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Autumn

2019

TROUT OFF THE TOP

HINTS, TIPS AND TRICKS FOR AMAZING

UNDERWATER PHOTOGRAPHY

GOING LIGHT IN THE SURF

WA’S MAGNIFICENT AUSSIE SALMON


Contents EDITORIAL

Our Cover... See our lead article for tips on how you too can take shots like this one. An Autumn Bass that was no match for a slow rolled Bassman spinnerbait.

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UNDER A BLANKET OF WATER

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CALAMARI – YOU’VE GOT TO LOVE ‘EM! BOAT TEST - OZSEA PLATE BOATS 450 SIDE CONSOLE

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GOING LIGHT IN THE SURF

66 TROUT OFF THE TOP

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WA’S MAGNIFICENT AUSSIE SALMON

THE SMALL BOAT BLUES

AUTUMN ESTUARY PERCH

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FRASER ISLAND MINI ADVENTURE

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LOS BUZOS KAYAK FISHING RESORT– BUCKET LIST LOCATION www.spooledmagazine.com.au

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Camping and Outdoor Gear

‘What ever it is you’re seeking, The Space. The Freedom. The Quiet. The Adventure. The Time. The Wild.

Australia, It’s Out Here’


From the Editor

From The Editor

SHANE MENSFORTH

To say we’ve been blown away by the response to our first issue would certainly be understating things. Once a few minor downloading glitches had been rectified and the Spooled app was operating at 100 per cent efficiency, issue #1 was eagerly accepted by thousands of readers. Naturally, this was a great relief to all involved in the magazine’s production, and particularly Rob Maya, the project’s founder, co-ordinator and head worrier.

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It’s onward and upward now, and we are confident what you’re about to read in this, the second issue, will be even better. You’ll notice a couple of new names alongside the line-up of ‘old heads’, offering different perspectives, experiences 04 and ideas – something we consider both exciting and important. There’s plenty of untapped talent still out there, of course, and we are always keen to check out contributions from anyone who can fish, write and take high quality pic’s and video. And speaking of video, you’ll notice quite a bit more in this issue than the first. Our ultimate goal is to include informative video clips with as many feature articles as possible, making Spooled unique and appealing to a broader cross section of readers. Increasing the video content naturally applies more pressure to our regular contributors, but most seem to be embracing the idea now, and I’m sure you’ll notice steadily improving quality moving forward. Feedback from those who download Spooled is naturally significant to us. If you find particular material interesting and informative (or not so much), please let us know. If there are particular topics you’d like us to investigate, we’re happy to try. Our regular contributors are well versed in a broad spectrum of fishing styles, techniques and locations, so drop us an email and, if possible, we’ll get one of them to start investigating. Editing this issue has been particularly interesting for me. I’ve had icons like Steve Starling and Glen Booth edit a lot of my work over the years, and to be on the other side of the desk is certainly proving enjoyable. It’s also nice to work on contributions from newcomers to the national magazine scene, and I can tell you I’ve picked up hints and tips from all of them. There’s always someone who knows more about a certain aspect of fishing than you do, and you’re a mug if you don’t take his or her advice on board and file it away for future reference. Undoubtedly, one of the highlights for me is receiving and editing Dave Seaman’s contributions. Not only is Dave an exceptional photographer, he’s also a talented communicator, as you’ll discover when you read his piece on taking pictures of fish underwater. I wish I had half his skill and patience! We trust you’ll enjoy and learn from Spooled issue #2. Working with this team on a publication of this quality is close to the dream job for me. Long may it continue! www.spooledmagazine.com.au


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Under A Blanket Of Water

DAVE SEAMAN

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DAVE SEAMAN’S GENERAL PHOTOGRAPHY SKILLS ARE LEGENDARY, BUT HIS UNDERWATER PIC’S ARE REALLY SOME THING ELSE.

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Under A Blanket Of Water

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For those old enough to remember, photography, back in the day, was an expensive and prolonged process where the results of your efforts were hidden until the lab delivered your shots a week after finishing the roll of 36 exposures. From there you’d look through a loupe on a diffused light box to sort the best of your photos into slides that were magazine worthy – and a much larger pile of rubbish pics. Fortunately, digital photography now offers instant previews of your subject and control over ISO and exposure. It also allows you to shoot countless frames that can be sorted and deleted as you wish, even in the field. The quality of the cameras, the images they produce and the incredible access to good digital photography and HD video is available to anyone who owns a mobile phone or has the inclination to spend thousands of dollars on top-of-the-range, purposeful DSLR or mirrorless equipment. The popularity of Smartphones has provided developers with opportunities to create and introduce a variety of underwater and waterproof housings that do a good job for Instagram or Facebook. To take poster print, sharp and RAW images there is little choice than to invest some cash on a housing and decent camera. Housings for DSLR cameras don’t come cheaply, and investing thousands of dollars is a concept many would struggle with, but the results and potential of the gear is not only remarkable, but downright satisfying. Understanding your camera is the key to good underwater photography and settings must be spot on to regularly capture vigorous and lively fish. www.spooledmagazine.com.au


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Under A Blanket Of Water

//THINGS TO FOCUS ON

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Water clarity, focal length of the lens and light are perhaps the three main factors that contribute to good photos. If the water is cloudy or dirty, then forget it. Even water that appears clear can carry suspended sediment that detracts from the sharpness of the photo. A short focal length lens, from 11mm to 16mm, is all I use unless the water is ultra-clear. The wide angle of 10 these lens allows you to minimise the distance between your camera and the subject, which consequently reduces the corridor of particles between you and the subject.

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//LIGHTING You can’t do much about the weather, and bright, cloudless skies can be a blessing and curse in one. Harsh reflected sun can produce well-lit photos if you get in the right position, but so can dull grey skies in the right situation. Where extra light is required on dull days or to fill shadows cast by fish, I use two Litra underwater, photo- balanced torches. They also make night time photography achievable with three power settings, and at around $100 are way cheaper than a flash and flash housing that could cost up to $1800.00.

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Under A Blanket Of Water

//SETTINGS Settings for you camera are determined on the day of the shoot with prevailing conditions, light and subject in mind. While shooting flathead, the shutter speed would be around 1/160 of a second, where tailor or faster fish may need 1/500 of a second or higher to freeze their motion. Extra speed can be achieved by cranking up the ISO up to 1000 (standard is 100). The modern cameras handle the noise (grainy pixels) generated by high ISO settings and the little detail that is lost is better than blurry, unusable photos at the end of the day.

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The F-stop of the lens manages your depth of field or how much, in a given distance, is in focus. It also opens and closes the aperture, restricting light from entering the camera. The higher the F number (F 1.2-F 32), the less light reaches the sensor and greater the depth of field is produced. The beauty of short lenses is that a range of F4.5-F8 will produce sharp subject images, provided autofocusing is set on the subject. For that I use auto focus and the central focusing point on my camera and set it on servo mode, which means it is constantly focusing on the centre of the viewfinder. Even unsighted you hope the subject is in the centre of your frame as you press the shutter release. Burst frame rates from 7-14 frames a second can help capture the motion of a fish, but panning the housing to follow the subject is like an aquarobics work out at times.

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Under A Blanket Of Water

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//RAW IMAGES I never shoot anything but RAW images, simply because they have had little incamera processing. They are more easily manipulated, colour corrected or sharpened in programs like Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop. While many see Photoshop as a photo tampering software, it is an essential tool in enhancing the photos you have, not creating them. Lightroom is perhaps a more powerful digital photo processor and is invaluable for recovering pics that are just not quite right. www.spooledmagazine.com.au


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Under A Blanket Of Water

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Under A Blanket Of Water

//IN THE FIELD

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Like many things of quality, the rewards come from hours and sometimes weeks of patience and hard work. Good underwater photography is no different. It’s about having a vision in your head and then trying to achieve it somehow. That is were you may spend three or four hours in the water, and as motionless as possible, even clipped to the boat anchor as the fish get used to your presence. Hooked fish can be difficult as you lead them around in the current by the line. Hooked fish should be photographed and released quickly, mainly from a survival perspective and stresses associated with handling times. It is important to include background and think about where the 18 best shot will be enhanced by structure and other eye-catching forms in the photo. Don’t expect every photo you take will be perfect. Tails cut off, blur, weed, poor lighting and unco-operative animals will all conspire to frustrate you and test your resolve. After almost 30years of UW fishing photography I still have bad days and crap results that only serve to push me to achieve the visions.

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Calamari - You’ve Got To Love ‘Em!

SHANE MENSFORTH

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You’ve Got To Love ‘Em!

It seems that the busier I get and the less time I have to spend on the water these days, the more I enjoy fishing for squid. I don’t have to burn hours preparing for a calamari session, the tackle doesn’t need to be high tech or meticulously assembled, and I don’t necessarily have to launch the boat to come home with a decent feed. Catching squid is about as close to grass roots fishing as you can get, which is exactly what we all need from time to time. www.spooledmagazine.com.au


From potatoes we gradually moved on to whole fish baits on our wire jags, and also incorporated ‘teasers’, which undoubtedly boosted the catch rate. Teasers were whole fish (usually small tommy ruffs or mullet) looped onto a handline and allowed to drift around in the general fishing area. Quite often a teaser would attract several squid, which were slowly dragged into casting range and then picked off with baited jags. It’s a system that worked nicely then and still works well today.

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I’m old enough to have fished in an era when chasing calamari with multi-prong wire jags (yes, we called them jags, not jigs) baited with a sculpted potoato was standard practice. Given the way we go squidding these days, this may sound incredible, but it’s true and it worked. The twisted wire shaft on those ancient jags was long enough to accommodate a decent sized spud, which was whittled down with a veggie knife into a torpedo shape and impaled carefully to sit just above those menacing barbed hooks. Any leftover potatoes from a jetty squid session could be taken home and converted into chips to accompany the calamari catch!


Calamari - You’ve Got To Love ‘Em!

Fast forward to the modern era, however, and things on the squidding scene have changed dramatically. Whereas it was mainly handlines back in the day, catching calamari is now almost exclusively a rod and reel affair – and not just your average rod/reel combination either. You can spend big bucks on specialised ‘egi’ tackle, which I’m still to be convinced makes as much difference as the squidaphiles would have us believe. And, of course, those bulky, barbed bait jags have long since given way to the modern crop of high-tech prawn imitations.

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Before going on to examine the wonderful world of new-age squidding, it’s worth taking a brief look at what makes the southern calamari tick. These intriguing creatures have 22 two hearts, a brain that’s proportionately far bigger than that of most fishes, the ability to change body colouration instantly, an incredibly fast growth rate, and a surprisingly short life span. They can’t smell that well and their eyesight is about ten times as acute as ours. Put simply, squid are pretty much the aliens of the undersea world. Keeping this, or at least some of it, in mind can certainly help when you plan your next squidding safari. Among the most significant of the physiological characteristics mentioned above are sight and smell. This means that the clearer the water you fish in, the better, and also that baits of natural fish offer no real advantage over artificial ones. Calamari hunt mainly on sight, so cloudy water reduces the chance of your jig being seen and attacked. As far as growth rates are concerned, the southern calamari is one of the fastest developers in the cephalopod world. Many of those true monster squid we see from time to time in southern Australian waters may only be 18 months to two years old, and the average ones (carapace length of between 20-25cm) are generally between 8-12 months. They grow fast, breed prolifically, live life on the edge and die young, which is primarily why they are not subject to size limits in SA and remain in abundance.

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Calamari - You’ve Got To Love ‘Em!

As far as habitat goes, southern calamari are occasionally found in water as deep as 30m, but are generally more at home in the 2-6m depth zone. They prefer to live in and around seagrass meadows, particularly where tape (ribbon) weed and cork weed are prevalent. Despite obvious and widespread degradation of inshore weed areas, there’s still plenty of tape weed around the shores, which is where the majority of our squid fishing takes place.

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Let’s take a look at squid fishing in detail, starting with landbased tackle and techniques and then heading offshore. It’s true that many of us would have caught our first squid from a local jetty. Mine came from Grange, west of Adelaide, on that old wire jag/spud combination mentioned earlier, and I reckon I still enjoy jetty squidding more than any other form. Because you don’t have the ability to drift around and cover a vast area – as you would out in the boat – you’ve got to be pretty clever when operating from the confines of a jetty. The calamari are often a bit more wary and competition from other anglers is often greater, so fishing smarter is definitely the way to go. I like to take two outfits on any jetty or rock squidding expedition – one set up with a running float and the other clipped directly to my jig of choice. I’ll cast the floating rig and allow it to drift around while actively working the other jig with consistent casts and retrieves. This allows me to cover as much ground as possible, restricted only by the volume of competition from other anglers. www.spooledmagazine.com.au


Calamari - You’ve Got To Love ‘Em!

Setting up the running float squid rig is pretty straightforward, but I see many people doing it incorrectly, so it’s worth explaining in detail. I like to use a rod of around 2.5m long with medium action and enough beef in the lower section to dead lift a big squid if I’m lucky enough to hook one. There’s nothing worse than trying to winch up the best squid of the day and losing it because the rod simply didn’t have sufficient ‘grunt’ to lift it cleanly. This has happened to me a couple of times in the past, and I now try to avoid it by using sticks that can cope with some weight when required.

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I mostly use 20 pound braid on my jetty squidding reels, but this is 26 where nylon monofilament still definitely has a place; in fact, good old fashioned nylon line may offer the advantage of injecting some stretch into the system. Lightly hooked squid, and particularly those pinned precariously in the tip of the main tentacle, will often break away on no-stretch braided line, but may stay connected on nylon mono. As far as the terminal set up goes, I like to tie a small swivel to the end of the main line, making sure the knot is strong and secure for that possible extra heavy lift. From the swivel I’ll then attach the appropriate length of 2030 pound monofilament for the squid float to run through. The length of this running line depends almost exclusively on the depth of water in which you are fishing, as well as the height of the local tape or cork weed. It’s ideal to have your squid jig riding about 30-50cm above the weed, so if I’m fishing in, say, 2.5m of water, I’ll plan to set the jig at a depth of around 2m. The closer to the top of the weed fronds, the better, so you may have to experiment until you get the depth right. Naturally, the longer your running line, the harder it is to cast off a standard-length rod.

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After working out the appropriate depth, I’ll tie one end of the mono line to the swivel before threading on the running float. I’ll then tie a Mustad Fastach clip onto the business end, which facilitates quick and easy jig changes if necessary. Alternatively, you can tie the jig directly to the end of the monofilament, but I find the Mustad clip a definite advantage and always carry a selection in my squidding box. This arrangement causes the squid float to slide down onto the nose of the jig for casting, then allows the jig to sink until the float reaches the top swivel and stops it at the prescribed depth. As I said earlier, this is all simple stuff, but I consistently see jetty triers with their jigs set too shallow or having trouble casting the rig because it’s not set up correctly.

With a decent rod and calm conditions it’s easy to cast the floating rig 30m or more, which is usually plenty. With the jig out there, bobbing away beneath the float, you then have a couple of choices; you can close the reel’s bail arm and simply wait for a squid to find the jig or, if you have some wind or tide taking the float away from the jetty, leave the bail arm open and allow the jig to stay on the move. I generally prefer the latter option, particularly if there’s a bit of breeze to push the float well out into territory that can’t be reached any other way. Naturally, with the bail arm open you’ve got to keep a constant eye on the float. I’ve had a hooked squid completely spool the reel and almost drag the rod over the jetty rail when fishing with an open bail and not paying proper attention to what was going on out there at the business end! It’s a handy trick to have up your sleeve, especially when you’re fishing with plenty of other squidders who are happy to keep their floats and jigs closer to the jetty. If and when a decent squid grabs your jig and submerges the float, it’s wise to resist the temptation to wind up any slack and strike as you would when traditional fishing. If that float is down, chances are the squid has hooked itself, and a sudden, violent strike may well dislodge the jig hooks rather than drive them further home. As long as the float is under water, its buoyancy will exert steady pressure, and it’s then up to the angler to maintain that pressure until the squid can be taken from the water with a fluid, positive lift. Quite often you’ll hook a squid by either one or both of its ‘candles’ – the longer lead tentacles it uses for grabbing prey. If it’s a double candle hook-up, chances are you’ll be able to lift the squid safely, but in the event of a single candle connection, www.spooledmagazine.com.au

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There are several float styles that work well, but whatever you choose must have a thin internal conduit that will enable the float to run freely between stoppers. Those turnip-shaped polystyrene models are fine, and I actually prefer these over the more streamlined torpedo-shaped floats. They certainly don’t cast as well, but provide a bit more buoyancy, which helps out with hook-ups as a squid grabs the jig and tries to jet away with it. Those fancy plastic Glitterbug floats can be worth a try, too, as their reflective panels are designed to flash in the sunlight, adding an extra element of attraction to the whole system.


Calamari - You’ve Got To Love ‘Em!

successful landing odds are reduced dramatically. And the heavier the squid, the more chance of having it fall off half way between the water and jetty railing. If I’m jetty fishing in a location where big squid are a definite possibility, I usually carry a light, single ring crab net that can be deployed quickly to secure any squid that are lightly hooked or simply too heavy for an easy lift. Alternatively, if you’re fishing on a relatively short jetty without too many people, you can walk any really big squid into shore and collect them from the beach. I’ve done this on a couple of occasions with particularly large specimens I didn’t want to risk losing.

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My other jetty squidding outfit consists of a slightly shorter (2.0-2.2m) rod 28 with a 4000 size threadline reel and 15 pound braid. To the end of the braid I’ll tie a couple of metres of 20 pound monofilament or fluorocarbon (normally using a double-uni knot) and then finish off with a Mustad Fastach clip. This is the outfit I use to cast around while waiting for my floating set-up to do its thing. I’ll generally opt for a slightly lighter jig on this outfit (usually a size 2.5), particularly if I’m squidding in fairly shallow water, to minimise snagging.

The technique here is simple. Cast the jig a reasonable distance toward accessible weed beds, allow it a few seconds to sink after splash down, then jig it back with occasional short whips of the rod tip. Getting the retrieve speed and action right is a matter of perseverance, and depends generally on both water depth and weed height. Again, the closer to the weed frond tips you can work your jig, the better, but snagging up can be costly if you choose to use expensive jigs. This is why light line is generally impractical for jetty squidding. Heading out in the boat usually makes the whole calamari catching exercise easier, but not necessarily more fun. Late autumn through winter and into early spring is often the most productive period for squidding, but it’s possible to catch a feed all year round. I really like June and July for bigger calamari. As long as the inshore water is clear, the wind is down and you have decent tidal exchange, the chances of a good bag are excellent. Ideally, wind strength needs to be under five knots for the perfect drift. However, you can squid successfully in more wind by deploying a drogue (sea anchor) that will slow the drift rate significantly. It’s important to drift at a speed that will allow you to get your www.spooledmagazine.com.au


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jig down deep enough to drag squid from the weed beds, and this becomes much more difficult in a boat that’s moving too quickly. It’s also a good idea to fish with the wind behind your cast so that the boat is drifting down on the jig rather than pulling away from it. Most boats will drift side-on to the wind, so fish on the leeward side for best results. Quite often I’ll take a second rod out in the boat that’s rigged jetty style with a styrene float. This is deployed during each drift and occasionally pulls more calamari than the traditional casting set-up. I do like to make one slight modification to this rig, however. Because you’re constantly on the drift, the jig set beneath a float usually rides up a bit higher as the boat moves, which isn’t ideal. To counter this, I simply add a 28gm ball sinker above the jig and the job is right. Although it’s usually simple to lift standard size squid over the gunwale and into the boat, I like to have a decent net on hand – for a couple of reasons. Firstly, by netting hooked squid when they are brought to the boat, you can generally avoid most of the inevitable ink they eject. We all know how messy things can get when the calamari bite gets into top gear, and allowing a squid to get rid of its ink while still in the water is definitely preferable to wiping it off all parts of the boat – or your face! Secondly, a net is always handy for lightly hooked squid, or those XOS models that come along from time to time. www.spooledmagazine.com.au


Calamari - You’ve Got To Love ‘Em!

Preferred water depth for boat squidding is generally 2.5-5m and, as mentioned, working above ribbon or cork weed is definitely the way to go. Quite often you’ll be drifting along for several hundred metres without registering a strike, and then, out of nowhere the calamari will arrive and it’s hook-ups all round. I like to alter the drift line slightly each time in the hope of covering new ground, and will usually work one area thoroughly before making a substantial move.

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Quite deliberately, I’ve opted not to enter the debate on squid jig colours, finishes and sizes, as opinions on these vary markedly. The best advice I can offer is to carry a decent range of colours, as there will be occasions when one colour scheme will 30 outfish all others. This is most likely to do with prevailing light conditions, and there’s nothing worse than watching a mate pull a dozen calamari on the trot while you catch nothing. I like to pack at least a dozen different jig colours, as well as a mix of 2.5, 3.0 and 3.5 sizes – just to cover all bases on a day when the bite is erratic and the calamari are fussier than normal. I also avoid ‘dump bin’ squid jigs like the plague, as they are rarely balanced properly and regularly come apart after extended use. Pay a bit more for the jigs you buy and I can guarantee your catch rate will be superior.

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Calamari - You’ve Got To Love ‘Em!

Collecting calamari out in the boat offers one distinct advantage over the land-based alternative, and that’s when it comes time to clean the catch. We carry two decent quality fish scaling bags, which double up as particularly handy squid processing devices. You can simply load your calamari whole into a scaling bag and tow them behind the boat for a couple of minutes, which does a reasonable job of cleaning them up. However, removing the squids’ heads first and cutting away the very tip of the mantle with a sharp knife produces a far superior result. Your calamari end up totally ink free, all of the outer skin is removed and you’ll have little, if any, of the internals to deal with at day’s end. The violent tumbling action of the scaler bag seems to tenderise the mantles as well, so it’s an option well worth considering.

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Instead of keeping cleaned calamari in traditional tube form and then converting the tubes to rings, I prefer to open them up these days. This enables me to tenderise the mantles with a steak mallet before cutting them into manageable strips for crumbing, battering or using in seafood stir fries. I’ve tried tenderising calamari with kiwi fruit, milk, lemon juice and other concoctions, but the steak mallet option is definitely the way to go. Simply give each mantle a gentle going over on both sides to break down the flesh slightly, and it will melt in your mouth. One of the very best things about catching a heap of calamari is the ability to freeze it and enjoy great meals at a later date. I’m no fan of frozen fish at all, but thawing out a batch of clean calamari mantles three or four months after catching them doesn’t bother me. In fact, I reckon spending time in the freezer actually makes squid a tad softer without compromising flavour in any way. It really is the ideal seafood to store for lengthy periods. So, while I could still confidently head out with a couple of potatoes, a crude wire jag and a knife to go squidding, there’s little doubt that things are quite a bit different on the calamari scene today. What definitely hasn’t changed, however, is the amount of fun you can expect on a calamari mission – and the guaranteed seafood feast to follow! www.spooledmagazine.com.au


Going Light in the Surf

STEVE ‘STARLO’ STARLING

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THERE’S NOTHING QUITE LIKE THE CRUNCH OF CLEAN SAND UNDERFOOT OR THE THUMP OF OCEAN SWELLS BREAKING ON AN EMPT Y BEACH TO SOOTHE YOUR MIND AND EASE A WEARY BODY... BUT CARRYING A FISHING ROD GIVES EX TRA PURPOSE TO ANY STROLL BY THE SEA! IN THIS INFORMATIVE PIECE, STARLO OFFERS SOME VALUABLE ADVICE ON HOW TO DRAMATICALLY IMPROVE BOTH THE PLEASURE AND EFFECTIVENESS OF YOUR SURF FISHING.

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Going Light in the Surf

Beach or surf fishing is one of the most popular forms of land-based angling in Australia, and it’s not hard to see why. Our island home is blessed with a multitude of surf beaches, both long and short, and many remain largely empty of people for much of the year. These glorious strands stretch all the way from Broome, in the far north- west, right around the southern half of the continent (including Tasmania) to well beyond Fraser Island in the east… And they all have fish swimming within casting range of their wave-washed edges.

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For me, one of the greatest attractions of beach fishing or surf casting is its inherent simplicity. You don’t need a mountain of expensive equipment. Nor is long term planning 36 essential. In fact, if you live close to the coast, beach fishing lends itself beautifully to spontaneous, spur-of-the-moment forays. Yesterday was a case in point for me. I looked up from the computer screen mid-morning to see that the tree tops beyond my office window were motionless against a clear, blue sky. A walk on the local beach suddenly seemed like an excellent idea. A quick consultation of the tide chart indicated that high water was less than an hour away, so I made the last minute decision to carry a light surf

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rod with me on my stroll. Fortuitously, the outfit propped in the corner of the shed was already rigged with a metal casting lure. I didn’t even bother taking a spare! That 40-minute walk proved to be a great tonic and completely revitalised me for an afternoon’s work… And the half-kilo tailor I landed on about my tenth cast made for a delicious lunch. It really doesn’t get much better than that in my book!

//KEEP IT SIMPLE Of course, for consistent results in the surf, a little extra preparation and a tad more gear than one lure doesn’t go astray. You can still carry everything you need for a longer session in a shoulder bag or a day pack, with a plastic bucket in hand to transport the bait to your chosen spot and (hopefully!) bring the catch home. However, in my experience, choosing and using the right tackle makes a huge difference to both your chances of success and your overall enjoyment of the process. Practical surf rods are generally quite long – anything from three to four metres (9 to 13 feet on the old scale). This length helps with casting and also keeps your line up above any annoying surge and drag from the shore break. Yes, you can get by with shorter rods, especially on calm days, but a bit of length is really handy much of the time. But the most important thing to remember is that longer rods don’t necessarily need to be heavier rods, especially in this era of space-age materials like graphite composites. There’s a great deal to be said for tripping the light fantastic and applying a little finesse to your beach fishing. www.spooledmagazine.com.au

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Going Light in the Surf

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//LIGHTEN UP! The single biggest mistake I see surf casters making right around the country is burdening themselves with ridiculously heavy gear. Let’s face it, the vast majority of fish encountered in the surf weigh less than two kilos… often considerably less! The most common target species on our southern beaches are fish such as whiting, bream, dart, tarwhine, tailor, Australian salmon, tommy rough (herring), flathead, mullet and trevally. These all typically run from a few hundred grams apiece to maybe a couple of kilos. Sure, we all live in hope of pinning a man-sized mulloway or a metre-plus gummy shark to really test our tackle. But in reality, these prizes are few and far between, and mostly fall to specialist anglers fishing big baits after dark, or prospecting along more remote stretches of coastline.

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If you’re seriously targeting the big stuff, by all means beef up your gear accordingly. But if you’re primarily chasing the “bread and butter” species that dominate our surf breaks, for goodness sake, lighten up! If you do, I absolutely guarantee that you’ll catch more fish, and have a heap more fun while doing it. And if your number comes up for the jackpot and you happen to hook that fish of a lifetime, you’re still very much in the running to land it, especially given some time, patience and a cool head.


Going Light in the Surf

//TOSS THE CABER! If I had to describe the typical surf-casting outfit I see in the hands of most beach fishing hopefuls, I’d immediately reach for terms like “telephone pole”, or images of burly Scotsmen in a kilts puffing and panting as they toss the caber at a highland tournament!

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All too often, the casual surf caster’s weapon of choice is a four-metre fibreglass beast of a rod with a 6000 to 10,000 size spinning reel or big sidecast hanging off it. This oversized reel will usually be spooled with springy, 10 to 20 kilo breaking strain monofilament line. In order to cast their rigs any meaningful distance off such unwieldy bazookas, the 40 hapless anglers who choose this inefficient gear are forced to opt for massive star or helmet sinkers weighing almost as much as the majority of the fish they’re likely to catch! Because this overweight tackle is so incredibly cumbersome, those using it will very often heave their baits as far as out as possible, then stagger up the beach to their rod holder and drop the outfit into it before flopping down on the sand to sit and expectantly watch the white-painted tip of their towering telephone pole for any faint signals of a bite. Sadly, what they mostly end up catching is sand crabs, stingrays and clumps of drifting kelp.

//THE FINESSE APPROACH I take a completely different approach to my surf fishing by choosing the lightest, most sensitive 3-4m rod I can find (usually one with a fair proportion of graphite in its blank) and matching this stick up with a 25004000 size spinning reel or a light, shallow-spooled sidecast. My main line is most often four or five kilo breaking strain (typically braid, although I sometimes revert to mono on a sidecast, as it’s easier on the hands and fingers). To this I’ll add a rod-length leader of six or eight kilo nylon or fluorocarbon.

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If I’m lure casting, my metal slice, baitfish profile or jig-rigged soft plastic goes directly onto the end of this leader. When I’m bait fishing, a modest ball or bean sinker (usually just 15-30gm in weight) runs freely on the long leader, separated from a small swivel by a plastic bead to prevent knot damage when casting. Below the swivel I can attach a half-metre hook link of fluorocarbon suited to the task at hand. If I’m using beach worms, prawns or pipis (cockles) strung onto smaller hooks to target whiting, bream, dart and mullet, I might run a three kilo hook link. When throwing half or whole pilchards for salmon, tailor and school jewfish (I always live in hope!), I’ll beef this hook link up to eight or 10 kilo fluorocarbon.

Most fish need to be deftly played on this light gear, and they can’t be simply hauled or dragged up the sand against a powerful backwash. Doing so will usually tear out hooks or even snap leader knots. Instead, you’ll need to learn to make use of the breaking surf to wash your catch ashore, gaining line as a wave surges up and quickly yielding it as the water retreats. It keeps you on your toes and, in the process, makes you a much better angler!

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Because my outfit is so light, I don’t drop it in a holder and wait for bites. Instead, I keep the gear in my hands, walking along the sand with the drift if necessary in order to keep a relatively straight line and stay in touch with my moving bait. Bites are transmitted readily via the lighter gear (especially when I’m running low-stretch braided line) and a lot more fish are hooked as a result. When they are, they provide a great account of themselves on the finer tackle, especially when they’re not dragging half a house brick of sinker behind them!


Going Light in the Surf

//FINDING FISH

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After lightening up, finding the best spot to cast your bait or lure into the surf is the 42 next big trick. Remember that classic line from the band America’s song “Horse With No Name”? “The ocean is a desert with its life underground”? Well, they were right! Beaches are not unlike deserts — there’s plenty of life out there, but it’s thinly spread and often well concealed. The majority of this marine life is concentrated around isolated “oases” represented by gutters, channels, holes or small outcrops of reef and rock. Focus firstly on those key areas. Climb to the highest point behind the beach and use polarised sunglasses to help locate these important features. Deeper water is darker, and unbroken areas in the foamy surf line indicate gutters or holes and their accompanying rips or currents. Waves suddenly standing up and breaking signpost shallower bars and banks. It’s often easiest to identify all of these prime patches of piscatorial real estate on the low tide. (See the fact box accompanying this article entitled “Reading A Beach”.)

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Going Light in the Surf

But whatever you do, don’t fall into the trap of thinking you always need to find the deepest hole or most scoured-out gutter to catch fish on the beach. Many species — especially foragers like bream, whiting, dart and mullet — regularly make use of the shallower flats and sloping edges of these deeper formations to grub for worms, cockles, small crabs and other invertebrates uncovered by wave and current action. Explore these edges first, then try the deeper holes.

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Tides can be important on the beach, too. A rising or making tide tends to bring feeding fish closer in to the beach, but low tide can also concentrate life in the holes and improve the “fish-to-water” ratio. Often, you’ll only need a short cast to reach 44 the feeding zone, especially at low tide. Don’t make the mistake of always trying to punch holes in the horizon with your sinker and bait. It’s easy to cast over the best fish, which may well be swimming literally at your feet, particularly on more steeply sloping beaches and at the “change of light” periods (dawn and dusk).

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Fact Box

READING A BEACH To experienced surf casters, beaches are an open book. By watching how waves travel and break, an accurate picture of the underwater topography is quickly obtained. Even for the less informed, a few hours spent sitting high on a sand dune or headland watching any surf beach, especially at low tide, will prove illuminating, and help greatly in sharpening those essential water-reading skills.

Often you’ll see a combination of both these common surf patterns on any beach, and sometimes waves that break well offshore will re-form and the water in them will lose its suspended bubbles and turn green or blue again closer to the shoreline. This indicates a shallow sand bar “out the back” with a deeper hole or gutter closer in. Bands of dark water and dips or low points in the crests of a line of breakers indicate a gutter running out to sea, perpendicular to the beach. Often, such a gutter has been scoured by an out-flowing current or “rip” (exactly the sort of place where you wouldn’t want to take a dip!). These gutters and rips provide natural highways for travelling and feeding fish. Optimum beach fishing conditions usually occur where relatively deep holes lie adjacent to current-scoured shallow flats and sand bars, or where gutters leading in from deeper water join inshore holes. These natural intersections hold the most food and see the heaviest fish traffic. They are are proven hot spots. They also often attract groups of other hopeful anglers, and the sight of bent rods is an excellent indicator of action! www.spooledmagazine.com.au

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Colour tells you a great deal about water depth. As a rule, darker water is deeper than lighter water. Wave patterns reinforce these indicators. Waves peaking and breaking far offshore and rolling in as foamy, aerated white-water indicate a shallow, shelving seabed. By contrast, lower, fast moving swells running almost to the beach before standing up abruptly and dumping on the shore signpost deeper, steeper drop-offs.


Going Light in the Surf

//SAND BETWEEN YOUR TOES

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One last, but very important tip: modern, sophisticated reels with gears and other moving parts don’t like sand. If you’re one of those folks who insists on lying your rod and reel in the grit, stick to a sidecast. They’re great surf reels, anyway, and 46 a quick rinse in the briny will keep them turning. But if you opt for more high tech’ equipment, never hit the beach without carrying a metrelong section of PVC pipe. Push this deep into the sand and stand your rod and reel in it every time you bait up, re-rig or need to put the outfit down. Trust me, your reels will last many years longer as a result.

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While it’s becoming a tad colder in many areas of the country right now, you can catch fish in the surf at any time of the year. As a bonus, there are fewer and fewer other people sharing our beaches as the weeks march on through autumn and slide into winter. It’s a wonderful time to be alive! You may need to rug up a little, or even consider full-length waders down south, but the rewards can be well worth it.

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Going Light in the Surf

Remember also that nothing lasts forever. The cold will eventually lose its frosty grip and spring will sneak back out of the chilly shadows. Before you know, it’ll be time for shorts, bare legs, clean sand crunching between your toes and the tang of salt in your nostrils as you belt a bait or lure out over the break… Catching a fish at such a time is almost a bonus… almost!

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BOAT TEST - Ozsea Plate Boats 450 Side Console

BOAT TEST

JOHN WILLIS

- OZSEA PLATE BOATS

450 SIDE CONSOLE

JOHN WILLIS TESTS A GREAT NEW MODEL FROM OZSEA.

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I don’t care who you are, where you live, destinations you fish or how much money you have or haven’t. If this brave little Ozsea 4.5 metre sports fishing weapon doesn’t get you fired up, there’s not an ounce of salt water flowing through your veins. For the rest of us who see real beauty in this tough armor-coated nugget, the imagination awakens to its endless piscatorial possibilities. Not only is she tough, she’s flexible. You’ll be equally at home fending off croc’s and rock bars in extended northern sojourns as you will chasing a wily trout in some high mountain lake. Maybe it’s ambushing an estuary bandit in an oyster encrusted backwater that rocks your boat, or even perhaps a blue water bash to frothy coastal bommies; this little ripper will do it all! www.spooledmagazine.com.au


HIGHS & LOWS

FACTS AND FIGURES

HIGHS

BOAT NAME - OZSEA PLATE BOATS 450 SIDE CONSOLE

Tough, Tough, Tough!

PRICED FROM $37,500

Fishable layout

OPTIONS FITTED – full custom

Survey quality hull

PRICE AS TESTED - $59,500

Soft, Stable and Dry Rugged boat/trailer combination

LOWS

SPECIFICATIONS

MATERIAL – top and bottom from 4mm 5083 marine grade high tensile aluminium

ENGINE MAKE/MODEL – Yamaha F75 4-stroke TYPE – four cylinder, 16-valve, fourvalve-per cylinder, Single Overhead Camshaft (SOHC) 4-stroke RATED – 75hp DISPLACEMENT – 1.8 litre

GENERAL – Variable deadrise plate alloy side console

TYPE – Side console plate survey quality side console LENGTH – 5m (LOA) Hull only – 4.5m BEAM - 2.07m WEIGHT – 450kg dry hull only

WEIGHT – 162kg net dry CAPACITIES PEOPLE- 4 FUEL-95 litres WATER N/A

SUPPLIED BY Ozsea Plate Boats 4/3-4 Patrick Ct, Seaford, Vic, 3198 Ph - 0417 327 581 Web: - www.ozseaplateboats.com.au www.spooledmagazine.com.au

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I’d like to see 90HP, 25 inch version


BOAT TEST - Ozsea Plate Boats 450 Side Console

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Melbourne’s Ozsea boats has been pumping out some little Aussie heroes for around four years, built with the experience of a few lifetimes spent in commercial alloy boat building. They recently built a custom 4.2m tiller steer sportsfishing weapon for an intrepid traveller doing the hard yards in some rugged off-road adventure. They matched it well with one of Savage Trailers heavy duty tourers, and for those of us who have seen the shortcomings of many production boat trailers, this was perhaps more important than the boat itself! The rig was spotted off the beaten track by yet another adventurer who saw the obvious benefits of the custom plate alloy warrior and its heavy duty transporter. He approached Ozsea to build a 4.5 metre side console upgrade. The result speaks for itself – it’s a weapon! I just love the attitude and flexibility of modern plate alloy craft. They combine superb fishing layouts and designs with terrific seafaring credentials and excellent stability to suit our modern fishing styles. This tough little nugget will deliver a lifetime of satisfaction as it’s built to take the abuse we often experience in our difficult Aussie sportsfishing environments. While it is an ideal package for so many applications, to me it is the perfect package for extended travel. www.spooledmagazine.com.au


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The actual hull length from pointy bit to blunt bit is 4.5m, but add on the handy rear platforms and bow roller and she comes up to 5m overall. She has a wide beam of 2.07m and is made top and bottom from 4mm, 5083 marine grade high tensile aluminium. One of the important criteria was overall package length, which at 5.9m on the trailer, allows storage in most standard garages. She has a deep freeboard of 770mm, which translates to secure gunwale height of 620mm, even with the self-draining checker plate floor. It is a rather intricate hull with a variable deadrise rear quarter leading to an almost snubby bow with big shoulders and a deep stem to carry the weight of anglers on the 1.5m casting platform. You may think such a combination would punch hard into the slop, but it doesn’t. It’s also very dry; the dry ride strakes and chines help with that! It offers very satisfying and confident handling that I would be happy to put into some challenging swell, and features excellent stability to cater easily to a number of lure casters. www.spooledmagazine.com.au


BOAT TEST - Ozsea Plate Boats 450 Side Console

Safety is at a premium with the security of a fully sealed self-draining deck with foam filled buoyancy cavities to survey standard for added confidence. This also keeps hull noise to an absolute minimum. If you do happen to run her aground, there’s strong full-length keel guard for added protection.

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Our package was fitted with a 75hp Yamaha 4-stroke, and while I really like that engine, I did find it a bit under-cooked. It also meant that the hull had to be made with a 20 inch transom. I would personally upgrade to a 90 or even 115hp engine and then have a 25 inch transom (re-engineered). However, it still performed quite well with two passengers up to a wide open throttle of 6000rpm, where 54 she was scooting along at 57kph. She just loves to travel at a fast planing speed of 42kph (22.7 knots), where she tracks beautifully at an efficient 5000rpm. The internal layout is terrific, with a deep anchor well up front and a Lone Star anchor winch. There’s an electric outboard bracket welded to the port side, and I must comment that the welding quality around the entire hull is superb. The roomy deck is surrounded by nice wide coamings where any number of fishing accessories and rod holders can be custom fitted with no bow rail but elongated low side rails to the rear – just the way a serious sportsfisho’ would want it.

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While I love the idea of side consoles, I’m not a great lover of them in many V-bottom hulls, as I’m a big bloke who often fishes alone, and sometimes in rather rough conditions. Hence, I like to centralise weight. However, I found the weighting of the side console in this Ozsea 450 terrific with great steering and tracking ability. Centre console options are available if preferred, but the flow and fishability of the side console is excellent. The helm is simple, efficient and comfortable. There’s plenty of leg room and storage potential under the structure, as well as a tonne of dashboard space for a large multi-function unit – in this case a Simrad NSS9 Evo 3. There are binnacle engine controls, a strong sports steering www.spooledmagazine.com.au

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The forward casting platform is a ripper, and as I said, very stable for shifting weight. The lip of the gunwale is a really good toe-hold for added security. The checker plate flooring throughout is non-skid and easily cleaned, especially with the self-draining construction. There are two large hatches in the deck where we find twin batteries in protective boxes for the electric outboard and accessories, plus 55 a heap of room for storage.


BOAT TEST - Ozsea Plate Boats 450 Side Console

wheel, VHF radio, dual Yamaha engine gauges, switch panel and winch controls, plus a really handy top dash for the phones and nick-knacks. Ozsea have fitted two pedestal seats with three mounting slots around the boat for total seating versatility, however I reckon I’d probably put a slide under the helm seat for easy adjustment. Underfloor is a large 95 litre fuel tank that will allow terrific range for prolonged adventures.

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The transom layout is terrific, featuring a huge 60 litre live bait tank in each corner – ideal for livies in one and perhaps an upgrade container in the other for competition. They are fully plumbed and have clear views in the front and cutting board style hatches 56 on top. In and under the engine well is a battery enclosure for the main start unit, and we find battery isolators, pressure pump and fuel filter in the long side pocket storages. To be 100 per cent honest, this is a package that really excites me. There are a few things that I would change as discussed, and a few added accessories to suit my style – as would any keen fisho. But as a base boat I find the Ozsea 4.5 metre side console an excellent option to its mainly high production competitors. It’s tough as nails for the rough stuff, particularly when teamed with the construction strength and smarts of the Savage heavy duty trailer.

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“In terms of safety, vision and looks, it’s hard to go past Clearview Powerfold Mirrors.” Pat Callinan

Clearview Towing Mirrors now include the following options* • Black or chrome • Manual or electric • With or without indicators • Power-Fold • Blind spot monitoring • Heated glass *selected models only

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Trout Off The Top

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Trout Off The Top JARROD DAY LOVES HIS TROUT FISHING, AND SAYS HOOKING A DECENT BROWN OR RAINBOW ON TOP IS DEFINITELY THE WAY TO GO.

JARROD DAY


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Catching a fish off the surface is about as much excitement you can get as an angler. Seeing a fish swim out from behind a submerged log to the water’s surface to absolutely belt your twitched lure really gets the adrenalin pumping. Surface luring is nothing new and has been around for decades in some form. However, it tends to get its fame from the estuarine scene with anglers flicking small poppers and stickbaits for bream, perch, flathead and the like. Unlike the passion for catching bream on surface lures, surface luring for trout has started off slowly, but in the last few years has begun to gain momentum.


Trout Off The Top

//WHEN TO SURFACE LURE

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Aside from the closed season through the spawning months (June-September), surface luring for trout is a viable option for the months in which they can be targeted. Throughout winter trout tend to be more active, with the cooler water temperatures allowing anglers increased chances at encouraging a fish to sip the lure off the top. In summer when the water temps rise, trout become a little more challenging. In saying that, throughout the summer months when the insects begin to hatch, early morning and late evening are the prime times to flick out a surface lure. Trout will tend to be out and about looking for food during these 60 times, while throughout the middle of the day they’ll tend to hide in the shadows or at the bottom of the deep pools to escape the rising water temperatures. Knowing when to deploy a surface lure all depends on the surface activity on the stream or river your fishing. Once in the river or stream, as you wade into the current, ensure you keep an eye on the edge of the banks. This is where you’ll often see insects lurking about. As the morning or late evening wears on, these insects will move further out into open water and should they be doing so, this is the ideal time to be pitching surface lures. Another advantage to using surface lures is the commotion they make when being retrieved. Surface lures disperse water, which creates noise. This makes surface luring an exceptional technique to be used late in the evening and after dark, as the fish can hear the lure and have no trouble in hunting it down. Of course, there are certain situations where surface luring isn’t as effective, generally in windy conditions when the noise from the lure is masked by the sound of the water’s surface being stirred up. Ideally, the calmer the water, the higher the chance of getting a strike.

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//LURE SELECTIONS Fly fishermen use the term “match the hatch”, and this should resonate through your lure selection. Lure choice is vital, and it is imperative that the size of the lure be chosen carefully. Colour and style still have their place, but the size of the lure will reflect the food source the trout are feeding on. During summer, trout food sources tend to be larger in size, due to the increased variety such as beetles, cicadas, crickets and grasshoppers. Due to the size of most surface lures, feeding trout are more likely to be focused on a particular sized insect, and replicating that is vital. A lure used that is too large may not switch their focus, but by presenting something in similar size you’ll quickly find that they won’t hesitate. For instance, in the central Victorian rivers and streams in the height of summer, cicadas and large grasshoppers are a trout’s common diet. When they hit the water’s surface, they flap their wings trying to take off or get to the bank. This motion quickly www.spooledmagazine.com.au


Trout Off The Top

catches a trout’s eye and it will be onto it in no time at all. A Few lure companies have designed cicada replicas for use on bass, bream and perch, and trout equally love them in the right situations. These include the Megabass Siglett, Megabass Tiny Siglett, OSP Orikanemushi and Tiemco Trick Trout Tiny Cicada. Then, of course, there is the small surface popper selection that includes Yakamito’s Poppa Q and Zerek Popparazzi. If the river you fish carries small baitfish, there is nothing to better to try than a surface stickbait, which can be twitched ever so gently on the water’s surface. While there are many different stickbaits to choose, those proven to be trout worthy are the Zerek Trail Weaver, Yakamaito Side Shift and OSP Bent Minnow.

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Another thing to note when it comes to lure selection is that trout are easily spooked, and even more so in shallow water. Large surface lures can deter trout; in fact, a trout may come to the lure to inspect it, but shy away and swim off if it feels something is up. This is where the size of the lure comes into play and it is important to have a selection for these situations.

//TECHNIQUE PERFECTION Technique is everything when it comes to trout and this is due to the fact that the majority of the time you’re fishing in gin-clear water. Trout have an acute sense of vision and nine times out of ten they’ll see you before you see them. If you’re new to trout fishing, a pair of polaroid sunglasses is essential. These will aid in removing surface glare so you can see well into the water and spot trout as you’re working up the river or stream.

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It is also good practice to know a little streamcraft and become familiar with where trout are likely to be holding in a river. This information will give you the necessary skills to accurately cast the lures into the exact location to bring them to where the fish are likely to be. Brown trout favour slower river flows, usually at the beginning of deep pool or behind a rock or log in a semi fast-flowing stream. This is because they like to sit in locations where they can conserve energy and allow a slow river flow to bring the food to them. For those using surface lures, this means casting lure well ahead of the aforementioned points, allowing the lure to settle and then twitching it to get the desired action. Rainbow trout, on the other hand, tend to be found in faster flowing water, so casts can be made well into the pool or shallow run, bringing the lure back into the faster water. It’s vital when surface luring trout to ensure your casting is accurate and you’re covering the water. The lure itself will bring the fish in due to the commotion, but you still need to be on point so as not to spook the fish.

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Trout Off The Top

Depending on the month, you should begin to notice how differently trout react to surface lures. Sometimes they won’t be aggressive at all and just follow the lure and shy off, while at other times they’ll smash it without hesitation. Then again, you’ll have days where they sip it but fail to hook up. In these situations you have to be a little experimental and vary things up. This can mean changing the size of the surface lure to something smaller or, if you’re getting sipped and not hooking up, change the treble hooks to a set of small assists, which will hang back a little further off the lure.

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Surface fishing is one of the most exciting trout fishing styles to experience and often they’ll catch you unaware. There’s simply nothing like that speckled 64 golden body climbing all over your lure in a shower of spray. It’s great stuff!

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The Small Boat Blues

The Small Boat BLUES

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GLEN BOOTH

CAIRNS HAS A WELL-DESERVED INTERNATIONAL REPUTATION FOR ITS GIANT BL ACK MARLIN, BUT FOR THE REST OF AUSTRALIA THE BIGGEST BILLFISH THEY’RE LIKELY TO ENCOUNTER IS THE MAJESTIC BLUE. GLEN BOOTH SPILLS THE BEANS ON HOW, WHEN AND WHERE TO TARGE T THESE MAGNIFICENT FISH.

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Masters of the sneak attack, blue marlin love to pounce on a trolled lure without any fanfare or warning. Barely a split second passes between the fish being sighted and the reel starting to howl, and that first run is epic. They love nothing more than getting up ahead of the boat, going berserk on the surface, dragging a big belly of line behind them. People who aren’t familiar with their modus operandi usually exclaim, “Oh look, there’s another one jumping over there!” Er, no. That’s our fish! Some blues have been caught on bait here over the years, but it was the halcyon days of the late 1980s when lure trolling for them first gained traction. Mostly derived from Hawaiian techniques, it captured the imagination of bluewater anglers on both sides of the continent, and watching four smoking lure contrails behind a boat became quite the done thing during the summer months. The race for Australia’s first officially recognised thousand pound blue was won by the West Australians last year, but a legitimate four figure fish is yet to be weighed on the East Coast. Some have gone very close though. Unlike heavy tackle fishing for blacks, blue marlin are easily accessible from small boats fishing stand-up tackle, providing a few key aspects are kept in mind.

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The Small Boat Blues

//WHERE TO FIND THEM The vast majority of blues are caught along the Continental Shelf edge, out to as wide as you want to fish, including seamounts. They do turn up inshore at times though, periodically as shallow as 40 fathoms. Statistically, however, it’s more productive to work the deeper water, concentrating efforts in and out of known canyon structure, shallow to deep and then back again, and zig-zagging along the 100 fathom line. At the end of the day the GPS plot should look some kindergarten kid’s wall scrawl. Way-pointing every bite will help to establish bite corridors over time.

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Blues can turn up at any time of the year, especially in the more temperate parts of the country, but the summer-autumn period is usually the most reliable. Water temperatures over 21 degrees Celsius mean you’re in with a show, but 22-26 degrees are more likely to produce. Mutton birds shadowing skipjack or yellowfin tuna schools are definitely worth following, and any patches of flying fish breaking cover should be investigated further. Bait marking on the sounder screen shallower than 50 fathoms warrants plenty of passes, as a blue can cover that 50 fathom distance to where the lures are in just a few tail beats. And just because the bait was deep when you drove over it doesn’t mean it won’t come closer to the surface during the day. Tide change, moon-rise or set, even predator activity, can trigger bait aggregation closer to the top. Additionally, blue marlin and pilot whales have some sort of symbiotic relationship, so if you see them breaking the surface, it’s always worth putting a few laps in before moving on.

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//STAND-UP FISHING Catching a blue on stand-up tackle can be hard work, but every capture is immensely satisfying. The shorter, more powerful rods we have these days put leverage back in the angler’s favour, but the correct rod bucket and harness makes a massive difference too. Braid, Black Magic and AFTCO make quality products that have stood the test of time.

So, do you wear the bucket and harness all day or not? In an ideal world, yes, but they do get annoying after a time. If, however, it’s looking particularly fishy where you are, it’s better to be fully kitted up – just in case.

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The key to successful stand-up fishing is to have the bucket and harness properly fitted on the angler before leaving the ramp or marina. That way, when you hit the open ocean, you’re ready to fish. Don’t just adjust the waist belt and expect that to get it done though. Hook it all up to an outfit and have someone load the rod up as if the angler was already fighting a fish, fine-tuning the reel straps. There’s a world of difference between the two situations, and that way the ‘flexible coupling’ holding the rod isn’t worrying about getting everything tucked away in those crucial first few minutes. Then, as the fight progresses, fatigue factor is lessened because the angler is concentrating on the fish and not struggling with uncomfortable, ill-adjusted equipment.


The Small Boat Blues

//OUTRIGGERS AND RIDING SHOTGUN Outriggers assist in spreading the lines, but also help lift the heavy line/leader/ wind-on/swivel combination out of the water and therefore improve lure action. Then we have the shotgun ’rigger. This can be as simple as an outfit sitting in an overhead rocket launcher, although it can be hard to lift down when there’s 8-12kg of drag and a psychotic blue marlin on the other end! Consequently, most buy a shorter ’rigger pole, sit it in one of the rocket launcher rod holders closest to the centreline of the boat, and then put the rod in a deck rod holder where it can be easily reached.

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Tag lines are an innovative way of removing as much dropback as possible, as unlike bait fishing, we want as straight a line as possible to the lure. A separate length of heavy mono with a cork ball and a piece of Dacron on the end, it is here we attach a rubber band with a slip knot to spread the line. For 24 and 37kg tackle a #32 rubber band is more than sufficient, but it must be wrapped tightly on the line so that it doesn’t slip. That way you get a clean release and the line isn’t damaged by friction.

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//LURES Most lure head shapes, and there are plenty of them, will catch fish. Without getting into specific brands, the basic shapes we’re looking at are long nosed plungers, double tapers, tubes, flat and cup faced chugger styles, plus straight runners and jetheads, with variations on these basic themes including jetted options and soft heads with realistic fish-like ‘squishiness’. While bibbed and bibless minnows will get eaten, they are not renowned for producing secure hookups. Blues love big lures, but they’ll also eat something small, usually on an insignificant outfit run down the guts for mahi or somesuch. This hookup usually ends up in tears. It really is better to go loaded for bear and run a spread of lures in the 9-14” range, as that way you can get a decent sized hook and leader into them. What goes where is really up to you, despite what some pundits might claim. If the lures are running well, smoking hard and not flicking off the top of waves, the fish will soon confirm if you’re on the right track or not. Run a mix of colours to try and gauge a preference on the day, and matching local baitfish colours is a good starting point. www.spooledmagazine.com.au


The Small Boat Blues

//THE SPREAD The standard spread for these wonderful shapes and colours are four lures running down the face of the third, fourth, fifth and sixth pressure waves created by the boat. In Australia they’re known as the short corner, long corner, short ’rigger and long ’rigger positions. Aside from giving the impression of a loose school of fish to an approaching marlin, the spread is now evenly spaced and the skipper can turn the boat without having lines crossing over and tangling.

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And then there’s the shotgun position, well back behind the wake lures. Running 72 in clear water, it’s a deadly spot for something less active like a straight-running bullet shape or a jethead that just quietly mooches along, basically trying to stay out of sight! It doesn’t matter to the fish though, which are quick to zoom in on this lame duck. The ‘do nothing’ shotty lure is also a popular target for wahoo, mahi mahi and tuna, and nobody ever complains about them. Lures need to be adjusted in their positions to get them running at peak attractiveness. Slightly shortened up or dropped back a bit (this all varies with a change in direction, especially on rough days) will certainly pay off in more bites. And try the biggest lure on the short corner where it stands out in all the froth and commotion of the boat wake. Any lures that look loggy or dull should be swapped out for something more active, or tried elsewhere in the spread to find their sweet spot. It will be there somewhere.

//THE WIND-ON WAY In a perfect world we’d all run lures rigged on long leaders with a short double, and have a deckhand muscle the fish the last little bit into tagging/ gaffing range. Unfortunately, it’s sometimes difficult to recruit sufficient crew to fill the skipper/angler/wireman/tagger positions, plus there’s not a lot of room for a cast of thousands in small boats. Then there’s the leadering skill level to factor in. It can go horribly, painfully wrong if not done right. Wind-ons then, are a boon for short-handed crew in small boats, as the angler is tasked with bringing the fish those crucial last few metres. With steady pressure through the rod rather than increased pressure through gloved hands, a pulled hook is also less likely. Once the tag is secured, it doesn’t matter so much. With the snap swivel at the rod tip, just make sure that the lure leader is shorter than the tag pole; otherwise it will be a struggle to reach the fish. Speaking of swivels, there’s a good chance the snap will rub against the fish’s body and/or tail at some stage during the fight, which can see them pop open — with tragic www.spooledmagazine.com.au


results. Clips that take a serious amount of effort to open and about a size up from what you think you might need are the safest option. Wind-ons don’t last forever either, and should be replaced a couple of times a season if the action is hot.

For smaller lures, hard-wearing 400 pound leader is a good fit, with 500 pound preferable for larger models, providing abrasion resistance without killing the lure action.

//HOOK OR HOOKS? Countless blue marlin have been caught on double hook rigs, but the fashion these days is towards singles, rigged with the tag end of mono twisted back up the leader to a second crimp to establish the hook position. Alternatively, a short length of 650 pound or greater 49-strand wire (depending on lure and hook size) creates a near impregnable hook-end. In a remarkable departure from convention, running the hook point down (rather than aiming for a roof of the mouth hookup), is gaining cred. The two working together acts like a keel to help balance the lure, but it does produce some unusual hookups outside the mouth. Another positive with single hook rigs is that they are a lot safer for the deckie when releasing a fish boatside.

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If the reel is full of new line, make sure there’s room for the wind-on to comfortably fit under the spacer bar. Line needs to be wound evenly across the spool, not only during the fight, but when recovering a lure after a hookup. Nothing destroys the Dacron and whipping on a wind-on quicker (and infuriates a skipper more) than one that’s been jammed in there.


The Small Boat Blues

Hook positioning should be anywhere from having the point just outside the tail of the skirt to the eye of the hook just in the skirt (to keep it IGFA legal), but not buried in the skirt as it can impede the hook-set. A soft rubber bung glued behind the lure head, with the crimp pushed into it, is a great way to position the hook. It’s certainly a much better approach than using toothpicks and doesn’t scuff up the line. As to the pattern of hook, Owner Jobus and the classic Mustad 7691 S are hard to beat. Just remember to add a sacrificial anode to the chem’ sharp Jobus. Traditional Hawaiian style Pa’a hooks from like likes of Hayes, Dozer and Black Bart are also gaining support.

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The old theory of the gape being wide as the lure head also seems to be less popular, especially since the strength of smaller hooks has expanded markedly. One size down from this old test seems about right.

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//GO HARD OR GO HOME Blues are eminently catchable on light tackle, but if you’re serious about chasing them, consider 24kg line class an absolute minimum and preferably 37. If a decent fish comes along, there’s enough drag range to subdue it, and smaller fish are released in better condition.

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Once you get a bite, don’t continue trundling along at trolling speed, as all that’s doing is gifting the fish an extra 100-200m of line to play with. And gunning the boat to set the hook is a ridiculous waste of line too. If you’ve hooked a real screamer, you may need every centimetre of it. Ease the revs off to just above idle to keep the activity out the back, but watch for a fish that charges the boat. Once everything has settled down and the gear is recovered, it’s time to start following the line. There’ll be a fair belly in it, so rather than reversing up like you’re in a twin screw game boat, it’s more effective to motor down the line with the angler standing at the back of the cockpit on the skipper’s side. Eventually you’ll be in a direct line to the fish and in a position to put some proper hurt on. After a suitable amount of time, the fish should be ready for a tag. But if it’s a big fish or just an exceptionally dogged one, it’s time to reach into the bag of tricks. For a marlin that’s not doing much except being stubborn, sacrifice a bit of line by driving off it (the angler will love this manoeuvre and will be happy to let you know all about it). Change the angle and direction of pull – anything to keep it on the hop and break it out of its comfort zone. www.spooledmagazine.com.au


The Small Boat Blues

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Is that doesn’t work, it’s time to increase the drag. Most fish get caught with the drag set at a third of the breaking strain of the line, which is fine for most of the time. Going onto or just beyond the button increases the pressure by a couple of kilos. If it’s in the upper third of the water column, this will soon start to tell. Then, when you’ve broken the fish’s spirit and line is coming back onto the reel, the drag can be eased back to strike or thereabouts. You’ve just got to stay on the fish and wear it out with slick boat manoeuvring, drag adjustments where needed, and hard winding by the angler, because if it sounds, well that’s a whole ‘nother set of problems. We don’t want an up and down fight stretching out for hours on end, with the fish most likely dead on the bottom in 100-plus fathoms. If it does sound, up the drag and slowly drive off with the current (yeah, more grumbling from the angler) to create a flatter angle and plane it up. Most lever drag reels have a lower gearing (1:1 or thereabouts), so use it! It can be a slow, tortuous process, but when you can’t physically get a wind in on high gear, any line coming in on low setting is considered a blessing. Obviously, there’s more margin for error with 37, but the pressure on the angler is also greater. Of course, this is all well and good if the line is fresh, but if it’s last season’s and you were going to re-spool but never got around to it, well, good luck with all that… www.spooledmagazine.com.au


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//TEASE ’EM UP Mirror teasers, spreader bars, dredges, birds, daisy chains of squids – there’s any number of teaser options out there, and they certainly add to the story behind the transom. Some crews swear by teasers while others dislike the fact that the fish can become obsessed with them, plus it’s something else to pull in when you’re in a hurry. And time can be of the essence when that reel is getting emptied. Teaser reels, some manual, some electric, are often employed on flybridge boats, but teaser poles (an ‘in-line’ style rod without guides and an overhead reel spooled with heavy mono) are a good option for small boats. Alternatively, just use a spare outfit or two. One new technique that resembles switch baiting, but with lures, involves running two hookless teasers from the outriggers or teaser rods, and two hooked lures on the short and long corner positions. If the marlin comes onto the teasers, after it lets go (or the crew rips it away), the fish comes roaring into the wake hell-bent on eating the first thing it sees. Alternatively, a head-rigged tuna or bridled live bait dropped in the wake as it chases the lure to the boat rarely gets refused. Of course, this requires a level of cockpit alertness most don’t possess! www.spooledmagazine.com.au


The Small Boat Blues

//BOATSIDE

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After a period of time pin wheeling in the wake, most blues come to the boat pretty well spent, but there’s always one that likes to liven up the final chapter. Unless they’re lit up, it doesn’t hurt to swim them after tagging, just to restore their equilibrium. And always make a note of where the hook is and how it’s set. It can offer up all sorts of clues as to the suitability of your rigging.

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WA’s Magnificent Aussie Salmon

SCOTT COGHLAN

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Aussie Salmon

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SCOT T COGHL AN RECKONS WA’S ANNUAL RUN OF JUMBO SALMON OFFERS WORLD CL ASS SPORTFISHING OPPORTUNITIES.

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It’s one of Australia’s great spawning runs and it’s happening right now in WA’s South-West. Hundreds of thousands of big, fat Australian salmon are slowly moving west in massive schools, headed to Perth and beyond, even making it as far north as Exmouth in recent years. While our salmon can be found right across the southern part of the country, what makes the WA fish so exciting for anglers is not only their sheer numbers, but their individual size.

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WA’s Magnificent Aussie Salmon

SPOOLED MAGAZINE

With reduced commercial effort and tighter bag limits over the last decade, the upper size of the migrating salmon has only increased, and fish of up to 10 kilos are being caught these days. At this size an Australian salmon is a sportfish 82 deserving of world renown, likely to chase down a surface lure or fly in an explosive strike, then take to the air spectacularly in its bid to shake free of the annoyance, but yet still retain enough strength to slug it out right to the shore or boat.

//THE SALMON RUN The movement starts in Esperance, at the western end of the Great Australian Bight, and sees schools of fish heading west and then ultimately north along the west coast on their annual spawning migration. They will usually not push far past Perth, but in recent years they have turned up, as mentioned earlier, in Exmouth, which is around 1300km north of the WA capital, and their appearance there was unprecedented. On their travels they are a realistic target for just about any angler, as they can be caught from shore, boat and kayak, with most fish likely to be in the 4-6kg range, but there are bigger trophies amongst them. There are few better moments in shore fishing than seeing the water turn black as a school of salmon arrives, and although some schools stay out wide in deep water and surprise bottom fishers chasing demersals, many times they are hugging the shore just metres from the feet of anglers.

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From Esperance to Perth there are many superb locations where shore fisho’s can expect salmon action with a bit of luck, although their constant wandering means they can be unpredictable and a spot full of them one day can be barren the next, or even an hour later. Nonetheless, there are locations that can reasonably be expected to hold good numbers of fish more often than not when the spawning run is on. There are countless spots around Esperance that will hold salmon, especially at the start of the run, and there are many easily accessible locations either side of town. However, Poison Creek, to the east and accessible by 4WD, is famous for producing huge numbers; so much so that locals say you can “walk on them” at times. Heading west, Bremer Bay is the next major town and, like Esperance, it holds schools for most of the year. There are a couple of legendary salmon stretches of surf here that are accessible by 4WD in Foster and Reef Beaches. Close to each other, they offer very different fishing opportunities. Fosters is an open beach with clearly defined gutters to be fished into, while Reef has a long section of reef ledge protecting small lagoons in which the schools often hold up, especially at first light. The next stop west for the migrating schools is Cheynes Beach – a long, easily driveable section of beach popular with family anglers that holds good numbers of fish most years and is one of WA’s best salmon spots. There is also the much smaller Back Beach at Cheynes, which was the scene of some amazing fishing last year when the salmon turned up and bailed a school of herring up against the rocks. www.spooledmagazine.com.au


WA’s Magnificent Aussie Salmon

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When we arrived, the pools in the rocks were full of herring trying to escape their closely-related predators, while salmon were nosing along the rocks looking for an easy feed. All we had to do was cast a lure near the rocks and it would get demolished within seconds. The “tourist rocks” at Cheynes also offer great shore fishing, and any small boat or even kayak can be used find schools along the rocky coastline, or the island just offshore. There is a swag of great shore fishing spots around Albany, both accessible by 2WD and 4WD, plus some good offshore opportunities at times. Some of the better beach fishing spots include Nanarup, Mutton Bird Beach, Shelley Beach, Cable Beach, Lowlands and the appropriately named Salmon Holes, while the offshore islands and Bald Head often hold fish. www.spooledmagazine.com.au


The Salmon Holes is a fantastically consistent spot, but is also noted for a number of rock fishing fatalities, so it is recommended anglers stick to the sand when fishing there. Denmark’s Parry’s Beach is another great salmon spot accessible by 4WD as the fish continue their run west, but the action really picks up as they round Cape Leeuwin, near Augusta. Hamelin Bay is at the start of the northern leg of their journey and produces some of the most reliable salmon fishing during the season, with big schools moving back and forwards in the bay for weeks at a time. This is a classic 4WD beach and you can drive the sand, watching for schools to cast at, which is a splendid way to enjoy the best of what salmon offer. Often they are in range, but sometimes you might need to wade out to punch a cast at schools sitting behind the breakers, while boats and kayaks can access these schools easily from the local ramp. There are several great spots between the Capes for shore fishers, including Mitchell Rocks, Smith’s Beach and Injidup. Dunsborough is the epicentre of the salmon run most years, as its sheltered bays offer great fishing opportunities for family anglers from boat and shore. Spots to try along this stretch include Bunker Bay and Rocky Point, Point Picquet, Meelup and Castle Rock, and expect some big crowds of anglers when the fish are on. Farther north, White Hills/Preston is an under-rated stretch of 4WD beach closer to Perth that often holds more salmon than people realise. It can offer some great fishing, with the opportunity to drive the beach spotting schools or small groups of fish. Once they hit the metro area, they are usually the target of boat fishers, who pick them up along the inshore reefs, but especially at Mewstones and Stragglers, off Fremantle, and around Rottnest Island. Shore anglers will also get them at the North and South moles at times, and they can turn up anywhere along the metro coast, including inside various marinas. In recent years they have also been showing up in the Swan River and we had a memorable session from the kayaks in the lower Swan three years ago. www.spooledmagazine.com.au

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WA’s Magnificent Aussie Salmon

After several decades where the only salmon to be found in metro waters seemed to be around Rottnest, they have returned to inshore Perth waters with a vengeance over the last five years, offering some incredible world-class sportfishing for city fishos.

//BAIT Salmon really are an everyman fish, and while there is great delight to be had in using the specialist casting gear and latest lures available nowadays, gear really doesn’t need to be complicated.

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Fresh mulies (pilchards) are hard to top when it comes to bait, and I’ve had great success baitcasting unweighted mulies at salmon, especially when the fish are shy and not willing to take lures. For many beach anglers it’s a simple matter of casting a paternoster rig with an appropriately sized star sinker and set of baited gang hooks into a likely spot, usually a gutter or next to the edge of a reef, and waiting for the fish to come to them. It’s certainly an effective way to fish, but I personally prefer to find my quarry rather than vice versa. I’ve also seen occasions when people fishing that way have actually cast over fish right at the their feet they’ve not even noticed. It can be amusing when you are pulling fish on bait or lure from the shore break while puzzled anglers are wondering why their long casts into clear water are not paying off. When the salmon are extremely fussy, a live herring will rarely be refused.

//LURES Just about any lure will work on salmon when they are in the mood, and I’ve heard of people using dolls, phone cases and household tools to catch them! But there is no doubt some lures work better than others in certain scenarios, and particularly when salmon are fussy, which they can often be, and there are a few I never leave home without if salmon are on the radar. Long-casting lures are a vital part of the armoury, as schools often sit on the edge, if not beyond normal casting range. Casting metals like Richter’s Plugs, and its Pelacus and Supersprat casting irons, are brilliant for reaching distant schools, as are Halco’s Twistys and Outcasts. Richter Plugs double as a great surface lure, while it is impossible to go past Halco Roosta poppers if the fish are within close casting range. Bibbed minnows can be extremely effective, especially in a mulie or pilchard colour pattern, either cast or trolled, and I like the Rapala X-Raps for this job. www.spooledmagazine.com.au


I really like the versatility of sinking stickbaits for salmon and they would usually be my first choice. There is a stack of 10-14cm models available that will do the job, including Zerek Zappelins, Maria Loadeds, Shimano Oceas and Halco C-Gars. The beauty of these lures is they can be fished on or below the surface, enabling the angler to alter the approach to the mood of the salmon. Sometimes they will willingly charge down surface lures, while occasionally dropping a lure down in front of their faces is needed to elicit a reaction.

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Large soft plastics suffer a bit with casting range, but when fish are close, they are also very effective, especially white or pearl coloured ones. Of course, there are plenty of fly fishers who target salmon from both boat and shore with great success, although the wind can be a factor for anyone keen on the latter. Nowadays some anglers are also using drones to get their lures or baits out to distant schools and while it works, it seems a bit like cheating to me!

www.spooledmagazine.com.au


WA’s Magnificent Aussie Salmon

//KEEPING IT SIMPLE I like to hunt salmon, so am usually mobile when fishing for them. One of my favourite ways to catch salmon is to find a 4WD beach and edge along, watching for individual fish in the waves, or big schools that turn the water black. This is a classically Australian way to fish and can be extremely effective; as soon as I see fish I’ll slam on the brakes, jump out and be casting in seconds.

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If I’m not at a 4WD beach, then I’m carrying a backpack with a handful of lures, pliers and extra leader and legging it to find the fish. I regard a good pair of polarised 88 sunglasses as an absolute essential for salmon fishing, enabling you to spot the fish, which will sometimes just be a flash of silver or a ghostly shape in a cresting wave. Big schools are easier to spot, but sometimes a dark patch of weed or reef can be mistaken for salmon and you need to watch the ‘school’ for a few seconds to ascertain if it’s really moving or just wishful thinking! Spotting the fish can be the difference between a doughnut and a session to remember, and patience is also a virtue due to the mobility of the schools. Some days you can’t find them no matter how hard you try and then they’ll suddenly just appear, en masse, as if from out of nowhere. There is no doubt both shore and boat fishing can be great ways to target salmon; indeed in areas like Perth the latter is usually the most effective way to do so. However, I believe nothing beats the unique experience of catching salmon with the sand between your toes and that would always be my preference. Beach fishing also makes releasing any fish you don’t want to keep simple, and salmon are a hardy fish that survive handling very well.

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WA’s Magnificent Aussie Salmon

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In my opinion at least, the South-West salmon run is worthy of more recognition in the angling world. It deserves to be regarded as one of the great sportfishing opportunities not just in Australia, but across the globe. Salmon can be targeted from boat and kayak with spectacular success, but where they differ from many similar species is that they offer shore anglers the chance to sight cast at a powerful and usually aggressive fish weighing up to 10kg on light tackle. I reckon there are few better fishing experiences than standing on one of the many pristine beaches of WA’s South-West, sand beneath the feet and waves lapping at your toes, casting into a massive school of big, hungry salmon sitting just metres from you in full sight. It’s as visual as fishing gets and, given salmon are a willing lure taker, fight hard and release well, it’s an impressive and attractive package for any sportfisher. And while salmon aren’t generally viewed as a great eating fish, they taste fine if handled well and there is no drama with keeping a few for the table. www.spooledmagazine.com.au


Autumn Estuary Perch

BEN FARO

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BEN FARO IS AN ESTUARY PERCH SPECIALIST, AND WHAT FOLLOWS IS ESSENTIAL READING FOR ANYONE LOOKING TO TARGE T THESE FEIST Y FRESH WATER SCRAPPERS.

Although finding them isn’t easy, once you do, it pays to work the area over thoroughly, as estuary perch begin to stack up in good numbers once the cooler weather of autumn comes around. Estuary perch can turn up just about anywhere in a river system, but I have found that some of the best places to look will be any corners and bends in the river, creek mouths and drains, and around man-made structures like bridges and rock walls. Some of their favourite types of structure include tea tree, willows, mangroves and weed beds, but don’t be surprised to find them rounding www.spooledmagazine.com.au

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When it comes to estuary perch, without a doubt the single most important factor is locating fish. That might sound like a relatively easy thing to do, but in reality nothing can be further from the truth. Without a good quality fish finder, fishing a new waterway can feel like trying to find that needle in a haystack. I like to run a split screen with standard sonar on one side and down-vu or down scan on the other. This helps distinguish fish from structure, as estuary perch will often school in good numbers in and around submerged timber and weed.


Autumn Estuary Perch

up baitfish in the middle of nowhere; I’ve had them turn up in some pretty random places. It also pays to keep an eye on the surface for signs of feeding fish, as active EP’s will often boof and slash at any unsuspecting schools of baitfish, sending them fleeing in all directions. Normally this is a low light thing, but the cooler temperatures of autumn often see this behaviour carrying on right through the day.

//TECHNIQUES

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Although most of the regular perch techniques can work this time of year, one of my favourite and often the most successful ways to catch them is with a 94 suspending jerk bait. Fishing the jerk bait is pretty straight forward. I generally take a few turns of the handle to get the lure down in the water column a bit before giving it a decent rip followed by a pause. Then I’ll give the lure two or three rips before giving it a good pause again and then repeating this back to the kayak. When fishing the jerk bait, pause time can be a critical factor, and if you know you’re in the right area, being patient with your pause can really pay off. On average I’ll pause anywhere from a couple of seconds up to about 10, depending on the mood of the fish and, as a general rule, the colder the water, the longer the pause. There’s literally heaps of options out there when it comes to jerk baits, but my preference is for deep diving lures in the 50-75mm range. Most of the time I find it hard to go past a Daiwa Double Clutch in either of the smaller sizes or a 55mm Maria deep jerk bait. When fish are marking up deep on the sounder and you can’t get them to come up to jerk bait, it’s time to pull out the plastics to present a lure down at their level. In these situations I like to sink the lure down to them and then employ a long, slow lift of the rod followed by a controlled descent down to the bottom again. Be prepared though, as bites will often come either when you’re at that point where you can’t lift any further or just as you start to sink it again. As a general rule you don’t want your plastic to sink down to the depths too quickly, but you will want it to get down to their level, sometimes in some pretty quick tidal flow. Most of the time I’ll use jig head weights of 1/16-1/6 ounce, switching between weights until I find the right combination for the conditions and plastic that I’m fishing. Some of my favourites are the Fish Arrow Flash J Shads in 2 or 3 inch, Z-Man Grubs and Slim Swims, and the Zerek Live Shrimp 89mm.

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Autumn Estuary Perch

//TACKLE

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For the majority of my jerk bait fishing I like to use shorter, moderately tapered rods of around 6’4-6’6”. The moderate action of the rod will allow you to lock up tight to angry perch and haul them out of danger with less chance of pulling all six hook points straight out of their mouth. The shorter length of the rods helps when it comes to pinpointing casts deep into structure, and then comfortably twitching and 96 working your lure from the kayak. You’re going to want to select a rod capable of casting light lures in the 2-5gm mark while using leaders of about 6-10 pound, depending on the type of water you are fishing. If I find the fish are sitting deeper and I have to fish a plastic, I’ll go for fast actioned rod of around 7’ -7’3” with a cast weight range of around 3-10gm. The longer rods help to keep you in contact with the lure and give more hook setting power once you actually convince one to bite.

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Autumn Estuary Perch

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//STOCKED IMPOUNDMENTS Thanks to some of the hard work done by Fisheries Victoria and a dedicated group of local anglers, we now have a very successful stocking program here in Victoria, with some waterways holding EP’s to 40cm. Even though these perch are a long way from home, they still respond well to all of the same techniques as their wild river mates. Some of the waterways worth a look include Lake Hamilton, lake Struan, Albert Park Lake, Devilbend Reservoir, Karkarook Lake and Melton Reservoir. For the full list of stocked waterways, check out the Fisheries Victoria website.

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Fraser Island Mini Adventure

ANDY BOUGHTON

FRASER ISLAND MINI ADVENTURE SPOOLED MAGAZINE

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ANDY BOUGHTON RECKONS THERE ARE STILL PLENT Y OF FRONTIER OPTIONS FOR ANGLERS WITH SOME SKILLS AND A SENSE OF ADVENTURE. FRASER ISL AND OFFSHORE IS DEFINITELY AMONGST THEM.

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It’s Friday afternoon on February 22, 2019, and outside I can hear the the fury of Cyclone Oma, or what I like to call “Cyclone Oma God”. Combined with king tides, it’s taking its toll on the South East Queensland coastline. I don’t recall seeing a forecast like this in my life; 48 knot winds and eight metre swell. This is truly a scary thought and a guarantee my boat won’t be leaving the garage this weekend. With the prevailing conditions it’s a great opportunity to undertake boat, trailer and tackle maintenance or, even better, start planning the logistics for the next overnight fishing adventure.

Fraser Island is located only a couple of nautical miles off Hervey Bay, just four hours’ drive north of the Gold Coast. Renowned for ideal 4WD and camping opportunities, pure breed dingos, beach fishing and migrating humpback whales,

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Living in South East Queensland, we’re so lucky to have plenty of quality fishing options a short drive from the Gold Coast. There are so many places that make a fantastic family weekend away or a first class fishing trip with the boys; pristine locations with beautiful scenery, encounters with gigantic marine mammals and, most importantly, epic fishing! Fishing locations like the reefs off the eastern shoreline of Fraser Island and Great Sandy National Park are truly amazing.


Fraser Island Mini Adventure

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Fraser Island’s northern extremities offer the keen offshore angler amazing fishing opportunities. Being positioned at the southernmost extremity of the Great Barrier Reef, close to the continental shelf and its endless reefs, this place teems with fish. I begin by searching the long range forecast on Buoy Weather, looking for a two or three day weather window promising light sea breezes. With suitable weather conditions and an empty freezer, I’m eager to lock in a date. If I can combine my trip with the build up to the full moon, even better! After a quick dash to the supermarket for a few supplies, a standard twonight adventure to Fraser Island starts with a 5am departure from the Gold Coast for the four hour drive to Hervey Bay. Last minute boat fuel, bait and ice I’ll purchase at one of the service stations along Maryborough Hervey Bay Road as I pass through town prior to launching at Urangan boat ramp. From the ramp you’ll easily navigate a few sandbars for a 30 nautical mile steam to your anchorage at Rooney’s Point. On the way, scanning the waters for working birds and bait schools may result in some action on long-tail tuna or mackerel. The next morning we head across the top of Fraser Island past the Sandy Cape Lighthouse, over the Breaksea Spit, sampling the various reefs east of Fraser. After a big day’s fishing, followed by another night at Rooney’s Point, we steam back to Urangan for the drive home with an esky full of reef fish. Throw in a few cold ones, a swim or two and many encounters with humpback whales, it doesn’t get much better than that for me! Fraser Island, along with the Great Sandy National Park, are beautiful locations that have some of Australia’s best fishing. I am convinced the blue water fishing off the eastern www.spooledmagazine.com.au


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side of Fraser is second to none. You can expect endless catches of tusk fish, red throat emperor, snapper, pearl perch, Spanish mackerel and Maori cod. Green jobfish, spangled emperor, kingfish and coronation trout are also on the cards, and a quality red emperor is never far away. If you can beat the sharks, fish in the 14kg range are a real chance. I’m all about getting the most out of your boat and fishing opportunities, continually developing my boating knowledge and skills. With a little planning and preparation we can all undertake mini adventures you may have never thought possible in a small trailer boat. Let me show you how!

//BOAT LAUNCHING – URANGAN Urangan boat ramp in Hervey Bay is a reasonably secure, all-tide ramp with ample parking. If you’re launching during business hours, Fisho’s Boating & Tackle is located at the ramp for any last minute gear you may require. Urangan boat ramp is simply the best option for those short, spontaneous expeditions. Another option is beach launching from Orchid Beach to the north just above Indian Head, Fraser Island. Although beach launching here positions you in close proximity to great fishing grounds, it’s not an achievable option for a three day fishing trip. If you have an extended break for 10 days or more, I’d recommend booking a rental home or campsite at Orchid Beach with a couple of boats. www.spooledmagazine.com.au


Fraser Island Mini Adventure

//ANCHORAGE – ROONEY’S POINT (24°49.103S, 153°07.884E) 30 nautical miles north of Urangan on the north-western tip of Fraser Island is Rooney’s Point. It’s a secluded and pristine part of Fraser Island most campers ignore due to its poor access and isolation. This beautiful and reasonably protected anchorage is used by boaties of all kinds who desire a calm night at rest. Inside the bay you are protected from any easterly weather. It’s a little exposed to the south and west, but picking your weather window accurately will reduce the likelihood of uncomfortable evenings.

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Rooney’s Point itself has some great fishing opportunities, including golden trevally along the sand flats, long-tail tuna, Spanish and spotted mackerel. There are a few light reef and bait grounds close by that produce a good mix of reef species, including coral trout. What Rooney’s is most renowned for is the amazing juvenile black marlin fishing around late October/early November each year. These fish are caught on live bait, lure or fly in waters less than two meters deep. If you visit Rooney’s for an overnight stay during the winter months, you’ll be sharing your anchorage with humpback whales that continually glide past on their migration south, literally only meters from your boat! One of the most amazing experiences I’ve had while sleeping in my plate aluminium boat is listening to whale singing, amplified through the hull. Truly unbelievable!

//SAFETY FIRST Safety for me is the most important consideration. I don’t want to put my family, my crew or equipment at risk. Before undertaking such a remote offshore boat trip, ask yourself: - What’s your boating experience and skill level? - What is the boat’s capability? - Is the boat and outboard 100 per cent operational? - How much fuel do I require for a 120 nautical mile round trip? - Is the anchor/mooring equipment satisfactory for a secure overnight stay? When contemplating an overnight fishing trip off the northern tip of Fraser Island, my main ambition is to fish waters off the eastern shoreline, which means crossing the Breaksea Spit. Without good to reasonable conditions, crossing the spit is not a task I’m willing to risk. It’s a large sand groin extending 10 nautical miles north off the top of Fraser Island. It’s notorious and extremely isolated. If anything is to go wrong here, you’re all alone in treacherous, sharky waters. www.spooledmagazine.com.au


I’ve discovered a number of channels providing access across the Breaksea Spit, but the gutter I’ve used over the past three years is right at the tip of Sandy Cape. It’s an S-bend gutter running between the break that’s easily recognisable in small to medium sea conditions. If you position your boat at these coordinates (24° 41.905S, 153°16.562E), you’ll see the channel I’m talking about. Tackling the Breaksea Spit is like crossing any ocean bar or surf break. Firstly, if you’re not comfortable crossing it, don’t! If you’re prepared to tackle it, be patient and wait for a lull in the sets. When you decide to proceed, don’t hesitate or second guess yourself, crossing the bar as quickly and comfortably as possible. I’d definitely recommend you have some level of experience crossing ocean bars before attempting the Breaksea Spit.

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At the end of the day, if the Breaksea Spit conditions aren’t favourable, don’t risk disaster and concentrate your fishing to the north or west of Fraser, which is still a great option.

TIP: MAKE SURE YOU ANCHOR ON TOP OF THE SAND FLAT (3/4M) ABOVE THE DROP-OFF TO REDUCE THE RISK OF A WHALE ENTANGLEMENT WITH YOUR ANCHOR ROPE!

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Fraser Island Mini Adventure

//FISHING I crave the most remote and isolated fishing destinations. In return, that generally delivers the best fishing opportunity, a variety of quality reef fish and the chance of landing that big red. I’m happy to steam the 50 nautical miles from Urangan boat ramp every day of the week for that experience, knowing I’ll be returning home on each trip with a great catch for the freezer.

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There’s more concentrated reef off the northern stretch of Fraser Island than you’ll find anywhere. If you can obtain a couple of GPS co-ordinates to get you started, that’s all well and good, but you really don’t need any. From the 40100m contour it’s literally covered in quality reef, rubble and pinnacles. Fishing methods are basic, and I only require a few rod and reel outfits, including a typical offshore bottom bouncing set up and maybe a jig stick and a plastic’s outfit. For bottom bouncing I use a Shimano T-Curve 200 Spin attached to a Saragosa 10000, loaded with 50 pound braid and an 80 pound leader. Although the fishing is fantastic, so are the sharks on occasions. You’ll always catch plenty of quality fish, but you’ll lose plenty – often the big red ones that we love the most! It seems the sharks like anything red too! Depending on the current down to 40m, I’ll generally use a running 8-10 ball sinker to a pair of snelled 8/0 octopus chemically sharpened hooks. For anything more than that I’ll use an 80 pound twin hook paternoster with an adequate snapper lead. In the deeper water with a bit of tide it’s hard to maintain contact with the bite, so I may attach a couple of half circle hooks to assist in setting the hooks for me. I love fishing that deeper water. It’s a great work out and seems to produce quality fish. On numerous occasions along the 100m contour I’ve hauled up cracking snapper, kingfish and pearl perch. I’m talking snapper above the 9 kilo range. I’m big on lures, so if the conditions are appropriate, I’d prefer dropping a suitably weighted slow jig, a 7 inch plastic or even a large soft vibe over a bait. Lures are often more effective than fresh bait, not to mention maintaining a clean boat, money saved on purchasing bait, and cold storage on-board for a few days. It is handy having fresh and live bait on-board, caught from around Rooney’s Point for that deeper water or if there’s too much current. If you’re not quite ready to steam the extra distance east off Fraser, there’s no reason to leave the western bay. There are plenty of islands and creeks to explore, acres of sand gutters, shoals and reefs that provide quality fishing most of us would be satisfied with. I’d personally pack the boat up tomorrow for a few days moored at Rooney’s Point, exploring Platypus Bay and Wathumba Creek inside Fraser’s western bay. It’s truly a stunning pristine part of Australia. Don’t forget your swimmers, snorkelling equipment and camera for the ultimate experience. Where will your next mini adventure be? www.spooledmagazine.com.au


STAND BY FOR A NEW LOOK RIVER TO REEF WITH THE REMOTE ANGLER ANDY BOUGHTON AND FAMILY FAVORITES ROBBY NETHERCOTE AND PAUL MERCURIO. UNBELIEVABLE FISHING AND BOATING IN CROCODILE INFESTED WATERS IS JUST THE BEGINNING OF THIS EXTREME ADVENTURE SERIES. VISIT WWW.RIVERTOREEF.COM.AU TO FIND OUT MORE.

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EEF RIVER TO R ND ON-DEMA ION SUBSCRIPT

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Los Buzos Kayak Fishing Resort

DAMIAN BOWMAN

LOS BUZOS KAYAK FISHING RESORT SPOOLED MAGAZINE

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BUCKET LIST LOCATION

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DAMIAN BOWMAN EXPLORES A LIT TLE KNOWN SPORTFISHING DESTINATION IN SOUTH AMERICA.

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Los Buzos Kayak Fishing Resort

There’s only a handful of kayak fishing resorts worldwide, and Los Buzos in Panama has a reputation like no other. For a long time I have followed massive catches on social media that, understandably, have grabbed the attention of many kayak anglers worldwide. Adam Fisk’s (Los Buzos fishing guide) 450 pound black marlin is the largest marlin ever captured from a kayak – enough to put the place on the map – while Robert Field rates it as his favourite place after travelling the world kayak fishing.

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Kayak catches of marlin and sailfish put any location on the world class list, but Panama is also host to some trophy fish not available in Australia. This makes it attractive for ticking off other sought-after bucket list species such as cubera snapper, 110 large grouper and roosterfish. To an offshore kayak fisherman wanting the best on offer, Los Buzos resort is an experience worth travelling to the other side of the planet for. Best of all, it is suitable for first timers to the most experienced kayak anglers, or just as place to get away from it all, explore or relax in a laid-back environment.

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//HOW TO GET THERE On making your booking, Loz Buzos resort recommends staying at Hotel Milan in Panama City, which is the main pick up point for the resort’s free bus service. The easiest way to travel from Australia to Panama City is directly though Virgin Airlines with its partner Delta airlines through Los Angeles/Atlanta. However, if you are like me and want to explore the US, you can travel through any other city on the American continent and check out some other sites with no extra travel costs on a slightly adventurous detour.

//LOS BUZOS RESORT The resort itself was very comfortable, with all the modern amenities needed. What stood out for Loz Buzos resort the most were the location, the food, the friendly staff and how professionally the place is run. Los Buzos boasts a dozen Hobie Outbacks, fully decked out, and has now introduced Jackson Kayaks since the Jim Sammons Kayak Fishing Show visited. The resort is more like a fishing lodge, but now also caters for families and couples with a newly finished villa/house, complete with a deck and sensational sea views. The location appears to be the best along the coast, with easy launching and exposed rocks 2km out front, which appeared to be one of the most productive spots within easy pedalling or paddling distance. The resort also offers guided mother shipping for kayakers or charters from Panga boats at an extra cost. The fishing out the front of the resort is first class, but the Pangas can take you to even more remote locations and the guides will even catch live bait for www.spooledmagazine.com.au

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Panama City is also a great place to check out, with great food and night life, and the Panama Canal is a must see. Being a country man and enjoyer of the remote outdoors, I have honestly never been a fan of cities, but Panama City’s architecture is next level and the views over the ocean with the city backdrop are pretty amazing. The bus ride from Panama City is a six-hour journey to the remote east coast of Panama and a great way to see the central American cultures.


Los Buzos Kayak Fishing Resort

the clients. The resort also offers all you require for rod and reel hire plus tackle sales, or you are welcome to bring your own. The food was exceptional. Each day we all took a packed lunch and on arrival back at the lodge we were often treated to fresh sashimi, which went well with the never-ending free beer. The area is surrounded by jungle and is safe to explore. The region is not completely remote, as the place is starting to get popular as a great location to relax or retire. Besides fishing there are other activities, such as swimming, surfing or horse riding, and there are even nice restaurants to eat out at.

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//BEST TIMES Justin Fisk, Los Buzos kayak fishing guide, says there are two distinct seasons at Los Buzos – dry and wet. Dry season starts mid-December and ends mid-May. It brings colder, cleaner water closer to shore, which tends to attract more marlin, sailfish, and yellowfin tuna. In late dry season (April and May) large schools of tuna are seen right off the coast just about every day. Last year in April they were seeing multiple marlin each time out, and once as many as 10 in a day. Late dry season also brings in many whale sharks, while corvina and snook are predominantly caught at this time.

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In the wet season they still catch large numbers of tuna, but often need a mothership to get to them. The largest rooster (58 inches to the fork) was caught in September and their only successfully leadered marlin was in late August. Many days are overcast, making fishing very comfortable as you are not getting scorched by the sun all day. Also, the wet season brings in large numbers of humpback whales. Generally, they start in June through October, when they are almost always seen daily. After heavy rains, many times large schools of mahi mahi move in at an average size of 20 pounds, with many over 30. The best month for mahi mahi has consistently been November, but most targeted species are the roosterfish and cubera snapper. We are fortunate enough to catch both of these very regularly year-round. The biggest ones generally come on live bait, but we also catch many on top-water lures.

If you like casual light kayak fishing from estuaries, this is probably not the place for you, but if you like screaming drags and getting pulled around in a kayak by monster fish, this place is ideal to increase your heart rate. Even catching bait is a blast, with small tuna/bonito being the most common live baits to use. Cubera snapper and roosterfish will readily take a large bonito live bait, but the preferred live bait is a blue runner. Snapper and roosterfish will also take all types of lures, from soft plastics, and jigs to poppers, although live bait is the recommended method. It also increases the chance of a billfish, which are often seen free jumping amongst the schools of bonito.

//LIVE BAITING The guides’ recommended way to fish Panama from a kayak is to firstly catch a live bait and rig it on a large set up. While you are live-baiting you can use another smaller rod and reel combo to either jig, baitfish or cast lures. For your live bait set up I would recommend a minimum rating of 24kg or PE4. I personally used an Insalt Kingsamson PE4-6 jigging rod with a Shimano Stella 18000 reel loaded with PE6 braid and 150 pound leader and a 12/0 circle hook. www.spooledmagazine.com.au

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//FISHING


Los Buzos Kayak Fishing Resort

When live-baiting with circle hooks, you need to give the fish ample time to swallow the bait to ensure a perfect hook up. Waiting for up to 10 seconds free spooling or with a very light drag is preferred, as it works perfectly for roosterfish and billfish. Big, greedy cubera snapper will readily take live baits and bury themselves in the reef. The catch rate of cubera snapper is relatively low, and everyone staying at Los Buzos had hooked a big cubera or more with no results.

//LURE FISHING

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Over the course of my stay I constantly asked questions of the guides and other successful guests about lures that yielded the best results. Popping for roosterfish in waves crashing near the rocks is an option, providing there is a small swell that makes it safe to do so. Jack Crevalle (similar to a giant trevally) can also be caught with this method. Slow pitch jigs and vertical knife jigs of 100gm-300gm can be used for snapper, grouper and roosterfish. Large paddle tail soft plastics with 3-6 ounce jig heads proved very successful for monster size broomtail grouper. A tip is to use heavier than usual weight to keep your lure near the bottom due to the strong currents or wind. I would recommend using a PE-2-4 jigging rod and a PE2-4 casting rod with a 4000-5000 size reel. I used an Insalt PE13 Flutterjig rod with a Daiwa Saltiga reel with PE3 braid. This combo was for jigging, but I also used it successfully casting poppers. It’s not something I would normally recommend, although when travelling it pays, as space is limited and you sometimes have to be versatile with the gear you can bring. Loz Buzos resort caters for even the most inexperienced kayak fisherman, so even first timers can the trophy fish of their dreams.

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