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Page 1

Summer

2019

YUMMY

GUMMIES MURRAY COD ON

FLY

SUMMER

IN OZ

WHOPPER

WHITING


Contents EDITORIAL

Our Cover... Launceston’s Matt Sherriff with 57cm of Tamar KG whiting.

4 8 20

SPOOLED MAGAZINE

02

SUMMER IN OZ

TAKING ON THE ‘TING

34 46 FLUFF CHUCKING FOR COD BOAT PROJECT – STABICRAFT 490 CUDDY

EVERYTHING’S BIG IN TASSIE

68

58 80

MIX ‘N’ MATCH REDS

88 YUMMY GUMMIES WHAT’S NEW

102

COMPETITION PAGE

112

STRIPES AND STRIPES FOREVER www.spooledmagazine.com.au


From the Editor

From The Editor

SHANE MENSFORTH

As a South Aussie, I’m extremely jealous of how good Victorian fisho’s have it these days. The fact that they are represented in Parliament by a dedicated Minister for Fishing and Boating pretty much tells the story; the Victorian Government really does value the contribution of both pursuits, obviously for the economic and social benefits they provide.

SPOOLED MAGAZINE

I receive regular press releases from Minister Jaala Pulford’s office outlining what the Victorian Government is doing to make things better for anglers and 04 boaters. Sometimes I get two or three a week, emphasising the vast difference between the way rec’ fishing is regarded in Vic and in my home state of SA. I’m always reading about fishing enhancement projects around the Victorian coast, including things like boat ramp upgrades, new jetties, restocking programs, small community grants, and the big one — removal of boat ramp launching fees right across the state. $47.2 million has been set aside to make things better for Victorian rec’ anglers, which is a fair slice of cash in anyone’s terms. A significant component of this massive spend, of course, is revenue from a recreational fishing licence that covers both fresh and salt water. To my way of thinking, it makes sense to pay a relatively small levy to be part of a fishery that’s obviously heading in the right direction. At present there are three licence options in Victoria — $10 for three days, $20.30 for 28 days and $35.70 for 12 months — that apply to all anglers over 18 and under 70. I speak regularly to several angling mates in Victoria, none of whom have an issue with having to pay to fish. Their Government’s PR machine does a great job of publicising the benefits of a licence, letting everyone know exactly where the money is being spent and what it’s being spent on. Transparency is the key when it comes to a tax of any kind, and Jaala Pulford’s press people certainly do their job well. I’ve been advocating in SA for a fishing licence for at least a decade now, and I’m sad to say we are still as far away as ever. There have been a few Governmentfunded improvements to our fishery in recent times, such as small scale native fish stocking programs, the opening of some reservoirs to angling and the establishment of an artificial shellfish reef, but these are minimal compared to what’s happening over the border. SA’s fishery overall is stagnant and for many seems to be losing its appeal, and is desperately in need of a boost. A bit more interest and investment from our State Government, coupled with an injection of funds from a rec’ licence, would definitely see us heading in the right direction again.

www.spooledmagazine.com.au


w w w. l o n e s t a r m a r i n e. c o m . au


From the Editor

Like Victoria, the NT Government also promotes and contributes heavily to its recreational fishery, and I’m now noticing a similar trend in Tasmania. Tourism Tasmania has recently instigated a visiting journalists’ program that is designed to attract mainland and international writers via subsidies for travel and accommodation. This is not just for fishing, of course, also encompassing several other outdoors pursuits Tassie is keen to promote to the world. It’s an extremely proactive initiative that is sure to provide tangible future benefits.

SPOOLED MAGAZINE

I’m thinking Victoria’s “Target One Million” objective (originally designed to have a million registered recreational anglers out there by 2020) might be a tad optimistic, but at least 06 a goal has been set and the Government has made its intentions clear. I’d love that sort of clarity from above in my home state, but fear I’ll never see it — and that’s real pity.

SPOOLED COMPETITION WINNERS Congratulations to Luke Adams (VIC), Ben Mos (NSW), and Mark Goodall (VIC), the three winners of our competition from Issue #4. Each will receive a pack of four Bassman Spinnerbaits. Don’t forget to enter the comp in this issue! See details here. www.spooledmagazine.com.au


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Summer in Oz - A Time of Plenty

JAMIE CRAWFORD

SUMMER IN OZ – SPOOLED MAGAZINE

08

A TIME OF PLENTY

JAMIE CRAWFORD TAKES A LOOK AT WHAT ANGLERS CAN EXPECT AROUND THE COUNTRY AS SUMMER PROGRESSES.

www.spooledmagazine.com.au


Summer is our peak fishing season here in Australia. A lot of fishers take advantage of the summer holidays for the warm weather and to enjoy time fishing and boating with friends and family. It can be a busy time of year on the water, but there are some great fishing opportunities during summer. Down south we experience long and warm days, while in the northern parts of our country the wet season and monsoonal weather patterns dictate fishing opportunities. Regardless of where you reside in our country, there will be some summer fishing options on your doorstep.

09 SPOOLED MAGAZINE

Tim Werfel with a nice surf caught mulloway

www.spooledmagazine.com.au


Summer in Oz - A Time of Plenty

//SUMMER OPTIONS

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When I think of summer fishing, I automatically think of blue water pelagics. In our southern states the beginning of summer denotes the offshore season, with migrating bluefin tuna pushing eastwards on their annual pilgrimage. At the beginning of summer, school bluefin have typically pushed through the waters of the Bight and into our blue water grounds around the Eyre and Yorke Peninsulas in South Australia. These fish eventually push further eastward as summer rolls on, with the offshore fishing improving in ports such as Cape Jervis, Victor Harbor and Port MacDonnell in SA, and also over the border into Victoria at locations such as Portland, Port Fairy and Warrnambool.

The summer bluefin are typically school fish in the 10-20kg size range, with the occasional 30kg-plus fish thrown in. Summer time isn’t regarded as the season for the bigger barrels, as these big guys come on the prowl once the temps have receded. Our summer school fish offer plenty of light tackle fun though, and when they’re smashing bait on the surface, it’s very cool visual fishing.

www.spooledmagazine.com.au


As well as school bluefin, summer time sees yellowtail kingfish moving through these same blue water grounds, often mixing with the SBT’s. These kings are found around the offshore islands and reef systems in South Australia, and are now caught with some regularity throughout Victoria, from the western waters of Portland through to Mallacoota in the east, including some bay systems such as Westernport. It’s an exciting fishery, and it’s been good to see numbers building over the past few years.

Southern bluefin tuna offer trailer boat fishers some fantastic sport during the summer months

www.spooledmagazine.com.au

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Casting surface lures such as stick baits and poppers is the most visually appealing and exciting way of connecting to a kingfish — of any size. But presenting live baits such as squid, slimy mackerel, yakkas and salmon trout is, without doubt, the best way to tempt fussy kings. Live baits can be cast unweighted at sighted kingfish, with a single 8/0-10/0 heavy gauge live bait hook pinned through the nose or bridled through the eye socket. Even if fish aren’t spotted, dropping live baits and slow trolling on a downrigger is an effective way of covering ground and prospecting for fish.


Summer in Oz - A Time of Plenty

SPOOLED MAGAZINE

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Kingfish can be found around our offshore grounds in SA and through Victoria during the summer months

If you’re after some brutal southern fishing, jigging for samson fish is at its peak in early summer out from Perth in the West. Big aggregations of samson fish arrive on the deeper reefs in November, with December and January offering great fishing for those prepared for a bit of punishment. Jigging big sambos in 7090m of water isn’t easy, but if you like getting stretched on 50-80 pound tackle, this is a box you have to tick. There are some well equipped charter vessels out from Hillarys Boat Harbour that specialise in day trips for jigging samsons. Summertime also sees the East Australian Current pushing warm water and bait down the eastern seaboard, bringing a smorgasbord of pelagic species to expectant fishers. The run of small to mid-sized marlin down the east coast is highly anticipated every year, offering an exciting fishery for trailer boat fishers. A run of small black marlin, with fish averaging 15-30kg, kicks into gear in December off the Gold Coast. www.spooledmagazine.com.au


These voracious billfish push their way south, following the warm water and bait schools down the east coast. By January onwards there are generally some small to mid-sized blacks, along with a few striped marlin through the NSW mid north coast and down to Sydney, with famed areas including the Car Park, Middle Grounds and Newcastle Canyons typically producing fish each season.

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The east coast eagerly awaits the arrival of small black marlin each summer

www.spooledmagazine.com.au


Summer in Oz - A Time of Plenty

As summer progresses, some nice striped marlin start showing along the NSW south coast, from Sydney right through to the Victoria border. This stretch of coast includes locations such as Jervis Bay, Narooma and Bermagui. These east coast striped and black marlin are targeted on the troll, typically running a spread of 6-10 inch skirts, or live baiting around the bait schools. Whichever way you decide to connect to a marlin, the resultant fight is always memorable.

SPOOLED MAGAZINE

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Hooked up to a black marlin

Small black marlin are a popular target along the east coast during summer

www.spooledmagazine.com.au


Moving away from the blue water scene, summer is also a great time of year for inshore bread and butter fishing. Port Phillip Bay and Westernport offer some King George whiting during the warmer months, along with a few snapper and some good-sized gummies, especially towards late summer while fishing at night. Gummy sharks can also be found around the near-shore reefs through western Victoria and into South Australia.

Gummy sharks are available in the summer months through the cooler parts of our country

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In South Australia the run of blue swimmer crabs through our inshore water peaks in summer, with good catches expected from the tape weed meadows in our two Gulfs, and from Streaky Bay, Smoky Bay and Ceduna along the western side of the Eyre Peninsula. When targeting these tasty crustaceans, try to focus on the incoming tide in 3-6m of water, and use fresh baits when drop potting. If you prefer to actively hunt your crabs, walking and raking the shallows during low tide or at night with a spotlight is a fun way to gather a feed.

Blue crabs are active during the warmer months of the year www.spooledmagazine.com.au


Summer in Oz - A Time of Plenty

Early summer in the NSW high country and in Tasmania offers some good trout fishing in our lakes. The trout are usually quite active and mobile at this time of year. Summer fishing is more about targeting the lakes rather than the streams, and involves working the shallow fringes and shorelines of lakes rather than the deeper body.

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Late summer usually sees some hatches starting, so the surface action starts to improve as summer progresses. This means dry fly fishing once the hatch starts, but if you’re into flicking lures, walking the fringes of these lakes and casting 30-50mm hard body lures or small paddle tail soft plastics will also get some action. Fishing our inland lakes is pretty special.

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Trout are active around the fringes of our cool water lakes during early summer

www.spooledmagazine.com.au


Hooked up in the surf

Summer in Oz - A Time of Plenty

Up in the NT and northern QLD, summer represents the wet season, with afternoon storms and monsoon activity quite common. The wet season can be a tough time of year for a southerner to visit the Territory, given the heat and humidity. Afternoon thunderstorms can be spectacular during December. The river and creek fishing at this time of year can be tough, with the monsoon activity flooding these waterways and dirtying the water. The bay fishing can be good at this time of year though, with some nice golden snapper and black jewfish found around the inshore reefs. Some brawling mangrove jacks can also be found in amongst the mangroves and timber surrounding some of these inshore bays.

SPOOLED MAGAZINE

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And lastly, summer is undoubtedly the peak time of target mulloway in the surf right around the bottom half of our country. These fish are the pinnacle for surf fishers, and well worthy of the time and effort they demand. In South Australia the beaches in the Bight along with the surf beaches from the Murray Mouth through to the Victorian border produce some good fish from early December right through until late February.

//TIMING YOUR SUMMER RUN There is no denying that summer is the busiest time of year to be on our waterways, so if you want results during the peak holiday period, there are a few simple steps you can take to maximise your success. Aim to be on the water early to beat the majority of crowds. Quite often fish will go shy with increased boat traffic, so by being on the water before the boating and jet ski activity starts, you’re giving yourself an advantage. Try to avoid fishing in busy locations in the middle of the day and during the weekend when boating traffic will be at its peak. Travel the extra mile during summer to escape the crowds and to find your private slice of fishing nirvana. But remember, summer can be a hot time of year to be on the water, with the sun’s rays reflecting off the water surface as well as beaming down from above. Remember to be sun smart, pack lots of fluids and enjoy your summer on and around the water. www.spooledmagazine.com.au


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Taking On The ‘Ting

JARROD DAY

TAKING ON THE ‘TING SPOOLED MAGAZINE

20

LIKE THOUSANDS OF VICTORIANS, JARROD DAY LOVES HIS WHITING FISHING. RIGGING CORRECTLY IS IMPERATIVE FOR CONSISTENT RESULTS, AND IN THIS PIECE HE OUTLINES EXACTLY HOW TO SE T THINGS UP TO MAXIMISE YOUR CATCH. www.spooledmagazine.com.au


Since the removal netting in Western Port and soon to follow in Port Phillip Bay, fishing for whiting is going from strength to strength. Traditionally, targeting whiting for the majority of anglers in Victoria doesn’t really kick off until December after everyone has had their snapper fix. However, with Western Port now net free and Port Phillip Bay to follow by 2022, whiting are available throughout the whole year. While they have always been a year-round option, in recent times their numbers and size have been increasing. Whiting are quite an interesting fish to catch. While a schooling fish, they can be caught in fair numbers, but can also be quite challenging. While they can be fickle at times and extremely aggressive at others, they are widespread throughout both waterways.

21 SPOOLED MAGAZINE

Having a diet consisting of worms, molluscs and other crustaceans, whiting search for their prey in sandy locations adjacent to vast weed beds. With that said, some of the larger whiting are found over reef and it is this difference in locations that changes the way you rig up for them.

www.spooledmagazine.com.au


Taking On The ‘Ting

//PORT PHILLIP BAY Its fair to say that Port Phillip Bay is like a large soup bowl with limited structure. For the most part, whiting can be found right throughout, however some locations are a lot more productive than others. These include Queenscliff, St Leonards, Werribee, Altona, Thomastown, St Kilda, Sandringham, Beaumaris, Frankston, Mornington, Mt Martha, Rye, Rosebud, Sorrento and Portsea. Of course, there are many other locations, but these areas continually produce solid fish.

SPOOLED MAGAZINE

Those locations in the northern section of the Bay are less influenced by tidal flow and 22 can make using berley more difficult. However, you can adapt, and rather than using berley from a berley bucket on the bottom, you can berley from the water’s surface, so it covers more distance. Of course, this is only if your fishing in 2-5m of water. Most of the locations in this depth range are sand with weed beds or broken ground. Throughout the Bay different locations have various types of weed that can grow at different lengths, and it is the combination of weed growth and sand that dictates which rigging set-up is required.

Port Phillip Bay’s southern section has a myriad of different seaweed varieties. Each one can grow to different lengths which is why a paternoster rig is so effective to suspend your baits above it.

www.spooledmagazine.com.au


Before we begin to explain the rigging and set-up for whiting, we have to separate Port Phillip Bay into two sections – the north and the south. The northern section encompasses Werribee to Mount Martha to the city end of the Bay and anything south of them. Within the northern section tidal influence is very limited and due to this, there are two main rigs that can be used. These are either a running sinker rig or extended paternoster rig, also known as a fixed sinker rig.

www.spooledmagazine.com.au

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The purpose of the running sinker rig is to allow the whiting to pick up the bait and swim off without feeling any resistance from the line. For this to be achieved, you’d have to be using a small baitrunner-type reel or a slow taper rod with the reel just in gear. This is so that the rod can load, and line be taken from the reel without a lot of pressure put onto the rig at the point the fish takes the bait. In this case, the rig can be set up by connecting a 2-3m length of 15 pound fluorocarbon leader via an Albright or slim beauty knot. Threaded onto the leader you can use an Ezy-Rig sinker clip with a small size eight crane swivel to prevent the clip from sliding all the way to the hook, as well as to aid in line twist using a crane swivel. Continuing on from the crane swivel, use a metre length of 15 pound leader to which a long shank hook is attached.


Taking On The ‘Ting

SPOOLED MAGAZINE

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While I’ll get to the benefits of using circle hooks for whiting with the extended paternoster rig, the purpose of using a long shank hook on a running sinker rig is so the angler can set the hook at the point when the fish is swimming off with the bait and the rod is loading. This running sinker rig is best used when the fish are being finicky. In the instance of a bright sunny day in conditions when the Bay is flat calm, setting the hook into a fish can be the only option because they are very shy when taking the bait. www.spooledmagazine.com.au


In this situation you’ll have slack line, and should a circle hook be used, the slackness in the line can cause the hook to fall out of the fish’s mouth, or should you strike, you’ll pull the hook out of the fish’s mouth. This leads us to using the extended paternoster rig. An extended paternoster rig is comprised of a 2-3m length of 12-14 pound leader tied to your mainline via an Albright or slim beauty knot. However, rather than attaching an Ezy-Rig sinker clip followed by a swivel, just tie a size #4 or #6 circle hook to the end of the leader. Then, in the middle of the leader make a loop and tie an overhand loop knot a good 10cm in length.

25 SPOOLED MAGAZINE

On this loop is where the sinker is attached. Due to the sinker being fixed to the mainline, when the bait is taken, the fish will attempt to swim off with it. While using a circle hook, within a split second, it will roll around, hooking the fish automatically. Of course, both these rigs need to be used in the right location and in the right situation to be effective.

Using the right rod is imperative, to strong and the hook could pull. Too soft and the hook could roll out. Those made from composite material with a slow taper are ideal.

www.spooledmagazine.com.au


Taking On The ‘Ting

Southern Port Phillip Bay, on the other hand, is quite a bit different due to the force of the current. With water pressure applied to the mainline, rigging can change slightly. However, one benefit of fishing in tidal areas is that if you’re going to use berley, high tidal flow areas are where you’ll benefit. If you are going to berley in southern Port Phillip Bay, you’ll want to ensure you’re using a good quality berley pot and half fill it with mashed up pilchards. The scent and small pieces of offal from the pillies will bring in the whiting from far and wide.

SPOOLED MAGAZINE

Rigging up for this section of the Bay does require a slight change, and while the running sinker is a great rig to use, in these parts it is best only if the whiting are 26 very finicky in their feeding patterns. If they are, it is important to hold the rod in your hand in order to strike to set the hook. If they are feeding aggressively, the extended paternoster rig or fixed sinker rig is widely used. This can be tied from 12-14 pound fluorocarbon leader with a size #4 or #2 circle hook tied to the end of the leader.

www.spooledmagazine.com.au


The reason for using this rig in this section of the Bay is due to the tidal influence. In tidal areas, striking can be difficult to set the hook due to the amount of line you have let out to allow the bait to be carried further from the sinker if you used a running sinker rig. Then when you do strike, you’ll be pulling the bow in the line rather than setting the hook. Having the sinker fixed to the line and using a circle hook allows the fish to hook themselves without the need to strike. Another reason for using this rig is to keep the bait close to the bottom, as this is where the whiting will be feeding.

Working the edges of the banks in Western Port with a paternoster rig, thumping whiting can be found.

www.spooledmagazine.com.au

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Taking On The ‘Ting

//WESTERN PORT Ever since the netting was removed from Western Port, the whiting fishery has gone from strength to strength and with that, an increase in whiting numbers and size is now the result.

SPOOLED MAGAZINE

Western Port fishes quite differently to Port Phillip Bay due to the strong tidal flow. Like the Bay, there are two tides per day, high and low, and with Western Port significantly smaller in size than Port Phillip, along with its vast deep channels and shallow mud flats, the current can run up to eight knots in parts. Of 28 course, when targeting whiting you’re not fishing in such severe current, however you do want to be fishing around two hours each side of a tide change. This will allow you to fish with reduced lead, making the fishing much more bearable. Whiting inhabit the entire Port, however most of the more productive fishing occurs on the shallow mud flats or sandy drop-offs. Prime whiting locations are the top end channels, Gentle Annie, Charring Cross and the Tooradin channel. Then there is Browns Reserve, Tyabb and Quail Banks, The Middle Spit, Eastern Channel, Tankerton, Tortoise Head Bank, Coronet Bay, Dickies Bay, Ventnor, Balnarring, Somers, Cat Bay, Point Leo and Flinders. While the majority of these locations range 2-5m deep, the North Arm is a prime deep location, reaching around 15-17m.

Western Ports seafloor is lined with reef and seaweed. It is imperative to use a paternoster rig to suspend baits above the potential snags.

www.spooledmagazine.com.au


Along with the strength of the current, Western Port is also very weedy, and the weed growth can have significant height. In this case, running sinker rigs and extended paternoster rigs can make the fishing more difficult and, personally speaking, I’d only be using an extended paternoster rig if the fish are finicky in their feeding patterns. For the rest of the time a twin dropper paternoster rig tied from 16 pound fluorocarbon leader is recommended. Not that the whiting will bust your leader, but when using berley, it is very common for Australian salmon, silver trevally, gummy sharks and banjo sharks to take your baits. The heavier leader is also used for abrasion resistance against the weed and reef that you’re likely to be fishing over.

Circle hooks also work their best when the angler has direct contact with the rig. This is to prevent the fish from sucking the bait in and spitting it out, which it still can do if there is slack line. In Western Port though, with the current pulling on the line, it is always going to be taut so it’s rare you’ll miss or drop a fish when using circle hooks in this situation.

When the whiting are aggressively feeding and in areas of strong tidal flow, circle hooks are highly recommended.

www.spooledmagazine.com.au

29 SPOOLED MAGAZINE

On each dropper a size #4 or #2 circle hook can be tied, and it is because of the current that circles are required. Just like in the southern section of Port Phillip Bay, the circle hooks will do the work for you because if the fish are feeding aggressively, you can miss the bite and the strike. The circle hook is designed for the fish to take the bait without feeling the hook and as so, they turn to swim off with the bait, which is when the circle rolls around, pinning the corner of their jaw every time.


Don’t go unprepared to a whiting battle. Always take a variety of baits and the right tackle to adapt to their feeding patterns.

Taking On The ‘Ting

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Don’t get too caught up with requiring a science degree to make your berley concoction, just some mashed up pilchards will do the job.

Fresh calamari strips threaded onto a circle hook work a treat in the deep.

Whiting can be selective in their bait selection, pipi, calamari and mussel are ideal. When threading a bait onto a circle hook, always remember to leave the hooks tip exposed.

Another advantage of using a twin dropper paternoster rig is that, due to the weed height, both baits will be suspended above the weed growth, keeping them snag free – if your bottom dropper is 30-40cm from the sinker. Having the two droppers can also benefit by catching two fish at a time or, should a fish managed to steel the bait from one, you still have the second bait so at least you’re not leaving your rig in the water unbaited for any period of time. www.spooledmagazine.com.au


Whiting can be very finicky feeders on bright sunny days. This is when you need to adapt and use a running sinker rig.

Due to the current, the only rig option is either an extended paternoster rig or twin dropper paternoster rig with both containing circle hooks. Whiting in these deep water areas are usually much more aggressive than those in the shallows, and when they hit the bait, they hit hard.

Targeting whiting in shallow water, whiting can be finicky. Being almost invisible in water, fluorocarbon leader is best offered.

www.spooledmagazine.com.au

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More and more anglers are beginning to fish deeper for whiting these days, mainly due to the fish being more aggressive and fatter in locations of fast current. The North Arm is one of the most productive deep-water whiting locations, however, if you get your timing right and fish an hour either side of the tide in the Western Entrance, there are some thumping whiting to be caught. Fishing this deep water is no easy feat. Even when you’re fishing two hours either side of a tide change, you’ll still be using 6-8 ounces of weight to hold bottom.


//RODS ‘N’ REELS The right rod and reel set-up is just as important as the rigs used themselves. This is because using the incorrect rod could aid in pulling hooks on fish. Due to whiting being a hard hitter of the bait, rods with a fast taper won’t give enough buffer between the reel and the the rig, meaning the hooks can tear from the fish on the initial take.

SPOOLED MAGAZINE

Traditionally, fibreglass 702NT 2-4kg rods are used or the standard 702 spin with a 2500 series reel and 6 pound mono or braid. This type of outfit is perfect when fishing Port Phillip Bay, however in Western Port everything is dictated by the force of the current. When using heavier sinkers than you would in the Bay, in 32 Western Port your rod needs to be able to two things – support the weights of the sinkers required to fish the area, and to be able to absorb the impact when a whiting hits the bait. In some instances, anglers have been known to use their snapper set-ups, but when 6 pound braid is only required, there is no point fishing too heavy or you’ll just be skull dragging them up.

Using the right rod is imperative, to strong and the hook could pull. Too soft and the hook could roll out. Those made from composite material with a slow taper are ideal.

A few rods do exist for this style of fishing. Those made from composite materials have more sensitivity than fibreglass, but are less powerful than graphite. This means, depending on the build, they can load up fast, using the tip section, but have good strength in the butt for lifting the sinkers being used. The Wilson Texalium 2-4kg, 7 foot RLTFX32 is one of the most versatile rods for whiting fishing in both Western Port and Port Phillip Bay. It’s a rod that you can fish an ounce of lead on and change to 6 ounces without losing any performance. This rod, coupled with a 2500 series reel and 6 pound braid, is the ideal outfit for whiting fishing in Victoria. Whiting fishing is most certainly a lot of fun, and no matter where you’re targeting them, it does pay to rig up right for the given situation on the day. The more you can adapt to how they are feeding, the more chance you’ll have of catching them. www.spooledmagazine.com.au


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Fluff Chucking For Cod

ROD MACKENZIE

FLUFF

CHUCKING SPOOLED MAGAZINE

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FOR COD

ROD MACKENZIE IS AMONG THE COUNTRY’S BEST MURRAY COD ANGLERS. IN THIS PIECE HE LEAVES HIS NORMAL COMFORT ZONE AND PICKS UP THE FLY ROD FOR A CHANGE OF PACE AND TACTICS. www.spooledmagazine.com.au


You’ve got to applaud the conviction of the dedicated fly fisher who takes the simple art of angling and turns it into an aeronautical nightmare thwart with a thousand and one variables. Knowing this, you might then question what it was that drove you down this same tormented path, turning a stressfree sport into one that almost requires continual anger management.

My first cod on fly was taken on Kaos creation called the holographic cod scull.

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In skilled hands the true art of fly fishing is akin to aeronautical perfection, where the hypnotic dance of lengthening fly loops is used to deliver the hook-laden package of fluff and feathers directly to the fish. Mind you, those skilled hands that wave the wand are not found on the end of my arms; in fact, at times I think my hands are on back to front when I pick up a fly rod. www.spooledmagazine.com.au


Fluff Chucking For Cod

Sadly, I am blessed with all the grace of an unprepared bee keeper or that of a bumbling fool who knocks down a paper wasp nest and then picks it up to see what it is. So unco-ordinated was my timing when I first started waving the fly rod, that if I had worn one of those North American Indian jackets with the feathers on the sleeves, I would still be looking for somewhere to land!

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Hooked up and loaded cod account for themselves very well on fly tackle. In all fairness, any new technique takes time to learn, and while I may never master the art of fly fishing, I have made it my business to at least do my best. To recall those first few trips is to reignite the love of angling that comes with the adventure of something new and unknown. As I opened the feather-filled package, I remember thinking I hadn’t been this excited about fluff since secondary school. Two dozen neatly-tied cod flies had just arrived in the post and I eagerly stroked, prodded and marvelled at the iridescent fur-clad lures that would possibly lead to fish. I had always longed for the challenge of cod on fly, but lacked the confidence to step outside my angling zone that had managed to provide a run of good captures over the years. www.spooledmagazine.com.au


From the outside looking in, the world of fly has always seemed a place of Freemasonlike mystery. Not that I imagine there is much goat hair tied in flies, yet this Masoniclike shroud is one that earns the fisho a rite of passage to a world of passwords, grips and secret signs. Many of my self doubts towards working fly were swayed by this persona and years of spending time with self-confessed feather chuckers who, for their love of cod, had not pulled the wand once in an attempt to strike a green fish blow. If these anglers and their secret language of sink tips and shooting heads shied away from cod on fly, what possible hope did a hacker like myself have? Far better to tread the path you know than wander off and appear the fool.

Next trip out, I awoke to a light frost that had settled on the swag, the waterercourse’s mirror calm broken only by the sporadic flickering of skittish baitfish. Under the guise of the electric motor the short trek downstream had me nearing several old snags that jutted into the greenish coloured water. I was lost in the ambiance of the setting as the fly landed across the end of a floating mat of weed that had collected on a snag not far from the bank. I cursed my inaccuracy, but noticed the line slide off the side of the weed under the weight of the sinking fly. I was wondering how a cod strike might feel on fly as I began to strip the line; after all, the rod and line are a spongy combination when you compare them to the direct connection that is braid on a stiff graphite baitcast rod.

Most hook ups on the fly are smack in the corner of the mouth. www.spooledmagazine.com.au

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Time and practice are the keys to casting, and I managed to wreck my first fly line in the dusty drive of my backyard in the Mallee. Given time, I eventually took what I thought was my newfound skill to the river, only to find I had about as much co-ordination as the proverbial one-legged man in an arse kicking comp. Try as I liked, I could not smooth out the clunky routine of the heavy fly, but sometimes I did manage to land it close to the desired spot. Time and again I would pack the rod away after a few short casts; yet there was something about catching a cod on fly that I just couldn’t shake.


Fluff Chucking For Cod

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In that instant I was smashed hard, and believe me, there is no mistaking the strike. Be it fly line or braid, a good green fish take is nothing short of violent, and this felt a very good fish. For a brief second I was stalled in a moment of disbelief before the long, spongy rod loaded to the cork. All I could think about was staying on and getting away from that timber as I stripped the line under heavy load.

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Jamie Stewart landed this nice Murray cod on his first cast of the day. The fish hit the fly on the drop before he even had a chance to start stripping the line.

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With the head of the fish turned, I had all but won, as long as the fly stayed pinned. A large boil rolled to the surface as the unseen cod made one last attempt to gain its head and find the wood. But the loaded rod and line made short work of the battle, and I was soon looking at my first flycaught cod as it breached the surface and cruised beside the boat. At 92cm it was a ripper catch that was etched into my mind as deeply as any cod-torn thumb I’d ever had. www.spooledmagazine.com.au


Fluff Chucking For Cod

As I watched the mottled body and tail melt back into the depths, I realised what it was that kept drawing me back to the fly. It’s a part of the journey that is fishing – to move from one level to another where new challenges test the angler within. From the moment that fish inhaled the fly, I was far more hooked than it ever was, and so began a new chapter that seemingly has no end. After catching that first cod there was still much to be learned and it was a slow grind, even though I managed to boat several more as the season progressed.

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Towards season’s end I was lucky enough to meet and fish with Pip Clement, a selfconfessed fly tragic who was well and truly addicted to the fur. Clement has travelled 40 the world in pursuit of big fish on fly, from Mongolia where he caught giant Taimen to the wilds of Africa chasing tiger fish. When I mentioned Murray cod, he was quick to take up my offer of a trip and we were off to local waters to wave the wand. We both had our eyes on the metre mark, and not four casts in, his fly was torn from the surface by a solid fish, guestimated to be in the high 90s – not a bad first up cod on fly, and even better when you consider it ate one of the surface flies Pip had tied especially for the trip. Over the course of the next few days we landed several more cod on fly, yet the metre hope still remained elusive. A change in tactics had me fumbling through Clement’s fly box in search of something big. As soon as I picked up the fly I had a good vibe, as its colouration and size were similar to that of the bony bream that big cod so often feed on. While Clement had tied this fly himself, it was based on a design that came out of the States by an angler called Blane Chocklett. The fly is called a T-Bone. It has an articulated head that kicks the body sideways each time the fly is striped, then paused. This gives off the illusion

Matching the hatch Pip Clement with a hand full of cod flies he tied for the trip. Colours didn’t venture far outside his headwear. www.spooledmagazine.com.au


of a wounded baitfish, something few predatory fish can ignore. Clement put his own spin on the fly by upsizing the hook from the standard 2/0 to a much bigger 8/0. This was done to improve the hook-up rate on bigger fish.

Fourth cast into the trip and Pip Clement landed this nice Murray cod off the surface Fly he tied especially for the trip.

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Not two casts in, the rhythmic stripping of the fly was snapped short by a very violent take that ripped the cord through my fingers at a line burning pace. There was no stopping this cod as it headed mid river under full load. Content in the snags, the lengthy run slowed to a to-and-fro through the branches for what seemed an eternity. A few hairraising minutes later, the full bulk of the cod broke free of its cover into open water, where a solid fight had it floundering bankside before it was


Fluff Chucking For Cod

lifted clear for a few snaps. At more than a metre it was a catch on fly that will remain one of my finer angling moments. I guess, of all the things I required in the lead up to catching cod on fly, the most significant was the knowledge of those who had done it before. This was my biggest hurdle, as while there was no doubt it had been done, and was likely

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Pip Clement ties some very articulate flies including this replica of a small riverside king fisher. www.spooledmagazine.com.au


still being done, the information regarding wild cod on fly was vastly thin and mostly conjecture from those competent on the cast. This being said, I did find some help and for that I am eternally grateful, as it swayed the way I approached cod on fly. Regardless of the method used when targeting large Murray cod, it’s important not to go in under gunned. Make no mistake, in the timber Murray cod will rip you a new freckle in no time flat. A 10-weight rod was a great start, fitted with a large arbour reel and an intermediate fly line. Past experience swayed

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the choice of line, as most hard-bodied lures cast to structure were generally smashed inside the first metre or so of retrieval. These fish were sitting high on the timber, and it made sense to gear up in order to fish at similar depth. The choice of rod weight was bandied around and made on majority rules information. The large arbour reel would suit, should I seek out any saltwater target species down the track. With the gear sorted, the next hurdle was to calm the Gatling gun cast routine of fellow anglers intent of firing spinnerbaits and hard-bodied lures at every snag you intended to cast the fly. For this reason my first few cod on fly were caught solo. If your intention is to catch cod on fly, leave behind fellow anglers who must catch every fish, regardless of what it is you are trying to achieve. www.spooledmagazine.com.au


Fluff Chucking For Cod

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If I had a favourite coloured fly for cod I guess it would be white and pink these two rippers fell for couldn’t resist it. Wild river cod live in snags, and this is where the fly must go in order to catch them. Other than surface flies, I would not cast a single fly to cod unless it was fitted with a good weed-snag guard. To cast at the perfect spot only to become snagged after a few strips of the line is an opportunity lost. Once snagged, you will need to go in and unhook the fly, scaring any potential takers. Remember, we are fishing for Murray cod and anyone who has had experience with these fish will quickly understand that opportunities are not to be squandered. Some days you only get one. If I have a favourite colour combination in the relatively clear water we have been fishing, I would have to say that white and pink has done the damage. In saying that, we have now caught or have been smashed by cod on a wide range of different colours, so just like with hard-bodied lures, I believe the colour most often eaten is the one closest to the hungry fish. If you break fly fishing down into these simple terms, much of what seems so daunting is swept aside. At day’s end all you are doing is presenting a feather-clad package to the target; no different to any other form of fishing and well within reach of any fisho who dares to try. The first and most important thing I learned about cod on fly was that anyone can learn to fly fish, regardless of gender, social standing or lack of co-ordination for that matter. It just takes time, but like all new angling adventures, you will never know unless you give it a go. www.spooledmagazine.com.au


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Everything’s Big in Tassie!

SHANE MENSFORTH

EVERYTHING’S BIG IN TASSIE! SPOOLED MAGAZINE

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JUST RECENTLY SHANE MENSFORTH FLEW DOWN TO TASMANIA TO SEE IF ALL THE BIG KING GEORGE WHITING HYPE WAS TRUE. HE WASN’T DISAPPOINTED! I’ve never been one for pre-dawn starts, regardless of what the ensuing day might hold. And the older I get, the less appealing it becomes to get up before the sun. There are many who consider dawn as the best part of the day, but as far as I’m concerned at least, this is the period when most nocturnal dreams tend to culminate – and we all know how frustrating an unconcluded dream can be!

King George whiting, on the other hand, are a fish I had never even contemplated as an early start proposition. Depending on tides, I rarely hit the water for whiting before 8am, and most often an hour or so later. KG’s tend to bite throughout the day, so as long as the water is moving one way or the other, being out there super early simply isn’t a factor.

There are some mega-crays for divers www.spooledmagazine.com.au

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Regardless of all this, however, I still tend to drag myself out of the cot prematurely if there’s some decent fishing on offer. Although I much prefer to operate on a ‘gentleman’s hour’ basis, species like big snapper, mulloway, kings and tuna regularly demand getting up before the sparrows, so I make sure I’m well prepared and hit the sack early if I have a session planned on high-end targets like these.


Everything’s Big in Tassie!

Abalone are there for the taking – and they’re big!

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With all this in mind, you can imagine my horror when I discovered that a recent whiting session would kick off with a 3.45am wake up call — a full two hours before sunrise and possibly the most absurd start to a fishing day I can ever remember. However, when you’ve travelled all the way from Adelaide to Launceston to chase a fish that’s abundant in your own backyard, I guess anything is possible. That’s right, I had flown from Adelaide to Launceston via Melbourne, stayed overnight and then driven for an hour and a half — all to catch a bloody KG! www.spooledmagazine.com.au


Those who follow Facebook and other social media will be aware that Tasmanian King George whiting are, for the most part, generally much bigger than those caught in SA and Victoria. We get a reasonable number of big whiting here in South Oz, but the ratio of giants to average sized specimens is nowhere near like it is in Tassie. By giants I mean 50cm-plus fish, which is widely regarded as the ‘holy grail’ figure for KG aficianados.

Matt runs a couple of Bar Crushers — a 610C for offshore work and a 535SC for fresh water and estuary — covering just about every fishing option at his disposal. The plan was for Ken and me to meet Matt at his warehouse at 4.30 before towing to Low Head, located near the mouth of the Tamar. Despite it being mid November, I doubt that it was more than five or six degrees as we pulled into the Low Head boat ramp, just as the sun was starting to announce its presence to the east.

Matt’s 535 Bar Crusher is ideal for estuary whiting

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For quite some time my good mate Ken Orr had been tempting me with tales of giant whiting from his home state. Although Ken is first and foremost a trout guide, he has connections with many prominent Tassie salt water fish’os, among whom is Matt Sherriff, a Launceston-based tackle wholesaler. Matt loves his estuary fishing, as well as diving and other allied marine pursuits, and had kindly invited me down to sample what he unashamedly refers to as the best big whiting fishery in the country. I had read plenty about the giant King George of Flinders and Cape Barren Island, where 50cm specimens are common and 60s rarely raise an eyebrow, but knew very little about Matt’s home waters in the Tamar River estuary. This would be my chance to find out.


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The Tamar estuary was mirror calm as Matt guided the little ‘Crusher out through the marina exit and we made our way toward the bait grounds. As is the case in my home waters these days, fresh squid is number one offering for the local whiting, and within five minutes of launching we were drifting slowly and silently over a ribbon weed meadow in four metres of water. According to Matt, pulling three or four squid in this location usually takes less than ten minutes, but when we were still looking for our first calamari encounter half an hour later, things definitely weren’t going to plan. Scooting around on the electric, we tried half a dozen jig changes and varied our depth between 2-5m, but it wasn’t until the sun was well above the ranges to the east that Matt swung our first squid aboard. It was just a small one, too, but when he followed up with a much larger model a couple of minutes later, our bait supply was taken care of — at least for the morning session.

Tassie has some of the country’s biggest calamari www.spooledmagazine.com.au


I was quite interested to see if the Tasmanian whiting fishers rigged the same way as their South Aussie counterparts, and when Matt handed me a pre-made, packet rig, it was immediately obvious this would be a totally different experience. In a shallow water situation like this back home, I would have rigged with an extended paternoster, consisting of one hook above a fixed sinker and a second hook on a 20cm dropper below. Long shank hooks, such as Mustad Bloodworms, would have been my immediate choice, most likely in size 2 if big whiting were on the cards.

I had experimented with circle hooks on whiting several times back in SA, enjoying limited success. I know you have to resist the urge to strike when a fish first picks up the bait, allowing it to get the squid strip well down before loading up on the rod and enabling the circle to work as intended. I guess I’d been using long shanks for so long at home, rarely missing out on a decent bag of whiting, that I hadn’t really given the alternative rig a chance to prove itself. This would be the acid test for me, and I certainly looked forward to it.

Hayabusa whiting rigs are certainly effective

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Instead, I would be fishing with a Hayabusa pre-tied rig, featuring size 2 circle hooks (with tinsel flash and plastic beads) attached above the sinker. Rigging material was 22 pound mono, much heavier than I would have considered in SA waters, and the sinker would be clipped on via a snap to facilitate weight changes during the tide. All in all, the set-up was far removed from what I’m used to, and I was keen to see how the two very different terminal approaches would stack up.


Everything’s Big in Tassie!

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On the drive from Launceston to the Tamar, Matt had warned that there would be plenty of by-catch during the upcoming whiting session, much of which would be less than welcome. Back home we have to put up with a few unwanted leatherjackets, red mullet and grass whiting from time to time, but not until I unhooked my tenth consecutive blue throat wrasse for the morning did I fully appreciate what Matt had been pre-empting. With the Tamar estuary water crystal clear and our selected location less than 3m deep, you could see exactly what was going on beneath the boat, and I can tell you there were literally hundreds of wrasse lining up to pinch our baits. Fortunately, those circles were easy to remove or I’m sure we 52 would have been cutting off and retying new hooks on a regular basis! But just when it looked to be nothing but a wrasse-fest down there, my rod tip dipped slightly, followed by that tell-tale drawing away that often indicates interest from something other than a smash-and-grab

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blue throat. I waited until the rod began to load, then wound into the bite while simultaneously lifting the tip. The reaction from below was immediate, and the little threadline’s drag was soon slipping braid to an obviously larger fish. Clearly evident near the bottom was a long, brownish shape that flashed silver as it twisted, turned and bolted away — King George at last, and obviously a very good one!

Matt Sherriff with a typical Tamar mega-KG www.spooledmagazine.com.au

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Three or four times I had the fish half way to the top before it streaked off again on a series of short, but powerful vertical runs, and when Ken eventually slipped the landing net beneath it, I knew the flying time and pre-dawn start had all been worthwhile. My first Tasmanian King George whiting measured 57cm and probably weighed a kilo and a half, putting it right up there in my best half dozen KG’s. I could see the relief on Matt’s face as he slipped the hook from the corner of the jaw and held the fish up for the camera. It’s the whiting on the cover of this issue, and rarely have I caught a more welcome King George — anywhere, anytime!


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Half a dozen wrasse later and I was onto the right species again — this time a slightly smaller whiting of 51cm, but still a magnificent fish. For their size these KG’s are extremely subtle biters, which is why the circle hook set-up works so well. Baits of tenderised squid are quite long and thin, pinned just once near the top so that they can be sucked in with minimal effort and resistance. Undoubtedly the best part of the squid to use is the longest tentacle (or ‘candle’ as we call it in SA), as it is quite resilient to pickers, yet its texture seems exactly what a big, hungry whiting is looking for. As the tide reached its peak and turned to run out, fishing became a bit more difficult. The Tamar estuary is quite a weedy place, forcing us to pick off strands of a sea plant I’d never encountered before. It’s like a sort of fine green plastic mesh that is carried easily on the current and clogs up around hooks, sinkers and swivels in annoying balls. Despite this obvious impediment, however, we still managed to pull our boat limit of whiting, most of which were better than 45cm, along with enough wrasse to keep an upmarket Chinese restaurant in live fish for a month.

An impressive whiting catch in anyone’s terms! www.spooledmagazine.com.au


Back in Launceston I skinned the whiting fillets before coating them in Panko crumbs and frying them up with some calamari rings and thick-cut chips. I wouldn’t say these jumbo KG’s are quite as good on the plate as the regular 35-38cm fish I’m more accustomed to back in SA, but they are still pretty damn good. Only having tried whiting once before, Ken was particularly impressed, rating it up there with the best seafood he’s yet experienced.

Our first decent squid of the morning – ideal KG bait. www.spooledmagazine.com.au

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Our original plan for the day was to chase whiting for much of the morning, then head back to the squid grounds on the run-in tide after lunch to find some of the 2kg-plus calamari for which this estuary is famous. Nowhere else in the country are the squid as consistently big as Tassie, and we were all disappointed when the wind got up around noon and forced us off the water. A cool change had been predicted for mid to late afternoon, hopefully providing us with a couple of hours for the squid mission, but it simply wasn’t to be. The north-westerly was gusting to the wrong side of 20 knots by the time Matt had his boat back on the trailer, and with the air temperature plummeting to around 12 degrees, all three of us were happy to call it a day.


Everything’s Big in Tassie!

It had been just a minute sample of what this beautiful part of the world has to offer the small boat angler, further reinforcing the fact that Tasmania is a whole lot more than just a world-class trout fishery. Matt and his regular fishing buddies often pull big gummy sharks just offshore, along with striped trumpeter, school bluefin, kings and big silver trevally. And when they feel the urge to swap fishing gear for wet suits, there are abundant abalone and some of the biggest crayfish available to recreational divers.

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Throw in one of the most accessible broadbill swordfish grounds in the country, more mega-bream than anywhere on the mainland, and those ‘barrel’ bluefin down on the Tasman Peninsula, and you begin to get a picture of just 56 how good the Taswegians have got it. Personally, however, a boat limit catch of giant King George whiting is more than enough to get me back again!

Tassie whiting and squid in Panko crumbs — delicious!

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Boat Project - Stabicraft 490 Cuddy

JOHN WILLIS

BOAT STABICRAFT 490 CUDDY PROJECT

JOHN WILLIS CONTINUES HIS REPORT ON THE TRANSFORMATION OF A TIRED AND VERY WELL USED INSHORE FISHING RIG.

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BUTT UGLY

GETS A FACELIFT! www.spooledmagazine.com.au


Boating and fishing trends have changed considerably in the decades since our little Stabicraft armour plated hero was crafted. Fisho’s now demand highly refined layouts to match their style, tackle, electronics and accessories. Hence our wish list for the little Stabi 490 was formulated after a good round of brainstorming with Barry and Brendan at the Ozsea Boats factory in Seaford, Victoria. If you remember where we left off last issue, the hull was completely sand blasted, revealing cracks, craters and crevices, as well as removing the oxidation around the corrosion and the original paint. We found that damage wasn’t too widespread, and with the hull completely stripped, we could truly get some indication of its condition. Ozsea’s Brendan Tilders said, “If you don’t do it all properly from the start by bringing it all back to a clean surface, you are totally wasting your time!”

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The first thing to do was get it back to bare metal and assess the damage.

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Boat Project - Stabicraft 490 Cuddy

//WISH LIST - OUR WISH LIST ON THE HULL INCLUDED: * Repairing all corrosion to start with a fresh, clean hull * Removing the weak and ugly old windscreen and replacing with a tough wavebreaker * Reworking the cabin storage to something more practical, improving storage, but still allowing bow access through the hatch * Remodelling the seat supportsÂ

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* Eliminating the portable fuel tank and fitting a permanent aluminium replacement with deck fill

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* Replacing all of the rod holders and fittings * Replacing the bait board and cutting table * Remodelling the anchor well for new Lone Star drum winch and bow sprit * Remodelling the gunwale * Fitting a new rear ladder * Fitting new transducer brackets * Painting with non-reactive surface suitable for a wrap

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Thankfully, the amount of corrosion was minimal and mainly centered around nonconducive metals where bolts, screws and fixings had come in contact with each other without suitable sealant. These small pitted areas were quite easy to repair with the MIG welder, as the plate alloy construction is thicker than the lighter pressed aluminium boats, enabling the welder to get some real penetration without burning through thin sheets. We have seen incredible popularity in replacing old and often daggy and crazed windscreens with solid wavebreakers to improve protection. And it’s hard to imagine a daggier windscreen than the original on the Stabicraft. Hence, the Ozsea boys set about forming a new alloy wavebreaker that not only gives improved protection to the driver and passenger, it’s a solid shell, should we take a big breaker crossing a bar, and makes the dashboard space below more protected for mounting electronics.

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The wooden cover in the bow made it an unworkable space The original cabin was a disaster. It had a single plywood sheet covering a shallow cavity that went full width and length to the bow. Not only was the storage height underneath impractical, it was impossible to get into with other items on top. Any boxes and bags up top were not well retained and would go flying around in choppy or rough conditions. We removed the plywood entirely, leaving the raised alloy retainer and forming a workable space to fit a large twin door Icey Tek icebox. In our opinion you simply can’t go to sea without a good icebox, and they definitely don’t get any better than Icey Tek. They keep ice cold for days on end, even in blistering heat, and serve to keep the bait, food and refreshments cool. The Icey Tek also doubles up as a kill tank for your catch. You simply shouldn’t kill a fish for the table if you’re not going to treat it well from the time of capture by dispatching it quickly without stress and cooling the flesh ASAP. www.spooledmagazine.com.au


Boat Project - Stabicraft 490 Cuddy

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The twin doors on this sturdy, insulated polyethylene icebox make access from either side a breeze, and its tough construction means it can be dragged in and out of the boat easily, doubling up for other adventures. There’s plenty of storage room left up in the bow for tackle bags and the like, and we suspect we may end up permanently mounting a second battery box up front dedicated to the winch and accessories; but more on the electricals to come. We can still get through the large cabin hatch if we need to, but with a new Lone Star winch planned for the bow, chances are we won’t ever have to use it. The driver and passenger seat supports were another item of contention. They were certainly very strong, but had limited storage capability. Our brainstorming session developed a pair of hinged hoppers that now provide ideal, protected storage for flares, torch, tackle and assorted nick knacks that we fisho’s like to gather. We have also decided that, due to the limited size of the boat, we are not going to fit bulky upholstered seats. Instead, we are simply fitting padded cushions to the tops of the seat boxes. They can be made detachable for cleaning and dry storage, reducing wear and the risk of a wet bum after rain and dew. This is certainly a standup style of boat to drive anyhow, particularly now with the solid wavebeaker. The original transom layout was a disaster. It had portable fuel tanks drifting around, with an open battery and bilge wiring everywhere. We decided an aluminium custom made fuel tank would neaten the entire area, be much safer, more practical and wouldn’t intrude into the deck area. The Ozsea boys not only built a ripper alloy fuel www.spooledmagazine.com.au


tank, it now has deck fill and breathers outside the hull into the transom. It’s around 50 litres in capacity, giving terrific range with the thrifty little 60HP Yamaha 4-stroke. For really long sojourns we can still carry a portable fuel tank in the bow. You simply can’t have a fixed fuel tank without a decent water-separating fuel filter either.

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The Ozsea crew turned the space under the seats from being virtually useless to great storage space

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Boat Project - Stabicraft 490 Cuddy

We made sure that the fuel tank was mounted on a raised platform for a number of reasons. Firstly, this is a self-draining boat so we maintained unobstructed deck flow right through to the scuppers. It also allows easy washing and cleaning of the whole area, reducing the opportunity for rubbish to gather causing corrosion.

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The battery now has a suitable platform for secure mounting in an enclosed box, and there is still room for a large bilge pump and float switch, plus the excess wiring has been neatened considerably. Out back, the function of the craft has been lifted dramatically with a fold-down ladder for easy boarding, both on and off the water. The Ozsea boys even welded on a pair of transducer 64 brackets covering the old corroded mounting holes, which this means there will be no screws piercing the transom except the engine mounting bolts. You just can’t have a serious fishing boat without a good cutting board, and the Ozsea boys have manufactured us a ripper unit. It is actually modelled a bit off the modern combination unit that Stabicraft now incorporates into their “Game Chaser” transom layout, with the bait board and rod holders on top and a fully plumbed live bait tank beneath, complete with viewing window. It hasn’t been properly located as yet until we refit the engine to allow for full engine tilt.

Before and after, not only has the custom fuel talk increased fuel capacity, it’s also much neater and now it’s all flush.

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//PAINT ME UP! We checked the engineering clearances for a new Lone Star electric anchor winch and made sure we could refit the rod holders and select fittings. Then it was off to the spray shop, where cleanliness is next to Godliness! The entire rig was vacuumed, air hosed and thoroughly degreased with Ali Brite (an acidic wash), ensuring complete cleanliness. Any paint left in crevices, welds or similar must be removed, as the residual acid will cause a reaction in the future. You must ensure that that the entire boat is thoroughly rinsed after the acid wash and avoid any contact with any other surface, including glass. Strict safety and drainage precautions and full protective equipment must be utilised.

The Ozsea boys spray two coats of epoxy primer, rubbing back between the two applications, forming a filler for any minor imperfections. Once satisfied with the prepared and primed surfaces, they use and recommend PPG 625 2-pack polyurethane sprayed lightly, with many coats to final finish. Ozsea’s Barry said, “Just be patient and use many light coats to slowly build the final finish. Leave enough drying time between the coats to become tacky so as to attain a high build and smooth finish without runs.”

Freshly sprayed and ready for a custom wrap.

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Once the boys were sure of the cleanliness of the entire rig, it was time for the spray job that, of course, begins with a 2-pack epoxy primer, in this case from PPG. The checker plate floor and hull beneath the chines were to remain unpainted, and hence they were masked and covered to avoid overspray. It is vital to use alloycompatible paint or it will create a huge amount of corrosion. I have actually seen hulls destroyed from using the old paints with lead, chrome and high nickel contents, although there are not many of our current paints that still use such components.


Boat Project - Stabicraft 490 Cuddy

Repairs are done, paint applied, now ready for the windbreaker and other fittings.

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We only did a basic white spray job, as we will be applying a custom wrap from our friends at Signarama. However, it does have some black trims for the rocket launcher, dash and wavebreaker. Once she cured, it was time to load her back on the trailer and head over to my place for the engine, hatch and component refit! The new componentry, modifications and spray job have turned “Butt Ugly” into “Awesome”, thanks to the engineering prowess, patience and imagination from Barry and Brendan at Ozsea! Thanks fella’s, and now it’s off to the next exciting stage. Stay tuned for the progress, along with more hints and video’s along the way. Then we’ll take it fishing!

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Mix ‘n’ Match Reds

STEVE ‘STARLO’ STARLING

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REDS

CHASING SNAPPER ON LURES — BOTH SOF T AND HARD — IS ALL THE RAGE THESE DAYS. IT’S A FUN AND HIGHLY EFFECTIVE WAY TO TARGE T THESE FISH. BUT, AS STARLO EXPL AINS, SOME TIMES IT CAN PAY TO MIX THINGS UP A LIT TLE.

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The curly-tailed soft plastic I’d cast as far as possible down-wind ahead of our drifting boat was now sinking slowly through 35 metres of blue/green water towards the seabed. I dropped the rod into a holder and picked up my second spinning outfit, this one loaded with a slightly larger, shad-style plastic. I also shot this one out well ahead of the drifting boat, but along a slightly different path to the first, before whipping the rod tip upwards several times to shake extra slack from the spool, closing the bail arm and placing this rig in another rod holder. A quick glance at the sounder screen confirmed that our drift line was keeping us nicely over the edge of the reef, so I bent back down to the cutting board to slice a few more strips of squid for possible use as bait later in the session.

Dean “Hammo” Hamilton with a nice “platey” from some shallow, reefy water off Batemans Bay.

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Mix ‘n’ Match Reds

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Halfway through cutting my fourth squid strip, the first line I’d cast suddenly leapt from the low swells and sprung taut. The rod tip bumped, nodded and then loaded up hard, with a few metres of braid squealing off the spool against the reel’s drag. I dropped the bait knife onto the cutting 70 board, quickly wiped my hands on my shorts and hauled the bucking outfit from its holder, feeling the distinctive head shakes and erratic lunges of another reasonable snapper. Who said men can’t multitask? Here I was, doing at least four things at once… and winning!

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//THE LURE BOOM Since the boom in soft plastic fishing for snapper built to a crescendo late in the first decade of the new millennium, a surprising proportion of the anglers who regularly chase these popular fish have made the switch to lures. Many of these folks rarely bait fish for snapper nowadays. I’m one of those people. Snappering with plastics — along with some of the newer lure offerings like octa-jigs and slow pitch jigs — has completely changed my attitude towards this widespread species, and greatly increased my respect for them as a sportfish. Furthermore, I don’t feel any great disadvantage when fishing with lures alongside even the most competent of bait fishers. I’ve always had a hunch that, while they may score

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Morwong will certainly hit lures (especially small, slow-pitch jigs), but you’ll catch a lot more on bait.


Mix ‘n’ Match Reds

a few more snapper than me on their baits (along with some by-catch species that I only rarely encounter on lures), I’ll often edge them out in the size department. Besides, lure fishing is simply more fun — as well as being a lot less messy! Late last winter I had the perfect opportunity to put these theories to the test when I spent a few days fishing out of Coffs Harbour (in northern NSW) with my good mate and fellow Spooled contributor, Glen Booth.

“Okay, Boothy, I have to admit it… I don’t catch many of those on my plastics!” A double fistful of lip-smackingly delicious Venus tusk fish. Yum, yum!

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Snapper are a great looking fish at any size. //NEW VERSUS OLD Boothy and I go back a long way, and it’s always a pleasure to catch up with him for a fish, although it never seems to happen as regularly as we’d both like it to. Glen’s also one of the better snapper fishermen I know, and has his home grounds well sorted. At times his semi-displacement-hulled cruiser “Wicked Weasel” seems like a permanent fixture on some of the more productive reef patches south of Coffs. Boothy’s an old school snapper man. For him, lures are big, resin-headed, skirted things you troll for marlin in summer and autumn. Snapper are caught on baits: ideally slabs of salted tuna or cut pilchards fished with the minimum practical sinker weight on 6 or 8 kg mono off an Alvey sidecast and a long-ish rod, although he’s not too proud to drop a paternoster rig on an overhead outfit to hedge his bets. I guessed I’d have my work cut out keeping up with Boothy on the snapper catching front, and I was dead right. Not only is he bloody good at what he does, but he also prefers to fish at anchor, drifting his offerings down a very sparse berley trail. That approach suits bait fishing perfectly but, in my experience, can be a little less productive with lures, which often tend to do their best work on the drift. www.spooledmagazine.com.au


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It’s happy days indeed when your “by-catch” comes in the form of a few chunky pearl perch. Knowing I’d be playing off something of a handicap, I also hedged my own bets by fishing a bait on one of my outfits for at least some of the time. But the overall results of our very informal lures versus bait contest were quite interesting, and I think I may even have noticed Glen raising an eyebrow in something close to surprise on a couple of occasions, especially when the soft plastic rod caught the first red after a quiet spell, or accounted for a better than average specimen in the middle of a bite dominated by barely-legal throwbacks. I’m definitely not going to tell you that my lures out-fished Boothy’s baits, because they most certainly didn’t! But there were times when they held their own, in terms of both the size and number of snapper accounted for. On the other hand, Glen did take the biggest snapper of our three days at sea on a smelly old bait, and he also caught every single one of the delicious, hard-fighting Venus tusk fish that graced our deck, along with the one and only teraglin of the trip. On the other hand, in addition to doing okay with reds, I finished slightly ahead of Glen on pearl perch in terms of both size and numbers, and also knocked off several bonito, as well as dropping a tiny yellowfin tuna while stupidly trying to swing it aboard www.spooledmagazine.com.au


on the leader instead of waiting for the net. To be fair, Glen tends to regard that sort of nonsense as a bit of a distraction from the task at hand, although I noticed he didn’t mind salting down the bonito fillets for future use as snapper baits!

//LEAVE IT IN THE HOLDER! For me, the greatest single surprise from those three days of intensive offshore fishing with Glen was the sheer number of snapper and pearlies I hooked while my soft plastic outfit was sitting unattended in a rod holder.

Former Shimano employee and dead-set fishing legend, Chris Cleaver — who now does a great job fighting for angler access as a member of the NSW DPI Fisheries’ team — is one of the finest proponents of the two rod rotational system I’ve ever seen in action, and his results speak for themselves. Some days Chris also agrees that the unattended rod out-fishes the one in his hands.

Showing the beginnings of a bump. Those super-durable Squidgies Bio Toughs certainly hang in there, fish after fish.

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Sure, I’ve caught plenty of snapper like that before, especially while using the two-rod rotational method I described at the beginning of this article (and which I demonstrate in the accompanying video clip). But for the first time on that Coffs trip I actually began to suspect that I might be faring better on the unattended rod than on an outfit held in my hands and “worked” in a more traditional soft plastic fishing manner.


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The big secret to making this rotational system work is not overweighting your plastics. You need to choose a jig head that’s just heavy enough to get your offering to the bottom in the prevailing conditions. Within reason, the longer it takes to reach that destination, the better. This extended “hang time” greatly increases the number of hits from snapper, and also decreases unwanted encounters with red rock cod, sergeant baker and various other bottom-dwelling “ooglies”.

//LIGHTEN UP! When you’re casting ahead (down-drift) from an unanchored boat, it’s amazing just how light you can go at times with your jig heads. The only limitation is the fact that the drifting boat may catch up with and over-run your sinking lures before www.spooledmagazine.com.au


they actually touch the sea bed, but even this isn’t a major hassle, especially if you angle your casts slightly fore and aft of the boat’s drift line. At anchor, things can be a little more problematic, particularly in a strong current. Luckily, there wasn’t a lot of current running when I fished off Coffs with Glen last August, so I was still able to get by with 5-7g (roughly quarter ounce) heads, even in 50m and more of water. When fishing over shallower grounds, I’ll go even lighter. Plastics on such light heads take quite a while to reach the bottom and, once there, are light enough to be “worked” seductively by the rise and fall of the swell and the natural swinging or yawing of the boat on its anchor line.

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Quite often, the unattended rod would sit in its holder for a good 10 or 15 minutes, with the lure simply doing its own thing somewhere back there, before suddenly loading up on a decent fish. In many ways, it’s more like fishing a lightly-weighted bait than a

The arrival of this cheeky “little” great white shut down a promising snapper bite off Coffs Harbour. The sub-adult female was a little over 3 m in length. They’re certainly gorgeous animals.

lure, except that it’s much harder for the inevitable “pickers” to remove a plastic (especially a Squidgies Bio Tough!) from the hook than a piece of pilchard or tuna. Adding some S Factor bite stimulant doesn’t hurt, either. Being presented in this way, well back down the sparse berley trail, it was often the unattended plastic that went off first as a new school of snapper moved in, with Glen’s lightly weighted “floater” bait usually being hit next, and finally the paternoster rig sitting almost straight up and down under the boat. It’s amazing how often this exact pattern repeated itself over those three days, and it says a lot about the way small groups of snapper will work their way up a berley trail, generally travelling and feeding into the current. www.spooledmagazine.com.au


Mix ‘n’ Match Reds

//MIXING IT UP

Wherever you fish, first and last light are the witching hours for snapper.

These days, when my wife Jo and I make semi-regular offshore forays into our home patch on the far south coast of NSW chasing snapper and other “mixed reef” species, we like to mix it up as much as possible. We’ll typically kick off at first light in 20m or less of water, casting lightly weighted plastics well ahead of our drifting boat, with at least one of us using the two rod rotational approach.

SPOOLED MAGAZINE

Later, as the sun rises higher in the morning sky, we’ll move out 78 into deeper water and one of us will begin dropping a heavier metal jig on the up-drift side of the boat (in other words, into water we’ve already drifted over), while the other sticks to the two rod rotation with plastics cast well ahead (down-drift) of the vessel. Finally, as the bite slows (assuming we’ve found one!), we’ll both switch to bait for a while in the hope of adding a couple more fish to the tally. Finally, as the almost inevitable sea breeze puffs up mid-morning, we’ll start heading for home, possibly stopping for a quick flathead drift over some flat, sandy sea bed in 15-25m. This pattern has proven to be extremely productive for us, and almost always produces a good catch and a string of wonderful meals. More often than not, the biggest snapper of the day comes early in the day, on one of our plastics, or a little later on a slow pitch or octa jig. The bait session may add a few more reds (often smaller models) as well as some welcome by-catch in the form of morwong, nannygai, pigfish and leatherjackets. The finishing touch of a couple of legal sand flathead rounds our bag out nicely. As I grow older, I become much less pedantic and fixed in my ways about fishing. I’ll no longer stick to something that isn’t working simply because it’s a favoured or preferred method, especially when I know another approach is likely to be far more productive. Staying doggedly with fly casting for trout in a strong wind while there’s a perfectly good spinning rod sitting in the car is a classic example of this! Remember what Albert Einstein said: “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.” My take-home message is a simple one: Don’t be afraid to mix things up a little next time you chase a few snapper. You may be pleasantly surprised at the results. www.spooledmagazine.com.au


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The Search for Yummy Gummies

JUSTIN FELIX

the search for yummy

gummies

JUSTIN FELIX HITS THE SURF IN SEARCH OF ONE OF VICTORIA’S FAVOURITE L ANDBASED TARGE TS.

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There’s something alluring about gummy sharks that Victorians simply can’t get enough of. Sure, those further north consider them undesirable, but for us there’s much to like about these grey-suited bandits. They look good, fight with gusto and if you’re looking for a feed of fish, it’s pretty hard to pass up fresh flake. For me though, it’s the fact they can be targeted from the surf that really gets my heart racing. I must have watched countless YouTube videos and read hundreds of articles before I finally set out on my own quest to target these toothless gems, but once I finally did, that’s when the lessons truly started. And while I learn something new each outing, I have developed a solid understanding of how, where and when to target the beloved gummy shark. And the best part is, they can be caught year-round and it’s not as hard as most people think.

The first thing you’ll need to consider when chasing gummies from the shore is the location. And the best way to choose one, for a newbie, is based on the experience of others. Look for reports in the areas you plan to fish and you’ll soon find locations that have produced fish more often than others. Google Maps and Earth are also great tools for locating potential locations. Mark a few and spend some time checking them out during the day, so you can get a good idea of where the best gutters exist. Keep in mind that beaches with easy access are likely fished more often, so if another exists nearby that is a little harder to get to, it’s worth exploring. At the end of the day, you want to find a beach with a good looking gutter (which I’ll explain shortly), as well as deep holes.

The author with a perfect eatingsized gummy shark caught on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula. www.spooledmagazine.com.au

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//LOCATION, LOCATION


The Search for Yummy Gummies

It doesn’t get much better than this. //TIMING IS EVERYTHING When it comes to surf fishing, for any species, a lot of factors come into play condition-wise. The full moon has always been synonymous with shark fishing; however, several years of experience indicate that the new moon period is actually more consistent. Fishing three days either side of a new moon has been most successful, thus I mark this lunar phase in my calendar each month. Full moons come a close second.

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In addition to the moon phase, tides and wind play a key role. Offshore winds make the whole experience more comfortable and enjoyable.

A fierce onshore or sideways wind makes it near impossible to cast and keep your baits in position. Contrary to that, offshore winds ensure smaller swells and make it easier for longer casts to be implemented.

Thirdly, you should keep an eye on the tides and focus your efforts around high tide periods. High tides create greater depth in the shallows, which gummy sharks and other predators require when searching for food close to shore. Lastly comes time of day. If you want to give yourself the best chance of tangling with a gummy from the shore, you need to be prepared to fish into the night, as the cover of darkness provides predators with confidence to head into the shallows in search of a feed. www.spooledmagazine.com.au


//GET YOUR HEAD IN THE GUTTER So you’ve decided on a location and the wind and swell combination is ideal. Next you need to decide on a section of beach to fish once you get there. Most surf beaches offer vast expanses of waterfront to fish and plenty of sand to travel across to get to the best spots. For the uninitiated it can be a daunting experience when it comes to deciding on the perfect gutter to fish.

Before rushing down to the closest available patch of sand, survey the beach and look for deep holes and long gutters within casting distance. Do yourself a favour and spend 10-15 minutes observing the beach formation before sunset from a high vantage point, such as the top of the sand dunes. Look for pockets of blue water among whitewash, channels that run parallel to the shore, and sand peaks that drop off suddenly. This usually indicates that as the tide builds, deeper water will fill up in front of the drop off, which leads me to casting distances. A lot of anglers are under the illusion that that they need to be able to cast as far as possible to catch gummies. This isn’t always the case though, particularly when a deep gutter or hole exists close to shore. Sometimes you’ll only need to cast 30 or 40 m to be in with a chance. Avoid areas where whitewash abounds, as this indicates that the immediate area is shallow and even on a high tide won’t fill up enough to provide suitable hunting grounds for sharks. www.spooledmagazine.com.au

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Gutter formations differ immensely, and while they can all produce fish on their day, look for deep holes with wide openings out to sea. Fish use these gutters like highways and if your bait sits smack bang in the middle of one, they’ll come over to investigate. Think of your bait as a fast food outlet being placed on the middle of a long freeway. If you haven’t eaten for a while and are unsure as to when the next food outlet will appear, there’s a good chance you’re going to stop.


The Search for Yummy Gummies

The author’s preferred gummy rod is capable of pitching heavy baits and sinkers, as well as hauling beasts much bigger than this one onto the shore.

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//GEARING UP

Balmy summer nights and gummy sharks go hand in hand. And with scenes like this available, catching a fish is merely a bonus.

When it comes to choosing gear, it can be as simple or as difficult as you make it. You definitely don’t need to fork out heaps of cash for the best gear to tackle these guys either. Buy the best you can afford and familiarise yourself with it as best as you can. Rods in the 11-13ft range are adequate and graphite is preferred over fibreglass. You want something punchy enough to be able to cast up to 6 ounces of lead, yet light enough to be comfortable in the hand, especially when fighting sizeable fish. Speaking of sinkers, it’s advisable to carry a range of sizes from 4-6 ounces in the star variety, as you never know what the undercurrents and sidewash will be like. Always start with the lightest amount possible and work your way up if your rigs aren’t holding bottom. Breakaway sinkers are also popular and can aid when sidewash is an issue. You can also get away with using lighter versions as the spikes do most of the work. www.spooledmagazine.com.au


Oval split ring Swivel between beads Breakaway adjustable crimp Choose a reel that boasts plenty of line capacity as you never know what might take your bait in the surf after dark.

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Stop Knot Sequin 6/0 - 8/0 hook Crimp Bead Impact bait shield Lead link

Breakaway sinker

Circle hooks will regularly pin fish in the corner of the jaw, which ensures a steady hook set. Just remember to keep the tension on fish at all times, as slack lines can see fish rid themselves of the hook, especially when swell and shore breaks are thrown in. There are specific reels in the beach fishing department that can definitely make a difference when it comes to casting distance. Decide whether you’re more comfortable with spin or overhead reels, then choose something that holds about 250-300m of 30 pound braid. You won’t get spooled by a gummy with this amount of line, but you never know what you could hook up to after dark in the surf. Attached to your main line should be a casting leader of about 3m, which should be tied from 40-60 pound monofilament leader. To top it all off, I recommend a paternoster rig tied from 60-80 pound monofilament with a 6/0-8/0 hook at the end of the dropper.

www.spooledmagazine.com.au


The Search for Yummy Gummies

//BAIT AND WAIT It goes without saying that fresh baits are best. Freshly caught salmon presented as either strips or cutlets are ideal; however, silver trevally, tailor, squid and freshwater eel are also prime. If you can’t catch the bait yourself, source the freshest you can find from a tackle store or fishmonger.

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While fishmongers offer variety, they can’t guarantee 86 the same snap frozen quality that a lot of the tackle shops carry. I find smaller fish make for easier dissection and perfectly portioned cutlets. Speaking of which, cutlets are my preferred presentation for sharks in the surf. Pin the hook once and once only through the back and you’re good to go. Berley is purely optional, but doesn’t hurt to use. I prefer an onion bag filled with frozen fish scraps or berley blocks. Attach the onion bag to a spare rod holder and place it near the surf break. Over time the berley will defrost and seep out into the gutter. Sharks have a highly attuned sensory system and can sniff food out from kilometres away. Be patient! Sometimes we sit and wait for 4-6 hours without a touch before a rod buckles. You might get lucky and crack one early, but be prepared to sit it out. Once hooked up, remain calm. You may have to chase the shark down the beach so it pays to ask your fishing partner to reel in any lines nearby. Always watch the water and only get in the break when safe to do so. Grab the fish by the tail and drag it up the beach away from the break. If you do plan to keep the fish for a feed, be sure to bleed it as soon as possible, as this will improve the taste of the fish once you’re ready to eat it. So, what are you waiting for? Get out there and give shore based gummy sharks a red-hot go. www.spooledmagazine.com.au

Fresh cutlets such as this trevally pinned once will not only entice gummies but promote good hook up rates thanks to plenty of hook exposure.


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Stripes and Stripes Forever

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GLEN BOOTH

STRIPES AND STRIPES FOREVER!

STRIPED MARLIN ARE ONE OF THE SUPERSTARS OF AUSTRALIA’S TEMPERATE WATER FISHERIES, AND SUMMER IS WHEN NUMBERS START TO RAMP UP. THEY’RE FUN AND PRE T T Y EASY TO CATCH TOO, AS GLEN BOOTH EXPL AINS. www.spooledmagazine.com.au


What’s not to love about striped marlin? Colourful, acrobatic, excitable, they have a wide temperature tolerance, which means winter and spring remain in the mix outside of the warmer seasons, and locations as far south as Victoria and Tasmania figure in catches. Found anywhere from around inshore reefs to many miles over the continental shelf, they’re most likely to loiter where bait schools are at their thickest, with slimy mackerel being their preferred food.

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The slender bill and pointy lower jaw are just a couple of diagnostic features that separate striped marlin from their blue cousins. www.spooledmagazine.com.au


Stripes and Stripes Forever

Stripes are a great light tackle fish, and there isn’t one swimming that can’t be knocked over on 24kg tackle. Long fights are somewhat rare, unless the fish is foulhooked or wrapped up in the leader.

//CORRECT ID

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There’s on old game fishing joke about what constitutes a Bermagui Grand Slam, which is a black marlin, a striped marlin, 90 and a really big striped marlin! Yes, blues and stripes can be hard to tell apart, and a striped over 120kg is a pretty solid fish, which can make correct identification even more difficult. Even the experts have trouble at times, although that’s usually the result of bad photographs on social media. Out of the water they’re pretty simple to ID, but a bit tricky when still in it.

That extremely high dorsal is a classic striped marlin identifier. www.spooledmagazine.com.au


To confuse matters further, blues also exhibit stripes at times, although not as prominently as their cousins. The pectoral fins on both also lay flat against the body, so just who’s who at the zoo? Basically, stripes have a dorsal fin that’s equal to, or almost equal to, the body depth. The bill is slender, the lower jaw is somewhat fine and long, quite pointy and tapers slightly downward. While it’s hard to see in the water, stripes have a relatively small anal fin, but on blues it’s massive. Should you decide to keep one, striped marlin flesh is also a more orange colour, grading to farmed salmon-like shades in some specimens, especially during winter. Of the three marlin species encountered here, stripes make the best eating. In saying that though, they’re still pretty dry and unappetising.

//GAME FISHING FINESSE It might seem odd to use the term ‘finesse fishing’ when talking marlin, but finesse has its place in the rough and tumble bluewater world too. Any fish will crash tackle the most crudely rigged lure or bait if they are hungry enough or there’s sufficient competition from their schoolmates, but the ability to catch the cautious, sly ones separates the gun crews from the rest. Essentially, this means everything has to be on point — thinner leaders and wind-ons, smaller lures, lighter gauge hooks, even lighter line classes. Getting weight and visibility out of the rigging and presentation equation is the secret to on-going success. For instance, the best operators have have made the switch to short doubles created with Biminis rather than plaits, small, super strong swivels, 200-300lb wind-ons, and fluorocarbon leaders for all their live and dead bait fishing. Thanks to its high abrasion resistance and smaller diameter in comparison to equivalent breaking strain monofilament, 130-150 pound fluorocarbon is more than enough. Additionally, the refractive index of fluorocarbon is closer to that of water, so it’s harder for fish to see.

//LURE TROLLING A standard spread of four lures, five if you must, run on the third, fourth, fifth and sixth waves, plus the obligatory shotgun position, will catch a striped marlin’s eye. Just be careful what you wish for though… Pack attacks, where every outfit has a marlin attached are not uncommon at peak times, but as the fights progress, one or two drop off – and sometimes all of them! Stripes will eat anything from a tiny pink squid to the biggest marlin lure the fertile imaginations of lure makers can muster. They’re such clumsy, messy eaters though, that smaller lures are often the best. Something from 6-9” is a good fit, giving sufficient room to get a decent single or a slightly smaller pair of hooks into the skirts. www.spooledmagazine.com.au

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Nine inch lures like these are a good allround size for striped marlin, as well as blues. If you’re in stripeddominated territory, light leaders and chem’ sharp hooks are the go, but if blues might also be present, heavier mono and stronger hooks represent a safer bet.

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The 400 and 500 pound leaders that most skirted lures are rigged on are largely unnecessary and will dampen the lures’ action. With these smaller lures, 200-300 pound is more than adequate. The denticles on a striped marlin’s bill are nowhere as rough as a black or blue, so leader fatigue is less of an issue. Of course, if it’s a mixed species situation where blues are also a chance, it’s probably best to err on the side of caution and go heavy. Thanks to their extroverted nature, stripes are also one of the easiest marlin to switch, which we’ll come to momentarily. With their light gauge wire, and fine, chemically sharp point, the Gamakatsu SL12 hook certainly changed light tackle marlin fishing for the better. A number of manufacturers have since developed somewhat beefier chem’ sharp options that are perfect for medium tackle. Just be mindful that you’ll need to swap them out on a regular basis, as even with sacrificial anodes attached, the salt will eat away at the points pretty quick. A shackle rig design and a tackle drawer full of pre-rigged hook-sets make good sense.

Shackle rigs make it easy to switch out chem’ sharp hooksets as the points become dull.

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Of course, this requires a light touch on the leader to get the fish into tagging range, but wind-ons and steady rod work in the closing stages largely obviate that problem. And after the tag is in, the crew can go hard on the leader and most times the hook or hooks will straighten for a clean release.

//TROLLING LIVE BAITS A pair of slimy mackerel set off outriggers at staggered distances behind the boat, held in place via Blacks Clips or similar, is all that’s needed to get into the live bait game.

Tying or crimping the leader straight to the hook is fine, but snelling or wrapping the mono around the shank gives the hook an offset that produces cleaner hookups. So with live baits bridled and deployed, and placed in clips via a #32 rubber band, reels should have the ratchets on and sufficient drag to prevent a backlash if it’s a particularly savage hit. After the bite, the angler immediately picks up the rod, points it at the fish, and after an agreed amount of time, gradually eases the drag up and raises the tip. By this time the second bait should’ve been wound up to the transom, although not recovered, as we don’t want one marlin on two lines, as that’s an instant disqualification under IGFA rules. Wait to see if the first bite comes up tight, then feed the second bait back if it doesn’t. Sometimes the marlin will come back, or one of its schoolmates might get involved. www.spooledmagazine.com.au

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Unless you’re record chasing, circle hooks are definitely the go for live baiting. The advantages have been well documented in the fishing press for a couple of decades now, but an offset tow point, created by wrapping the leader around the hook shank or snelling it and running the leader through the eye of the hook, produces better hookups around the jaw hinge. There are plenty of non-offset circle hook options available these days, including chemically sharpened patterns, but the hook needs to match the size of the bait.


Stripes and Stripes Forever

Swap baits out as regularly as the bait supply permits, as there’s a world of difference between a live bait and a lively bait. If you run out of livies and can’t source any more, there’s nothing wrong with trolling them as dead baits.

A tank full of livies, ready to be deployed. If the bait is thick, keep topping the tank up with fresh baits during the day, but don’t overload it.

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Stripes are fond of annihilating bait jigs full of slimies, so if jigging 94 bait out where you intend to fish, it’s a smart idea to have a live bait already bridled in the bait tank. This way it’s possible to turn a bait thief into a bonus early hook-up. And if the fishing’s a bit slow during the day and all the activity is deep, dropping a bait jig down into the school and winding a full string to the surface can potentially throw the switch. Now when towing livies, you’d think that the line and leader would be travelling in a straight line to the hook. Underwater footage has demonstrated conclusively that a fit and active slimy will actually be towing a little belly of leader over its back, so this is where the finesse aspect comes in. The thinner the leader, the less water resistance, and the longer the bait will remain active. Downriggers add another string to the bow, and are certainly worth utilising, especially if fishing effort is concentrated in a small area and great distances don’t need to be covered. For whatever reason, some days stripes just don’t want surface baits, but something just a few metres down gets all the loving. And if you do get a stubborn striped that won’t play by the rules, one trick we learned while light tackle record chasing was to put the clicker on, drop

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the reel into complete free spool and let it take 200m of line. Drive back down the line and it was amazing how often the fish would be paddling away on the surface just waiting for us! This is probably not such a good idea with lures, but given the security of a circle hook rig, it’s a handy ace up your sleeve.

//DEEP DROPPING Unfortunately, the bait isn’t always close to the surface, so deep dropping with a snapper lead to get a slimy down produces extremely well when the action is taking place in the bottom third of the water column.

The sinker can be attached to the leader via a light rubber band so it will detach, but a copper wire connection is more effective. Bent into a U shape, the weight is hooked on the snap swivel, and when the fish jumps the wire slips off and you’re away.

//BAIT BALL BRILLIANCE More of a southern NSW (and now eastern Victorian) phenomenon, striped marlin feeding on baitballs represents massive amounts of fun. Hovering birds and a discoloured brown patch on otherwise blue water are usually indicators of slimy mackerel, yellowtail, cowanyoung or redbait being herded into a tight school by seals, dolphins, sharks and, of course, marlin. Sub-surface, it’s all quite orderly, with each predator taking turns to slip into this fish soup to slurp down a couple of terrified baitfish. Backing up to the bait school puts the boat in the right position to manage the hook-up. A bridled slimy will probably be reluctant to leave the protection of the boat, so if using overheads, it’s definitely easier to have the required

While the temperature is a little on the high side for stripes, there’s no doubting that the bait school on the right is under attack from predators. www.spooledmagazine.com.au

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A contentious approach in many circles (“Snapper fishing for marlin!” the detractors cry), it’s best to catch a couple then move on and try another approach, more in keeping with the spirit of game fishing. In tournaments, however, it’s very much a numbers game these days, so in order to be competitive, it may be necessary to swallow some pride and go down this path.


Stripes and Stripes Forever

amount of line stripped off the baited outfit beforehand. You could lay the line on the deck, but then somebody will almost certainly stand in it, so strip it into a fish tub. The crew flings the bait into the melee, and if all goes well, a hookup won’t take long. It’s actually easier to fish a bait ball with spin reels, which, given the superior quality of gearing and drags these days, are massive amounts of fun on mid-range stripes. The use of braid as backing under a mono topshot has improved their line capacity too. Suitable rods are now widely available, with greater backbone and increased lifting power.

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Now with everything competing for a feed, you’d think an immediate hook-up is on the cards, but this isn’t always the case. Again, the advantages of light fluorocarbon 96 leaders come to the fore, with conventional mono often proving to be just too visible.

//DEAD BAITS Don’t discount skip baits either. Considered by many to be decidedly old school, they can be excellent fish producers. On some days stripes prefer their food to have a little more dash and splash than a live bait delivers, so keep a selection of pre-rigged dead baits on ice. Slimy mackerel, yakkas, mullet, even garfish — they all make good skip bait fodder. Don’t worrying about gutting and gilling the bait prior to rigging though, particularly slimies. They’re too soft to be worth re-using the following day, so catch more and start afresh. (See rigging sequence hereabouts.) Fish them in the same manner as you would live baits.

RIGGING A SLIMY MACKEREL SKIP BAIT

#1 For this rig we’ll need a circle hook to match the bait size, rigged on the required trace material (ideally fluorocarbon), waxed thread, a bait needle and a bait knife.

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#2 Give the bait a bit of a flex before starting rigging. For a smallish bait like this, take a 45cm length of waxed thread, and clove hitch it onto the circle hook, ensuring the tag ends are of equal length. (In addition to the rigged baits, have half a dozen hooks — or more — already prepared with waxed thread attached for busy days.)

#3 Take the bait, and with a sharp knife, make a small incision in its nose.

#4 Tie a double overhand knot in the two tag ends, about 25-35mm down from the hook. This will set the distance the hook sits in front of the fish’s nose, which is imperative to the success of circle hooks. With one tag of waxed thread threaded into a bait needle, go in dead centre through the bait’s head and out between the gill plates. www.spooledmagazine.com.au

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Stripes and Stripes Forever

#5 Reverse the needle, pick up the other tag, and go back up the other way and out through the same hole. (Reversing the needle will stop the rigging thread being split by the point on the way back and the rounded end won’t make the hole any bigger. The more/bigger holes, the quicker water gets in, making the bait go soft and wash out.)

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#6 Snug the knot into the cut, tie both tag ends off to the bait’s side with a double overhand knot, and trim the tags.

#7 But wait, there’s more. What we don’t want is the marlin ripping the bait off from behind the head, so with another 45cm piece of waxed thread, go in at the bottom of the eye sockets and tie off underneath, leaving two tags of equal length.

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#8 With the first tag, go in through the gristly part of the pectoral fin and out the other side. Again, reverse the needle, pick up the other tag, and come back out the other side.

#9 Tie off underneath the pelvic fins with a double overhand knot, trim the tags and the bait is complete.

//SWITCH BAITING Stripes are very easy to switch bait, and it’s definitely the most exhilarating way of catching them. In its simplest form, two lures, preferably softheads like the evergreen MoldCrafts (either on their own or enhanced with a tuna or mahi belly flap rigged within the skirt), are dragged behind the boat at regulation trolling speed. When the stripe (or stripes — again, pack attacks are certainly possible) materialises behind the boat, the lures are hastily retrieved, the boat revs are eased off, and a live or dead bait is fed back to the pursuing marlin. Often highly agitated, it’s possible to tease a lit-up fish right to the transom. It helps to have both a livey and a skip bait ready as pitch baits, as you never know the fish’s preference on any given day. As they’ve been chasing a splashing skittering lure across the top, sometimes they’ll want a bait doing the same, rather than a deep swimming live bait. www.spooledmagazine.com.au

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Stripes and Stripes Forever

Of course, if you want to go the whole hog, there are specialist in-line teaser rods, and even electric reels to recover the teasers for you, but if it’s just a bit of part time fun, a couple of spare 24 or 37kg outfits with the drag screwed up tight will do just fine.

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Slimy tubes — cylindrical pieces of stainless steel or PVC with water being 100 fed through a funnel-shaped base via a separate bait pump — are essential in keeping that bridled live bait under control. Otherwise, the leader will become hopelessly twisted as the bait swims laps in the tank, then when a fish is raised and the bait thrown out, it’s just a big monofilament mess. Slimy tubes can be plumbed inside the bait tank if space permits, or fitted on the transom. Stripes also love a teaser, and sometimes it’s a fair old tussle to get it back off them. Witchdoctors, dredges, birds with a daisy chains of squids — they all work — but too much junk in the water can make for confused fish, and stripes certainly aren’t the Mensa candidates of the marine world! It also becomes harder to manage the pitch when there’s too much going on out back. The downside of switch baiting is that the skipper and crew must be watching the teasers all the time. This is not the approach if marlin fishing is a way of catching up on some lost sleep!

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Camp Oven, Charcoal Grill, Smoker, Gas Cooker, Rotisserie, we’ve got your flavours sorted

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Stockists Welcome Nationwide Phone 0410 738 593 Email - maccas@deepsoutheast.com.au


What’s NEW? SPOOLED LOOKS AT WHAT’S NEW IN THE MARKE T. FOR MORE INFORMATION ON ANY OF THE PRODUCTS, SIMPLY TAP THE BUT TON SHOWN.

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NEW ADDITION TO THE SPOTTERS RANGE Zane is built for performance and style. This is one model that can take you from fishing to fashion in no time at all, with super stylish temples that are perfect for all-day wear.
 The combination of a lightweight matt black frame, coupled with Spotters signature Crown glass lens options, offers the wearer the ultimate pair of sunglasses for both males and females. Zane was the winner of Best Sunglasses 2019 at AFTA, which is the ultimate accolade in an extremely competitive market. Zane is available in Halide, Carbon, Nexus, Ice and CR-Grey. 


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DDW-250 FROM LONE STAR MARINE

The DDW features bi-directional brushless, variable speed drive with speeds up to 110m per minute in 12v and even faster in 24v. Line speed and direction are changed via a single dial without the need for pressing additional buttons to change direction. A digital line counter takes the guesswork out of setting downriggers at the right depth, and the proximity alarm will let you know when the terminal tackle is near the surface.  The DDW-250 has a star drag type drag system with a two-stage, 180mm drag plate that delivers unprecedented drag capacity to over 100kg, yet is still feather light and smooth on the lighter settings. The 250mm machined and anodised 6160 T6 aluminium spool has a spacer for braided fishing lines and capacity of 2000m of 200lb braid. With the spacer removed, the spool will hold 700m of 300lb monofilament. The spool includes a 30mm thumb handle and a longer removable handle for manual use that meets criteria for recreational electric fishing in most states. Boom options are available in both fibreglass and 316SS and include their own sheave capable of taking larger lines, joins, and swivels directly only the drum.  The DDW-250 features a 40mm, one-piece 316 SS frame and includes its own mount. Additional mounts and leads can also be purchased for multiple positions or multiple boats.  The DDW-250 is an Australian-made product with all structural components, frame, drive shafts, spool, facia, sheave, and mount machined, welded, polished, anodised and assembled in Australia. Even the cable for the power leads is Australian-made. 

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The DDW-250 is LSM’s second generation Deep Drop Fishing and HD downrigging 103 winch. Spawned from the desire for more reliable deep drop fishing and downrigging gear capable of higher loads, higher spool capacity, longer run time, and less maintenance, the DDW-250 is loved by both recreational and commercial fishermen alike. 


OKUMA – SABIKI UTG ROD

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These clever rods are designed for jigging a sabiki rig when gathering bait, allowing the rig to be wound inside the rod to minimise snagging and tangling when not in use. A slight increase in length allows more brands of jigs to be wound completely inside the rod, while the slimmer design increases 104 the action of the rod and, in turn, the fish catching action of the jig. Designed to be used with either spin or overhead reels, the Sabiki UTG is a two piece design for easy storage, with a butt join rather than the traditional join above the bottom line guide. The tip of the Sabiki UTG is also uniquely designed to minimise the snagging that occurs both on the outside of the tip and internally where the tip joins the rod blank. These rods feature quality components and EVA grips for comfort, and are ideal for those trying to catch live baits when gamefishing. Suggested retail price is $79.90 and they are available from outlets that stock Okuma products.

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INSULATED LIVE BAIT TANK FROM ENGEL Most local anglers know the value of live bait for species like mulloway, callop, cod, bream and even yellowfin whiting. Despite the effectiveness of modern lures, nothing will catch a hungry predator as well as a livey, but keeping bait in top condition isn’t always easy – particularly for land-based anglers.

Included is a clever mesh insert that enables your live bait to be accessed quickly, without the usual fumbling around with dip nets. And, being fully insulated, the Engel bait tank will prevent water from overheating and killing live baits prematurely. It’s available from fishing and camping outlets that stock Engel products.

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Engel, manufacturer of the world’s best portable fridge/fridges, has recently come up with a 28 litre insulated live bait tank that’s relatively inexpensive and highly effective. Fitted with an aerator that runs on D-cell batteries, it is ideal for holding smaller baits like shrimps, yabbies, clickers, and even trumpeters for the mulloway specialist.


What’s New?

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TALICA II 20 & 25 REELS – BRAID/MONO CAM The iconic Talica II 20 and 25 models have received a welcome upgrade for 2019 with the introduction of a spare mono line cam. As per the original design the reels are factory fitted with a braided line cam that provides a smooth drag curve to suit anglers spooling with braid. Now, for those who run a full spool of mono IGFA line, a spare mono cam is available inside the box to make the drag curve ideal for the preferred line class once changed over. All of the other Shimano features that make the Talica II reels sought after have remained the same, but now the drags can be set more accurately so you can be even more confident when you hook that gamefish of a lifetime. The Talicas are ideal for those who chase or southern bluefin tuna, kingfish and other blue water heavyweights. Engineering is typical of Shimano’s precision and attention to detail. Recommended retail prices aree: $1,009.95 for the Talica II 20 and $1029.95 for the Talica II 25. They are available from stockists of Shimano tackle.

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JARVIS WALKER 3 HOOK BAIT RIGS The Jarvis Walker 3-Hook Bait Rigs are a new addition to the extensive range of Jarvis Walker rigs. These bait rigs are highly effective at attracting and jigging baitfish and are an essential item for live-bait fishing. The 3-Hook Bait Rigs are easy to manage and are primarily designed for states where bait rigs and sabiki rigs are restricted to a maximum of three hooks. However, they can also be used in states where a higher number of hooks are permitted.

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The Jarvis Walker 3-Hook Bait Rigs are easy to attach to your main line and they’ll promptly stock your buckets full fresh baitfish. Keep a few packets ready for action in your tackle box or boat. For more information visit www.jarviswalker.com.au

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The tough 3-Hook Bait Rigs are constructed to the same high standard and precision for which Jarvis Walker rigs are renowned. Each rig comprises three quality limerick hooks, reflective holographic lure foils, red thread and green beads. They are available in five hook sizes (2, 4, 6, 8, 10) and each packet contains two complete rigs.

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What’s New?

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NEW TRAILER LAMPS FROM NARVA Designed from the ground up, the Model 37 Trailer Lamp has been engineered for use on boat trailers where regular submersion is common. The lamps are protected from water ingress BY a two stage sealing system that incorporates ultrasonic welding and a two part epoxy glue. This allows the lamps to comply with the stringent IP68 standard. Each lamp is fitted with a waterproof connector and joins effortlessly to the main harness, which is also compliant to the IP68 standard. All hardware is made from 316 stainless steel and suitable for marine environments.

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Web AXIS WATERPROOF MULTIMEDIA SOUND SYSTEM The MA1802 is a watertight, AM/FM multimedia player with the added convenience of Bluetooth Audio Streaming and USB designed for marine and all-terrain applications. With an IP65 weatherproof rating, the MA600B ultra slimline marine speaker system is ideal for Marine, Spa and Home Applications”.

MA1802 GENERAL – USB Input (Rear) – RCA AUX IN (Rear) – 4ch Preamp (Rear) – LCD Display – IP66 Watertight – Water & Salt Protection PCB Coating – Diecast Aluminium Housing – Loud Impedance: 4-8Ohms – 112mm Circular Face (Gauge type) – 72mm Mounting Depth – 90mm cut out – 45W x 4ch Max Output

TUNER – AM/FM Auto Seek Receiver – FM 87.5~108 MHz; AM 522~1620 KHz – 30 Presets (18FM/12AM) – Radio Region: Australia, (Europe) and USA MULTIMEDIA – MP3 Playback via USB – S/N Ratio: >55dB – Frequeny Response: 20 – 20KHz – A/D Conversion Filter: 16 Bit For more information visit the Axis website.

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What’s New?

ZEREK WEEDLESS FISH TRAP The Weedless Fish Trap is a brilliant adaptation of the amazingly successful Fish Trap. This lure features all the same swimming characteristics as the original Fish Trap, but has been uniquely designed to provide a weedless presentation. The features include a replaceable single worm hook that is positioned point-

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110 down to provide exceptional hooking in the bottom jaw, a built-in hook trap to

keep the worm hook in place while fishing, the innovative and Zerek-owned crush slits that expose the hook point when fish strike, and a construction from the tough TPE material that gives strength and movement to the lure. This means you can fish the lure in exactly the same places and in exactly the same way as you fish your existing Fish Traps, but now you can also explore the most snagridden places to present your lure to most the wary and cautious fish that are usually the largest. It means the days of worrying where the snags are in case you lose your lure are finished, and it means that the Fish Trap is still many steps ahead of the competition. 13 colours initially will be available, and the weedless Fish Trap will be available only in the 95mm version for the time being.

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BIG EYEZ JIGHEADS The home of jig heads in Australia, TT Lures, has again answered the requests of Aussie anglers with the release of the Big EyeZ series of jig heads. Many anglers consider the eye of the baitfish to be a strike trigger to predators, and the eye on the Big EyeZ makes for a big trigger! Features of this series include a realistic sculptured fish head profile and bulging 3D eyes, along with the proven ‘head lock’ grub keeper system to make rigging easy and lock your soft plastic in place. Big EyeZ are built on Mustad black nickel, chemically sharpened hooks for that perfect combination of hook penetration and brutal stopping power. Available in a variety of colours to compliment your favourite soft plastics and match the hatch, Big EyeZ continue TT Lures’ tradition of manufacturing quality, innovative jig heads for anglers worldwide. They are available in 1/4 ounce 3/0, 3/8 ounce 3/0, 3/8 ounce 5/0, 1/2 ounce 5/0, 3/4 ounce 7/0 and 1 ounce 7/0. Colours are Black/Glow Eye, Chartreuse/ Red Eye, Pink/Silver Eye, Silver Black/Glow Eye and Pearl Blue/Silver Eye. They come three jig heads per pack and a suggested retail price of $11.95.

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Spooled Magazine Summer Issue 2019  

In this issue: - Shane Mensforth travelled all the way from Adelaide to Launceston to investigate claims of giant Tasmanian whiting. The tal...

Spooled Magazine Summer Issue 2019  

In this issue: - Shane Mensforth travelled all the way from Adelaide to Launceston to investigate claims of giant Tasmanian whiting. The tal...

Profile for spooled