IN THE SALT FLY FISHING - ISSUE#9

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ISSUE#9 // AUTUMN ‘19

SEA OF CORTEZ ROOSTER MADNESS

ALS O I NC LUD E D / / T IE ‘N FLY BOX / / STUFF Y OU NE E D

THE JOURNEY THE FLY LIFE

LAND OF FIRE RAISING ROBALO

NONOUTI

AN UNTOUCHED WILDERNESS


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Salty Barramundi from the far north Photo: Al Simson

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CONTENTS

12. NONOUTI AN UNTOUCHED WILDERNESS 26. THE JOURNEY LIVING THE FLY LIFE 40. ROOSTERFISH IN THE SEA OF CORTEZ 60. THE TIE ‘N FLY BOX WHISTLER SERIES 68. SPECIES SPOTLIGHT LONGTAIL TUNA 75. STUFF YOU NEED FLY FISHING GOODIES 77. VISION - DOWNUNDER ROD ROD REVIEW 80. LAND OF FIRE FISHING FOR ROBALO

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Fight or flight, this incrediable image tells the tale of what it means to be a bait fish! Photo: Al Simson

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THE ED JUSTIN WEBBER THE ADS JUSTIN WEBBER THE EYE JUSTIN WEBBER THE WORDS JUSTIN WEBBER KELLY WEBBER PETER BEHRENS CONTRIBUTORS KATKA ŠVAGROVÁ MICK UNDERWOOD DEBORAH PLATZ DR. JULIAN PEPPERELL GAVIN PLATZ PHOTOGRAPHY AL SIMSON CHRIS BYGRAVE KATKA ŠVAGROVÁ VEBJORN KIELLAND SUBMISSIONS IN THE SALT WELCOMES ALL SUBMISSIONS, CONTENT OR PHOTOS. WE RESERVE THE RIGHT TO PUBLISH THE ARTICLE OR CONTENT. THE OPINIONS EXPRESSED IN THIS MAGAZINE ARE NOT ALWAYS OF THE MAGAZINE OR ITS OWNERS. IT IS ILLEGAL TO COPY OR REPRODUCE THIS MAGAZINE. CONTACT US

info@inthesaltflymag.com.au www.inthesaltflymag.com.au

The fickle sickle! Photo: Al Simson

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ISSUE #9

IN THE SALT

FLY FISHING MAGAZINE Welcome to issue NINE! We are so stoked to bring you this issue and a huge thank you must go out to everyone that made it possible. We know how much our community appreciates the awesome stories, information and superb images! What we have in store for you: Deborah Platz (Burrows) takes us on a journey to the remote islands of Nonouti where her and now husband Gavin Platz are helping setup guiding operations for the locals to increase work in this remote part of the world. Mick Underwood takes us back to our fly journey in this inspirational and thought provoking story. Katka talks us through her trip to the Sea of Cortez chasing

the huge Roosterfish she was lucky enough to tangle with. Gavin Platz ties the famous Dan Blanton Whistler Fly and Julian Pepperell gives us an amazing insight into Longtail Tuna. We also have a special story of an amazing fish called Robalo which are caught in one of the worlds most remote places. Our cover was shot by Katka & Vebjorn was from the recent trip to the Sea of Cortez. Read all about this amazing fish on page 41. Please sit back, relax and enjoy this issue of IN THE SALT a fly fishing magazine dedicated to saltwater fly fishing and travel.

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Nonouti A N U N T O U CH E D W I LD E RN E S S

Words & photos by Deborah Platz

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n 2008 a man called Danial who worked for the Australian Government walks into Tie ‘n’ Fly Outfitters - Australia’s only Salt-Water fly-fishing Outfitters on The Sunshine Coast - Danial doesn’t salt water fly fish and actually doesn’t even fish. However, he has been given Gavin’s name and told of his reputation as an internationally renowned saltwater fishing guide and flyfishing tutor and sets about to tell Gavin about this beautiful remote atoll in Kiribati called Nonouti. It is hoped Nonouti has the potential to be a Flyfishing destination with Gavin’s help. Gavin politely takes the information down, as suggested by Danial, but not for several months does he have the time to look at Nonouti on Google earth. At this point he is stunned by the potential and is eager to go. He tells everyone who will and won’t listen and shows the photographs on Google Earth. Now anyone who knows Gavin, knows how excitable he can be, especially when it comes to fishing in a new destination. He loves nothing more than research in the name of fishing; ploughing through data, maps, photographs, any reading material he can find or talking! He found Danial’s number hidden in the deep recesses of his old diary and called him…” how do I get there” … and so the adventure began. Gavin was given the contact details of Ereata Benson an I-Kiribati member of staff in the Kiribati National Tourism Office (KNTO) who’s role it is to lead on behalf of the Kiribati Government on the soon to be called ‘Nonouti Project’. So, from 2009 to 2012 Gavin hosted 8 successful exploratory trips to Nonouti, with the support of Ereata, to assess the potential of the island as a Game-fishery, training local people to be guides, boatman and fishing assistants. The United Nations supported the project by funding domestic training to islanders. Gavin suggested Moana Kofte from Kiritimati (CXI) became involved in the training of the guides, Gavin interviewed Moana in a video to be shown to the Nonouti Guides, which you can see on YouTube on Tie ‘n’ Fly Outfitters channel, however it’s all in I-Kiribati language! Moana later visited Nonouti and conducted a week of training. The Kiribati islands are typically run by Island Councils and/or Unimane (elders), so it was not only important to have them on side but the local people too. They were concerned the project would mean removal of their nets from the lagoons and in turn their families would not have enough food to eat. However, after a significant number of open meetings with Gavin people started to want to be involved. The Nonouti Island Council were in full support of the project, particularly when they recognised how much income and employment the project was bringing into the community. On one trip the Kiribati Minister of Tourism (GT fisherman/ addict) came along, to support the project. However, there was no financial support from the Kiribati Government, the exploratory missions were funded entirely by Tie ‘N’ Fly Outfitters clients paying for trips, which contributed circa $100,000 to the Island over the years. These paying anglers also brought in medical

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I N T H E S A LT supplies, tooth brushes, medical and agricultural expertise etc. Gavin has some great stories about the early days on Nonouti, with local fisherman challenging him to fishing competitions, him with his fly rod they with their hand lines. Long marches across vast flats which lasted days and days on the basis he suggested they should look in a particular place for Bonefish and the I-Kiribati person wanting nothing more than to please him by looking. When asked differently, the I-Kiribati fisherman said there are no Bonefish here, but we can look! Gavin soon learnt to ask very differently and soon they were able to find good amounts of Bonefish of a good size and throughout the exploratory missions, map the movement of Bonefish across the lagoon at different moon phases and tide times. The Nonouti Island Council invited Tie ‘n’ Fly Outfitters to draw up an exclusive MOU with them, giving Tie ‘n’ Fly Outfitters exclusive access to a recreational angling package on Nonouti. Along with this he was invited to conduct a refresher training course for the guides. So where are we now, the security of the Kiribati Island resources is being challenged due to population growth and the advancement of climate change. To address these challenges, the Nonouti project will help the foundation of food security needs on this beautiful remote atoll. Tie ‘n’ Fly Outfitters have helped the Nonouti Island Council set up a Fishing and Cultural Package, which can only be purchased through Tie ‘n’ Fly Outfitters directly or through one of Tie ‘n’ Fly Outfitters International partners.

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including the Nonouti Fighting swords and Fisherman’s hats. Anglers can choose to stay in a traditional Kiakia instead of the Island Council lodge. Your own Kiakia is a traditional sleeping hut, with the added benefit of a bed and Australian electricity points. Nonouti has a pristine reef with extensive flats and extensive marine ecosystems. The trip aims to give anglers a unique catch and release eco-tourism adventure in a marine environment which in our view will become the latest hottest thing in fly destinations in the future. As Nonouti is at the very outset of its potential as a fly fishery eco-tourism journey we can’t therefore guarantee fabulous fishing however take a good look on Google Earth and you may be as excited at the potential as Gavin was when he first looked. Nonouti has brought us some amazing days of fishing; 5 different species in five casts, Bonefish willing to take large clousers, Bonefish and Trigger Fish have straightened our hooks and Bluefin Trevally the size of a Trophy GT... However, this is a challenging fishery and not for the angler who wants the guarantee of easy frequent catches. If you would like to participate in this amazing adventure, just drop us an email or give us a call.

The I-Kiribati people have maintained their rich cultural heritage; fabulous dance dancing groups, handicrafts and historical offering sites. It seems all I-Kiribati people have beautiful singing voices too. On Nonouti travelling back from one of the offering sites; ‘Where the Tides Meet’ and the ‘Ancient Mariner’ you will be greeted by the Elder in the Oldest Maneaba on the island. Local people have been trained in hospitality and food handling as part of the Nonouti Project, with local villagers employed to cook their family traditional dishes for the anglers. During our trip we will have a traditional feast evening which will include a spectacular I– Kiribati dance group and singing. Anglers will have the opportunity to purchase some of the islands arts and craft

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Mangrove Jack are a superb fly target often trying to stitch you up in their watery lair. Photo: Al Simson

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E T IT F T U O G IN H IS F Y L F R E T A W T L A S T IS L IA C E P S Y AUSTRALIA S ONL ‘

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PRIL V YTER & A O R A IN T IS

OKEY

! U O Y S A E T A N IO S S A P S IS A O H W E N O E M O S M O R F E IC V D A D N A R A E G R U O Y ET ‘

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FIND US AT

BE GUIDED BY CPT. GAVIN PLATZ ◦ Saltwater & tropical Freshwater Fly Fishing Specialist ◦ FFFcasting instructor ◦ Hardy Pro Staff ◦ Tuna, Mackerel, Billfish & Saratoga

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Sunshine Coast & Harvey Bay Christmas Island Bonefish and GT trips Purpose Built 6.7 tri-hull in-shore boat 4.5m impoundment dory

Shop 1A 8 Point Cartwright Dr Buddina Beach QLD 4575

P. 07 5444 0611 E. flyshop@tienfly.com

W. www.tienfly.com

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On the hunt for the elusive Rooster Photo: Katka Ĺ vagrovĂĄ

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Those lips... It’s no wonder they have affectionately been named, Harry Hot Lips A.KA. Mud Emperor Photo: Chris Bygrave

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THE JOURNEY L I V I N G T H E F LY L I F E Words & photos by Mick Underwood

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Photo Š Solid Adventures

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If you are reading this then you have already been bitten by “the bug”. The bug that has, for eons, been biting and infecting countless thousands of anglers all around the globe. There is no scientific name for this bug nor the disease that it has inflicted us with. There is no known cure for this disease and its symptoms are felt within us on a daily basis and will continue to be felt until the day we each turn our toes up. The only known medicine to fully ease the pain is to go fishing. However, the healing effects are only temporary and regular doses are required for one to remain sane. We can help to mildly ease the symptoms with regular visits to the fly tying bench, poring our eyes over relevant publications and online forums. Talking regularly with fellow infected individuals can help a little as well but nothing can beat just simply going fishing. Once infected we individually on a regular basis have to devote so much of our time to appeasing these symptoms that we are unknowingly engaging on a journey, a long and wonderful journey. A journey that leads one down an incredible endless tunnel, a tunnel where there is no light at the end and if there was we wouldn’t want to get there. This is the world of salt water fly fishing. As with any journey there has to be a starting point and for the majority of us our entry into the world of salt water fly fishing has fairly humble beginnings. There are not many anglers around the world who start off their fly fishing careers by targeting elite species such as bonefish or permit in some far flung exotic location. These are fish that for the most of us are reserved for a time and place a little further along our respective journeys. Remember the first time you picked up a fly rod and dared to take it near the ocean. I’ll bet that first foray was at one of your favourite local honey holes targeting a species that you have targeted many times over with other forms of tackle. The areas that you first started to fish with a fly rod were more than likely areas where you already had a thorough understanding of the lay of the land. You already knew where the snags were, which way and how strong the current will flow at different stages of the tide. Where the bait will be and when your intended quarry will be there to take advantage of it. The species that you first chose to target would have been one that you have already had a good understanding of with regards to what they predate on and their preferred habitats etc. It’s common knowledge that fishing with a fly rod is not the easiest way to catch a fish so those of us in the wider angling community that choose to fish with a fly rod relish a challenge. But by human nature when engaging in something unfamiliar we like to make things as easy as we can hence we start out targeting familiar fish in familiar territory. In my opinion there is nothing wrong with this as there is so much that can be learnt from chasing bread and butter species and it really is necessary to start honing skills and delete bad habits. On the angling side of the journey it all starts with casting. When we first start learning to cast for the most of us it’s in the backyard, a nearby park or something

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similar. In this arena we can control certain elements in order to make things easier for ourselves. We, by nature, cast in a direction relevant to the prevailing breeze that makes it easier for us to throw tight loops and attain distance and accuracy. We very rarely have big bulky flies tied on, we make sure that the area behind us is clear in order to get clean back casts and we ensure that the grass we are practicing on is clear of any form of debris that could foul our fly line. Get away from the park scenario and onto the water and all of a sudden these are elements that we can’t control and we have to learn how to deal with them. You’re out on the water one day and you know that from past experience that there is probably a nice flathead sitting in ambush mode fifteen metres in front of you and you know that if you can get a fly anywhere near him it’ll get smashed. The problem is that you have to cast directly into a stiff breeze with a heavily weighted clouser and there is a moored vessel tied up to a couple of tall pylons directly behind you. This is the hair pulling frustrating part of the journey, meeting challenges head on that have to be overcome in order to advance further down the tunnel. Along the way there will be many lost flies and broken leaders. Don’t get desponded, it’s just part of the journey. You possibly won’t catch that particular flathead on that particular day but with time and practice you will. Then a little later on when you’re a little further along your journey and on a special trip up in the tropics. Say for instance sight casting to big barramundi lurking on the mangrove fringes, that’s when your freshly and frustratingly acquired new skills will come to the fore. You’ll be able to get that Dahlberg with the aero dynamics of a brick up over the mangroves and high into the air behind you and then be able to punch it forward into the breeze and present it nicely on the nose of the fish that you are targeting. It won’t always come together but hell, it sure is nice when it does. Sight casting is something that is integral to our sport and for the purists among us, it’s an essential component. Your sight fishing journey doesn’t have to start by casting to bonefish on an atoll out in the

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middle of the pacific somewhere, it can and probably should start in your backyard. There are many bread and butter species available to us all around the expansive coastline of this country. To single out just one species that we all have available to us in coastal Australia would be the good old whiting. These are an awesome fish to start your sight fishing journey with and I can guarantee that when learning to target these little pocket rockets there will be many lessons learnt along the way. They are as cagey as all hell and you need to be on your A game to be in with a chance. Simple things such as working out what strength and length of leader to use, knowing what they are predating on so as to match the hatch with your fly. Learning how much to lead the fish in order to not spook the fish but still get its attention. Working out how to approach a fish and get into position for a cast without scaring it and watching it bolt for the horizon. Even just learning how to use your eyes in order to see a fish at a suitable distance in the first place is critical. These are all basic skills that are essential to have in order to be successful on your sight fishing journey. If you can get your head around sight fishing for whiting and be successful on a regular basis then when you get a little further along the tunnel and do bump into Mr Bonefish it’ll be a cinch. As we progress further into our fly fishing journeys the fish that we choose to target will invariably get bigger and faster. As already mentioned, being salt water fly anglers we love and need a challenge, as one hurdle is conquered we need another. Not many anglers start out fishing by fly fishing in the salt. For the majority of us it is part of a natural form of progression from bait fishing to lure fishing and then onto fly. For most anglers when first learning to fight a hooked up fish on a fly rod there aren’t too many problems with regard to rod handling. We already know how to keep the hooks in a fish and how to use a rod correctly in order to create and use good fighting angles etc. Line management though, that’s a different kettle of fish. At some point on your journey you may want to target Giant Trevally and other finger burners and if you don’t have good line management skills then disappointment will be commonplace. Once


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again we can use fish that inhabit our backyard to attain the skills required for us to advance on our journey. For myself in my backyard of the northern Whitsundays there is no fish that can teach line management skills better than either a mac or a Longtail Tuna as they are readily available and eat with gusto. Upon hook up, if you have the line wrapped around the rod butt or reel handle, happen to be standing on the line or have the line fouled on an object on the deck then these fish will let you know about it in a nano second. Our fly fishing journeys aren’t limited to just on water antics. The artificial offerings that we tie onto the end of our tippets have to be thought about and created before we step onto the deck of a boat. Tying flies isn’t everyone’s cup of tea but for those of us who do indulge in it, it’s a very important and rewarding part of the journey. Our fly tying journeys as with our fly fishing journeys are best kept at the humble end of the scale when first setting out. Your equipment doesn’t have to be expensive and you don’t need a limitless array of materials. Stick to the good old ‘k.i.s.s’ principle as it is normally the simplest of fly patterns that consistently do the most damage. As you advance along your fly tying journey you’ll start to deviate from established fly patterns and alter them to suit your own personal requirements or possibly even conjure up new patterns all of your own. Once you get this far into the tunnel you know that you have your head space completely immersed in the game. To catch any fish on any fly that you have tied yourself is self-rewarding enough but when you catch a good fish on a fly that you have both designed and tied yourself then the sense of self achievement is through the roof. Our fly fishing journeys are not only about the fishing there is also the environment in which we ply our trade. As I just mentioned, to start designing your own flies you have to have your head completely immersed in the game, not only the game but more so the environment that you are fishing in. In my opinion no other form of sport fishing makes you more aware of what’s going on around you than fly fishing and in particular sight fishing. During the earlier stages of our fly fishing journey when on the water and fishing, our primary

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concentration is normally just on the fish that we are hunting and not everything else that is going on around us. As we progress further down the tunnel and accumulate more and more days on the water we become more aware of everything that is going on in our vicinity. Somewhere in the distance a small baitfish may flicker briefly or you might pick up on a V wake where a fishes caudal or dorsal fin has broken the surface for a split second. As you drift across a flat the bottom substrate may change slightly which could mean a different food source for the fish which in turn necessitates a fly change. Being able to pick up on small nuances such as this will often mean the difference between getting a bite or a refusal. Early on in your journey you cannot always expect yourself to be able to read everything that is happening in your immediate environment. But the sooner that you start trying to assess what is happening the sooner you’ll start learning and then be able to advance further along the tunnel. Comradery and friendships forged. This to me personally is the most important part of the journey. All the flies that I have seen tied and cast over the years, all the flats drifted and fish caught, they would mean nothing without the company and the friendship of the people that I have met along the way. Being a guide I am fortunate enough to get to meet a lot of people from all different walks of life. When a client or clients step onto my boat it doesn’t matter who they are or where they come from, we become one, our mission is the same. When each day draws to a close whether it’s been successful or not these guys and gals are not just my clients, they’re my friends. I am sad when they leave and can’t wait to be reacquainted again. Not very many sports or pastimes allow a small group of two or three people to work together so intensely for hours and days at a time and still always walk away happy at the end of it all every time. If you get nothing more from your personal fly fishing journey other than embracing the friendships you make and the special places it takes you then you are already a successful fly angler and nothing more matters.

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Get them into it young, we don’t have to be adults to start our journeys. If you have the opportunity to get a kid into the sport, do it. It can wind up being a very rewarding part or your own personal journey. Photo: Mick Underwood

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One of themost ferocious predators in our oceans, Queenfish Photo: Al Simson

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SEA OF CORTEZ

ROOSTERS

WORDS & PHOTOS BY K AT K A Š VAG R O VÁ & V E B J O R N K I E L L A N D

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Baja California is the second-longest peninsula on the planet and extends into the Pacific Ocean from the Southern end of California. It has the most stunning ocean views and landscapes that you’ll ever see in Mexico. The Baja peninsula includes everything from kilometres of wilderness to uninhabited desert, white sandy beaches and rugged mountainous terrain. The endless expanse of crystal-clear water is home to a large biodiversity of marine animals. The peninsula is also dotted with small, vibrant, little towns with a great mix of culture and affordable, tasty Mexican food which you can find on every corner. It also has some of the most beautiful sunsets you’ll ever. It is a land of complete contrasts. The Pacific side of the Baja coast is the where most of the “Grande” Roosterfish and world records have been caught, that’s where we were headed!

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On the way home from a fly fishing trip to Guatemala, Vebjorn (my dear friend) and I started planning our next fly fishing adventure. The long trip home allowed us plenty of time to discuss possible destinations and species we wanted to target. Once the words, “Baja” and “Roosterfish” were mentioned, there was no need to discuss our next destination. It was set, Vebjorn and I decided we now have a showdown with Mexico’s famous Roosterfish. Roosterfish, locally known as Pez Gallo, is a member of the Jack family and is native to the waters of the Eastern Pacific Ocean, from Baja California to Costa Rica and Peru. They can reach more than 100 pounds, but fish around 15 pounds are the most common. Chasing Roosters from the beach is one of the most rewarding ways a fly fisherman or woman can target


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I N T H E S A LT these wonderful fish. Roosterfish leave no room for mistakes, it takes patience, persistence and precision to battle with one of these majestic fish. Roosterfish have a unique dorsal fin and spectacular black stripes across their body. They were made famous by the cult short film “Running Down the Man” by Felt Soul media. During the months of May, June and July large Roosterfish cruise the shoreline pushing baitfish into the shallows, sometimes even resulting in bait being chased up onto the sandy beaches. One of the best methods in finding Roosterfish is to drive along the various beaches searching for fish on the move. Many anglers opt to use ATV’s when driving along the beaches as they make it easy to jump off and start running down the beach once you’ve seen a school of fish. Some anglers opt for a less adrenalin filled approach. Instead, they find a spot with good visibility on the edge of some deep water and patiently wait for the fish to come in and chase bait along the beach. Local folklore tells of anglers catching some of the largest Roosterfish known as Grande by sitting on a cooler drinking beer all day. If only it was that easy! We arrived in San Jose del Cabo in early May, just before the Roosterfish season about to start. For Vebjorn and I it was a totally new experience, we’d never fished in Mexico before. After we landed, we picked up a rental car and drove for about 2 hours to a local village called La Ribera. We found some great accommodation at Hacienda de Palmas in the centre of town. Even though we had to rent an ATV in the small fishing village further up, La Ribera was a great location to base ourselves. It made it easy to explore the beaches on both sides and also to explore the white sandy beaches of the Sea of Cortez. La Ribera has some great restaurants to visit if you’re after delicious local cuisine. On our first day of fishing, we decided to fish from a boat with one of the local guides. We jumped on the boat early in the morning with neither of us knowing what to expect. A real surprise to me was our first stop to pick up some live Sardines. First, I thought we would use the Sardines as a teaser to bring the Roosterfish close so that we could get a shot in with the fly. Well I was mistaken. Instead we used the Sardines to fish an edge between the shallows and the blue water. We used “live chum” to get the Roosters attention. Some people are against chumming and I can see why. It isn’t very sporting. I did however take this as an opportunity to try something new and it was a great experience. Our guide threw some live Sardines in to get the feeding frenzy started. The water was already nervous and full of bait. After a few baits went in the madness began. You could see the dorsal fins of the Roosters slicing through the water as they started hitting the sardines. The first strike didn’t take very long. His line went tight and Vebjorn was fighting his first GRANDE! I´m sure he thought this would be the fish of the trip. It was intense and nerve wracking because it was our first fish for the trip. Our boat drifted slowly into the shallows while Vebjorn fought his fish. After a very intense fight he managed to safely land and release this beautiful trophy fish after a few quick photos. It wasn’t long until we ran

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out of sardines, so we headed back to the shallows in search of Roosterfish to target on fly. Unfortunately, the only fish we saw were big Needlefish. I decided what the hell I’d give them a shot since there were no Roosters around. Casting large 3/0 flies with a #10WT rod usually makes my shoulder tired pretty quickly. Fortunately, Vebjorn was fishing his ultralight Guideline #9WT which I asked to borrow for couple of casts to give my shoulder a break. I tied on a small Gummy Minnow to match the hatch of the smaller bait fish they were feeding on. While I was “playing” with them, the school of Needles became bigger and bigger. Suddenly all chaos broke out and everything happened so quickly! All I remember was a dorsal fin slicing the surface and splash in the school of Needlefish. My cast had to be perfect because these fish only show up for a couple of seconds. The huge open mouth behind my little Gummy Minnow and raised dorsal fin will stay in my memory forever. At first, I did not know what was going on, the fly rod was pumping in my hands, my legs were shaking like crazy and the fly line was flying through the guides till… it got stuck! Imagine the feeling of fighting the fish of a lifetime and having your fly line completely tangled (I’m sure you all know what I was going through) Luckily for me and unluckily for Vebjorn, the rod tip broke and the fly line managed to get through the guides again.

“EVEN THE GUIDE SAID THAT THIS WAS ONE OF THE BIGGEST ROOSTERFISH HE HAD EVER SEEN!” A fight with a big Roosterfish like that can be tough. They don’t jump, they just run insainly hard and use their body weight to their advantage. Honestly, this was the toughest fight of my life. Vebjorn and our guide helped give me the phycological support that I needed to help get this, roughly 100lbs of magnificent Rooster fish in. We were all shocked when I finally did, even the guide said that this was one of the biggest Roosterfish he had ever seen! If these fish are caught close to the beach, especially the big ones, they can be pretty tired after an exhaustive fight, so it is always good to jump into the water with them, hold them upright and be sure they are ready to go before releasing them. They have a unique swim bladder going all the way up into the inner ear, which helps them amplify sound when they are on the hunt. The best thing to do is to handle them with respect, don’t drag them up onto the sand, keep them wet all the time and take your time to make sure they stay balanced until they can handle themselves before you release them. After we released this beast, I was content with the trip and had achieved more than what I ever hoped for, this was an unforgettable catch for me, and I don’t think Vebjorn will ever forget the size of this fish either.

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The rest of our trip was spent exploring the nearby beaches on ATV’s and walking the white sands stalking fish. This is where we got to experience the real thrill of chasing down Roosters on fly. The first day we went to explore Pluma National park. We woke up early and had breakfast which was bananas and banana chopsticks (we don’t believe in all the superstition surrounding this delicious fruit) and set out on the road. The road was great, and we were having an in-depth chat, when suddenly we felt the ground get softer under our wheels and all of a sudden, our car came to a shuddering halt. We were completely stuck in the sand! Vebjorn stayed positive and tried to dig the wheels out of the sand, without any success. Imagine, you are in the middle of nowhere, the only thing around are old, dilapidated houses in the distance and old tyres laying around, it was very scary. Time went by slowly. Yep, we were totally stranded! All of a sudden out of nowhere this really friendly guy appeared. He was exactly what you’d imagine, big moustache and sombrero, he kindly offered to help us out with his car and in no time, we were back on the road.

TIME TO FISH When we finally reached the white sandy beach, the sun was high and glistening off the almost flat calm turquoise blue water. Perfect conditions for Roosters! First, we tried following a school of Mullet along the beach, but nothing was happening. We decided to change up the usual Roosterfish tactic. We tried blind casting! Suddenly after couple of casts Vebjorn landed a little Roosterfish, it was the cutest fish I have ever seen. I followed him shortly after with another little fella. These little guys act really funny in the water when they get excited, trying to destroy your fly. We walked the beach for a few hours with nothing until we finally saw some dark shapes coming towards us. Roosters! Then the panic set in. These fish were moving quite quickly along the beach but still within casting distance. We both ran down the beach trying to get a good cast to these fish. We both reached the school of four fish at the same time and both got in good casts. They started to immediately follow our flies. The only difference between Vebjorn and I was we were using different flies. We mostly fished with flies on 3/0 hooks in light tan colours and I have to say, they are very picky about what flies they will take! Roosterfish hunt Sardines, Needlefish and Mullet in schools along the beaches which is why the most common flies are Mullet or Sardine

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patterns in the three - eight inch range. The most productive colours were light tan and white and, light blue and white both with a little bit of flash. The flash helps to get the fishes attention in the bright sunlight. Vebjorn´s fly was moving a bit differently than mine and had less flash. The Roosters were chasing down his fly until they saw my mullet fly. Suddenly they all raised their fins and quickly slashed from side to side behind my fly. Vebjorn made few more decent casts but with no luck. They decided that my fly was what they wanted! I was very lucky when the biggest fish of the group split off and inhaled my fly, it showed us the meaning of the Roosterfish run! That afternoon we caught another four good sized fish and experienced the real Baja Roosterfish on fly! The next three days were a lot more relaxed. Each day was started with a good breakfast at our hotel. Then we spent the whole day on our ATV’s exploring the local beaches looking for Roosters and we managed to catch a few good fish over the three days. I must admit that riding an ATV, admiring the pristine wilderness whilst also trying to spot fish is really special experience. Sometimes you just have to stop, have a drink and take it all in. The local Pacifico cold beer with fresh lime was a firm favourite of ours! Oh, did I mention how amazing it is to stop on the way back from fishing to watch the most beautiful sunsets you’ve ever seen! If you have ever dreamt about fishing for one of the most remarkable fish in the world and want a real adventure, then make Baja California your next fly fishing destination!

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A good size Mutton Snapper off the Bahama flats Photo: Al Simson

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Anaa, French Polynesia

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Visit flyodyssey.com.au or call +61 499 900 816

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Fly fishing travel experts


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Chris with a solid Whitsundays Mud Emperor A.KA. Harry Hot Lips Photo: Chris Bygrave

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THE

FLY BOX FLIES BY

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Whistler Series As tied by Capt. Gavin Platz Dan Blanton is certainly one of the greatest pioneers in our saltwater fly fishing history. His achievements are really too many to list here, however, here are just a few of them; • • • •

Recipient of the Federation of Fly Fishers 1990 Arnold Gringrich Memorial Life Membership award for outstanding achievements in fly fishing 1995 The Silver King Award for contributions in Saltwater fly fishing 2002 he was inducted into the NCCFFF California/ Nevada Hall of Fame 2009 he was inducted into the Catskill fly fishing Centre and Museum Hall of fame

As well as all the accolades above he is a prolific writer, photographer, fly casting / fly fishing instructor and, of course a magnificent fly tier. As a fly tier he originated the ‘Whistler Series’, ‘Punch Series’, ‘Sar-Mul-Mac Series’, ‘Sea Arrow Squid Series’ and the ‘Delta Eelet’ saltwater fly patterns. His patterns originated in the late 60’s and early 70’s. I was first introduced to the famous book Saltwater Flies by Dan Blanton at a fly fishing talk by our own famous Rod “Harro” Harrison in the early 90’s. We had all seen Dan Blanton’s flies in the fly tying books and magazines of the early 90’s but none of us really understood the amazing ‘engineering’ that had gone into his flies. A lot of you will probably think they are simple flies to tie when you look at a picture of them. They certainly look simple and pretty, that’s for sure. The fantastic part of Dan Blanton’s flies is not their exterior appearance but what has been built into the body of the fly... and this is totally unseen. Like a lot of fly tyers of the early 90’s, and even fly tyers today, we could all very easily copy the hot and new patterns of the day, including Dan’s Famous patterns and trust me our versions looked awesome and we all thought they fished as good to. But we were all wrong. In the early 90’s I was lucky enough to have a one on one chat and few beers with Harro and got to checkout his fly box. The flies which caught my eye was the Whistler and the Sar-mul-Mac flies. During this discussion about the Whistler, I learnt it was developed out of a necessity in 1964 (55 years ago) to imitate a Bucktail Jig that was used in the San Francisco Bay area to chase Stripers. I was very impressed as it’s very difficult to copy the action of a lure with a fly, most times the fly

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isn’t active or aggressive enough to incite a reaction from a predator. Dan Blanton achieved this action - firstly by using a short shank hook with 10 wraps of .035 lead wrapped on the front of the hook under the body of the fly and secondly by adding a generous amount of Bucktail in the tail of the fly. What the lead did was drop the head of the fly and the Bucktail, which is honey combed internally, holds in air and this created a lift in the tail accentuating the head dip of the fly. Dan Blanton was so far ahead of the game that his fly construction on the Whistler Series has only changed slightly over 55 years. Some of the innovative changes he made to his original tie include adding a bunch of Flash material which extends the tail by 50% called a flash tail, another to tie the fly on a 60 degree Jig Hook. Both of these changes have increased the imparted action of this amazing fly to make it even better. I was able to find an actual tie written by Dan Blanton, so I’ll use this to ensure I tie it correctly.

Gavin


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MATERIALS Hook - Gamakatsu SL12 S #4/0 (this range of hooks were designed by Trey Coombs. Author of Bluewater Fly Fishing) Eyes - Xlg Bead Chain silver Weight - .030 lead wire

Tail / Wing - Bucktail, Flashabou Pearl and Silver, Krystal Flash, Grizzley Hackle Gills - Medium Red Chenille Collar - 4 x Webby Schlappen Hackles

Step 1 - Lay a bed of thread on the Step 2 - Wrap 10 wraps of .030 shank of the hook and secure the wire, ending behind the eyes and overwrap with thread and glue. bead chain up against the eye of the hook.

Step 3 - Tie in a generous amount of Bucktail to the top of the hook.

Step 4 - On top of the Bucktail tie Step 5 - Tie in another colour of in 50 / 60 strands of Flashabou - I Bucktail on top and use Krystal used pearl and holographic mixed. Flash to enhance the tail/wing.

Step 6 - Tie in a Grizzley in on each side, curved face in.

Step 7 - Tie in Red Chenille, at the Step 8 - Tie in 3 webby hackles Bucktail tie in area then make only and palmer forward. I use 2 x two wraps of the Chenille. White, 1 x Pink, 1 x Grizzley.

Step 9 - Whip finish the fly and glue.

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I believe I can fly, this little Trevally showing off his incredible wing span Photo: Al Simson

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This Harry is making sure he knows what got him, check out that eye! Photo: Chris Bygrave

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Natural perfection. This Mack Tuna displaying some amazing patterns. Photo: Al Simson

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pass me some

sea saLT

.COM

AUS & NZ DiStribUtioN: Kickelly P/L Email: antti.vappula@visiongroup.fi | tel.:+61 4020 51759

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Species

SPOTLIGHT

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LONGTAIL

Tuna THUNNUS TONGGOL The Longtail Tuna is one of the ‘true’ Tunas (complete with the first name Thunnus), that, kilo for kilo, is widely regarded as perhaps the toughest of all the Tunas on matched angling gear.

BY DR JULIAN PEPPERELL, PhD. Dr. Julian Pepperell, PhD, is one of the bestknown marine biologists in the world and a leading authority on Marlin, Sailfish, Tuna and Sharks.

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We tend to think of the Tunas as masters of the high seas –migratory nomads wandering unimpeded across the vast expanses of the world’s oceans. And while that’s true for species like Bluefin, Bigeye and Yellowfin Tuna, a notable exception to the rule is the Longtail Tuna. This is a species of tuna that instead prefers to hug the coast, spending its whole life in the warm shallow waters of continental shelves and embayment’s, never venturing into the wild blue yonder. Back when I was a lad, the name ‘Longtail’ Tuna would have been met with a blank stare, even among anglers who caught them regularly. That’s because, since time immemorial (well, for a long time anyway) the species was always known in Australia as ‘Northern Bluefin Tuna’, or more affectionately, as ‘Northern Blues’. That name caused confusion though, since the ‘official’ Northern Bluefin is the northern Pacific Bluefin Tuna, Thunnus orientalis, a close relative of the Atlantic Giant Bluefin and the Southern bluefin. Therefore, to avoid confusion, the Aussie Northern (true) Blue has been officially dubbed the Longtail Tuna. The most commonly cited feature that distinguishes the Longtail Tuna from other species is its elongated rear third of the body, extending from the second dorsal and anal fins. This ‘stretched’ body shape is fairly obvious even to the casual observer, but just to confuse the issue, it is not even true for small juveniles less than, say 3kg. Consequently, misidentification can sometimes be a problem with the longtail, especially for small fish. The species with which it is most commonly confused is the Yellowfin Tuna, but the longtail lacks the many pale stripes and rows of dots on the belly and flanks that live Yellowfin always show. All of the line-class IGFA world records for Longtail have been taken off the Australian east coast between Moreton Bay in southern Queensland and the Victorian/ New South Wales border. The odd thing though is that such large fish (25kg plus) are rarely recorded in commercial catches anywhere

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else in the world. On the other hand, because Longtail are found through most of southeast Asia and the coastal regions of the northern Indian ocean, extending into the Persian Gulf and the Red Sea, it is quite possible that other areas holding large adult fish are yet to be discovered, at least by sportfish anglers. The all tackle world record Longtail was caught at Montague Island southern NSW in 1982 well known angler Tim Simpson. Around the same time, Tim and others caught other Longtail in excess of 30 kg at the same location, so it appears that this was a good example of the largest specimens of a species occurring at the very extremes of their geographical ranges. Some very recent ground breaking research published by CSIRO scientist and keen angler, Dr Shane Griffiths, found that longtail tuna spawn when they are just 55 to 60 cm long, at which size they are just 2 to 3 years old, and also found that there are three distinct Australian spawning areas – one along the Coburg Peninsular, NT, one in the eastern Gulf of Carpentaria and one extending from south of Cairns to the central Queensland coast. The latter spawning ground is the most likely source of the occasional ‘run’ of very small juvenile Longtails (1-2 kg) that appear off Fraser Island or as far south as Caloundra in summer. Longtail Tuna tend to feed on small dietary items, even when adult. Anchovies and sprats, for example, are favored prey in Moreton Bay. Specialist anglers are aware of this, and use small baitfish such as Hardyheads, or very small lures or saltwater flies when targeting them. I once examined the stomach contents of a 5 kg Longtail caught off Hamilton Island that contained a fascinating variety of food items – all measuring about the same size (1.5 cm long) including Trigger Fish, Toadfish, Ponyfish, Squid and even a tiny Octopus. Interestingly, a CSIRO study on the diet of longtail in the Gulf of Carpentaria also by Shane Griffiths found that they were generally very opportunistic feeders. He identified

101 different types of food items in nearly 500 stomachs, dominated by small Herrings and Anchovies. Other important items included Slimy Mackerel, Longtom, Garfish, Whiting, Squid and Prawns. Shane and his co-researchers even made some calculations on the total amount of food that the population of longtail in the Gulf might consume, and came up with a figure of 148,000 tonnes! One surprising finding was that of this total, about 550 tonnes consisted of commercially important Prawns, or about 11% of the entire catch of the northern Prawn fishery in the Gulf. Sounds like a good reason to try a Prawn pattern for that next Longtail trip. Unlike other tropical Tunas, the Longtail rarely, if ever forms large schools. When small, they often associate with pods of Mackerel Tuna, and at times, will also aggregate with Dolphins and even Whale Sharks. Small schools of Longtail tend to surface only for brief periods, and are generally very flighty, being easily scared into sounding or scattering. An interesting observation uncovered in researching this article is that packs of 15 to 20 adult Longtail often attack their prey in an arrow shaped formation, each fish spaced equidistant from its neighbors. This form of cooperative feeding behavior has also been observed in Giant Atlantic Bluefin Tuna and Yellowtail Kingfish in southern California. Not many anglers would realise that in 2007, the Longtail Tuna was declared a recreational-only species for all of Australia, a status that is very special, especially given the fact that worldwide catches of the species have skyrocketed to over 200,000 tonnes per annum in recent years. There is still a lot we don’t know about this enigmatic, coastal Tuna, but hopefully, its future in Australia as a top-rated angling species is looking good.


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The punk of the ocean, a Sea of Cortez Rooster. Photo: Katka Švagrová

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STUFF WE THINK YOU NEED

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CHANNELS WE’RE WATCHING

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ROD REVIEW BY GAVIN DAVIS When Antti Vappula, from Vision Australia, told me he was trying to get Paul Hogan to feature in the advert for the new Down Under rods, I think a little bit of wee came out I was laughing so hard! When I realized he was actually serious though, I stopped laughing pretty damn quick, shut up and listened! So, what are the Down Under Rods all about? Put simply they are a collaboration of ideas and thoughts, put forward by a small group of avid fly fishers across Australia, to target unique and iconic Australian species. With the standard Aussie Green and Gold colour scheme the range consists of 2 models; 8.4ft #9WT and 9ft #10WT. Although similar, once you fish both rods you quickly realize how different they are! The #9WT, if I could only describe it with one word is FUN! The shorter rod loads fast and has a real “point

and shoot” character, with the taper perfectly designed to cast flies that resemble a chicken tied to a hook. I can already see this rod getting a cult following for Murray Cod, while being great at snag bashing estuaries up north for Barra and anything in between! The #10WT is definitely the “BIG BROTHER” and is nothing but confidence inspiring. The medium/fast action is simply like riding a bicycle for the first time in years, you quickly feel comfortable, then when you punch out a big cast you really can’t help but smile. With all the attributes of the #9wt, the #10WT is the perfect next step up for those XXL sized Murray Cod and Barramundi. I believe this rod will surprise many at just how at home it will be casting big poppers to GT’s or King Fish on a salty flat somewhere far away!

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Salty chrome Barramundi from the Wessels Photo: Al Simson

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Argentina Robalo on fly. Photo: Diego Castilo

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RAISING ROBALO

LAND OF FIRE WORDS & PHOTOS BY K AT K A Š VAG R O VÁ & D I E G O C A S T I LO

Tierra del Fuego, the Spanish words for The Land of Fire, is located on the southernmost tip of the South American mainland. Tierra del Fuego is divided between Chile and Argentina and was discovered in 1520 by Ferdinand Magellan. Everyone knows this part of the world is full of contrasts, the vast wilderness and of course the biggest Seatrout in the world. These fish migrate annually into the famous Rio Grande, Irigoyen and the Rio Gallegos rivers. You travel half way across the globe to fish at Tierra del Fuego for their famous silver Seatrout and you've probably never heard about the saltwater “flats” possibilities just around 1500 km from Antarctica.

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I N T H E S A LT I traveled to Argentina from Europe, which to date has been one of the longest journeys I have ever made. Once you reach Buenos Aires, after more than 14 hours in the plane, you have to take a three hour flight to Rio Grande or Ushuaia in a light aircraft. From there you transfer to a 4x4 truck only to be taken to the World´s End lodge. Yes, the end of the world, that is the most accurate description for this place. In this part of the world nature has really bizarre appearance. This area is surrounded by Lenga forest, which is only native to Chile, Argentina and Tierra del Fuego. All of the trees owe their tortured existence to the strong wind with the end result looking like something out of a horror movie. The wild horses, bulls, foxes and condors don’t seem to mind living on the set of horror movie. A cozy wooden lodge is located just on the river bank with an outstanding view over the river and the sea side. This place blew my mind right from the moment we arrived, and I was now, more than ever, curious as to how the fishing will be. I was supposed to fish for Seatrout at Irigoyen River every day for the duration of my trip, but when I was told that besides Seatrout and Brown Trout in the river there is the possibility of catching a saltwater species called Robalo, I didn’t hesitate! On the very first afternoon we went and fished the shallow beaches not far from the estuary of Irigoyen River. The shoreline is totally different to any other saltwater destination I ever fished before. Cold Arctic winds do not allow for a perfect cast, the high tides push quickly across the shallow flats and the water is as cold as ice. Regardless of all of that it was a great idea, we used the free afternoon hours between Seatrout sessions and experienced superb fishing. Robalo (Eleginops Maclovinus) are a common fish in the littoral estuaries of Southern South America includ-

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ing the Falkland Islands. ROBALO is a taxonomically isolated fish. If I had to describe this fish it would be a combination of a mutant Seabass and a Cod with the feeding behavior of a Bonefish. They feed by searching the flats and nearby river mouths on an incoming tide for crustaceans, small fish and sea worms. The average size is between 2-5lbs, but they can grow a lot bigger and have been caught up to 30 lbs. Once you hook a Robalo on fly their run is crazy, sometimes they will make few jumps, but usually they fight following the contours of bottom. Their large pectoral fins allow them to move fast with incredible power. The fight will doesn’t last very long time, but it is really explosive. The locals enjoy these as a favorite table fish. We even got to taste their delicate white meat one on our first night’s dinner and it was delicious! For these Robalo I recommend using #8WT rods matched with sink tip floating line for using lighter flies or a floating line to use with weighted flies with dumbbell eyes or tungsten beads. Just keep in mind not to bring your usual saltwater or flats fly lines because the ocean temperature is pretty cold and warm water fly lines will get damaged very quickly. My favorite is InTouch Striper 30ft sink tip fly line from Rio Products paired with at least 20lb Fluoroflex tippet. Robalo feed on almost anything. The most successful flies were Woolly Buggers sized #4 - #6 with rubber legs in black, yellow, orange, or tan. I was fully loaded with flies from Fulling Mill for Seatrout, but I also got them to add in some big Woolly Buggers with gold coneheads in olive. These olive conehead Woolly Buggers proved the most successful flies for me on this trip. Over the next few days we also found that another successful fly for these Robalo was the Squirmy Worm in size 10. Yes, you read right, Squirmy Worms also work

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in saltwater. It seems pretty crazy, but that day it was undeniably the best fly. I would think that most Bonefish patterns in a smaller size would also work just as well. When fishing for Robalo the most successful technique is blind casting. Once the fly reaches the bottom start stripping long and slow, it doesn’t take long to get a bite. Some people don’t like Robalo fishing because they think it is just too easy, but I don’t agree with that. If you get the tide right you can have an unbelievable session like we did on our first day, catching around 20 fish within one hour, most averaged 2-4 lbs. Sight fishing is a challenging way to fish for the bigger single fish which cruise the shallows. The best conditions for Robalo sight fishing are sun and no wind which is very rare at Tierra del Fuego which also happen to be called the windiest place on Earth! So good luck. I wasn’t lucky enough to experience “perfect” conditions and had mostly cloudy, windy days on the beach when the surface turns into an impenetrable glare and the wind makes it impossible to see nervous water or the Robalo´s fins. The colour of the water, even when it’s sunny, will never compare to the flats of the Bahamas, Belize or the Seychelles. I managed to land one decent size fish around 10lb and released more then 30 average size fish overall and spotted some real monsters. As a consolation while fishing for these Robalo you always have the chance of hooking a super silver fresh Seatrout which I was lucky enough to catch a couple of times before they managed to enter Irigoyen river. If you are looking to visit a very special place, with an unprecedented landscape and want to catch a new species on fly, which is not that common in fly fishing world, Tierra del Fuego is the place to go!

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Racking up the Harrys A.KA. Mud Emperor! Photo: Chris Bygrave

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The connection between angler and fish is a special one. Al taking his time to admire this beautiful fish Photo: Al Simson

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Heads or tails? We prefer tails. A beautiful Coral Trout from the late afternoon bite. Photo: Al Simson

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Final Offering

From the editor

NINE, NEUF, NOVE, NUEVE, NIO, DEVYAT’, NEUN... Well summer has come and gone for us in the southern hemisphere and winter is fast approaching. This usually marks the start of settled weather in the tropics and good, shallow water sight fishing follows. Wherever you are in the world it is my hope that you have some sort of fishing to look forward to over the coming months. The past three months have had their challenges but we are on the otherside of that now and looking forward to the coming issues with lots in store. It is our sincere hope that you all enjoy reading this as much as we enjoy putting it all together. Thank you again for your loyal support and we look forward to bringing you the stoke over the next year!

CALLING ALL WRITERS & PHOTOGRAPHERS. We are on the look out for fun, engaging stories to share with our readers so if you have something to write about please send it to info@inthesaltflymag.com.au. After all, besides hitting the water and practising, thats how we all learn. With every new edition our readership grows exponentially. We are reaching some far off shores and distant waters with our publication and its bloody great!

In closing, please practise catch and release as often as possible helping sustain our incredible fisheries and those that we visit. Be sure to like us on Instagram and Facebook. Sign up to our newsletter to get this publication delivered direct to your inbox and also stay up to date with what we’re up to. Till next time, tighten those drags and give them nothing! Justin Webber Editor & Publisher

As always, thank you for reading our publication we hoped you enjoyed it as much as we did. Thank you to all our incredible contributors without which none of this would be possible. Thanks also to all our advertisers, new and old, we are super stoked to have you all on board and look forward to continuing this journey together.

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