Spooled Magazine Summer Issue 2021

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Summer

2021

SOUTH OZ

SNAPPER SOLO MAN

MARLIN CARP

ON THE FLY

CROC

HUNTING SUMMER KAYAK

BREAD & BUTTER


Contents EDITORIAL

Our Cover... Ryan Keith was all smiles with this genuine metre monster. (see article page 6)

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6 26 CROC HUNTING

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SUMMER KAYAK

44 52

NATIVE FISH LURES

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SOUTH OZ SNAPPER

74 SOLO MAN

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CARP ON THE FLY THE LURE OF IT ALL WHAT’S NEW

92 COMPETITION PAGE www.spooledmagazine.com.au

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COMPACT

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From the Editor

From The Editor

SHANE MENSFORTH

THOSE WONDERFUL REDS If there’s one fish I’ve missed more than any others over the past two years, it’s the magnificent snapper. Being a South Aussie, and therefore banned from targeting snapper for at least another year due to Government regulations, it’s been tough to watch all the mouth-watering Facebook posts from our Victorian counterparts. Due mainly to thoughtful fisheries management, the Vic’s are currently experiencing top class snapper action while we in SA can only look on with envy. It’s been a bitter pill to swallow, which is why I’ve taken time to delve deeply into the whole situation and make a few observations of my own. If you are interested, my feature story “South Oz Snapper – Then and Now “ begins on page 52. So, what is it that makes snapper such an iconic fish for so many anglers around the country?

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If you think about it, there aren’t too many boxes a decent red doesn’t tick. You can catch snapper from the shore, right around the bottom half of the country, and you can also catch them out in the boat in water between 2-100m deep. They grow to prodigious sizes, they fight pretty well on the right tackle, they will grab lures, flies and a wide variety of natural baits, they are an awesome fish to look at and, of course, they taste pretty damn good. Selling snapper tackle and the boats many anglers use to chase them has been big business in southern Australia for many years. They are worth millions of dollars to the Victorian economy each summer, and the same used to apply here in SA. Big snapper were one of the main reasons larger soft plastic lures took off so dramatically a decade ago, in tandem with high-end 4000 size threadline reels, purpose-designed rods and jig heads built to handle strong, powerful jaws. Like several fish that command such a following, snapper have created their own tackle ‘sub-genre’, as well as an inventory of specialised techniques devised by those who study them and target them regularly. Maintaining healthy fish stocks for the future is imperative, and something that is now being taken very seriously in most of the snapper states. The Victorian model appears to be head and shoulders above anything else, and one that offers plenty of optimism going forward. The fact that Port Phillip Bay is now one of the hottest snapper spots in the country says it all, I guess. I know most of my close Victorian mates are revelling in the fact that they are consistently catching big reds in their home waters while all I can do is tune into their Facebook pages and drool. It hurts, trust me! I’ve been a fishing mate of Patty Dangerfield’s for more than a decade, hosting him several times in my boat during his time with the Adelaide Crows and catching some pretty impressive reds together. These days, of course, the tables are turned, and it looks like I might have to join Danger on his home water to make it happen again! I’m not fussed about where and when, but I definitely need to put another decent red in the boat. There’s simply nothing like that arm-wrenching strike as your plastic is annihilated, followed by a ridiculously powerful run and the inevitable series of manic head shakes. You’ve really got to love those wonderful reds.

COMP WINNERS Congratulations to our competition winners from last issue, Neil (Vic), Chris (NSW) and Gary (NSW) will all receive a RTbroughton lure pack.

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Croc Hunting Big Flathead in Skinny Water

STEVE ‘STARLO’ STARLING

CROC HUNTING

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CHASING BIG, BAD “FL AT DOGS” IS ALL THE RAGE THESE DAYS, AND HAS SPAWNED ITS OWN SUB-CULTURE AND JARGON. IT’S AN ADDICTIVE CAPER AND — BEST OF ALL — IT’S SOME THING MOST OF US CAN EASILY PARTAKE OF... STARLO EXPL AINS HOW.

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Croc Hunting Big Flathead in Skinny Water

The hairs on the back of my neck suddenly stood up. Half a second after my

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over-sized swim bait had splashed into knee-deep water up on the flats there’d been a rolling boil and a big swirl several metres beyond it, in even shallower water. This was immediately followed by a fast-moving bulge tracking straight for the slowly sinking lure. I cranked the reel handle fairly quickly three of four times, then paused. As I did, there was an almighty wrench on the braided line. I stabbed the rod up, but its tip stayed down and the tightly-set drag squawked in protest as the rod began to buck in my hands from a series of violent, angry head shakes. The shallows erupted as the hefty predator threw its bulk almost completely clear of the surface. I knew what was coming, and my shaking fingers fumbled to back the drag 08 off half a turn. As I did, braid began to pour from the spool in a sustained burst as the hooked fish bolted for the deeper channel out to my left. The fight was on! So, am I recounting hooking a big barramundi in the shallow margins of a northern dam? Or perhaps a metre-long threadfin salmon on a tropical sandflat? Nope. It’s neither of those. In fact, I’m actually describing exactly the sort of encounter I’ve experienced multiple times in recent years while chasing one of the most common, widespread and popular estuary and inshore species found in our southern waters: The not-so-humble flathead. But not just any flathead. I’m talking here about the adrenalin-pumping pastime of pursuing big dusky flathead in skinny water. What do I mean by big? Well, any dusky over 70 centimetres is a very nice fish, but these days I don’t regard them as truly “big” until they top about 85 centimetres and weigh more than 10 pounds in the old money. From there on, it

Length isn’t the full story… when they’re wide enough for their fins to extend off each side of the brag mat, you know you’re dealing with a proper croc’! www.spooledmagazine.com.au


starts to get really exciting. Just how large they can potentially grow is a matter of never-ending conjecture, folklore and argument. Certainly, a relatively small handful of genuine metre and metre-plus dusky flathead are caught and properly measured each year. I call these fish “unicorns”, and for those of us who hunt big flatties, they’re the Holy Grail… one that most of us will never actually achieve. Metre-long flathead are much rarer than most people are willing to accept. We all know excitable types who’ve seen half a dozen of them in a morning, or who hook and lose a “meterey” every other weekend. But the fact is, very, very few of those “ones that got away” would’ve come anywhere near kissing the genuine 100 centimetre mark on an accurate measuring mat. There are plenty of 80s out there, but a lot less 90s… and when you get over the 95 centimetre mark, the numbers plummet. Having said all of that, I’m still willing to accept that there may well be a few genuinely scary freak fish swimming out there somewhere… duskies of 1.1 or possibly even 1.2 metres in length that weigh as much as 10 kilos or more. Certainly, they lurk in the dark depths of my imagination, and appear regularly in my dreams: chasing frightened children out of the shallows as they hunt down my hapless lure. Maybe one day I’ll actually cross paths with such a beast. Until then, I’m happy to fish in the real world, and delighted to call an 80 centimetre flatty a big one! www.spooledmagazine.com.au

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Crocs on poppers? You bet! Starlo pinned this 80-something specimen while hunting whiting in shin-deep water on the flats. A few nervous minutes ensued on the ultra-light gear and skinny leader!


Croc Hunting Big Flathead in Skinny Water

//FABULOUS FLATTIES Flathead of one sort or another consistently place in any top five listing of Australia’s favourite recreational fishing targets. This is especially true along the eastern seaboard: from Queensland to Tasmania.

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While there are multiple species of flathead living in these waters, it’s the dusky flathead (Platycephalus fuscus) that’s king along the east coast, and with good reason. Duskies are not only abundant and widespread — ranging from the tropics to Bass Strait — they’re also the largest members of the 10 clan. Furthermore, they can be caught on everything from a simple handline baited with a frozen prawn to the most sophisticated of lure and fly gear. In this feature I want to look specifically at targeting bigger flathead — those “crocodiles” well over 70 centimetres long — while casting lures in shallow water. To me, this is the most exciting form of flathead fishing, and it tends to be at its best from spring through into mid-summer. Exactly when the action peaks depends a bit on where you’re fishing, with the best of it happening earlier in the north and later in the south.

These fish are a lot faster and more powerful than most people realise, especially in skinny water.

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Just pinned… which is actually a good thing if you’re running a light leader! //LUCKY ACCIDENTS For many anglers, pinning a really big flattie is simply a welcome bonus or a lucky accident that happens very occasionally while they’re targeting average fish, be they smaller “eating-size” flathead, bream, whiting, estuary perch or whatever else. If you’re really lucky, you might happen to hook into a couple of larger flathead every year while you’re fishing for these “other” things. Just occasionally — perhaps once every few seasons, at most — one of those bigger flatties might be a genuine unicorn in the 85 to 95 centimetre-plus range. In my opinion — and it’s one based on years of careful observation — these rather sporadic and haphazard croc’ captures don’t truly reflect the relative (and growing) abundance of bigger flathead in many of our estuary systems. I believe that there are a lot more of these special fish out there than are being hooked. For me, the takehome message from this is the fact that really big flathead are no pushover. They’re a specialist target, just like mulloway. Anglers who deliberately set out to find and catch them, and who tailor their gear and techniques accordingly, will encounter a lot more big flathead than generalist, scattergun, “whatever-comes-along” type fishos. This is a lesson I’ve learned the hard way, because for a big chunk of my life I was one of those people who didn’t catch many big flatties. But now I’ve seen the light! www.spooledmagazine.com.au


Croc Hunting Big Flathead in Skinny Water

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Bigger shallow-running hard bodies — both floating divers and swimbaits — are perfect for targeting XOS duskies in shallow water.

//UPSIZE YOUR LURES! So, how do we effectively target these bigger flathead? One of the simplest ways to increase your strike rate on larger crocs is to up-size your lure. If you normally use 60 to 100 millimetre offerings, start by shifting up to 150 millimetres or even more. Don’t be afraid to go big. I’ve seen 80 centimetre www.spooledmagazine.com.au


duskies swallow good sized whiting and even try to snaffle smaller flatties half their own length, so up-sizing definitely works. Sure, you may catch a few less smaller fish (and your bream by-catch will definitely dwindle), but I guarantee you’ll encounter more large flathead (and jewies) as a result of going bigger.

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While it works on many fish, the other stand-out Aussie species that responds particularly well to up-sized baits and lures is the mighty Murray cod of our inland waterways. I firmly believe that with both Murray cod and flatties, the single most important step you can take to boost the number of strikes registered from larger specimens is to significantly increase the size of whatever it is you’re throwing at them. There’s just something about larger prey that pushes their buttons! The fact that the biggest flathead or Murray cod in any system are mostly seen by casual anglers when these whoppers suddenly materialise and try to eat Stung! Starlothese would’ve something smaller that’s already been hooked simply reinforces this message: missed this fish without peak predators prefer and actively seek out larger prey items. So, think big!

the stinger hook

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Croc Hunting Big Flathead in Skinny Water

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//SHALLOW THINKING The other interesting parallel between big flathead and large Murray cod is the fact that both fish spend a lot more time hunting in considerably shallower water than you might expect. There are three main reasons for this behaviour: Firstly, larger fish have less to fear from predators (especially birds) than smaller ones, so they’re less cautious about entering the shallows. Secondly, shallow areas heat up quicker on sunny days, and large predators regularly seek out warmer water to increase their metabolic rate, just like the lizards and crocodiles that big flathead get their nicknames from. Finally, there’s often simply more food in the shallows than there is out in deeper water. www.spooledmagazine.com.au


Flats and drop-offs are the go. Hunt them up in the skinny water early and late in the day, when boat traffic and people pressure is at its lightest, then follow them down the slopes into the channels as the sun gets higher and the waterway busier.

Of course, “shallow” is a comparative term. If you’re chasing mulloway or Murray cod, it could mean fishing in two to four metres of water, instead of the more traditional five to 10 metres (and more). But for flathead, it can mean focusing on the really shallow stuff: literally ankle to waist deep water. It’s amazing how much time dusky flathead (both big and notso-big) will spend up in this super skinny water. After all, there’s lots of tucker in there and, as a bonus, generally much less boat traffic and fishing pressure. For unicorn-sized flathead, I firmly believe that the shallows are where it’s at, especially in spring, summer and early autumn, when the water’s warm and the flats are alive with mullet, herring, whiting, bream, garfish, silver biddies, prawns and heaps of other prime tucker.

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Think about this shallow water phenomenon for a moment and let it really sink in. It may seem counterintuitive at first glance, especially if you were raised on popular notions of searching for those legendary “deep holes” when chasing big fish of any type. The truth is that a lot of very large fish spend much more time in shallow water than many people realise. At least as importantly, if they’re in shallow water, they’re likely to be actively hunting for food. Sure, big cod, mulloway or flathead will lie up and rest in those legendary deep holes, but often they’re relatively inactive (and therefore harder to catch) while they’re in those spots. By contrast, fish hunting in the shallows are switched on, fired up and usually catchable.


Croc Hunting Big Flathead in Skinny Water

//TELLING LIES

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Sometimes those distinctive flathead “lies” are as obvious as a male dog’s proverbials. These marks were made by smaller flathead.

Naturally enough, fish are easily spooked out of such skinny water, but I’ve also observed that big flathead, in particular, will often return to the same shallow areas within 20 minutes to an hour of being scared into deeper water. There’s simply too much food and warmth there for them to ignore. As a bonus for those of us who hunt them, they also regularly leave a calling card as they exit the shallows in the form of a distinctive divot in the sand or mud called a flathead “lie”. (And no, a flathead lie doesn’t mean catching an 87 centimetre fish and telling your mate it was a metre long!) These lies or marks are a dead give-away of the presence and preferred ambush stations of flathead, as well as their orientation, typically facing into the tidal flow. Carefully note the location (on your GPS, if necessary) of any larger lies and come back in an hour or so, on the next tide, or even next day, next week or next season and work the spot over thoroughly. There’s nothing new about this little trick. The legendary “Flathead Fred” Bayes was using it to deadly effect on his favourite Gippsland and southern NSW waters decades ago… It still works today.

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//PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER Putting the lessons about big lures and shallow water together moved me a lot closer to unlocking the secret to pinning those unicorns on a far more regular basis. However, the final, critical pieces in this puzzle finally fell into place for me during 2017, when I read a magazine column by Queensland fishing writer and renowned trauma surgeon, David Green. Greeny’s column detailed a technique pioneered by a handful of switchedon south-east Queensland estuary fishers who were targeting jumbo flathead with great success in shallow water, mostly while using over-sized soft stick baits. Reading David Green’s writings made me sit up, take notice and reassess the big flathead conundrum. It got the mental cogs grinding, and I was inspired!

Next morning I hit the water and motored to a suitable flat where I’d been seeing (but not catching) some solid duskies over the previous few days. I deployed the bowmounted electric motor and spent the first four or five casts nutting out the specific retrieve Greeny had described in his column… and on my sixth cast of the session, a fat, fit 78 centimetre lizard burst from the sand and violently nailed the jumbo lure! It’s not every day you receive such instantaneous and positive feedback on a “new” technique. Since that breakthrough moment, courtesy of David Green and his mates, I’ve played around a hell of a lot more with this rather radical technique, adding a few of my own little twists and wrinkles and fine tuning things along the way. The results have been nothing short of spectacular!

//SOFT AND HARD Alongside the rapid development of techniques based around these oversized, un-weighted or lightly-weighted soft plastics has come a parallel boom in the use of hard-bodied swim baits, glide baits, wake baits, surface lures and shallow-running floating/diving minnows to target croc’-sized flathead in shallow water. Suffice to say, it’s produced a boom fishery, and more keen anglers are getting on board every year. Meanwhile, lure makers are scrambling to keep up with all the developments — and the demand! The actual methods for using both soft and hard offerings in these scenarios are almost identical. They involve quiet, stealthy approaches to productive flats and dropoffs at times when boat traffic and people pressure are at their lightest, followed by www.spooledmagazine.com.au

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To cut a long story short, I fiddled about in the tackle room that afternoon rigging giant Squidgies Whip Baits un-weighted on various jig hooks, with treble stinger hooks attached and pinned into the lures’ bellies. The end products looked ridiculously huge, but they also looked like they just might work!


Croc Hunting Big Flathead in Skinny Water

long casts up into shallow water. Of course, you can also replicate these presentations in reverse while walking and wading, and I’ve had some great results fishing landbased, so don’t feel at all disadvantaged if you don’t have a boat or kayak. The best actual retrieve to use with these lures varies from style to style and model to model, but basically you need to be imitating a feeding or injured fish up on the flats… one that’s either preoccupied or incapacitated, and therefore more susceptible to the smash-and-grab ambush methods of a big croc’. Check out the video clips with this feature for more on all of that.

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//TIME AND TIDE Times and ides can obviously be important, too, and the long-standing preference of most experienced flathead chasers to intensively focus on the last two hours of the run-out and the first hour of the run-in make a very good starting point. But, to be honest, I’ll take a quiet, still morning with few other anglers out and about and a water temperature over 20 degrees in preference to a perfect tide any day of the week. Having said that, tidal flow will definitely dictate the orientation of any flathead lying in wait. They will always face into any flow or current, and they typically expect their prey to be either travelling with the flow, or across it. Effectively attacking a concealed flathead with a lure that suddenly emerges from directly behind it or straight overhead is a great way to spook them. Bear this in mind when lining up your drifts, walks or wades. www.spooledmagazine.com.au


//GEAR AND RIGS I use both baitcaster and spin tackle to target jumbo flathead in shallow water on lures. Both styles of gear work well. Personally, I love the added control an overhead reel provides when fighting big, powerful fish, but there’s no doubt that a spinning outfit offers greater flexibility and ease of use, especially if you need to punch bulky, relatively lightweight lures into any sort of breeze.

You need a well-thought-out game plan, the right tools and some room to work when dealing with a proper croc’. Otherwise there’s a strong chance of injury to both you and the fish.

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You don’t need heavy gear, huge line capacities or super sophisticated drag systems to handle even the largest of flathead. Standard 2000 to 4000 size threadline or spinning reels are perfect, especially when matched up to 2 to 2.2 metre spin sticks. Make sure your rod has enough poke and backbone, not only to cast big, bulky lures, but also to set hooks in hard fish jaws, sometimes at long range. For this task I’d rather a rod that was a tad too stiff than one that’s soft and sloppy in the tip.


Croc Hunting Big Flathead in Skinny Water

I normally run 10 or 15 pound braid as my main line. You could certainly go lighter, but as this outfit is also my weapon of choice for targeting mulloway, I’d rather a margin of safety. Keeping fight times short also reduces stress to the fish, making for better post-release survival rates. Braid of this rated strength is skinny and casts well, but has the authority to dictate terms to any fish likely to be encountered in these scenarios.

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Leader construction is important, 20 too. Because we’re dealing with shallow and often very clear water, I believe there’s a significant

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advantage in maintaining a reasonable degree of separation between the more visible braid and the lure. I’d never use less than a full rod length of leader for this caper, and I actually prefer two or even three times that length. That means casting the connecting knot off the spool on every throw, so that knot needs to be as slim, compact and unobtrusive as possible. My preference here is for the FG Knot, but a well-tied and closely trimmed Slim Beauty, Double Uni or even an Albright will do the job. Tie the knots you know best and trust completely.

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Croc Hunting Big Flathead in Skinny Water

Because the leader knot is being cast off the spool, I don’t like to go too heavy with my choice of leader material. I find that 6 to 8 kilo clear fluorocarbon or nylon is fine for the task and enhances the finesse and subtlety of the whole presentation. To prevent big flathead chewing or sawing through that relatively fine leader, I invariably add a short bite tippet of 10 to 15 kilo material — either clear nylon or fluorocarbon — and then tie my lures to this. This bite tippet only needs to be 20 to 30 centimetres long at most and could be connected to the main leader with a small black swivel, a solid ring or, preferably, a compact, trustworthy knot like a well-tied Albright.

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Seriously large flathead are special, valuable creatures. Despite some damaging misinformation that has done the rounds over the years, they are not “infertile” like your grandma. In fact, they produce massive quantities of eggs each year (yes, they’re all females), and the bulk of those eggs are perfectly viable. This makes them superbreeders, and incredibly important to the future of our sport. Catch-and-release is really the only way to go.

The catch and release ethos for big flatties has spread widely through the community. These mates will relive watching this big girl swim away a lot longer than they’d have remembered the couple of meals she might have provided. Let ’em go, let ’em grow!

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Sydney-based angler Ryan Keith is a self-confessed croc’ hunting nut. Last summer he finally cracked the magical metre mark! Starlo describes fish of this size as “unicorns”, and they’re about as common as those mythical beasts! This one was all the more special for having been caught from the shore. (Pic courtesy of Ryan Keith.)

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Croc Hunting Big Flathead in Skinny Water

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But over-sized flathead are also just a little bit scary! Their weight and sheer strength comes as a shock to many anglers as they thrash wildly in a knotless net or on the deck of a boat. They can easily cause quite nasty injuries with their teeth or gill cover spikes, and especially with any swinging hooks. They can also hurt themselves badly at this stage: dislodging scales, splitting fins, damaging eyes and so on. Having a game plan in place and the right tools at hand minimises all of these risks: to you and the fish. Make sure you have that big, knotless net, some soft gloves and long-nosed pliers handy, and only ever place these fish on damp marine carpet or a wet towel, not a hard, dry deck. You can use a lip gripper, but 24 I’m not a huge fan, as too many people treat these things as handles to throw fish around and hold them up, often damaging their jaws and internals in the process. If you do choose one, use it with care and support the fish’s weight at all times. Once a big flattie is safely contained in a large landing net, keep her in the water while you get yourself organised to unhook, measure, photograph and release the catch. Once the fish has been unhooked, hold it in the water by the bottom jaw, facing into any current. Don’t push it back and forth. Just face it into the flow and allow it to recover its strength. This is another good opportunity to snap a few more photos. Chances are the big flattie will soon bite down hard on your gloved hand and kick strongly. At that point, simply release your grip and allow the fish to swim away… I guarantee that what you’ll be feeling at that moment is one of the greatest highs in fishing!

//PART OF THE STORY Of course, there’s so much more I could tell you about the many nuances of targeting XOS flathead in skinny water on lures, but I’ve simply run out of space here, and I do apologise for that. However, I’ve written an entire e-book on the subject, called “Chasing Unicorns”, and you’ll find a link to it hereabouts. If you’re serious about your croc’ hunting, I strongly recommend you get hold of a copy. There’s a lot to know, a lot to learn, and many pieces still to be added to the evolving picture… All of which I find rather exciting. Who would have ever guessed that the “humble” dusky flathead could provide us with so much entertainment, and so many wonderful challenges? Long live the mighty croc’!

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Summer Kayak Bread and Butter

LACHLAN JONES

Summer Kayak

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LACHLAN JONES IS A SOUTH AUSSIE WHO ENJOYS NOTHING MORE THAN PADDLING HIS ‘YAK AND TAKING HOME A FEED OF TAST Y TABLE FISH.

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Summer

– I just love it! As the days get longer and the dulcet tones of test match cricket begin to waft across the airwaves, life looks and sounds pretty damn good. Add to this the prospect of warm weather and an invasion of inshore summer species and I’m a very happy man! While summer in Southern Oz can mean heading wide to chase tuna and spending long nights on the beaches in search of mulloway, I also like to turn my attention to a more simple game of drumming up a Christmas feed from the humble but ever-reliable kayak. There’s just something special about gliding across warm, shallow, gin-clear water and watching an aquarium of edibles go about their business, before hoaxing a few to take your offering! This sort of fishing won’t put you in the record books, nor will it earn you a spot on the front page of your local rag, but it is an immensely enjoyable, accessible and satisfying way of putting together a fresh seafood basket – perfect for those end of year Christmas parties. While I’m writing from the land of Coopers Pale Ale and ‘The Mall’s Balls’, the following paragraphs are relevant to anyone in the southern half of our country who is interested in upping their shallow-water kayak game. It’s simple, rewarding and a whole lot of fun! www.spooledmagazine.com.au


Summer Kayak Bread and Butter

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//WHAT DO YOU NEED? Arguably the best aspect of shallowwater bread and butter kayak fishing is that it’s a simple affair. There’s no need for flash, expensive gear here and, in fact, keeping things simple will make for a more relaxing session on the water. While there are some incredibly high-tech and fancy kayaks on the market today fitted with all the bells and whistles, these are a luxury rather than a necessity. My standard sit-on-top kayak has served me well for years, and it’s the simplicity of it all that I love. Apart from the essential safety gear, including a life jacket,

You don’t need to pack the kitchen sink when planning a kayak mission.

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anchor and equipment leashes, most sessions see me opt for two light spin outfits, a small tray of lures and squid jigs, some basic terminal tackle, a small tub of bait and berley and a bucket for storing my catch. It’s not exactly red-carpet stuff, but the K.I.S.S principle is the order of the day when working in the small confines of a yak.

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//WHERE DO I GO?

You don’t have to paddle far to reach broken bottom – the perfect place to tackle a wide variety of summer species.

The great thing about tackling inshore bread and butter species is that you don’t have to travel far to find them. The targets discussed below can all be caught in really shallow water. I do the bulk of my fishing in 2-5m and rarely venture more than a couple of hundred metres from the shore. It’s a much safer option than trekking out to the deep blue, and you’ll soon realise there is simply no need to do so! www.spooledmagazine.com.au


Summer Kayak Bread and Butter

A quick browse on Google Earth will highlight locations with weed beds or reef formations close to shore, and these features should be your starting point. The majority of shallow-water species will use these locations for protection or ambush points, so it pays to start your search at the ‘blue line’, where the sand meets the weed. Alternatively, search for the many kayak-based fishing groups on social media. Advice and suggestions on likely areas are generally not too far away, and if you’re new to it all, there’s often opportunity to tag along with those in the know.

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Long casts allow you to cover more territory and increase your chances of finding a school. //SQUID One of the most popular and accessible targets from the ‘yak in southern waters is the humble squid or southern calamari. They’re easy to find, they taste great and can catch unsuspecting mates off guard when they ink in protest! The majority of my ‘yak sessions start with squid in mind, and there are a few things to consider in order to gain consistent results. Firstly, it’s no secret that squid are best targeted in periods of low light. Of course, you can catch them in the middle of the day, but there’s no doubt that I’ve had my best results at dawn and dusk as squid move into the shallows to pick off an unsuspecting meal. www.spooledmagazine.com.au


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The result of a dawn drift for squid. The hard part is choosing your favourite recipe! www.spooledmagazine.com.au


Summer Kayak Bread and Butter

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A crucial tactic is to drift in your kayak rather than anchor, as this will allow you to cover ground and come across schools of willing feeders. I like to cast ahead of my drift, as this allows the squid jig to descend naturally, uninhibited by the drag of the tub. Ensure your jig sinks to a point just above the weed bed before commencing a retrieve consisting of short, erratic lifts and plenty of pauses, allowing your offering to descend back towards the strike zone. If you’re not bringing up ribbons of weed every four or five casts, you’re not getting deep enough!

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While casting out whole fish on squid spikes is an effective technique, I much prefer the ease and flexibility of squid jigs and with the quality of jigs on offer today, I seldom bother with bait. Finally, when targeting squid, I always have two rods on the go. While one is used for cast and retrieve, I leave one squid jig a couple of metres below the kayak at all times, as a hooked squid will regularly be followed by a school of inquisitive mates. When you bring aboard your catch, their attention will often turn to your second lure, resulting in another hook-up. By keeping one jig in the water at all times, you can generally hold the school nearby, and a feed can rapidly be collected using this technique.

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Summer Kayak Bread and Butter

When it comes to cooking your catch, the options really are endless. From traditional salt and pepper squid to stuffed squid tubes, you’re only limited by your imagination. For those starting out, check out the video attached to this article for a simple crumbed salt and pepper squid recipe. If you’re feeling more adventurous however, back track to the Spring edition of Spooled and delve into the brilliant article written by Shane Mensforth that explores a wide variety of different approaches to putting squid on the plate.

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Good quality squid jigs are worth their weight in gold.

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Crumbed salt and pepper squid. Simple, delicious and a Christmas party crowd-pleaser! www.spooledmagazine.com.au


Summer Kayak Bread and Butter

//TOMMY RUFFS AND GARFISH While they’ll never win a prize for size, tommies (Australian Herring) and garfish are terrific summer staples that are great to target from the kayak. Even after many years of fishing, I still get a wave of excitement as the first tell-tale splashes arrive in my berley trail and my float dips under the surface, indicating that the games have begun. If it’s a feed of tommies and gar you’re after, you’ll need to drop anchor and set about bringing the fish to you as, without doubt, the number one key to success is creating a berley trail.

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Gents naturally drifting back in a berley slick are rarely refused when the gar show up.

While there are many schools of thought on what makes a suitable berley, a simple mix of bread crumbs and tuna oil does the job for me. Whilst I’m sure the Michelin Star recipes that float around the internet attract their fair share of fish, I’m not convinced organic garlic or aniseed flown in from the Mediterranean are necessary; keep it simple! Once anchored over your chosen weed bed, begin to throw small amounts of berley into the water at a fairly consistent rate and keep an eye out for those silver flashes and surface boils that indicate you’ve got company! Generally speaking, it’s good to start a session using a simple float rig consisting of a pencil or quill float, 1.5m of 10lb trace and a single fine gauge size 12 hook. Sometimes, however, gar can be a little coy and play hard to get, so if you’re seeing fish but having trouble coaxing a take, try removing the float and simply free drift your bait into the berley trail. The drifting bait wafts naturally in the same manner as the berley, and this usually fools stubborn fish! If you do opt for a float, www.spooledmagazine.com.au


it pays to take careful note of how it sits and drifts in the wind and tide. Garfish are particularly notorious for ‘sucking’ the bait and sometimes won’t do enough to pull your float under the surface. A keen eye that detects subtle changes in the behaviour of your float can convert a slow session into a big day out. There are numerous baits that are effective when chasing tommies and gar. Cockles, pilchard flesh and silverfish will all have their day, however, from a kayak, I can’t go past the ease of sliding a few gents (maggots) on the hook without the need to cut, slice or dice! Three or four on the hook does the trick and it usually isn’t long before they are converted into something much tastier!

Panko-crumbed gar on a bed of smashed avocado and salsa salad – a summer delight!

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In the kitchen a good haul provides an opportunity to experiment with a range of summer specials. Tommies are a sensational fish to smoke, and also lend themselves well to traditional crumbed or beer-battered fish and chips. As for garfish, you simply can’t go past fish tacos! Panko-crumbed fillets on a bed of fresh guacamole and salsa is a winning combo and, if you’re entertaining, prepare to dish out plenty of ‘seconds’!


Summer Kayak Bread and Butter

It always pays to have a lure out the back when paddling to your destination.

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//SNOOK While not regarded by all as a bread and butter target, my summer sessions always include a search for snook, and I’m always pleased to paddle ashore with a few in the bucket. When paddling to a location, I will always make the most of my efforts by trolling a hard-bodied diver, such as the tried and tested Daiwa Double Clutch, behind the yak. Attending to a buckling rod tip is a welcome way to break up any paddle, and the often subdued tussle from a snook gets a little more interesting as their teeth and temper come aboard. As a predatory fish, snook are generally not far away from baitfish schools, and it’s not uncommon to have a hooked garfish snapped up on its way to your ‘yak. Remember to keep an eye out for baitfish skipping across the surface too, as this is a dead giveaway that there’s something with teeth beneath; happy fish don’t fly! When this occurs, a second rod comes in handy, and I’ll quickly turn to casting soft plastics like the Squidgie Bio Tough Fish 70mm and the Zman Slim Swimz 2.5 to capitalise on their presence. www.spooledmagazine.com.au


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Fresh snook make the perfect protein addition to a Thai Green Curry. When fresh, snook can be cooked in a wide range of ways and in particular make the perfect protein addition to a Thai-style Green curry. Simply toss some onion, carrot, green curry paste and coconut milk into a pan and let this simmer. Once you have cooked some rice, add your snook, snow peas and cherry tomatoes to the curry brew and serve with fresh coriander and red chilli. I doubt there will be any complaints! www.spooledmagazine.com.au


Summer Kayak Bread and Butter

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Low light periods are prime time to muster up dinner.

//BLUE SWIMMER CRABS The rising water temperature in late spring and early summer signals blue swimmer crabs to start the march into the shallows, and kayaks provide easy access to this popular table fare. While I’m not one for a dedicated kayak crabbing session, the dropping of a hoopnet before setting off to target the aforementioned species is a great way to round out the seafood basket. Prior to hitting the water, pre-bait your net(s) with an oily fish caught on a previous session and look to drop your pot in an area of broken bottom where sand patches break up the weed beds. Between squid drifts, double back and check your pot and, given your seated position, take extra care as you bring the bounty aboard! www.spooledmagazine.com.au


Different states have specific requirements with marking un-supervised nets, so be sure to check the regulations before hitting the water. Furthermore, it’s important to be vigilant and ensure that none of your catch are females carrying eggs, as these should be returned to the water immediately. Crab cook-ups can be as simple or fancy as you like. The traditional method of boiling blue swimmers in salt water is a great way to go, but if you’re keen to for a bit of extra punch, try cleaning and quartering your grabs before basting them in a garlic, chilli and parsley butter. A short stint on the barbecue is all that’s needed for a perfect pre-dinner bite.

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With water temperatures on the rise, crabs are on the march.

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Summer Kayak Bread and Butter

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Kayak fishing offers so much versatility and you don’t have to go far to drum up dinner! //SAFETY While fishing from the kayak is an absolute blast, it would be remiss of me not to mention a few important safety pointers before signing off. The unfortunate reality is that most kayak anglers will end up in the drink at some point, so it pays to be prepared for this. It’s essential that you have a go at getting back into your kayak in water that is deep enough that you can’t touch the bottom, as this gives you the peace of mind that you can look after yourself if things go pear-shaped. To reduce the agony of a tip, ensure your much-loved gear is attached to the kayak, or is held in bags or tubs that will float. Finally, wind can quickly sour your session and has caught many people off-guard in the past. Keep an eye on your forecast, stay close to shore and don’t make the call to get off the water too late – a tough slog back to the beach is a sure-fire way of dampening a session!

//GET OUT THERE! Chasing shallow-water bread and butter species from a kayak is an extremely enjoyable pastime and summer is the perfect time to get out and have a go. Keep things simple, keep things safe and get into it! www.spooledmagazine.com.au


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Squaring Down On Native Fish Lures

ROD MACKENZIE

SQUARING DOWN ON

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Native Fish Lures ROD MACKENZIE TAKES AN IN-DEPTH LOOK AT USING SQUARE-BIBBED LURES ON FRESH WATER NATIVES.

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In less than two metres of water the decaying remnants of a long-drowned river gum cut clear of the surface. A couple of twisted branches betrayed the lay, and the jointed crankbait was sent to run the full length of the snag. It was my first time fishing a squarebib lure, but having seen its action in the water, it had big cod written all over it.

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Clinton Hann with a solid Murray cod landed on a square-bibbed lure.

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Golden perch are suckers for the shuffling action on the square-bibbed lures. The 60mm Tubby minnow has been a real winner on native fish the past few seasons.

Less than a couple of feet down and mid retrieve, the caning strike loaded the rod, full length to the grip. Big cod hit hard when they really want something, and this fish definitely wanted the lure. In an instant the shallow water erupted as the giant paddle tail of a thumping cod cleared the surface, waving in a protest of churning water and spray. Such angling moments are gold and are etched into the memory far deeper than any cod-torn thumb. Since that first squarebilled lure encounter we have made it our business to explore these lures a little deeper, and the results on native fish have been very impressive. www.spooledmagazine.com.au


In recent times, as anglers we have been offered many new lure innovations, with surface lures, large swimbaits and shallow runners all finding their way into the top tray of tackle boxes. While lure size is an important factor in catching any fish, bib size and placement are just as important and something to consider when choosing the right lure for the job. Surface lures are designed to crawl or paddle across the surface, hence their name, and it is the bib shape and angle that keep them working on top of the water. It’s the same with diving lures, where in order to achieve depth, the bib is increased in size and set on a completely different angle.

In the past season or so we have devoted a bit of on-water time in both lakes and rivers using a range of lures with square-bibs, and the results have been very encouraging. As with most fishing trends, many lure ideas are born from the American Bass Circuit, and these lures are no different. While it is not so much the lure shape that sets them apart, it is the shape of the bib that provides new angling bliss. Almost square and set on a fairly sharp downward angle, this bib style has a few hidden benefits. Firstly, the square bib and the angle it’s set on work to catch or plough more water, so most models only dive shallow. This is good news for those casting weed beds and shoreline snags, chasing fish that are holding not far below the surface. Most dams, rivers and creeks have sections of weed that are often overlooked as unproductive water, especially when there is only a foot or two of clean water sitting above. Places like Lake Mulwala are a prime example, where native fish opportunities lay hidden in the numerous weed beds that cover much of the lake.

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In truth, most bib shapes are very similar; it’s only size and angle that reflect different depths and actions. Large bibs that achieve good depth usually snag less, as the bib shields the hooks keeping them free of the timber. Small bibs are designed to allow the lure to swim shallow, and this can see them snag more easily if fished in the wrong locations.


Squaring Down On Native Fish Lures

Big cod will hold up in weed pockets and hides they have created to ambush any cruising bait that should stray overhead. Retrieval speeds will dictate the running depth of the lure; you are the one in control of every cast. If the weed sits a foot or

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A few square-bibbed lures used by the author, including the new Bassman 100mm Tubby. so under the water, a slow roll will see the crankbait wobble seductively overhead and just under the surface. As it clears a pocket or hole created by a fish lying in wait, there is every chance it will be inhaled in a boil of churning water. www.spooledmagazine.com.au


As the weed bed gets deeper, the retrieve rate gets a little quicker. Rod angle can also help hold the zone; if a shallow retrieve is required, hold the rod tip up. As the running depth required to stay above the weed gets deeper, lower the rod angle to suit. It’s active fishing where the angler orchestrates the correct running depth. This may change several times in a single cast, from slow winding high stick close to the shore to a continuous dropping of the rod and increased speed of the retrieve all the way to the boat as the water depth increases. Of course, if you are land-based, the retrieve speed and rod angles are the same, but reversed.

Another benefit of fishing square-bibbed crankbaits is their ability to skip and bounce off timber and rock. It’s the disturbance of silt and noise as the square-bibbed lures deflect off structure that is often the key to attracting an aggressive reaction strike. If you have ever watched a startled baitfish, yabby or shrimp ricochet off structure in an attempt to flee, you will see the fish-tempting similarities to the action of these lures. This style of lure is also very good in newer snags that are a maze of twigs and visible structure. While they are good at riding the sticky timber, they are often scoffed mid snag, which is great, but in big fish terms you must remember it’s one thing to get them on and another to get them out. But it’s not just around weed beds and shallow snags that these lures find their mark. They are also very effective during periods of low light where fish rise from the depths to hover close to the surface, ghosting the fallen structure or just cruising in the open water. On numerous occasions casting wide of the bank the lure has been smacked hard www.spooledmagazine.com.au

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One notable thing when swimming square-bibbed lures is the different action to most divers. Because they are catching so much water, the shuffling action on smaller lures is increased, even at a very slow retrieval rate. These lures are going flat out, but getting nowhere fast, and this is all but irresistible to predatory fish like golden perch and Murray cod. We have been using a small 60mm model on golden perch for the last few seasons and the catch rates have been very impressive. Add to this the snag-riding ability, as the bib corners act to protect the trebles from hanging in the timber, and you are on a winner. We have also landed a few good-sized Murray cod on this smaller model while chasing perch, and had the hooks pulled round by a few thumpers. It just shows big cod will smack a smaller lure when it looks the goods and is fished at the right depth.


Squaring Down On Native Fish Lures

after only a few winds of the handle. In many cases the tell-tale boil of a waiting giant betrays its size as it engulfs the lure just inches below the surface. In low light conditions large cod cruise around hunting way more than you might think. Over the years I have spotted many giant cod free swimming both in rivers and lakes. Some are feeding while others are not, but they’re all worth a cast with a shallow running square-bib.

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While we do tend to follow the American bass trends, it’s in true Aussie fashion that we are able to adapt and use them accordingly to suit our conditions and the fish we target. Hooking Murray cod and other native fish on square-billed lures is something I have enjoyed the past few seasons, 50 and they now sit high in my tackle box as a serious big fish contender.

Clinton Hann with a ripper golden perch that took a liking to a larger square-bib lure that worked for cod. www.spooledmagazine.com.au


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South Oz Snapper Then and Now

SHANE MENSFORTH

South Oz

SHANE MENSFORTH REMINISCES ABOUT THE WAY THINGS USED TO BE FOR SA-BASED SNAPPER FISHO’S, THEN TAKES A SALUTARY LOOK AT WHAT WE CAN EXPECT IN THE FUTURE.

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Snapper

Then and Now

Aaron Habgood is taking advantage of Melbourne’s current snapper run www.spooledmagazine.com.au


If there is one fish South Australia has long been renowned for above all others, it’s Chrysophrys auratus, the mighty snapper. Most likely due to SA’s marine topography, and particularly the unique positioning of Spencer and St Vincent Gulfs, the country’s biggest snapper have thrived here for as long as I can remember. Provided you had the right gear and at least some fundamental knowledge of snapper techniques, you could catch 20 poundplus reds right around the state, both on and offshore, for much of the year.

As was the case for many keen South Aussie anglers at the time, chasing big snapper became an obsession for me from that moment onward. So abundant were the big reds during that ‘golden’ period, it was possible to catch them from Adelaide’s metro jetties, from several breakwaters, and from many piers and rocky ledges around both gulfs. And if you had a small boat, you could virtually guarantee a bag limit when conditions were right. Catch regulations back in that era for both the commercial and recreational sectors were incredibly generous; in fact, it was pretty much open slather – a situation that rarely ends well as pressure on any fishery increases. We first started to see our snapper fishery slow down in the 1990s, but there were still enough big reds to keep most anglers happy and no one seemed overly concerned. The snapper catch fluctuated over the ensuing decade, exhibiting ‘boom and bust’ cycles that really should have raised red flags with fisheries scientists. Along the way we heard a few hypotheses from the boffins, along with the usual plethora of anecdotal ‘evidence’ from within rec’ fishing circles, but no one ever put their hand up to provide a definitive reason for what was becoming a worrying situation. Then, during the 2010-2015 period, snapper numbers in both gulfs seemed to miraculously return to their original healthy levels. The commercial longliners caught fish in massive numbers while the rec’s enjoyed fabulous fishing alongside them. Chasing big reds on soft plastics took off on a scale rarely seen with any other species here, and it seemed that, for some reason we didn’t really understand, things were back to their very best. History tells us, of course, that this was far from the idyllic situation we’d all been hoping for. Instead, it turned out to be a an exceptionally dramatic ‘boom’ in the same old cycle, and one that soon gave way to an equally dramatic ‘bust’. I can recall the champagne snapper-on-plastics fishing during the 2014/2015 season, www.spooledmagazine.com.au

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I hooked my first big one – a fat 24 pounder – from suburban Grange jetty, way back in the early ‘70s. I can recall pedalling my rattly old pushbike home that afternoon, struggling to keep on two wheels for the 5km journey with that fish stretched across the handlebars. Having no clue about cleaning a big snapper and not possessing a knife remotely suitable for the job, I ended up selling it to the local fish and chip shop for five dollars – a princely sum for a 14-year-old who existed on a dollar a week pocket money!


South Oz Snapper Then and Now

Steve Starling with a 12kg fish taken in SA on a Squidgies Prawn

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particularly on the artificial reefs (mostly created illegally by commercials) on the western side of St Vincent’s Gulf. There was no need to be out there at dawn or dusk – the traditional peak bite periods; you simply had to use your sounder to locate the massive schools, then drop over a suitable-sized plastic and hang on! It was the same scenario over in Spencer Gulf, too, where the commercials, charter operators and rec’s all enjoyed some of the best big snapper action ever seen in SA.

During this period, but not necessarily due to the declining state of the snapper fishery, the SA Government created a body to advise the then Fisheries Minister on general recreational fishing issues. Known as the MRFAC (Minister’s Recreational Fishing Advisory Committee), this eight-member panel was soon thrust headlong into the snapper debate, which raged like a bull in the streets of Pamplona. I was an elected representative of the inaugural MRFAC, and it was obvious from the first meeting that we would be put to the test immediately to provide the Minister with accurate, well-researched information on the snapper fiasco. Quite obviously, decisions had to be made – sooner rather than later – on how PIRSA (SA’s Fisheries Department) should handle the sharp and potentially damaging snapper decline. The Department came up with so-called ‘Plan A’ and ‘Plan B’ scenarios, both of which would seriously curtail or, worst case scenario, put a stop to snapper fishing in SA waters. The MRFAC worked long and hard to come up with a ‘Plan C’, which we thought was a no brainer for Government approval. This involved the complete removal of commercial snapper longlines, tightening professional quotas generally, and paring back the recreational catch to a fraction of its former level. We spent a fortnight getting things right to come up with ‘Plan C’, which we considered to be a very workable compromise that would be accepted by all stakeholders in the snapper fishery. Our submission to the Minister would ultimately reduce pressure on fish stocks while still allowing recreationals to keep fishing; a win/win alternative we were confident Minister Tim Whetstone would be glad to run with. I can recall presenting our plan to the Minister on a Friday afternoon in his Adelaide office and coming away feeling pretty damn pleased with what we had achieved. The tone of the meeting was upbeat, with smiles and handshakes all round as we eventually departed and later met up at a local pub to celebrate.

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The 2016 and 2017 seasons, however, once again started to show the same old trends that had plagued the fishery before, and by the summer of 2018 it was obvious we were headed for yet another ‘bust’. 2019 saw the fishery plummet even further – to the point where we all started to panic and regulators began scrambling to arrest the decline. The rec’s blamed the pro’s, the pro’s blamed the rec’s, both sectors blamed the charter industry, and rarely before have we witnessed so much disharmony within a single fishery. As you’d expect, there was plenty of vitriol being thrown around from all angles, culminating in a worrying divide that did little else but inflame the whole situation.


South Oz Snapper Then and Now

You can imagine my horror to learn a couple of days later that the MRFAC’s ‘Plan C’ had been totally rejected! Instead of our proposed wholesale scaling back from all sectors of the fishery, Minister Whetstone decided to close the whole snapper scene down for three years – a decision that was certain to cost jobs and livelihoods in the charter industry, the commercial fishing industry, and in the many allied businesses that rely on the dollars of recreational anglers. As a committee we were shattered, and I tendered my resignation within hours of hearing the news. I simply couldn’t see the point of continuing in an advisory capacity to a Minister who obviously didn’t want to be advised.

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The decision to close our snapper fishery until the end of January in 2023 was met 56 with mixed reaction from all sectors involved. There were plenty of commercials who were devastated that they would either have to sell up or turn to other types of fishing to stay in the industry. Quite a few cashed in their licences pretty quickly, while others have opted to bide their time and see what they can and can’t do once the snapper fishery reopens. I’m sure the uncertainty must be weighing heavily on the pros’ minds as we prepare to enter the third year of lock-out.

Big reds adore soft plastics www.spooledmagazine.com.au


There’s nothing like the colours of a giant red at boatside

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I know that the charter fishing industry here was dealt a hefty blow when the Government opted to take away its most significant target catch. I have long-standing relationships with several of our more successful charter skippers, most of whom relied heavily on snapper during the busy summer/autumn season. One skipper, in particular, is among my closest friends, and I was saddened to learn recently that his operation has been forced to close down due to a significant drop in summer clientele. www.spooledmagazine.com.au


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Ryan Carlisle had operated an extremely successful Adelaide-based charter boat for over a decade, taking clients out to the deep-water snapper grounds in southern St Vincent’s Gulf in the warmer months, then shifting base to Coffin Bay for three months at the end of summer into autumn for blue water fishing. As around 60 per cent of Ryan’s business revolved around catching snapper, he had to find a replacement venture when the ban came in – an endeavour he simply couldn’t achieve. He tried chasing metropolitan whiting, but couldn’t seem to keep the punters interested. He then tried half-day blue crab trips out of Adelaide and once again failed to get enough bums on seats to make it pay. Despite the fact that Ryan’s long-range offshore trips produced sensational fishing and injected significant funding, they simply couldn’t support the huge losses incurred by the snapper fishery closure. www.spooledmagazine.com.au


One goes back as another is led to the net

The COVID pandemic also helped turn the fortunes of these guys around, with most of our tackle and marine dealers now back on their feet due to unprecedented demand for boats and fishing gear of all types. Unlike Victoria, Queensland and New South Wales, we in SA weren’t subject to ongoing, debilitating lockdowns, and I doubt recreational fishing has ever been more popular here. Despite the horrors of COVID-19 nationally and internationally, I have no doubt we would have lost quite a few more of our boat yards and tackle stores if the virus hadn’t reared its ugly head. So, with just over a year to go before our snapper fishery is scheduled to reopen, what can we look forward to? As you’d expect, there’s a mountain of conjecture out there at the moment, mainly from within an extremely frustrated recreational sector, but quite honestly, I have no idea what will happen on January 31, 2023. The Government has made it abundantly clear that this projected end date is far from set in concrete. Ongoing snapper egg sampling in recognised spawning areas has, to date, shown very little improvement, despite the removal of all fishing pressure, which doesn’t bode well at all. www.spooledmagazine.com.au

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Boat and tackle sales took an enormous hit when the SA Government introduced its three-year snapper ban, with several smaller businesses closing their doors and many of the bigger, longer established retailers feeling the pinch. Ian Clift, proprietor of one of Adelaide’s larger retailers, The Sportfishing Scene, told me he thought the writing was on the wall when the snapper closure was announced. So significant had sales of specialist snapper tackle become, Ian struggled to see a way back. Ever resourceful, however, he worked hard to create and expand other specialist markets, such as surface lure fishing for yellowfin whiting and swim baiting for Murray cod, both of which essentially saved his bacon.


South Oz Snapper Then and Now

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There has been a lot of conjecture around the science involved in snapper stock research, with many failing to accept the validity and veracity of the egg sampling method. In layman’s terms, fine mesh nets are dragged through supposed spawning areas in what’s referred to as the ‘Daily Egg Production Method’. In a nutshell, this determines how many mature snapper were required to spawn the measured density of eggs. Identifying snapper eggs from among the myriad of others from different 60 species in mixed planktonic samples proved a stumbling block until scientists began using a DNA marker to turn all snapper eggs blue. This all sounds high-tech and hard to refute, but many experts believe sampling took place in the wrong areas, thereby providing a skewed and fundamentally inaccurate assessment of the spawning snapper biomass. It’s an argument that has raged now for quite some time, and one that will play out again, if and when future seasonal closure announcements are considered. Just recently I launched the boat on a superb late spring afternoon and went for a drive out into St Vincent’s Gulf to have a look at what the snapper ‘drops’ were holding. Naturally, to ensure I couldn’t be accused of fishing illegally, there wasn’t a rod or reel on board; this was purely a reconnaissance mission to satisfy my curiosity. I checked seven grounds that would normally accommodate schools of pre-spawning snapper in November and, to my delight, each and every ground was loaded with obviously big fish. During the same period back in 2018 and ’19, when snapper fishing was still permitted, we struggled to get a bite. This was heartening indeed. www.spooledmagazine.com.au


So, what’s going to happen when we’re eventually allowed to target big snapper again? Who will be restricted, how tight will the restrictions be, and what allocations can we expect across the various sectors?

SA jetties still yield big snapper at times

As far as recreationals are concerned, I expect our personal daily bag limit will be cut in half – from two big snapper (60cm-plus) and five smaller ones (38-60cm) down to one large one and maybe two smalls. Given what’s happened, and the possibility it could happen again, I don’t think many would argue over a 50 per cent catch reduction. I’ll certainly be content with these numbers if, indeed, that’s what we will be facing.

Whether or not South Australia will ever reclaim the title of the country’s greatest snapper fishery remains to be seen. I have my doubts, particularly in the light of the vast improvement in Victoria’s snapper stocks, but I remain ever optimistic. I just can’t wait for the moment I can drop a big soft plastic into a school of truly big snapper again and feel the power of one of these magnificent fish. It’s something I’ve truly missed! www.spooledmagazine.com.au

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Common sense dictates that the Government won’t simply throw the fishery open without imposing some pretty tight sanctions. It would be pointless to simply return to the status quo, and I’m assuming that charter operators, commercials and recreational anglers will all be allowed back in with quite stringent catch limits. Whether or not professional longlining is permitted again is anyone’s guess. I’m extremely hopeful this destructive method is outlawed, and that the pro’s are permitted to use handlines only. I’m also hopeful that far more realistic catch quotas are implemented for the commercial sector, thereby maintaining sensible market prices and enhancing overall sustainability.


Solo Man

JOHN WILLIS

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Solo Man Tyrone O’Connor at the helm of his 30 Luhrs Express (1) www.spooledmagazine.com.au


JOHN WILLIS PROFILES A RENOWNED GAMEFISHERMAN WHO PREFERS TO FIGHT HIS FIGHTS ALONE. — PIC’S BY JOHN WILLIS AND TIM KNIGHT

There’s a bit of hermit gene that runs through our family. Like my brother and many before me, I am quite content with my own company. To be honest, I can no longer be bothered ringing all the people who supposedly want to go fishing. Solo fishing has become the norm, not the exception. As the great John Lennon said, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans” or, in my version, perhaps it’s “Life is what you miss out on when you’re waiting on other people!”

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When fishing solo, you must have trust in yourself, your abilities, your health and the condition of your equipment, especially in a boat. I must say I do enjoy the challenge of some rough water, but I trust my boat implicitly and I know my personal constraints. As Dirty Harry said, “A man’s got to know his limitations!” There are many anglers who, like me, often fish solo, and one of the best is Tyrone O’Connor. I first met Tyrone over 30 years ago when we were both dedicated Melbourne-based snapper anglers. Over the years he developed a blinkered passion for marlin, eventually moving to Bermagui on the south coast of NSW. Tyrone has achieved many awards in fishing circles, regularly catching and releasing over 70 marlin in a season, mostly single handed. www.spooledmagazine.com.au

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I enjoy the challenge, the solitude, and the sense of achievement, especially when you succeed in your goals all by yourself. In fact, I am regularly returning to the boat ramp with a bag of fish when everyone else finally decides the weather is good to go. It’s a hit and run style of fishing where you pick the peak hours of sunrise/ sunset, tide, moon, conditions and barometer that allow you to minimise the effort, but maximise the return. I guess it is more about the catching than it is the fishing!


Solo Man

Tyrone and his 30 Luhrs Express “She Left” are well known throughout the game fishing fraternity. He previously fished from a Strachan Formula 23 centre console, leaving all who know of his adventures in awe of his long record of singular success. Nowadays his Luhrs is ideally suited to his Bermagui lifestyle. It has terrific seakeeping abilities, reasonable economy and is still quite easy to handle alone. Tyrone is a great example of a fully matured fisherman who has fitted his rig for solo game fishing. If you ask him why he fishes alone, he will laughingly answer, “Because I’ve got no friends!” (That’s not, in fact, true; he actually has plenty, as well as a loving partner!)

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Not only has he refined his methods of finding, attracting, rigging, teasing, switching, trolling and hooking fish. There’s also structure and method to fighting, tracing, tagging and releasing the fish in good condition while driving the boat and controlling the accessories, all single handed. Let’s just say that I’ve done my fair share of skippering and deckying, but I felt almost superfluous when watching his method and skills in action. The boat is fitted with a full suite of standard equipment, including twin Yanmar diesels and recently upgraded to Simrad electronics, including radar. Tyrone said, “Seeing further down than perhaps 80-100m is fairly much a waste of time for me, as the bait schools that I seek are mainly above this level. Find the bait and the predators won’t be far away.” Tyrone doesn’t deep drop and hence, sounding into immense depths is pointless. He is one of those anglers who seems to have an almost uncanny ability to find fish, but when you get to understand him a little more, it’s a combination of personal experience, understanding the electronics, forecasting and SST’s (Sea Surface Temperature), currents, observations and communications with his friends, both recreational and commercial. Add to this an incredible amount of time on the water – alone!

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Man with a plan! Tyrone has rear deck controls, automated outriggers, electric reels and even a remote autopilot. Perfect for solo fishing.

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The rigging isn’t all that different to many game boats with outriggers, large plumbed live bait tank, no marlin board and a big rear deck with wide coamings interspersed with an array of stainless steel rod holders and slimey tubes either side. But what is different is his method. Tyrone had a third set of engine controls fitted to the rear deck (tower and helm as well), plus remote autopilot so he can manoeuvre the boat himself while www.spooledmagazine.com.au


Solo Man

Clipping a set of bells on the teasers helps sound the alarm when a the action starts.

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fighting a fish. Automated outrigger teaser lines with electric reels allow the teasers to be retrieved quickly for efficient switch baiting, plus there’s flooding tuna tubes to keep baits ready rigged for action. Tyrone said “I can’t be looking everywhere at once, so I clip a set of bells on the teasers that sound the alarm when a beakie slashes out at the lures!” His Black Magic harness and gimbal are donned before the teasers or baits hit the water. The tag pole is loaded and gloves, line cutters, pliers and assorted tools are immediately at hand. Of course, whenever he is fishing alone, he wears an inflatable life vest fitted with a personal EPIRB just in case. He even keeps a safety face shield with his tracing gloves for added protection from rebounding swivels that can fly back at the angler like a catapult when they release under tension close to the boat.

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“We used to collect our live bait from coastal reefs and carry them to deeper waters, but we now use our technology to find the underwater schools that were once hidden in the deep,” Tyrone commented. “Finding that bait is the key to success. Nowadays we don’t often tow baits or lures through unproductive grounds, but instead we pinpoint our target areas and tow teasers to raise the big predators, then ‘switch bait’ a rigged livey back into the track of an excited follower. This successful method also allows us to select the tackle according to fish size, almost eliminating being smoked by some unseen steam train,” he said.

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Solo Man

His techniques are really quite simple, but very well practised. When switch baiting, he tows two teasers. On one side is a large skirted lure, and on the other a daisy chain of three plastic squid followed by a smaller skirt. It sounds too simple, but it works! However, he will often tow a rigged skip bait in the middle, just in case there’s an unseen visitor in the trail. Tyrone calls it his insurance policy just in case he misses on the switch.

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The teasers can be quickly retrieved automatically, drawing the inquisitive quarry right up to the transom, where a pre-rigged slimey is removed from the flooding tubes and dropped virtually down the throat of the excited marlin. The line is freespooled for around 5-7 seconds before the drag is engaged and the weight 68 taken to set the circle hooks. Tyrone has enjoyed some of his most successful days fishing this method, with his best day fighting and releasing eight marlin!

//BAITBALL MAYHEM Technology has improved our ability to find bait balls, especially with the “bird watch” feature on most radar units. There’s always plenty of surface activity indicating a feeding mass, including seals, dolphins, sharks and diving seabirds picking up the crumbs. On one outing we found an active bait ball where the phosphorescent blue striped marlin were easily spotted in the clear sapphire water, darting to and fro and decimating a condemned ball of slimey mackerel. The iridescence of excited striped marlin is a sight etched in my mind as one of the most beautiful colours in nature, matched only by the glowing sickles of a yellowfin tuna.

A spectacular birds eye view of marlin on a bait ball - Images Tim Knight

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The tightly-balled biomass travelled erratically in a futile dance to avoid the pelagic marauders. Seals smashed the surface in gluttonous joy, providing a constant indicator of the bait ball location as it rose up and down in the water column, often disappearing for extended periods before surfacing some distance away. Bait balling can be as competitive for the anglers as it is for the fish. A ring of boats back up to the fracas to pitch a live bait into the fray. Tyrone won’t pitch a bait until he is directly over the cluster.

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He backed down until I shouted loudly from my elevated perch that the action was directly below us, then quickly extracted a pre-rigged slimey from the tube and launched it into the boil. The poor little baitfish immediately headed for the imagined security at the bottom of our hull, but was snaffled almost instantaneously, only metres from the transom. Tyrone patiently freespooled the line to be sure the feisty pelagic had engulfed the bait. It seemed an eternity until he slowly increased the drag to strike, setting the big circle hook firmly in the corner of the marlin’s jaw. Thus this battle began. www.spooledmagazine.com.au


Welcome to the air show!

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Striped marlin often perform sensational aerial acrobatics as they fight aggressively for their very existence. Their speed can be blinding and their strength impressive, plus there’s always a constant danger of tangles and collisions with other boats and their lines. Hook-ups on bait balls are always frantic. www.spooledmagazine.com.au


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This unfortunate marlin died when it saw the Author’s face (Bear) so it was sliced and diced to feed the town.

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Solo Man

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Thankfully, we headed into open water, clear of obstacles and the balance turned. Now the object was to get the fish to the boat as quickly as possible to free the beastie unharmed for prosperity. The rudders, props and trim tabs shuddered violently as we backed down on the frisky opponent, and some 20 minutes later the tag struck home in the dark shoulder of the leaping 75 kg assailant. This was our fifth success from eight battles for the day!

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Tyrone, like most modern game fishers, uses predominantly 24 and 37 kg stand-up outfits that allow short fights to preserve the energy levels for successful release. The tag pole is maximum length and very few fish are ever actually handled, except of course, for a few photos for our story. It seems no matter your age, you can still learn a few tricks from these experienced sea dogs!

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Carp on the Fly

BRENT MARTIN

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FLY

BRENT MARTIN RECKONS CATCHING CARP ON FLY TACKLE IS CERTAINLY WORTH CHECKING OUT!

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While carp are viewed as an

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introduced pest and scourge of the river, on the fly rod they take on a new demeanor that could best be described as ‘dynamite with scales’. These fish have plenty of power and speed, especially when you hook into one of good proportions. From the moment you set the hook, they will not only thrill, but also test your full worth as they go for long, line-sizzling runs. Their power is deceiving, and is only exaggerated by the subtle length of a springy fly rod. Other than the fight, another bonus of targeting carp on fly is their willingness to feed on or near the surface, providing full-on visual action.


Carp on the Fly

Growing up in regional Victoria, as a young bloke most of my fishing was of the bait variety, targeting native fish like golden perch and Murray cod. Big carp were also a regular catch that would stretch gear and angling skills to the limit. In truth, while they were a pest, I did enjoy the chance to tangle and beat the larger of these fish back in the day, and it’s still the same many years on, although I have since exchanged bait for fly.

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I had never thought about catching anything on fly, let alone carp, until I watched a couple of videos on YouTube. This looked like fun, and my first basic fly combo was purchased for a not-too-shabby 200 bucks. A handful of small, assorted flies was next on the list, and then all that was left to do was master the art of catching carp on fly. I 76 had no idea what would work and what wouldn’t, not to mention the fact that I’d never been shown how to cast a fly rod. I had heard the term “11 o’clock 2 o’clock” spoken on casting the fly, so this was the path my practice sessions took in the backyard.

With female carp capable of producing up to a million eggs a year, one less in the waterways can only be a good thing.

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After educating my neighbours on how to construct a full sentence out of obscenities, it was time to take my new-found skills to the local channel and catch my first carp on fly. To be honest, it didn’t happen all that quickly, as I missed out on my first four attempts. In each of these sessions I would spot a carp swimming and try my best to present the fly as close to the fish as I could, but they showed little interest, unlike the trees on by back cast!

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The power station. Is it any wonder they pull like a freight train!

Plenty of sun... ...plenty of fun. However, I wasn’t giving up, as I needed to hook one of these fish, and so it was next session out that a large carp cruised in and committed to the fly. I struck and missed, and although I failed to connect, it gave me some confidence that I was on the right track. From then on it started to happen on a consistent basis – sight casting at a cruising carp and watching them suck down the fly before striking hard. Once hooked, the massive runs and shear power of these fish on the fly had me addicted. I started to work out what they liked and how they wanted it presented. www.spooledmagazine.com.au


Carp on the Fly

//TIPS One of the nice things about fly fishing for carp is you can sleep in. I have found the best conditions to target these fish are warm, sunny days, preferably with no or little breeze. It makes it easier to spot them with no ripples on the water; plenty of sun equals plenty of fun. I find anywhere from 11am into late afternoon is the ideal time as the water warms. You will find the carp cruising slowly along the edges in the warmer water, feeding on a number of things like insects, crustaceans, algae, worms and other edibles.

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Another bonus about chasing carp on fly are the locations in which these fish 78 are found – virtually everywhere from rivers, lakes, dams to irrigation channels. The best time of the year is October to March, with December, January and February the prime months. You can catch them all year around, but not in large numbers during the cooler months, as you don’t often see them free swimming.

//EYES PEELED Carp are not as stupid as everyone makes out. They are very easily spooked and a stealthy approach is best. Another bonus with sneaking up on fish is it provides ample time to spy any snakes that readily sun themselves along the edges of the bank during the warmer months. I have had a few close encounters with some big brown snakes that are not there to deliberately bite you, and are always more than happy to avoid you if you remain calm and treat them with a little respect. www.spooledmagazine.com.au


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Always a good feeling when you get them to the bank.

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Carp on the Fly

//FINDING FISH

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The first step towards catching carp on fly is locating them. Sometimes it’s easy to find one and occasionally you are just seeing a dark shadow in the water moving, or a tail breaking the surface with head down, feeding on the bottom. I find them a little trickier to catch when they are feeding tail up and head down, as they normally make the water very dirty. I like to watch and work out which direction the carp is moving. Depending on the speed of the fish, I like to cast the fly 1-2m past the carp and strip it back at a speed that intercepts the fish and places the fly right in front of it. Usually, just a couple of quick short strips of the fly gets its attention. Once the carp has spied the fly, it will generally scoff it straight down and then it’s time to set the hook. Take your time during the fight, as it’s easy to straighten hooks due to the carp’s power. Enjoy the catch and admire the dogged determination of a fish that just won’t give up. I certainly have no regrets in buying a fly rod and, if anything, I wish I had got one much sooner.

The author was pretty happy with this thumper that just couldn’t resist the woolly bugger.

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//TACKLE As mentioned earlier, you can buy a cheap outfit off eBay or some tackle stores will have affordable start-up combos. I have since upgraded to a better rod, line and reel. I’m currently using the Primal Mega 8wt/9ft rod with Rio Mainstream fresh water floating line WF8F on a Vision reel, which is a really nice set up. I run straight 12lb fluorocarbon as my leader, anywhere from 4-5ft in length off the main fly line. Another ‘must-have’ when looking for cruising carp is a decent pair of polarised sunglasses, which make it much easier for spotting and tracking the fish.

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Caption...

The Primal Mega will give you a little more control of the larger specimens.

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Carp on the Fly

//BEST FLIES After many outings experimenting with different flies, I found woolly buggers to be the best. All colours will work, and I’ve caught them on a wide range, but personally I prefer black with a little bit of orange somewhere, as shown in my box of flies.

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If you have never thought about carp on fly, you are truly missing out on some awesome line-sizzling action. Pound for pound, a big carp will easily outpull most freshwater species, and you’re doing our waterways a service removing them, one at a time. Oh, and did I mention that it’s bloody great fun and helps hone 82 your fly fishing skills for other species you might also target down the track.

The authors selection of reliable carp treats.

AFTER THE CATCH Victoria Fisheries regulations state no carp are to be returned alive to the water, as they are a noxious species. You can return them to water if they have been killed, and I generally keep a few for yabbie bait. Check your state fisheries site for the latest regulations.

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The Lure of it all - Paul Kneller

the lure of it all

STEVE ‘STARLO’ STARLING STEVE STARLING INTERVIEWS ONE OF AUSTRALIA’S ICONIC NAMES IN LURE MAKING.

Paul Kneller

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A lovely gorge-country cod on a Kneller Lures’ SBC120S shallow-running square bill. Paul never stops developing new models!

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I can think of no better subject for this new column profiling Australia’s top timber lure craftsmen than my good mate, Paul Kneller. Of all the living Aussie lure makers, it’s the name “Kneller” that consistently evokes the greatest excitement amongst collectors and avid anglers alike… and with good reason. For three decades Paul’s creations have set an exceptionally high standard, in terms of both their fish-catching credentials and their workmanship. It’s hardly surprising that some of Paul’s one-off or limited-run originals from the late 1990s fetch eye-watering sums on the booming collectors’ market these days. Paul grew up in the southwestern suburbs of Sydney and recalls that his first fish was a bass, pulled from the Nepean River at Menangle when he was about 12 or 13 years of age. Obviously captivated by the charms and challenges of bass fishing, his first attempt at whittling a home-made lure from an offcut of pine was a rather rough copy of the French-made Rublex Flopy — widely regarded as the ‘gun’ bass lure of its day. To Paul’s considerable disappointment, that first hand-carved plug flatly refused to swim, but a spark had clearly been ignited in young Kneller, and he didn’t give up on his dream. Paul went on to do his apprenticeship at a Sydney joinery, making massproduced furniture for David Jones’ stores.

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A younger Paul Kneller with a handsome wild bass taken on one of his original Deception Shrimps from the upper reaches of his beloved Clarence River catchment.

“I took a lot of what I learned from that job across into making lures,” Paul explained to me. “I just scaled it all down to suit.” By the beginning of the 1990s, Kneller’s timber-bodied lures were already earning a reputation amongst his mates as extremely productive fish catchers. So, in 1992 Paul www.spooledmagazine.com.au


The Lure of it all - Paul Kneller

and his wife Cheryl established Deception Lures to begin making lures for sale. At first this was only a side-line squeezed in between their “real” work, with a very limited output, but as demand rapidly grew, lure making quickly became their full-time job. I met Paul at the end of the 1980s, and tied on my first Deception lure in 1992, at Lake Windamere, near Mudgee in central western NSW. Deception Shrimps were already becoming the “go-to” choice for Windamere’s blossoming golden perch or yellowbelly fishery, and within a couple of years it would’ve been very uncommon indeed to encounter a serious lure fisher on that dam who didn’t own a tray crammed full of Paul’s 86 SPOOLED MAGAZINE

Canoe trips for bass have always been one of Paul’s favourite escapes.

Your columnist would hate to think how many Windamere goldens have been caught on those Deception Shrimps. That colour was a ripper, too! Deceptions in various colours. They were simply too good not to have! Not that the Deception Shrimp was purely a yellowbelly catcher. Far from it. Along with the larger Yabby and Cherax and the smaller Nipper that followed in the same family, these floating divers appealed to just about everything that swum – in both fresh and saltwater. I’d struggle to list all the species I caught on them through the ’90s and into the new millennium, and they continue to catch fish to this day. www.spooledmagazine.com.au


Later, as the bream luring phenomenon and its associated tournament series really started to take hold, I worked closely with Paul to help develop the little Palaemon minnow, named after the scientific description of a family of shrimps and prawns. It was back then, and remains today, an absolute bream slayer, as well as appealing to a wide range of other species such as trout, bass, estuary perch and redfin. I still have quite a few well-chewed Palaemons in my tackle boxes, and while they’ve become sought-after “collectibles” these days, I still occasionally fish with them!

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By 1997 the Knellers were ready for a change of lifestyle and location. They left Campbelltown in south-western Sydney and moved up to Maclean, on the banks of the Clarence River, in far northern NSW. Here they continued to produce their Deception Lures for several more years, but in 2003/04 they finally sold the Deception brand and business to the Brisbane-based Tacspo company. Shortly afterwards, the Knellers opened what would soon become a successful tackle shop in Maclean’s main street, just a long cast from the big river where Paul spent much of his limited spare time chasing jewfish, jacks, flathead, bream and bass.


The Lure of it all - Paul Kneller

Not that Paul ever stopped creating lures or thinking about them. He worked with Tacspo for several years after the sale of Deception, designing new models for their line-up. Ultimately, however, the transition to mass-produced plastic didn’t really work out and, sadly, the Deception brand disappeared from the market. Meanwhile, Paul had also begun

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A lovely jack from one of Kneller’s local creeks on the NSW far north coast.

Paul with a Glenbawn bass from the dam’s heyday, when fat footballs like this were reasonably commonplace. Glenbawn is fishing really well again today, although the fish aren’t quite as big and fat! making his own very effective Shake & Bake metal and polycarbonate vibes or blades, sold mostly through the Knellers’ own Big River Tackle Shop in Maclean. He was also actively helping other cottage lure makers to progress their own manufacturing techniques, and even building specialised tools and machinery for some of them to use. During this period, Kneller also turned his incredibly clever hands to making high-end guitars (both electric and acoustic) from a range of beautiful timbers. “It’s possibly the craziest thing I’ve ever done, although Cheryl may beg to differ!” Paul jokes. “I did enjoy the challenge of the almost impossible tolerances involved. That side of things is quite testing in timber. You’re working nearer to the precision levels needed in metal, but with a material that just won’t behave like steel. Timber changes daily, according to the weather. Patience was something I’d say I never really possessed before I started making guitars, but it was absolutely essential in that game!” www.spooledmagazine.com.au


A keen amateur muso himself, Paul crafted around 70 beautiful guitars during his demanding stint as a luthier, and a few ended up in the hands of some very famous artists. But, as Paul himself says, that’s another story for another time! He also reckons he’ll get back to making guitars one day, when he has a little more time to spare.

Kneller’s Deception Shrimps and fat golden perch went together like strawberries and cream!

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The Lure of it all - Paul Kneller

It was in about 2015 that Paul finally began to move seriously back into timber lure making. By 2016 a whole new range of Kneller Lures had begun to trickle back onto the market, characterised by limited runs of unique designs with stunning paint jobs and finishes – most of which sold out within hours of their on-line release.

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“The first promise I made myself when starting up Kneller Lures was to adopt a more ‘freestyle’ approach,” Paul explains. “There’s no way I wanted to come back and simply make a range of six 90 or so models in really big numbers, like we did back in the Deception days. Today, we rarely make the same thing twice, and are constantly changing and evolving. We’re trying to make each batch of lures that little bit better than the one before it. It’s a philosophy that seems to sit well with our customers, too.” I asked Paul why he’d stuck so doggedly with timber after all these years: “I really couldn’t imagine doing it any other way,” Waiting for eyes and hardware… Kneller’s paint jobs are second to none and remain the envy of many lure makers. he responded. “Actually, with the way we do things today, it would be virtually impossible to use any other material. Before the moulds were even paid for, we’d be making something different! “I also love the way you can tweak timber lures,” Paul continued. “Often, before a lure goes into production, there’ll be several prototypes, with changes to timber density, bib material or angle, hook placement and so on. These are all critical areas that can be manipulated before I settle on the final product. But there’s also something more tangible and tactile about timber lures that appeals to a large proportion of the lure buying public. Plus, the thought that every step in the lure’s manufacture is hands-on. It’s easy to feel an attachment to timber, but much harder to get nostalgic or sentimental over a bag of ABS plastic granules!” www.spooledmagazine.com.au


I asked Paul about the future of Kneller Lures, and where he saw himself being in five years from now: “That’s a really good question,” he replied. “But it’s not one I can answer honestly, ’cause I really don’t know! I tend to be a seven-year cycle kind of person, and if the day comes when I open my eyes in the morning and don’t like the thought of what lies ahead, that’ll be the beginning of the end, I guess. That’s very much how I felt after many years in retail. At the moment I’m enjoying what I’m doing. It’s not something you can do well if your heart’s not in it. We also make timber lure bodies for many other lure makers around the country, and that work is always challenging and rewarding, too. It certainly keeps me on my toes, so I think we’re here for a few years to come!”

Wise words indeed from a very smart bloke, and one who has the runs on the board and the years under his belt to back up those observations. Long may he continue to lead the pack by his fine example. The best way to keep up with Paul’s ongoing timber lure-making endeavours and the release of small batches of new models and evergreen favourites is to follow his Kneller Lures’ page on Facebook. www.spooledmagazine.com.au

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Finally, I asked Paul if he had any sage words of advice for budding lure makers out there: “Great question!” he enthused. “I think the most important thing is to keep it light and enjoyable. Fishing and everything related to it is, in reality, just ‘fluff and bubble’ after all. It’s supposed to be fun. What we do as lure makers is far from all-important in the overall scheme of things, so don’t take it too seriously. Be courteous to other makers, too. They’re your kindred spirits, not your enemies. Don’t get tangled up in all the on-line garbage that goes on over lure designs, who’s copied who and so on. But probably the number one most important thing is not to rubbish or belittle any other makers’ creations. After 30 years in this game, I can absolutely guarantee that you will not sell one extra lure by running down someone else’s product. It may cost you a few sales though.”


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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MUSTAD MEZASHI Z-TAIL MINNOW The Mezashi Z-Tail Minnow is built similarly to the Mezashi Keel Tail Minnow soft bait, but features a kicked tail to give the plastic a faster tail beat. Built with Japanese PVC and incorporating German plasticisers, the Z-Tail Minnow makes use of American colour material to give the eight natural and attractor colours. The Z-Tail Minnow is ideally rigged on a jighead and gives a high pitch tail action on both the retrieve and fall, meaning species such as flathead, snapper, bream, trout, barra and more will love the action and smash this plastic. Available in 3.5” and 3” sizes, the Mezashi Z-Tail Minnow will fool plenty of fish in the fresh and the salt.

Info www.spooledmagazine.com.au


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OKUMA ITX CARBON SPIN REELS The Okuma ITX is unmatched in its class, featuring lightweight and rigid C-40X long strand carbon fibre construction in the body, side plates, and rotor, providing exceptional strength where it is needed the most. A machined aluminium screw-in handle assures positive engagement and stability, while 7HPB +1RB high performance bearings and precision machine-cut brass pinion gear keep the reel feeling both rigid and smooth. A machined aluminium two-tone anodised spool is surrounded by Okuma’s Cyclonic Flow Rotor system, designed to increases airflow through the ported rotor, minimising moisture retention throughout the reel. Housed in the spool is a slick multi-disc carbon fibre drag system, with hydro-block gasket to prevent water intrusion for consistent drag performance. Available in both standard and high-speed models, the ITX Carbon range of spinning reels is finished with slick black and silver aesthetics and raw carbon finish, offering anglers quality, features and performance previously unheard of at this price.

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What’s New?

ZEREK GADGET Z FOAM-LINED TACKLE BOXES The Gadget Z range of waterproof tackle boxes has been expanded with the addition of two new foam-lined models. The 781GZAP01 Zerek Gadget Z Box is 30 x 22 x 6cm, and will hold pre-rigged plastics such as Fish Traps, Flat Shads and Live Flash Minnow Wrigglies – rigged and ready to go.

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The 781GZAP02 Zerek Gadget Z Box is 22 x 17 x 5cm and will hold smaller lures such as the 65mm and 95mm Fish Trap, Live Flash Minnow Wrigglies and other slim plastics. The benefits of these boxes, apart from their brilliant waterproofing, is that you can store sensitive TPE plastics separately, ensuring they do not react with other dissimilar plastics, and you can keep your lures pre-rigged and perfectly straight. The foam panels have heaps of hook holders, so you can carry any combination of plastics and lures in the boxes at one time. Available from stockists of Wilson Tackle.

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The Bait Junkie range welcomes two new models, with the ‘Risky Critter’ and ‘Kikker Curly’ arriving just in time for the summer. Creature bait-loving anglers will fall for the Risky Critter, with the 76.2mm soft plastic ultra-realistic in profile. The bait’s meticulously designed and positioned appendages deliver natural, subtle movement, both at rest and on the move. Summer and surface fishing go hand in hand, and the new Kikker Curly surface frog is sure to make its mark over the coming months. Made from Elastomax material, this 83mm/3.2” floating frog features twin curled legs that deliver a seductive beat on the retrieve. Sized to perfectly fit a 1/0 offset worm hook, the Kikker Curly is absolute surface candy when twitched and paused, or burned across the top, with bass and ‘toga destined to become obsessed with the Kikker Curly over the summer months. The Risky Critter is available in 12 colours and comes with six pieces per pack, while the Kikker Curly is available in four colours and comes with three pieces per pack.

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BAIT JUNKIE NEW MODELS 2021


What’s New?

SHIMANO TAIPAN The Shimano Taipan has become a renowned, hard-wearing, and dependable range of fibreglass rods. Their popular bait-fishing actions have made them a go-to amongst anglers, as they will do the job every time when you fish your favourite spot.

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The latest Taipan series features Fuji O guides, Fuji reel seats and a Graphite Integrated Fibreglass Tip (G.I.F.T) blank construction to increase performance and keep the weight down. By using an integrated tip, the rods’ sensitivity is improved, and you will be able to detect the feintest of bites. When loaded up to a fish, the fibreglass blank provides the shock absorption required to keep you connected when a big fish takes a run. The Taipan range offers great versatility and affordability, with rods available across several lengths and line weights to match your fishing style. The new Taipan line-up features fresh cosmetics and specific bait fishing models to cover a wide range of species and techniques.

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ATC VIGILANCE 16000 Tough! A simple word that accurately describes the ATC Vigilance 16000 reels. Built for the demands of heavy tackle sportfishing, the Vigilance’s body and rotor are constructed from high grade, corrosion resistant aluminium to ensure the reel is built from a foundation of strength.

To create that sort of pressure, ATC has incorporated their dual drag system, with drag washers both above and below the spool. To protect the internals of the reel, ATC has developed a waterproof seal on the rotor and the body frame to ensure no salt water gets into the vital moving parts. This gives ATC the confidence to give the reels a five year warranty against manufacturing faults!

Info www.spooledmagazine.com.au

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Supported within the aluminium body are 12 + 1 stainless steel bearings that allow this reel to operate under extreme pressure that provides a maximum of 30kg of drag pressure. The ported aluminium is cut from a single piece of aluminium, ensuring that under these extreme loads nothing will fail!


What’s New?

DAIWA TACKLE BACKPACK The Tackle Backpack is a versatile accessory that is well suited for the angler on the go. Loaded with features, this unique tackle management system is centred on a 4 Box Stack System, easily accessible from the front.

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Tough, strong and designed to handle the rigors of the mobile angler, the Tackle Backpack features a tonne of storage options, with front, top and side pockets provide a host of different storage locations. A front chest strap provides added back support and comfort, while zipper loops ensure fumble-free easy access to all pockets. Light, strong and classic in looks the new Tactical Backpack is tailormade for the mobile angler.

Info www.spooledmagazine.com.au


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OKUMA ROCKAWAY A long cast spool and plenty of line pick up makes the Rockaway a handy addition for anglers fishing the beach, surf, rocks and other applications where long casts and quick line management are an advantage. The Rockaway RA-6000 features a compact body, 4BB + 1RB stainless steel bearings, and 5.3:1 high-density gearing that provides 104cm of line pick-up per revolution. It’s equipped with a rigid metal handle design to reduce flex, and Cyclonic Flow Rotor technology to help remove moisture from around the reel body. There’s just one size, the RA-6000, which holds around 300m of 15kg braid and is ideal for the likes of big surf salmon. It weighs an extremely comfortable 480g, balancing well with a medium action 3m surf rod. www.spooledmagazine.com.au

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What’s New?

PLATYPUS PULSE MONO PREMIUM MONFILAMENT

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Platypus continues its 120-plus years of fishing line development with this new generation monofilament line, engineered from the ground up utilising the latest raw materials and refined processes to 100 produce a line that exceeds expectations. Proudly made in Australia, Pulse Premium Monofilament boasts fine diameters and excellent abrasion resistance, offering anglers the best of both worlds, along with a smooth and slick finish that casts long and knots extremely well. The Ghost Clear colour is designed to reflect its environment, much like the scales of a fish, allowing it to blend effectively into a wide range of situations. Platypus technicians regard Pulse as the best monofilament line they have ever created. Initially available in 300m spools and breaking strains from 4lb to 50lb, Pulse Premium Monofilament is sure to cement Platypus as a world leader in line manufacturing and Australia’s favourite monofilament line.

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RIDGELINE MICROLITE RANGE The allure of the sun is often too strong to avoid, so in order to enjoy it comfortably and safely, you’ll need to dress accordingly, which is where the all-new Microlite range from Ridgeline has you covered. To keep you cool and protected when you’re out and about on or by the water, the athletic fit range of tops are made from a microlite soft touch, lightweight knit.

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They boast an anti-bacterial finish to minimise body odour and reduce the amount of washing required, as well as a wicking finish to draw sweat away from the body, meaning you stay more comfortable while on the move. Also included in the range is all the necessary head and neck gear to keep you cool from the top down. The Rig Fishing Hat features a soft elastic head grip, broad brim for sun protection, tackle/lure band and provides UPF40+ protection. Further to that, the range also features a Flex Cap and Neketai, which is a lightweight multi-use accessory for protecting your neck against the elements. So, when that desire to head outside and stay out there all day hits, reach for the Microlite range from Ridgeline and make the most of it.

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What’s New?

INFEET ROLLIN’ CRANK MR/DR Spring and summer traditionally herald the arrival of crankbait season, and the Infeet Rollin’ Crank is the ultimate finesse crank for the Aussie angler. Developed to give anglers the perfect bite-size crank option, the 32mm Infeet Rollin’ Crank is available in two depths (MR & DR) and is the perfect bait for Australia’s diverse estuaries.

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The MR will reach a depth of 1.3m and is well suited to flats and shallow/floating structure. Getting down to depth quickly with a tight wobble and the ability to swim at slow speed make the MR Crank ideal for a ‘slow roll’ style retrieve. The DR is a tailor-made bait for fishing deeper areas of the estuary, such as rubble and rock walls. A careful weight placement creates instant traction on the retrieve, getting the DR Crank to its maximum (2m) depth quickly. The bib shape creates a ‘searching’ style action and deflects off structure with ease – a key factor in triggering bites from predators. The Infeet Rollin’ Crank may be small in size, but it is a consistent catcher of large fish and is a worthy addition to any estuary angler’s tacklebox.

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TT LURES SNAKE EYEZ WEEDLESS JIGHEADS

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TT Lures Big EyeZ series brought the addition of large, bulging, 3D eyes to the popular HeadlockZ jighead range. Now the new Snake EyeZ delivers the same strike trigger in a weedless, articulated jighead. Built on a heavy-duty Mustad, black nickel, chemically sharpened worm hook, Snake EyeZ feature TT’s ‘chin lock’ keeper to lock your soft plastic in place. Realistic XL 3D eyes and hand-painted heads are included to match or contrast your favourite soft plastics in a selection of popular natural and UV reactive colours, designed to attract fish and trigger strikes. The articulated head creates maximum action and the through-wire, inbuilt stainless steel quick clip system allows hook sizes and head colours/ weights to be quickly and easily interchanged. This clip system has proven itself in the current SnakelockZ range and is tested to 75lb.

Info www.spooledmagazine.com.au


What’s New?

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INFEET SLIPPERY DOG 97F The big dog of the litter, the new Slippery Dog 97F is graced with the performance and pedigree of its predecessors. It features tungsten tuned weighting to improve the lure’s posture in the water and significantly enhance responsiveness when retrieved. A top-water walk-the-dog lure, Slippery Dog 97F is the perfect prawn and baitfish imitation. Its TG tune design features two small rattle beads placed in the head of each lure, emulating the clicking sound of fleeing prawns on the surface. Measuring 97mm, the Slippery Dog 97F is the ideal length for Australian estuary and inshore anglers, whether it’s casting at mangrove jack in the north, kingfish in the east, or salmon in the south. Each Slippery Dog comes fitted with strong rings and BKK Fangs treble hooks, making it robust and ready to fish straight out of the box.

Info www.spooledmagazine.com.au


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BIG RED GEAR - DRIVING LIGHTS If you’ve got a thirst for adventure and racking up the kilometres off the beaten track in search of the perfect fishing or camping spot, there are myriad reasons for a quality set of aftermaket driving lights to be on your radar. This great country of ours sure knows how to throw a range of terrains under your tread and when it comes to tackling them all after dark, you’re going to need a little extra help in the form of lighting. With that being said, the flagship high power driving lamps from the gurus at Big Red Gear are built using 5W Osram LED’s surrounded by their precisely engineered parabola optics. The result is enormous volumes of light to make your journey safer. The lights come in three sizes (5”, 7” and 9”) ensuring all vehicles and needs are covered.

Info www.spooledmagazine.com.au


What’s New?

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BIG RED GEAR - LIGHT BARS Quality after-market models not only provide greater illumination of the path ahead, they also serve to aid in navigating through inclement weather, spot any oncoming wildlife and help to reduce fatigue caused by eye strain. If light bars are more your thing, the BRG 22” LED Light Bar is rugged and impact resistant, featuring a tough aluminium housing and polycarbonate lens for ultimate durability and a waterproof rating of IP67 to ensure that next river crossing won’t be the last. The light bar incorporates high output Osram LEDs which produce a crisp, white light which is unparalleled in performance. The black stealth and slimline design ensures the light bar complements rather than detracts from any vehicle design too.

Info www.spooledmagazine.com.au


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DAIWA RAIN JACKET & BIB Shelter from the elements with the new Daiwa Rain Jacket and Bib ensemble. Made from Daiwa’s RAINMAX technology, the jacket and bib will keep you warm and dry in heavy rain thanks to its 15000mm rating. Angler comfort and dryness is further enhanced with welded seams and waterproof zips helping to keep the wet and cold at bay, making the jacket and bib equally suited to a cold winter day in Victoria or a wet summer day in North Queensland. Made for Australian anglers and conditions, the jacket and bib are available in sizes S–3XL. Whether you are running out to the reef to chasing fingermark and trout or chasing cod out west, the Daiwa Rain Jacket and Bib has you covered. www.spooledmagazine.com.au

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