mm stickbaits and fast paced pencil poppers can

account for some incredible topwater action, or the old faithful ZMan 5” StreakZ in bubble gum pink hopped or cranked quickly will draw the strikes. Often the hardest decision in the situation is deciding what species you would like to cast to. As the spotties taper off the annual migrations of longtail tuna will typically start to move into the bay and begin their mass feeding frenzy, throw in mac tuna, queenfish, golden trevally and mackerel species that more often than not show up for their fair share, and Platypus Bay is going to be teeming with life over the coming weeks and months. The birds are going to be a dead give away as to the whereabouts of the tuna as they flock together to take advantage of the bait being forced to the surface. ZMan 5” StreakZ in bubblegum pink are once again the lure of choice and have proven irresistible on longtail tuna when rapidly retrieved. The same plastic presentation sunk below the tuna and baitfish and worked with an erratic hop or burn and kill retrieve can account for other species of pelagics dwelling down below. Other alternatives that every angler should carry in the box is slugs varying from 20-40g, with the Arma anchovy range being dynamite, and a larger offering

in the form of a stickbait will provide for some fantastic topwater opportunities. The Nashy’s range of 120mm 50g stickbaits have been ticking species off like no tomorrow in the bay already and I am sure they will work incredibly well on the longtail this season, as they have been hand crafted by Chris Nash a long time fishing local. The flats between Wathumba Creek and Roonies Point will also be well worth a prospect this time of year, as quite often large bait balls get pushed in along the beach where packs of queenfish, golden trevally and longtail tuna can be found smashing into them in shallow waters. The fishing across Breaksea Spit has been nearly non-existent with the terrible weather of late, however, fingers crossed it improves this month. Trophy sized GT off the top, I am sure, are on many anglers’ bucket lists and will be a great opportunity this time of year. There is a never-ending list of possible by-catch, from high flying Spanish mackerel to mahimahi to yellowfin tuna to kingfish, you name it. You never know what may try to intercept your popper or stickbait this month. Trolling is another very successful method this time of year, especially on the Spanish mackerel, mahimahi and yellowfin tuna. When

Andrew Koeppen with a solid 53cm mangrove jack he caught while slow rolling a soft plastic in the Burrum River system. working the shallower 15-30m line fast running hard bodies and skirted lures are great options, however if the fishing is proving a little tough try opting to slow troll some Wog rigged swimming baits, like garfish, as they can often be irresistible. As mentioned above, the offshore reef fishing possibilities have been limited of late with the poor weather. When the weather does permit the reef fishing should be consistent, with a large variety of species on offer from red throat emperor, sweetlip, hussar, tuskfish, gold-spot

wrasse, trout, coronation trout, cod, red emperor and green jobfish, to name a few of the more common species. Gathering live baits is a worthwhile exercise and can often produce some better quality fish, but fresh pencil squid, mullet and bonito fillets, pilchards and pike are all great alternatives. Anglers should start to venture back out to the gutter systems in search of some quality coral trout. February is often the first month when the big girls come out to feed and fish exceeding the 7-8kg aren’t uncommon. Live baiting the

ledges with pike or yakka is a proven technique at anchor, but can often prove testing with many quality fish finding the bottom. The last few years anglers have been doing some serious damage using soft plastics and tea bagging them along the ledge vertically, which provides a little more opportunity to pump them up off the reef. Sweetlip, tuskfish, cod and hussar will also all be present over the reefs and will take a liking to a wellpresented cut bait fished either on a running ball sinker or paternoster rig. Moving inshore, the

shallower reefs continue to be teeming with life and this great fishing will continue as prolific numbers of sweetlip are being caught on fresh baits lightly weighted and drifted across the reef, with spangled emperor, blackall, tuskfish, cod and trout also regularly caught. Hopping smaller soft plastic presentations or slow trolling a medium running hardbody are viable options for these species in similar areas. The deeper wrecks and artificial reefs have been producing better quality reef fish, with those anglers focusing around the low light periods being rewarded. Pelagics continue to patrol the inshore islands and have been providing many anglers with some incredible sport fishing action, especially for those fishing with topwater lures as queenfish and GTs have been smashing the lures. For the crustacean lovers this is a fantastic time of year to prep the pots and get the cast net out, as the crabs should be on the move in our rivers and creeks and the prawns running in good numbers. Prawn Gutter, China Bite, Power Creek and many of the smaller creek systems throughout the straits or on the western side of Fraser Island are good areas to start searching for a feed of prawns. One 10L bucket of prawns per person is the legal limit.

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Dreaming of some offshore fishing in sunny CQ Beach. Most of the larger fish I have seen have been coming from the larger systems like the Calliope, Boyne and South Trees. The rock bars throughout the Calliope are all producing fish with the standouts being right up near Sawyers Rocks and around the highway bridge. ZMan Diesel


Liam Jones

Wind, wind and more wind. That’s been the story of 2019 so far. With the wind rarely dropping blow 20 knots it has certainly made fishers think outside the basket and try some new areas and target some new species throughout January. Obviously with no one getting the opportunity to fish offshore there’s not much to report on from that side of things, although I do expect once we do a get a break from the wind that every fisher in the whole of central Queensland will be heading out. Once out the fish should

Karl Hunter with a vibe-crunching golden snapper from the Narrows. be chewing their heads off! They wouldn’t have seen a bait or lure for the past two months and as this is one of my favourite months to fish

Richie O’Brian with one of the many jacks caught over the past month.


These fish have been stocked into Awoonga Dam over the years, so any waterway that runs into Awoonga is likely to have the fish in it somewhere along the system. I’ve found that if you can find clear running water running into a deeper pool you will generally find

offshore, I expect everyone to be coming home with a solid feed of coral trout and sweetlip. With the wind as bad as it has been and the barra closure, it has forced a lot of us to try some different things and fish some different areas. Mangrove jack are popping up everywhere and some absolute crackers at that. I don’t think I can ever remember seeing so many jacks being caught in a long time. This is most likely due to it being one of the only fishable species to target at the moment. Fish have been turning up everywhere from the Narrows, Calliope, South Trees, the Boyne and Turkey

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Awoonga can be the perfect place to get the young ones into fishing when the weather allows. MinnowZ and Lunker City 4” Shakers have been the standout lures. The Narrows has been fishing well for golden snapper around the rock bars in Barkers and Mosquito creeks. The last of the outgoing tide seems to be producing the most fish, with 95mm soft vibes accounting for the most fish along with the trusty Gulp Shrimp not far behind. When looking for golden snapper in these creeks try and find some deeper holes and rock ledges rather then your standard shallow rock bars. Just about all the creeks throughout the Narrows hold golden snapper in the warmer months, it’s just a matter of having a decent sound to locate where the schools will be sitting. A fishery I fished a little this year and had another go while the wind made everything else too difficult is the sooty grunter fishery. A lot of people don’t realise how many sooties we have not too far from the Gladstone. I spent a bit of time early last year looking for these fish with reasonable reward. I decided to give them another crack in January, although a lot of the places I has previously found fish were weeded up, I still managed to find a few smaller fish around the 30cm mark in some of the deeper holes.

fish. These things hit hard and pull even harder for their size. Running light line, light leaders and small surface lures make this style of fishing as exciting as any. The hard part is fishing areas suitable to fish

Sooty grunter can be found in many locations in systems that run into Awoonga. and gaining access through properties that hold the exact type of water needed. Speaking of Awoonga, the Dam is still producing quality fish. The wind has certainly made fishing a lot harder but those that are thinking outside the box and trying new areas are generally finding the fish. Standout lures have been all over the show. One day we’re getting them on 5” plastics, the next they will only eat 7” plastics, and the next suspending hardbodies. When I go out there are a few things I will always take that nearly always get a bite. These are,

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Happy Rock Softies Medium and Big Willies, Castaic Jerky J Shad 5” and 7”, Jackall Squirrels, Lucky Craft Pointers, Yakamito Hyper Jerks and a box of soft vibes. On a recent trip, when fish were found sitting in 30’ of water the only thing that would entice the bite was the Jackall Transam. Although the soft plastics could reach the fish at that depth, keeping them there and getting them to work correctly was the hard part, so on went the Jackall Transam and within three casts it was fish on! Preparing yourself for all situations and adapting to the conditions and where the fish are sitting is vital to success when fishing the lake. As we move into February, we can only pray for some good weather, so anglers can get offshore and restock their freezers that have probably been empty for the past two months. With the water temperatures warm and the fish feeding and active in the shallower water it shouldn’t be too hard to find yourself a feed. The closer in reefs like Rock Cod Shoal, Tullerook and Cabbage Patch

will all be fishing the best they will all year. For those wanting something a bit more exciting, stickbaiting around Wistari, Sykes and Broomfield will certainly produce some quality fish and some serious excitement. Jigging isolated rocks and pinnacles will see your bigger trout coming aboard. Using the correct weight jig for the depth and the conditions will be the difference between an awesome session and an ordinary one. Get into your local tackle store and talk to the guys or girls about what jig to use in what depth and tide movement. Obviously the big thing with the month of February is the barra opening! Just about every angler in Gladstone and surrounds will be itching to get back in and chase a big salty barra. Hopefully next issue I can report on all the big saltwater barra everyone landed on the barra opening and the amazing weather we had throughout February where everyone caught plenty of reef fish. Here’s to hoping!

Bundaberg is ready to bag some barramundi BUNDABERG

Jason Medcalf

It’s barra season! As of midday 1 February we can target barramundi again. So, what better time to go through the best places to target them in our area! Firstly, the Burnett River must be the most pressured river in our area because of its ease of access, but it still produces the goods. If you look back in history, the Burnett River supported a fleet of commercial barramundi fishers. This was until the many weirs and dams were put on the river, stopping the natural movement of fresh and saltwater. This, of course, put a hold on the natural movement of juvenile barramundi into the fresh to grow, this meant over time the resident fish were over fished and there were no smaller fish to replenish stocks. That’s all history, and now in 2019, after the completion of a functioning fish ladder over many years and the two major flooding events, we have a great breeding population back in the river. It has taken a few years, but I’m sure we all agree it has been worth the wait.

The author and his daughter with the result of studying the sounder before a lure has hit the water. Targeting barramundi – and I mean specifically targeting only them – can be a complex, expensive and time-consuming passion. Those who are just getting started have a long journey in front of them, but it is a special journey that can take you all over the country fishing in fresh and salt. My first piece of advice is to invest in the best fish finder you can afford and be prepared to spend a lot of time on the water looking at it. Studying the habits of

barramundi is not simply finding out where they are, it’s why are they there. It’s finding out where were they before they got there and where are they going next and why. These fish move in and out of our rivers constantly and looking for clues as to why will get you if front of them more regularly. The more I fish for barramundi, whether it be in the fresh or salt, the more it amazes me how far they will travel. They can move in the mouth of the river in the

cover of darkness, and as the sun rises be 8km upstream feeding on the large mullet hanging around the bridge pylons in the town reach. These fish move, they move far and they move often. You can find them day after day in a deep hole and often those anglers putting the time in will know at what time of the tide these fish will bite. Often though, these fish sitting in their favourite hole may be just holding up there. They could have a favourite hunting zone nearby that they only visit on certain tides and when that tide is at a certain level. If you can find that zone and be there when they are feeding it’s game on and a big part of the reason so many anglers put the time in chasing this iconic species. So it’s time to go chasing them in February. The first place I would be looking is around the mouth of the river in case there are some stragglers hanging around still keen on breeding. Look over the other side of the north wall on in the high tide using side imaging, as they often sit right on the sand next to the rocks. There is a rock shelf in the mouth of the river near the entrance of the old harbour that gets exposed after the big Christmas tides and you often see them hanging off the back of it on the run-out tide. The points

around the sailing club are also worth checking out and don’t be afraid to look in close, say 2m of water. The usual haunts as you venture up river are well worth a few hours of trolling and studying the lay of the underwater landscape. The

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Exciting months at Monduran



Rob Howell

The last three months at Lake Monduran have been exciting to say the least. Thousands of anglers from all over the East Coast of Australia have come to visit this impoundment for their chance to win a share in $40 000 worth of cash and prizes in the Bundaberg Toyota Golden Barra Competition. Five tagged barra were released in late October each with a prize attached to them, the biggest prize being $15k cash from Bundaberg Toyota and an extra $5k worth of Rapala lures and equipment for the gold barra. While no prized barra have been caught yet, anglers haven’t been disappointed with many boating around 20-30 barra for their stay. The majority of barra being caught are situated in bite zones on shallow points and bays. Areas like Bird, Insane, Heart, Jacks and Cow bays and the South Arm of B are great starting points. Barra of around

key really is to find them, mostly as you can’t catch fish that aren’t there. Put the time in on your sounder and don’t stop until you’re 100% certain you see barra. This of course doesn’t guarantee they will bite, but that’s the next part of the puzzle.

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Steven Cole, Ben Conroy and Blake Hughes with a triple hook up of barra. Catches are only going to get better as we start moving into the colder months. 70-85cm have been a common catch of late with plenty 50-60cm rats mixed in amongst them. It’s not uncommon to be sitting there tied up to a tree, or on spot lock with your electric motor, watching your sidescan sounder and seeing big numbers of 1m long barra move through in waves. This is so encouraging, as it proves that not all the big barra have gone as a result of the last flood in October 2017. These bigger barra will usually come out to play as the cooler months

approach, so get yourself and your gear ready for March, April and May. LURES A combination of hardbody lures like Rapala X-Raps, Shadow Raps, Jackall Squirrels and Lucky Craft Pointers have been very successful over the past few months. In the soft plastic range the Jackall Rythm Waves, 6” ZMan SwimmerZ and the Zerek Flat Shads have also been working well. Soft vibes like the Zerek Fish Traps have also been very effective when barra are

moving through under the boat. These vibes work really well when vertically jigged up off the bottom with one or two sharp upward motions. • We look forward to seeing you in March, April and May as these are awesome months to target barra at Monduran. For more info you can call the holiday park on (07) 4157 3881 or emails us au, or alternatively you can contact me on 0410 599 147 or visit my Facebook page Lake Monduran Guidelines Fishing Charters.








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Guess who’s back, back again. Barra’s back! ROCKHAMPTON

Clayton Nicholls

Midday 1 February could not come soon enough to all of us here in CQ. The large amount of rain we received over January has really got the creeks flowing and the freshwater system is on fire. The amount of bait around at the moment is very conducive to some good fishing if you match your lures and target the correct areas. Some key areas to try and land a monster in the opening month would be Headlow Creek in the fresh or Deception an Inkerman in the salt.

FITZROY AND THE NARROWS Closed season is over for our region as of midday 1 February, if the system has not been completely flushed out by the constant rain it should be fishing very well. The rubble patches around the new bridge have been holding fish and all the local feeder creeks fished around the mouths have also been producing well. The key to success in these spots is continually working the ever-changing pressure points and bite zones as the tide changes. Freshly gathered bait isn’t hard to come by with a cast net and makes for a great session, alternatively,

Matt with a great freshwater creek barra landed on a Savage Gear Suicide Duck.

lures are a great way to cover more ground and pursue the actively feeding predator fish. Zerek Fish Traps are a great lure to start with and come in a huge variety of sizes and colours; they make working deeper water very easy. For shallower water and mid water column fishing, the Lucky Craft Pointers are excellent and come pre-rigged with terminal tackle. RIVERS, CREEKS AND THE BEACHES In the creeks and beaches there have been reports of large bream and flathead and plenty of grunter in the deeper parts of the water. Areas to target for flathead would be channel mouths or ledges in the channel that go from knee deep sloping to over a metre deep. Bream on the other hand, especially the pikey bream, have been a very common catch for people heading down to places like Corio Bay, The Narrows and Coorooman, along with Moses perch and the swarms of grunter. The best places to target majority of these estuary species would be headlands along the beaches, off the sides of deep channels or rubble patches that have moving water on it. Soft plastics 3-5” will work wonders, the typical Gulp and ZMan will do the trick in natural colours and rigged as light as possible while still getting them down to the bottom water column.

Matt landed this decent toga on a recent trip. The yabby flats are faring very well lately and a lot of people have been catching ripper whiting and flathead just using lightly weighted yabbies on the calm flats areas of the estuaries. FRESHWATER LAGOONS The freshwater has been turning it up in the mornings, just as the sun starts to get a bite about it. Areas like the Woolwash Lagoon, 12 Mile and Headlow will be very active along with the smaller lagoons along the coastline. There are plenty of active insects and small terrestrials to mimic, if you pick lures similar to the size and action of the common food source you should have no trouble catching the fish. Lures imitating the crazed motion of an insect or small terrestrial on the water – like

the Lucky Craft Sammy or Savage Gear Top Prey – with their side-to-side action are sure to induce a bite. If you are more into lures with built in actions, finding wake baits like the Halco Nightwalker are

a solid start. Some other key lures, like 60mm poppers and 4” plastics, have been working well in the fresh. Heading west to escape the wind will see a few different species caught. These systems have not been as heavily affected by the rain and are still holding a great supply of active saratoga, sooties and catfish. CRABBING Crabs have been on the move well and truly with most stores selling out of pots and crab bait. It is important when this many crabs are actively being caught you take a minute to assess the condition of the crab, if one is empty and has barely any weight it is best off leaving it in the system to either stock up or help repopulate the system. The best areas to set the pots lately have been the bottom end of mud flats and the bottom end of tidal drains.

A Lucky Craft Sammy was the undoing of this awesome toga that Matt caught.

February is all about muddies and mozzies STANAGE BAY

Pee Wee

What being a Queenslander is all about and doing us proud is none other than Stanage Bay. This month has plenty of angling options, with the relieved angling pressure now that the holidays have passed. Mud crabs are out and about in high numbers and some of the sizes will blow your mind. Holidaymakers last month were spoilt for choice as to whether they placed their pots off the banks or went further afield by boat. A feed of crab is pretty much guaranteed at this moment. Some beautiful salmon are being caught using live bait at Porters Creek and prawns are attracting some great-sized bream. The weather has been a bit chaotic, making it hard for anglers to get outside the bay, but in saying this, at least our reefs are getting a good spell. The bigger tides have made sitting at the Jew 48


The Wells boys with their feed of mud crab. This month they are a great prospect. Hole quite the challenge, but as they drop we are starting to see some excellent catches. Tuskfish are being caught in the neighbouring areas of the Jew Hole. Whiting and flathead are being caught off Flat Rock and the odd oyster can still be found there as well. Around the edges of Quail Island there are some grunter getting around, but sizes are a little on the small side. Regardless, they can still be good fun to catch.

Turtles have been spotted each night making their way up the beach at Alligator Bay for nesting. It is definitely worth taking the kids for a wander. Despite the rain that we’ve recently had the road is holding up really well. There is just the odd rough patch here and there to look out for. If you plan on camping at Stanage Bay I recommend bringing along a few mosquito repellent options as the mozzies are definitely showing their

love. Stanage Bay Marine & Accommodation will have your back up supplies if you run out or forget. Better still, why not skip the camping and enquire about our accommodation options. That about sums up our month of fishing, so until next time let’s pray for some calm seas and stay safe! • Book into your Stanage Bay rental – all the rentals are set up for fishers and are budget priced – bring some camping gear with you and spend a night or two on the islands. Many fisher rentals are continually improving. Once it used to be simply the basics, however now it’s about the amount of toilets, fishcleaning areas and parking, not to mention the closeness to the boat ramp, pub, fuel and tackle shop. Call Pee Wee on (07) 4937 3145 or email stanagebaymarine@ for any further queries on Stanage Bay. Until next time, enjoy the photos. For more pics, find them on the Stanage Bay Marine & Accommodation Facebook or anywhere on the web.

Deb with a lovely jewfish. The Jew Hole is always a good place to look for these fish.

Funny weather makes for funny fishing YEPPOON

Scott Lynch

Gee, we’ve had a funny couple of months, with cyclones threatening and fizzling before we get enough rain then long windy dry spells in between. This has played havoc with the mackerel schools that have avoided Keppel Bay like the plague. The dirty, silty water stirred up by the constant winds have kept the bay in a dirty brown state for too long. On the good side, there are plenty of mackerel, nannygai and grunter at

big streaks on the sounder. We always drop a Taipan or a Flasha into the schools, which usually produces a Spaniard or two when we first get to a spot. We settle into bottom bashing with the normal gear for trout and reds, with the pilly sitting just back from the fish on the screen. Usually the fish of the day will grab the lightest rig. Barra closed season was diluted with spots such as Awoonga and Monduran within a few hours drive of Rocky. With both places producing top class fish, they are the better options in windy spells. In saltwater systems, wind can shut

picking off the prawn and little baitfish the salmon have missed. Wherever there are concentrations of juvenile barra or king threadfin salmon you will find big

the damage. The best part was the majority of grunter caught lately were taken by land-based anglers not really targeting anything in particular. Over the moon is

gutters in all of the systems have prawns at present and as that starts to drop they are spreading out along the mad flats and banks trying to keep out of reach of the predators. These are the spots to put a big live one back out after you finish cast netting. Be careful and keep an eye out for crocs. There are a couple of big fellers in town and down towards Gavial Creek. A few idiots have left frames and rubbish on the northside ramp and pontoon and that can be a

are turning up lots of fish without having to travel very far. We have the Fitzroy, the Dawson and the Mackenzie within an hour or two drive. Two anglers who did the search are Richard and Fleur. They decided to avoid barra altogether by going on a freshwater search for toga. They found some great spots and Fleur managed to land an unexpected barramundi at the same time. The key to finding spots like this is to look over the contour maps

Shannon Williams scored this fine king threadfin in the town reaches of the Fitzroy River.

Riley Davies with a cracking barra he landed on a Pig Lure. the spots on the edge of the colour change. The bait schools skirt the silty water, using the edges for cover as they do when the flood plumes appear. These are the same spots that fire when the river is in flood, pushing the prawns, baitfish and other tasty morsels to the outer edges of the flow. Although the mackerel are quiet on the inside, there are lots of big Spanish just outside the bay at many of the shoaly rubble patches, islands and wrecks. Spots like Flat, Perforated, Manifold, the Shoals, Outer, Man and Wife and Barren come good as the inner areas close down. The bigger tides are always the best time if the weather plays the part. Any time there is run in the water there should be a macky to be had. The bait schools passing wide at the moment are all fish from 150-250mm. This means that the better troll baits for the large pelagics will be in the bigger range. I like to put out just legal hussar, either trolled or 3m under a float. Spaniards aren’t that fussy and iodines, happy moments or even grinners have been known to entice a trophy fish to chew. Some of our best catches in the last few months have been on ganged slimies and big pilchards lightlyfloated down near the bottom when chasing deep water trout. The bait has been concentrated around a structure and you can see the

down a barra bite in quick time. While freshwater impoundments seem to fire in certain spots when the wind blows. Simply put, this is because the wind concentrates the warmer water in defined locations that then attract the baitfish, and the barra know this. As of noon 1 February, the salty barra addicts are going to be hitting the water in droves when the closed season finishes. All the usual spots should have numbers of fish, depending on the

hungry barra not far away. This also shows that barra are not afraid to tackle a huge bait. Sometimes when they are not really interested in the usual vibes or regular size hardbodies, it pays to try something completely different. Last year I saw some barramundi imitation lures approximately 275mm long. This year I am going to work one of these in a few areas away from the crowds. One local guy has painted a Billy Bonito to troll the deep channels where the barra schools sit over the low tides. I will let you know the results in coming months. When barra don’t seem interested in the lures you are using, it pays to mix things up a bit either by size, colour or retrieve. They have to eat at some stage, and picking the right time, place and lure are the keys to better

probably the best time as a rule. There have been a few quality bream and the odd mangrove jack in town as well. Jacks have been the standout in nearly every system over the past month or two. Most of them are small and nearly all are released to grow a bit bigger. The tides don’t play as big a part as lure placement when chasing the red dogs. It is important to get right up against the rocks or jetty and as far as you can inside the sticks to encourage the bite. The worst lure put in the right place, out fishes the best lure not quite in the zone. With just enough rain to make the local gutters run for an hour or two the prawns have had a feeding bonanza. They have been growing in numbers to a size worth chasing for a feed, big live baits or quality dead bait for future trips. This is part of the reason we are getting so many fish in town. Pretty much all the mud

Britney Hawkins scored this unexpected by-catch while chasing threadies in town. magnet for a hungry croc. This area has an abundance of you switched on fishers who seem to pull fish out of nowhere. A number of them have been targeting saratoga in the barra closed season. There are a few spots that

and Google Earth and then spend time locating access to the waterways. Most of the fishers doing this are fairly secretive, so using your own initiative is the best option. You learn a whole lot more and it is a lot more fun doing it yourself.

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Fleur MacDonald scored this 68cm barra in the McKenzie River on a toga hunt. rainfall in the coming days. We may get a flow from the low that went west, which will move fish through more areas of the river. Over the closed season there were lots of barra caught and released while chasing king salmon. There have been barra sitting below the threadfin schools

captures. Big barra are smart and soon become gun-shy to a particular method. Over the holiday period big grunter have continued to feed as far into town as the 400m mark. Catches of fish around 800mm were not uncommon. Whole prawns and mullet strips were doing

Catch Coral Trout, Red Emperor, Sweetlip etc within an hours boat trip from the Campground

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Cyclone season has blown on in MACKAY

Keith Day

Mackay anglers are champing at the bit to have a crack at a saltwater barramundi and all the indications are that this open season will be a ripper. Rain during the second half of December set the conditions up nicely and with Cyclone Penny brewing in the Gulf, the fish should be in cooperative mood. Let’s hope so anyway. The run of prawns in the creeks at the end of last month was not huge, but most cast netters managed a feed or two. With the continuing showers and storms I expect there will be prawns aplenty come February 1. Prawns are the number one bait for barra by a long margin, unfortunately everything else from toads to picker bream also love them and that can get very frustrating. Other good baits include mullet, herring, whiting and gar. Live baits are surely the best but many a barra has come undone scoffing down a strip bait or dead herring floated into a snag or over a rock bar. Barra will even smack a bunch of yabbies wriggling around on a hook, and the emphasis is again on ‘movement’ either from the bait itself or by the angler slowly working the bait to give it a live appearance. Barra can be notoriously fussy at times and what works one day may not necessarily work the next day or next identical tide. It pays to have a bit of variety if bait fishing and the same applies to lures or flies. Soft plastics continue to grow in popularity along with soft vibes and both will

attract a barra’s attention, either in the creeks, the headlands or the dams. Big paddle-tails from Reidy’s, Storm, Rapala, Squidgies, Castaic and Happy Rock to name a few will see plenty of use over the next month or so. There is almost as much variety in hardbodies for barra, and the ‘Made in Oz’ models are great as they have quality hooks and rings. Some imports work well but have inferior hooks that often need upgrading.

them swimming properly, but time will tell. If you are a visitor to paradise, then places to chase barra are all over the district. The Pioneer River at the highway bridge rocks is a good place to start and no boat is needed. There are a number of spots on the river where there is bank access, so check with the tackle shop staff. A small tinny gives access to Sarina Inlet/Plane Creek – Sandy and Alligator

Budding flyfisher 12yo Balin Tweddle christened a new reel and fly line with this nice tarpon from the Gooseponds on a small black and gold deceiver pattern. Check with one of our local tackle stores for the latest good drum on what lures are hot at the moment. In last issue Gordon Macdonald gave instructions for Brush Dragon flies and I have a few tied up ready to go. I can’t wait to cast one up a small drain or gully and work it out with the falling tide. Having seen the action of these flies in a swimming pool I have no doubt barra will absolutely climb all over them. I have also been experimenting with some articulated flies and finally seem to have

creeks between Sarina and Mackay are also good barra spots. North of the city we have the NFZ centred on Seaforth as well as Reliance and Constant creeks, all of which produce good numbers of barra. The dam barra have been going nuts the last couple of months with Teemburra the most reliable and it is producing some really well conditioned fish in the 100-120cm range as well as plenty around 80-90cm. Big soft plastics have proven to be the best bet over the last few weeks and they

are always worth having on hand. A big barra or even a medium one has no problem sucking down a 150-200mm soft plastic. I suggest rigging with a minimum hook size of 5/0 and preferably a 7/0 and make sure they are strong hooks. MAFSA members are waiting for one more barra delivery for Kinchant Dam due in February with the last 2500 fish to come from Good Fortune Bay hatchery, Bowen. That will finish the barra stocking for this summer. If you aren’t into chasing barra (unbelievable, but some prefer other species) February still gives plenty of variety. In the creeks the great run of good size flathead continues with fish around the 60-80cm range readily available on almost every sand bank or in the deeper water close by. We don’t get the absolute monsters here, but a decent flatty is good fun and they are top tucker. Fresh yabbies, prawns or small livies will catch plenty, but strip baits also work well. Lures and flies downsized from barra ones can be used with success on flatties. During February other likely encounters in the creeks will include grunter, cod, jacks, bream and threadies, which is not a bad line up. Live yabbies and prawns will score on all these species with the cod, jacks and bream around the snags and the others in more open water. The beaches generally fish pretty well in summer for whiting, swallowtail dart and a few other species, but if there is cyclonic rain and dirty water that puts an end to beach angling. The exceptions to this rule are golden trevally and snub nose dart (oyster crackers or

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Good sized flathead, like this neat 65cm one, are an all summer catch. Soft plastics will account for plenty. permit) both of which don’t seem to mind a bit of dirty water, although if it gets too murky they will move out. Fresh live yabbies will be taken with relish by all of these species. The close inshore pelagic fishing is usually over by February, mainly due to rainwater runoff, but odd stragglers are still about, although most will have headed south by February. Around the islands good catches will again rely on water clarity, rough weather and dirty water means leave the boat on the trailer! Grassy lippers, cod and a few yellow lippers will be mooching around the inshore islands and bluies can still be found right in hard on the rocks. The trout and stripies also get in the act around the islands if the water is clear. The offshore fishing will be very weather dependant, not only for wind but for water clarity as well. On the good days I expect there will

be plenty of red and pink fish out in the shipping channel and trout up in the shallow waters around the islands and reefs. Pelagic activity offshore will be decided by water clarity. Sooty grunter are on the chew in the river and the dams and with suitable conditions I expect they will shortly come into roe. By the time this issue hits the stands, MAFSA Inc members are likely to be out chasing brood stock or have spawned fish in the hatchery. Nominations will open during February for the World Sooty Championship event run by MAFSA over the long weekend in May. Keep an eye on MAFSA’s Facebook page for updated info and details of online entry for the comp. February in Mackay is very weather dependant as we are in the cyclone season, but whatever the weather Mackay always has fishing opportunities.

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Australian Bass Tournaments





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Tournament Angler Guide


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Costa BREAM Series

Qualifier 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Grand Final Australian Open Queensland Open

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Qualifier 1 2 3 4 5 6 Grand Final Australian Open

Dates 2-3 March 25-26 May 22-23 June 13-14 July 10-11 August 14-15 September 23-24 October 26-27 October

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Casino Outdoors and Disposals BASS Electric Series

Qualifier 1 2 3 4 5 Grand Final

Dates 9 March 13-14 April 30 June 28 July 8 September 28-29 September

Location Richmond River Toonumbar Dam Maroon Dam Lake Gregory Wivenhoe Dam Borumba Dam


Australian Open

12-13 October

Wyaralong Dam


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Event 1 2 3 4

Dates 8 November 9 November 11 November 13-14 November

Location Kinchant Teemburra Peter Faust – Night Championship Peter Faust


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10-12 September

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Location Bemm River Mallacoota Sydney Blackwood River Nelson Woy Woy Gold Coast Port Macquarie Albany St Georges Basin Marlo


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Dates 3 February 10 March 19 May 9 June 6 October 20 October

Kayak Grand Final 9-10 November Boat Grand Final 23-24 November

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Tournament Angler Guide

Guide to getting started in tournament fishing ABT

James Reid

So, you love to fish? You’re competitive against your mates, and you’re looking for a new way to explore your skills? If that’s you, you’ll love tournament fishing. It’s a fast growing sport in Australia, and is popular with anglers

of all stripes. There’s more to it than just fishing – it’s also a great way to make friends all over the country. ABT has been running tournaments for over 20 years, and when you fish with ABT you can go to some of Australia’s most renowned fishing locations, all while learning new fishing techniques. You might think that fishing your first tournament would be

daunting, but it’s really not that hard. The first thing to do is log onto and become a member for only $70 a year. Once you are a member you have the option to fish tournaments for bream, bass and barramundi from places as far as south Tasmania, all the way over to Western Australia, up to North Queensland and

At the end of the day, it’s all about having fun. A day with Anthony Wishey is always a barrel of laughs.

Top: Often the non-boater will take responsibility for returning the key tag to the board. Don’t forget to do it, or both you and the boater will cop a weight penalty. Above: Just because you’re fishing at the back of the boat doesn’t mean you don’t catch quality fish, as Mark Saric found out at Lake Macquarie. 4

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everywhere in between. Once you have signed up as a member, and have nominated which tournament you want to fish, you’ll need to decide whether you want enter the comp as a boater or as a non-boater. If you enter as a boater, that means you’ll need to bring your boat with you, and each day you’ll be paired with a non-boater. If you enter as a non-boater, you just turn up with your rods and reels, and a couple of tackleboxes with lures for your chosen species. Each day you’ll be paired with a boater.

All competitors must bring a PFD, and have a fishing permit for that state, if required. Other items to bring are sunscreen, water, a packed lunch and a rain jacket, as you’ll be on the water all day, rain, hail or shine. If you’re fishing as a boater, there are some specifications your boat needs to meet. It must be longer than 3.7m; have a minimum of a 20hp engine; working safety lights; port, starboard, and anchor light (all around white light); a working engine safety switch,

and a minimum 60L plumbed live well. An updated copy of the insurance information for your boat will also be required. FORMAT AND GUIDELINES The night before each tournament day, ABT holds a briefing which runs through the rules and regulations. This is also when we pair up the boaters and non-boaters. These briefings will give you the opportunity to meet the people you’ll be fishing with over the next couple of days. All anglers, both boaters and non-boaters, must


Tournament Angler Guide abide by all ABT rules and regulations, as well as state guidelines and regulations. Now to the formats of tournament fishing. First of all, let’s look at bream. Bream events have boaters and non-boaters, who each fish for their five biggest bream over each session (up to 10 fish per boat). Both boaters and non-boaters weigh in their fish separately, with each competitor scored individually on the weight of their own fish. Bass tournaments are

different. Although they also have a boater and non-boater format, they have a shared weight system. This means that the boater and non-boater combine their catches and weigh them in together, up to a combined bag of four or five fish per session depending on the venue. Barramundi is a teams event made up of two people per team. Competitors can catch and release as many fish as they like, with all fish recorded in the ABT Tournament Series App.

So there you go – a brief run-down into getting started in Australian tournament fishing. ABT’s website has all the rules and regulations for state fishing licencing, state to state size limits of fish, and a calendar for the dates and venues we will be at throughout the year. You can also access membership forms, entry forms and contact details. We are always happy to welcome new anglers, and our competitors are always happy to help out new blood

There’s nothing like the anticipation at the start of the day. That’s what tournament fishing is all about.

At all BREAM events, non boaters get a free Hobie jersey that earns them money if they’re wearing it when they win.

too. ABT’s motto is ‘who shares wins’, and that sums it up perfectly. NON-BOATERS As a non-boater the are a few unwritten rules you should know, if a friend hasn’t told you already. Briefing questions At the briefing, ask your assigned boater if they need a hand launching and retrieving the boat, even if you’re not sure how to do it. These are valuable lessons to learn from boaters who have done this a thousand

times, and will help you in the future. You should also find out where your boater wants you to meet them in the morning. Ask how much room they have in the boat and how many rods and other tackle you are able to bring. Ask what patterns they pre-fished (i.e. techniques and lures). This is more useful than just asking where they were fishing. You should only offer to reverse the boater’s car or drive the boat off the trailer

if you are confident and have done this before. If not, maybe ask if there’s time for some pointers to benefit you and your boaters in comps to come. If your boater tells you that they have it covered and someone else is helping them, find out where they would like you to meet them and what time. Boaters are not babysitters; if they give you a time and place, don’t be late. If you’re unsure on the area ask to be shown, it’s better asking more questions To page 6


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Tournament Angler Guide

From page 5

and being in the right place and time than not. On the boat Once you’re on the boat, treat it as your own and better. Remember that boats are worth a lot of money and are many people’s pride and joy. Once on the boat, ask where to put your rods and gear – don’t just leave it lying around. When it comes time to fish, you should wait for your boater to be ready and let them get first cast. They have a little more

going on than just fishing (e.g. changing sounder from GPS to sonar, getting up and choosing a rod, and dropping the trolling motor). Stay on the back deck unless you’re told you can fish up the front with the boater. If you are asked up the front, never cast over their shoulders, and always let them have the first cast. It’s a privilege to be up there, and if one boater invites you up there don’t expect the next one will. Always wait for the invite. Although most boaters

won’t accept fuel money, the offer is well appreciated and goes a long way with most boaters. If they refuse to take your money and you see them out for dinner, offering them a beer will be a good way to say thank you. Even just taking an extra drink or snacks on the boat is a good idea. Weigh-in First things first – a good habit to get into is taking care of the key tag. Do whatever you can to get that tag on the board before the session ends, even if that

Non-boating opens up opportunities to fish with some of the best anglers in Australia.


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Waiting for a weigh-in bag is where lots of anglers catch up and discuss the day’s catches and disasters. means doing a 100m sprint faster than Usain Bolt! And no standing around telling fishing tales until the tag is on either. Plenty of non-boaters have been caught out like this over the years, and incurred a late penalty for both themselves and their boater. This does not get forgotten easily. Once you have sorted the key tag out, the next thing to do is offer to collect a weigh bag for your boater. If they want to collect it themselves you should wait at the boat to make sure it doesn’t float away and bang into other boats. As you collect all your fishing gear make sure you

grab all your rubbish and food scraps and any leftover line or leaders you have cut off through the day. Fair play When you’re paired up with a new boater on day 2 of the tournament, don’t tell them where you or your boater caught fish on day one. The key to being a successful non-boater is adapting and fishing the water that’s in front of you. And don’t sulk! If the fishing is tough, don’t take it out on your boater or bag him out to other competitors. Word gets around fast; it will soon get back to your boater, and it won’t make you look

good either. Remember it costs a lot of money to be a boater, with expenses such as boat maintenance, fuel, insurance and higher entry fees. Most boaters will not accept money, they just want a bit of banter, some assistance in netting fish and just having a good day. As a non-boater you should take any tips and info you may receive. Always ask questions if you’re not sure what’s going on or how to fish the areas and conditions you are facing. You will be surprised at how much information a boater may be willing to share with you.

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Tournament Angler Guide

2018 BREAM AOY: Being a versatile breamer ABT

Steve Morgan

2018 was a good year for me, culminating in my first national Angler of the Year (AOY) title for bream. With your best five of a maximum nine events counting towards the title, you have to be able to catch yellowfin AND black bream to be competitive, and that’s what makes it special. You need to be versatile, and it all comes down to how good your worst of those top-five events is. Like every year, there are always a couple of breamers in contention come the last qualifying event. This year, it was Victorian Cam Whittam and I who were in a position to take the trophy. Cam needed a 3rd or higher to overtake me on points, and if Cam came in the top three I couldn’t be more than

two places behind him to keep the lead. Cam finished 3rd and I made 2nd. If Cam has caught a couple of my kickers instead of me, the result would have been reversed. That’s how close it was – and how close it usually is. That South West Rocks event was the first time for the season I’d weighed fish on topwater in a qualifier. In fact, most of my bag came on a couple of topwater baits that I hadn’t even thrown at an event in 2018. This comes back to one element that all breamers need if they want to be successful at the top level, and that’s versatility. And to me, being versatile doesn’t mean that you need to be great at every single technique in the book. It means that you need to have a few tricks in your bag to make up a Plan B or Plan C when your favourite method isn’t working, or if it’s not appropriate for the arena you’re fishing.

Imakatsu Dilemma Popper (baitfish) 8

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Tiemco Red Pepper Micro (brown)

2018 TECHNIQUES When I tallied them up, there were 13 key baits that I used throughout 2018 across the seven arenas I fished (I missed the two Victorian qualifiers while working in the USA in February). There was only one event where I boxed fish on only one bait (Mandurah, WA) – every other event featured two or more baits, and the Australian Open saw fish weighed on four baits, which makes sense across the two arenas of the Harbour and the Hawkesbury. Not surprisingly, the


Cranka Crab was the most prolific bait, with 40% of fish weighed falling to it. Still, that means that 60% of my fish for the year were fooled on lures other than crabs. In fact there were two arenas where I didn’t even fish a crab, and both of those scores counted in the AOY tally. You might think you can do well in every arena on one type of bait, but the stats disagree. That’s why you need to be versatile. Do you need to be good at everything? No way. I didn’t even tie on a Gulp


Crabby or box a bream on a blade this year. Other anglers are masters of these techniques and others. What you need to do is pick a few that you’re good at, and get better at them. Importantly, get proficient at catching five legal fish on the toughest of days. Stefan Sawynok has statistically shown that the easiest way to perform better in bream events is to bring in a limit every time, no matter what the size. Invariably, tournament days fish tough. The pressure, weekends and multiple days on the same arena make the fishing tougher than a Wednesday Warrior would encounter. Catch ‘em when it’s tough and you will do well. Let me run through the 13 baits and when I used them. It’s also well worth watching the video that accompanies this article on my YouTube Channel

(search Steve Morgan or scan the QR code hereby). We’re going to go from top to bottom. TOPWATER Imakatsu Dilemma Popper (baitfish) • Macleay River upstream sand/weed flats in <3ft of water. If I could, I would fish topwater all day in every session. However, the fact is that it’s not always the best bait to fish. Topwaters for me work best in shallow, clear water over 20°. I had a handful of Imakatsu Dilemma Poppers for the South West Rocks event and they produced a mixed bag of bass and bream. I fish these lures on 6-10lb braided line and a similar strength leader. I fish them fast enough so that it doesn’t really matter whether that leader is nylon or fluorocarbon. You can walk the dog or gently pop the Dilemma


Tournament Angler Guide Popper, but remember to have plenty of pauses, because that’s when the bream like eating them. The key to fishing topwaters effectively, either in a tournament or socially, is knowing when to strike. Too early and you’ll spook the fish (or pack of fish) trying to clobber it. It’s better to wait a little longer and know – or see – that they’ve got it properly. I fish this bait faster for yellowfin and slower for blacks. Tiemco Red Pepper Micro (brown) • Macleay River, upstream sand/weed flats in <3ft of water. When the Macleay got calm and the drizzle stopped, a more delicate surface presentation was required. My go-to topwater for finesse is a Tiemco Red Pepper Micro. These baits have a very narrow body and no real cup face to move

much water. You fish them with a gentle walk-the-dog retrieve and plenty of pauses. If the bream are really finicky, I retro-fit some Ecogear or Atomic Trick Bitz assist hooks where the front treble sits, and leave the rear treble in place. If you’ve never fished assist hooks, you’ll find that they are stronger than they look. You can easily trust them as much as any treble on a bream lure. O.S.P. Bent Minnow 76 (pearl) • Clear, oystery rocky edges in Middle Harbour. The Bent Minnow has well established credentials in the bream community for excellent reason – it has an uncanny ability to attract and entice a bite from the bigger bream in a pack. Although Bent Minnows look like a baitfish, I firmly believe that they mimic the action of a skipping prawn, and that this is what triggers the response. There aren’t

O.S.P. Bent Minnow 76 (pearl)

Duo Minnow 80SP (chrome) WATCH THE VIDEO

too many fish in a river that don’t want a live prawn, and the bream usually wants to be the first to get it. Of all the topwaters, the Bent can be fished on the heaviest line and leader. And at mid-$30s a pop, that’s what I usually fish it on. The other thing with Bents is that I love the original hooks. If you wreck them, make sure that you replace them with ones just as light. Keeping this lure buoyant is what works for me, if not others. SHALLOW HARD Duo Minnow 80SP (chrome)

• Derwent River, shallow, rocky edges early morning in <3ft of water. There’s nothing better in bream fishing than a cracking Tasmanian black bream choking a shallow jerkbait in a couple of feet of water and peeling light, straightthrough fluorocarbon from your reel. This year on the Derwent, I found that the Duo 80SP matched the baitfish size perfectly. It also combined a long casting ability with a bib that kept the lure shallow enough to fish over the mussel beds that bream


love so much. Although I didn’t connect with enough big bream to make the top 10 (the Derwent was my worst event of the season at 13th), I’m waiting to fish this bait in that river on a big, high tide. It’ll be epic. You should fish the Duo with plenty of pauses. It suspends, which is exactly how black bream like it. Jackall Chubby Shallow (black) • Lake Macquarie, clear windblown flats with sand/ weed in <3ft of water. Adam from www. put me on to this bait before the Lake Macquarie BREAM Grand Final in 2017. “Use it on the flats, mate, it’ll work, trust me,” he said. So I did, and it worked a treat. It has become my go-to crankbait for shallow, weedy water and there’s something about that black colour that just makes the

fish bite. Companies like Pro Lure also have variations of this theme, and all seem to work well. Like all shallow, clear water techniques, the bite seems to get better as the wind picks up. Don’t be scared of the wind on the flats – it’s your friend. This bait really produced for me at the Lake Macquarie Qualifier in 2018, including a 37cm fish on the final cast of the session on the Swansea Flats. I fish it on 2lb straight through fluorocarbon and a slow actioned 7” rod. DEEP HARD Duel 50mm Shad • Derwent River, shallow oyster reefs in <4ft water. There’s an oyster reef in Morilla Bay on the Derwent where I once caught 13 kiloplus bream in a row on the final day of one of the old Super Series events. Those events cut the field down to To page 10


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Tournament Angler Guide

From page 9

the top 10 boaters (only) and let you loose on the third day of competition. At one of the first events I had a Power Pole on the boat and it seemed every time I moved the boat a couple of metres, there’d be another cracking fish to slam the bait. Back then it was a Daiwa Double Clutch, but this year, I used a smaller but still deeper diving Duel Shad 50 in the same spot. I didn’t catch 13 in a row, but I did catch my two biggest bream in an ordinary Derwent bag on this bait. You just wind it down to depth and rip-pause it. The big blacks will clobber it as it sits there. On those oyster reefs, I use this bait on a braid/ leader combo. It’s one of the few places that I do this, as

sometimes the fish need to be bullied out of evil country. It’s fun fishing. Jackall Chubby Deep (brown suji) • Macleay River, deeper edges along weed in 4-8ft of water. I never really clicked with Jackall Chubbies until this year. It seemed that everyone caught plenty of bream on them all over Australia – except me. I was much more confident with the Atomic Hardz 38 Deep. However, after success with the shallow, black Chubby and a string of non-boaters doing well with Deep Chubbies in the back of the boat, I was tempted to give them another try. This bait came good at the right time. I tied it on in the upper Macleay River after a slowish morning on the

Duel 50mm Shad


Jackall Chubby Deep (brown suji)

Fredrickton flats with way too many bass between the bream. And in three casts

Jackall Chubby Shallow (black) WATCH THE VIDEO



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on the deeper bank, I boxed my last two fish, including a low 30s kicker that sealed the AOY deal. Now that’s a way to come good! I used the bait on 2lb straight through Yamatoyo fluorocarbon on Duffrods’ versatile Broken Bones 852MP rod with a slow, steady wind. With all bream crankbaits I slow roll the lure until the fish hooks itself. It may take many nips and bites before it


loads up solid. Atomic Hardz Crank 38 Deep (ghost gill brown) • Paralleling Sydney Harbour bridge pylons in 8-30ft of water. This is the bait that won me the BREAM Grand Final in 2009 on Sydney Harbour, and it’s still my go-to boat for crankbaiting river edges and bridges. There’s something about the colour of the GGB (have a look at it under a UV torch) and the sound (yes, I To page 12


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swim in pools with them to listen) that ticks all of the boxes for bream. I’m not shy to up the line size a little when cranking bridges. The fish seem so fixated with pinning the bait against the structure that 6lb fluorocarbon is no problems at all. Make sure that you cast as close as possible along the pylons and bring back the bait with the current. If you’re really clever, you can rig two baits and tune them to swim left and right to really bang the structure. I, however, like one, straight-swimming bait and clever casting. Final tip for bridge crankbaiting? I use a specialised trout rod – as strong as I can find. The parabolic bend helps hook-ups and also helps to keep the hooks in place when you’re trying to wind

Tournament Angler Guide them out of the nasty stuff. STICKBAITS Tiemco Stick Minnow (007) • Ripping over flats and sinking around structure in 2-12ft of water. This is one of the baits that has stood the test of time for me. There’s a Tiemco and an Austackle version of this bait, and they both work equally well. Sometimes the Tiemco version suffers a ‘drought’ of supply. There are two places that I fish the Stick Minnow. The first is on shallow, weedy flats. Casting it with the wind as far as you can on 2lb fluorocarbon and a rip-pause retrieve has caught me plenty of big bream over the years in a couple of feet of clear, weedy water. The other scenario is around boats and pontoons in the same areas. There’s no better finesse presentation when bream are keyed onto


Tiemco Stick Minnow (007)

shrimp and baitfish. And yes, there are times when bream will 100% eat the Stick Minnow in preference to a Cranka Crab. You just need to let the fish tell you what they’re up to on the day. The key to fishing a Stick Minnow vertically is line management. You must lay down the line as straight as you can immediately after

Atomic Hardz Crank 38 Deep (ghost gill brown)

the cast, and then feed it a little slack. The hooks are so sharp on these baits that the bream will hook itself, and all you need to do is start winding when you see the line moving irregularly. PLASTICS Ecogear Grass Minnow M (okiami) ‘pink grub’ • Georges Bay, St Helens, burn and kill over shallow flats in <2ft of water.


Another bait that’s stood the test of time is the okiami coloured Ecogear Grass Minnow M on a #1 worm hook. This is a killer search bait for practice days, and also a gun bait for when bream are feeding on prawns. Most people don’t believe how fast I’ll fish the bait until they see it (there are some great examples on the accompanying video). I burn the bait fast, making it skip and jump on the surface before killing it dead and letting it sink a little. If there’s a bream (or a pack of bream) following, they’ll normally charge it when it stops. I fish a pink grub on 6lb fluorocarbon and 6lb braided line, because you need the lack of stretch to set the hooks solid, and the floating braid doesn’t hurt in the presentation. Having a big bream bow-wave a pink grub is one

of the best things in bream fishing. I recommend you try it at least once a season! Ecogearaqua 50mm (salt and pepper) • Slow sinking and sight fishing around pontoons and boats from Sydney to the Gold Coast. If sight fishing is my favourite breaming technique, then the Ecogearaqua is one of my favourite tools to do it with. It’s a versatile, castable, snag-resistant bait that both black and yellowfin bream find hard to resist. My favourite combination is the 50mm version of the bait (rather than the 40mm) fished on a VanFook Magic Beak no. 1 hook on 6lb Yamatoyo Chinu Harris leader, and whatever 6lb braid came in the most recent ABT tournament giveaway. Rig the bait from either end (you swap ends when the bait tears after catching a

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fish) and skip cast it to where you need it to be. It skip casts really well. The white bait sinks slowly enough so that you can usually watch the bream swim out, inspect it, and eat it on the drop if you’re fishing structure. Make sure you set the hooks hard when you see the bait go down the piehole. You’ll lose more fish not setting hooks hard enough rather then setting too hard. Another variation is to fish the bait like a pink grub for the first half of the retrieve. Skip it across the shallows to attract attention and then kill the bait and watch it get eaten on the drop. Either way, you get to watch the bream eat it, and breaming doesn’t get better than that. ZMan GrubZ 2.5” (gudgeon) • St Helens, Tasmania, casting to irregularities on flats in <3ft of water.


Tournament Angler Guide I’ll admit it – I’m never the instigator of a solid ZMan session. It’s usually my non-boater who switches me onto the pattern by giving me a flogging with these baits. In 2018, legendary non-boater Stuart Walker did that for me. We were in the racks at St Helens and had worked out a pattern where we fished outside the racks on the flats beside. As we all know, Stu is a gun with the ZMan, and he was using custom-coloured 2.5” GrubZ that he’d concocted over the previous weeks. It involves putting some gudgeon colour GrubZ in with some motor-oil ones, and letting the colours leach together. Fished on a 1/16oz jighead, the bream were quite receptive to the presentation, which we made on light braid and 4-6lb leaders. Aim for the irregularities on the flats, and hang on. My preferred retrieve

Ecogear Grass Minnow M (okiami) ‘pink grub’ was pretty slow, with small twitches and hops. ZMan Slim SwimZ (motor oil) • Mandurah, WA, casting to docks and pontoons in the Murray River and canals, 2-8ft. Crossing the country, the ZMan GrubZ is often the favourite because it’s immune to the toadfish, or ‘blowies’ as the locals call them. I’ve seen blowies strip a Gulp from a jighead, bite for bite, in a couple of seconds. Ironically, Mandurah was

Ecogearaqua 50mm (salt and pepper)

the only qualifying arena where I didn’t catch my limit for the year on either day, but I ended up winning the event. The choice bait for here was a ZMan Slim SwimZ in Motor Oil rigged on a very small no. 4 hook and 1/24oz jighead made by Albany’s Jim Allen. The black bream in this system loved the slow drop of this bait beside pylons and under pontoons, with nearly every fish I hooked eating the bait on the drop.


I fished the Slim SwimZ on a 7’8” rod and 4lb straight through fluorocarbon. If I wanted to impart action to the lure I’d use a shorter rod, but the pitch-and-drop technique really suited this longer rig. It also cushioned the fish, with that small hook being the only connection. CRABS Cranka Crab 5.9g (olive) • Boats in shallow, clear water, or any bridge, anywhere! I weighed 40% of my year’s fish on Cranka Crabs. Nearly all of these fish took the heavy, olive model, or a different colour that I’d sprayed olive (thanks to Jamie McKeown’s painting tips). If you watched my livestreams or highlights, you’d notice that a crabon-a-bridge was a pretty common way for me to start a tournament. There’s a good reason for this: bridges


often hold some of the biggest bream in the system, and the opening morning of an event is often the easiest time to catch them. I nearly always fish them on straight-through fluorocarbon – anywhere between 2lb and 8lb depending on the structure (always erring towards the heavier line), and a 8’6” Daiwa ‘crab rod’. One of my discoveries this year was some 8lb Sufix fluorocarbon that’s no problem fishing a small crab on. It’s strong and has little memory, and it often gives me the advantage in bridge structure. As always, crabs are best fished slow. I mean really slow. Boringly slow. And let the fish load up before winding the hooks in. The final tip I’ll give for crabs is to take plenty of spare hooks. Big bream To page 14


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From page 13

have a habit of crunching the floating trebles flat, and a quick replacement will keep your catch rates high. I avoided using crabs in the first few years after Steve Steer invented them, and it hurt my results. Make sure that you have a few in your box. ON THE SIDELINES If I was to pick a reserve bench, there’s be a few baits

in there that have killed it for me over the years, if not in 2018. In this selection, I’d include: • Ecogear SX40 (brown/orange) • Daiwa Presso Minnow (chrome) • Ecogear VX35 blade (in black) • Daiwa Double Clutch 75 (ayu). All of these lures have won me events in the past,

ZMan Slim SwimZ (motor oil) and all deserve a place in a breamer’s box. I hope that gives you an insight into what you need to do to be a versatile breamer. If you get your favourite selection

and get good at fishing them, it will get you better tournament results this season.


ZMan GrubZ 2.5” (gudgeon)


Cranka Crab 5.9g (olive)


THE STATS Fish Max Bag Place Crab Aqua Deep Shallow Pink Deep Shallow Topwater ZMan ZManSlim Stick Swim minnow Grub Fish Weight jerk jerk grub crank crank jighead jighead St Helens 10 10 8.59 4 1 9 Derwent River 10 10 7.65 13 4 3 3 Gold Coast 10 10 4.89 4 2 8 Mandurah 5 10 3.05 1 5 Lake Macquarie 10 10 7.45 2 8 2 SWR 10 10 5.13 2 2 2 6 Hawkesbury 10 10 5.97 6 5 3 2 Aus Open 15 15 9.65 7 11 1 2 1 Percentage 40 15 3.75 3.75 1.25 2.5 2.5 10 11.25 6.25 3.75 C R E AT E , I N N O VAT E , D O M I N AT E



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Tournament Angler Guide

Digging into jigging HUNTER VALLEY

Peter Phelps

The skirted jig has certainly exploded in recent years, and any serious freshwater lure fisher should not be caught without one. Skirted jigs can be seriously addictive to use, and can catch fish when other techniques fail. This article is a follow-up to my beginner article on au, so I will assume you

have the fundamentals of fishing a jig already, such as the correct rod, reel and line set-up. You may even be catching fish on jigs already. In this piece I will take you through some of the finer details of fishing jigs, and how to get the most out of them. THE ADDICTION Originating in the United States, the skirted jig is gaining popularity very quickly here in Australia. The jig has changed Australian bass fishing in a similar way to

what the Cranka Crab did for bream fishing. It’s a technique that when used in the right hands in the right circumstances, catches bass better that anything else. If you enjoy watching American bass tournament fishing, I can tell you there’s nothing more satisfying than feeling a fish pick up that jig and waiting a moment before swinging hard, dreaming of being KVD or Gerald Swindle! The notion of catching bass on jigs certainly isn’t new in Australia.

The author with a bass. A well placed cast was all that was needed to undo this fat bass. It took a skirted jig on the drop cast tight amongst some timber.

Top: Two jigs showing the differences with rigging the trailer. The top option is great for skip casting and slowing the fall. While the bottom is chunk rigged. Great for deep water, forcing a reaction strike and making your trailer last a long time. Above: There are thousands of plastic trailers out there. They all work at given times. Keep them simple and break them down into action or plastic movement. 16

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There are bits and pieces of information that can be found dating back years and years. However, there was a particular day when it all just clicked and made sense for me. It was October 2013 and I was fishing Lake Glenbawn. I had caught fish previously on jigs, but it was random and seemed inconsistent. That day it was the typical NSW impoundment bite that you get in spring – bass and yellowbelly aggressively hitting moving baits, like a spinnerbait or lipless crankbait early. The fishing was hot but, as per usual, around mid-morning

it died right off. At this time you’d typically try to scrape together some more fish by targeting deeper water, but usually the bite wouldn’t pick up again until late afternoon. On this day I opened my tackle storage and started scrounging through boxes, looking for that magical lure that might catch a fish, as we all do from time to time. I came across some round ball finesse jigs I had purchased from the United States a long time before. Throwing a plastic craw on the back, it was instant action! I missed a fish on the first cast, and

then worked on refining it over the next few hours. Bass started to come at a steady rate, including some absolute tanks in the middle of the day. This was my light bulb moment. There was a sensation of adrenaline rushing over me, and everything just made sense. I now knew that there was a lot more to fishing a jig than just some random fish every now and then. I remember thinking to myself, “I’m not putting this jig down ever again” and I barely have since! There is always one rigged ready to go on my boat, if I feel the

opportunity arises. Since that day I have caught bass on a jig on almost every waterway I have fished, from deep water flats in Queensland impoundments to the skinniest water you can find in a tiny creek. While the skirted jig was initially used to imitate a yabby, there are tons of variations on how you can use them – from swimming jigs higher in the water column to mimic a fish, to skipping them into the heaviest cover you wouldn’t be able to place any other lure. We Australians have only just begun to scratch the surface on how to use them. WHEN TO USE JIGS When it comes to picking what lure to use, I first look at whether I want a moving bait or a stationary bait. Whether I choose a moving bait depends on the cover where I’m fishing and the main food source (e.g. with boney bream and heavy cover like timber, I’ll pick a spinnerbait). Shallow water Australian bass are typically willing to move around and away from cover in low light scenarios, whether it’s a river or lake. In low light or windy conditions, you will find a moving bait will get eaten.


Tournament Angler Guide As the moving bait bite dies off, the fish generally pull tighter to cover, or move deeper. It might seem as though they’re feeding less actively, but they have probably just changed what they are willing to eat. This is when the skirted jig comes into play. It’s great for its weedless and snagless capability, allowing you to fish it super slow in the heaviest of cover, right in front of a bass’s nose. DIFFERENT JIG TYPES There are several styles of skirted jig, and each is suited to a different type of cover. The football jig is shaped exactly as it sounds – two rounded cones meeting in the middle of the hook eye. This keeps the jig upright easily, with typically a vertical hook eye. These jigs are usually heavier, and are better suited for deeper water. The football head shape frequently gets wedged in branches of trees, so rock, sand and muddy bottom are better suited for this jig. Surprisingly, bass don’t mind picking up a heavy jig and swimming away with it. I’ve caught fish in 50ft of water on the bottom and had them picking up an 1oz

A fairly large meal in a 5/8oz jig with a 4” craw plastic trailer does not deter even the smaller bass from getting it down the hatch. jig with no worries at all. Casting, flipping, swimming, Arkie, finesse or round style jigs come in a million varieties, with different hook bend degrees, hook size, skirt strand counts, skirt materials, lead, tungsten, weights, colours – you name it. You can really get lost, over-complicate and confuse yourself. The best thing to do is keep everything simple when it

comes to selecting the right type. Choose your weight based on the depth you are fishing. As a guide, I’d go 1/4oz for 0-6ft, 3/8oz for 0-12ft and 1/2oz for 10-20ft of water. These style heads are better for coming through thick cover. The cone shape head and typical vertical hook eye allows the jig to slide between weed and over timber with ease. When in comes to

colours, I keep everything simple as well. In clear water I like natural colours like black, brown and green. In stained or dirty water, I choose a colour that contrasts nicely like white, black or chartreuse. I don’t get fussed over matching the trailer exactly with the skirt I am using. The fish don’t seem to care. If they were that smart, we would never catch them.

CHOOSING A TRAILER Plastic trailers are very important, as these are where all the action comes from. They give the jig a profile, they affect the fall, and give it a texture that the fish can feel and bite down onto and hold. When choosing a trailer, there are a few factors to consider. Generally, my craw trailers fall into two styles – a straight craw and a flapping craw. Flapping craw A flapper style can give a lot of action and slow the fall as it swims on the way down. I prefer these styles if the fish are active and willing to eat the jig with no fuss at all. I’m a fan of the flapper style on football jigs for deep water and covering water quickly. When I’m using a heavy football jig like a 5/8oz or heavier, I drag it with a sweeping motion to the left or right. I focus on pulling the jig along the bottom, bouncing off cover and causing the craw to flap along the bottom. Commonly in the warmer months when the fish are actively targeting jigs I will go for a flapper. They are also great for To page 18

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Tournament Angler Guide

From page 17

swimming the jig up off the bottom. There may be thick weed beds around and the jig might not be getting any attention on the bottom because the fish can not find the jig. Swimming it just up and through the gaps in weed can get some bites. Straight craw I like to use a straight

style craw during a more timid bite, such as during the cooler months, or if the fish are under pressure or a weather change has come through. Straight craws have no action at all, and require the rod tip to be twitched to get them dancing around. I like to fish them slowly. Typically with this retrieve I am targeting

specific cover (e.g. a laydown, standing tree or a hole in the weed), and in this scenario I let the jig land nice and softly next to the targeted structure. A lighter jig like a 1/4oz or 3/8oz is ideal. After waiting a moment to see whether a fish has picked up the jig, I pull the jig forward ever so slightly. Usually

Jigs showing the fibre weed guard differences: Bottom jig with a splayed apart guard gives the jig a softer guard. The centre jig is a standard brush guard straight out of the packet. The top jig with a pushed forward brush guard gives the jig a more rigid guard for fishing heavy timber and weed.

Jack Maunder was new to catching bass on a jig not that long ago. A quick lesson on the boat about rod setup and retrieves had him landing bass in no time flat.

the rod tip bending and the jig being dragged forward an inch is enough to make the skirt flare and move the craw legs. This movement alone is enough for a timid bite; there’s no need to aggressive work the jig.

If I haven’t got bit after two or three little movements with a 3-5 second pause in between, I burn the jig back in again and cast to the next specific target. These two trailer

styles and retrieves are my main stayers. I throw in variations like pausing longer or dragging quicker to mix things up if I’m not getting bites. Remember that is just a guide rather than a hard TOURNAMENT TACKLE STORE






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Tournament Angler Guide and fast rule. I’m sure if you have the patience and soaked a jig next to a laydown long enough, a fish would come along eventually. RIGGING Next is the rigging of the trailer. If you’re fishing in a river with heavy cover and overhanging branches where you need to skip cast, make sure you choose a bulky body style plastic. This body adds to the surface area and allows the jig to skip on the water’s surface a lot easier. The bulkier plastic also slows the fall for landing next to those prime laydowns and not spook the fish. When I want to fish the jig deeper and give it less resistance through the water, I go to a chunkstyle rigging. Instead of threading the craw all the way down the shank of the hook onto the plastic

keeper, I cut the craw head off and thread it straight onto the hook. This allows the jig to sink quickly back towards the bottom. I use this for fishing deeper water or forcing a reaction bite on the fall. Rigging the plastic chunk style also stops the trailer from tearing on fish. It simply slides down the shank after hooking the fish, and lasts multiple fish. Trimming the skirt is another thing I like to do, especially with a flapperstyle craw. I make sure the skirt is not too long to affect the craws legs from swimming. I trim back just behind where the legs attach to the bottom of the trailer. Typically I’ll make a jagged cut and maybe leave a couple of stands long to imitate antennae. There are no straight lines in nature, so I cut my skirt accordingly.

WEED GUARD The fibre weed guard or brush guard is a funny topic. I have spoken to a lot of anglers about this topic, and some feel the need to remove the weed guard totally or trim it right down. They say they do this for timid bites, or to prevent the fish from feeling the weed guard and spitting it out. I feel this is unnecessary. Cutting down or shortening the fibre guard makes it stiffer and harder to bend over, thus requiring a harder hook set. The ideal brush guard length is to the barb of the hook when it’s bent over. If I really want to make the guard softer to push down, I pull apart or splay the guard to create a V shape. This leaves the guard intact, and it still has its snagless capabilities while being softer to push

down. If you want to make the guard softer again, take one strand, bend it out and trim it off directly at the head of the jig. You must be careful when making the guard softer, as if it’s too soft it will remove the feature that makes the jig so different from other lures. There would be nothing worse than making an accurate cast only to have the jig lodge into some structure because the weed guard is too soft, causing you to miss an opportunity for a bass. Conversely, if I want to make my weed guard stiffer I will push it forward towards the hook eye. Fishing around thick weed or using a heavy jig in deep water around timber requires stiffer brush guards. Bend the guard to a near 90° angle to the hook shank. This will give more room for the guard to bend or flex before the jig becomes hung up in weed or timber. TRYING IT FOR YOURSELF In every scenario, you want to be able to make every cast count with your jig. You want to fish it as slow or as fast as you require without wasting casts. Remember that the fish believes it is eating a crawfish or yabby, and it’s expecting to pick up something heavy and sharp with nippers. Once you have fished a jig for a while you will come across fish that pick up your jig and spit it out multiple times. This is the fish trying to kill the craw before it eats it. There are tons of examples of this in videos from bass in the United States. Of course, just when you think you have the fish worked out, they up and change on what they were

Blue bird skies and clear water pulled the bass closer to cover. This is when the skirted jig really shines.

As more anglers start using jigs, we will learn more ways of catching fish on them. doing before. Each year has been different, and as more anglers come to use jigs we will learn more ways of catching fish on them. I’ve had many conversations with anglers about how they have caught fish on jigs, and thought to myself “I probably wouldn’t have thought to try that”. It’s great to see people thinking outside the box and pushing the theories behind it all. Hopefully this article has given you an insight

into the how and why of fishing a jig. For me, fishing a jig for bass isn’t about colours, specific trailers or brands, as the fish don’t discriminate. What matters is what you are doing with your jig, in what depth and next to what kind of structure. It’s about the jig being completely different from a moving bait. I hope this gets you thinking along the correct train of thought for your future bass fishing trips.


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Tournament Angler Guide

Tackling a new venue ABT

Joey Urquhart & Jamie McKeown

It’s one thing to explore a new waterway when you’re fishing socially, and quite another when you’re in a tournament situation and the pressure is on. However, plenty of tournament anglers succeed on waterways that they’ve never fished before, and you can too. Read on to discover the strategies used by two successful tournament pros: Joey Urquhart and Jamie McKeown.

JOEY URQUHART It’s been 10 years since I competed in my first ever ABT BASS event, and over this time the tournament scene has evolved, with new venues each and every year. These venues present competitors with challenges that they might not have faced before. Through this article, I will delve into how I approach a bass tournament on a venue I haven’t visited before the pre-fish. Hopefully these tips will help you the next time you visit a new area.

Mapping Earlier this year I won the BASS Electric event at Wyaralong Dam, which is a relatively new dam and has no real information available on how it fishes yet. I knew I had to do my homework before I showed up on pre-fish day if I wanted a chance of winning. The first step that’s crucial to your preparation for a new venue is researching maps, whether it’s Google Earth or social maps. This gives you a good look at the venue without actually being there, and it’s the best way

There’s no doubt about it, when you meet Archer, you’ll have a momentous experience.

Top: This beast unveiled Wyaralong’s secrets, and set up Joey Urquhart’s win at the dam. Sometimes it only takes one fish! Above: Regardless of the weather or number of boats on the water, if you have confidence you’re far more likely to succeed. 20

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to get a look at the different structure that’s in the lake. A great way of seeing what’s under the water is to look back on previous years of Google Earth where the water level may have been lower when the images were taken. It sometimes will unveil rock piles or trees you otherwise wouldn’t have known were there. Once I have a lay of the


Tournament Angler Guide lake I dissect it into different areas I would like to look at in pre-fish. These areas I pick are usually based on what I think look good, and which look like similar areas I would fish on similar venues. I then mark these areas into my GPS and use different map icons to separate the areas, allowing me to clearly separate different structure types. I put these locations in

Some venues have hundreds of kilometres of edges to fish, and the thought of having to survey so much water can be overwhelming.

order from my favourite to least favourite, to eliminate time wasted on pre-fish. Because I fish out of one of the smallest boats in the field, I often look for small feeder creeks and harder-toget-to areas that the larger boats can’t reach. Having previously found these via mapping, it allows for more fishing time come practice, and less time roaming around aimlessly. Rigging up Now that you have a firm grasp on the areas you would like to fish, it’s time to work out a technique and what lures you’re going to throw. I look at the time of year the tournament is being held, and rely on my knowledge of what techniques work on other venues at this time of year. I then prepare my tackle, covering the most obvious techniques. At Wyaralong Dam, I chose to rig my rods with a reaction bite approach, which consisted of lipless crankbaits, spinnerbaits and some larger topwater lures. I always rig 2-3 rods with the same lure I think will be the best choice, as the last thing you want to be doing on pre-fish is searching for lures in your tackle trays and wasting valuable time. I always allow a few spare rods to tie on what I

call the ‘out of the square’ lures. These are lures that you know work, but not necessarily at that lake and at that time of year. Still, they could be the thing that could make the difference. I had one of these lures tied on at Wyaralong Dam; it was a medium diving Japanese crankbait that proved crucial in my win. Arriving at the venue It’s now time to head off to the tournament, and I always pop into the nearest tackle store on the way. Don’t expect to have everything handed to you on a golden platter, but with most purchases will come some tips or tricks that may help you on the day. Because these snippets of information are very up to the minute, I find they are more useful than looking at previous results from the same venue. However, while getting advice can be useful, I advise against spending a lot of time listening to other people’s stories, as this can cloud your judgement and become very confusing. In any case, it’s more rewarding finding your own honey hole. I sometimes watch videos of the venue, but I watch them to see what the lake looks like more then to look at the techniques used To page 22

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Tournament Angler Guide

From page 21

by the angler. Once you have reached your accommodation, it’s good to drive to the ramp to make yourself aware of how everyone will launch the following morning for practice – plus it’s nice to finally get a visual of the lake. A valuable piece of advice is to stick to your plan with your previously rigged rods. After talking to friends at your accommodation you will have other ideas running through your mind, as those guys may have been there themselves before. Stick to your plan for the practice day, because you will regret changing it if it all goes pear-shaped! Pre-fish It’s now pre-fish morning and it’s time to put all your research to work. I usually head for my furthest location so I can fish it at prime time, then bounce from spot to spot, rotating through my chosen lures. As a rule, if 10am comes and I am yet to find any decent signs of fish, I generally pick up one of my out-of-thesquare lures and run and gun random spots, trying to make something happen. This year at Wyaralong Dam it was 9:30am and I hadn’t seen any signs of fish, and I did exactly that – and pulled a

2kg+ fish straight away. I moved down the lake and found an area that looked nothing like where I had caught my previous fish, but I liked the look of it anyway. Before long I pulled another big fish. That area turned out to be where I would win the tournament, and I only achieved it by adapting throughout the day and not getting stuck in a rut. If your pre-fish didn’t go to plan and you have absolutely nothing to go on for the first day of the comp, my advice is stay confident. At no stage should you think you can’t work them out, and definitely never give up. Tomorrow is a new day. The tournament begins Tournament morning is now about to start and the rest is now up to you. If you found some sort of pattern the previous day, stick to it, although if things aren’t going to plan by mid-morning, I would definitely abandon that plan for the moment. Try to scrape something together somewhere else to settle your nerves and keep yourself in contention. You can never win a tournament on the first day, but you can definitely lose one. Don’t try doing what the rest of the field is doing if you’re not confident in it. At the end of the day

Jamie McKeown knows that prior research is important. It’s not enough to just rock up and hope for the best! confidence is the key, and you’re far better sticking to something you know you can catch fish on. I hope some off these tips will help you out the next

Aberdeen Fishing & Outdoors

time you’re in an unfamiliar area, and see you putting some fish in your livewell. JAMIE MCKEOWN Tournament fishing a new venue can be daunting

to say the least. There are a lot of important factors to consider. However, with a computer and some spare time you can cover off on most of them.


I started fishing the ABT BREAM tournaments in 2012, and back then all venues were new to me. I soon learned that just showing up and trying to find good areas during a 1-day pre-fish wasn’t good enough. After having a few expensive lessons, I have learned to start my preparation for new venues months before the actual tournament is scheduled to run. The first part of my preparation, and most important, relates to safety. I don’t want to run my boat into submerged rock walls or trees, or injure my non-boater or myself, so I start by going onto www.abt. and finding out where the launch and weigh-in sites will be. Then I go to one of the many tide and weather websites and see what the moon phase will be, and check the tides for the date of the tournament. This is not only for planning safe navigation areas, but also for planning areas to fish. The last thing I want is to get stuck on a flat with a good limit in the livewell, and not be able to return in time for the weigh-in. Once I have done all of this, I the research and download a map (if available) from C-Map Genesis Social




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Maps. It usually provides a very detailed map of the arena, but the downside is that it’s only for Lowrance users. An alternative is to use the Navionics app on your phone. On this map you can view depth contours, channel markers and any unsafe ground. The app is not free, but $26 is a lot cheaper than having to repair a destroyed prop or hull. After I have worked out safe navigation areas, I start


Tournament Angler Guide researching where I want to fish. I want to catch fish in areas that best suit my skills. For me it is pointless trying to reinvent the wheel for myself, and attempt to catch fish on a technique I have never used or have no confidence in, so I look for areas that suit my style of fishing. My first port of call is Google Maps. It usually has pretty good up-to-date maps and resolution so I can see

Having a good pre-fish day allowed Joey Urquhart to put together a winning bag of 3.37kg at Wyaralong Dam.

bridges, weed flats or rocky points that I can look at on the pre-fish day. Once I have picked out some areas, I look to see whether there has ever been a tournament held on the arena before. There usually has been, and if you do a bit of digging you can usually find the results. I like to research these results, and try to find an event that was held around the same time of year as the tournament I’m planning on fishing. This way I can work out average bag weights, and see if I’m headed in the right direction with areas I have already identified on Google Maps. This search can be expanded depending on how much spare time you have, but this is why I start my research months before the tournament. I then turn to social media, I use Facebook to find fishing groups or pages that have been started in the area to get an idea of how the arena is currently fishing. After all, searching old tournament results may only tell you how the system used to fish; so much could have changed since then. I then search YouTube to see if there are any videos that locals may have posted, and also go back through old AFC DVDs. This can

sometimes give me an idea of lure patterns and colours. The information and lures may be old, but the bream haven’t changed too much as to what they like to eat. This brings me to pre-fish. Depending on time, money and distance, I try to plan a pre-fish about a month out from the tournament. I try my hardest to plan the trip on the exact same tide and moon phases the tournament will be on. This way I can take my time sounding around, marking safe or unsafe areas on my GPS, and of course fish the specific areas I have already identified. I don’t have to be concerned with stinging fish that I may want to be catching the following day in the tournament, I can work out if spots will replenish, spend two days fishing instead of one, and determine whether I have to go completely back to the drawing board and work out new areas. I use a lot of technology in my research and preparation prior to ever seeing a venue, but after arriving and getting on the water, a lot comes down to instinct. Some areas may look a lot fishier than Google Maps can ever give justice to, and I’d be stupid not to have a cast, even if it’s just for 10 minutes. It’s important to be able to

Mapping unveils hidden gems like creeks and drains that would normally be hard to find. adapt to any conditions or situations that may be thrown your way. Combine the knowledge you have gathered through technology with your past experiences and instincts, and you have a

recipe for success. Preparation can be time-consuming, but let’s face it – with the cost of fuel and accommodation, it’s always nice to try and drive home with a cheque in your pocket!

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Tournament Angler Guide

The early days of ABT FMG

Bob Thornton

This year Australian Bass Tournaments celebrates 20 years. Two decades has seen the company go from strength to strength, helping to shape the fishing, boating and tackle industries in Australia. These days each event sees a flotilla of sleek looking fibre-glass bass boats, each armed to the teeth with the latest and greatest tackle and gadgets, and some

of the anglers have even appeared on television. In the beginning though, things were very different, and the road hasn’t always been a smooth one. It’s hard to believe that the first proper ABT event was held on Lake Moogerah in Queensland’s South East 20 years ago in 1999. There were 31 boats bobbing around the ramp before a very chaotic and smoky shotgun start. There were few fibreglass bass boats, no Jackalls, no Squigies and no UPF 50+ fishing shirts –

just a fleet of tiller-steered tinnies with an assortment of Aussie-made lures, and lots and lots of sandals and short shorts. Peter Keidge won that event. He was throwing spinnerbaits. So much has changed in 20 years, with many waves of innovation and development flooding the fishing world. Lots of these big changes came about as a result of that first event, and the many that followed in the years after. ABT truly changed the face of Australian fishing. And Set ups in the late ‘90s were simple, but still attracted plenty of competitors, as can be seen by all the cars in the carpark in the background.

Top: Early on almost all the boats at BASS events were aluminium punts with an average of 30hp. Bow-mounted electric motors were still seen as a novelty. Above: Tim Morgan dominated the early BREAM series, and was at home fishing the Gold Coast waters in the early 2000s. 24

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although plenty of others have tried to emulate ABT and failed, ABT remains the leader in the field. THE VERY BEGINNING In 1998, two members of the Moreton Bay Game Fishing Club (MBGFC), with help from the club, decided to run a two-day freshwater tournament at Maroon Dam in South East Queensland. This was to be ABT’s trial event. Steve Morgan and Steve Bain had both travelled and fished in tournaments overseas, and had an idea to start a tournament series like the ones they were exposed to in the USA, Japan and South Africa. Gordon Macdonald from

Brisbane won that event, and said the competition really opened his eyes. “I’d fished a few tournaments with the club [MBGFC], but this was a totally different format,” he said. “There were three sessions over two days of fishing, it was cast and retrieve only, and we were required to bring our fish in live, which was very different to the tournaments I’d fished before that.” This event also employed a system that paired those who had boats with those who didn’t, otherwise known as a boater/non-boater format, which comes from the American system. On the day, Gordon decided to try a slightly

different approach to the rest of the field, choosing to throw spinnerbaits. “No one else was really throwing them,” he said. “Many people were just casting the bibbed lures they would have usually trolled with” “I knew people in the US were using them to catch their bass, and I’d been experimenting with a few myself.” “Back then, Kokoda spinnerbaits were about the only ones you could get here, so that’s what I used.” Spinnerbaits was the first of many crazes that started with ABT tournaments, and countless events since then have been won by casting and retrieving these curious

contraptions. Queensland’s Harry Watson of Jackall fame was the first BASS Pro Grand Final winner in 1999, winning himself a trip to fish a BASS Event at Lake Orroville, California. Brett


Tournament Angler Guide Thomson from Queensland, a man well ahead of his time as far as fishing techniques were concerned, won the first Angler of The Year title that same year. These names will always be remembered by those who

Brett Thomson, pictured here in 1999, won the first two BASS Pro AOY titles (1999 and 2000).

fished the early tournaments, but there was so much more to come. LEARNING TO CRAWL It wasn’t long after the BASS Pro series kicked off that ABT introduced a BASS Electric series, for those who fished in the many electric only impoundments scattered throughout Queensland and NSW. As the first few seasons of the BASS Pro and BASS Electric series travelled up and down the east coast of SEQ and NSW, certain switched-on individuals began to emerge at the pointy end of the leader board regularly. John Schofield from Brisbane was one of those anglers, and he, like many others had participated in the 1998 trial event and got a taste for it. John has scored many event wins in both the BASS Pro and BASS Electric series, and his signature technique was fly fishing with a fly that he created. The fly is well-known not just in tournament fishing circles, but to the wider fishing community, and even overseas. The Bass Vampire fly, so named because of John’s then job of driving trucks for the blood bank, has over time

been reproduced into many different sizes and variations, much to John’s delight. “The Bass Vampire came about because I really liked my fly fishing, and I actually dreamt it!” he said. “I woke up, and the dream had been so clear that I was able to draw it on a note pad, and then I eventually sat down and tied it up.” In John’s time fishing tournaments, he got to witness the changes in the fishing, tackle and boating industry, and the trickle down effect the tournaments were having on the general public. “I can remember before the tournaments took off, you’d pull you’re boat up to the ramp at Boondoooma Dam, and there would be people holidaying, or famers just out for a fish, and they’d have a sinker and live shrimp hanging from their rods,” he said. “As time went on, these same boats would have ice jigs, Sliders, and then eventually Jackalls replacing the sinkers and shrimps.” “I can also remember in the early days a few 70-boat fields of mostly mostly tiller steer engines, which were a cross section of outboard brands, but after a few anglers got Mercury sponsorships, all of a sudden 60-70% of boaters were using Mercury outboards.”

Ex-tournament director Simon Goldsmith fished the BARRA trial event at Teemburra in 2004. Most of the fish were only small compared to the 1m+ beasts that come out of this waterway now. BREAMIN’ With the success of the BASS Pro tournament series, introducing a new series seemed like the next logical step. BASS tournaments in America were centred around a species that exists

in every state in the USA (except Alaska), and this is why the species is so popular and marketable. The two Steves put their heads together to find a species that was as accessible as bass in America, and after To page 26


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Tournament Angler Guide

From page 25

much consideration, it was to be the humble bream that would make ABT a truly national tournament series. Although only a small fish, they exist in every state and territory (except ACT) and appeal to a wide range

responsive bream are to lure angling, and was able to dominate the scene in the early years. Tim won the first ever BREAM event in 2000, which was held on the Gold Coast. “I don’t think there was a huge amount of people

Tim was also in the interesting position of being both an angler and a sponsor, as at the time he was working for BLA, who import Humminbird products. “To be competitive, we wanted every advantage we could get,” he said. “For

Stessl tournament boats were considered state-of the art in the early days.

Jason Wilhelm had a huge influence on techniques for impoundment barramundi, and won several events on his home lakes and further afield. of tactics and techniques – although most Australian anglers did not know this – yet! Tim Morgan was one man who knew just how

using lures for bream,” he said. “I think ABT really helped bream to become not only a bait species, but also a lure species in people’s minds,” he said.

example in the early days we used floats to mark our spots, but with the advent of GPS technology [which Humminbird provided] our fishing became much easier.”

“Tournaments have definitely raised the bar of tackle used in Australia, and helped many of these products to enter the market.” Anglers like Tim, as well as others such as Mike Delisser, Mick Lee, Andrew Howard and the Metcalf brothers Chris and Michael were all continually pushing the envelope, and paving the way forward with their breaming techniques and sharing them with others. If you’ve ever wanted to know what those first few series were like, you can find out by watching Breamin’ I & II, a DVD that covers the 2001 ABT BREAM series! This really helped get tournament fishing out to a wider audience, and featured

some then revolutionary techniques, and guitar music from none other than Tommy Emmanuel. If you ever get the chance, it’s still worth the watch today. The ABT Bream series has to date travelled to six states in Australia, and given away many amazing boat/ trailer prize packages to those lucky enough to win a Grand Final. GOING NORTH With the BREAM and BASS Pro series roaring along, it was decided that in 2005, following a trial event at Teemburra Dam in 2004, that ABT would include a impoundment barramundi series to their calendar. This created a lot of excitement within the fishing community,

but it wasn’t without its hurdles in the early stages. Jason Wilhelm, who was living in Gladstone at the time, was an angler who had been bitten by the impoundment barra bug a few years earlier. Excited by the prospect of a BARRA series, he jumped at the opportunity to throw his hat in the ring when ABT finally came to Lake Awoonga, his favourite barra dam at the time. However, the first draw event didn’t really go to plan, because while the boater/ non-boater format had been popular with bream and bass anglers, it just wasn’t going to work with the barra community. Where the teams format was successful, the To page 28

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From page 26

first event had three boater entries, and after that the format was canned and reverted to the teams style. “I suppose because impoundment barra fishing was in its infancy, lots of people tended to want to fish with their mates, and they were very guarded on their methods,” Jason said. “The logical choice was a teams event, but I really hope ABT can revisit the boater/ non-boater format further down the road – it’s probably a matter of waiting until the less experienced have caught up.” The early BARRA

tournaments were run in a format that permitted two anglers to fish together, but they were competing individually. Some early problems with this format saw the BARRA Tour eventually became a series of team events. Just like with The BASS and BREAM series, the BARRA events encouraged considerable growth in the impoundment barramundi scene, and Jason witnessed this growth first hand. “Everyone had to up their game, and there’s no doubt ABT influenced a lot of now readily accepted techniques,” he said. “Fast

frogging is a good example.” And even though BARRA events didn’t use the same boater/non-boater format that encouraged the sharing of knowledge, many barra anglers were still happy to share some of their techniques and develop the fishery. The process was slower than with BASS and BREAM, but it was ticking along. “In my experience, the top barra guys did pass on their techniques and embraced the ABT’s ‘who shares wins’ mantra,” Jason said. “A lot of anglers just weren’t fishing as competitively as they would

The late Dave Irvine (front) and Gordon Macdonald (rear) work some of Moogerah’s standing timber with spinnerbaits in an early ABT event.

have in the BASS and BREAM events.” While Jason was a force to be reckoned with early on, there were others that had him constantly looking over his shoulder, such as Jason Medcalf and the Taylor brothers Kerrin and Cy. While it’s evident the BARRA series is still lagging in some ways behind the other series, its continual growth is promising for the future, with each year’s series teaching the angling world more about these incredible fish. AFC It would be remiss of not to mention the Australian Fishing Championships (AFC) series that kicked off in 2004. Co-developed by ABT (which also acted as a feeder series), AFC got the best bream, bass and barra tournament anglers in Australia, put them head to head, and aired it on Channel 10 – back when there were few options on the box. The classy production would thrust tournament fishing in Australia to an even wider audience than the magazines and newsletters ever could. The series saw anglers like Harry Watson, Jason Wilhelm, Matthew Mott, Darren Borg and more become household names in the wider fishing community.

Harry Watson won the first BASS Pro Grand Final in 1999, and was known for consistently catching fish of this calibre. That’s one young Hank! AFC is still running, and although running independent of ABT, it still brings the exciting antics of tournament fishing to Australian and Asian living rooms. THAT’S ALL HISTORY These little bits of history formed the foundation for the

ABT we see today, and all this happened in the first 5-6 years. Thinking about what lies down the track is exciting, and while many things are uncertain, one thing that isn’t is that ABT will continue to help develop the fishing, tackle and boating industry in Australia.



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Tournament Angler Guide

ABT’s 2018 Champions!

Although we all love fishing ABT events just for fun, at the end of the day Direct injection optimizes we also love doing well. all elements of how fuel is And sometimes it’s not delivered into the cylinder and about the prize money or combusted fuel is removed, the trophies. We just want * creating the most efficient to do the best we can. ABT has ways of engine on the water today. The only outboard that let’s you have it all. measuring performance. At the end of each season , we crown the Grand Final Champions and Anglers of the Year, the Australian Open Champions Teams The onlyand outboard that let’s you have it all. of the Year. Let’s take a look at the 2018 Champions. BARRA * Breaking a three-year streak, The Likely Lads (Geoff that Newby The only outboard let’sand you Phill have it all. Lyons) added three wins Direct injection optimizes to their 6th placing at the opening event to win the all elements of how fuel is Zerek BARRA Tour Team delivered into the cylinder and of the Year. It was great combusted fuel is removed, to see the 120+ combined * years of experience pay off creating the most efficient for these guys. engine on the water today. The only outboard that let’s you have it BASS all. Direct injection optimizes Terry Allwood won the all elements of how fuel is BASS Pro Angler of the delivered into the cylinder and Stuart Walker made it four in a row taking Year over Armidale’s Mark The only outboard that let’s you have it all. out the 2018 BREAM non-boater AOY. Can Lennox. The South Burnett combusted fuel is removed, N GOVE A I RN L * RA he make it five in a row in 2019? Basser showed his versatility creating the most efficient across the dams and rivers engine on the water today. The only outboard that let’s you have it all. to take the title, however Charles ‘Westy’ West blitzed won two events but wasn’t Taree’s Kris Hickson last year’s AOY? Well, it in contention come the DIRECT INJECTION O N M maintained the top spot for was a much closer race in final Qualifier of the year. S O , C S TA NDARD BASS Pro Rankings. 2018, with Nathan Swanson Steve Morgan pipped Cam *Evinrude G2’s have 30% more torque than any competitive four-stroke outboard, the Evinrude® E-TEC® G2® delivers the most torque in its class (based on Dyno Terry always manages to taking the title after a close Whittam at South West testing at BRP’s Sturtevant, WI engineering department). E-TEC G2 outboards produce less CO than any 150hp outboard on the market (source: 2017 EPA certification database). All Evinrude G2 outboards include leading technology: i-Trim Automatic trim system, I-steer dynamic power steering and i-Contol digital shift and throttle. put fish in the box when it finish at the Convention Rocks to take the title, with Whittam falling short of a mattered – a trait true for all at Wivenhoe. of the Anglers of the Year. Not wanting to take any limit on the final day. non-boating Converting an extra bite or time out of the spotlight, ACT two a session into hook ups Westy brought in a killer breamer and Grand Final makes all the difference. final-day bag to win the Winner Stuart Walker Dylan ‘Pylon’ Byron Casino Outdoors and waltzed his way to claim beat Mathew Flynn Disposals BASS Electric AOY. Can anyone beat by 5 points to win the Convention at Wivenhoe him in 2019? non-boater trophy. and score a free trip to the And, of course, we all Shaun Falkenhagen Osaka Tackle Show with Joe remember Jason Mayberry’s grabbed the $10,000 Urquhart. They will be there win at the biggest event of payday at the Grand Final around the same time this the year – beating 44 of Australia’s finest breamers at Somerset, while Peter magazine hits the shelves. over three venues in Phelps helped himself BREAM to another $10,000 at the It was a tight race for Gippsland to take home a Storm BASS Australian the Costa BREAM Series $60,000 boat package. done Jason Open at Glenbawn. Angler of the Year in the Well BASS ELECTRIC boater division. You know and well done to all We all remember how it’s tough when Kris Hickson winners in 2018! IAN GOVER

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S have 30% more torque *Evinrude G2’s C O than any competitive four-stroke outboard, the Evinrude® E-TEC® G2® delivers the most torque in its class (based on Dyno S TA NDAR testing at BRP’s Sturtevant, WIDengineering department). E-TEC G2 outboards produce less CO than any 150hp outboard on the market (source: 2017 EPA certification database). All Evinrude G2 outboards include leading technology: i-Trim Automatic trim system, I-steer dynamic power steering and i-Contol digital shift and throttle.


*Evinrude G2’s have 30% more torque than any competitive four-stroke outboard, the Evinrude® E-TEC® G2® delivers the most torque in its class (based on Dyno







*Evinrude have 30% more torque any competitive four-stroke outboard, the Evinrude®produce E-TEC® G2® delivers the most torque inoutboard its class (based onmarket Dyno (source: 2017 EPA certification testingG2’s at BRP’s Sturtevant, WI than engineering department). E-TEC G2 outboards less CO than any 150hp on the testing at BRP’sAll Sturtevant, WIG2 engineering department). E-TEC G2 outboards produce CO than trim any 150hp outboard on the marketpower (source:steering 2017 EPAand certification database). Evinrude outboards include leading technology: i-Trim less Automatic system, I-steer dynamic i-Contol digital shift and throttle. database). All Evinrude G2 outboards include leading technology: i-Trim Automatic trim system, I-steer dynamic power steering and i-Contol digital shift and throttle.






*Evinrude G2’s have 30% more torque than any competitive four-stroke outboard, the Evinrude® E-TEC® G2® delivers the most torque in its class (based on Dyno testing at BRP’s Sturtevant, WI engineering department). E-TEC G2 outboards produce less CO than any 150hp outboard on the market (source: 2017 EPA certification database). All Evinrude G2 outboards include leading technology: i-Trim Automatic trim system, I-steer dynamic power steering and i-Contol digital shift and throttle.

*Evinrude G2’s have 30% more torque than any competitive four-stroke outboard, the Evinrude® E-TEC® G2® delivers the most torque in its class (based on Dyno testing at BRP’s Sturtevant, WI engineering department). E-TEC G2 outboards produce less CO than any 150hp outboard on the market (source: 2017 EPA certification database). All Evinrude G2 outboards include leading technology: i-Trim Automatic trim system, I-steer dynamic power steering and i-Contol digital shift and throttle.

vers the most torque in its class (based on Dyno outboard on the market (source: 2017 EPA certification power steering and i-Contol digital shift and throttle. 30 TAG 2019 abt

Terry Allwood from the South Burnett had what it took to take out the 2018 BASS Pro Angler of the Year.

Tournament Angler Guide



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Inshore fishing is incredible WHITSUNDAYS

Mick Underwood

Well that’s the holiday season behind us again for another year. The little kids are back at school and

many species of fish. I’m not going to rattle on about what’s been going on offshore this month as I haven’t been out there once myself and I’m unaware of anybody else who’s tried to venture out wide.

so that they can venture out to the shoals and beyond. I’ll be plying my trade close inshore most of this month as there is so much activity to be found on and around our shallow inshore reefs. This is one of my

Scotty Busk with an armful of golden trevally. These fish will feature a lot more in the coming months, especially up in the shallow country. most of us bigger kids are back to the regular grind. For those of you who got to have a break, I hope you enjoyed it and got to slay a few good fish. For me there were no breaks, as it has been peak season with plenty of people keen to get out, enjoy some time on our pristine local waters and catch a tasty fish or two. The results recently have been pretty good considering that the weather has consistently done its best to keep us out of the fray. We have had to endure so many days with the breeze being in excess of 25 knots that I have nearly forgotten when it was that we last had a calm day. We are blessed here at Hydeaway Bay that unless it’s a northerly it doesn’t matter what it blows, there is still some userfriendly country to enjoy a productive fish on. Due to the winds a lot of anglers have put their time into working our local estuaries, which hasn’t been a bad ploy, as there has been plenty on offer. The recent rains have pushed the mud crabs downstream towards the mouths of our local creeks and they have been big, full and plentiful. The same rains have also stirred the prawns up and on some days they have been in plague proportions. This is awesome to see, as it won’t matter how many people get with their cast nets, only a small percentage of these critters will get caught and the majority of them will make it out into Edgecumbe Bay and beyond to provide a stable food source for so

The close to home inshore grounds are where we’ve all been hanging out and that hasn’t been a bad thing, as there have been some nice

David Muller with a decent coral trout. Now is the time of the year to get stuck into these bad boys.

Local lad, Paul Osborne with a solid cod.

favourite periods of the year to smash some big fat coral trout. If we get lucky enough to get some degree of water clarity then various forms of

Reef Underwood (8yo) with one of many beaut buck muddies that have been getting caught recently. fish on offer. The pelagic fishing has been patchy but the shallow reefs have been firing nicely and most anglers have come home with a tasty feed of coral trout and various species of cod. One interesting observation from recent times (and much to my personal bemusement) is that lure fishing the shallow reefs has been tough going and the majority of the better fish have been caught on conventional cut baits soaked down near the bottom. This has been due to the water being so stirred up and dirty from the constant run of windy weather. February and March can be a tough ones, as they are the two most unstable months of the year with regards to the weather. I know that any budding offshore anglers will be praying for a break

lure fishing will be the go. If it remains as it is now, then the lures will stayed stowed away and there will be plenty of bait getting cut up. Out off Dingo Beach the fringing reefs that wrap around Saddleback and Mantaray islands as well as Georges Point will all be throwing good fish and in these areas the ebb tide is when the big boys will have a chew. A little further to the north, Gloucester and Middle islands will be good places for a trout hunt. It can be hard to pick in

these areas whether the fish are going to bite on the flood or the ebb, but around the turn of the tide is generally reliable. I’m hoping that the reefies won’t be the only fish to chase inshore this month. If we are lucky enough to have some bait schools around then there should be some light tackle fun to be had on the pelagics as well. Amongst the culprits to be found hopefully there will be some XOS golden trevally, giant trevally, queenfish and school mackerel to be caught. If you happen to come across a patch of school mackerel then put one or two out live and unweighted with a 10/0 hook through their back. Don’t balloon them, just give them a heap of line and let them swim around

freely. You’ll be amazed at the results that you’ll get from this little ploy. I imagine that our local estuaries will see plenty of activity over the coming

weeks as well. With the barramundi season being back under way there will be plenty of anglers trying to get a couple of these iconic sportfish. I only hope that the pros don’t choke the systems with their nets as they did last year and completely wreck things for us recreational anglers. Up in the creeks there will also be plenty of golden snapper and mangrove jack to get after, the mud crabs will be out and about and if the rains persist there will be prawns aplenty as well. Whatever your angling aspirations are over the next month, good luck with them, there is going to be plenty on offer for you all, you’ve just got to get out

Aspiring young angler Luc Yllera was the star of his family’s fishing trip catching this delicious trout for their dinner.

Allan Kelly with a stomper of a cod that fell victim to a live bait set down near the bottom.

there and have a go. • Reel Addiction Sport Fishing Charters specialises in light tackle fishing for all tropical sportfishing species on fly, lures and bait. Reel Addiction operates from the beautiful Cape Gloucester Beach Resort, 40 minutes’ drive north of Airlie Beach. Combined fishing charter and accommodation packages are available. For more information, contact Mick Underwood on 0413 882 153 or email mick@reeladdiction. Resort enquiries can be directed to Julie Houston on (07) 4945 7242 or at au. To stay in touch with what’s biting, check out the Reel Addiction Sport Fishing Whitsundays page on Facebook. FEBRUARY 2019


Red and gold make up the prized catches AYR

Steve Farmer

The last month or two has seen average fishing results overall for Burdekin anglers, with the limiting factors usually being weather related. Extremely hot conditions, the threat of a tropical cyclone, strong southeast winds and storms have all, to varying degrees, made a day down the creek less appealing than it might otherwise have been. For those who did brave the elements, mangrove jack and golden snapper were the prized catch with a variety of lures and baits producing the goods. The exciting news is that if we don’t get a heap of rain (which will not be a good outcome for much of the state) Burdekin anglers can expect the jack and golden snapper action to continue throughout February. Lure casters should do particularly well on mangrove jack in the relatively clear conditions. Small (up to 10cm) minnows, either hardbodies or soft plastics, are usually

the go-to lure for flickers. Many flickers like a deep diving hardbody that

over (rather than hooking up on) submerged roots and snags.

Mangrove jack and golden snapper have been the prized catches in Burdekin estuaries. kicks into action almost immediately and has a tendency to bump its way

The other stalwarts of the estuaries, flathead, have been hit and miss lately

with lizard numbers and sizes patchy at best. Classic flathead spots that usually produce a fish or two have been dead lately and anglers will need to move around and work hard to find a feed. Remember that this is stinger season and if you must wade the flats in search of lizards it may pay to have a couple of litres of vinegar and a trained firstaider who knows how to treat a sting close by. The best bet is to stay out of the water as much as possible. Other estuarine species such as salmon, trevally and queenfish have been feeding on the rising tides in many Burdekin estuaries. Flats and holes close to creek mouths are good spots to target for these speedsters, or venture outside if conditions permit. Grunter are the other prized estuary and inshore species, if the Burdekin delta doesn’t flood and fishing conditions remain clear. Sharp hooks and light tackle will take these tasty table fish. Best baits – especially in more open, inshore waters – may include squid, whole dead or live herring or mullet,

and carefully-presented slabbed mullet or whiting. In the creeks prawn, yabby and slab baits will tempt smaller fish. FEBRUARY BARRA ACTION This month barra are bound to be the hot topic whenever two or more Burdekin fishers are within conversation range. The barramundi closed season ends on 1 February at midday and I’m sure keen anglers will be firing lures and live baits at any half-decent waterways throughout the district. Mind you, as usual, success or otherwise won’t rely just on an angler’s skill and knowledge, but also on what the weather dishes up. To date the river hasn’t had a decent fresh in it, but that could change before the barra season opens. As usual at this time of year, even a minor wet season could easily see the barra fishing, indeed all estuary fishing, washed out for weeks or months to come. Assuming river levels stay low and clean, prime spots to try for barra include the creeks in Upstart Bay, Groper, Barrattas and Morriseys creeks and the

Burdekin and Haughton rivers. While these are the waterways renowned for producing quality fish, any estuary or beach across the delta will be worth a try if conditions are good. Recommended tactics for these conditions will include trolled and cast lures (larger rather than smaller) and live baits of mullet, herring or whiting, remembering that whiting used as bait must still be at least legal size. If you can fish a few extra outfits from your boat you could try presenting a couple of different baits, fishing some on the bottom and some under a float. If one particular bait attracts more attention than the others, switch your other rigs to that bait or technique. If a fresh in the river sends muddy water throughout the district’s estuaries, keen barra anglers might have to change tactics slightly and travel a bit further. For example, live baits will be far more effective in muddy conditions than lures will and distant waters, such as those along Cape Upstart, will be less affected by the outflow from the river.


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Targeting early season barra TOWNSVILLE

Dave Hodge

A long awaited bit of rain helped get things moving in the bay and for some of the creeks and rivers, and barra were just impossible to avoid over the last couple of months. It didn’t matter what we threw or where we threw it during closed season, it got eaten by barra. One example of this was the morning my young fella and I went for a quick look for some golden snapper not too far from town. It was due to blow up, and I didn’t expect to be out for too long, but as the weather prediction was amazingly incorrect we decided to head a bit further out to where the bigger golden snapper reside. It was 38ft deep and quite lumpy, but calming off. The first bite was a cracker, and there was obviously a bit of weight to this one. I couldn’t believe it when the slab of silver shot up towards the surface and launched skywards. We’d done our best to avoid any intercepted ‘large mouthed pink eyed leaping perch’, but it didn’t seem to matter where we went, they were charging down every type of lure we threw, from 3” stuff meant for grunter, to big Madeye Paddle Prawns fished deep for golden snapper. It seems that almost every one has been doing the right thing though, and the countless stories of barra encounters have ended with their quick release. So, now approaches the time that you are allowed to chase them, and the areas we fish will be different depending on whether we receive any more decent rain. If we get a bit of rain then I’d be starting to look up towards the upper reaches of some of the bigger systems, and those ones that have expansive salt flats behind the mangrove line are great spots

Santa delivered a new baitcaster to the author’s young fella this year, and his first fish was this freshy, cast up on a 5” paddle-tailed shad. With a bit more rain on the horizon, they will be scouring the fresh for that monster metre-plus in coming weeks. to look. Also, land locked lagoons and billabongs that are linked to the salt during times of wet season run-off can hold incredible numbers of fish that can be found where the obvious colour change of fresh meeting salt is identified. One really cool observation that you may be able to see is the jelly prawn schools that often congregate where drains enter the main systems, and barra can be clearly seen boofing them from the surface. It’s quite incredible to watch, and some pretty decent fish can be clearly seen smashing the tiny crustaceans as if they were a much bigger target. Here is the perfect example of ‘matching the hatch’. I remember throwing all of my favourite barra lures into the feeding frenzy, just to see them get ignored cast after cast. Sitting and observing closely the relevant bait size that was on the surface indicated my error, and from the first cast with the 3” Prong, the action didn’t stop

for an hour or so, with some reasonable fish of up around 80cm getting involved. Light 6-10lb braid and

20-30lb Unitika FC leader was the best way to present these little things, and while I did get rubbed off once, the strike rate was exceptional. Over the years there has been one simple equation to getting the most action possible with lures, and that is the lighter the leader, the more bite you’ll get. Although I know when barra are in full on feed mode eating baitfish, the use of 80lb leader doesn’t seem to deter them and I’ve also witnessed that. It’s when the action is all happening around you but your rod remains straight that you might want to try lightening up on the leader side to test the theory for yourself. There are a couple of things worth noting. First of all, make sure it’s a quality fluorocarbon as a cheap one is going to get rubbed through much quicker. Second of all, make sure that the outfit you’re casting it on is appropriate for the light line thing, not a brute stick, stump puller meant for whopper stopping, as these sorts of outfits will restrict your casting ability to spitting

During times of rainy periods, it’s possible to pull up on the side of the road and catch a barra gorging on small baitfish exiting the lagoons and billabongs. Small lures are often the key to success here. tiny little hops to keep it just under the surface being best. An additional security measure you may want to make is to put on what’s known as a bite leader. This

If the rains don’t eventuate, then grunter will be up in the rivers, and another target for the light line stuff. Small Prongs, Paddle Prawns and 3” Minnows will bring them undone most of the time.

Top-notch hooks are needed to ensure the best hook ups, and the Seeker EWG 6/0 and 7/0 are at the top of the list of mid sized weedless hooks.

distance, and pop through light leader material much quicker. Longer softer rods and a reel with a quality drag is a very important combination to be able to effectively fish the tiny lures. The longer rod is a dampener for the head shakes and jumps and the reels drag needs to release line smoothly to avoid busting it off. Leaders of around 2m long are about right. For the 3” plastics that need to be presented up shallow, around 1/6oz jighead weights with a #1 to #2 hook size in the heavier gauge wire are best for this. Another very successful combination is the 4” Madeye Paddle Prawn fished on the 1/4oz head with 1/0-2/0 hook size, again in the heavy wire. Retrieves are nothing complicated, with

is quite simply a short length of slightly heavier leader material of around 30cm added to the end of your lighter main leader length to combat the abrasive jaw lining of the barra. Now, let’s just say that the rains do their normal thing and completely miss Townsville at this time of year. In this case I’d be looking more toward the river mouths in deeper holes during the tide run, and up on the shallow flats during the first of the push in tide. There are plenty of little drains and flats and stuff (even in the middle of town) that hold fish during the these brief feed times. It’s all about the best timing, and being there at the right time will put you in with a much better chance of success.

The biggest tip that I can give for the light line stuff is when you hook up, don’t panic and put too much hurt on. Barra are more of a sumo wrestler than an UFC fighter, and if you could imaging lining those two up next to each other for a 200m dash, who would win? In other words, barra have plenty of weight and power, but lack quite significantly on the stamina side, so runs aren’t long sustained events, but more short powerful bursts with the odd jump thrown in to make them look athletic. It takes surprisingly little effort to turn them once they’ve used up those energy reserves, though the end of a longer fight can give you a nervous sort of feeling, as you make sure not to get over zealous with a potentially damaged leader. It’s really only when you’re fishing hard structure such as timber, rock or artificial concrete or timber structures that you’ll need to employ the ‘come here gear’, and in this case 20-30lb braid and 40-50lb leaders are needed with the use of bigger lures. I’ve written heaps in the past about the weirs in Townsville and the phenomenal fishing that can be had there during times of run-off, so I won’t bore you with repetitious writings, but whatever you do, don’t forget about them when things are tough and you’re looking for somewhere to wet a line. The best we can wish for for future stocks and natural recruitment is that towards the end of the closed season we get a flood and barra get a chance to do what they need to do to sustain their population before the nets get set. So, get ready for what will hopefully be a great barra season, and I wish you all plenty of big fish and lifetime memories. FEBRUARY 2019


The most anticipated month of the year HINCHINBROOK

Ryan Moody

The past few weeks have been a bit wet and wild in the north and that makes for less fishing opportunities for recreational anglers. This naturally means that reports are few and far between, but it has also been an interesting start

What the rest of the season will bring is yet to be seen, but we sure are enjoying it so far, even if we have to sacrifice the fishing somewhat. Some of my golden snapper students have had reasonable results with black jewfish while targeting golden snapper. They are a species that don’t seem to get pushed out by floodwaters, opting for the depths where some salt still remains. Most other species – apart from barra and jacks

Golden snapper will be best on the headlands this month. to what was supposed to be a poor wet season. Many areas of the north received record December falls as well.

– will head for the open ocean for a while. Golden snapper have been slow because of the fresh influx and they follow the same pattern every season.

It will take a few weeks for the waters to clean up to the right level for them to come back in big numbers and that is provided we don’t get further floods. No offshore reports have come through, as the constant winds have made that difficult, but some anglers making it to the outer islands have done okay on big grunter, otherwise known as javelin fish. This is the best time of year to catch good numbers of them out in those areas and they are not overly fussy with bait, taking strip and live herring readily, and squid would have to be up there as the best bait, regardless whether it’s live or fresh. They fight very well and are prized for their eating qualities. In February we have the start of the barra season again, and as you would expect it’s the same every year with anglers flooding onto the local waterways. By now everyone should be well and truly prepped, with reels serviced and lures with fresh sharp hooks. It’s quite amazing as to the lack of boats on the water when the season is closed, even though there are plenty of other opportunities. Just goes to show how popular this fish species has really become. For the inexperienced or anglers new to fishing, it can be a daunting not knowing

Small barra are easy targets, but it’s a bit different for big fish. how to successfully target these fish. I suggest starting with the low hanging fruit first and that is the school-sized fish that inhabit the shallow gutters and drains. But for beginners, I would fill my tackle box with a bunch of smaller shallow and medium diving lures around the 80-100mm mark. The Guttermaster series from Old Dog lures is one of the best for this situation, and they comes in a couple of different diving depths. Some people believe that the best time to hit the gutters is right on low tide but this is not the case. It

depends on the size of them as many will drain completely before low tide. The smaller gutters that are further up on the mudflats will drain first and you can fish from them around half tide out and the larger ones are mostly lower on the flat and can be targeted from half tide down towards the bottom of tide. Any low tide gutters should still have some water in the entrances. Slower lure retrieval is best for this application and you can play with a variety of slow retrieves and before you know it you will get to understand what they like best.

This allows you to start on a strategy that you will follow and build on into the future. •If you would like the trade secret shortcuts to mastering golden snapper, or maybe you’re a barra fanatic that heads north every season, then our masterclass ‘Barra Basics’ could be for you. Enrolment will be ready from 1-10 February. Check out these premium online courses here at our fish smarter website, And keep an eye out on our website for December Christmas specials. Hope you all have a safe and fishy Christmas.

Big wet will fire up fishing CAIRNS

Garry Smith

The record and early start to the wet season will certainly liven up the fishing in the Cairns area. The barra season re-opened at the start of this month and they have had plenty of opportunities to spawn under the protection of the closed season. Anglers will be able to target them across the full range of their habitat, as they will be well dispersed. February is traditionally one of the wettest months of the year but after recordbreaking rain early this wet season, it may be light this month. The reef should fish well when the opportunity arises, provided there are no tropical lows hovering around the Coral Sea. There should be plenty of opportunities to head east between blows, just the same. It will be crucial to take care when traveling, as floodwaters have washed heaps of logs out to sea. Travelling at night this month is a high-risk activity, so stick to day 86


travel, to and from the reef. Exactly where the logs will be is anyone’s guess, as it’s so dependent on continued rainfall, currents and wind. Talk to as many reef fishos as you can before heading out, to get an idea of what to expect. Fish deeper than normal if the water temperature has climbed back above 30°C. It dropped back below 29°C in early January, after prolonged southeasterlies and massive rainfall. However, it will only take a week of hot, still, conditions to push it back over 30°C again. If you add another 10-20m to the depth you normally fish, you should be in the ball park. Don’t expect large numbers of any species, except sharks, but the quality should make up for quantity. Mackerel have continued to bite sporadically through summer, with plenty of boats nailing a couple, but like the reef fish, not usually in big numbers. Look for bait schools being bombed by birds and you should find plenty of pelagic action. Anything from Spaniards, tuna, trevally, cobia, wahoo and mahimahi could be into the action. Try and match the hatch and use lures or

swimbaits in the same size as the bait school. Quite often small lures and slices trolled at higher speeds will do the trick. Closer inshore there can also be school mackerel action, if the bait schools have returned after the flooding. Troll one lure about 10m behind the boat and then one a long way back, in case the doggies are a bit boat shy. Golden snapper will be around the inshore headlands, wrecks, reefs and islands once the water clears. Live baiting is the way to go, provided the small sharks are not around in big numbers. If you catch, or are bitten off a few times by small sharks, then you are wasting your time with live bait. Switch to luring with paddle-tails, jerk shads or vibes. You can still get the odd shark but you are far more likely to hook into a golden snapper, large-mouth nannygai, trevally or cobia. Grunter will be around on the hospital flats and Trinity Inlet leads, if the floodwaters have subsided. The very large high tides on the lead up to and just after the full moon will be the best time to target grunter. The lead up to the new moon, early this month, will also be a worthwhile time to chase

grunter, provided the water has started to clear after the rain. There were some quality grunter around before the big rain and hopefully they will return once the flooding subsides and the water starts to clear. Mangrove jack thrive in extreme weather conditions like we have had in recent months, so make sure you work the heavy cover areas as well as the drains when chasing barra, as you will just as likely get smashed by a red devil instead. Land-based anglers will have plenty of options this month, with the floods and huge tides keeping all the run-through creeks open along our beaches. The only drawback will be that the floods often bring in large numbers of vermin in the form of small sharks, rays and catfish, so you may need to be patient to find the quality fish amongst the trash. Prawns should be well worth the chase after such big rainfall and will also make excellent bait. The top of the tide, along the Cairns esplanade is a great time and place to start your search. Hopefully there will be enough prawns around for both bait and a feed. Crabs

Brian Ross with one of three Spaniards caught on a recent reef trip off Cairns. will be working their way back into the estuaries if the rain has finished, but if it

hasn’t then out the front on the flats will be the place to start searching.

You’ve got to fish a little deeper PORT DOUGLAS

Lynton Heffer

There’s no denying that our tropical region has kick started its wet season and Ex-Cyclone Owen initiated this. Owen dumped copious amounts of rain, not once but on two separate occasions in late December and early January. The short-term pain of bad weather at the time now should be showing the longterm benefits of what a good rain can do for a fishery. Landscapes were completely changed and new leases of life were created, all serving for the greater cause. With barra season now open you would have expected them to have already

spawned, and they’ll settle into a nice groove. Local beaches with breakthrough creeks will be the hotspots to target. On their given day the beaches have been red-hot, not only for barra, but blue salmon, queenfish and tarpon. These fish are all up in the shallows helping themselves to jelly prawns, adult prawns and all types of baitfish. In the rivers and estuaries, again run-off creeks and causeways where bait tends to funnel will be the prime locations. Your bigger fish will be eager to take a big mullet, smash a popper or take any decent-sized lure in your tackle box. Fighting for the same presentation at the same spots in the river will be mangrove jack. Already to date they have proven to be

the most consistent fish in our calmer waters, fishing well even during the wetter, harder times. Golden snapper also went to a better level with the assistance of a bit of rain and they’ll fish well in the coming months. The lessons learnt in recent times is to find undisturbed water away from the main current, which can be quite dirty on the bigger tides. These might be little side arms branching from the main system, eddies behind natural or even artificial structures. These little spots will see the water temperature slightly higher, which can make a huge difference if there is a lot of freshwater around, and there’s every chance of that in the next month or so. If you are able, try and

get in an evening or night fish as the barra, golden snapper and jacks are definitely biting better under the cover of darkness. Moving out to the reef, the fishing has been a little bit up and down, but the beauty of the Great Barrier Reef every day is different. One day you might be scratching around and the next all hell breaks loose. The manic days have had a common thread and that is fishing in the 35-45m range if you have the marks. Red emperor and nannygai have shifted from the shallow waters into the deep. It’s not only the reds that have moved, but you’ll find all manner of fish in amongst the schools including big coral trout, spangled emperor, jobfish,

On the reef, all the prized species are being found in the deepest waters possible. cobia and gold and tea-leaf trevally. This month is also your best chance to pick up a big rogue Spanish mackerel underneath a float at the same locations. The fish overall are not as spread out as normal and seem to be more

concentrated. It’s always an unknown as to how much rain is on the horizon, but hopefully the early season dumpings mean that the worst is behind us and we can enjoy the fishing this region has to offer.

Open season in the Trinity NFZ CAIRNS

Dan Kaggelis

The big news for the Trinity NFZ is that the barramundi are back on the target list for 2019. With the open season commencing on 1 February, there is no better time to be out chasing that trophy barramundi in the NFZ systems of the Trinity

and many of the systems are returning to healthy populations after years of netting. With the calm summer weather, anglers chasing a big barra will be best to target the coastal headlands from the Hospital Flats outside the Inlet to the northern end of the NFZ at Taylors Point. These areas are holding some big fish at the moment and it’s just a matter of scanning them up on your sounder and then

When the weather is calm the open beaches are also proving to be a good spot to fish, especially around the stinger nets, drains and creek mouths on the incoming and outgoing tide. Large live baits suspended on floats will snare big barramundi as well as queenfish and salmon this time of year. The Cairns Inlet continues to be the best spot to target a barramundi and usually is the first creek to clear up after the rain, so if you have a boat this

Anglers, similar to that of Rockhampton and Mackay, and this is in the pipeline for Council endorsement. This will go a long way to opening up land-based opportunities for anglers right through the NFZ.

Mangrove jack are on the chew and small soft plastics cast deep into structure is the way to go.

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Big barramundi will be high on the list for anglers in the NFZ come 1 February. Inlet, Baron River, Thomatis Creek and Moon River, as well as along the open beaches. Thanks to an early season monsoon from Cyclone Owen, Cairns has seen some excellent rainfall that has got the fish breeding, which should see numbers in the NFZ climb. There have already been some excellent reports of plenty of small barra coming off snags and structure, which shows that recruitment is occurring

peppering them with lures or baits until they bite. Many of the rock walls and natural headlands are providing places for these fish to congregate, which is great news for land-based fishers. Heading down to these spots on a rising tide late afternoon or early morning and throwing large hardbody lures or vibes off these rocks will prove worthwhile. There have already been some excellent catches off Taylors Point and Yorkies Knob using this method.

will be the best place to start. The mouth of Hills Creek is a good spot to start, as well as the deeper bends around Swallows Landing. In the smaller creeks the barra are around, but the jacks are more on the chew. The prawns have been on the run after the rain, so using small prawn and fish profile soft plastics has been the way to go. Good news on the Cairns NFZ, the Council Team has developed a Code of Conduct for Cairns 07 4051 1467

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Chrome, glorious chrome! LUCINDA

Jeff Wilton

It’s been an eventful few months that have passed here in Lucinda. Recent months have given us record rainfalls and this has meant the major rivers have been flowing hard. This is great news for our barramundi stocks as it is very rare to get an early wet season, is that these fish have had a few chances to spawn and be safe from both recreational fishos, and better still, the commercial fishers. January has also had good rainfalls and the tropics are really firing up. The only downside of the last few months has been the wind. It has been relentless and blowing solid 15-20 knots plus consistently, day in day out. It is a little mean of me, but I love when it does this over the Christmas and New Year weeks, as there are hundreds of boats here and no one can get out and put a dint in the fish stocks. Hopefully in February this wind calms down a little and allows some bluewater fishing as it should be going off, especially since not many people have been out there for months now. HINCHINBROOK CHANNEL It’s barramundi open season on 1 February at midday. This is probably celebrated more then

Christmas here in NQ, as everyone loves targeting these fish. They should be about in great numbers after the early flush out of the creeks and rivers. I can guarantee you the boat ramps will be a hive of activity that first week of the month as everyone hits the water in search of some Hinchinbrook

don’t run out on a hot bite. I have had plenty of sessions where we have had by-catch go through our livies and when the barra started to come through we have ran short, and this is really frustrating. Give yourself plenty of time and look after them, a good aerator and a large live bait tank that is

Sean sight cast this colourful mahimahi while fishing for reds. chrome. There are some great tides this month as well, so we can only hope for some hot and humid afternoons that correspond with a tide change. I can already hear them boofing away in the drains as a storm builds up over the range, the humidity is so thick you can cut it with a knife. I love those days as it normally means the barra are going to go off. For those who prefer bait fishing, take time to gather good quality live baits and enough to make sure you

kept out of direct sunlight is important. As a general rule the best time to start fishing is the first three or four hours of the run-in tide. Find yourself a good looking creek mouth or bank, get an anchor out or tie yourself off to a tree and get comfy. A lot of barramundi anglers leave there rods in the rod holders while bait fishing, the rod is left there until it loads up only then is it lifted out and the angler fights the fish. This technique is to try

eliminate early striking and missing fish that are only scaring or mouthing the bait and not actually eating it. For myself and plenty of others, the only way to catch barra is on artificial lures and soft plastics. Actively hunting down the fish and fooling them into eating your lure is great fun and very rewarding. I would trade five barra on a bait for one on a lure any day of the week. There are so many great lures and soft plastics on the market these days that it can get very confusing when you walk into the tackle store. If you’re new to lure fishing then have a good look on the internet, as it is full of information and loaded with tips and tricks to help you get hooked up. For myself, I have my go to soft plastics for barra and these are ZMan 4” SwimmerZ and 3” MinnowZ, both matched to TT headlockz jigheads. These soft plastics are tough as hell and are proven fish takers. They come in a massive range of colours, but if I was only allowed to ever fish one colour for the rest of my life it would have to be pearl white. Make sure you’re matching the plastics you choose with the correct jighead size and weights. If you’re fishing drains and shallow flats then it is very important that the plastic is not dragging along the bottom, as barra feed looking up. Use a high rod tip and a lighter jighead weight such as a

Such a great feeling being able to target these fish again. 1/8-1/4oz, so you can slowly paddle the plastic keeping it on the strike zone for longer. Also keep in mind that lighter leaders may get you a few more bites but will mean more fish lost due to rub offs. Barra have very abrasive mouths and very sharp gill plates that will sever a trace very easily. I use 40lb minimum on my lighter outfits, but 60lb and 80lb is the go. If they’re in the mood they won’t care what trace you’re using, as they will be eating anything that moves in front of them. JETTY, ISLANDS AND REEF As I was saying above the weather has been horrible for the last few months, with consistent near galeforce winds blowing from the south. I’m certain there was a strong wind warning for NQ for two months straight it was that bad. I have not heard many reports, as most people have been stuck at home watching cricket or up the channel trying to catch mud crabs. The very few

short windows we have had have seen us hooking plenty of great fish but getting sharked repeatedly. Sharks are a massive problem up here and increasingly becoming more and more of a nuisance. It is very common to turn up at a spot and have 15 solid sharks swimming around like puppy dogs waiting to be fed. Any one that thinks shark numbers are decreasing needs to get out on the water more often and have a real look about. Hopefully the weather improves for February and allows everyone to get out and get their arms stretched and a few tasty fillets in the freezer. If the weather does turn it on then getting out and dropping some baits into the deep for some red fish should be top of the must do list. If you can luck out and not get hounded by sharks you may be in for an epic session, as big red fish fight hard and look great surrounded by ice in an icebox.

Some Jurassic catches of late COOKTOWN

Paul Prokopuk

February can be a difficult time for Cooktown anglers, monsoonal winds and rain can be a daily occurrence at this time of year. Over the past month Cooktown has seen some very heavy downpours with roads being closed, making fishing adventures to the surrounding areas difficult to plan. Even with the heavy rainfall, anglers have been fortunate to have some opportunities to get out to the reef. If you don’t mind a heavy downpour out there, the wind has still been regularly dipping under 10 knots. Reef fishing in Cooktown’s region continues to dominate the local angling scene, due to the prevailing conditions being well suited for reef trips. Every shape and size of boat has been out on the reefs during the doldrums and they have 88


all returned with iceboxes full of fish. As usual, coral trout, large-mouth nannygai and Spanish mackerel are the common catches because Cooktowners are spoilt for choice in these pristine waters. Another target species has been golden snapper, who are closer to the headlands and usually found on a rubbly bottom with a little structure around. A lot of locals made it out to the Ribbons during the perfect weather windows and have had great success catching

fish that look like they came straight out of Jurassic Park. If you’re up for a good fight, try hurling some stickbaits or poppers on the reef edge for some GT fun. If you find the pressure point and spend a bit of time working these lures you are guaranteed to entice these ferocious fighters. Lively Lures Slick Sticks and the trusty Halco Roosta Popper were the standout arsenal on a recent trip, but make sure you have a few in your tackle box as we went through a few during a session.

Trent Kirk with a decent king threadfin caught on the flats fishing live baits.

It definitely helps to make sure you are setup for these powerful fish, as you will need the stopping power to turn them quickly before they brick you in the sharp reef. A 10000+ size reel, a solid 20kg+ rod and 100-200lb leader is a good starting point to help you land these beasts. The estuaries in Cooktown’s region have been pumping out lots of freshwater, which has been collected from the downpours in the upper catchment areas. Dirty water estuaries will fish best around the first few kilometres off the mouth or out around the headlands near the river mouths. For example, in the Endeavour River, Cooktown’s wharf and snags up as far as Marton including the Stonewall are all producing some nice mangrove jacks. Threadies also fish well during the dirty water and are well worth a try at this time of year. For threadies, try around the flats near river mouths where they might be marauding the baitfish that

An awesome GT caught popping with a red and white Halco Roosta Popper. are being flushed out. On a recent trip we had a solid session filling the icebox quickly while working live baits during the top of the tide at the mouth of a drain. When we ran out of live baits, flicking hardbodies saw some great results with threadfin and blue salmon, almost as productively as livies. A Lively Lure Mad Mullet landed 10+

of these aerobatic fish in a single session. With the river being flushed out, it would be crazy not to throw a few crab pots in at this time of year too. Plenty of muddies are out and about with regular reports of people reaching their bag limit of bucks while running their pots over a couple of days.

It sure is better where it’s wetter CAPE YORK

Tim O’Reilly

There are early signs are of a good wet season throughout much of the Cape. Early in the wet season some fantastic rains came off the back of Cyclone Owen and

fishing. Sometimes there is a lag of a year or more before the best fishing can be expected following a super wet season. At other times the results are more immediate with turbo-charged, nutrientfilled rivers pluming out in the Gulf of Carpentaria. Spawning prawns and other crustaceans will be

Everything loves a prawn this time of year.

Upstream snags in a West Coast river. Cyclone Penny, recharging the West Coast rivers. Areas from Iron Range down towards Princess Charlotte Bay also saw some early moisture. A decent wet season will be fantastic for Cape York’s river systems and every landscape that relies upon them. Upheaval is the name of the game during February and March and travel is often impossible. However, the pain of enduring these tumultuous few months will often produce champagne fishing in the Gulf between March and July. Most fishers will understand the clear correlation between healthy river flows and good

challenges in February. Pelagic fish can be expected to fire up on some of the larger tides, wherever clean water is pushing towards structure. Queenfish, mac and longtail tuna, grey and Spanish mackerel, giant and bludger trevally and plenty of others will be out terrorising baitfish schools, usually a little further out to sea than normal. Persistent northwesterly winds can often see much of the West Coast of the Cape relatively dirty. Turbid water spilling

in full swing and you can just imagine the feast going on for fish of the reefs, shoals and bays. After a long fireaffected dry season, plenty of fires kept burning (as they often do) right to the creek and river edges. This too, when combined with a peak wet-season event, will be responsible for washing an enormous amount of carbon and nutrients through Cape York’s vast capillary network of creeks, rivers and wetlands. In turn, later in the year may see an increase in algal growth and sediment plumes, which are not conducive to fishing. Finding clean water will be one of the many

Watch out for wet season visitors.

from river mouths just increases the phenomenon and stretches of coastline without major freshwater outflow should fish better. February is the start of the barra season re-opening throughout the Cape. Plenty of opportunities will exist for residents of the Cape to start their year of fishing off before travellers start arriving in the Cape. Systems used to handling the vast quantities of Cape York’s rainfall will continue to fish the best in

Queensland groper are a welcome by-catch and release well. February, with stable banks and clearly defined inflows. Searching out areas where prey funnels either in or out of tiny feeder creeks and drains might be the key to some amazing barramundi

A barra hooked on a colour change.

fishing in February. When the stocks of smaller barramundi within a system are at their peak, this can be the greatest month for some really visual fishing up in the shallows. Casting floating minnows and watching them getting inhaled after a twitch is perhaps the most iconic way to catch your first Cape York barra. Particularly, fish in the 45-60cm range often infest the shallow mangrove roots and drains and they are very aggressive this time of year with competition to grow on top of their agenda. If you find a couple of fish in the same area, it is prudent to anchor up quietly and really fish the area hard, as hooked barra bring others into the area for a look-see. Taking time to pause your lure for what seems too long can produce some amazing catches on the surface. I can’t wait!

The typical early season barra size. You can expect plenty of catches of this size this month. FEBRUARY 2019






Banking some boss bream Bream fishing has come a long way in the past 20 years. We now live in the age of $30 a pop bream

tournaments dedicated to the humble bream offering tens of thousands of dollars in prize money.

way to catch bream, but it’s simple, effective and something anyone can do regardless of age or

The great thing about bait fishing for bream is it’s so easy, anyone can do it. lures; $1000 outfits; flashy boats jacked up with expensive sounders, electric motors and power poles; and fishing

With that said, targeting bream on good old fashion bait has changed bugger all. For some it may not be considered the coolest

Black Magic KS hooks are by far the best bream hook the author has used. 90


fishing ability. As someone who makes a living teaching people how to fish with lures I still get a kick out of going back to roots and soaking a bait for a bream. It’s a very relaxing way to catch a fish, but for all its simplicity it’s only simple when you’re doing it right, so knowing before you start is very important. The first thing you need to nut out is where are you going to start and that means knowing what typical bream habitat is. The answer to this is structure. Bream love structure with anything from sunken timber to break walls, rocky shorelines oyster racks, rock bars, jetties and wrecks to name a few. Once you know what you’re looking for it comes down to fishing it with the right methods. The biggest mistake anglers make is fishing too heavy a weight, as structure and sinkers are a recipe for constant snags and no fish. Bream like the bait to look as natural as possible and will often take the bait as it sinks and that is why an unweighted presentation is best. When I explain this to people often their first

response is that they can’t cast it out far without a sinker. If that is the case, you will probably find your line and rod are too heavy. With a good 6lb braided line like Black Magic Fibre Glide and a 1-3kg graphite rod you can cast an unweighted bait a long way. A critical part of success for this type of fishing is your leader size. Bream can be very cautious and shy away from heavier leaders, so the lightest you can get away with the better. For more forgiving terrain you can drop down to as low as 4lb, but for areas like racks and oyster infested rock bars you may need to go up to 10lb to give you a chance to pull them out. While this will probably mean less bites, at the end of the day you will come out in front as the rate of fish landed compared to fish hooked and busted off will be far higher. I generally run about 1-2m length of the Black Magic fluorocarbon leader for this kind of work as it’s super tough and can handle being scuffed around poles and being dragged over rocks better then anything else on the market. While at times bream can be ravenous and eat just about anything you throw at them they can also be extremely picky, so it’s best to make the effort and source the best bait possible. In my opinion, you can’t beat live nippers on bream and they can be the difference between getting a bucket full and catching

Live yabbies are the number one bait for bream and worth the effort. nothing. Large peeled prawns, mullet strips, and live worms are also effective baits, but live nippers still reign supreme For hook choice I use Blackmagic KS series in size 1 for nippers or 1/0-2/0 for large peeled prawns or mullets strips. Another key component for a successful bait bream fisher is berley. A bucket with a packet of chook pellets, half a loaf of bread and a couple of caps full of

tuna oil mixed together will not only attract bream, but also turn shut down fish on the bite. A handful every 5-10 minutes is all that’s required as berleying too much can have a negative effect, as you risk fish becoming full and therefore no longer interested. Well that about covers bait fishing for bream, hopefully you can get out and get stuck into a few of them this month.

Casting unweighted live yabbies around structure such as this is a deadly method for catching bream.



Black Magic Snapper Snacks and KLT Hooks


Recently I was lucky enough to have a few of the new Black Magic Snapper Snacks and KLT hooks come my way, and I wasted no time in putting them to the test. Into the tackle box they went, along with my usual go-to plastics on my next trip out for reds. The Black Magic Snapper Snacks are based on the same principle as the popular sabiki bait jigs, and all we know how deadly those little flashy attractants are. The main difference is that the Snapper Snacks are much larger and stronger for bigger fish, and have luminous flashes built into the skirts.

The first time I dropped down the Snapper Snacks, things didn’t go as I had hoped; the Snacks were molested by leatherjackets and stripped. On the plus side, at least they liked them! Still, nothing survives a jacket attack, so I grabbed a few more and headed to another spot, hoping the jackets would be less enthusiastic there. In the next location I had better luck. I dropped the Snapper Snacks down in 40m of water where a bait ball was holding 10m off the bottom – perfect snapper conditions. The

While the author was preoccupied with a kingy, two flathead hooked themselves on the Snapper Snacks. I had not bothered winding in the Snacks and after I wound in the slack from the busted kingie I noticed that both rods were bent over but not doing much. I pulled them up and found that I’d caught a double header of flathead. There must be a bit of sand down there too. So on that trip I didn’t catch any big reds but I’m sure they will come. There haven’t been many about lately, but I certainly caught just about everything else. The next week I was at Burrinjuck Dam and tried the 3/0 KLTs bobbing yabbies. The goldens were thick and I only had six yabbies and scored six fish in six drops, and didn’t miss a hook-up. I’ll definitely be taking the Snapper Snacks and KLT hooks on my future trips, and I’m looking forward to seeing what else I can catch on them. The marlin are about this month and I can’t wait to give the 10/0s a run on the billies! - Greg Clarke

Snapper Snacks appeal to a range of species, including sweep.

This hungry couta couldn’t resist a Snapper Snack.

Using 3/0 KLT hooks bobbing yabbies, the author landed a golden on every drop.

hook-ups were instant, but I seemed to catch everything but snapper! On my first drop, I caught the bait, mackerel. The next drop and more slimy mackerel, then some sweep, a couple of trevally and then some barracouta. The Snacks were working a treat. I then grabbed one of the slimies and put it on a 7/0 Black Magic KLT on one of the 6kg snapper outfits. These light gauge hooks are very strong, and have a slippery, nonstick coating like a Teflon frypan so they can easily penetrate the fish’s mouth – and they nearly always hook the fish in the corner of the mouth, too. I lobbed the slimy as far as I could, put it in the rod holder and went back to the fishing the Snacks. I went on to score a trevally and a small snapper, and then the dead slimy I had forgotten about screamed off. The hook had done its job, and fairly quickly a king about a metre long came into view. Then, as usually happens, it saw the boat and bolted into the reef, as they do. I now had one less 7/0.

Black Magic KLT hooks are super sharp, slick and slippery, so they effortlessly penetrate the fish’s mouth.





For all the bass lovers out there, Samaki has created something special, something you’ve been asking for, that one-of-a-kind shirt that is right up your estuary! With natural tones of sweeping reeds, heavy structure and crystal clear sky, the Aussie Bass shirt is designed to stand out of the crowd but blend into the surrounds. As the bass strikes the lure, it sends water splashing across the surface in a flurry of action. The prominent deep green of the bass is accentuated with contrasting gold highlights. The lightweight fabric is perfect for all outdoor elements, protecting you from the harsh sun with Samaki’s UPF50+ resistant technology. The soft-touch 100% polyester material is comfortable on the body, plus 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. Aussie Bass 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. Price: SRP $59.95 (adults), $49.95 (kids)



Contemporary looks meets innovative design with the return of the Daiwa Infeet series. Designed for the light tackle finesse angler, the new Infeet range features four models, built on hyper-sensitive slow bend graphite blanks. The Infeet’s classic blank is partnered by a contrasting white carbon fibre skeleton reel seat. The exposed design of the reel seat puts the blank right in the angler’s hand to transmit even the lightest of bites. An ultra-thin, tapered EVA rear grip eliminates weight for optimum rod balance and provides that unique modern styling we’ve grown to love and expect from the Infeet range. Angler connectivity is further enhanced courtesy of Fuji S/S SiC guides in the base section of the rod, and ultra light Fuji Titanium SiC guides on the top section. The Ti SiC guides lighten the tip of the rod to enhance feel and performance and is indicated by white bindings. A blend of Daiwa’s advanced finesse designs the new Infeet series is state of the art technology blended with precision, performance, and that exclusive Infeet style and swagger.

ASTRO VIBE AND HUMMER COLOURS 3 Strike Pro is releasing a couple of new colours in its highly popular ranges of Astro Vibe and Hummer 40 lures. The new colours in the Astro Vibe range will offer all the features that you find in the current Astro Vibes, including the UV reactive polycarbonate belly with internal rattles. Astro Vibes combine the best features of a metal blade and a rattling vibe, creating an extremely effective lure. The new colour in the Hummer 40 is certainly going to catch plenty of fish, and it offers all the features of the Hummer 40. This record breaking lure helped Strike Pro sponsored angler Rick Massie break both the Biggest Bream and Biggest Bag records in the Hobie Bream series. This lure will be deadly on bream, bass, estuary perch, flathead and mulloway. To find out more visit




the Juro website or like them on Facebook at


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The Zerek Jet Popper 130 is 130mm long, which is an ideal length for both small and large predatory fish – everything from tailor, salmon and small tuna through to larger trevally, queenfish and bigger tuna. It’s fitted out with heavy-duty hardware to handle the pressure from punishing encounters. The colour range, which includes 10 colours, imitates and attracts with equal measure, while the easy casting 45g overall weight allows just about everyone to cast this lure without needing some serious gym sessions. This rear-weighted lure flies from the rod tip with reduced tumbling and extra distance, giving the lure more time in the water on every cast. On the water, the Jet Popper 130 makes a loud bloop that is enhanced by the chin hole that allows a massive bubble trail to add appeal both visually and acoustically. The rear tail fins help stabilise the lure in the water, reducing the likelihood of the lure flipping and rolling on the bloop.


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The Fish Inc. Egilicious features a unique take on popular colour patterns, a tail design that is 3° higher than standard jigs to minimize snagging and fouling, and its fine Japanese Owner hooks. These super sharp and ultra-thin stainless steel hooks not only mean a better catch rate but also fewer jigs lost. They open with less force, so if you get snagged you just apply slow and steady pressure until the hook opens and the jig pops off the structure. Then you can straighten the hook and you’re good to go. These squid jigs are designed with the perfect weight for long casts, while maintaining a slow sink and realistic swimming action. Other features include 3D eyes, side feathers, tightly-wrapped cloth covers and a buoyant tail-up action. Many jigs sink flat to the bottom, reducing strikes and hook sets while increasing snagging, but Egilicious instead comes alive in the water. It’s available in 3.0 and 3.5 sizes and 12 colours. Price: SRP $11.95



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Black Magic’s continual growth and development in freshwater lures sees yet another original addition to their already strong line-up of freshwater lure options. This new arrival is called the Rattle Snack and, as its name suggests, it has a built-in tungsten rattle which is harmonically tuned. There are two weights available, 7g and 14g, and the quality hardware ensures your target species will be landed, not lost. The Rattle Snack’s aggressive shape creates a very enticing swimming action, and whether you’re trolling from a boat or casting to your favourite lie in a river, estuary canal or lake, this superior action and harmonics will deliver results. With six great colours designed to suit Autralian fishing conditions, this new arrival is sure to become a favourite. It’s available now from leading tackle stores throughout Australia.


visit for the latest tackle news - AS IT HAPPENS!







The all-new Samaki Slit Foam Tackle Boxes are in high demand and haven’t even landed in the country yet. Coming in four sizes, each tackle box is designed for a variety of lure storage options, holding the smallest of flies up to your favourite vibes and hardbodies. The soft slit foam insert has incremental slits and holes for you to get the maximum usage out of your tackle box, avoiding annoying hook tangles. The UV-resistant lids will reduce lure fade, and the waterproof O-ring and stainless steel hinges will safeguard your artificials. The range starts with a small single-sided option, and moves into three double-sided options of medium, large and extra-large. From $15.95 up to $59.95 there is an option to suit all anglers. For more information and stockists visit the Samaki website, and like them on Instagram and Facebook to keep up to date. Price: from $15.95

Making a great thing greater, Daiwa steps it up with the new Tatula 100 and 150. The Tatula 100 delivers anglers their smallest and lightest Tatula ever, while the 150 is made with power fishing in mind and sits in between the 100 size and the Tatula HD (200 size) in the Tatula line-up. Baitcaster brilliance starts with Daiwa’s Real Four design concept, with Real Engine, Real Control, Real Endurance, and Real Custom combining to make the Tatula technically advanced and performance driven. A precision designed solid aluminium frame and gear side plate delivers maximum power and unrivalled durability, while its ergonomically designed profile fits effortlessly in the palm of the hand. Digigear, TWS, Magforce Z, deliver unmatched strength, smoothness and precision both on the cast and on the crank, while Daiwa’s UTD gives you the muscle to stop just about anything that swims.



Tasmanian Devil lures are a unique Australian product designed for trolling, casting or jigging in fresh and saltwater. They are now available in four new colours – watermelon pearl (132), lime frog (133), liquorice allsort (134) and black betty (135). The first three colours are available in 7g, 13.5g and 20g sizes, and the black betty colour is available in 7g, 13.5g, 20g and 26g. The lure action is due to the winged technology that causes the lure to swim in an irregular manner, darting and diving, simulating the movement of wounded fish. This pulsating action is transmitted to the rod tip that will show as a ‘nodding action’ that is proof that the lure is swimming correctly. If this rod tip action is not present, you’ll know you’ve picked up either a piece of weed or a fish. All four sizes of the Tasmanian Devil swim in this erratic manner, and this is the reason these lures are so effective.





The Zerek Maniac Vibe’s unique frontweighted design enables excellent casting distance, fast sinking and the ability for the lure to ‘stand up’ on the bottom. These features allow anglers to cover more ground every cast and be confident that the tail of the lure will always be in a position to snare a curious fish. Internally, the Maniac Vibe has many small ball bearings in its internal chamber creating one of the noisiest rattles that will attract fish from afar. Work the Maniac Vibe with a lift and drop technique to keep the lure near the bottom, or hop and shake it along the bottom if the fish are shut down. You can also cast and straight retrieve the lure at various speeds to cover depth profiles and present the lure to the right spot at the right time. The Maniac Vibe is 70mm long, weighs an easy-to-cast 14g, and comes in 10 colours.



Shimano’s latest tackle storage range includes two new releases for anglers on the go – the Travel Wrap and Soft Back Pack. The Travel Wrap comes with a hard tackle tray and additional sleeves for soft plastic storage. This lightweight, minimal travel wrap can be filled in a variety of useful ways depending on the situation. The travel wrap also doubles as a minimal soft plastic wallet – the tray is removable and the mesh pocket can be used to store braid cutters, catch scent, leader, or any other tools essential for fishing. The Soft Tackle Back Pack has a versatile range of applications and features, which make it ideal for both die-hard fishos and weekend warriors. With added benefits such as four included tackle trays, a heavy-duty mesh front compartment, hard sunglasses case, an elastic tool holder and drink pocket, this bag is sure to impress even the fussiest of anglers.



The new Storm 360GT Coastal Shrimp offers anglers a deadly lifelike prawn presentation. Its realistic legs swim and kick on the fall sending out natural vibrations, while the flat bottom design keeps the bait upright when resting on bottom. Combining a segmented body, slotted belly and back slots not only allows for seamless rigging, it also delivers a very natural looking action on the drop and at rest. Suitable for conventional Jig heads or weedless rigs make these prawns a must for any angler, be it in the fresh or saltwater environment. What fish doesn’t eat a prawn? A very easy bait to use, simple lift and drop of the rod tip with a slow wind will see you hooking up in no time. The Storm 360GT Coastal Shrimp is available in eight lifelike colours and two sizes, 3” and 4”. For more information on these and other Storm lures, check out the Storm Fishing website.

Please email contributions to: FEBRUARY 2019




McLaughlin’s Advanced Formula Berley makes a difference

McLaughlin’s Bait and Berley have been producing quality bait and berley products since the late 1940s. During this time they have constantly worked to further improve the range and quality of the items they produce. In 2018 they introduced their latest innovation – the Advanced Formula range of berleys, which builds upon the success of their popular Premium Berley range. WHAT’S DIFFERENT? McLaughlin’s Premium Berley has always had secret ingredients and smells to attract fish to it. However, as the name suggests, the Advanced Formula range has upped the ante. McLaughlin’s have managed to further enhance the range with more natural flavours, and have added colours to make it easier to see the berley trail behind the boat. The range was developed by Juro Oz Pro Tackle, and I talked to Rick Massie from Juro to find out more. He said that it has taken a number of years to get the process of drying and colouring correct to the point where they were happy to release it. “It’s not a single step process,” Rick explained. “The berleys are dried multiple times to ensure that the scent, smell and colour are maximised, meaning better results for the anglers using them.” TESTING THE TESTER Using berley is not something that I regularly do, so I thought I would speak

McLaughlin’s Advanced Formula Berley range spent years in development before being released in 2018. berley, and Jamie has had quite a bit of success on these species. His advice was to keep it simple: the berley alone will do the job and bring the fish to you. He recommended using a small

opportunity to get on the water. Fishing for garfish and tommy ruff (Australian herring) is very popular along much of the south coast of Australia, and on my Christmas holiday it was obvious that I wasn’t the only person waiting for a weather window. When we arrived, the boat ramp was bedlam, and plenty of boats were anchored and berleying in all the likely areas. It was a matter of finding a free space and joining in. I started with the Mixed Bits pack and no oil – keeping it simple, as Jamie had suggested. I wasn’t sure how well we would do considering the number of boats around us. I needn’t have worried though, as within minutes there were plenty of tommies making their way up the berley trail. Generally the garfish are not too far behind, but on this day we could see them, but couldn’t get them to bite. We ended up getting a good bag of tommies and only one garfish. We had, however, done better than most. Chatting to other anglers, many had struggled to attract anything at all. King George whiting were the next target on the list (the weather windows

When it comes to berleying, keep it simple and remember that a little goes a long way.

McLaughlin’s Premium Berleys and Baits have been around since the 1940s, and have developed a reputation for quality. to Jamie Smith, the fishing specialist at Melbourne Marine Centre, for a few tips on targeting King George whiting and garfish. The store stocks the Advanced Formula

Fishing smiles. Anne Morgan enjoys chasing a few garfish.



berley dispenser just below the surface if you want to target garfish, or one closer to the bottom if you’re whiting fishing. McLaughlin’s also does a product called Slicks Oil, which can be added sparingly in with the berley to give it even more punch. Keeping it simple sounded good to me. PUTTING IT TO GOOD USE The Christmas holiday period was my opportunity get out and give the products a try. I had a bit of a mix of the old and the new – Saltwater Nibbles, Whiting Nibbles, a Pier/Jetty mix, a small Tuna Log and Slicks Oil from the trusty Premium range, and Green Lip Bites, Mixed Bits, Pink Bits and Big Red Nuts from the new Advanced Formula range. Juro Oz Pro had also sent me a small bucket. As far as I was concerned, the fish didn’t stand a chance. Mother nature didn’t read the script, however. During most of my holiday it was blowing 25-30 knots, so it was matter of taking advantage of any small windows of

Not a bad outcome after using the berley for the first time.

PRODUCT GUIDE were few and far between). As we were fishing much deeper water, I used a two berley pot system. One pot was close to the bottom with Green Lip Bites and a little Slicks Oil in it, and the other pot was on the surface with the Mixed Bits and no oil. ‘Activity breeds activity’ was my theory, and after only getting one fish from our first location, we made a move and found some hungry fish. One thing with king George whiting is when they are biting you need to have a bait in the water, because they may not bite for long. After an initial flurry, things went quiet and I was wondering whether we should move. At that point I noticed that the berley trail from the top bucket no longer had fish in it, mainly because there was no berley left in the pot. A quick refill and redeploy had the tommies excited again, and a few more whiting hit the deck. Unfortunately for me I only had one more outing, and it followed a very similar scenario – we got a berley trail going mid and top water, created some activity and bagged a few fish. I used either the Green Lip Bites or the Big Red Nuts in the bottom pot, and it didn’t seem to matter with the top bucket. After that session I had to head back to work, but the family stayed behind and managed some more successful outings. The timid garfish eventually fell for the trap, and the ever-present tommy ruff just couldn’t resist a good berley trail. WHAT DID I LEARN? You can’t deny that the McLaughlin’s Berleys work. You can see the fish working up your berley trail, almost eating it from the berley bucket. At times I wondered if they preferred eating the berley rather than the gents or pipis I was using for bait. But that is what berley is all about – creating the activity for the angler to take advantage of. One thing to remember is to not overfill your berley bucket. The berley expands as it breaks down, so a little can go a long way. As well as that, just let the wave action do its job. Shaking the bucket may bring on a flurry of activity, but you want the fish to work up the trail you have created and then

WHAT’S NEW FISHING TESTED Senshi Custom Rigs avoid the hassle of creating your own rigs, and the 12 rigs in the range cover most of the popular target species. They are well made and the hooks are super sharp. And then there are the quill floats, float stops, split shot, berley feeders and, most importantly, their range of Daiichi hooks. Using good quality terminal tackle that is correct for the species you are targeting can make a huge difference to your results. FINAL OBSERVATIONS The boat ramp after a day’s fishing can be a great place to glean information. Stories about the fish that got away or how good the fishing was are commonplace. Or, as was the case during my holiday, “wow the fishing is tough”. That’s not how I felt though. Yes, conditions were difficult, but we were able to take advantage of the small windows of opportunity and catch some fish. So was it the berley making the difference? Well, it certainly wasn’t my knowledge of fishing with berley, because I had hardly ever done it before. I believe that the quality of the Premium and Advanced Formula berleys, and the terminal tackle we were using, gave us the edge.

The windows of opportunity were only brief for the author, but he was pleased with the result of a few hours on the water. take your baits. Shaking the bucket and releasing big volumes of berley can also excite undesirable species. As the saying goes, ‘a little bit often’ is the way to go. A bit of preparation goes a long way. The McLaughlin’s berleys come in resealable bags and tubs, and it pays to store them out of the sun and make sure you seal them properly. This will ensure they’ll stay fresh

and won’t attract pests. Fill your berley buckets before you get on the water. That way, once you have reached your spot you can deploy the berley and get the system working while you get your rods ready. A COMPLETE SYSTEM As much as I have focused on the berleys themselves, Juro Oz Pro covers the complete system, from the berleys and their dispensers (small, large and a weighted heavy-duty pot) to the terminal tackle needed to catch the fish you are targeting.

Does the McLaughlin’s berley work? Yes it does. If you want to see the full range of products you can check them out at www. or ask for them at your local tackle store. - Peter Jung

MCLAUGHLIN’S BERLEY PRODUCTS • Advanced Formula range – includes Big Red Nuts, Blood Bits, Green Lip Bites, Mixed Bits and Pink Bits, available in a 1.5kg resealable bag. Big Red Nuts and Mixed Nuts are also available in a 5L bucket. • Premium Berley range – includes Bream Nibbles, Freshwater Nibbles, Pier/Jetty Mix, Saltwater Nibbles, Trout Food, and Whiting Nibbles, which come in a 1kg resealable bag. Premium Berley Snapper Nuts are available in a 4L tub. • Tuna Berley Logs – compressed tuna/tuna oil logs, available in three sizes. • Tuna Tossers – compressed tuna/tuna oil nuts, available in 1kg re-sealable bag.

Juro does more than just make quality berleys. Their range of hooks, rigs, floats and accessories are well worth looking for in your local tackle store.

Susie Wallman with a nice haul of garfish.




Are you a better solution to the carp problem? FMG

Rupe Instagram: @rupeisfishing

A few of the early settlers of this great land have a lot to answer for. Beyond the mistreatment of traditional owners and land degradation, they’re

also responsible for the introduction of some incredibly damaging flora and fauna species, not least of which is the carp. Carp are not a problem that’s limited to Australian waterways. They’re now plentiful on every continent except Antarctica and while they’re a valuable

commodity in Europe and Asia (depending on the genetic strain), they are an absolute scourge to the Australian aquatic landscape. The habitat destruction in the Murray-Darling basin alone is enough that their introduction should be remembered as a national

The business end of the beast. Watch for the brightly coloured lips and mouth to open and close before you strip strike to set the fly hook.

Top: It’s hard to fathom that you can catch such destructive pests in surroundings as beautiful as these. Above: A selection of flies that will have you covered on most days. 96


disaster with its own public holiday where every man, woman and child is required to catch and kill at least one carp.

Vote 1 – Rupe Is Fishing Party! SO WHAT CAN WE DO TO HELP? We can catch them,

dispose of them, and limit their breeding capabilities without leaving literally millions of tons of rotting fish in the water that could

CARP lead to a dreaded black water type event. You know what, they’re bloody fun to catch! I’ve phoned around and had a chat to a few state fisheries offices when penning this article and the general consensus is to catch and dispose of as many as you can, particularly the larger breeding stock. They produce a huge amount of offspring in no time at all, so each breeder you can

Pound for pound, they’re one of the hardest fighting freshwater fish you’re likely to encounter and employ just about every dirty tactic you’d expect from a filthy, noxious pest whose ancestors cut their teeth dodging monster muskies and the like. SO YOU WANT TO BE A CARP SUPERSTAR? I hope by now I have you so pumped up that you’re furiously looking up the

the right manner. WHAT SHOULD YOU THROW? As mentioned above, a carp’s typical diet can be quite varied and they’re pickier with food than my 8-year-old daughter some days; changing their minds on what they’ll eat and what they’ll flat out refuse. Plenty of times different schools of fish in different pools of the same river will have totally

One fish feeding can lead to the others in the pool working themselves into a frenzy, like the one that amounted to this triple hook-up on three different types of fly.

The colours available in these pests can be so striking that it’s almost a shame to have to dispose of them, but it must be done to protect native fish stocks. remove can make a big difference. WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT CARP As a species, they’re extremely adaptable to all types of waterways and water conditions (which is why they’re so widespread) and they breed like rabbits. They’re also very mobile and not too territorial so will move up and down a river with ease, even in times when water levels are low and they might have to get their backs out of the water to move up a rapid. No matter the particular species of carp, of which there are many, a few things remain constant: they are clever, they have excellent eyesight and they seem to spend most of their time on the lookout doing their best to avoid any trouble. Even the plain brown models are still relatively brightly coloured compared to naturally occurring species and would make easy targets for large birds of prey, so you can understand why their existence would be a nervous one, and that’s before you take into account the natives swimming in their vicinity – ie Murray cod – who are big enough to eat them. Carp are omnivorous, meaning they’ll quite happily eat aquatic plants, but they do prefer a diet of insects, crayfish, shrimp and worms. For whatever reason, they’ve also taken quite a liking to corn kernels.

nearest infected waterway so your carp muster can begin. But there are a couple of things you need to decide before you head out in search of the villainous creatures. While carp can be very fussy and an eternal source of frustration – especially when sight-casting to them – if they’re in the right mood though, they can also be caught one after the other if you present your offering in

opposite requirements from you, the angler. This means that any fisher wanting to actively target carp needs to have a reasonable amount of arrows in their quiver, so to speak. Because of their fickle nature, you’re going to want to be armed with as many different lures, flies, baits or a combination of all three if you don’t want to go home with the dreaded doughnut. One thing I must stress

The tools of the trade and the result of a stealthy approach to some fast running water.

is to not be discouraged by the first, second or even seventh and eighth refusals. They will eat something, eventually. You just need to stay in the game, stay hidden as best you can and keep casting. There will be times they will charge your offering with an open mouth and just as the nerve endings in your striking hand start to fire messages to your brain they will turn away. This is standard carp behaviour. BAITS Soaking baits like worms, small crustaceans such as shrimp and crayfish offer you your best chance of success. If you can catch them in the same waterway that you’re fishing then you’ll do even better because you can guarantee they’ve eaten that variety before and they’ll be willing to do so again. If you’re wanting to sit in a camp chair and sink a few tinnies while fishing, try fishing under a float. They’re good strike indicators and it keeps your bait off the bottom, usually giving you better hook up potential before they realise there’s a hook in there. This is your best bet when fishing with kids too. The float is something for them to concentrate on, but by the time it bobs under the water the hooking part is already taken care of and they can just enjoy the bend in the rod. I talk to my kids on the trip to the water and also after we’ve disposed of a carp so they have an understanding of what we’re doing and why it’s important. If you give them the knowledge now they’re sure to carry that with them on future adventures. If walking the bank and casting at fish you can see is more appealing to you (I know it is for me) then forget the float and cast lightly weighted or even unweighted baits 1-1.5m in front of the fish. Leave some

slack line so the bait sinks in a more natural fashion. LURES Many carp have been

quality scent like SAX or Pro Cure that will last a while. Give them time to sniff it out and come over

The ‘Top Dog’ Brett Habener with a typically brown coloured European carp from skinny water. tricked into eating a lure intended for cod, bass and yellowbelly, and plenty of anglers with carp on the end of the line have been fooled into thinking they had the world record catch on before those big blubbery lips made their way to the surface. They’ll eat any number of hardbodies, blades and vibes if you put it in the right place at the right time, but they are absolute suckers for a nice supple soft plastic in a worm, grub or craw pattern. If you plan to throw lures at them, fish them fairly slow with plenty of pause after you hop it. Scent is also your friend; use a

for a nibble. FLIES Flyfishing can be very effective because you can present a small, natural looking fly and land it without too much disruption to the water. For a fish that has evolved heightened senses this extra advantage should not be sneezed at. It’s also the most difficult because you need to either have enough space to feed a cast out or be able to competently roll cast in tight cover. If you are planning on waving the wand around, take a mix of flies with To page 98



CARP From page 97

you that closely resemble the natural baits I’ve listed above as best you can. Patterns like shrimp, nymphs, worms and

is a 4WT, 9ft G.Loomis Eastfork rod and Shimano Biocraft reel with an intermediate Rio line while a few of my mates use a 7’11” model Sage BASS

a shadow on the bottom. Naturally, while this can get you the eat you desire, it presents a new set of problems if they decide to shoot upstream and bury you in rocks, logs and reeds – and they will! CONVENTIONAL TACKLE If you plan to chase them on conventional tackle, most light-medium estuary type combos will do the trick for you, but aim for something with a fairly sensitive tip as the bites are more often than not, very subtle. A 6’6”-7’6” rod and a 2500-3000 size reel would be ideal. Braid is fine to use but make sure you have a nice long fluorocarbon leader. Mainly, so it’s as close to invisible as you can get underwater, but

Big koi carp are as clever as they are scarce. They seem to be much more switched on and picky than their brown brethren.

This fatty ate an orange glo-bug fly during the time of year when plenty of berries were falling from above the river. leeches all catch fish and flies like glo-bugs will serve you well if they’re eating berries and seeds are falling from overhanging trees. THE SETUPS My favourite way to target them is undoubtedly on fly gear. My friends and I have had some epic days on the water fishing rivers and dams for a variety of

II series, which is much easier to get around with in some of the jungle country you can find yourself in. If you’re buying a new setup, look for a reel with plenty of drag. You’re going to need it. Something like the Redington Behemoth series packs a solid punch without breaking the bank, so check them out. As with most types

Walking the banks of dams is often easier on the angler but generally leaves you more exposed to the ever aware carp who feed around the shallows. and will pull out every trick they’ve got to win freedom. TAKING OUT THE TRASH So you’ve found some carp, grabbed a rod and headed out on a carp crusade. Before you know it you’ve managed to crack that particular day’s code or pattern and you’ve now got yourself a carp on the bank or in the boat. What

do you do next? Every state and territory in Australia that has a carp population has a fairly simple policy. Humanely dispose of the animal and under no circumstances return it to the water – dead or alive. Even though they’re a pest, it is still unethical to treat them inhumanely. I’ve seen a few people

(definitely the minority) saying it’s okay to return them to non-flowing waterways, but this is wrong. I carry a knife and a fish spike in my backpack at all times when chasing carp so that as soon as they hit the bank I can grab the obligatory picture for my social networks and then walk them 20ft away from the water and kill them quickly. Before you know it I’m looking for the next Charlie who’s silly enough to eat my fly. They’re almost the only fish I kill these days and in a weird way I still feel some remorse for doing it, but I do think that each and every carp removed is a small step in the right direction for the care of our native species that I love so very much. In most cases you are allowed to keep them for food (not my taste, but whatever floats your boat) or fertiliser if you wish. There are recipes on the NSW DPI website if you’re that way inclined – just don’t invite me around for the cook-up. I promise I’ll be busy that day.

Chris Shaw didn’t mind heading into the deep to retrieve this beautifully coloured koi carp. carp species. But there’s more than one way to skin a cat and plenty of ways to catch a mud marlin. FLYFISHING We all use a range of fly rods and lines from 4WT to 8WT and in varying lengths. My current setup 98


of fishing, sometimes you have to go light to get the bite, so my typical tapered leader finishes with 8lb line, sometimes the carp’s eyes are so well trained that you’ll need to go down to a 4lb fluorocarbon leader to avoid casting too much of

also because it buys you a bit of time if they run you into timber or other underwater structure and gives you a little bit more shock absorption on a typical surging carp run. As I’ve already told you, they’re a dirty fighting lot

With so many dams having large populations of carp it’s no wonder anglers like Bob Thornton catch them on soft plastics aimed at bass and yellowbelly.

The 2018 Murray Codference a huge success SHEPPARTON

Nick Brown

The simple way I judge the success of anything in the fishing world is by word of mouth and excitement created long after the event, or release of a certain lure, rod or reel. The 2018 Murray Codference is still creating a buzz amongst those who attended the 2018 event. Throughout the Christmas

many attendees fished Friday and Saturday leading into the event and there were plenty of stories in between sessions about cod fishing at locations such as Lake Eildon, Lake Mulwala and the local Goulburn River. The iconic Murray cod is such a valuable commodity for the regions they call home. There is a huge tourism aspect to the Murray cod with many anglers making weekly, monthly and yearly trips to the rivers and lakes to

The crowd at the Codference. Nearly 600 turned up to learn more about the Australian icon, Murray cod. break I ran into many local anglers who also attended the event and everyone couldn’t get over how well the event was run. For me the 2018 Murray Codference was the first time I had attended a Codference and from the moment I walked into the building it just screamed professionalism. There was a nice relaxed feeling to the pre-show with those attending receiving a show bag of goodies and this was not just a basic plastic show bag, it was a high quality VFA backpack filled full of items such as the Kattafurra surface lure, ‘Care for Cod’ boat decal and removable tattoo, plus all the information you need to know about the event and the professionals speaking on the day. The all-day event was held at Riverlink Eastbank Shepparton and lured in almost 600 people, all keen to learn from some of the most knowledgeable speakers throughout the country. Guests were treated to three sessions, covering all aspects of the Murray cod including tackle, techniques, locations, stocking and scientific programs in place. The event was held in the Murray cod heartland of Shepparton, which is almost central to some of the best cod fishing locations in Victoria and NSW. Due to the central location of Shepparton,

chase the mighty cod. The love for Murray cod from our city cousins was very much apparent in those that attended the Murray Codference, traveling well over two hours to attend the event I spoke with Sam Cunsolo from Melbourne about why he travelled down to the Codference. “Traveling to the Codference is great as most of us that travel make a weekend out of it,” he said. “Fish the Friday and Saturday and then attend the Codference on the way home.” “I encourage all to attend for the information you can gain on the day. “It’s a great chance to chat to those in charge and for me the drawcard was definitely

between Carl Jocumsen and the Kattafurra lure.” Sam also mentioned that he enjoyed all the other incredible speakers and felt the VFA had really outdone themselves at the 2018 Codference. The star of the show was Murray cod, but closely behind it for me as well was guest speaker and full-time professional fisherman, Carl Jocumsen. Carl was, for many, the biggest drawcard the event has ever had and I urge everyone to listen to his fishing story. Yes, he has represented our country fishing for bass in the USA, but Carl always finds himself chasing Murray cod when he is home from the States. The presentation Carl gave showed his love for the Murray cod as it has and will always be special to Carl. Carl spoke about his Murray cod stories as a kid and also recent trips he had done since he has returned from the States. One thing that rings in my ears from his presentation was when he mentioned how unique the Murray cod is, and how they are truly an Australian icon. He also shared his current swimbait techniques, as well as his vision for the future, with Murray cod lures to get bigger and bigger as time goes by. It wasn’t a sales pitch, but one thing was made clear, when throwing these monster lures you need to have the right rod and reel set up. The swimbait craze is now upon us, and having the likes of Ian Miller of Miller Rods designing rods is such a great step forward for us all. Seeing the size of the lures Carl throws, it’s obvious he is not targeting small cod, so using smaller lighter rods will be like taking a sword to a

Carl Jocumsen presenting at the Codference. He was the first speaker on the day, and started the event off strong.

gun fight. Carl kick started the first session and from there all those who did speak owned the stage and the audience, despite the pressure of following such a legend of the sport. The event wasn’t just about catching huge Murray cod, there was a very special segment that got everyone laughing and smiling and for me, that’s why we fish. North East Victorian Robbie Alexander delivered this presentations and it would have had to be one of the best I have seen in regards to ‘Fishing With Kids’. Speaking to Robbie afterwards, he had the following to say, and if you have seen his social media post you can imagine the passion that was flowing through the phone. “It was a fantastic day, everybody that I have spoken to enjoyed the day,” he said. “From the free food, to the free lure and backpack, to the guest speakers and the opportunity for people to talk and interact with leaders in the industry – it was a wonderful day.” I asked Robbie how he felt about being asked to present at the 2018 Murray Codference. “I was delighted to be a part of the event for the second year running, even more so delighted when they asked me if I could make a presentation all about kids,” he said. “I love kids.” Another great addition to the day was the catering supplied to those who attended. Tables full of food for morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea was all provided with your free entry and the spread that was put on was not cheap, it was lovely fresh food options for all to enjoy and mingle over during the breaks. The last session had a slight change to it and that was Steve Booth presenting Yellowbelly Tactics. It was a good addition to the day away from just Murray cod, only because majority of us who chase cod also chase yellowbelly. Boothy, a muchrespected member of the fishing industry, presented a talk that had everyone thinking about changing their approach to yellowbelly fishing in impoundments. After the event I spoke with Steve about his thoughts on the day. “The VFA Codference was outstanding to be a part of, personally and

The author with Carl Jocumsen. Jocumsen was a big drawcard for those that attended the Codference. professionally,” he said. “Bringing together a range of sensational speakers, the Codference gave attendees a real insight to many facets of native fish throughout Victoria.” “From stocking to catching, from the history and through safe handling techniques, I learnt a lot from the speakers. “With over 500 people attending, this was a fantastic day that allowed me to immerse myself in cod culture from the start of the day, right through

female’s involvement in the sport of fishing and the growth of women in what is a male dominated industry. Her take on fishing and the barriers that she is knocking down was great for all inspiring females, showing there is a pathway for women in fishing. I feel if there was one negative on the day it was those who turned up grabbed their free bag and left. These people will be the same people who always question where

All presenters taking questions at the end of the day. All attendees learnt a lot about Murray cod, from targeting them to stocking and breeding. to the end.” I found throughout the day all keynote speakers were engaging and informative, from Lubin Pfeiffer talking Big Murray Cod Tactics to Will Trueman presenting his love for the trout cod and Macquarie perch. From someone who only enjoyed the Bunsen burners in science class at school, I, and many others, enjoyed the researcher’s information on fish populations and ways they have tackled the improvement in fish populations over the last 20 years. Karen Rees spoke about

fishing licence fees go, I urge anyone who hasn’t been to a Codference to get to one in the future. If the 2019 edition is in Shepparton or out of town for me it won’t make any difference, I will be putting it in the calendar as I feel it will become the second most important day on cod fishos calendar, just behind cod opening. For those who didn’t attend, you can find videos of all the talks throughout the day via the VFA Facebook, or if you search through the guest speaker’s Facebook pages you will be able to find the links. FEBRUARY 2019


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Getting deep into freshwater fishing fun TOOWOOMBA

Jason Ehrlich

The summer months are a great time for trolling lures for our native species. The fish find comfort in the deeper water and some species tend to scatter more out in the open. There are many things that dictate the depth a trolled lure will reach. Sure the packaging offers some indication as to running depth when you buy the lure, but there are a lot of variables that change this. The mistakes I most often see come when anglers need to push their lures as deep as possible. Open water bass are the prime example. BASS TROLLING TIPS Bass can find comfort at around 10m deep and to place a tiny trolled offering in front of them can present some problems. The depth at which bass will be found changes over the summer months as the thermocline rises in the water column. Pinpointing depth control is an important part of trolling and you will

reap the rewards once you can place lures right in front of the target fish. The diving depth of a lure in your trolling spread is quite an easy thing to determine. Once the throbbing rhythm at the rod tip is interrupted, it is likely the lure is dragging the bottom. A bit of calculation using the sounder will soon let you know how deep the lure is going. If you shorten the line until the lure is only occasionally touching bottom, you have its exact depth. This information is crucial to know when you venture out into deeper water and target suspending fish. The first and biggest mistake I see is anglers using lines that are too heavy. Heavy lines are thicker and the thicker the line the more resistance it has when it tries to cut down deeper into the water. Imagine trying to troll your lure on cotton or a piece of rope. Which one will allow it to go deeper? Light braided line is the easiest way to present an assortment of easily obtained lures to fish around 10m deep. I find 4-8lb ideal. With a fine diameter this line slices through the water

It’s the time of year to try reaction style lures on all species. Spinnerbaits are deadly on the bass when fished deep. This one ate a similar lure, the Hot Bite Torpedo.


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more realistic. It also gives some spring to the connection, as braid has next to no stretch. This helps prevent pulling hooks out of soft mouths. Forget using those bulky snaps with barrel swivels attached and if I see you using wire leaders to attach your lures, I will laugh behind your back. Keep all terminal tackle to a minimum. I have nothing against snap clips for bass fishing. Just choose one with a rating suited to the line you are using. Too big a snap will start to affect the lure’s

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Townsville 2

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Proserpine 6 Mackay





29 7


Highlighted dams are covered in this issue


30 8

Bundaberg 9



performance and it looks unnatural. A tiny snap will make changing lures an easy job and it lets them wiggle more freely as it pivots around the tow point. To seasoned bass trollers, this all may be basic stuff and once you get your head around it, it really is simple. Simple but effective! Trolling is always going to produce more fish when you can reach them. Place the offering in front of them and they will eat it. If it is metres above, you stand no chance. You can


always go shallower when it comes to trolling. A simple lure change or just running your lure back on a shorter line will see it come up higher in the water column. Not only does light braid allow you to troll hardbodies deeper, it gives you the ability to troll less conventional offerings like spinnerbaits, blades and tail spinners. If you haven’t already, change over to the light gear and reap the rewards. Until next month, buckled rods from The Colonel!

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

Maroon 93 91 88 Monduran/Fred Haigh 93 91 90 Moogerah 74 70 75 North Pine/Samsonvale 80 77 76 Peter Faust/Proserpine 61 59 60 Pindari 45 37 22 Somerset 77 76 77 Teemburra 85 78 85 Tinaroo 71 67 78 Toonumbar 100 96 90 Wivenhoe 70 67 66 Wuruma 99 98 96

For fortnightly updates on Sunwater dams visit This symbol indicates that a Stocked Impoundment Permit is required to fish these dams. All figures are % readings Current as of 16/01/19

(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.) 102



w w w. b a r g a i n b o a t b i t s. c o m . a u

Dam............................ % Full Copeton Cressbrook Dyer/Bill Gunn Eungella Fairbairn Glenlyon Hinze Julius Kinchant Koombooloomba Leslie Macdonald



brought to you by

Dam............................ % Full Atkinson Awoonga Bjelke-Petersen Boondooma Borumba Burdekin Falls Callide Cania Clarendon Cooby Coolmunda

allowing the lure to plummet. To gauge a brightly coloured line’s thickness by eye is a hard chore. The packaging is a far better indicator and most braids are similar when comparing their thickness and breaking strains. One this to consider though is that breaking strain is only a guide and the lines usually break at much higher than their rating. For an example of line thickness, let’s take a look at Berkley’s new X9 braid. The 4lb variant is only 0.06mm thick. The 10lb is only 0.12mm thick (only 1/10 of a mm) but still this is double the thickness of the 4lb. Double the thickness already means double the resistance when trying to send a lure deep. If you were to run 10lb monofilament, the thickness is 0.3mm (five times the thickness of 4lb braid) and enough to cost you several metres in the lure’s maximum diving depth. Not only does light braid give lures the ability to dive when trolling, the fine diameter is also great for casting sinking lures as well. These lures need to reach the bottom and stay close to it. Again, line resistance through the water comes into play. I have almost all of my bass spinning reels for Queensland lakes spooled with Berkley X9 in 6lb. This line seems to be perfect for tangling with fish out in the open water. Another mistake is to run a long leader when trolling. The leader is the thickest part of the connection to the lure and again resistance through the water is your enemy. For leader material 1-1.5m is plenty when trolling and rarely would you need to go over 12-14lb in leader size. This requires a braid to mono type connection knot like an Albright or full blood knot. Personally, I prefer a FG knot. The leader spaces the lure away from the highly visible braid to make the lure look

SOUTH EAST QUEENSLAND CRESSBROOK CLOSEST TOWN: CROWS NEST Cressbrook fish are very hard to catch at the moment. Sometimes it makes you wonder just how many fish are in the dam when they are so difficult to locate. Sounding around all the usual fish holding banks and points hasn’t been able to uncover much. It is not uncommon for the bass schools to break up over the summer months and spread out in the deep water. Here, they suspend where they are comfortable in the thermocline.

boat. These fish can be ridiculously tough to fool with a lure when below the boat, but a live shrimp can be a totally different story. You will need to drop the shrimp vertically to the same depth as the fish and wait for the bites. Depending on the mood of the fish it can take seconds or minutes to get the desired response, but it is probably the best way to consistently catch big bass in Cressbrook over the summer months. Just remember there is a speed limit of 8 knots and a restricted area at

This stud golden perch was an accidental capture. The team were winding their lures in closer to the boat to avoid a pile of lay down timber on Pelican Point at Somerset when all hell broke loose. When the fish are scattered out in the middle, trolling is a great way to entice them. To be successful, study your sounder to work out what depth the fish are holding at. You then need to choose a lure that can dive as close to them as possible. Deep divers that can reach 10m deep are often necessary. Lures like the Blitz Baga, Little Rippa, Smak Golden Child and Poltergeist 50mm Crazy Deep are ideal. Some kayakers have also managed to score some quality bass trolling tail spinners. The best section for trolling is usually out from Bass Bay and across the buoy line to Deer Island. Sometimes when you stop the boat, the fish will school below you out in the deep water. A spot lock electric will ensure you stay stationary and give them a good chance to school up below your

Cressbrook Dam. Check out the signage to ensure you stay out of trouble and abide by the rules. The gate hours for the boat ramps and day use area will be extended this month to 6am until 8pm. •For all your fishing supplies and the latest reports on Cressbrook and the surrounding dams, call in to see Fish’n’Bits in Alderly Street. They have a great range of lures and fishing gear. The boys can sort you out with the right gear and give you some tips on where to find them. SOMERSET CLOSEST TOWNS: ESK, KILCOY The fishing at Somerset was sensational at the start of the year. Trolling deep-diving hardbodies has been working a treat with fish schooling from Pelican Point all the way up past Kirkleigh. These bass schools also have a few golden perch mixed in to keep anglers busy. The

schools of bass have been quite mobile and trolling is a great way to explore the deep drop-offs into the old creek bed. At times the fish can also be found out wider in deeper water where they will suspend at a comfortable level. Keep exploring until you get a bite or find them on the sounder and then concentrate on that area. A lot of smaller fish are being caught, which is a good sign for the future. The bigger models tend to hold together, so again keep exploring to find them. The southern side of Pelican Point is a good spot to start. I have said it many times before and will say it again, use your Insight Social maps to follow the contours and find the fish. These maps can be downloaded onto an SD card and then run in the later model Lowrance and Simrad sounders. I go into the shading area and highlight 10m of water as a contrasting colour to make that depth range stand out on the contour chart. The way this has changed my fishing and results for the better is unreal. While most fish are being fooled on trolled lures, they can still be caught casting. The smaller fish have been most responsive and are not as fussy about what you offer them. The big units are a different story and can be very frustrating. When they are chewing, spoons will produce the numbers. We have started the day off tossing spoons with plenty of success only to have the bite shut down quickly. Tail spinners seem to keep the bites coming throughout the day. Try to work these at the same depth as the fish. Sometimes burning or high hopping them off the bottom into suspended fish is the way to go. Other times a slow wind may be more productive. There could be a trend where the fish prefer bigger baits wound more slowly along the bottom. Summer months are usually the time to try deep spinnerbaits, beetle spin rigged torpedoes and chatterbaits. These lures need to be at least 1/2oz in weight and fished on light braid to keep them deep enough. Because they do not cast as far as other lure options, wind drifting and dragging them along with the boat is a very successful method. •Somerset Fishing has their store based at the area above the day use boat ramp. The store is open over holidays and otherwise from Friday to Sunday. Orders can also be made online via the website www. They have an excellent range of gear suited to fishing for bass and golden perch.

Ben Black worked hard to fool a big one last month at Somerset. This giant of a summer bass ate the maggot coloured Jets tail spinner. WIVENHOE CLOSEST TOWNS: FERNVALE, ESK Despite the heat, there are still fish to be caught around the weed edges in the bay near Billies Bay boat ramp. Smaller bass seem to be most common now. You will need to cover some water and watch the sounder to find the best patches of fish. Once you find them, they should take TN60 Jackalls pulled back to the boat from the weed edge. This bite will be tough during the day as the fish go deeper and get harder to entice. Trolling the flats out in front of Billies Bay and working the sunken islands down towards the buoy line should produce bass, golden perch and plenty of fork-tailed catfish. Tail spinners were working well in the deeper water once fish were found last month, so they will definitely be worth a try. MOOGERAH CLOSEST TOWNS: RATHDOWNEY, BOONAH The fishing has been a

bit tougher at Moogerah. The fish that were suspending through the trees have been harder to find. Trolling will be a good option to cover heaps of water and closely study the sounder for any signs of life. Pick a medium running hardbody that dives to around 5m for inside the timber. If you go exploring on the flats and points in the main basin, you can run deeper lures without fear of snagging. The sounder will tell you what depth to fish. The fish are likely to be suspended off the bottom, so choose a lure to suit. If casting, reaction lures like lipless baits, spinnerbaits and tail spinners should do the trick. MAROON CLOSEST TOWNS: BOONAH, BEAUDESERT The surface action at Maroon should be in full swing. Bass can be caught at first light and late in the afternoon until dark. Topwater lures like small poppers and walkthe-dog style stickbaits are

perfect. Fish these around the healthy weed edges or over the tops of any submerged weed. When working these lures, allow a good pause of 2-5 seconds every metre or so. The better the spot, the slower your retrieve should be. Bass are a fish that will come back for multiple goes at a surface lure if they miss the hooks. The trick to getting them to come back is to leave the lure where they missed it. If you strike and pull it away from this zone, the fish won’t be able to find it again. Allow enough time for the fish to turn around and realign itself for another attempt before you move the lure again. If the line to the lure is tight the fish will hook itself on most occasions. During daylight hours, spinnerbaits and beetle-spin rigged soft plastics will get the bites around the weeded edges. Finding fish during the day and studying the To page 104

Gary’s Marine Centre

3201 6232

217 Pine Mountain Road, BRASSALL FEBRUARY 2019


From page 103

weed formations when the sun allows is a good start, prior to tying on a surface lure. NORTH PINE (LAKE SAMSONVALE) CLOSEST TOWN: BRISBANE, LAWNTON, PETRIE The lake has been ridiculously busy since the kayak area opened. Fishers have been getting stuck into the action and enjoying the relatively untouched fishery with uneducated fish. It will

be interesting to see how long they will endure the fishing pressure before they get smarter. Bass to over 50cm have been caught on a fairly regular basis with plenty of others in the mid to high 40s. There have also been saratoga and golden perch dragged into the kayaks on several occasions. Goldens and toga can be chased around the structure in the backs of the bays. Spinnerbaits and lipless crankbaits are a good way to tempt them.

DARLING DOWNS GRANITE BELT REGION COOBY CLOSEST TOWNS: HIGHFIELDS, TOOWOOMBA Cooby has been closed for around two months now due to high levels of bluegreen algae. Unlike other lakes that experience the same algae, the Toowoomba lakes are monitored very closely and closed to the public when levels are high. Unfortunately, the dam is likely to be closed for some time as the algae thrives through summer. Levels will be monitored closely and the dam will reopen once they drop, so keep an eye on Toowoomba City Council’s website. While the dam is closed, anglers and local businesses will miss out on the benefits. It is a shame as algae is only known to be harmful if

ingested. The green stain in the water was very beneficial prior to the lake closing. Cooby has always fished best around periods of low light because the water is very clear. The green water saw the golden perch chewing lures with gusto right through the day. Lipless crankbaits trolled and cast were hard to beat. Adding an assist hook to the tail of the lure is making all the difference and securely pinning a lot of the half-hearted bites. When adding the stinger to a lure like this, remove the cord loop from the split ring and reattach it by passing the loop through the inside of the ring and then looping it onto the ring by taking the hook through the cord loop. This shortens the cord by almost 10mm and prevents the assist

Bass will frequent the same areas but better numbers can be found in the more open water. Explore the drop-offs and points with a sounder to locate these fish. They can then be fooled on tail spinners and spoons. Trolling a hardbody while looking for fish is definitely a good idea. Some anglers rely just on these trolled lures to catch a swag of fish. If you are feeling lazy and want to slow the travel speed down, you can troll a tail spinner behind you for good results hook on the rear and treble on the belly from tangling all the time. LESLIE CLOSEST TOWN: WARWICK The fishing has been a bit tougher at Leslie. Despite this, there have been some cracker cod caught. Cody Haynes had a great run around Christmas with a cod over 90cm and another at 105cm. Both fish were in excellent condition. The big fella fell to a 1oz Sudsy Spinnerbait. Cod don’t chew all the time and when they aren’t cooperating, the fishing is hard work. You can mix it up and troll a 1oz spinnerbait and a lipless crankbait. Troll at around 2 km/h and the lures should be tracking well at a bit over 3-4m deep. Doing this you are likely to encounter cod and golden perch. Bait fishing with live shrimp or saltwater yabbies

Adam Krautz has a wild fashion sense when it comes to spinnerbaits. The bright colours are working well at Leslie and Coolmunda on the cod.

at this time of year. •For an update on the fishing and all the right advice and gear, call in to Tackle World Lawnton. These boys will be able to sort you out and ensure you stand a good chance of boating a few fish. KURWONGBAH CLOSEST TOWN: BRISBANE, LAWNTON, PETRIE Since the opening of North Pine the lake has had a bit of a spell with angling attention focused elsewhere. The Kurwongbah

will produce a mixed bag. Golden perch, silver perch and eel tailed catfish are most common. You can try your luck from the steep banks below the Washpool Reserve if you are land-based. From a boat, try along the steep ledges or on top of the rocky structure. •Along with getting a fishing report, stock up on all your gear while at Warwick Outdoor and Sports at 115 Palmerin Street Warwick. For a small store, it carries a great range at a very competitive price. Warwick is only a ten minute drive from the dam and you can pick up any supplies you might need. COOLMUNDA CLOSEST TOWN: INGLEWOOD The fishing has been steady at Coolmunda. The dam had a small rise a month or so ago but the fish are still taking lures. Some good cod are on offer if you work along the drop-off to the old creek


bed. You can troll bigger diving lures or spinnerbaits. Move up the dam away from the ramp until you find where the flats outside the old creek bed are 3-5m deep. Golden perch have been a bit slow this year, but if you add a smaller lure to your spread you are likely to find a few. •The Coolmunda Caravan Park is only one kilometre away from the lake. The park


is just off the Cunningham Highway but far enough away from the noise of trucks to get a good night’s sleep. It offers camping sites, cabins, caravan facilities, tennis courts, a swimming pool, BBQ shelter and a camp kitchen. To take advantage of this and the great fishing opportunities in the lake, give the park a call on (07) 4652 4171.

WIDE BAY AND SOUTH BURNETT REGION BOONDOOMA CLOSEST TOWNS: PROSTON, KINGAROY The dam has been fishing exceptionally well, with fish coming from shallow edges and deeper water. The Stuart Arm and top end of the main basin has been the spot to head early in the morning. Casting small spinnerbaits and blades around the edges should see you hooked up to bass and the occasional golden perch.

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weed edge and troll a lure up the dam until you want to try casting lures. The hotter weather may actually force some fish out into the open where they will suspend. Trolling is the ideal way to nail these fish. •Tackleworld Lawnton is an ideal port of call for all your fishing needs if fishing the lakes on the north side of Brisbane. The guys can point you in the right direction and help you experience some awesome fishing close to the heart of Brisbane.

Slow trolling TN60 Jackalls for golden perch is deadly.

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fish will be more likely to bite due to less pressure and it is a good option for those windier days. Casting spinnerbaits around the weed edges or popping blades down the weed face should see you in with a good chance. The mornings and late afternoons will fish best when the conditions are cooler and less bright. It is also the best time to enjoy the paddle you will need to make to reach the fish. Kayaks must be launched at Mick Hanfling Park. From here, you can sit outside the

As you head up further, the top end of the dam is dirtier, so try to stay just outside this coloured water if possible, as it usually doesn’t fish as well with lures. The main basin will have scattered fish throughout and these fish can be targeted with trolled lures. Suspended fish can be found up near the dam wall. Start checking this area and then search out To page 105

CAPRICORN REGION AWOONGA CLOSEST TOWNS: BENARABY, GLADSTONE Barra have been easier to find this summer than in previous years. Schools of fish are holding in the deeper trees off the main basin. These fish can be located on a quality sounder using down and side image. Once found, they can be tempted on soft plastics

and suspending hardbodies. They may be tough to fool as these schooling fish are usually just staging before they move off to a feeding location. If you keep casting at them, and give long pauses, one will usually make the mistake and bite. In the tight country around the trees, heavier braided line is recommended. Fish with at least 30lb braid and 50lb leader to prevent

getting busted up. Most of the fish are between 70-80cm, but don’t underestimate their pulling power when they are inside the timber. I run 50lb braid and 60lb leader just to stand a better chance of boating the fish. I don’t necessarily fish this line to breaking point as the lures and hooks I use wouldn’t cope. I run a medium drag and thumb the spool to increase the drag when necessary. The heavy line is used more for abrasion resistance around the trees

A weighted 6/0 Owner Beast Hook jammed in a 5” plastic is a deadly combo for extracting barra from Awoonga Dam’s weed beds. From page 104

from all the prominent points in the dam’s basin. Pick a lure that will dive close to the depth the fish are showing and start covering water. If you get a bite or see some fish on the sounder, work the area several times and rotate through lures if necessary to find what they want to eat. Trolling spinnerbaits and tail spinners can also catch better concentrations of fish. •Boondooma is a great place to camp right near the water and sit by the fire while enjoying the view. You could also stay in more style and comfort by booking into one of the cabins overlooking the dam. The kiosk at the main office does hot food and other basic items including an excellent range of proven fishing tackle. For campsites, cabins and bunkhouse rooms call (07) 4168 9694. For the latest information jump onto Facebook and check out Matthew Mott Sport Fishing for Motty’s latest fishing reports. BJELKE CLOSEST TOWNS: MURGON, GOOMERI Bjelke is fishing well despite being so low. The action is all happening in the bottom half of the lake where the deeper water can be found. The old creek edges are the place to search as the fish stack up along this area or suspend in the deeper water of the old creek. Try looking between

the dam wall and the caravan park boat ramp. This section has plenty of bass schools that should be keen to take a 4-6m diving hardbody. You can also troll spinnerbaits at a slower speed. Make sure you opt for a 5/8oz model to get the lure down to where the fish are and play around with the amount of line out to achieve the correct depth. There are great downsized bass spinnerbaits available from Smak and Bassman. Golden perch will be mixed in with the bass. Goldens can also be caught by trolling the deeper water around Bass Point. Lure casters will also have fun on the fish. Be prepared to move around looking for active ones and cover plenty of water as the fish can be scattered. It is hard to beat blade baits for these fish. The Smak Fire Blade in 3/8oz would be ideal. You can also drift over the fish and cast heavier spinnerbaits. Stick with light braid and run 1/2oz or 5/8oz baits to keep them down where the fish are. •For help catching Bjelke and Boondooma fish, call into Bass 2 Barra. The store stocks an awesome range of gear suited to chasing our freshwater fish and the boys have all the knowledge to guide you on how to use it. You’ll find the stores at 119 Youngman Street Kingaroy. Matthew Mott also runs fishing charters on the dams and you can reach him through the store for

bookings and enquiries on (07) 4162 7555. •The Yallakool kiosk is all set up with a great range of tackle if you don’t happen to have the right lure or lose one. Be sure to call in and check it out. Give them a call for accommodation and camping bookings on (07) 4168 4746. CANIA CLOSEST TOWNS: MONTO, BILOELA The bass are loving trolled lures at Cania. Fish can be found through the middle reaches of the main basin where they are suspending in deep water. Keep a close eye on the sounder to see what depth they prefer as this may change as the thermocline moves up or down in the water column. It is likely they will be found a little deeper around 8-9m below the surface. Choose a hardbody lure to suit this depth. Lures like the Blitz Baga, Golden Child and 50mm Poltergeist Crazy Deep are ideal. Fish can be found right up to the second cattle yards in the timber. If good numbers are spotted together, try casting lures like tail spinners, blades and spoons. Lure casters can also hit the edges early for saratoga. The upper part of the lake where structure is more common is likely to hold these fish. Any smaller gullies off the main dam are worth exploring with spinnerbaits as the fish will venture into the shallows early in the day before the heat forces them to go deeper and seek more comfortable water.

than for its pulling power. Darkness will see the fish moving more to feed. If you are able to crack the pattern and find these feeding locations, you’ll have some sensational sessions. While on the move, some fish can still be fooled but the action will not be as hot. Try the weedy points and bays, holes in the weed and isolated structure just outside the weed edge. Soft plastics rigged on weedless hooks like the Owner Beast Hook are ideal for fishing tight to the weed. Barra are an ambush feeder and will hide in the weed waiting for their next meal. This is why it is so important to place your lures right in there. Outside the weed edge, a standard jighead rigged plastic can be used. These more open areas also fish well with suspending hardbodies. The summer months are also a good time to try some topwater presentations. •Justin Nye from Gladstone Fly and Sportfishing runs fishing charters on the lake. He caters to the needs of the angler and can do fly or conventional tackle trips to target the lake’s barramundi. Justin reports the size of the fish is increasing with the average fish now around 78cm with plenty of bigger 80-90cm models to boost the

average. You can contact him on 0429 223 550 or visit the website gladstoneflyandspor •Mark from Awoonga Gateway Lodge always has a few productive secret spots to share. The Gateway lodge is on the way in to the dam after

turning off at Benaraby. The accommodation is great with plenty of boat parking space right beside the comfortable air conditioned, selfcontained cabins each with its own veranda. To book in a stay give Mark or Lyn a call on (07) 4975 0033.

WHITSUNDAY REGION PROSERPINE CLOSEST TOWNS: PROSERPINE, AIRLIE BEACH Barra are scattered through the dam and are on the move. Casting lures around weed beds and edges is still effective through the low light periods, but expect the fish to move deeper during the day. These fish can migrate some distance making them harder to find. Lure trollers working the main basin have the ability to cover heaps of water. Here, the barra suspend deep and happily cruise around. At times they can bunch up into better schools and this is when some awesome sessions can be experienced. Deep diving hardbodies like the Scorpion 8m Crazy Deep are perfect. Try trolling a couple of these lures 40-50m behind the boat and another lure in closer. The 5m Poltergeist seems to work well in this

position. Don’t be afraid to speed your troll up and travel at 4-6km/h. The extra speed seems to get more bites and another benefit is the lures are searching more water. If tighter patches of fish are found, try hopping vibes or rolling big soft plastics through them. Concentrate on presenting the lure close to the fish. This can be a bit tricky when the fish are suspended well off the bottom. Take notice of sink times, the number of winds and lure speed so all can be replicated once you have a bite. •For all your fishing supplies or a guided trip on the lake call Lindsay at Barra World on (07) 4945 4641. Lindsay’s barra tours can be busy in peak times so book ahead. The store is right on the highway in Proserpine and specializes in barra fishing tackle. You can also keep up to date by visiting their Barra World Facebook page.

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Go with the flow this month LAKE TINAROO

Warwick Lyndon

February on the Tablelands generally means one thing – wet season! At this time of year it is likely we will have numerous storms and rain events that will cause a rise in water

levels in Tinaroo. We have already seen this occur in December and January, and this month should only bring more. This can make fishing the lake unpredictable, but can also trigger the fish into feeding mode at certain times. Barramundi always respond to rain as it triggers

their natural urge to head downstream and spawn. They also like to make the most of the extra feeding opportunities that these conditions present. While the fish in the lake cannot access the saltwater in order to procreate, smart anglers can use this knowledge to predict the movement of these trophy-sized barra.

The business end of a medium-sized Tinaroo barra. Match the bait and you will eventually come up trumps.















Many of the large fish will head towards the northern end of the dam, or to the mouths of the major creeks and rivers around the lake. Here they will congregate in areas where suitable cover and food sources are available. Other fish will head towards the inflows that occur when water runs in from feeder creeks, bringing with it all sorts of food items. Last year when the wet was in full swing and there was large volumes of water running into the lake, the barra were seen boofing all over the place and many good fish were caught in these areas of running water. Generally when this occurs, timbered areas are the best as barra sit behind the trees and venture out to attack anything edible being flushed past. The great news for those without a boat is that some of these areas are often fished best on foot, and many suitable spots can be accessed from the road that surrounds the lake. The creeks on the eastern side of the dam fished well when this occurred last season, but be prepared to get wet as the best fishing generally occurs while the water is flowing hard from recent storms, or even while it is still raining. A rise in water levels and afternoon storms will see baitfish activity increase in the lake, and the old saying ‘find the bait, find the fish’ rings true in Tinaroo. As always, the ability to locate large schools of baitfish on your traditional or side scan sounder will put you in with the best chance of finding those finicky barra. Usually these big aggregations of bait are bony bream, which barra love to eat. If you see these baitfish flicking near the surface, this is a good sign that they are nervous due to barra in the vicinity. For the lure chuckers, fishing in these areas with large soft plastics, shallow diving hardbodied lures or vibes is usually the best bet. Bait fishers can also get in on the act and lately I have witnessed quite a few good barra fall victim to the humble old pilchard, fished either lightly-weighted or under a float. Regardless of what you are throwing at them, the key to landing Tinaroo barra is putting the time in where the fish are. This means finding the structures that hold the fish, and then trying to match the bait in the area. Please be safe when fishing and boating on the lake this month. Large

Trent Delai with a cracking Tinaroo barramundi. Rain really turns the barra bite on. logs often float on, or just underneath the surface of the water after the dam level rises, and care should be taken when navigating the lake in any craft – particularly when under power in a boat. If the dam is predicted to exceed 100% capacity and spill over, the fish retention barrier net will also be deployed. If this occurs, please take care to

avoid both the net itself and the associated buoys and anchorages. This will prevent damage to your vessel and the net, and allow the majority of the barra to remain in the lake for all to enjoy. If you want to keep up with more of my FNQ adventures, you can like Wazza’s Fishing Page on Facebook or Wazza’s Fishing on YouTube.

Not to be outdone by his brother, Joel Delai landed this solid barra recently.

THIS STORY IS UNLIKELY TO HAVE A HAPPY ENDING Our family has fished in Moreton Bay for generations and my husband and I have been heavily involved in angler education for more than 20 years. I have also spent a quite a few years working within the catchment networks. To say that I was quietly confident that recreational fishing had an optimistic future would be an understatement. Recreational fishers’ involvement with SEQ Catchments and the

to Fisheries Queensland this year. According to the budget papers, that leaves $800,000 to be provided by other users fees. On the six main working groups, Queensland’s 2148 commercial fishers have 36 representatives and our 642,000 recreational fishers have 16 representatives. When you add the 22 FQ observers it is perfectly clear why all the outcomes from these meetings are adversely affecting recreational fishers. Here is an extract from an email received from Claire Andersen,

A breakdown on the sources of revenue in relation to fisheries. Fish Habitat Network demonstrated just how invested they were in improving our fisheries for future generations. The Sustainable Fisheries Strategy seemed to be the next logical step towards better management and co-management of Fisheries across Queensland. With frighteningly similar overtones to George Orwell’s Animal Farm it seems more than evident that some fishers are more equal than others. There will be many mud slingers who try to dispute the future we are facing. Below I have provided some information from the Fisheries Qld website to allow you to come to your own conclusions. If you are following the official statements coming from the working groups (which are filtered summaries as no minutes are provided) you will notice some staggering similarities coming out across the various fisheries. Just before Christmas, Sunfish Queensland received a copy of the Fisheries Queensland organizational chart – 352 staff and not a single person goes to work each day with the task of maintaining or enhancing recreational fishing! This is very hard to stomach considering the recreational sector will be contributing $6.7 million

Executive Director, Fisheries Queensland: “Implementing a general possession (of 20) limit for species that currently have no individual species possession limits is a major recommendation of the East Coast Inshore reform package for recreational fishers. The East Coast Inshore Working Group (in August 2018) requested Fisheries Queensland develop a list of

at the next inshore meeting in March. In the meantime we have asked for some feedback from members.” This means that the East Coast Inshore Working Group is recommending to the Minister that any species that have previously been considered ‘in abundance’ should not require a recreational possession limit, pushing for a total possession limit of 20. This particular working group has six commercial representatives, three recreational representatives who attend and five Fisheries QLD staff. Remembering also that Queensland’s in possession limits include anything that you have in your freezer at home. There was absolutely no discussion around placing quotas on the same species taken by commercial fishers. This is hardly fair or equitable. Unlike the commercial netters on Bribie Island and Moreton Island who repeatedly drag nets up and down the beach until recreational fishers are unable to catch a single whiting – what we expect is fair and equitable treatment. The following is a published statement (summer 2017) by the Labor member for Redcliffe, Hon Yvette D’Ath, Attorney General in regards to boosting recreational fishing in Moreton Bay: “Discussions are well advanced with key

Recreational fishers outnumber commercial fishers, but their voices are not fairly represented in the working group. recommended in possession limits for common bait species which do not currently have individual possession limits in place. This would allow fishers to continue to take them in exception of a general possession limit (proposed at 20). There will be further discussion on this matter

stakeholder groups on the merits of implementing commercial net-free fishing areas in Moreton Bay to support recreational fishing. The Palaszczuk Government has already met its election commitment with the creation of net-free zones in Cairns, Rockhampton and Mackay on 1 November 2015

and we are capturing data on the impacts of these zones. As part of our Sustainable Fisheries Policy, we are now ready to explore how recreational fishing areas can be best instituted in Moreton Bay to increase local fish stocks whilst balancing the impact on the commercial industry.” The following is the reply as to why this has not been discussed by the Moreton Bay working group: “At the last meeting we spent time going through the terms of reference (available online at https://www.daf.qld. fisheries/sustainablefisheries-strategy/fisheryworking-groups/moretonbay-working-group) for this working group. The working group has been established to trial a regional approach to fisheries management and provide advice on the operational aspects of managing a range of fisheries and sharing fisheries resources within a defined geographic area. The objective is to look at developing options for regionally-specific fishing rules (e.g. regional catch limits, access requirements or rules for each sector). We will provide an update on where the other fisheryworking groups are at and start discussing possible options for regional management in Moreton Bay at the next meeting. At the last meeting we also provided information on the Reallocation of Fisheries Resources Policy. A net free zone proposal would be considered separately under this framework. A copy of the policy, which outlines the criteria and process for considering such proposals, is available online at: business-priorities/fisheries/ sustainable-fisheriesstrategy/fisheries-resourcereallocation-policy. We can have a short discussion about these as part of preliminary business at the next meeting if you like.” So we can only assume that a short discussion means that we will open the discussion, but expect that the numbers in the room will choose to end the discussion quickly. Another item for consideration is that there have been some very strong discussions at the trawl and the inshore working groups regarding limiting recreational cast netting in Moreton Bay and yet since

the introduction of Moreton Bay Marine Park trawl tonnage has increased by 54% in an area reduced by 46%. Banana prawn takes increased from 98tonne in 2007 to 348tonnes in 2017. MEDIA STATEMENT The following is a statement from the Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries, the Honourable Mark Furner on 12 June, 2018 in regards to the state budget for Queensland’s fishing industry. “We’ll continue to implement the Queensland Sustainable Fisheries Strategy 2017-2027 announced last year that provided additional funding of $20.9 million over three years to ensure that fisheries resources are managed in a sustainable and responsible manner that recognises the interests of all Queenslanders. Excellent progress has already been made with a third of the Strategy actions completed in the first 12 months. More than $7.8 million

to help promote their net-free zones. An upgraded recreational fishing app and new commercial fishing app will also be funded this year, making it easier for all fishers to comply with the rules.” TRANSLATION The $20.9 million additional funding has been pledged by the Queensland Government to implement the Sustainable Fisheries Strategy over three years. In the first year $100,000 goes to help promoting Net Free Areas and recreational fishing in the north of the state and more than $7.8 million will include working with industry to help minimise the costs associated with vessel tracking. “Some people expressed concern that possession limits might change. It’s important to understand that the proposal is only for Fisheries Queensland to be able to adjust possession limits if it is outlined in a pre-agreed harvest

RECREATIONAL FISHERS • Reduced possession limits on existing species that have no sustainability concerns. • New possession limits on bait species that are currently considered in abundance. • New combined multi species possession limits. • New combined boat possession limits. • No community consultation (maximum of four people at a time and no minutes). • Fisheries QLD are now disputing the existence of localized depletions. COMMERCIAL FISHERS • TACC (Total Allowable Commercial Catch) that will be equal to current assumed catch rates. • Increased TACC for coral trout. • Port meetings along the coast for all license holders. • VMS – Vessel Monitoring System. will be allocated in 2018-19 to support the Strategy, which will include working with the industry to help minimise the costs associated with vessel tracking. The fisheries sector would also benefit from 20 more compliance officers across the state. This includes 16 in the Great Barrier Reef region. We are also investing in additional monitoring, harvest strategies for all fisheries and vessel tracking on all crab, net and line boats by the end of 2018. The Palaszczuk Government will provide the remainder of $100,000 pledged last year to the Rockhampton, Mackay and Cairns Regional Councils

strategy that has been approved following public consultation,” Mark Furner said on 5 June, 2018. If only that was what was coming from the working group. REALITY CHECK More than half of Queensland’s recreational fishers (approximately 346,000) live in South East Queensland (DAF 2013-14 State-wide Recreational Fishing Survey). Approximately 278,000 of them are old enough to vote. – Judy Lynne The views expressed in this article are that of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Fishing Monthly Group.

Email: FEBRUARY 2019


The swings and roundabouts of fishing trips BRISBANE

The Sheik of the Creek

It’s no secret that the Dudds would prefer, as a group, to put off until next week something that we’d prefer to do the week after. Sort it out later in other words. But this year we’ve managed to exceed even our bottom feeding expectations when it comes to organising things at the last moment. The annual Dudds trip has been organised not at the last moment, but actually slightly after that. In line with our lack of even a sniff of planning, we’re too late to book a house, unit or caravan that’s anywhere close to where we had hoped to fish. Even the tents are booked out. But we’ve only got ourselves to blame. Unfortunately, it means that the endless hours that me and Stuffer have spent

pouring over pictures on the interwebs discussing tactics will have to be shelved. Which is a shame because those plans – resplendent with diagrams, mud maps and directions – were done down to the greatest detail; so much so that they make the Allies Normandy landing on DDay look like a spur of the moment picnic. For example, a typical discussion would start with no hello from Stuffer over the phone, just something like, “So if we go into Kenno’s Hole two hours and eight minutes after low, anchor at point 4 and I throw that old B52 with upgraded trebles at 85 degrees, assuming no wind swing from an expected 20 knot S-SE, would you expect two or three winds of the handle to put the lure into close enough proximity to Pommers Rock to allow any resident jack over 48cm enough time to approach?” At which point I would

be forced to point out the absolute differences in velocity imparted between his two reels, and so on. I suppose the saving grace for us is that we rarely trouble the scorer on our annual trips, despite the intricate planning that goes on with respect to tactics, lures, line, rods, reels, livies, tides, wind, chop, swell and a few hundred other variables over which we have no control. Perhaps the approach we’re taking this year, of avoiding the exotic locations in central and northern Queensland and instead dumping all our gear at Skipper’s place, will leave us way ahead in terms of catch rate. I mean, we don’t have to spend hours throwing nets to get bait, we know where most of the rocks and sand bars lie, having hit most of them at one stage or another. Not to mention, we have a comfortable bed to return to after each session.

It won’t have the element of excitement that we’ve had in previous years; that feeling of eager anticipation felt when we drop the boats


in on that first morning and dream of the monster catches waiting for us, but neither will it have the kick of despair as we winch up on

the final morning and curse the fishing gods. Swings and roundabouts I suppose, like most things in life. Swings and roundabouts.

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Restoring the Balance: 2019 Carp/Tilapia Comp It’s on again! The annual Logan & Albert Fish Management Association’s Carp and Tilapia Eradication (LAFMA) competition to be held at Wyaralong Dam on Saturday 23 March, 2019. This one-day, familyorientated, fun fishing

out of the Logan and Albert River systems and replace them with native fish. LAFMA, formerly known as Carpbusters, ran seven successful Easter Carp Eradication competitions from 1998 to 2004, and removed more than 10 tonne

project for their fish stocking program in 2012. As the Logan and Albert system was already infested with carp and tilapia, it would not be long before these pests also took over this dam. In 2013, they decided to reinvent the carp competitions

Participants can fish from the bank, a kayak, canoe, or even a boat, as long as you don’t start the motor.

Previous Carp/Tilapia Eradication competitions have yielded the following results: Year 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 The competition is a great family fun day out. competition is aimed at catching pest fish carp and tilapia. Competitors will be helping to remove some of these noxious fish from the dam, as well as helping Logan & Albert Fish Management Association (LAFMA) raise funds to supplement money received from the Stocked Impoundment Permit Scheme (SIPS). There will be heaps of prizes and giveaways and one lucky entrant will go home with a kayak – you don’t even have to catch a fish to be in the running for this beauty. Participants can fish from the bank, kayak, canoe, or even your boat (as long as you don’t start the motor, as this is an electric only impoundment). It has been 20 years from where it all started. The ‘Carp Out – Natives In’ concept was started by a small group of concerned anglers in the Rathdowney/ Beaudesert area to get introduced noxious carp

of carp from the rivers. They also raised approximately $65,000 to purchase fingerlings for the native fish stocking program. Wyaralong Dam, 14km north west of Beaudesert, was completed in 2011 and filled almost on completion. LAFMA decided to take on Wyaralong Dam as a

of old, and invest any net profit from the competitions into Australian bass and Mary River cod fingerlings. They decided to make Wyaralong a Mary River cod fishery, stocking mainly Mary River cod with a back up of Australian bass. The tilapia population have exploded in Wyaralong

No. Comp 134 140 255 251 160 228

Carp 180 273 109 62 28 81

Largest kg 4.00kg 4.80kg 6.28kg 6.89kg 6.9kg 2.48kg

Largest kg 2.06kg 1.8kg 2.53kg 2.26kg

Dam so let’s hope that stocking the dam with an apex predator, such as the Mary River cod, will once again ‘restore the balance’. For more information, entry forms go to www. A Stocked Impoundment Permit (SIP) is required to fish Wyaralong Dam for those 18 years and over. – Lloyd Willmann, LAFMA

This 62cm jack, caught from a kayak, was a PB for Steele Petrovic. It beat his previous score by 1cm.


Tilapia 0 75 803 1189 1611 2109

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$27,000 FEBRUARY 2019


Hyundai’s Santa Fe Active – a seriously good ride BRISBANE

Wayne Kampe

First appearing on our shores way back in 2000, the Hyundai Santa Fe has undergone a mighty

long term. We’ve got some pretty ordinary roads in our country, especially when you’re venturing out to that prime fishing hotspot. So why not ensure the Santa Fe will handle all the abuse they can dish out before the car hits the sales yards!

That’s a dash layout with attitude. Features are exactly where one might expect them, but note the large open pocket on the left, the perfect place for a phone or tablet. transformation from its initial design to stand where it does today, as the flagship of a car manufacturer that people are taking very seriously. Today, the Santa Fe in its several variants is a prominent seven seater SUV, and has a unique ability to look spacious without actually being a large vehicle. This means it is quite roomy without being difficult to manoeuvre around roads and car parks, especially at peak times. It’s one vehicle that really suits our roads and back roads (however good or bad they might be) as the 2019 model’s suspension and other vital components were tested right here in Australia to ensure they would maintain integrity and correct function in the

BASE ‘ACTIVE’ REVIEWED I have reviewed the base Active model in the Santa Fe range, because it arguably offers the best value for money over the Elite and Highlander with their powered tail gates and seats, chilled glove boxes, proximity keys, power folding mirrors, built in Sat Nav with live traffic updates, along with leather trim throughout and bigger road wheels. The Highlander even has a panoramic sunroof and puddle lamps are also part of the picture. It takes a somewhat practiced eye to distinguish between Santa Fe models, and the 2.2L diesel engine and 8-speed auto unit linked to all wheel drive is common throughout. VALUE FOR MONEY Back to the Active, there is a considerable price advantage over more

The Hyundai’s centre dash styling sees three levels of function carried down to the console in a modest yet stylish efficiency. high specced luxury Santa Fe models (around $8,000 below the middle of the road Elite and near $14,500 difference when we look at the all bells and whistles Highlander with its heated seats and steering wheel). Yet the Active is packed to the roof with sensible features and items to make driving more than just comfortable, but a real pleasure. Whether it’s a run around town or a country drive where the

An easily found array of controls for vital functions ensures that Santa Fe’s drivers are up with the latest technology.




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All wheel drive and reasonable ground clearance saw the Santa Fe easily tackle the tough terrain. 2.2L 147kW/440Nm diesel engine (available in all three Santa Fe models if diesel power is your choice) can really stretch its legs and amaze with its performance and frugality.

information display would register 6.8L/100, brilliant for a solid car well loaded and moving briskly! The fuel tank capacity was 71L. A SEVEN SEATER The 2019 model Active

A 60/40 fold down arrangement for the second row of seating greatly enhances rear cargo carrying capacity. GREAT FUEL ECONOMY On a country run the Active – cloth seats and all – was a smooth and very laidback performer thanks to the peppy twin overhead cam and 2.2L turbo diesel engine linked to an 8-speed gearbox driving all four wheels. Hyundai claim 7.5L/100km fuel economy and I went very close to that figure (7.9L/100km) with enough luggage and other gear in the car to equal at least four adult passengers. On long straights at highway speed the centre dash

features a refreshed interior over the previous model and, as is the case with all Santa Fe models, is a seven seater. Two very comfortable seats up front (the driver’s seat has height adjustment), room for three adults in the middle row, with the third row available when required. Admittedly, the move into the third row of seats would be best left to younger people or others of smaller stature. With the ability to fold the second and third row seats right down for extra luggage space, I found room in the rear was surprisingly good. With the second and third row rear seats down there was 176cm length of load area available. When the second row of seats were standing this reduced it to a cargo area 107cm long,

The third row seats are large enough for adults, but scurrying in there might be best left to youngsters.


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still a decent amount. Then with the third row of pews up and ready for occupation, this load area compacted to a skinny 40cm area, which will fit your groceries or maybe a skinny icebox. COMFORT AND CONVENIENCE NOT FORGOTTEN With electric controls for most things – wheel mounted audio, cruise, trip computer and mode controls, a very clear 7.0” centre info screen linked to Apple Car Play, Android Auto, AUX/USB with IPod

Smart styling characterises this year’s Hyundai Santa Fe. Santa Fe Active was never fussed by bad bitumen or corrugated gravel surfaces and only the worst pot holes and wash outs on a forest track brought any sensation inside the cabin.

Back roads and corrugated gravel sections failed to diminish the comfort of the Hyundai Active’s ride. For those wanting to tow, factory specified capacity is rated at 2000kg for a braked trailer, 750kg for an unbraked unit. With

all wheel drive, plus the very willing diesel engine, a lot of small craft could find their way to and from the boat ramp on the

back of the sweet running Hyundai, yet as a full on family people mover it would surely get the tick of approval as well.

The Active’s rear passengers are not overlooked as far as heating and air conditioning are concerned. compatibility, audio input with Bluetooth streaming, active cruise control (to ensure a safe distance from cars ahead), a reversing camera with parking sensors, auto headlights, air

conditioning with rear seat controls and power outlets up front as well as in the rear – the Active certainly pampered occupants. Comfort is a big feature of this SUV. The ride in the

The Santa Fe Active spoils its passengers with features and functions.

With a second and third seat out of the way, a 176cm long fishing rod could be stored perfectly.



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Cooking with lynn bain

It’s not a part-ay until you add the satay BRISBANE

Lynn Bain

The delightful spicy peanut flavour of the satay sauce partners deliciously

with prawns. To make these kebabs, simply slide a sequence of colourful fruit and veggies onto wooden skewers. When I made this recipe I used pineapple pieces, red and green capsicum, onion leaf wedges and the

prawns. However, you can use anything you think would match well with the satay prawns. These satay skewers also make a wonderful side dish to a grilled steak for a ‘satay surf and turf’ product.


Ingredients Satay Sauce • 1 cup peanut butter (of your choice) • 1 brown onion (halved) • 2 cups chicken stock • 2 tablespoons soy sauce • A good pinch dried chilli flakes • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds

Heat a little cooking oil in a heavy based pot over a medium heat. Cut the brown onion into half and finely dice one of the halves. When the oil has heated, add the diced onion to the pot and cook for a few minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onion has softened.

Skewers • Skewers (pre-soaked in water) • Green prawns • Capsicum • 1 brown onion (halved) • Pineapple pieces

Now add the stock, soy sauce, chilli flakes and cumin seeds to the pot containing the softened onion. Stir well and continue to cook for a few minutes.





Continue to cook, stirring, until the contents of the pot have thickened to a sauce-like consistency.

Load the wooden skewers with the green prawns and a variety of capsicum cubes, onion pieces and pineapple. I like to pass the skewer through the green prawns through the tail and then again through the thickest part of the body. This will stop the prawns spinning around on the skewer when you turn them over during the cooking process. Heat the frypan to a medium-high heat and when hot, place the loaded skewers into the pan. Cook the skewers on one side for a minute and then turn the skewers over so that they cook on the other side.

Add the peanut butter to the pot and continue to cook, stirring all the time, until the peanut butter has been incorporated into the sauce.


Place the lid onto the frypan in order to lightly steam the prawn skewers as well as sautéing them. A glass lid helps in this phase because you can see what is happening in the pan. 112



After a couple of minutes, remove the lid from the pan. Drizzle the loaded skewers with some of the satay sauce and continue to cook for a further minute


Place the cooked satay prawn skewers onto individual serving plates (with the steak if you are going for the surf and turf option) and serve with a jug or bowl of the satay sauce for the diners to add to their prawns.

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The measure of a man SUNTAG

Stefan Sawynok

I had plans for a different article this month, but sometimes the universe has other ideas. Working late as I often do, Steve Morgan turned up to record a video to attach to an article, and he mentioned he had some data on his use of lures and that was just too much of a temptation. I immediately asked him if I could look over it. I would recommend checking out Steve’s article in this year’s Tournament Angler Guide, as it provides some great insights on

dairy surveys to world records in more than one country. Fishing conforms to the power law distribution, and interestingly, this is despite attempts to enforce the opposite. One area where human performance does not conform to a power law occurs when productivity caps are enforced. In theory bag limits or quotas in the commercial industry represent productivity caps. While bag limits do restrict productivity in some instances, in most the option to catch more than one species or go catch and release means highly productive recreational fishers don’t face limits in practical terms. While it has been a challenge to define the

on to fishers, and I have reviewed mountains of data and literature. Every fisher is different, and I think making population-wide predictions is fraught with danger, not least because most of the studies on fishers don’t collect much data on the key things that influence productivity. It’s hard enough to get fishing data; everything else is a bonus. None the less I have been able to reliably predict performance from some key pieces of information about the fisher. • Motivation – why are you in fishing? For most people fishing is just a recreational activity but two key motivations will reliably predict your fishing ability, being motivated to catch fish

Figure 2 – Performance impact of crab type lures. technique and which lures find the fish. Checking over the data, I had another question in mind, which lures had a measurable impact on his performance, that is his finishing position as opposed to success catching fish. Which of course led to an important question of how do you measure performance? Where are you on the fishing performance curve? Before we get to that question, let’s look at some background information. Human performance is a field that has been explored in large-scale studies with hundreds of thousands of people across many disciplines. The long and short is that activities with a high level of autonomy and variable time investment end up with the productivity of individuals represented by a power law distribution, more commonly known as a Pareto distribution, the 80/20 rule. I have looked at the cumulative performance of groups of fishers in a wide variety of contexts, from state-level 114


productivity of fishers over three years of looking at data from here and overseas, I have developed a definition that does have metrics. Note this applies to broad scale populations. You can grade yourself on where you sit on the productivity curve: • Most fishers (80-90%) – can do the basics, may catch fish less than one per trip on average, can use baits and simple techniques but don’t fish regularly enough to master. • Skilled fishers (9-19%) – fish more regularly, can be up to weekly, have mastered a one or more techniques and can catch 1-2 fish every time they go fishing on average. • High performers (1%) – are either expert in a technique or mastered many and can catch more than 2+ fish on average each time they go out. WHAT DIFFERENTIATES PERFORMERS? How to define the difference between fishers is a question I have passed

(ie large numbers of fish) or being motivated to develop the fishing skills. • Genetics – most sports have a genetic advantage, size, speed and so on. In the case of fishing, this is lessened some by the static nature of fishing but there is no doubt in my mind biological drivers do provide an advantage. There is a hunting instinct and we don’t have it equally. This trait hasn’t been anywhere near enough study completed on but there has been enough work done to confirm that hunting has a genetic basis. • Time – how much time do you have for fishing? Paradoxically this isn’t how much time you have to fish in the literal sense, but rather time invested in developing fishing skills. I have met plenty of anglers who fish regularly without developing any in terms of fishing ability and often are happy with that as they are fishing for other reasons than focusing on catching fish. Equally, I have met anglers who can only fish once every couple of months

but make the most of every chance they get to improve. • Technology – how good is your gear? Everything from rods, reels, tackle, boats and electronics makes a difference. That is not to say the human element isn’t necessary or that you have to invest heavily technology to be successful, but this is the complementary component to the genetic component. Bring the two together and you end up with fishing weapons. Equally, as much as it’s hard to measure without setting up some controlled experiments, I have looked at a lot of fishers in detail, and I do believe there is a spectrum between fishers whose performance is driven by technology as opposed to fishers driven by genetics. • Data – Good fishers have long kept diaries and while the data collection means have changed over time, with apps and echo sounders doing a lot more of the work – how you use data does influence where you end up on the performance curve. As a rule, the higher up the performance ladder the more likely the fisher is to be counting fish and recording conditions – even if it’s only in their head. HOW DO YOU MOVE UP THE PERFORMANCE CURVE? Most people don’t move much up the performance curve, and that is in no small part due to the brain being a pattern machine, once you establish a pattern, it’s hard to break. As an example studies on the failure rate on New Year’s resolutions come up somewhere between 80-95%. Fortunately, there are methods available to improve performance, and I have used them consistently to develop new skills rapidly for the past five years even on things I hate

Figure 1 – Steve’s Performance relative to all 1st places 2014-2018. (nobody likes maths!) There is another powerful engine in your brain that needs to be activated – the problem solver. Your brain loves solving problems even more than patterns, which is just as well because otherwise, we would never have progressed past cavemen. For those at the beginning of their fishing skill development, there is a great book by Josh Kaufman, The First 20 Hours, that helps you get through the process of developing any skill with just 20 hours investment. That way you can be into the fun stuff faster. Note, the following are key to moving up the performance curve, not a statement of end skill. Most fishers achieve a skill level they are happy with and are happy then to cruise and enjoy fishing. • Motivation – Why do you want to change? This is not about being Rocky, the eye of the tiger stuff, but just being clear on what is the positive benefit of the change for you. • Practice – Skip it. Well not quite, but you do need very specific goals on the things you want to achieve. “I want to get better at catching fish” is too general a goal to focus your brain on problem-solving, but “I want to catch whiting” is a

good start, or even better “I want to catch whiting landbased” or even better still “I want to catch whiting, land based on lures”. The more specific the target of practice, the better chance you will develop skills. • Preparation – Do you have what you need to get to the next level? No, that doesn’t mean go out and buy a Stella, but it does mean having the basic tools and information on techniques to tackle the specific problem you have selected. Making good connections in the fishing community is a good preparation tool. • Metrics Matter – Get the metrics right both for measuring improvement. This can be a challenge because the metrics you need to advance to the next stage of your development need to change. • Beginners/In development – metrics need to be based on the inputs rather than the outputs. Success is to be celebrated but it isn’t a good measure of where you are at. A much better measure is to break down the components of the skill and set goals, for example, casting might be to land within a certain zone. Another good metric is to review what new things you learned or improved each fishing session.

Figure 3 – Performance impact of hardbody type lures.

• Intermediates/Skilled – Once skills have developed to the point where success is consistent, it’s time to flip the script and set measurable output goals. This might be the number of fish in a year, the number of areas visited to build experience in different conditions or success with different techniques. As skills

eight or longer. Fish don’t feed randomly across time; there are specific times when they are most active (the bite period), so even if the fishing day is eight hours long, there won’t be an equal chance each hour of catching a fish. Second, there is often a limited number of fishing spots, particularly in smaller

what you are after. Energy Most of tournament fishing is a grind with a window where the fish turn on, in other words, the bite period. Hopefully, the bite period is early in the event when the tank is full, but if not it’s important to regulate the cast rate in the

Figure 4 – Performance impact of soft plastic type lures. for the task increase, your brain demands more specific goals to stay in problemsolving mode otherwise, it defaults back to pattern mode. How obsessive you are about this process of setting metrics and achieving them dictates how far up the performance ladder you will go. • High Performers – metrics need to focus on relative performance. At this point, skill acquisition is not a key problem but measuring yourself is. Many high performers stick to the ‘setting targets’ model, but now the targets have combine fixed (how many) and relative (ranking compared to other fishers). Many high performers I have met are good at keeping records and knowing how they are tracking. Peter Jung at Fishing Monthly is an excellent example of a high performer; he has a goal of reaching 1000 flathead tagged, then to make it into the top three all time of taggers of flathead. By combining fixed (1000 fish) and relative (top 3) he is maximizing the chances of him identifying and solving every problem he needs to achieve them. COMPETITIONS ADD NEW DIMENSIONS There is a world of difference between fishing and competition fishing. Things that work in regular fishing won’t necessarily work in competitions, and there are two key reasons – time and resources. Time is a significant restriction regardless of whether the fishing day is four hours,

fishing areas. Again, fish are not spread uniformly across the fishing area, and competitors go to great lengths to capture those spots where fish aggregate. Watch the start of any high-end fishing tournament; you will see that some boats have the edge. Fishing is different to all other sports, which generally put limitations on equipment and tactics to ‘even out the contest’. Fishing is inherently unfair right from the start, favouring those with the ability to find fish and despite the rise of technology that has remained true. None the less it would be interesting to see a fishing competition where everyone had to use the same specifications of gear and boats and what that would do to results. TIME MANAGEMENT Time is the most critical commodity in tournament fishing. Here are some key elements to good fishing time management I have divined from hundreds of conversations with competition fishers. Preparation Prep for a fishing tournament is entirely different to regular fishing. Here you aren’t focused on catching fish but working out where the fish are which will respond to your skills. That isn’t the same as fishing where the best fishers fish. I am a big fan of the low fishing pre-fish using electronics to work out the fish and removing the hooks if you do wet a line. Intelligence is

off periods and keep up the fuel. Coffee is good, but sugar and carbs aren’t as that will spike insulin and provide distractions. Decision making You need a plan for success but also a plan for failure so that if things aren’t working you know what you are going to do and if it’s not going to happen, what you can do to improve for the next time around. Winging it in competitions is fine, but will limit progress in the long term unless you were born with a fish in your mouth. Luck Luck is an underrated commodity. Luck is intangible; random things happen, what isn’t intangible is how much preparation you do to make the random things work your way. Not losing the fish at the net, being in the right place at the right time can be the difference between winning and losing. All fishers need luck, but the lesser fishers blame fate for their lack of success. In all sports it’s true that you make your own luck, double and triple checking knots getting good intelligence, having a plan based on that Intel are things that improve your luck when the odds can swing either way. Making your own luck is one of the keys to success, relying on luck isn’t. MINI CASE STUDY: STEVE MORGAN I have written several articles looking at Steve Morgan from a performance perspective. As he livestreams when he fishes and uses the ABT Competition app, there

is a wealth of additional data available that we don’t have for most fishers. In this case however, Steve presented me with some new data that I hadn’t previously considered – the lures that he used throughout the year and which ones caught fish. While individual lure is not a very useful comparison it turns out when grouped by class of lure we get some interesting things to pop out. I have looked at a lot of influences on performance, but so far lures have eluded me as I haven’t had a dataset I had any confidence in. As soon as I caught sight of Steve’s spreadsheet, I knew I had to have a play with the data. The tricky part of looking at performance, in this case, is context. The number of fish and bag weight is measured not against Steve’s personal history, but other fishers performance. What I needed was a metric that shows the difference between Steve and the best. Placings are pretty reasonable measures of performance outcomes, but don’t provide a measure of ‘how large a success’. To get around this, I thought about fishing tournaments and the objectives – that is to get 1st place always (in theory). Using first place as a yardstick, any bag weights less than the first place weight

in 2014-2016. It’s good to see that the data shows his rebound as things improved. The same pattern could be seen in average placings. That gave me confidence that the metric was useful. So, how would we assess whether a given lure had an impact on his performance? I had a late night pondering the approach, but in the end I came up with a quadrant map that demonstrates nicely the effect different lures had. This is something that anyone can do with a pencil and a piece of graph paper, and a little maths and the results can be informative if you are a competition fisher in selecting lures. On the x-axis I plotted the performance difference metric. On the y-axis, I plotted the % of fish kept on that lure (including all upgrades). Then I cut the graph up into four quarters, and the result looks something like figures 2-5. In this case, the upper righthand quadrant is where a class of lures had the most impact on performance; the bottom left-hand quadrant the worst. Steve is an excellent benchmark in these sort of problems, as he will fish the way he wants to, regardless of conditions. Sometimes this impacts his performance but makes him a better test subject. I want

conditions, the fact that the lures types didn’t contribute equally in part supports that. Most of the top fishers in competitions I have talked to have a range of lures and tactics to deal with the conditions of the day. A more useful question would be which lures are less useful. Replacing lower performing lures with something that performed better could lead to real, measurable performance improvement, so long as that improvement doesn’t come at the expense of existing successful lures. WHAT SHOULD STEVE DO? Steve doesn’t need any advice from me, I am not in his league in my wildest dreams. That said, what the data shows is that hardbodies were the weak link this year. If he replaced hardbodies with a third lure class that had similar success to the crabs and soft plastics, then his win rate would have gone from one event to three for the year and his overall place up from an average of 4.85 to 2.5. A PURPOSE TO THE USE CASE I chose to add this case to the article, as it demonstrates the value of measuring performance. In this case, we have simple data that can measure performance both overall and by technique. An underperforming technique can be uncovered, and

Figure 5 – Performance impact of topwater type lures. is an underperformance, while getting first means you are ahead. With this in mind, I had a look at the bag weight Steve managed compared to the first place bag weight, or if he got first compared to second place. The result is a reliable metric when converted to a percentage of the winning bag. Here are the last five years of Steves performances averaged using this metric. Note he only fished the one event in 2014 and had things going on that hampered his performance

a little more data, but even with the data we have we can see that the crab type lures contributed most to his NSW performances, while soft plastics contributed in Tasmania, WA and his home territory. Which lure is better? I have pondered on that question, and first, the dataset is small, but second I think that the four charts show something even more critical. Most anglers know intuitively that different lures work in different

alternatives explored. Measuring against first may not be appropriate to everyone if you are further back in the field pick the nearest place rounded to 10 – eg, if you are currently 55th, measure against 50th. Becoming a better angler isn’t hard. Set goals, prepare well, pay attention to technique and measure performance, and you will see rapid improvement. The bigger challenge is in making moves up the performance ladder. FEBRUARY 2019


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This section in QLD Fishing Monthly consolidates the trades and services in your area that are relevant to your fishing and boating. Whether you’re a local looking for more options or a travelling angler fishing around the state, this guide will direct you to reputable businesses in the area you’re searching. 116


Boats & Guided Fishing Tours Directory MARINE TRIMMERS SOUTHERN QUEENSLAND Affordable Boat Covers Gold Coast 0419 424 587 Brisbane Yamaha (07) 3888 1727 Rays Canvas & Marine Caboolture (07) 5499 4911 Rowland Street Boat Trimmers Springwood (07) 3208 9511

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MACKAY BEL AIR MOTEL, MACKAY - PLENTY OF ROOM FOR BOATS AND TRAILERS.............PH: 07 4957 3658 FRESHWATER Lake Boondooma Caravan Park (07) 4168 9694 Lake Cressbrook Regional Council 131 872 Yallakool Caravan Park on Bjelke-Petersen Dam (07) 4168 4746 Yallakool Park and Kiosk on Bjelke-Petersen Dam (07) 4168 4746





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SUNSHINE COAST Fish n Crab Charters Mooloolaba 0412 155 814 Fishing Offshore Noosa 0418 889 956 Hervey Bay Fishing Charters (07) 4125 3958 Incredible Charters 1300 655 818 Keely Rose Deep Sea Fishing Charters 0407 146 151 Noosa Fishing Charters (07) 5665 8170 Odyssey Charters Deep Sea Fishing (07) 5478 1109 Offshore Reef and Game Fishing 0413 485 402 Rainbow Beach Fishing Charters 0439 775 070 Smithy’s Fishing Charters Sunshine Coast 0407 574 868 Sunshine Coast Fishing Charters (07) 5500 0671 Top Catch Charters Sunshine Coast 0429 013 012

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CENTRAL QUEENSLAND (Cont.) Bundaberg Fishing Charters 0429 017 217 Sport Fish 1770 (07) 4974 9686 Coral Coast Game Fishing 0447 347 437 Norval Reef Charters 1800 771 234 Iluka Fishing Charters Gladstone 0414 940 911 Kanimbla Charters Gladstone1800 677 202

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Name: Address:


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


Phone (day):


The ‘Real Fish Oita’ is an incredible, award winning squid jig manufactured in Europe by leading Croatian company - DTD. Taking out the coveted ‘best new product’ in its class at the EFTTEX 2015 Expo in Warsaw, this wonderful range is now available in Australia through Dogtooth Distribution. The product imitates real fish species. This coupled with DTD’s use of only the highest grade materials available, ensures great balance and results in superior catching ability. With the unique ‘fish parasite’ feature, aimed at luring predators in for an ‘easy kill’, these truly unique jigs are set to explode into the Australian market. FEATURES - Double weight system with inner weight designed to produce sound while squid jig is in action. COLOURS - 7 different designs representing popular fish species. ADDITIONAL - Luminous body, fish parasite, great balance, sound effect, quality stainless steel hooks SIZES - 5 Sizes available



GEORGE & NEV by Michael Hardy



Congratulations to, Wayne Robinson 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. – QFM


The subscriber prize winner for December is B Pickup of Thuringowa Central, who won a Okuma Prize Pack valued at $300. All subscribers are entered in the monthly subscriber prize draws. Prize delivery takes up to 8 weeks. – QFM

Inwood of Kirwan, S Williams of Aspley, C Rowe of Loganholme, J Boneham of Eight Mile Plains, B Johnson of Woodgate, K Edwards of East Innisfail, B Mumbray of Yorkeys Knob, A Scott of Proserpine, V Ilka of Lockrose, J McQuaigue of Currumbin Waters, S Tidmarsh of Sandstone Point, G Anderson of Emu Park, J Goody of Mt Berryman, B Nicholson of Bundamba,

G Sprott of Glenlee , E Boettcher of Tivoli, M Goodwin of Cardwell, V Bunn of Frenchville, J Handley of Pacific Haven, A Bragg of Mount Isa, G Green of Currumbin Waters, D McClurg of Boondall, W Sommerfield of Toowoomba, P Fielder of Everton Hills, J Lestor of Beachmere, S Goddard of Raceview, G Walker of Warne. P r i z e delivery takes up to 8 weeks. – QFM



© A Cordelia Adams original artwork. Instagram: clausdoesart

The answers to Find the Gamakatsu Logo for December were: 15, 16, 24, 32, 36, 42, 45, 51, 52, 54, 56, 60, 63, 65, 78. – QFM



This month’s Guess the Fish Answer: Carp

The Find the Gamakatsu Logo prize winners for December were: B Barratt of Bucca, R Gilbert of River Heads, D Hall of Glenwood, R Taskis of Ashmore, R Schefe of Point Vernon, B Wingert of Acacia Ridge, B Mackey of Parkwood, F Heiniger of Woombye, L Dyke of St Leonards, K Bennett of Doonan, R Kunde of Beerwah, D Skewes of Bli Bli, G Tonkin of Woodgate, J



boats & kayaks

In the skipperâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s seat

Inside story...

Stacer have been making boats for over 40 years, and in that time have gained a reputation for building tough boats to suit Australian conditions. With over 70 models in the range, whether you are after a serious fishing rig, a family fun machine or a budget friendly tinny, Stacer has you covered.

Made for...

Stacer boats are designed to dominate all sorts of waterways. There are boats to suit offshore, in the bay and in freshwater fishing locations.

This month...

120 Paddle and pedal North Pine Dam

Troy Brown offers some tips to finding the bass in North Pine Dam, which is now open to kayaks!

124 Ned rigs in the yak Justin Willmer has a shot using Ned rigs from his kayak, with surprising results!

126 More towing tips Wayne Kampe gives away some more tips for towing your beloved rig safely!

Peter Jung compares the new Stacer 399 Proline and 429 Proline Angler in the beautiful Venus Bay. Check it out on page 128!



It’s all about the bass at Lake Samsonvale PART 1 BRISBANE

Troy Brown

South East Queensland is blessed with a number of quality freshwater impoundments, most of which are readily accessible for kayakers chasing our exceptional native fish. There are a total of 63 dams and weirs included in the Stocked Impoundment Permit Scheme (SIPS). Better still, many of these are within easy reach of anglers

Both areas require anyone fishing the lake to have a valid Stocked Impoundment Permit. Zone 3 is the original paddle craft and electric-only boating area for fishing on North Pine Dam. Only those with a current Boating Access Scheme (BAS) permit are able to access this northern section of the lake. This permit is available via the Pine Rivers Fish Management Association, who are responsible for stocking the dam with our prized native fish. The BAS area is serviced with dedicated parking for

The new launch area at Forgan Cove was an instant hit with kayak fishers. residing in Brisbane, and the Gold and Sunshine coasts. Some jewels lay further north and west, but the bulk of these fisheries are concentrated around the capital city. Lake Samsonvale is one such area, and one article just couldn’t do it justice. So, I’ve split this area into two articles. In this one I’m going to go in depth about one of the better jewels I believe this region has to offer, showcasing the species available to catch and the facilities of the area. But, be sure to read next month as I delve into the better methods for targeting the available species. Lake Samsonvale (also known as North Pine Dam) is one of the most popular targets for kayak fishers in the Brisbane region. Situated at Joyner, the reputation of this location is well deserved, with a healthy fishery offering a diverse experience for the keen angler. The dam is divided into five zones, with only two accessible for kayak fishing.

Quality yellowbelly are a regular by-catch when fishing for bass. Khean-mara Mak mostly targets the local fish with Ecogear ZX40 lures. cars and trailers, a boat ramp and simple toilet facilities. Access to the site is via a locked gate off Adsett Road, which restricts access for non-authorised fishing, but also provides some level of security for vehicles parked in the permit area. The permit-only area is not only important in providing an exclusive fishing zone for

This 47cm bass was captured by the author on an RMG Poltergeist XDD deep diving lure. Trolling hardbodies is an effective means of targeting active schools. 120


kayakers and electric boaters. The real benefit comes in the valuable stocking efforts it provides via the PRFMA. While the SIPS permits distribute funds among the many dams to enable stocking of hatchlings, the PRFMA focus is solely on Lake Samsonvale. The proceeds of the BAS permits ensures healthy recreational fishing in this extraordinary dam. By purchasing a permit, you gain access to a fantastic area of the lake, but you also help ensure the ongoing future of an amazing fishery. Due to the efforts of the PRFMA volunteers, Lake Samsonvale has been stocked with Australian bass, golden perch (yellowbelly), Mary River cod, saratoga and silver perch. Our bass and yellas will not breed in these impoundments, so stocking of the dams is the only means of preserving the exceptional fishing we currently take for granted. The northern area encompassed by Zone 3 has a variety of fishing options, with shallow weed beds, submerged timber and deep drop-offs. Due to the limited

Trolling a lure between locations is a must in open water. Lee Major hooked another quality bass while returning to the launch site. number of permits issued each year, this section of the dam will also experience less long-term fishing pressure. The most common catches will be bass and yellowbelly, but skilled anglers will salivate when frequently presented with large saratoga cruising the surface. Keen-eyed observers of the impressive local scenery will also be rewarded with the many local turtles, lungfish, wallabies and deer in the area. Despite the abundant natural structure, PRFMA have recently deployed a number of artificial fish aggregating devices, in order to provide BAS permit holders with a unique fishing experience. The location of these FADs is freely available to permit holders, who have already capitalised on the effectiveness of these structures. All anglers fishing the permit section of the dam are encouraged to report any tagged fish, plus complete the detailed logbook showing captures at the dam. Zone 2 has only recently been opened to paddle craft.

Kayakers are well serviced with a new car park and a relatively well-designed launch area at Forgan Cove. Trailer parking is limited to one space, so expect to park across the road if trailering your kayak. On busy days, even those without trailers can expect to be forced out of the parking area. There is a new toilet block, plus a concrete path leading down towards the water. Strangely, access to the waterline is via a gravel ramp, which is not practical for most kayak carts. The line of wheels in the adjacent grassed area is telling, as most forego the ramp due to the difficulty of access. Otherwise, this is an excellent facility for those not willing to pay the additional cost of a BAS permit. The downside to a ‘free’ facility is the volume of traffic in this area. On busy days, Forgan Cove can resemble the car park of a shopping centre, making access less than user-friendly. If you intend to launch from this section, an early start is recommended, as you may

otherwise be disappointed. The upside to this area of the dam is the fish have yet to be heavily-targeted by lure fishers, so to a large degree are easier to catch than the older fishing area. Given the volume of kayakers targeting Zone 2 currently, this is not likely to continue for an extended period, as released fish become increasingly wary of attacking a passing lure. I thought the idea of fish becoming ‘educated’ was a myth, but there seems to be more than a hint of truth to the idea. Hits in the newer area seem more frequent and aggressive, with more hooksets and schools that are slower to shut down. Time will change this phenomenon, so take advantage while you can. Remember to fish sustainably, releasing all fish if you can, or otherwise taking only what you can eat in a single meal. Next month I will be going more in depth about this amazing kayak fishing hotspot, discussing the more successful methods you should utilise to have an incredible day of fishing at Lake Samsonvale.






There are 15 logos hidden throughout the pages of Fishing Monthly.


Find the logo and page number, fill in the entry form and go in the draw to win!

RRP worth of Frogley’s Offshore products


The first 40 correct entries drawn at the end of each month will win a packet of the world’s finest hooks from



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RRP worth of Frogley’s Offshore products
















NAME ............................................................................................................

MAIL ENTRIES TO: VFM Find the Gamakatsu Logo Competition, PO BOX 3172, Loganholme QLD 4129 Entries must be received by 28TH FEBRUARY 2019 Original entries only. No photocopies.

SUBURB .................................................................P/CODE ........................... PHONE .......................................................................................................... EMAIL ............................................................................................................ FEBRUARY 2019


ADDRESS .......................................................................................................




The Stacer 529 Assault Pro Tournament is a true fishing machine. The front and rear carpet casting areas have enough space for multiple mates to fish off at all angles. Standard with useful accessories, the 529 Tournament comes fitted with a thruster plate bow mount for an electric motor, and anglers with a large quiver can easily store and organize their rods in the centre underfloor storage compartment. This boat is equipped with Stacer’s Revolution Hull. The pressed hull increases strength by 50% and the stretch formed shape creates an extremely smooth ride. This, in combination with a raised chine, keeps occupants safe in rough conditions and following seas. Stacer’s Ready 2 Go turnkey packages mean you can hit the water right away, and the five-year Stacer warranty provides peace of mind.



Raymarine Element is a new generation of advanced, combination sonar and GPS displays. Building on the success of Axiom navigation displays, the Raymarine Element incorporates RealVision 3D sonar technology, improving your underwater view with 3D bottom imagery and more precise location of fish targets. Element also introduces new HyperVision 1.2MHz sonar technology, featuring ultra-high CHIRP sonar frequencies. HyperVision enhances the DownVision, SideVision, and RealVision 3D sonar, allowing anglers to see structure, vegetation, and fish with lifelike detail. The new LightHouse Sport operating system and intuitive keypad controls let anglers quickly mark spots and create high-definition bathymetric maps using the new Raymarine RealBathy real-time sonar map generator capability. The quad-core processor delivers instantaneous chart redraw, smooth RealVision 3D imaging, and fast response. The Element series consists of 7”, 9”, and 12” display models, and it will begin shipping in the first quarter of 2019.



The new John Deere PowerTech 4045SFM85 marine engine is now ready to ship to customers worldwide. The new 4045SFM85 offers high powerto-weight ratio for repowering and new boat construction, and is ideal for planing and semi-displacement hulls. The engine uses a waste-gated turbocharger that provides more torque capability at the low and middle rpm range, and features replaceable cylinder liners, making it possible to rebuild the engine for extended service life. Additional features include: standard front fuel service, optional left- or right-hand oil filter options for twin engine applications; upgraded valve train (delivers a 40% increase in power and a 9% reduction in total engine weight for a 53% increase in power density compared to its predecessor); low-profile heat exchanger (reduces height by 4.3cm); and water-cooled exhaust manifold creates a cooler and quieter environment. For a complete list of specifications visit the Power Equipment website. 122





Small boat owners with craft up to 150hp are typically limited to mechanical cable style steering systems.This push/pull cable setup often requires higher maintenance than hydraulic steering, and can result in diminished performance over time. Hydrodrive is a hydraulic steering system for small boats up to 150hp. This affordable, quality product is available in four complete kits ready for installation or refit. It’s an economical and flexible alternative to mechanical steering, providing the capability of a hydraulic system typically only seen on 8m+ boats. Users will benefit from smoother operation, lower maintenance, and straightforward installation. Complete all-in-one kits with universal fittings compatible with most outboards up to 150hp. Hydrodrive provides smooth positive steering, fitted to the outboard with tube mounting. Each kit contains a pump with fitting, cylinder with fitting, twin hose set with required connections, and 1L of oil. Components are over-engineered to prevent leaks, even under extremely high pressure, and anodised for superior corrosion resistance. Hydrodrive Systems are backed by a 3-year manufacturer’s warranty.





Mercury Marine has opened a new stateof-the-art Noise, Vibration, Harshness (NVH) Technical Centre at its global headquarters in Wisconsin, USA. The A$14 million NVH testing and research centre, which covers some 1900m2, is the largest and most expansive facility of its kind in the marine industry. NVH is the engineering practice of studying noise, vibration and harshness characteristics. The new centre houses structural dynamic testing bays, listening rooms, and two marinespecific, hemi-anechoic chambers (high-tech spaces with sound-absorbent materials on the walls and ceiling along with a sound insulated floor). “The NVH building and its capabilities will set a new benchmark in the marine industry,” said Tim Reid, Mercury Marine vice president of product development and engineering. “We are looking forward to giving our engineers a worldclass facility where they can study every noise, movement and performance indicator on every engine we manufacture.”






Mercury Marine’s Active Trim system can now be controlled through VesselView information screens. Active Trim automatically trims an engine(s). It makes boating easier, mproves engine performance and cuts fuel costs. Originally, Active Trim was controlled through a separate dash-mounted key pad. Now drivers have the option to buy an Active Trim computer module to provide control via VesselView’s multi-function touch screen. The GPS-based control system takes into account both speed and rpm when deciding on the ideal trim position. It also solves the issue of the engine trimming up too early or too late while the boat is getting up on the plane. There are five trim profiles, and you just select the best profile for any application. You can personalise Active Trim to your driving style and/or compensate for changes in boat load, and conditions. You can easily disengage and re-engage the system with the manual trim buttons.


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Kayak fishing with Ned BRISBANE

Justin Willmer Find me on Facebook at Yaks On

Over the years there have been many US lure developments and techniques that have been adapted and refined to suit our species. Some

rigging, Texas rigging, spinnerbaits, ChatterBaits, skirted jigs and more. In recent years it has been the Ned Rig that has exploded in parts of the US and I have been putting this technique to work in our local waters over the last year, landing a mixed bag of species, including plenty of flathead.

A happy angler and 80cm of Ned Rig eating flathead. have become popular, others have found a niche application and some have failed to leave their mark in this country. Many of us have tinkered with Drop Shotting, Carolina

BACKGROUND There have been modifications of techniques pioneered in the US by angling icons like Chuck Woods, Guido Hibdon and Charlie Brewer. The Ned Rig

was conceived and brought to mainstream attention by Ned Kehde, an avid angler and veteran fishing industry writer from Kansas, USA, hence the ‘Ned’ Rig. The rig centres around small finesse plastics, with anglers cutting down larger Senko (worm) style plastics to create a finesse presentation that is rigged on a light mushroom jighead. When combining this mushroom jighead with a buoyant plastic, you have a presentation that has a slow fall, can be dragged, hopped, darted and shaken, before hinging back upright on the pause to create a realistic defensive or feeding pose. This technique is renowned for producing cricket score catches of bass in the States and the plastic is always working and attracting strikes. GEARING UP As the Ned Rig has grown in popularity, fishing tackle companies have developed more plastics and jigheads suited specifically to this technique. An example is the ZMan 2.75” Finesse TRD, a small buoyant plastic that has no appendages, resembling a short plastic worm. The lack of appendages allows it to hinge back up with minimal resistance on the pause, giving it a rapid flee and defend action. For those looking for more action, other models include the 2.5” TRD CrawZ, a realistic craw or crab profile, the 3” TRD HogZ creature bait and the 4” Hula StickZ. Team these plastics up with a TT Lures NedlockZ, mushroom style Ned Rig jighead and you’re ready to fish. Currently most Ned Rig plastics and jigheads are

A leader of at least 10lb is a good idea as flathead inhale the Ned Rig. small, with jigheads around the 1/15-1/5oz, so light spin gear is the go for casting these light lures. Rods around 7’ in length and rated 1-3kg or 2-4kg are a great starting point, teamed up with a 20-30 size spinning reel, 6-10lb braid and 10lb leader.

sand and mud edges, dropoffs, weed edges, around low tide structure such as rock bars and timber, and in the mouths of drains. On the higher stages of the tide I target mangrove edges, weed edges, sand flats and my absolute favourite, fishing

The light jighead and quick hinging of the Ned Rig, thanks to the mushroom head and buoyant plastic, also assists in minimising snagging and fouling in the weed, making this presentation even more effective for

The mushroom jighead and buoyant soft plastic is the key to the Ned Rig success.

One of the author’s favourites, the NedlockZ and TRD CrawZ combo. 124


Although I have landed bream, grunter, trevally and a few other species, it’s flathead that have really loved the Ned Rig, and being a finesse presentation it is perfect for kayak anglers. The kayak allows me to access skinny water, shallow water, weed flats and other areas where a finesse presentation excels. When targeting flathead on the lower stages of the tide, I fish the Ned Rig along

the sandy patches on the broken weed flats. These sandy patches are often not much larger than the kayak, however, it’s amazing how often these patches produce flathead. I call this picking the pockets and these sandy patches offer the perfect ambush point for flathead to bury themselves and burst out to eat prawns and baitfish that wander into their strike zone.

picking pockets across the weed flats. ON THE WATER On a recent adventure I decided to launch the kayak halfway through the run-in tide, use the tide to carry me out to some broken weed flats and prospect the sand patches with the Ned Rig for the last two hours of the run-in tide. While I was gearing up the kayak I noticed that the breeze had started to pick

up, so I decided to throw an anchor in. I didn’t have an anchor running rig (anchor trolley) on the little kayak,

and then tied the other end of the rope to the grab line on the kayak, near where I was seated. I could simply deploy

One in the net on a TRD CrawZ cast into a sandy pocket. so I just had to put something together on the fly. I decided to keep the anchor setup simple as I wanted to get on the water. I simply attached a small Cooper poly anchor to a few metres of rope and tied it to the front handle of the

the anchor when required, then grab the second rope and pull it in, allowing the anchor rope to slide through the loop and come back from the front handle to myself. I could then grab the anchor rope and pull the anchor in. I approached the flat

over the flat once, before paddling back to anchor and work some sandy pockets. The water depth was only a couple of feet, so I was fishing a 1/10oz NedlockZ jighead, rigged with a little TRD CrawZ, casting ahead or across the drift and focussing on the sandy patches. With the sun out and a decent pair of polarised sunnies it was easy to spot the lighter coloured sand amongst the dark weed patches and I fired a cast to the far edge of a pocket, hop, pause, hop and fish on! The take was solid and nice flathead screamed across the shallows, pulling drag and putting a smile on my face. The fish ran a few more times and then I slid the net into the water and guided the fish home. During the fight I saw that it was securely pinned, so that allowed me to rest a little easier and enjoy the fight. With the wind now howling in the same direction as the tide, I had no option but to anchor and target selected areas. My anchor rig was okay, however I probably needed a bit more length in the anchor rope, with the wind and tide working together I couldn’t get it to hold in the muddy, weedy areas so that I could effectively work the sand pockets. Instead, I had to anchor in the sandy patches where the anchor held securely. This ruled out fishing the smaller sand patches, as dropping anchor in them would surely spook any fish.

a cloud and I saw another section of sand, about 8m in diameter, not too far away. A quick paddle and I anchored on the down current edge of the patch, allowing me to fish both sides of the kayak as well as fanning casts in front of the yak. With the wind blowing hard I upped the jighead weight to a 1/5oz NedlockZ and paired it up with a 2.5” paddle-tail plastic. This would give me some tail action, along with that buoyant, tail up kick of the Ned Rig. I fanned half a dozen casts to the left of the kayak without interest, then fanned another half a dozen in front of the kayak with the same result. The way the kayak had settled on the anchor there wasn’t a lot of room to cast to the left before landing in the weed, so I made a short 3m flick that landed right on the edge of the weed. The plastic hit the bottom. Hop, pause and hook up. The hook-set was solid and felt like a snag, before those tell-tale headshakes of a big flathead, followed by a strong run across the flat. I knew this was a big fish by the weight and power, but when it came into view my heart rate lifted, along with the stress levels. It was bigger than the 60cm fish I had hoped to see and maybe even a fair bit over 70. Without thinking I found myself saying, “don’t bite me off,” over and over, as a solid fish had bitten me off a week earlier. A couple more runs and the fish was close to the kayak. It made my kayak feel small and the kayak landing

returned the fish to the water. My plan was to leave the flathead in the water, attached to the lip grips on a leash and tow it to

I had landed in a while, measuring in at about 80cm and the best part was watching this impressive fish swim away.

There’s not much room in the kayak with the big girl on board! a sand bank nearby where people were swimming. This would allow me to get a few photos, keep the fish in good condition, swim it

The swimmers were interested in the lure that the flathead had eaten, so I left them with some Ned Rig jigheads and plastics in the

A selection of Ned Rig plastics.

The Ned Rig is always working for a bite with its changes between fleeing and defending. kayak. Now, how to get the anchor rope back to myself to retrieve the anchor? I simply grabbed a second short piece of rope, tied a loop around the anchor rope

and worked a couple of sand banks without a bite. The wind was blowing and the tide was running fast as it was working up to a big high, so I decided to fast drift

I worked a couple of large sections of sand with no luck and was starting to think the weather was going to beat me, when the sun came out from behind

net feel even smaller. After one failed attempt with the net I took a deep breath, readied the net and tried to glide the fish straight in. Half of the fish fitted in the net, it went crazy and I lifted it into the cockpit. It was onboard, but I wasn’t sure for how long, so I snapped a couple of quick photos and then attached the lip grips and

for a while and then release it. Sliding the kayak onto the bank, I yelled out to the swimmers who were pretty stoked with the big fish as well. We took a few photos, admired the fish, with its shovel sized head and beautiful markings, as it swam in the shallows and then sent it on its way. This was the biggest flathead

hope that it will help them land a big flathead. Not only had the Ned Rig produced plenty of flathead for me recently, it had also now produced one of my most memorable flathead captures and it was sure to be tied on again soon, especially when pick pocketing the weed flats. See you on the water. FEBRUARY 2019


Tow tow tow your boat PART 2 BRISBANE

Wayne Kampe

In last month’s issue I covered a fair amount of country between home and boat ramp on the topic of towing a trailerboat. Some of the important topics raised were statutory requirements, limitations imposed by manufacturers, the laws of physics plus some common sense issues.

This is very true, so let’s look a little further into this vital topic. DON’T BREAK THE RULES ON BRAKES First, a reminder on the statutory requirements for brakes on trailers. When a single axle trailer and load has a gross trailer mass (its GTM) exceeding 750kg there has to be a braking system! It’s normally an override (mechanical) brake system, so long as the GTM does not exceed 2000kg. If GTM exceeds 2000kg,

They are called upon to work in one of the most hostile conditions on the planet: sea water. It’s vital to always give your trailer a thorough wash down after salt water immersion – and that’s not just a quick spray with the hose. A failure to wash down thoroughly, followed by a fair amount of down time, can be a major threat to all trailer brake systems. That’s because inaction might cause components to seize up. Remember the old cliché: use it or lose it. It applies to

Brakes on each wheel are the norm with big craft like the Sea Jay Trojan. Because it’s virtually impossible to launch or retrieve it without immersing the wheels, the brake assembly needs a good washdown after saltwater immersion. the bigger the wash down, the better. And don’t overlook the override brake system’s brake lock. This small tab comes down on the actuator bar to prevent it sliding forward

obstacle that could stop or slow it. This is because when more rearwards thrust comes from the prime mover, it will cause the actuator to come forward to immediately engage the brakes and lock

CORRECT CABLE TENSION IMPORTANCE The heart of many override systems is the cable connected to the brake system. This needs correct tensioning to function, and

In this image we can see the override system’s trailer’s brake lock in the ‘off’ position, as well as grease nipples to keep the slide moving freely. In this issue we’ll take things further. We’ll look at some often overlooked matters that are worth considering when you’re towing and racking up the kays. One thing to remember is that although towing regulations are pretty similar from state to state, it’s a

brake systems become more sophisticated. Each axle requires brakes on it, and braking must be controlled from within the cabin of the tow vehicle. When your foot touches the brake pedal, both the car and trailer are braking. The system sees an electric control module applying power to

brake systems on boat trailers as well as the human body! Override (or inertia) brakes are activated by a sliding hitch actuator just behind the tow ball. This hitch actuator either tightens a cable or pushes a hydraulic piston to initiate braking action via brake pads gripping onto a rotor

The trailer’s override braking system’s cable and slide actuator. Little maintenance other than greasing is required up here, as it doesn’t get inundated with saltwater. to engage the cable. Why prevent it from working? That brake lock tab would certainly be lifted up out of the way when travelling on the road but would be required to be down in place if the trailer is to be reversed uphill or perhaps over an

the trailer wheels. At that point the trailer starts sliding with wheels locked! The point is that because of its usually infrequent use, this small tab can seize in its ‘off’ position. To avoid this, give it a bit of spray lubricant from time to time.

as the brake pads wear down with use, that cable must be tightened to ensure efficient braking. There should be just enough free play to prevent friction between pads and disc when rolling along, yet a tightening cable should bring the pads into play

Upping the sophistication stakes from the override brake system, the Hydrastar is a state-of-the-art unit. different story overseas. For example, in New Zealand a couple of years ago I was treated to the sight of a family wagon towing a caravan with a 4.5m boat hooked up to the caravan! This spectacle immediately brought to mind something a mate once told me: “You can tow anything, but stopping can be the problem”. 126


a hydraulic brake actuator. There is a brilliant system for larger craft, but as such there are more components to consider (and service) to ensure that it remains in tip-top working order. SERVICE THOSE BRAKE SYSTEMS Both of these brake systems are quite reliable if kept in good condition.

or disc. These systems are quite effective if the actuator is kept lubricated within its housing (grease nipples are always provided), and those vital components tucked behind the wheels are kept as free as possible from corrosion. There will be springs and other bits and pieces down there that can suffer from salt corrosion, so

With brakes on both axles, this big trailer is ready for heavy-duty towing.

when braking action slides the actuator forward. Correct cable adjustment via a turnbuckle under the draw bar (and behind the actuator) is the clue there, but once tightening adjustment is no longer available it’s better to replace the pads. With

boat trailer along and pull up the park/hand brake lever. The trailer should come to an abrupt stop if correct adjustment has been made. DON’T NEGLECT HYDRAULIC SYSTEMS Regular service for electrical/hydraulic brake

is well. The reality is that things cannot be taken for granted as we do with our car’s hydraulic brake system. Hydraulic fluid within a tow bar located reservoir – often out in the weather – can degrade as it actually attracts moisture. For this reason,

No brakes, no worries! Small boats are a joy to tow and lots of fun to use.

An override brake system that hasn’t been looked after. Corrosion is rampant, and you could put money on the brake lock tab being seized in place. new pads fitted it’s wise to slacken the cable a bit to avoid friction. How can we test efficiency? Simply push the

systems is arguably more important than TLC for override systems. With a hydraulic system up front it’s too easy to assume all

keeping an eye on a reservoir makes a lot of sense. Most manufacturers recommend that you replace the brake fluid every two years.

WHAT, NO ABS? Whether we like it or not, trailer ABS (antilock braking systems) are confined to heavy vehicle usage, not standard boat trailers. Your car has ABS to prevent wheel lock-up and skidding (which might see the car moving forward although the wheels are locked and maybe turned in another direction!), but your trailer doesn’t. This is a significant factor you have to consider when towing. It’s not a big deal when you’re towing

steadily in dry conditions, but it’s important to keep in mind when you’re towing on a wet road. If you slam on the brakes on a wet road, your car’s ABS will stabilise the vehicle. However, if the trailer brakes prevent the wheels from turning – as they certainly can – the trailer simply slides and pushes the car forward. Or worse, inertia will flip the trailer off to one side. Disaster! The stressful experience of a boat helping to push the car forward is one all boat

owners can do without. You can trust me on this! The only answer is to maintain a much greater than usual distance behind other traffic if you’re towing on a wet road, and always be very vigilant for brake lights ahead. We have all heard of mindfulness, right? Here is a perfect time to use it. You have to be very mindful when towing your boat in wet or slippery conditions because this is a whole new ball game. And the heavier the tow mass, the more cautious you need to be.


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Two smaller Stacer boats with a lot to offer - SC











Peter Jung

Testing boats for the magazines can at times be hard work. Poor weather can affect our ability to get a feel for how a boat performs, time limitations also prevent us from really testing things like the fishability of a boat and use it in the way you would expect to use it if it were your own. So, when the opportunity comes up to not only have an extended period of time using a boat, but to also compare two boats that are designed with similar styles of fishing in mind, you jump at that chance. This was the case when Andrew Stephen from Melbourne Marine Centre contacted me about testing a Stacer 429 Proline Angler and a Stacer 399 Proline at Venus Bay over a weekend. COMPARING THE TWO The 429 Proline Angler and the 399 Proline are part of the Stacer stable of boats built using the Striker Series hull. I will go more into the performance of the

hulls separately, however, the biggest difference I could see in the hull configuration itself was that the Proline Angler had a bit more V through to the transom to divert/cut water away from the hull, whereas the Proline had a much flatter profile. Both are designed to be stable underway and at rest, and that makes them very suitable for casting lures from (which was our intention over the weekend). But it also means the vessel is very comfortable if you wish to bait fish or troll. With the lure casting in mind, Andrew has optioned both with a Motorguide Xi3 55lb trust electric motor. Other than the overall length, the biggest difference between the boats is above the hull storage wise. The Angler has more storage space and options within the casting deck at the front. The Angler tested had a plumbed livewell installed, as an example. The Angler is also has a significantly heavier (hull weight) than the standard Proline. Motor wise both boats were fitted with Mercury 4-stroke outboards, the

Main: Fishing Monthly always loves the opportunity to compare boats designed for similar uses. If you are after a boating package to fish your local estuary, our inland lakes or rivers, it is well worth checking out the Stacer 399 Proline and the Stacer 429 Proline Angler. Above: The Mercury 20hp 4-stroke and Stacer 399 Proline was a great match â&#x20AC;&#x201C; a simple boating package that will provide hours of enjoyment on the water. Angler with a 30hp and the Proline with a 20hp. LAUNCHING AND RETRIEVING Both packages came on a Stacer Alloy Light trailer and could be towed by your average family vehicle. These packages are matched to trailers in the factory, so they towed with no fuss at all. Although the boat ramp

at Venus Bay is a good one, at low tide it has its challenges and it was good to know that even in very

low water both boats were simple to launch and retrieve and could easily be done by one person if need be.

STORAGE Although a feature of the 429 Angler is the additional storage, with the extra space a full front casting deck provides, both boats have purpose built storage. The 399 has small pockets in the gunnel as well as an area at the bow for larger items. In addition to front deck storage, the Angler has very clever storage hatches near the transom and the test boat was also fitted with a deluxe rod locker. Overall, both have enough storage to keep things out from under your feet. RIDE AND HANDLING I have to say I was a little surprised at how different the boats performed on the water as far as ride and handling was concerned. It goes to show how much weight affects performance of a hull and also how much even a small V changes what the hull has to do to get on the plane.

SPECIFICATIONS 399 Proline 429 Proline Angler Overall length ........................................3.99m ....................................... 4.28m Beam......................................................1.82m ....................................... 1.84m Length on trailer ...................................5.65m ....................................... 5.65m Hull weight ............................... Approx. 111kg ..........................Approx. 260kg Top ......................................................1.60mm .................................... 1.60mm Bottom ................................................1.60mm .................................... 2.00mm Min hp ......................................................20hp ......................................... 30hp Max hp .....................................................30hp ......................................... 40hp Max persons .................................................4 ............................................... 4 128


Once on the plane the Stacer 429 Proline Angler matched with a Mercury 30hp 4-stroke handled beautifully.

429 Proline Angler The 429 Angler is rated to a 40hp motor with the test boat packaged with a 30hp on the back. With the extra length and weight of the boat, the 30hp was a little sluggish to get on the plane with two people onboard (some of that may have been to do with this rather large author), but once there it was excellent. We were unable to get performance figures, but a boat like this isn’t about getting from A to B in a hurry, more importantly it has to handle well and maneuverer easily at low and high speed. This it did, beautifully. The package doesn’t draw a great deal of water, which was a godsend at low tide at Venus Bay and this also gave us the ability to sneak up a few

Mia Stephen was keen to come out with the team and catch a few fish while they tested the boats. She spent most of her time in the 399 Proline, showing dad how it is done. rock solid in this department. 399 Proline The 399 has a maximum horsepower rating of 30hp, so my expectation of the test

The 399 Proline had plenty of fishing mojo. Andrew caught some solid fish too. little tidal creeks that see very little fishing pressure, which was a real eye opener for this Queensland angler. Stability underway and at rest are also vital components of smaller boats and the Angler version is

boat was similar to the 429 Angler, that it would take a little time to get on the plane with the 20hp Mercury it was packaged with. I was wrong – the lighter and flatter hull meant that the 399 transitioned onto

the plane comfortably and, like the 429, handled well at low and high speeds. It too was very comfortable in shallow conditions and was even more suited to the low tide exploring we did at Venus Bay. Andrew installed a casting platform and a low profile floor in the 399 to assist angler stability at rest, which made it great to cast lures from. It was also very stable underway. FISHABILITY Although we spent plenty of time motoring around putting both boats through their paces, we also allowed plenty of time to take in the fishing that Venus Bay has to offer, especially the estuary perch fishing. A key component of this was accessing the waterway at low tide and fishing the mangrove lined edges and channels as the tide pushed in. As mentioned, this was a key feature of both boats. Andrew has shown us in past tests we have done with him that he likes to purpose fitout his boat packages and this was once again the case, as the addition of the Motorguide Xi3 on both boats meant we could stealthily position ourselves to cast our soft plastics and use it as an anchor (anchor

lock) when fish were found. Both boats have excellent stability at rest, even when anglers fish from the same areas of the boat. It was interesting to see photos of the boat when both anglers

Although we did not have fuel usage figures, Mercury outboards are known for being frugal on fuel and this proved to be the case. The boats started with full tanks and after two days running around there was more than half a tank left in both. How does this improve fishability, I hear you ask? You can fish for longer and it is more affordable. FINAL THOUGHTS I have had a bit of time since doing these tests to think about summing up what each has to offer and which I would buy for myself to go and do the types of fishing we did at Venus Bay. Is it as simple as bigger is better? No, it’s not. Both boats tick the key boxes when it comes to having a package that will allow you to fish with lures

as it allows you to have a few extra outfits onboard, but I also like the simplicity the 399 offers. I was very impressed by how the 399 and the 20hp Mercury outboard matched up. It was a great little setup, with a tested price of $17,431. That is very affordable and I don’t believe I would change too much. I have very similar thoughts on the 429 Angler, but I would put the maximum horsepower on the transom. On those days when you have three or four onboard you would appreciate it and it would be a bit more aggressive onto the plane, which I prefer. Doing this adds a little over $3000 dollars to the $23,750 as tested price. Although marketed as entry-level packages, there is a lot of value in what

To be able to spend a couple days using the boats as you would your own was a great opportunity. Here the author is putting the final touches on a silver trevally he caught from the 429 Proline Angler. were together. It shows the boat leaning, but you didn’t notice this while on board. We did not fish three out of either boat, but I believe you could do it in the larger 429 comfortably. In the 399 it may be a tight squeeze.

in areas like Venus Bay, or any of our estuary systems, and would be well and truly at home on our inland waterways or rivers like the Murray. I like the additional storage the 429 Angler has,

the Stacer 399 Proline and the 429 Proline Angler have to offer and they are well worth a look. To find out more about the full range of Stacer packages, visit or contact your local dealer.

Both boats were set up with simplicity in mind. The addition of an electric motor, a quality sounder and some thought put into the layout and you have two great fishing and boating packages. FEBRUARY 2019


Both boats were on a Stacer Alloy Light trailer. They are matched by the factory, ensuring they tow well and making launching and retrieving a breeze.

Both packages use the Stacer Striker series hull. The Proline Angler hull had a bit more V to improve water deflection and deal with the extra weight of the hull. The wider chines provide great stability at rest and underway.

Simple and effective storage is provided in the 399 Proline. One of the biggest differences between the two packages is the storage that the Proline Angler offers. Lots of storage keeps the decks clear and provides more room to fish.

The Mercury 4-stroke range is known to be frugal on their fuel usage. Reliable and fuel efficient, what more can you ask for? 130


The Motorguide Xi3 electric motors that were on both boats provided the stealth and manoeuvrability to fish the mangrove lined system at Venus Bay. Just hit anchor lock and stay where the fish are when you find them.




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Queensland Fishing Monthly February 2019  

Complete digital version of Queensland Fishing Monthly Magazine for February 2019.

Queensland Fishing Monthly February 2019  

Complete digital version of Queensland Fishing Monthly Magazine for February 2019.