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Spring

2020

PROJECT BOAT

SPRING

IT’S A WRAP

PLANNER

SOLID

GOLD

DAMS

SPRING ON THE

SURF ACTION


Our Cover... Starlo with a thumping golden pulled from Googong Dam. (see story page 22)

Contents EDITORIAL

4 6

22 SOLID GOLD

SPOOLED MAGAZINE

02

SPRING PLANNER

42

54 QLD’S TOP THREE BASS DAMS BOAT PROJECT FUGLY TO SPUNKY

GAR ON THE MENU

70

78 94 SPRING ON THE SURF ACTION

EASTERN YORKE PENINSULAR

110 124 BACK IN BLACK ANGLER PROFILE STEVE STARLING

WHAT’S NEW

136

COMPETITION PAGE

www.spooledmagazine.com.au

148


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From the Editor

From The Editor

SHANE MENSFORTH

Although the spring of 2020 will inevitably look different to what we’ve been used to in the past, fact is it’s a great time to go fishing for those of us still allowed to. At the time of writing (early September) our Victorian readers were still locked down and watching on with envy as the rest of the country fished. Through Facebook and other social media we could sense their frustration, particularly as their snapper season loomed and thousands of boats were confined to shore.

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Spring can be a fickle time weatherwise, particularly in southern Australia, where winter often does its best to hang on as the seasons merge. Just when average temperatures begin to climb and sunshine appears to be taking over, a big westerly change will sweep through Perth and blast its way across the continent’s bottom half. It can be a topsy-turvy season to 04 say the least, but spring is also transition time for many of our more popular fish species. Jamie Crawford’s Spring Planner feature (starting on page 6) provides a handy insight into what we can expect to catch and where to catch it – right around the country. Although he’s based in SA’s Port Lincoln, Jamie’s experience at fishing Australia wide ensures that his spring predictions should be right on the money. It’s certainly worth a read if you’re looking for some ideas on where to go for a long weekend of maybe a few days of annual leave. Being a South Aussie, springtime fishing for me means tuning up the tackle for shallow water work on yellowfin whiting, rigging the drop nets for blue swimmers, breaking out the big stickbaits for inshore kingies, and maybe dusting off the heavy surf tackle for a beach mulloway session. It’s quite an exciting time really, and I look forward to trying as much variety as possible. We’re lucky here in SA to have, arguably, the best inshore mulloway and kingy fisheries in the country. There are few things in fishing more satisfying than walking back out of the surf, struggling under the weight of a sliver-sided 30kg mulloway, or watching on with awe as a metre and a half of kingfish annihilates your surface lure a few metres from the boat. And as far as I’m concerned at least, there is no better shellfish to eat than a freshly steamed blue swimmer crab. I’m sure those in other states have similar spring favourites they’ve been hanging out for that should come on line over the next three months – fish that are possibly around in varying numbers for much of the year, but really come into their own as the water begins to warm up. With so much COVID-induced down time this year, particularly in the eastern states, chances are most boats and tackle will now be in tip-top condition and ready to go. It hasn’t affected us here in SA at all, but I’m consistently chatting with fishing mates in Victoria who have been servicing and re-servicing reels, tying flies by the hundred, spending hours on Google Earth searching for new spots, practising their casting in the front yard or a dozen other home-based activities to lessen the lockdown insanity. I have one very good mate who hasn’t stopped whingeing at top note since the first Victorian lockdown, so I decided to send him a box of tissues in the post. On the tissue box I stuck a picture of me with half a dozen 45-50cm King George whiting, which elicited exactly the sort of response I’d anticipated. Naturally, this was all in good fun, and I’m sure I’ll get it back in spades once things return to normal! All we can do now, of course, is enjoy what spring has to offer those of us allowed to go fishing and keep our fingers crossed for our mates over the border who can’t. Hopefully, they won’t have to wait too much longer. www.spooledmagazine.com.au


Spring 2020 Planner

JAMIE CRAWFORD

SPRING PLANNER 20 20

JAMIE CRAWFORD GAZES INTO FISHING’S CRYSTAL BALL TO PREDICT WHAT WE CAN EXPECT TO CATCH AROUND THE COUNTRY BE T WEEN NOW AND SUMMER.

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Spanish mackerel are available on inshore reefs and wrecks in the NT and northern QLD during spring. www.spooledmagazine.com.au


Spring has sprung, and it couldn’t come quickly enough in 2020. Our southern winter was a cold one this year, with below average temperatures in many regions and plenty of icy mornings to start the day. It’s been a welcome relief of late to feel some spring warmth and to see the day lengths slowly extending. This change in seasons brings a lot of fisho’s out of the woodwork with renewed enthusiasm to enjoy the outdoors after the cool winter weather. And, of course, we have had tight COVID restrictions in many parts of our country which has – and still is – restricting community movement.

www.spooledmagazine.com.au

07 SPOOLED MAGAZINE

Spring also represents a shift of species as we see our air and water temperatures on the rise. Fish that are predominantly active through the cooler months start to taper off, but are replaced by a different spectrum of species. Below we’ll take a look at our spring fishing options for 2020 right around our country. As pandemic restrictions ease, fisho’s will be actively seeking some spring warmth to wash away the winter blues.


Spring 2020 Planner

//SOUTHERN SPECIES Starting in the south, where the increasing spring temperatures offer the biggest relief, trout fisho’s through Victoria can start chasing trout from September 4 onwards as the season begins. Picturesque rivers such as the Mitta Mitta, Goulburn, Rubicon and Kiewa will be offering smaller browns and rainbows once river flows ease.

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Rivers in the western district of Victoria will also start offering some good trout fishing through the spring months, which should see the Hopkins, Merri and Moyne rivers inland of Warrnambool and Port Fairy offering some nice fish for 08 those who invest the time. These are generally a better class of trout compared to the alpine streams, with some solid 2kg-plus fish taken each year.

Trout fishing reopens in early September for Victorian fishers.

Staying in the fresh, our golden perch should be increasing in activity as water temperatures begin to rise in impoundments and rivers. Lake Eildon should see plenty of activity through spring, with the goldens moving into the warming fringes of the lake. Likewise, in NSW lakes such as Windamere and Keepit should be offering some good action on the goldens, and also Lake Wivenhoe in southern QLD, amongst others. Spring is a good time of year to fish weed beds around the margin of the lake, with metal vibes and slow-rolled soft plastics both good options. www.spooledmagazine.com.au


Golden perch are available from our inland rivers in spring as water temperatures increase.

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Golden perch start to increase in feeding activity through our inland rivers during spring as well, with our mighty Murray offering some good fishing for goldens as the main flows ease and clarity improves. Bobbing baits in amongst the snags is a good technique for pulling a few golden perch, but when the water clarity begins to improve, some nice goldens should be hitting lures. Diving hard bodies and spinnerbaits (both willow and Colorado blades) cast towards the bank and worked past timber are effective on our river goldens, and so too vertically jigged lipless crankbaits right in amongst the timber. Through the South Australian stretch of the Murray there is plenty of good golden perch water right along its entirety, with some of the better reaches around Blanchetown, Morgan and Waikerie. Remember, the SA Murray Cod closed season extends from August 1-December 31, so there’s no targeting big greenfish for South Aussies during spring. It’s a similar story over the border into NSW, where Murray cod are off limits in most state waters at this time of year. Moving into the salt, Port Phillip Bay and Westernport will start offering some snapper fishing through spring as fish migrate into the bays from deeper water. Fishing around the tide change is important when targeting Melbourne metro snapper, with berley playing an important part in drawing fish into your area. Remember, snapper are creatures of habit, and will re-visit areas seasonally, so once you see a pattern emerging, log it. Gummy sharks will also be encountered as welcome by-catch when chasing reds in these waters. www.spooledmagazine.com.au


Spring 2020 Planner

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Surf fishing for salmon is still productive during spring. www.spooledmagazine.com.au


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www.spooledmagazine.com.au


Spring 2020 Planner

Port Phillip and Westernport in Victoria should see plenty of snapper activity throughout spring.

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Spring is also a great time of year to target bream in coastal rivers and estuaries in Victoria, as they make their way upstream in preparation for spawning. The Yarra, right on Melbourne’s doorstep, now offers pretty consistent fishing for bream, with the Patterson, Tambo, Werribee and Nicholson Rivers, along with the Gippsland Lakes, offering good bream fishing in spring. Structures such as jetty and bridge pylons, marina pontoons and oyster racks are good places to look.

Sunrise over the Murray www.spooledmagazine.com.au


Likewise, over the border in South Australia will see some good spring bream action, with fish expected to move into the Onkaparinga, Inman and Hindmarsh Rivers, plus the rivers on Kangaroo Island. These black bream are generally in good condition and full of fight as they move in from the salt. The surf fishing can be fantastic in SA during spring, with the salmon action still consistent and surf mulloway starting to increase in activity along many beaches. Often viewed as a fish of 50 hours, mulloway are certainly a species that demand effort, but the rewards are high for those who persist. Fishing around the full tides in the second half of spring will give you a good chance of a surfroaming mulloway in South Oz. While soaking bigger baits for mulloway in the surf, you can expect to catch the occasional gummy and school shark.

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Matt Beckmann with a nice spring mulloway from SA. 13

The bread and butter fishing in SA is consistent through spring, with calamari available over shallow weed beds, garfish over eel grass and King George whiting will be starting to transition from winter grounds to harder bottom. Targeting King George at this time of year can be a bit hit and miss in some regions until the fish have transitioned and settled onto new ground. www.spooledmagazine.com.au


Spring 2020 Planner

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www.spooledmagazine.com.au


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Garfish are a popular southern target during spring.

www.spooledmagazine.com.au


Spring 2020 Planner

//EAST COAST

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The NSW trout season opens on the October long weekend, which usually sees plenty of hopeful fisho’s lining wellknown rivers such as the Eucumbene and Thredbo in hope of some good post-spawn action. It will be interesting to see how this year shapes up after the devastating wildfires earlier in 16 2020. We have heard that plenty of riverside vegetation has been cleared by the fires, so it won’t be surprising if some rivers are quieter than normal, given the changing of environment. Yellowfin tuna and albacore will be on offer in the blue water along the NSW south and mid coasts during early spring, and if 2020 follows suit, there should be some quality sicklefinned fish caught during September and into October. Skirted lures in the 5”-7” size are popular, along with diving hard bodies in the 160-200mm size. As spring progresses, small to medium sized kingfish will start to move onto inshore reefs and headlands along the NSW coast, offering plenty of light tackle fun while jigging and also live baiting. Moving into southern QLD, the dusky flathead should be increasing in activity throughout spring in local estuaries. Likewise, yellowfin whiting should be pushing over flats in the larger estuary systems, and as the temperatures increase, so should their willingness to chase and hit lures.

www.spooledmagazine.com.au


The NSW trout season reopens on the October long weekend.

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www.spooledmagazine.com.au


Spring 2020 Planner

Out in the blue water along the QLD central and north coasts, Spanish mackerel will be congregating around inshore reefs, bommies and wrecks and will offer plenty of fun and tasty fillets for local fishers. Mackerel are an aggressive species and respond well to many techniques, from trolling rigged garfish and diving minnows, to live baiting and even float lining dead baits. Remember Spanish mack’s have razor sharp teeth, so the use of wire is recommended.

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Spring also denotes marlin season in north QLD, with big blacks usually arriving on the outer reefs in early September, with small blacks in the 1030kg range active throughout spring out from Cairns and Townsville, before 18 making their way further south at the end of spring and into summer.

Saratoga are active in our northern billabongs and freshwater rivers during spring.

//NORTHERN SPECIES Up in the Territory, the spring months are leading into the build-up to the wet season. This brings very hot and humid conditions that can be uncomfortable for southern fishers, but it can offer fantastic fishing, especially through inland billabongs for barra, saratoga and sooty grunters. Away from the freshwater, barra can be found around river and creek mouths and through the lower tidal stretches of rivers during the build-up in preparation for spawning. www.spooledmagazine.com.au


The build-up also offers some of the most stable weather in the NT, with glassy conditions quite common. This enables bluewater enthusiasts to access some of the wider grounds for jigging up some trevally (predominantly brassy and small to medium GTs) along with Spanish mackerel, plus golden snapper and other tasty northern reef species available on the nearby reefs.

Spring brings stable weather in the Territory allowing fishers to access bluewater grounds for mackerel and trevally.

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The top end rivers are often clean during spring with minimal freshwater influence.

www.spooledmagazine.com.au


Spring 2020 Planner

//WEST COAST Over in the West, flathead, school-sized mulloway and tailor should be moving up the Swan River, offering Perth metro anglers some good fishing on their doorstep. Bream are also available at this time of year in the Swan and Canning Rivers. Small wriggler tail plastics, along with metal vibes, work well in these rivers for the local black bream.

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Out in the blue water, samson fish start aggregating around deep water reefs and lumps behind Rottnest Island from late spring (November) onwards. The brutes will test strength and stamina, with some well appointed and professional day 20 charters offering day trips to these waters during the season. These grounds offer arguably the best samson Samson fish begin schooling fish action in the world. up in mass aggregations Most of this fishing is jigging in WA during late spring. heavy metals in 80-100m of water, which is a very physical and exciting style of fishing.

As you can see, we have plenty of spring fishing options around our country, and we have only lightly scratched the surface of options. Here at Spooled Magazine we’re hoping the remaining COBVID restrictions will ease soon so everyone can enjoy some spring fishing action. www.spooledmagazine.com.au


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Solid Gold

STEVE ‘STARLO’ STARLING

SOLID

GOLD

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New Angles On Yellowbelly In Dams

SPRING IS THE PRIME SEASON FOR CHASING BIG GOLDEN PERCH OR YELLOWBELLY IN OUR DAMS, AND THAT’S ONE OF STARLO’S FAVOURITE PURSUITS AT THIS TIME OF YEAR. IN THIS DE TAILED PIECE HE REPORTS ON THE L ATEST AND GREATEST LURE FISHING TECHNIQUES FOR CATCHING THESE POPUL AR INL AND NATIVES. www.spooledmagazine.com.au


My very first experiences with impoundment-dwelling yellowbelly took place at Copeton Dam, in the New England region of NSW, way back in the early 1980s. I was there as the guest of freshwater guru, Rob Smith, chasing yella’s along the edge of a 100 per cent full dam. We were casting-and-cranking Storm Hot ’N Tot hard-bodied deep divers from Rob’s boat, and doing reasonably well on some chunky spring goldens, but Rob

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was consistently kicking my butt by a factor of about three to one… until I accidentally discovered a subtle retrieve trick that completely turned it all around for me. Those big-bibbed lures dove deeper and deeper as we pulled them away from the bank and its fringing weed bed until they arrived directly under the boat. Here, they would actually swim past a point where the line was perpendicular before turning and suddenly climbing up out of the depths. A lot of our strikes were coming at that exact moment: when the lure turned back on itself and began to rise. However, on www.spooledmagazine.com.au


Solid Gold

one retrieve — just a few cranks before my lure reached that critical flip-aroundand-climb point — a sticky little bush fly managed to crawl in behind the lens of my sunglasses. I stopped cranking and raised my hand to deal with the pesky little intruder… and the rod was almost ripped from my grasp by a fired-up golden! From that cast on, I began incorporating a deliberate pause into every retrieve just prior to the lure’s turn-around point — and that’s exactly how, when and where I hooked most of my fish for the rest of the trip.

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Little things like this really can make a big difference in fishing, and across the four decades since, I’ve seen many, many examples of tiny nuances 24 in presentation resulting in sometimes dramatic increases in strike rates. Interestingly, a good number of those lessons have involved golden perch.

The good old Deception Shrimp was a yellowbelly staple right through the 1990s. It still catches plenty of fish. www.spooledmagazine.com.au


//FAST FORWARD We need to fast forward several years and travel hundreds of kilometres south from Copeton for my next round of yellowbelly-related discoveries: I’ll never forget my first visit to Windamere Dam, near Mudgee, at the end of the 1980s. I’d been hearing great things about the blossoming golden perch fishery in this impoundment for several years: firstly from my old mate, Frank Prokop (who played a pivotal and largely unsung role in the initial stocking of these natives into the lake), and later from Lithgow-based sport fishers like Barrie Gill, Glen ‘Stewie’ Stewart and Alex Hickson… I was dying to give it a go!

On a warm November morning I parked my car at the dam viewing area and walked across the wall to the opposite bank, venturing down onto the grassy, wooded slopes to cast my floating/diving plug into a near-full lake. I was brimming with anticipation, but the first hour or so passed uneventfully, apart from my learning how to float the deep diver up over the fringing weed beds without constantly fouling its trebles. I was well into the mechanical process now, almost on auto-pilot… which made what happened next all the more exciting. www.spooledmagazine.com.au

25 SPOOLED MAGAZINE

Glen “Stewie” Stewart is one of the innovators helping to evolve luring techniques for these great fish. He has done a lot of work in recent years with skirted jigs.


Solid Gold

Just as it had 50 times or more already that morning, my swaying, shimmying plug appeared from the gloom a few metres out from the steep bank, rising through the green-hued water as I briefly paused the retrieve. Suddenly, however, a large, pale form materialized behind and beneath the lure, and the hairs on the back of my neck stood on end. It was a fat, golden-hued yellowbelly, fins flaring, eyes almost crossed in concentration, mouth open scant centimeters behind the lure’s rear trebles!

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Trembling with excitement, I stabbed the rod tip again and wobbled the diver forward another half a metre. The golden’s fins flared and it bustled up even closer behind the slowly-rising plug, until the lure was almost resting in the curve of the fish’s deeply 26 scooped forehead. I held my breath, but as the lure continued to rise, the fish’s fins folded away and its mouth closed. It began to sink from view and turn away… No! I stabbed the rod tip again and picked up line, and the fish shot up and flared angrily behind the lure once more, then slowly began sinking into the gloom again. Another stab, another rush, another flare, and then a slow shutting down and sinking away.

Jo Starling shows off another Windamere football, again taken on a small metal blade and light spin gear.

www.spooledmagazine.com.au


Fronts and sudden weather changes often trigger a short, sharp bite period at places like Lake Windamere in central western NSW.

This was it. Make or break time. I’d run out of room. There was less than a metre of line left between my rod tip and the lure, which now hovered in just half a metre of water, literally at my feet, and the fish had almost dropped from sight. I stabbed the rod tip down one last time. What happened next remains etched into the hard drive of my memory over 30 years later…

I’d love a dollar for every time I watched that process, or something very similar to it, repeated over the following decade or two, as I came to intimately know and love this magnificent freshwater fishery, located just three hours’ drive west of Sydney’s outer fringes.

//THE FOOTBALL FACTORY It wouldn’t be stretching the truth to nominate Lake Windamere, on the Cudgegong River system, as Australia’s premier still-water venue for trophy golden perch. I would hate to guess just how many tens of thousands of big yellowbelly this amazingly consistent dam has produced over the past 35 years or so, but it’s an awful lot! Fish over 50cm are common there, and football-fat specimens in excess of 60cm are taken almost every day, especially between September and April. The biggest nudge or even top 65cm and can weigh 8kg or more. Those are massive yellowbelly in anyone’s language. www.spooledmagazine.com.au

27 SPOOLED MAGAZINE

The fish shot up into the shallows, its back actually breaking the surface, and cleanly inhaled the lure while simultaneously performing a tumble turn that any Olympic swimmer would’ve envied. The light baitcaster outfit bucked violently in my hands as weed and mud churned up at my feet and a big, spade-like tail slapped the water. They probably heard my whoops of sheer delight 20-odd kilometres way in Rylstone!


Solid Gold

Despite having fluctuated between full (through the late ’80s and early to mid‘90s) to less than 20 per cent of its potential capacity in the worst drought years of the new millennium’s first decade, Windamere has gone right on producing trophy goldens, massive silver perch and the odd cracker of a Murray cod, year in and year out. There aren’t too many dams you can say that about. Today, Windamere continues to attract keen anglers from far and wide and hosts several major tournaments and competitions every season, including the Golden Classic I established there in 1992. But the fishing there has definitely changed over those decades… 28 SPOOLED MAGAZINE

A blast from the past! A much younger Starlo back in 1993 with a solid yella spun from the bank on a floating/ diving plug. A lot has changed, but much also remains the same.

//THE EARLY DAYS In the early years I couldn’t get enough of Windamere’s addictive yellowbelly fishing. Several times each spring and early summer I’d make the relatively long drive from the south coast of NSW to fish its waters, often in the company of fellow Windamere disciples like Paul Kneller, Kevin and Scott Mayberry, Barrie Gill, Alex Hickson, Glen Stewart, Pat Morris, Brett Young and others. A little later came regulars like Chris Stalgis, Simon Rees, Roger Apperley, Rory and Reece Muller and far too many more to list. www.spooledmagazine.com.au


At this time, Paul Kneller — who then lived south west of Sydney in the suburb of Campbelltown — was fast becoming a well-respected Aussie lure crafter. Paul had purchased some original diving plug designs from Ray Whitmore and developed them into highly effective cottage industry production models. Paul’s Deception Shrimps soon became the “go-to” lure at Windamere, and remained so for well over a decade. You simply didn’t think about going to Windy in those days without a tackle box crammed full of Deceptions in a range of colours! Almost all of our fish were caught from the shoreline in those early years. We used our boats to travel from one part of the lake to another before nosing them up onto the bank, spreading out and casting from the shore. It was an effective technique, with the added bonus of most strikes coming within a few metres of the rod tip, and many of them being highly visual affairs.

Big, fat goldens from our dams make for pretty ordinary tucker. It’s a much better idea to carefully release them. Besides, they’re too good to catch just once!

www.spooledmagazine.com.au

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Fish would often follow a lure multiple times before either taking it or losing interest. I will never forget working on a particularly nice yella for nearly an hour one day, trying almost every lure in the box before finally suckering it into eating one of Ray Broughton’s smaller RTB Legends. That was my first golden over 10 pounds (4.5kg) and I made the mistake of keeping it to eat… the first and last time I ever tried that with a big Windamere golden! (Smaller specimens from this dam, up to a couple of kilos, make reasonable table fare, but the big ones are fatty, weedy and virtually inedible.)


Solid Gold

//GREAT MEMORIES

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I have so many wonderful memories from those times, more than a few of them related to the highly competitive streak that soon emerged amongst a bunch of good mates working a likely stretch of bank together. Shouting excitedly about a fish following your lure was guaranteed to call in a veritable bombardment of casts from your companions, all of them trying their best to “poach” your yellowbelly! We soon learnt to say nothing, but also became very adept at reading each other’s body language and detecting even the most subtle intake of breath, slightest straightening of the back, or widening of the eyes that might 30 accompany the sighting of a golden football tracking in behind a wobbling lure. Standard tackle for this style of fishing in those days was a bass-weight baitcaster spooled with 4 to 8 kg braid and connected to a 6 or 8 kg mono leader. On this no-nonsense gear, fights were typically short-lived affairs, with those fish hooked at close range often remaining in sight for the entire 30 or 40 second duration of the encounter. Yellows were known for hitting quite hard, but quickly throwing in the towel, and the big, fat females tended to be especially lethargic at times. We didn’t care. It was all about the hunt, the follow and that so-often visible take.

Baitcasters are still a great choice for targeting yellas, especially when throwing heavier lures.

www.spooledmagazine.com.au


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Light spinning tackle, fine braid and thin fluorocarbon leaders have revolutionised fishing for golden perch or yellowbelly.

It was also during these early days that a few of us got into carrying our fly rods as we tramped the banks, using polarising sunglasses to spot fish sitting amongst the weed beds before casting various fur flies, crayfish patterns and Zonkers at them. Fly fishing for goldens was (and remains) a demanding and exacting pursuit, but the sense of achievement when it all came together made it easy to forget the long distances walked, snakes narrowly avoided, rejections received and strikes missed! Peak season in those days was regarded as being just six or eight short weeks, from early October through into late November, although we’d sometimes visit in September or even late August hoping (usually in vain) to find the water temperature over that magic 16 to 18 degree trigger mark. Often, these early trips produced poor results and, more and more, we came to regard late October and November as the magic months. I must admit that they’re still pretty good, but the window has definitely widened over the decades. Many other things have changed, too. www.spooledmagazine.com.au


Solid Gold

//A PROCESS OF EVOLVUTION As already explained, in our early days at Windamere the vast majority of yellowbelly were taken by casting floating/diving plugs (especially those deadly Deceptions!) from the bank. Very few of us fished from our boats. Slowly, this pattern began to change as anglers began casting and trolling from their boats. This was greatly facilitated, of course, by the widespread uptake of bow-mounted electric motors through the latter part of the 1990s, along with the increasing sophistication (and affordability) of decent depth sounders.

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By the early years of the new millennium, the pace of change had really picked up. The tournament brigade introduced soft plastics, spinnerbaits, metal blades and those revolutionary Jackall lipless crankbaits that had already been turning the impoundment bass world on its head for several years. Later still came soft “hybrid” vibes like the amazingly effective Jackall Masks and skirted or fur-dressed jigs. Sophisticated spinning tackle was by now becoming much more common than baitcasters, and both line and leader sizes were diminishing as the “finesse” approach gradually caught on. I’m quietly proud of having played a small role in the dissemination of these concepts, which dramatically improved most anglers’ catch rates, at Windamere and well beyond its shores, at yellowbelly dams across the fish’s broad range.

Modern electronics have made a big difference to impoundment fishing for goldens and other species. www.spooledmagazine.com.au


Results definitely improved as these new strategies were adopted. We went from expecting to catch two, three or four fish a session while casting plugs from the bank at the best times of year to regular double-figure tallies while jigging the 3 to 8 metre depth band outside the weed beds from our boats with blades and vibes rigged on bream-weight gear. With the aid of these modern approaches we also expanded the acknowledged “season”, regularly catching Windamere’s goldens right through summer and well into autumn or even beyond by using these modern techniques and tools. In particular, innovative anglers like Glen Stewart and Dean Hamilton helped to stretch the season at both ends with the use of skirted and fur-dressed jigs fished very slowly on the bottom.

Early morning, before the mist leaves the water, is often a great time to target goldens, especially as the weather and water warms into summer. www.spooledmagazine.com.au

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It goes without saying (or should) that the old techniques continue to catch fish, and still have their occasional day in the sun, but across the board and over the longer run, if you’re not gently jigging hard and soft vibes or blades, bouncing plastics, crawling skirted jigs over the bottom or “vertically grubbing” drowned trees — all from a boat equipped with a bow-mounted electric motor and a decent depth sounder (ideally one with side-scan imaging) — you’re really not in the race any more.


Solid Gold

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//THE LATEST TWISTS Aussie fishers are a highly inventive mob. Many of us enjoy coming up with new angles and subtle but often important tweaks on time-proven methods. Sometimes these little twists can put us ahead of the pack… at least for a while. This has very much been the case with the ongoing quest for big yellowbelly in our man-made dams. The simple fact is that angling pressure on stocks of these fish is ramping up significantly every year. Bays, arms and points in big dams like Eildon, Eppalock, Burrinjuck, Wyangala, Burrendong, Windamere, Copeton or Boondooma that may have barely seen a boat or two in any given week 20 years ago are now fished regularly… and hard. Goldens and other fish that live in these waters get to see lots of baits, lures and flies, and some of them are caught (and often released) in the process. The net effect of all this pressure is an increasingly cagey and cautious fish population. While I’m leery of using anthropomorphic terms like “educated” or “smart” when referring to fish, there’s simply no denying the self-evident truth that they are capable of wising-up to popular techniques and becoming much better at basic “hook avoidance behavior”. Put simply, they become harder to catch. Anglers do their best to overcome the diminishing returns associated with heavily pressured fisheries by employing better and better electronics, finer lines and leaders and more life-like lures and flies. Subtle nuances in the way those lures are manipulated can also make a big difference to our catch rates. All of the time-proven techniques will definitely still catch yellowbelly in our dams, but there are folks out there adding subtle twists to these basic approaches that can and do make a noticeable difference to their catch rates. These are often the same people who end up on the winners’ podium at tournaments and competitions. www.spooledmagazine.com.au


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A decent golden plays up just out of netting range.

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Solid Gold

Skirted jigs shuffled and crawled across the lake bed can be especially effective on goldens, particularly early and late in the season.

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//CRACKING PATTERNS

In 2018, fishing writer Kevin Savvas penned a great piece for Fishing World magazine’s website detailing some of the presentation techniques he’d been taught by experts like Jamie Hardman. Some of the techniques shown to Kevin Savvas involved faster and somewhat more aggressive retrieves with metal blades and both hard and soft vibes than the subtle lift-drop-lift more commonly used by those seeking yellowbelly. Others were at the dead slow end of the scale. Savvas also described a crossover between a straight retrieve and what he calls “tapping the slack”, which is a form of lure manipulation commonly used by barra anglers to make a hard-bodied lure “dance” and dart erratically without moving too far. It’s achieved by dropping the rod tip towards the lure momentarily to create semi-slack line, then “popping” or twitching the rod tip sharply against that semi-slack line, stopping just as everything comes tight and before the lure moves too far. If repeated in a continuous series of short, sharp twitches, this can really bring a lure to life. Building in an occasional pause ensures that the lure also stays in regular contact with the lake bed. Savvas and crew achieved this action with their rods angled up at around 10 o’clock (which works well on spinning tackle), but it can also be done with a low rod angle, and this is often more comfortable if using a baitcaster. Kevin Savvas christened this distinctive retrieve “The Hardman Shuffle’, which seems apt, considering the outstanding results achieved by the Hardman clan in many yellowbelly competitions using this and other methods. www.spooledmagazine.com.au

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Running an eye over the list of champion teams and their members for a quarter century of the Lake Windamere Golden Classic quickly reveals a series of patterns. Certain names tend to pop up several times in quick succession, often across runs of a few years. This generally indicates the work of savvy anglers who’ve cracked new methods that are capable of putting them ahead of the pack for a time. We had Kneller and Mayberry in the early days, then Hall and Morris, then Stewart, Burbidge and Cooke, and later Clancy, Bunting and Tutton. In more recent years, Collison, McLure and Miles have dominated, while consistently successful guys like golden perch guru, Jamie Hardman, have also stamped their mark on the fishery, with regular podium finishes. These switched-on, highly innovative anglers are always looking for that little edge that can make a big difference… and they often find it.


Solid Gold

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Another presentation Savvas detailed in that informative article was what he called the “Churn-and-Burn�. After casting out and allowing the lure to sink to the lake bed, it was retrieved with five or six fairly brisk cranks of the reel handle, followed by a distinct stop and pause to allow it to sink and touch the bottom again. This pattern was repeated all the way back to the boat or bank, with most hits coming on that all-important pause.

Skirted jigs shuffled and bumped along the bottom make a great yabby imitation, with a strong appeal to yellowbelly.

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//SHAKE AND BAKE Another angler who’s been working with subtle twists to retrieve styles is my good mate Glen Stewart’s son, Murray. In a wonderful podcast interview with Rhys Creed and friends for the information-packed Social Fishing podcast series [https:// www.socialfishing.com.au/2019/09/17/ep11-windamere-trip/], Murray outlined a “shake-and-shuffle” retrieve that basically combines a slow roll of the reel’s handle with a constant shaking of the rod tip, interspersed with the occasional pause. On the right day this shaking strategy is also absolutely deadly on goldens.

Along with some of the other approaches described here, the “Shakeand-Bake” produces an action that is no doubt an excellent imitation of a yabby or large shrimp shuffling and foraging through the sediment of the lake bed, so it’s little wonder they work so well.

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By the time of the Lake Windamere Golden Classic in mid-October, 2019, this slow-cranking, shaking, pausing presentation had become the “go-to” strategy for many successful competitors, and was widely being referred to as the “Shake-and-Bake”. It was mostly being employed with slightly larger soft vibes like Transams and Zerek Fish Traps, but also works with smaller soft vibes like the Jackall Masks, as well as hard vibes and even metal blades. In almost all cases these lures are either fitted or retro-fitted with small, sticky-sharp “assist’ hooks. These hooks reduce fouling from weed and slime, while also being very effective at pinning cautiously-biting fish. They make a big difference.


Solid Gold

//A BIG DEAL Nuances and subtle alterations to retrieves such as those described in this article might not sound like such a big deal, but on the right day they can spell the difference between almost constant (or at least regular) action and the dreaded donut.

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The take-away message from all of these twists on conventional lure presentations is that you should never, ever stop thinking, learning and experimenting. Seemingly tiny variations in the way you move your lure through the water can make an enormous difference to your overall results. Furthermore, the 40 effectiveness of these variations can shift from season to season, day to day, and even hour to hour and bay to bay. It really pays to mix it up and find out exactly what’s pushing the fish’s buttons at that precise moment in time.

Editor’s Note: To read a lot more about finding and catching golden perch in impoundments, check out Starlo’s superb 100-page-plus e-book called “On Golden Ponds”. It’s absolutely essential reading for anyone who loves these fish. You can access it for free by signing up to the Inner Circle membership areas of Fishotopia.com, or buy and download the book separately by scanning the QR Code shown hereabouts, or going to https:// www.fishotopia.com.au/tight-lines-magazine/ www.spooledmagazine.com.au


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Gars on the Menu

JARROD DAY

GARS ON THE MENU JARROD DAY PROVIDES THE GOOD OIL CATCHING ONE OF OUR MOST POPUL AR SHALLOW WATER TABLE FISH.

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Garfish may not be line-stripping sportfish or brutal reef dwellers, but what they lack in size and strength, they certainly make up for it in the entertainment category. From land or boat, garfish can be caught year-round, however environmental factors will determine their abundance, such as water quality and food availability. The southern sea garfish, when in numbers, can create a hive of activity for anglers of all levels of experience. I’ve watched big game anglers squealing like children while poling in garfish on local jetties and piers, and it is this reaction that can see thousands of angler’s head out to target them.

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Despite their size, they are a fun fish to catch for children.

Along Victoria’s coastline, Port Phillip Bay, Western Port, Inverloch, and Corner Inlet are prime garfish habitat locations. Garfish favour calmer waters where they can actively feed over seagrass beds while trying to avoid being a meal themselves for larger predatory species. Throughout the year it is a common sight to see anglers lined up along the many piers and jetties throughout the bays and inlets, and at times it can be standing room only. One thing is for sure though, they are certainly among the top table fare going around. www.spooledmagazine.com.au


Gars on the Menu

//PRIME TIMES While a year-round option, garfish can appear in one location in vast numbers while in other locations they can be a struggle to find. This abundance in any area all hedges on the abundance of food in those specific locations at the time of year. Though they can be caught at any time, garfish are predominately nocturnal, actively feeding throughout the night. Ideally, first and last light are the optimum times and combining that around two hours either side of a high tide change will enhance success.

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Tidal influence also plays a major role in where they are feeding. Garfish are a mid to top water feeder, however during a low tide will be more towards the bottom. With that said, as the tide resides, you may want to make your way into slightly deeper water of around 4m. During a high tide you will still want to maintain that 4m depth, where you will find yourself closer to the shore while still staying over the weed beds. This means the tide you are fishing and the current weather conditions will determine how deep you should be setting your bait.

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Gars on the Menu

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//BAITS ‘N’ BERLEY Garfish are predominately a herbivore, feeding on algae and seagrasses. However, depending on the abundance of food, they are also an opportunistic feeder, often seeking out amphipods, insects, smaller fishes, and crustaceans. Anglers targeting garfish tend to use a variety of baits including maggots (gents), dough, peeled prawn, pipi and silverfish. Whatever you use, it is vital that the baits are not too large. In fact, baits should be cut to around a maximum length of 1cm. This is due to garfish only having a small mouth and a bait that is too large will only be picked at rather than engulfed. Gars are schooling fish and when in abundance, schools can number in the thousands. In keeping them in your immediate fishing area, garfish respond extremely well to berley. Berley can be used in many ways and made from many different ingredients, however at all times and whatever berley concoction you use, it is imperative that the berley be extremely fine particles, almost like a mist in the water if you like. This is to create the smell in the water, allowing them to come in and feed on the berley without filling themselves up. www.spooledmagazine.com.au


Rather than using a berley bucket suspended on the water’s surface or tied off next to the side of a pier or jetty, manually throw handfuls of berley about the size of a golf ball into the water every 10 minutes or so. You do not want to over berley, but rather allow the berley to dissipate before throwing in the next handful. You will know when the next time to throw in more is by how active the bite is. If the garfish are going well, then fishing. If the bite slows down, it is time to toss in another handful. After you do, the result should be an increase in bite activity.

Choosing the right float and hook is as important as the right location.

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Once you have tossed in some berley, patience is the key. //TACKLE Like for many different species, your tackle should be set up specifically for gar. There is no point going to a gun fight with a knife. You will just lose out. As for garfish, their average weight is about 100 grams, so your tackle needs to be drastically downscaled. Excessively heavy tackle will have adverse effects. A rod with no sensitivity, line that can cause the fish to shy from the bait, and a reel not capable of casting such a lightly weighted set up further than a few metres will hold you back. www.spooledmagazine.com.au


Gars on the Menu

In an ideal world a 2-4kg nibble tip rod coupled with a 1000 or 2500 size reel loaded with four or six pound braid or monofilament is recommended. Attached to the end of the braid or mono you will require a length of leader material to which the rig can be clipped on. Garfish have acute vision, so it is imperative that your leader be as light as possible. I personally like a 6lb fluorocarbon leader, which absorbs the light rather than reflects it like standard nylon. This way, if the morning or day is sunny and bright, there will be less chance the fish will shy.

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A garfish has a very small mouth, which is the reason 49 for using such a small hook.

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Gars on the Menu

//THE TERMINAL END Knowing that garfish feed in the mid to high water columns, they are best targeted using a float set up, however not any float will do the job. Floats may come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, but some can be more harmful than others to your success.

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Being that garfish are only a small species, floats need to be as fine as you can get. A float with too much buoyancy may not be able to be pulled under the water, allowing the bite to go unseen. Pencil, quill and waggler floats are ideal, and when 50 rigging them, it is a good idea to add the right amount of split shot so that the main float section sits around half in/half out of the water. This will allow the garfish to easily pull the float under the surface the minute it takes the bait with little resistance. Hooks are equally as important, as striking to set the hook is a nonoption; you just do not get that chance because it happens so fast, your hand/eye co-ordination is just not on point.

Choosing the right tackle is vital when targeting garfish.

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Whether it is for food or to use for bait, garfish are fun to catch. Over the past 20-odd years and hundreds of garfish later, there are two main hooks I have favoured, the first being the #12 Mustad 4540 ½. This hook is an offset, half gauge wire long shank. Being fine wire, super sharp and offset, once the gar takes the bait, it is instantly hooked. Going one set up further, being a long shank, gar do not completely swallow the hook, making it easier and faster to remove. The second hook is a Mustad Needle Sneck #12. This green coloured ultrashort shank hook is extremely sharp, and although the fish can completely swallow it, is the ideal hook when they are finicky. Still easily removed, the bait can cover the majority of the hook and, providing you have some of the point still exposed, hook setting will not be a problem. www.spooledmagazine.com.au


Gars on the Menu

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They may be small, but they are very tasty to eat.

Once the rig is all set up, figuring out the depth at which the garfish are feeding is the next step. Doing this tends to favour running two rods initially, and no doubt when the bite is on, you will be reduced to one. One set up should position the hook from the bottom of the float at around 30cm, while the other at around double that. Depending on the success of one float getting all the bites, the other rig should be altered to the same. Alternatively, if you not getting that many inquiries on either set up, simply adjust both to run deeper, once again at different depths, until you find where the fish are actively feeding. www.spooledmagazine.com.au


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Queensland’s Top Three Bass Impoundments

MATTHEW TAYLOR

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Top Three Bass Impoundments MATTHEW TAYLOR PROVIDES THE ‘GOOD OIL’ ON A TRIO OF BRILLIANT BASS FISHERIES IN THE SUNSHINE STATE.

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Using the tips in this article, anglers of all skill levels are well on their way to success. Chloe Cocks is proof of that; thrilled to catch her first ever bass at Lake Somerset.

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With over 4,000 species to be found in Australian waters, there is a rich diversity of sportfish in our waterways. Of those species, Australian bass are widely regarded as one of our country’s most popular freshwater sportfish. While bass are naturally highly migratory and require estuarine waters to breed, thanks to the hard work of fish stocking groups, much of Australia’s premier bass fishing occurs within manmade lakes and dams.


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Queensland is certainly privileged with many of these stocked impoundments, each unique in its own right. The different terrains and food sources of every lake cause the fish to respond differently to our artificial lure offerings; some fisheries boast quantity of bass while others reward with quality. Over several years I’ve been fortunate to both fish and witness anglers’ struggles and triumphs at many of Queensland’s bass fisheries. I’ve taken on the difficult task of compiling a list of what are arguably Queensland’s top three bass impoundments, discussing the best tips on how to catch fish at each location.

Casting lures close to the edge early in the day is always a valuable technique at each of Queensland’s top three lakes.

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//LAKE BORUMBA One of South-East Queensland’s hidden beauties, Lake Borumba lies in the Sunshine Coast hinterland. Supported by the Stocked Impoundment Permit Scheme (a legally required permit for all anglers over the age of 18 when fishing in SIPS impoundments), this serene fishery has been stocked with 581,340 Australian bass and plentiful numbers of other fish species by the Lake Borumba Fish Stocking Association. Just under 15km from the small town of Imbil, Borumba’s beautiful scenery makes it a lovely place to both fish and relax. Bass in Borumba Dam are renowned for their exceptional fighting abilities and summer is a brilliant time to experience it for yourself. Typically, the onset of the warmer months coincides with the fish spreading far and wide throughout the lake. Targeting bass living in Borumba’s prolific standing timber is a very popular and successful technique. An www.spooledmagazine.com.au


Queensland’s Top Three Bass Impoundments

approach of continually casting lures toward different pieces of standing timber tends to see great numbers of fish caught, with lures including chatterbaits, spinnerbaits, lipless crankbaits and soft plastics each being great options to try.

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I recommend trying to keep your boat positioned in 15-30ft of water – the depths at which bass commonly live and feed during the scorching summer heat. Using the same lures, another tactic that can be equally or sometimes even more successful is to target schooling fish. Use the contour mapping tool on your sounder to search for groups of 58 fish on the creek bed edge or underwater humps. Just remember, the adage ‘don’t leave fish to find fish’ is not always the most appropriate approach to use. Sometimes, if the fish aren’t biting, finding a new and more actively feeding school may be the secret to experiencing a memorable day. As I always say, don’t be afraid to mix up your approach until you find a successful technique. During the months of May to early July, casting lures such as lipless crankbaits and jerkbaits near Borumba’s edges can be a very useful technique early in the morning. I always emphasise the efficacy of targeting edges located close to the old river bed edge. Bass use the creek bed over the course of the winter months to migrate downstream trying to complete their spawn, blocked only by man-made barriers such as weirs and dam walls. Edges close to the underwater river bed tend to hold higher concentrations of fish than any other bank, used intensively by bass as a close area to feed relative to the creek bed.

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Later in the day, targeting schooling fish tends to be the most effective approach. Spoons such as the Hot Bite Gangbanger G2 are the first choice of many anglers to tempt these schooling fish. Alternatively, soft plastics or ice jigs are worth a try. Through the latter months of winter and early spring, focussing efforts entirely on schooling bass will commonly bring best results. ‘Spothopping’ between schools using spoons, soft plastics and chatterbaits will give you best chances at catching some quality Aussie bass.

Hiring a fishing charter is always a good idea when heading to an unfamiliar lake, showing you first-hand how to put the tips I’ve shared into practice. Callum Munro from Untapped Fishing Expeditions knows his way around Lake Borumba, I certainly recommend him as guide if heading there!

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Picturesque is the only word capable of describing this wonderful fishery. The great numbers of bass on offer, in addition to the abundance of methods on which fish can be caught, make Borumba a lake most worthy of my top three list.


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Keeghan Painter caught this fish on a Hot Bite Gangbanger G2 spoon from the depths of Lake Borumba.

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//LAKE MAROON Another of Queensland’s most scenic waterways, Lake Maroon is situated in the heart of the Scenic Rim region. Maroon is undoubtedly one of the most majestic lakes I’ve been fortunate to fish, featuring crystal clear waters surrounded by dense forestry, along with an abundance of lilies, weed beds and standing timber that form an angling paradise. This tranquil fishery boasts populations of both Australian bass and many other fish species, thanks to the stocking efforts of the Maroon-Moogerah Fish Management Association.

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As for all fisheries mentioned in this article, a SIPS permit is required to both fish and support the ongoing stocking of the dam. To date, a total of 447,912 bass have been released into this premier fishery. Situated just over 20 kilometres west of Rathdowney and approximately one and a half hour’s drive from Brisbane or the Gold Coast, Lake Maroon is a fruitful angling destination year-round.

Trent and Eli Blake with a chunky Lake Maroon bass.

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Summer is certainly one of the most exciting times of year to target Aussie bass at Maroon. As is typical for impoundments with an absence of schooling baitfish such as bony bream and barred grunter, most of Maroon’s baitfish live and hide near the edges of the dam in the abundance of structure present. For that reason, angling efforts should most often be focussed on casting lures toward the edges. Early morning and late afternoon during the warmer months are primes time to use surface lures at Lake Maroon, renowned as one of Queensland’s

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best fisheries to catch bass on top-water. Casting surface lures over weed beds, near lilies or other structure will give you a great chance of catching a few aggressive fish. ‘Walk-the-dog’ style lures such as the Lucky Craft Sammy 65 are ideal. Calm conditions are undoubtedly the best for top-water fishing, though don’t be fooled into thinking bass can’t be caught using a surface approach when the water begins to ripple. Likewise, increasing levels of sunlight don’t necessarily coincide with the end of a top-water bite period. While both situations usually push the fish deeper, I recommend using lures like poppers, which create more commotion than traditional ‘walk-the-dog’ surface lures – it’s often the secret to tempting the fish from deeper water and elongating the top-water bite. Just remember, never strike when a fish hits your top-water lure! Hit and misses are common so it’s important not to ‘jump the gun’ and keep working your lure until the fish eats it.

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These fish were caught from Lake Maroon during early winter using ice jigs. It’s an addictive way to catch fish when they’re biting!

As both the sun and mercury rise, bass tend to retreat to the depths, causing topwater fishing to become less effective. I recommend an approach of fishing further from the bank and using deeper diving lures. When fishing weed-beds, I tend to begin by probing casts toward the shallower water near the edge and gradually focus my efforts closer to the edge of the weed as the day progresses. Light soft plastics hopped over the top of weed towers can be very effective. Try using 1/8 or 1/16 ounce jig heads rigged with two or three-inch soft plastics. An alternative option is to swim light spinnerbaits and chatterbaits over the weed or cast swim jigs near lilies and weed. Each of these lures, along with football jigs, are great options to target bass hiding near rock walls and timbered edges during the day as well. An interesting change occurs during the late autumn and early winter period. The fish begin a period of rapid feeding as they begin to produce roe (fish eggs). Each technique I’ve explained as useful during the warmer months still work effectively over this time. One major change that occurs is the fish begin to congregate on the www.spooledmagazine.com.au


outer edge of the lake’s weed beds. These fish are often the fattest fish you might ever catch out of Maroon. Over the years I’ve had great success in catching these sometimes hard-to-tempt fish by vertically jigging ice jigs. At times I’ve found less than a handful of bass on the fish finder, caught those I saw on the sounder, only to see it light up with fish as dozens more come from the weed to ‘investigate’ the commotion. I’ve had some very memorable sessions using this approach with countless fish caught, so it’s certainly a technique worth remembering.

Lures such as soft vibes and soft plastics that imitate Maroon’s small baitfish are effective at fooling the unsuspecting bass. I like to continuously ‘spot-hop’ between schools during the day, casting the same lures in an effort to find patches of fish willing to feed. As an alternative, casting or long lining chatterbaits and spinnerbaits can bring great success. Ultimately, it’s a case of trying different approaches on any given day to discover on what and where the fish are most actively feeding. There’s no doubt Lake Maroon is a fishery that should be on the bucket list of any keen bass angler. While the size of fish doesn’t quite compare to that in the other lakes mentioned in this piece, the sheer abundance of lures and techniques the fish eat, not to mention the incredible scenery, make it an enjoyable angling destination.

//LAKE SOMERSET Lake Somerset is undoubtedly my favourite bass fishing location. I’ve been fortunate to spend a great amount of time fishing and learning how best to target the bass at this hotspot. Only an 80-minute drive north-west from the Brisbane CBD, many anglers travel both nationally and internationally every year to fish at Lake Somerset. Somerset is renowned as one of the best fisheries to catch big bass, not only in Queensland, but Australia as a whole. The abundant populations of baitfish such as barred grunter, spangled perch and bony bream make it no surprise the bass thrive and grow to such unbelievable sizes. The current world record Australian bass was caught from Somerset Dam in 2018, highlighting it as one of the best big bass fisheries in Australia. Fishing at this lake becomes quite predictable after spending a considerable amount of time on the water. The fish typically react well to the same techniques and lures at similar times every year. The long, hot months during the summer period, particularly from November to April, are certainly one of the most testing times to consistently catch bass www.spooledmagazine.com.au

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Offering great angling year-round, late winter and spring is a wonderful time to fish at Lake Maroon. While quality bass can be caught casting to the lake’s edges at any time of year, this period provides an opportunity to catch big numbers of fish from the large schools present. Early morning and late afternoon are the best times to target these schooling fish, with many anglers having been rewarded with cricket scores of fish for utilising these bite times.


Queensland’s Top Three Bass Impoundments

at this location. Large schools of bass become less frequent, with the fish spreading throughout the dam. In this situation, trolling is one of the best techniques to catch both quality and quantity of fish. Most fish will be located in approximately 20-35ft. Using your depth sounder, try to keep your boat in this depth range, moving at a pace between 1.4 and 2.4 km/h. I always stress that your lure should ideally be brushing the bottom every so often. Great areas to troll during summer are Kirkleigh and Pelican Point. If you’re unfamiliar with any spots mentioned in this article, there are plenty of handy maps online such as those found on the Sweetwater Fishing website.

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Casting anglers can still find great success at Lake Somerset over summer with the right approach. A quality sounder is certainly a necessity when looking for congregations of fish. While schools won’t contain as many fish as that during the winter and spring months, they can most certainly still be found. I like to search near drop-offs to deeper water or on underwater humps, which I find using the contour mapping tool on my sounder. These days, this technology is available on most quality fish finders. Once a school of fish has been found, I like to try standard bass fishing techniques such as casting and retrieving spoons, blades or tailspinners. You’ll strike days www.spooledmagazine.com.au


when the fish will react well to this approach. While those days can be rather elusive, to continue catching fish it is simply a case of finding new schools and repeating the pattern.

Like many forms of fishing, targeting bass can be incredibly difficult without the right approach. To fool this fish, the author used a spoon that imitated the appearance of the most abundant baitfish in Lake Somerset - bony bream. www.spooledmagazine.com.au

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On days where the previous approach is unsuccessful, which will generally coincide with hot weather, lures with vibration become a great tool to entice a bite. Casting chatterbaits or spinnerbaits will both reap rewards given the right circumstances. Long lining both of these lures through schools or areas where scattered fish are visible on the sounder can also see great numbers of fish caught. I often have great success using Hot Bite


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Fishing Spectre and HD Vibration Jigs, along with Midget Spinnerbaits. An alternative way to catch fish on these tough days is to use lures with a large profile or lures such as skirted jigs that imitate the lake’s crustaceans. Fast retrieves with heavy spoons can also entice fish to bite, particularly later in the day when the water has heated up.

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During the cooler months, particularly from May to July, the fish tend to scatter early in the mornings, often making schools quite difficult to find. Targeting scattered fish found in areas like Queen Street, Kirkleigh, Bay 13, Beams Creek and One Tree Point will see best results, as these fish will most likely be actively feeding. Try using lures such as spoons or soft vibes. Later in the day once the sun is higher 68 in the sky, the fish will usually bunch up and better congregations of fish can be found. These fish tend to react well to quickly retrieved spoons or ice jigs. The months of August to late September are undoubtedly the best time to target Aussie bass at Somerset Dam. I’d have to say the majority of big bass I’ve caught in excess of 50cm and 3kg have been caught during this period, as the fish carry roe over these months. You’ll certainly struggle to find bass anywhere else that look so disproportionately fat! Early in the day I like to cast spoons replicating bony bream, which are the bass’ main food source. Later in the day I usually move around on schools, casting the spoon trying to find individual feeding fish. Alternatively, I’ll sit on a school and cast ½ or 5/8-ounce jig headrigged soft plastics. During the late afternoon the schooling fish tend to again actively feed, with spoons or soft plastics the best lures to cast. Schools will be found through nearly the entire lake at spots such as Kirkleigh, the eastern end of Queen Street, Bay 13, Red Rock, Happy Clappers, Beams Creek and the Spit. From late September to late October the fishing at Somerset can become very tough. There are two main approaches I use during this period as the fish transition from a spring to summer bite. I like to either cast soft plastics or chatterbaits. With both lures, try targeting schools of fish located in the same areas as that over the August/September period.

//SUMMING UP The task of selecting my top three bass impoundments in Queensland was most difficult. While many other lakes could quite easily have made this list, I hope this article inspires you to visit Lake Somerset, Lake Maroon or Lake Borumba and gauge them for yourself. Using the tips and information I’ve shared, good luck in catching bass at these bucket list angling destinations.

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BOAT PROJECT

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THE

Boat Project - The Fugly Skank Becomes a Spunk

JOHN WILLIS

FUGLY SKANK

BECOMES A

SPUNK!

JOHN WILLIS PUTS THE FINISHING TOUCHES TO SPOOLED’S PROJECT BOAT, A STABICRAF T 490 CUDDY.

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Everyone knows that you can bling ‘Fugly’ until the cows come home, but it’s the make-up that perfects the sweetheart! As our little Stabicraft 490 Project Boat nears its construction completion, it’s the final touches that have transformed a nautical skank into a lust-worthy seafarer. Before we start, let’s have a quick round up of what we have achieved. The boys (Barry and Brendon) at Ozsea Boats completed the major structural work, including: • Strip, sandblast and repair all corrosion to start with a fresh, clean hull

• Rework the cabin storage to something more practical • Remodel the seat supports • Manufacture and fit an aluminium fuel tank with deck fill and fuel filter • Replace all of the rod holders and fittings • Replace the bait board and cutting table • Remodel the anchor well for new Lone Star drum winch and bow sprit • Fit a new fin-friendly rear ladder • Fit new transducer brackets • Paint with non-reactive surface suitable for a wrap

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• Remove the weak and ugly old windscreen and replace with a tough wavebreaker


Boat Project - The Fugly Skank Becomes a Spunk

What was a wish list has now become achievements: • Hydraulic steering - existing • Lone Star Marine winch • House electronics from Nautek Marine, Atomic Batteries and NARVA • New electronics accessories package – still to come from Garmin, Nautek and Axis • New flooring and non-skid trim – Form A Sign

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• New wrap – Form A Sign • New fishing rod holders and accessories – Steve’s Custom Welding • New fittings throughout – Assorted • New canopies and upholstery – BARCA Covers and Canvas • New icebox/fish storage – Icey Tek And now comes the wrap for which we enlisted Melbourne based experts on all things design from Melbourne’s Creative Sign Company - “Form A Sign”. Fishing boats were once mostly ‘Plain Jane’, however modern materials and creative design have driven real artistic value, and some practical creature comfort for our marine market. Wraps have been particularly popular with everything from floating sponsorship billboards to creative works of artistic flare. There has also been tremendous development of beautiful products for floor linings and nonskid surfaces that complete an overall package of state of the art function. The crew at Form A Sign are industry leaders in all types of commercial signage, but company owner Wes Chandler and brother Ken have forged major inroads into their passion for fishing and boating. I must say that their passion is contagious! There are more than just the obvious optical obsessions on show in a wrap, there’s actually some real practicality. But like almost all products, you must be careful in your choice, as you only get what you pay for and the poor pay twice! Form A Sign only uses premium quality marine grade vinyl 3M 180MC with a 3M 8518 clear-over laminate, as it provides such a high level of protection with virtually no pigmentation loss from the protective layer. These superior materials ensure longevity with superior UV resistance and premium adhesives that will not react adversely through non-aligned chemicals on an aluminium boat. This outer clear layer is quite impervious and hence will not accumulate grime, providing a shiny surface that is very easy to clean generally just with soap and water. Should it get a bit grimy, www.spooledmagazine.com.au


or for preventative maintenance and added protection, the laminate responds well to annual applications of VuPlex plastic cleaner, which re-hydrates the wrap. A good quality wrap may actually prolong the service life of an alloy boat by reducing exposure to damaging elements that can cause corrosion. These elements may be as simple as salt air and water, however the incorrect glue and decomposing vinyl may have the opposite effect by accelerating damaging corrosion. At the very least, your chosen creation could fade, become dry and crack or simply peel off. Let’s face it, many people choose alloy boats due to their tough DNA. Yet painted alloy boats suffer terribly from the likes of gaff scratches, abrasion and even paint degradation. I tested an aluminium boat recently that looked an absolute shambles after just mooring dockside on a well buffered pontoon, costing thousands in a re-spray on a brand new boat! (I hope they use decent materials this time!) Premium wrap materials are actually quite abrasion resilient, but should the worst happen, they can be completely replaced very easily and cost efficiently. Many fleet managers, trucking companies and even airlines now order basic colour schemes in their new vehicles and have them wrapped for their service life. When it comes time to trade or resell, it’s quite an easy job to peel off the wrap, restoring the protected paint surfaces beneath and eliminating the need for a costly respray. All of that aside, Form A Sign employs some of Australia’s most creative artists who can design a personalised wrap of your choice. Alternatively, you can provide your own artwork and logos, choose from a huge range of stock images or reproduce a custom design. Personalised wraps may also make a boat less attractive to would-be thieves due to their individuality, and easier to trace should a theft occur. We have local experience of a stolen boat being recovered due to its distinctive styling being widely distributed on social media. www.spooledmagazine.com.au

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Boat Project - The Fugly Skank Becomes a Spunk

A wrap can drastically improve the visual appeal and hence the resale price. This is particularly true for older boats that may be experiencing fade in the gelcoat or paintwork. Form A Sign says, “A new boat wrap makes an older hull look fresh, bright and appealing. Equally, the right boat wrap makes a newer model look fresh and enviable.”

//THE ARGUMENTS!

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The Form a Sign designers supplied a choice of six great recommended options that would work with the very individual shape of Fugly. Then the argument started! Do we want a marlin, a tuna, mahi mahi, snapper, Murray cod or perhaps even a 74 combination? I had a different opinion to Wes, who was different to Editor Shane, who was different to owner Rob, so the only answer was too put the choice out to a poll on social media. The answers came in – the marlin won (much to my satisfaction!)

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To be honest, I would have been happy with any of the selections, but our new marlin sets the boat off beautifully with an appropriate amount of SPOOLED logo included. We just love it and you can see the heads turn every time we pass by. It wasn’t only the wrap we argued over either. Let’s face it, tough guys love the convenience of raw checker plate aluminium flooring. Personally, I hate it! While we could have left the floor exactly as it was, I find raw alloy a very unfriendly surface for those of us that like a few creature comforts. To me, aluminium is worse than concrete for extremes of heat, but also as a cold medium that seems to have the ability to suck the life out of your flesh and blood. I have no doubt it increases fatigue, especially on cold and frosty days where we spend long hours in search of local snapper and whiting, let alone the many hours tracking down offshore pelagics. Raw checker plate may well be easily cleaned – but at what personal cost?

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Form A Sign came up with the right answer. Being fisho’s themselves, they know the demands of a hard core fishing boat and hence became the Victorian, South Australia and Tasmanian distributors for U-DEK PE and EVA foam flooring from Ultralon International. These tried and true products are the ultimate nonskid flooring materials, however Form A Sign adds its unique brand of design and manufacturing capabilities to the product to produce beautiful layouts with tasteful features and highlights. Our new U-DEK flooring not only enhances the comfort levels, but has accentuated the wrap to turn ol’ Fugly into nautical eye candy! www.spooledmagazine.com.au


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The CNC machine precisely cutting the main floor section for the Spooled Project boat. The thick cushioned comfort of the U-DEK PVA flooring is warm in winter, cool in summer and eliminates that spine-shivering draw. It also reduces noise in your hull. Not only does it look great, but it will honestly keep my old bones fishing for longer. The special 3M adhesive is made to work in the wet marine environment. Ultralon closed-cell chemically cross-linked foams are manufactured from polyethylene (PE), ethylene-vinyl acetate copolymers (EVA) or a high-tech blended copolymer. The fine cell structure gives minimal water absorption, a high buoyancy rating and excellent chemical resistance. No chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) product or derivatives are used, and no organic fillers are added to foams. U-DEK boat flooring doesn’t absorb moisture and is easy to clean with water.  You can wash any bait or fish residue straight off your boat floor.  Form A Sign only offers Ultralon’s newest and best boat flooring product.  New U-DEK 190 has a higher density than the previous 140 model, which leads to increased durability, lower susceptibility to light amplification, improved heat tolerance and less shrinkage. The increased tensile and tear strength and higher shear elongation means U-DEK 190 is one of the highest performing foams available.  Form A Sign utilises state of the art digital templating technology to improve the overall accuracy of your marine floor template. Its Prodim Proliner digital templating technology measures accurately with a wire. At the end of the wire is a metal measuring pen. With this measuring pen you can simply mark the relevant points, shaping around boat rod holders, seats, cup holders, hatches, steps, doors and curves. These points are directly translated into a digital DXF CAD file. Straight, curved and very complex shapes can be measured fast and accurately from every position. www.spooledmagazine.com.au


The finished product fitted in the boat, the ruler on the floor is going to make life easier. Form A Sign utilises its design department to come up with tastefully embossed features that are router cut by CNC machinery, producing precise customised flooring and non-skid wear surfaces. Ours not only features a planked effect in the steel grey and black EVA, but it also has our SPOOLED logo and handy fish rulers as part of the finish. DIY boat wraps, boat floors, boat cleaners and non-slip trailer pads can be purchased on Form A Sign’s on-line shop https://www.formasign.com.au/shop/. Over 140 boat wrap designs are available at https://www.formasign.com.au/stock-wraps/ The colour scheme with the white hull, black wave breaker and rocket launcher, marlin wrap sides, blue canopies and upholstery, stainless steel and now the U-DEK flooring just looks sensational. Its far more than bling – it all combines as a practical, good looking, easily cleaned and state of the art aquatic assault weapon. One may say that Fugly the slutty skank has become a spunk!!

Spooled Magazine would like to thank the following for their ongoing support and sponsorship.

Marine Service Centre MARINE DECKING PTY LTD

Steve’s www.spooledmagazine.com.au

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Spring On The Surf Action

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ROD MACKENZIE

Surf Action ROD MACKENZIE DESCRIBES HIS LOVE FOR SPRINGTIME SURF FISHING, TRAVELLING TO SA IN SEARCH OF MULLOWAY, SALMON AND OTHER FIGHTING SPECIES.

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As the sparse, twigged branches of fruit orchards blossom forth from their winter slumber, the promise of spring hangs warm on the breeze. It’s hard not to smile as you ponder the excellent angling opportunities this welcome change of season might bring. While most of my fishing aspirations lay in the fresh, I have to confess my long-standing addiction for the windswept beaches where all manner of fish hide just beyond the rolling break.

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Mulloway are the holy grail of southern 79 surf fishers. Fresh bait is the key to these fish this one scoffed a fresh caught mullet.

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As you leave Kingston towards Salt Creek, wellmarked tracks along the Princes Highway provide 4WD access to the beach. The 28, 32 and 42mile crossings are popular entry points, as is Tea Tree Crossing at Salt creek. Of course, ease of access to the beach under the National Park banner requires a permit for overnight stays. These can be purchased on-line and a visit from a park ranger will cost you a fine if you don’t have one.

Other joys of fishing the beach come at first and last light. www.spooledmagazine.com.au

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Those who know it well will fully understand that surf fishing is a road hard travelled. It’s a place where wind, weed and wild seas will often replace expectation with self-doubt on one’s own fishing sanity. There are many spots to fish the surf along the southern coastline, but when it comes to ease of access and regular catches, the Young Husband Peninsula in South Australia is our favoured haunt. Situated between Kingston and the mouth of the Murray River, the Young Husband Peninsula is a part of the Coorong National Park and wetlands system. As a tourist destination, this stretch of coastline has plenty to offer. Kingston itself is the home of the Big Lobster and has a thriving crayfish industry. While I do enjoy the gastronomic delights of fresh crays, the real drawcard to this stretch of coastline is vehicle access to some truly first class beach fishing.


Spring On The Surf Action

While you can fish this section of coastline year round, spring offers a good cross section of different species, increasing your chances of coming up tight. While their numbers are starting to thin after the winter run, schools of chunky Australian salmon still cruise close to the beach. These fish are available on both bait and lures, and while not deemed a glamorous table species, they are great sport on light gear.

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Freshly cut salmon is also excellent bait for other species that cruise close to the break. Nothing beats fresh bait, and a blood-rich chunk of salmon pinned on a hook is as fresh as it gets. Mulloway are amongst the first fish to show as the weather starts to warm. Big mulloway are the Everest for beach fishers 82 and a prized catch for those that seek these silver slabbed nomads. Most years a few mulloway up to the 30kg mark are landed along this stretch of coastline, but more often than not, a good catch is upwards of the 10kg mark. As the weather continues to warm, snapper begin to show and among them some absolute honkers. Snapper to 10kg are landed most seasons, with a ripper red tipping the scales to 15kg the biggest I have heard of from this beach. We have been privy to several red hot snapper runs from the beach. One memorable session had myself and two mates triple hooked on multiple occasions to fish up to the 8kg mark.

A good variety of sharp hooks is a must when fishing the surf as the rolling surf and sand quickly dulls the points. Regular changes will increase bite to hook up ratios.

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Back then you could take a few for the table, but with new regulations regarding snapper closures in South Australia they are now a non-take species. The surf was riddled with snapper, with each cast scoffed as soon as the bait hit the water. Next day they were gone, but such is the nature of beach fishing and the nomadic feeding style of the fish that cruise the gutters. Fortunately, from a southern surf fisho’s perspective, wherever there are schools of fish, sharks are close in tow.

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Sharks are always about as the weather starts to warm and a short cast to the break can see you hooked up to a number of different toothy critters. Gummy and school sharks are ever present and provide not only great sport, but a fresh feed of flake for your efforts. While northern anglers are confused by our affinity with sharks, the truth is they are the bread and butter species of the surf angler and a welcome catch by most. Bronze whalers are common as the temperature climbs, and the occasional seven gill shark will also munch in on the action. Then there are the unstoppable subs that keep you guessing on what might have been. You can’t land them all and every season we have our pants pulled down by much larger toothies. www.spooledmagazine.com.au


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Large rays also frequent the shoreline gutters and amongst them are some true giants that will test angler and tackle no end. Regardless of your thoughts on these bottom huggers, they should all be returned to the water after capture. Too many times I have seen these magnificent creatures left on the beach to die a slow and horrible death.

Before driving along the beach it’s advisable to drop the tire pressure down to around 15psi. You will then need a small air compressor to pump the tires back up when the fishing is done.

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South Australia has a different size and bag limit on many of its fish species to Victorian waters, so it pays to get up to speed on their regulations. Other available fish from the beach include mullet, flathead and whiting, just to name a few. Suitable tackle for beach fishing generally begins with a rod approximately 3-4m in length. A good threadline reel capable of holding around 300m of 15-25kg braid will see you able to control most larger species you may encounter. Hook and bait size will depend on the species you intend to target. For example, if it’s snapper or mulloway, use a 4/0-6/0 and a large bait of fresh squid or fish fillet is best. Fish this on a heavy nylon leader in a paternoster or running rig. For sharks the same rig will work, exchanging the nylon leader material for wire trace. Grappling sinkers are best suited to hold larger baits in the strong side drift often found in the surf.

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A variety of different ray species from the beach and each should be returned to the water once removed from the line. Far too often they are left to die on the beach.


Spring On The Surf Action

Hooked up to and horizon bound freight train. Some fish just can’t be stopped.

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Salmon are a common spring catch from the beach and account for themselves very well on lighter tackle

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For smaller fish like mullet or salmon, also run a nylon paternoster rig; just scale your hook size down to around 1-1/0 to suit the smaller baits. Pilchard, small pieces of squid and pipis all work well on these smaller fish. When salmon are about in numbers, small metal lures cast and retrieved at high speed will also produce fish. Best times to target the beach are during periods of low light and into the darkness. In saying that, we have also had some excellent catches in the middle of the day. Just having a rod in the water gives you half a chance.

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Wind, weed and crabs are just three of the things that make surf fishing hard work. Sometimes these ravenous crustaceans will eat the bait before the rod hits the holder.

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One of the great things about fishing the beach is that you can never be sure of what’s coming next. The ocean has a huge variety of fish and a good number of them visit the back of the breakers at one time or another.

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The open beach is a harsh environment that has very little shade other than that you make yourself. Sun block is mandatory, as is a buff, a hat and a good pair of sunnies. Hot days can quickly turn cold as the sun slips bellow the horizon; warm clothes are essential if you are to fish on in any comfort. Headlamps are handy for night fishing, providing free hands for baiting hooks or fighting fish. A length of PVC pipe makes an excellent rod holder and a deckchair a great vantage point to survey 92 the rods from. Other essentials include a sharp knife, and don’t forget the gaff. Surf fishing provides us land lovers the opportunity to mix it up with some of the larger more glamorous species that our boat fishing brethren regularly encounter. Truth is, fishing the beach is a hard slog that is often hit and miss, but get it right once and you are far more hooked than any fish you are likely to drag from the brine. I for one can’t wait to break out the long rods and head for the coast as the warmth of spring brings the promise of more great surf fishing action and a chance to walk barefoot in the sand.

When beach fishing you are at the mercy of the conditions. On hot sunny days shade is where you can find it.

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Eastern Yorke Peninsula - A Shallow Water Paradise

SHANE MENSFORTH

EASTERN YORKE PENINSULA PARADISE

– A SHALLOW WATER

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SHANE MENSFORTH LOOKS AT ONE OF THE SA’S MOST POPUL AR FISHING HOLIDAY LOCATIONS – JUST A SHORT DRIVE FROM ADEL AIDE.

Klein Point jetty offers limited fishing access, but it’s often worth the drive. www.spooledmagazine.com.au


Although the fishing may not be quite as good today as it was in the ‘good old days, I still consider Yorke Peninsula to be among SA’s very best out-of-town angling locations. It continues to offer some first class jetty fishing, the yellowfin whiting are among the biggest you’ll find, seasonal blue crab numbers are at an all time high, and there are plenty of King George whiting accessible from several areas. As a bonus, YP now offers some of the best boating facilities in the State. A few years ago we bought a small holiday house over that way, which we share regularly with the extended family. There are few things I enjoy more than taking my young grandchildren squidding on the local jetty, hooking gar from the rocks or maybe raking crabs on the flats. Hopefully, such experiences will lead them into life-long love affairs with Yorke Peninsula, as they did for me.

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One of the most attractive things about visiting YP’s east coast is its relative proximity to Adelaide. Nowhere is further away than a three-hour drive, making it a comfortable distance for a weekend – something that is quite significant when you have young kids on board. Let’s take a close look at the major locations along this stretch of coast, outlining the available facilities and what you can expect to catch throughout the year.


Eastern Yorke Peninsula - A Shallow Water Paradise

//ARDROSSAN

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Named after a small town in south-west Scotland, Ardrossan is essentially the gateway to eastern Yorke Peninsula. It’s about 150km from Adelaide, which equates to a comfortable hour and a half on the highway. Ardrossan has two jetties, one of which is open to the public, and another longer one to the south that is closed to foot traffic. Boaties are permitted to fish around the big jetty at a minimum distance of 30m, but are prohibited from access when there’s a ship tied up. The town jetty, which features a giant blue swimmer crab at its entrance, is among the most popular and productive piers on the Peninsula. A casual walk 96 along most of its length will reveal hundreds of squid ink patches, indicating that calamari are among the most popular angling targets. Indeed, it’s not unusual for competent squidders to catch their daily quota of 15 without trying too hard. That rather daunting blue crab archway at the foot of the jetty is an accurate indicator of just how productive it can be for drop netters. The crabs generally start to show up in October, then improve all the way through summer and into early autumn. Most of the bigger males show up in February and March. It’s nearly always worth setting a net or two during the ‘r’ months while fishing for other things at Ardrossan.

Several Eastern YP jetties produce big blue swimmer crabs, particularly in the warmer months.

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Yellowfin whiting are easy to find between October and March. Yellowfin whiting specialists will often find schools of nice fish in the jetty shallows, as well as on the tidal flats to the north and south. Some of these are way bigger than average, with 35-40cm specimens relatively common between October and March. Mullet, tommies and snook also can be expected from the jetty in season, but the major prize is mulloway. Most of those hooked are ‘schoolies’ of between 3-5kg, but every now and then a lucky angler will land a bigger jewie of 8kg or more. Live baits like trumpeters, mullet and salmon trout seem to attract the better specimens. Ardrossan’s offshore snapper fishery is legendary, often rivalling the sort of action found in Spencer Gulf off Whyalla and Arno Bay. However, things haven’t been quite so rosy on the Ardrossan grounds for the past two years, and we can only hope that the glory days return after the current snapper closure is lifted in 2023. There are many short-stay accommodation options in Ardrossan, ranging from two first class caravan parks through to upmarket holiday villas. The town also boasts a terrific shopping precinct, including a well-stocked tackle store and, arguably, the best supermarket on the Peninsula. Those towing boats are well catered for with a protected launching ramp situated near the Viterra jetty complex. www.spooledmagazine.com.au


Eastern Yorke Peninsula - A Shallow Water Paradise

//BLACK POINT Although it doesn’t have a fishing jetty, Black Point offers a recently upgraded boat ramp and one of the most beautiful stretches of beach on eastern YP. It’s also a pretty good spot to go crabbing and wading for yellowfin whiting. There’s a small caravan park immediately adjacent to the boat ramp entrance, as well as countless short and long stay rental properties, but be prepared to pay premium rates, particularly during the high season.

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Black Point can produce some really nice yellowfin whiting.

//PORT JULIA This quaint little seaside village with just 42 permanent residents is largely unvisited, as it lacks any real facilities other than a short jetty that is often high and dry at low tide. When the tide is in, however, the jetty produces a few squid and tommies at night time. The flats to both north and south offer yellowfin whiting on occasion, and there are plenty of crabs during summer and autumn. The Julia boat ramp is basic and very tidal, providing only short launch/retrieve windows early and late in the day. There is a caravan park of sorts that is equipped with toilets, but no power. www.spooledmagazine.com.au


//PORT VINCENT Located around 190km from Adelaide, Port Vincent is a thriving little coastal community with a population of just over 500. It boasts one of the best marinas anywhere on Yorke Peninsula, with multi-lane boat ramp, expansive trailer park and great fishing just outside. There is no jetty to fish from, but the old Port Vincent wharf does produce crabs, tommies and the occasional bream and yellowfin whiting. The beach immediately south of the town is very reliable for yellowfin in the warmer months, as are some of the flats to the north. You’ll need a substantial tide variation to catch these great inshore fish, and there’s no doubt that pumping live clickers will put you in with the best chance.

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Garfish are prolific when the inshore water is warm. Small boat operators can find gar, KG whiting, snook, squid and blue crabs in good numbers and not far from the marina – all according to season, of course. Vincent offers plenty of facilities for short-stay visitors, including a top class country pub, supermarket and a very well stocked tackle/ outdoors store. It also boasts a lovely foreshore caravan park and terrific rental properties, so there’s plenty to suit all tastes and budgets. www.spooledmagazine.com.au


Eastern Yorke Peninsula - A Shallow Water Paradise

//STANSBURY About 20km further south you’ll find Stansbury, which is roughly the same size as Port Vincent and is equipped with facilities of comparable quality. This town has a nice friendly atmosphere and some of the very best fishing available on Yorke Peninsula. It’s a squidder’s paradise, with vast ribbon weed flats in shallow water that attract thousands of big calamari during the winter spawning season.

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The jetty is quite a long one at just over 300m, and fishes consistently throughout the year. Squid and tommies make up the bulk of the jetty catch, but there are mullet, gar, snook and salmon trout available at different times. School-sized yellowtail kings turn up occasionally, creating havoc when they grab baits on light tackle, and blue crabs can be prolific between Christmas and March.

Stansbury jetty is very popular with visiting anglers and their families.

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Mullet are a convenient beach target between April and August.

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Eastern Yorke Peninsula - A Shallow Water Paradise

Stansbury’s protected boat harbor is first class, with dual lane ramp, boarding pontoons and spacious car park. It’s an all-tide facility, too, which is important along this coastline. A substantial sand spit extends eastward from just outside the boat harbor, flanked by quite shallow water when the tide is down. It’s along the edges of the spit that drop netting for blueys can be very productive in season, with most crabs being large, meaty males. There are also plenty of gar, snook and tommies near the spit in the warmer months, which provide a great opportunity for small boat anglers when conditions are favourable.

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The Stansbury launch facility is first class for trailer boats of all sizes. www.spooledmagazine.com.au


Like most of the popular seaside resorts on eastern Yorke Peninsula, Stansbury is well equipped for visiting anglers and their families. The caravan park is large and spacious with spotless amenities, and there is the usual plethora of private rental accommodation. Just a short drive south along the unsealed coast road is Klein Point, the site of limestone loading by the Adelaide Brighton Cement Company. The jetty here is visited daily by the trans-gulf transport ship MV Accolade II, and fronts relatively deep water. I’ve caught all sorts of goodies from Klein Point over the years, including heaps of school mulloway, big snapper, silver drummer, sharks, King George whiting, bream and salmon, but I haven’t wet a line there in quite a while, so I’m by no means up to speed on what’s biting and when.

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Brett Mensforth with a lovely KG whiting from Stansbury.

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Eastern Yorke Peninsula - A Shallow Water Paradise

Calamari are available year-round, but are at their best in winter time.

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The public is allowed to fish on the jetty with certain restrictions. First up, visiting anglers have to vacate at least half an hour before the MV Accolade II comes in to berth and are not allowed back on until well after the ship departs. Arrivals and departures may vary daily, so it’s hard to pinpoint exact times. Cars may be parked in the dedicated space immediately north of the jetty, but must be taken back outside the main gates before workers leave for the day. This means a substantial walk for those wishing to fish overnight.

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Jack Laidlaw with a nice bream from Port Vincent. //WOOL BAY Rather than drive directly down the main highway toward Edithburgh, it’s quite a pleasant alternative to turn off and follow the coast down through Wool Bay and Coobowie. Wool Bay is one of the most productive calamari areas on YP, offering consistent action from both jetty and boat. This is where I spent many weekends in teenage years, racking up impressive squid catches, both in terms of size and numbers. I can recall one Easter Sunday many years ago when the jetty squid were so consistently large, we had to use crab nets to lift some of them from the water! www.spooledmagazine.com.au


Eastern Yorke Peninsula - A Shallow Water Paradise

Wool Bay also has a boat ramp (tide dependent), a general store and some high-end holiday units that are in constant demand. Just a short drive south of Wool Bay is Port Giles, which boasts the longest accessible jetty on YP’s eastern shore. As mentioned earlier, Giles was once a jetty fishing Mecca, attracting hordes of hopeful anglers keen to do battle with fish of many varieties and sizes. Access was unrestricted in the ‘good old days’, but things have now changed. The jetty is open during the day on weekends, but not at all when there’s a ship tied up or other work is in progress.

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Port Giles jetty is restricted due to shipping, but provides top fishing when it’s open.

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Once it was possible to drive in and park at the base of the jetty, but these days you have to park right up near the main entrance, enter via a small metal gate and walk down the hill with your gear. If the gate is locked, it’s a matter of finding somewhere else to fish. And, of course, you can only access half of the jetty now, whereas it used to be a case of fish where you like.

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Eastern Yorke Peninsula - A Shallow Water Paradise

//EDITHBURGH This delightful and historical township has long been one of my favourite YP destinations. From the jetty I caught big tommies, gar and squid as a kid, then upped the ante to sharks and snapper during teenage years. We managed to land some quite hefty whaler sharks during the spring and summer months, a couple of which would have nudged 200 kilos, and the odd nice snapper to 12kg or so. I’m not sure about the snapper, but I’m pretty sure the sharks would still be there for those with the right gear and a sense of adventure.

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Edithburgh’s boat harbor is yet another excellent facility, with all-tide ramp and easy car parking. This is the gateway to some excellent offshore fishing grounds, prominent among which is Tapley Shoal and a host of renowned whiting areas closer to shore. It takes a little while to find your way around off Edithburgh, but once you have a few reliable spots in the GPS, the fishing can be pretty good. As you’d expect, the town is very well equipped for visiting anglers. The caravan park is first rate and holiday rentals abound. Google is definitely your friend when searching for short-stay accommodation anywhere on YP, and I would advise picking up a copy of the Yorke Peninsula Fishing Guide to fill in any information gaps.

Edithburgh jetty offers everything, from crabs to big sharks.

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Angler Profile - Steve Starling Part 1

ANGLER PROFILE

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MATTHEW TAYLOR

STEVE STARLING

MATTHEW TAYLOR SITS DOWN WITH STEVE STARLING TO CHEW THE FAT AND FIND OUT WHAT MAKES THE RESPECTED FISHING WRITER TICK.

Part 1

Starlo prides himself on being reasonably proficient across an extremely wide array of species, environments and fishing styles — from “mullet to marlin” as he likes to say. But if he had to choose just one form of gear, it would be the fly. In more recent years, he has become deeply immersed in chasing big bream on fur and feathers and has also dived right back into fly tying.

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Steve ‘Starlo’ Starling is undoubtedly one of the most respected figures in the Australian fishing industry. His contribution to our sport is nothing short of astounding. To list just a few of his achievements, Steve has published more than 20 educational books, featured on numerous television programs and written thousands of articles for Australia’s most prestigious fishing magazines. Put simply, Starling’s talent and accomplishments as a fishing and outdoors communicator are unsurpassed.

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Angler Profile - Steve Starling Part 1

I’ll be upfront about this article from the outset; it’s something I’ve dreamt of writing for quite a time now, albeit a prospect I’ve approached with great trepidation. In the planning stages of this piece it was mentioned many times that writing an article that comes anywhere close to doing justice to the life of Steve Starling would be an immense task to conquer. Steve’s life story is captivating, although his journey has certainly not been one without great challenges. In Part 1 of this two-part article, I go back to where it all began for Steve, sharing his story from when he was a youngster to the time he made the gruelling decision to become a freelance fishing journalist.

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Starlo’s very first metre-plus cod came while lure casting from his kayak in the Murray River, downstream of Mildura, just a few years ago. Of all the captures in his lifetime, it was one of Steve’s most memorable.

//EARLY DAYS Steve was born in May 1958 to the late Graham and Laura Starling, spending much of his early years living in Sydney, New South Wales. Steve’s father worked as a policeman for the New South Wales Police Force – a role that required the Starling family to move regularly as Graham was transferred between postings. When Steve was only five years old, the family relocated from their home in Sydney’s eastern suburbs to the small www.spooledmagazine.com.au


Unlike many anglers, the first fish Steve ever caught was fooled by a lure – perhaps an early sign of the incredible talent for lure fishing he would develop in later years. Standing on the banks of the Lachlan River at a spot known as Gum Bend, Steve was immediately fascinated by the action of a Wonder Wobbler spoon his father had won at the local show. While swimming this unique ‘contraption’ back and forth in the water, Steve was astonished when a feisty redfin annihilated the lure. In many ways, the capture of that first redfin can be credited for both the birth of Starlo’s love for fishing and his passion for writing. Ecstatic with his success, Steve took the fish home to trace and produce a coloured illustration for his grandmother. This was soon accompanied by a long, hand-written letter describing the experience down to the finest detail. From a young age, the sheer quality of Starlo’s writing impressed both his friends and family, demonstrating an academic ability far beyond the standards of his age. Steve continued to write regular letters to his grandmother throughout his childhood. As the Starling family moved across New South Wales, these letters became more regular, allowing his abilities as a young ‘journalist’ to develop. Steve believes he always had an aptitude for storytelling, though this ability became increasingly obvious as he grew older.

A mackerel tuna spun up from the rocks on the south side of Jervis Bay in the mid-70s. www.spooledmagazine.com.au

Steve’s final catch for his ANSA Masters award was this salmon from the rocks on ultra-light tackle. He was just 17 at the time.

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town of Condoblin in the Central West of New South Wales. Condoblin is situated adjacent to the Lachlan River, a waterway that at the time teemed with redfin, silver perch, yellowbelly and eel-tailed catfish, along with the odd Murray cod. His father’s fateful transfer meant that it was here Steve was introduced to fishing.

A young Starlo during his university years.


Angler Profile - Steve Starling Part 1

There was a fair duration between the time Steve caught his first and second fish. Steve recalls that his dad “was transferred to Lismore shortly after I caught that first redfin from the Lachlan River and for some reason, I never got the chance to fish during our relatively short (18 month) stint in Lismore, although I clearly remember seeing a bloke climb up from the Richmond River’s bank near our home carrying an impressive-looking fish that I now realise was a big Australian bass. I was captivated by the look of that thing!”

//A STAR IS BORN

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South Wales. It was here that Steve truly ‘cut his teeth’ on fishing. After moving, the local barber shop and sports store quickly became a favourite destination for him. Amongst the piles of magazines, Steve found inspiration in the old ‘Outdoors’ magazine. The writing of the late Vic McCristal – one of the pioneers of Australian fishing and outdoors journalism – captivated Steve, introducing him to numerous angling destinations and techniques. A fire had most certainly been lit within him. Steve had a newfound drive in life and was eager to fish at every available opportunity. With so many fishing options in the Bega area, Steve soon developed a diverse range of life and angling skills. He became a very independent child. At only 11 years of age, Steve would catch the bus from Bega to Tathra and fish off the wharf for hours at a time – often on his own! It was here he gained a depth of knowledge about catching different species, be it flathead, slimy mackerel or salmon. It’s no wonder that, to this day, Steve remains a guru at catching each of these fish. To say the least, Steve did a lot of fishing during his time living in Bega. He’d regularly jump in a beat-up old tinny with his father and his mate ‘Scobie’, heading off to target sand flathead. Steve says, “I got seasick nearly every time I went out, but still insisted on going!” With the amount of fishing Starling was doing, it wasn’t long before he met his first fishing mate – Don Norris. This friendship accelerated Steve’s learning about the fickle art of fishing. Don’s father was a knowledgeable rock fisherman and naturally, Steve would tag along on their adventures to learn about catching everything from kingfish to tailor, but especially black drummer. When Steve was 14 years old, the Starling family made their fourth and final move to Bomaderry in the South Coast region of New South Wales. It was here that Steve would not only finish his high school education, but also experience lifechanging events that would influence his development as an angler. Shortly after moving to Bomaderry, Starlo joined the Nowra Sportfishing Club. His involvement allowed Steve to develop several lifelong friendships with likeminded www.spooledmagazine.com.au


Starling with a pair of big brown trout from the Murrumbidgee River in the mid-70s. He’s standing in front of his mate Roger Apperley’s VW - a vehicle that transported the pair to so many fishing spots in those days.

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individuals, including Roger Apperley. Roger quickly became Steve’s best fishing buddy. Together they became involved in the ANSA (Australian National Sportfishing Association) movement, participating in competitions, chasing records and working towards a ‘Master Angler’ award. This achievement is no easy task, requiring the angler to capture 10 different species, each worth more than 100 points (with scoring www.spooledmagazine.com.au


Angler Profile - Steve Starling Part 1

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Roger Apperley remains one of Steve’s best fishing mates. Roger nailed this massive mullet on fly on a trip they shared together to Cape York in the late 1990s. based on an equation involving the fish’s weight, its designated ‘fighting factor’ and the line class used to land it). Steve was recognised as a ‘Master Angler’ before the age of 18 – a feat that showcased both his talent and dedication to the sport. In those early days Steve and his mates were largely limited to land-based fishing, though this certainly didn’t hinder their success. The iconic rocky cliffs known as the Outer Tubes inside Jervis Bay became the stomping grounds of Starling and his fishing ‘gang’. The school week quickly became a long and tedious affair as they waited for the weekend to arrive. Starlo recalls that he was, despite his academic proficiency, “a bit of a day-dreamer” during high school. Rightly so, I’d argue! Large yellowtail kingfish, yellowfin and longtail tuna were more abundant back then, which, combined with the prospect of catching one of the rare marlin lurking within those waters, would be enough to make most anglers yearn for their next fishing expedition. Peer pressure played a pivotal role in Starlo’s entrance to the realm of freelance fishing writing. Steve’s obvious love for putting pen to paper and sharing his fishing experiences remained ever-present as he transitioned into teenage years. At school Steve was, in his own words, “an avid essay writer”. By the time Steve graduated, undoubtedly his teachers were sick to death of reading about his fishing adventures! Starlo’s mates www.spooledmagazine.com.au


from the Nowra Sportfishing Club were a source of constant encouragement, urging him to send an article off to a magazine. During his final year of high school, Steve finally ‘bit the bullet’ and sent his first article to Ron Calcutt from the Australian Angler magazine (now known as Fishing World). Alongside Vic McCristal, Ron Calcutt was one of Steve’s biggest idols. It was a nerve-racking experience for Steve to send his work into unfamiliar territory – dreading the idea that Ron could potentially reject his writing. Days soon drifted into weeks as Steve anticipated a reply. At least a month passed before Steve eventually returned home from school one day to find a letter from Ron waiting for him. Enclosed with the letter was a cheque for the modest (but handy) sum of $50 and – most importantly to Steve – a message praising his writing. Steve’s pathway into journalism had ultimately begun.

It’s no surprise that Steve was, in his words, “a fairly academic kid and a bit of a ‘nerd’ by today’s standards”. He excelled in Economics, Geography, History and, quite obviously, English. Steve was heavily involved with the school debating team – a role that fostered his communication skills. Steve’s early talents, interests and achievements make it appear as though he were always destined for a role in the fishing and outdoors industry. Steve graduated from Bomaderry High School in 1975. Despite becoming quite ill during his exam period, Starlo’s academic abilities shone through in his work. He was recognised as male ‘Dux’ of his year, although Steve is always quick to note that five girls in fact outperformed him! Despite his successes, Starlo was undecided about what path he should pursue after finishing school. His father encouraged him to study law, hoping he would one day become a barrister – a prospect Steve wasn’t remotely interested in.

One of the Chinook salmon that elevated Steve and Paul Barker to first place at a media tournament on Vancouver Island, Canada, during the mid-80s. www.spooledmagazine.com.au

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//SCHOOL’S OUT!


Angler Profile - Steve Starling Part 1

“A school councillor told me to avoid anything involving the use of my hands or manual dexterity (I was a bit of a klutz!). In the end, ‘schoolteacher’ seemed almost a default setting and a natural progression, much to the disappointment of my father,” Steve said recently. In 1976 Steve moved into his grandparents’ home in Maroubra to attend the University of New South Wales. His sights were set on becoming a high school teacher, studying a Bachelor of Arts degree in History and English, with a Diploma in Education. Starlo’s life was soon packed with more tests, assignments and deadlines than you could poke a stick at! To put it mildly, it was a stressful time in his life.

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The hustle and bustle of university life certainly lengthened the time between Starlo putting pen to paper for further fishing articles. From the time Steve sent his first article to Ron Calcutt from the Australian Angler, it was nearly 18 months before he wrote his next piece. From then on, Starlo began writing more and more regularly. Steve’s content was often focussed on the adventures that occurred during semester vacations. One of Steve’s fondest memories from his days of land-based game fishing occurred in early January 1979. Starlo would often return to Bomaderry to visit his family and, more to the point, his mates from the Nowra Sportfishing Club. Starlo had just finished his Bachelor of Arts degree in late 1978 and was on the home straight to finishing his Diploma of Education in 1979. A steamy summer’s morning greeted Starling and Pete Dore – fellow member of the Nowra Sportfishing Club – as the pair set off to the wharf at the HMAS Creswell navy base. This was an area Starling often visited to catch live bait and, successful in their efforts, the pair were soon making the trek into the Outer Tubes with a bucketful of small yellowtail scad in hand. In those days, marlin captures were far rarer in ‘The Tubes’ than they are today. Steve’s first bait was eaten at 8am. Expecting it to be a ‘kingy’ or tuna, the pair joked that it might be a marlin. Little did they know! After setting the hook, Steve and Pete quickly realised that this was going to be no short fight. Using only 20-pound tackle, a long battle was all but inevitable. While it was only a small black marlin (weighing around 25kg), it was a monumental achievement for Steve. He became a member of a very small group of anglers who had ever landed a marlin from the Outer Tubes. This achievement was shared with the fishing world through Steve’s writing. Starlo was quickly becoming one of the pioneers of land-based game fishing in Australia, as well as one of the country’s emerging fishing journalists. After finishing his university studies in late 1979, Steve’s first teaching experience was in the outback town of Bourke in western New South Wales. Bourke is situated on the Darling River and as any avid angler would, Starlo jumped at the fishing opportunities this presented. Unfortunately, the carp plague was at its peak, which made the task of catching anything else extraordinarily difficult. For the entire year Starlo worked www.spooledmagazine.com.au


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Steve became fond of Canada and its unique fishing opportunities during his visits in 1981 and 1984. It’s no surprise he later decided to move there for a year’s ‘working holiday’ in 1989, something I’ll discuss further in ‘Part 2’ of this article. www.spooledmagazine.com.au


Angler Profile - Steve Starling Part 1

in Bourke, he caught only a handful of small yellowbelly and Murray cod, as well as eradicating a fair amount of pest carp!

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Time living in the outback had Starlo missing the sea, plus he wasn’t enjoying teaching as much as he’d initially hoped. When an opportunity arose to become Assistant Editor of Fishing World, Steve ‘took the bull by the horns’ and left his job as a teacher in a heartbeat – a decision he’s never regretted.

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//A NEW BEGINNING Ron Calcutt had been Starlo’s idol from a very young age. Put simply, Steve viewed the prospect of working as Assistant Editor under Ron’s watchful eye as a once in a lifetime opportunity. At the time, many onlookers saw this as a risky move on Ron’s behalf, given Starlo’s age and inexperience. Steve was quick to prove the naysayers wrong, advancing to the role of Chief Editor within a short three months.

As Editor at Fishing World, Steve fished all over the country in the following years. He’d soon fished in every Australian state and territory, all the while sharing his adventures through writing. It wasn’t until 1984 that Starlo once again had the opportunity to fish overseas. After winning the Air Canada Tuna Cup years earlier, Steve was “in the good books with the Canadian Embassy”. Along with Paul Barker – fly columnist from Modern Fishing Magazine – Steve was invited to compete in a media salmon fishing tournament held in Canada’s British Columbia.

Starlo won the 1981 Air Canada Tuna Cup for Australia with this massive 1,020 pound (463 kg) Atlantic bluefin tuna caught in the cool waters of Nova Scotia, in eastern Canada. To this day, this is the biggest fish Steve has ever caught! www.spooledmagazine.com.au

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Starlo’s time with Fishing World also brought many opportunities for growth as an angler. Barely given time to move into the Editor’s desk, Steve was invited to fly to Canada to represent Australia in the Air Canada Tuna Cup off Nova Scotia. The event involved editors and journalists from all over the globe. At 23 years of age, Steve was by far the youngest competitor, though he quickly showcased that age doesn’t determine one’s ability. Steve became the first Australian in history to land an Atlantic bluefin tuna weighing over 1,000 pounds, thus winning the event for his nation.


Angler Profile - Steve Starling Part 1

Paul’s skill as a fly fisherman, along with Starlo’s previous experience using centrepin reels to catch blackfish, put the pair in good stead for the competition. Barker and Starling targeted seagoing chinook salmon with cut plug herring ‘mooching’ rigs – an approach that proved successful on these ‘pound-for-pound’ fighters. While many other teams struggled to adapt to the conditions, Steve and Paul were able to bring home the winner’s trophy. With another victory under his belt, Starlo was certainly impressing the Canadian fishing community with his abilities.

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It was around this time that Steve married and shortly after had two children – Tom and Amy. With his young family at home, Steve was growing impatient. His job as editor 122 was requiring him to spend more time at the desk, which left time for neither family nor fishing. It was a testing period. Many sleepless nights and grey hairs later, Steve made the difficult decision to go ‘freelance’. He left the security of regular pay and moved to Bowral. This was one of the most difficult decisions Steve ever made – one that he often regretted. For many years, freelance writing took a toll on Steve’s relationships, financial security and mental wellbeing. Discover more about Steve Starling’s journey and the countless highs and lows he has experienced when his story continues in Part 2 of this ‘Angler Profile’.

Starlo shows off just one of the many fish he has caught in his lifetime from the rocks at Jervis Bay – a hefty Australian salmon taken on fly.

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Back in Black

GLEN BOOTH

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THE APPEARANCE OF THE MIGHT Y BL ACK MARLIN ALONG THE EAST AND SOUTH EAST COASTS OF AUSTRALIA IS A MUCH ANTICIPATED ANNUAL EVENT. SOME YEARS IT’S A FEAST, SOME YEARS A FAMINE, BUT FROM SPRING THROUGH UNTIL L ATE AUTUMN THEY CERTAINLY GRAB THE AT TENTION OF OFFSHORE ANGLERS. GLEN BOOTH EXPL AINS.

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Black marlin are the working man’s billfish. They have an attractive Blundstone boots, overalls, dirty fingernails, VB-drinking appeal about them. They’re extremely accessible and don’t mind swimming in shallow water if there’s a feed on offer, so you don’t need to spend a fortune to catch them, nor travel very far. Mostly an inshore fish, even little tackers (and some far bigger) turn up over the continental shelf from time to time, usually trying to eat a lure that’s way too big for them and that’s where their abilities and their aspirations clash. And then we have the world famous Cairns black marlin fishery, which draws Aussies and international visitors to far north Queensland every Spring, for a crack at the most accessible giant billfish on the planet.

As the Cairns fishery winds up and the big blacks are pushing off the reef and back into the wider Pacific, juvenile and mid-size fish begin to migrate south. In some areas, they’re already on site. While it’s been common knowledge since the mid 1980s, the inside of Fraser Island in Spring is the place to be. The light tackle fishery inside Fraser (that has been ‘discovered’ every decade for the past 30 or 40 years) takes place over a bottom so shallow that the backdrop to those jumping fish is sand dunes!

Do the miles, get the smiles. Don Cummings hooked up to his first marlin, a black.

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For the purposes of this article though, comments refer to fish from 10 to about 180kg, as targeting the bigger fish of the Great Barrier Reef is a completely different ballgame and certainly worthy of an article all its own.


Back in Black

And here’s his milestone fish, successfully boatside and tagged.

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From the Sunshine Coast to northern NSW, Christmas onwards is when local anglers expect to encounter blacks, with fish pushing further south over coming weeks. Some years the range will extend as far south as Bass Strait, but this is dependant on the East Australian Current pushing hard. Other years they barely put in an appearance, but reduced numbers may also be attributed to poor spawning results in previous years. The size of the fish in any given season can be a real lottery, with a run of 25kg marlin interrupted by a 50kg model that looks like a grander! Cape Bowling Green, the Whitsundays and even Port Stephens has seen blacks well in excess of 250kg appear on the light tackle grounds.

Identifying black, blue and striped marlin can be tricky at times and less than stellar shots accompanied by an “ID please” request on social media brings out all the armchair experts. The key identifying feature is that the pectoral fins on a black are fixed and curve back and downwards, although they will fold flat in young fish. The dorsal fin is about half the body depth and juveniles may show faint stripes, which disappear with age.

//BAIT, BAIT, BAIT Find that bait, find the marlin — whatever the billfish species, it’s almost as simple as that. With blacks, this could be anything from pilchards to yellowtail and slimy mackerel, bonito and small tuna like frigates and skipjacks. A tolerance for green, but not dirty water, means with blacks you don’t have to blast out over the horizon in the search for cobalt currents. A reliable food source is usually more important, but purple blue water can’t hurt. So from the surf break to the shelf, if the water is over 21° and bait schools are showing clearly on the sounder, well this is the place to start looking. Blacks can found roaming in the middle of nowhere, but greater numbers (and of course, more bait) are found adjacent to some sort of reef structure or contour changes that disrupt the current.

//LIVE BAITING In southern waters, a bridled striped or skipjack tuna was once considered the ultimate black marlin live bait, but smaller fish trying to scoff them usually resulted in an unsatisfactory 1-1-0. Live tuna were also a magnet for sharks, especially hammerheads. These days a bridled slimy mackerel is about as good a bait as www.spooledmagazine.com.au

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//NAME THAT FISH


Back in Black

you can get for black marlin of small to middling sizes. (See rigging sequence hereabouts.) These can be trolled off outriggers, or kept waiting in a slimy tube while hookless teasers raise the fish and a live bait is dropped into the wake. Most days begin with jigging slimies (and the less desirous yellowtail or yakka) on the inshore bait grounds, but the robust swimming slimy is the preferred bait. Even if the tank is brimming with perfect baits, keep that bait jigging outfit handy out on the marlin grounds, as sometimes freshly caught baits go off as soon as they return to the water. The deeper water slimies occasionally have a bluer rather than light green back, and these appear to be the preferred snack.

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For this rig we’ll need a suitable live bait (preferably slimy mackerel, but sometimes yellowtail or yakkas, all the way up to a small tuna), a bridle needle, Dacron, and a rigged circle hook.

Pressing the bait firmly into the sponge (with a tuna we’d invert it and hold it firmly in a wet towel), insert the needle forward of the eyes.

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Draw the loop through.

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And place over the hook point.

Twist up the Dacron loop a couple of times to secure it and reduce the length of the bridle.

Slide the hook point through the loop forward of the bait’s head to lock the bridle in place, ensuring the hook point is riding uppermost.

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The completed rig, with the hook positioned well forward of the bait’s nose. For live baiting, fluorocarbon leader material really is the only choice these days, with monofilament considered almost obsolete for this style of fishing. As it’s conducted at a slower pace than dragging plastic, fish have time to check out what’s on offer, so breaking strains of 80-130lb are about where you want to be. Unless specifically hunting for records, circle hooks are the best option for a healthy release, and they’re not hard to fish. The Eagle Claw L2004 in 9/0 was a staple for many years, but now most hook manufacturers have a suitable version. They must have a straight shank though, not offset, or it defeats the purpose and results in gut hooking. Outriggers make the live baiting process so much easier. Depending on the line class in use, #16 or #32 rubber bands will suffice. Fished via a Blacks type release clip, reels should be set with a light drag, and the angler ready to fly into action and snatch up the rod the moment the clip releases. After the bite, allow the fish a short amount of time to get the bait down. The angler slowly eases the drag up and winds the slack out, with the boat edging gently forward to remove the belly. Most times you’ll come tight, but if not, go to freespool and give it 15 seconds or so to see if the marlin comes back. If fishing two baits, it’s important to quickly wind the second up to the transom, but leave it in the water. We don’t want the marlin eating both (it can happen), but if it doesn’t, you’re in a good position to freespool that still lively bait back to the loitering fish if it has lost interest in the first one. Just as it is with striped marlin, live baiting sometimes involves bombing a mackerel down into bait schools on a detachable weight to get the bite. Not a popular approach with the traditionalists who view it as mindless bottom fishing and a last resort, it’s hard to argue with the results. Double digit releases are on the cards… www.spooledmagazine.com.au


If deep dropping via a sinker when the boat traffic is heavy and billfish are shy, it might be necessary to drop right down in leader size. Using 40lb is not unheard of. Just keep in mind though, that a black marlin’s bill is substantially rougher than that of a striped, so going super light to get bit might not pay off. Still, it’s better to have hooked and lost… If deep dropping isn’t your thing, don’t forget the downrigger option. Some days the blacks will be hanging deep, and a mobile live or dead bait run off a bomb can really make a difference.

Swimming mullet and skipping garfish are popular options in tropical light tackle tournaments, and would certainly work in more temperate waters.

//DEAD BAITING Slimy mackerel also make excellent skip baits (see Spooled #5 on how to rig one), so utilise retired baits this way. Sometimes skip baits will get all the attention from fussy billfish. In tropical north Queensland, bait fishing has a somewhat different approach. While live baiting is utilised, the preferred spread is two skipping garfish from the outriggers and a pair of swimming mullet trolled from flat lines off the rod tips. This give the fish a choice, as again, on some days they can favour one bait option over another. The spread is enhanced with a daisy chain of squids behind a bird teaser, or maybe even a dredge, run off a spare heavy tackle outfit or controlled by the skipper on the flybridge. A bridled live bait in the bait tank is a good backup if a bait or baits gets mangled without hooking up. www.spooledmagazine.com.au

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Back in Black

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Single or double chem’ sharp hooks are the go for lures run on light tackle. //LURE TROLLING For juvenile blacks, bullet, cup-faced and slant headed skirted lures in the 4-7” range are considered a suitable mouthful, but that’s not to say they won’t attack something way beyond their pay grade. Fine gauge chem’ sharp hooks are all the rage for targeting the smaller fish on light tackle these days. Just change them regularly, as even with a sacrificial anode attached, the points will still get eaten away pretty fast — sometimes in the space of a day. A shackle rig makes hook changeovers a lot faster, so plenty of spare rigs will keep you fishing efficiently. Light leaders get more bites, so for juvies, look at 80-200lb hard wearing mono. Attached to a wind-on of a similar breaking strain via a high quality ball bearing snap swivel, a combined length of 15 feet keeps it all IGFA legal up to 10kg line class. Larger blacks tend to get caught up in the excitement of chasing blue marlin on the continental shelf. With the chance of a blue encounter, most lures are 9-14” in length and rigged on 400-500lb leader. Be mindful though, that small fish caught on heavy tackle usually arrive boatside green and full of aggression. The sub-40kg models are the most dangerous of all. Crew members getting impaled is not unheard of and every season there are more than a few near misses. With a small fish on big line, the best approach is to back the drag off to below strike, tire them out some and enjoy the fight. www.spooledmagazine.com.au


//SWITCH IT UP While not as obvious as stripes, and less likely to conduct a hit and run raid like blues, black marlin switch bait well. With a shorter dorsal and drab colouration, an alert crew is necessary for this technique to work — constantly watching the teasers (hookless skirted lures, baits or a combination of both) for that brown shape materialising behind them. Two lures or baits and maybe a surface teaser are sufficient for this (and makes you wonder why we put so much gear out when chasing them with hook-rigged lures!).

Another positive with switch baiting is that because it’s conducted at regulation trolling speed, say 6-7knots, it’s a great way to cover ground when actively searching out billfish and bait schools. Then, once they are found, switch to slow trolling.

//FIGHTING TACTICS Black marlin are known to be somewhat unpredictable in their movements once hooked, but this can usually be countered with smooth boat movement and steady winding by the angler. Other times, if it’s an oversize example, foul-hooked or just plain stubborn, it may be necessary to delve deeper into the bag of tricks. Blacks in particular like nothing more than the line over their shoulders, pulling like a draught horse and trucking out to sea, so it’s important to avoid getting into this style of conflict. Stalemates can go on until the line wears out, so more aggressive boat driving may be necessary. Change direction, get in front of the fish, have the leader flick over its face. Ideally, what we want is the fish up and jumping and burning energy, but anywhere nearer the surface is ok too. The angler will most likely hate this (fancy manoeuvring equals more winding), but you have to break the fish out of its comfort zone. If none of this is working (depending on the quality of the electronics, you may mark the fish on the sounder 20-30m down), increase the drag. Sit the drag lever on the button, then if that doesn’t work, go just beyond it, then a bit more, possibly all the way to sunset. In Cairns it’s sometimes necessary to crank on over 70lb of drag to get the fish to the boat. That’s pressure that kills at both ends! The angler needs to be ready to ease the drag back in the event of a dramatic change of behaviour by the fish, including jumping. Once you’ve www.spooledmagazine.com.au

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A live bait bridled in a slimy tube is usually the first choice bait, with a skip bait as a backup. If the marlin has come in on a splashing surface lure or bait, a deep swimming livie may not be what it expects to see, so this additional string to the bow can be beneficial.


Back in Black

broken its will and it’s close to the surface, ease the drag back to strike as there’s less margin for error on such a short leash. Of course this is a high stakes game if the line and leader aren’t fresh and the drag smooth.

//SET ’EM FREE

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A poor eating fish at any size, most black marlin get tagged. They have been a major target of the NSW DPI Game Fish Tagging Program since the 1970s, and more recently the Billfish Foundation. Both conventional and pop-up satellite 134 tags have revealed blacks do some incredible miles too, with one juvenile fish tagged off Cairns being re-caught at Costa Rica, some 7800nm away! Unhooking them boatside can produce all sorts of shenanigans, as more than any other billfish species, blacks just hate being grabbed by the hooter. Most turn into threshing machines, which can make hook recovery something of a challenge and every deckie has copped an abrasive bill up the forearm at some point. If caught on live or dead bait, cut the leader as close as possible to the hook (ideally a circle) and let corrosion deal with it. With lures, single hook rigs are a much safer option as there’s less chance of the second hook swinging around and into the back of the crewman’s hand. Tagging off the rod tip without touching the leader is best, especially when light tackle fishing. If lure fishing, those fine gauge chem’ sharp hooks will often straighten out when a bit of muscle is applied on the leader, so keep that in mind once the tag is in.

Getting closer to tagging. “Ok, take a step back!” www.spooledmagazine.com.au


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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 THREADLINE FROM ALVEY Iconic Australian reel manufacturer, Alvey, has announced the launch of the new Orbiter range of spinning reels. Following a twoyear research and development program to expand its range of products, Alvey has come up with its first ever threadline, and initial trials indicate it’s a beauty. There are four models in the range – SR60, SR80 SR100 and the SR200. The Orbiter range features black and gold colouring and boasts some impressive features such as 9+1 stainless steel ball bearings, 5.8:1 gear ratio, excellent line capacity, oversized machined handle knob and smooth gearing. The drags also are smooth and positive and the rotor is balanced nicely to minimise wobble on a fast retrieve.

Info www.spooledmagazine.com.au

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DUAL-FACING FISHING CAMERA Catching your trophy fish isn’t just about the prize - it’s all about the fight, the experience, and your surroundings. Siren is a brand new dualfacing fishing camera that can be instantly attached to your line after a fish is hooked. The camera slides down the line and floats steadily on the surface, allowing you to capture unique two-way fishing battles like you’ve never seen before. Record, relive and share your epic fishing experiences. Keep track of all your catch records while you compete and compare your catch on the Siren app.

Pre Register Info

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Video


What’s New?

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NEW ADDITIONS TO THE SQUIDGIES RANGE The incredibly popular range of Squidgies soft plastics has been expanded to include larger sizes in the Fish and Wriggler models. Like the new Wriggler 140 and 160, the new 150mm Squidgies Fish that features the brand’s iconic fish profile, thumping paddle tail action and body roll, comes in a mix of Squidgies’ classic, time-proven, colour patterns as well as some new and exciting colours. Both of the new lures are now available from Shimano stockists.

Info www.spooledmagazine.com.au

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ALBVEY ORBITER BAITCASTER REEL

Super comfortable EVA covered handles on a long, powerful handle plate give the angler lots of jigging strength at the fast 7.1:1 recovery rate. A smooth infinite anti-reverse system tops off these features. A special component of the V-shaped, dual colour anodised spool is its quick exchange system, allowing the angler to fish with more than one size line for different situations. The line runs through a Titanium-coated guide for long life and smooth action. An adjustable magnetic brake system allows ultimate control in casting, while a maximum 8kg of smooth clutch pressure through carbon drag washers will control the strongest fish via a gloss black alloy star drag. Reel weight is less than 300g, and line capacities are: 0.30mm – 220m , 0.33mm – 180m , 0.40mm – 120m.

Info

Web

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Alvey has recently introduced its new Orbiter Baitcaster reel to the market. Finished in a frozen matt grey with gunmetal and anodised gold highlights, it’s certainly attractive to look at. The Orbiter features six stainless steel ball bearings built into the one-piece die-cast super rigid frame with nylon hybrid side caps.


What’s New?

ROVEX D:8 CAST BRAID D:8 Cast braid is the latest fishing line evolution from Rovex. Developed for anglers who demand a premium mainline for high-performance technical fishing and precision casting, D:8 Cast is the new optimum choice in braided lines.

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In addition to the physical advances, the new glacier blue colour is perfect for a variety of fishing habitats. It provides high-visibility contrast against green and brown freshwater and estuarine waters and enhances bite detection. On the other hand, it blends into blue water coastal and reef environments for improved stealth. The new Rovex D:8 Cast braid equips anglers with a superior casting braid without compromising on strength. The thinner, smoother and more advanced fibres improve casting accuracy, casting distance and fighting strength. D:8 Cast braid delivers an enhanced fishing experience and better fishing results.

Web

Info www.spooledmagazine.com.au


ROVEX INAZUMA CARBON RODS A striking new generation of carbon graphite rods has rolled in to take Aussie fishing by storm. The Inazuma (lightning) carbon rods from Rovex have been meticulously designed and optimised for Aussie anglers at the cutting edge of lure fishing. These innovative, high-performance graphite rods are perfect for targeting predatory Aussie fish using the latest techniques in soft plastics, blades, vibes and more. Precisely constructed with military-grade high-modulus carbon technology, the blanks are lightweight with fast, yet progressive actions. Add to that the latest XO 316 Stainless Steel guides with ZR Zirconia Guide Inserts, these rods are sleek, durable and cast like a dream. There are five spin and two baitcaster models in the Inazuma range, delivering highperformance, high-tech fishing rods to anglers pushing boundaries. Bolt down to you nearest tackle store to get your hands on an Inazuma or check them out online.

Info www.spooledmagazine.com.au

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What’s New?

SHIMANO VANFORD

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The new Vanford is the latest addition to Shimano’s spinning category. It replaces the iconic 142 Stradic Ci4+ and is equipped with a range of technology upgrades that sets the Vanford apart. A lighter and more balanced new MGL rotor makes the reel 48 per cent lighter to turn when compared to a standard rotor design. When combined with the Ci4+ body material, the Vanford is up to nine per cent lighter in some models. Now anglers will have an improved ability to finesse casts more accurately and transition to working the lure with ease. Featuring a classy matte black body with red trimmings, the Vanford stands out and matches perfectly with rods from the Zodias range.

Info www.spooledmagazine.com.au

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NEW COLOURS FROM GAN CRAFT Japanese-made Gan Craft squid jigs have long been international best sellers, and the company has recently added some new colours and sizes to its already expansive range. New for 2020 is the Uo-jya hard body Shadow in 3.5 size, which should be a good one for use in deeper water. The very popular Black Betty jig now comes in 3.5 as well as the original 3.0, while the Ghost Cut has a transparent body with glow and UV properties. It, too, comes on both 3.0 and 3.5 sizes. Rainbow Noodle also has both glow and UV properties, while Frog Runner has a solid bright profile that works well when the sun is out. This model features high-vis gold foil. While Gan Craft jigs are up there at the more expensive end of the market, their quality and squid-catching ability are unquestioned.

Info www.spooledmagazine.com.au

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What’s New?

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NEW SLIDOG FROM HALCO Halco is excited to announce that its stickbait range has expanded this year with the inclusion of the long-awaited Slidog 105. The new model is 105mm long, weighs 28g and comes rigged with size #1 Mustad trebles. This slow/medium sinking stickbait is an extremely versatile lure. During the extensive testing phases it caught everything from snapper to Spanish mackerel, and would be ideal here in SA for kingfish, bluefin tuna, samson fish and even big salmon.  It can be worked fast or slow, on the surface, through the water column or on the bottom.  One of the most exciting features of the Slidog 105 is the shimmy on the sink. When this lure sinks and falls through the water column, it shimmies from side to side. This action proves simply irresistible for demersal and pelagic species alike.

Info www.spooledmagazine.com.au

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WATERSNAKE GEO-SPOT GPS ELECTRIC MOTORS The new Watersnake Geo-Spot GPS Bow Mount Electric Motor is a game-changer for GPS motors. The user-friendly design enables simple operation and maximum control while only requiring a single 12-volt battery for power. The result is a simplified installation process and reduced battery costs.

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Info www.spooledmagazine.com.au

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Packed with all of the essential features of a GPS electric motor, including Anchor Mode, Pilot Mode, Cruise Mode, and Navigation Mode, the GeoSpot is a fishing weapon. The Watersnake GeoSpot GPS motor is a welcome addition to the comprehensive range of Watersnake Electric Motors. Packed with features, simple to operate, and designed for a 12-volt system, the addition of a GPS-enabled electric motor to your boat has never been so easy and affordable!

Web


What’s New?

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TT LURES NEDLOCKZ EWG JIGHEADS The next step in the Ned Rig Fishing System, the NedlockZ EWG allows you to rig your favourite ZMan Ned Rig plastics to fish heavy cover, such as weed, lilies, reeds, timber and other environments that fish love to hold in. The NedlockZ EWG combines a traditional mushroom-shaped head with a custom heavy duty #1 VMC extra wide gape hook to allow for easy weedless rigging, without overpowering the finesse plastics, ensuring maximum action. The moulded ‘chin lock’ keeper locks the soft plastic in place so that you can punch long casts and work the plastic aggressively if required. Even on a missed strike your plastic is likely to be in place and still fishing for you.

Info www.spooledmagazine.com.au

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JARVIS WALKER X-FORCE SERIES RODS Thinner profile blanks, premium quality components, Aussie designs and packed with power! That’s the scoop on the new ultra-tough X-FORCE Fusion Power rod range specifically developed for Australian fishing.

The X-FORCE series comprises of ten spinning rod models from an ultralight 1-3kg through to heavy 1015kg boat rods. All model designs deliver the optimum casting action and power for their line class. The new X-FORCE rod series equips anglers with advanced hardware to tame the hardest-fighting Aussie fish species. Anglers armed with X-FORCE rods will be on a mission – a mission to catch fish.

Web

Info www.spooledmagazine.com.au

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The X-FORCE series of composite rods seamlessly combines the look and feel of graphite with the strength and power of fibreglass. The unique x-wrap fusion of graphite fibres and fibreglass during construction forms the light and powerful core of the Fusion Power blanks. The result is a dynamic new rod series that delivers power, sensitivity, and brute strength.


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Spooled Magazine Spring Issue 2020  

The Spring issue of Spooled magazine is jam packed with great fishing articles from around the country.

Spooled Magazine Spring Issue 2020  

The Spring issue of Spooled magazine is jam packed with great fishing articles from around the country.

Profile for spooled