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Information on the quality and location of local Boat Ramp facilities. Includes photographs, maps and some video content.

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Fish for the future promotes catch and release fishing.

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Regular fishing reports from our fishing trips.

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Fly Fishing

Chasing Golden Trevalley on the Magnetic Island flats.


Enjoying one of the many beautiful beaches of Magnetic Island.

Friday, 25 July 2014

Flathead along the Beach

I really struggled last weekend to convince the family to get out of bed early and go for a fish from the boat! The cold weather and unpredictable winds didn't help. I was pretty sure Sunday was going to be ok, but convinced enough to drag everyone out of bed at 4.30am. So when I got up later that morning I was shattered to see dead calm conditions on the water. I had to do something to fill the fishing addiction for the weekend. It was a choice of either putting the boat in after lunch and hoping the weather held, or convince Tania to take the boys down the beach for a walk. I managed the beach option and kids were keen.

We left about lunchtime with the plan to fish the bottom of the tide and the first couple of hours of run in. I didn't want to drive to far, so we set Cungulla Beach as our destination. We arrived 45min later and tide was just starting to make its way back in. The water was beautiful and clear with lots of bait making its way back into the system.

We worked our way out along the deepest channel, casting soft plastic Squidgies along the way. Lachy and I were the only ones fishing, Tania and Sebastian hunted around on the sand. But after hundreds of casts with not a single bump, Lachy soon gave up. I kept on persisting with the soft plastic, convinced if I made enough casts eventually my lure would pass by a fishes mouth. Besides, all indicatios were that the Flathead were here!

Eventually, while in a bord daze, my plastic was bumped hard! A short pause and the fish was suddenly peeling braid off the Stella 1000. This was a sold Flathead, and she put up a cracking fight. As the fish came into sight over the shallow water I could see this was easily in the 60's. But a few more spurts of energy saw the fish back into deep water, leaving behind a puff of sand in the water column. Eventually I had the fish into a position to drag it up onto the sand. I just had to hope the leader and light gauge hook held! Yes, finally Cungulla yields a decent fish for me.

With Tania and the boys all wanting fish for dinner, this one was quickly cleaned and set aside. Now the pressure was on to get another one, as we would need two fish to feed us all. And it didn't take long. Just a handful of casts back into a similar area and a twin of the fish fish hit the lure. A very similar fight and this fish was soon on the beach lying beside the first.

This was plenty for dinner and with no eski it was time to pack up and head home. I have no doubt there would have been more fish to catch, but I had by fill and was happy enough for an early mark. Today I used my all time favourite flathead lure, the 70mm Squidgie Fish in Poddy colour. I use this with a 1/8th ounce jig head. The Stella 1000fe and TK3G 662 is a great outfit for walking the beach. It is light and nimble while being more than capable of handling these fish. Just watch out for the sand!

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Celebrating 2000 Facebook Likes

Fishing Townsville is currently celebrating 2000 Facebook likes with a great give-away competition. All you have to do to enter is like the Facebook Page, like and comment on the competition post. Winners will be announced on Sunday 20th July.

We would like to thank Shimano, Townsville Marine, The Fishing Warehouse, Railblaza, Wiked Fishing, Jelly Prawn Lures and Threadybuster Lures for donating an awesome set of prizes for the competition. Please support those that support us.

Thursday not so good

Following our successes with the Doggie Mackerel on Wednesday, we figured a run back there the next day should see us straight back into them. The weather was going to be very different, with a change due to come through about 10.30am. But it was supposed to be calm again in the morning, and the change should have only been 10-15knots. Easy as!

But it didn't turn out that way. As soon as we poked the nose of the boat out the front of Ross River the wind stated. A nice 10knots straight up. So we decided to stick closer to home and headed to the Alligator Creek Weedbed area, rather than Long Beach where we were the day before. It was ok, bit of wind chop, but good enough to get fishing. So we put out the burley and baits. But an hour later and the same baits were still on the end of the line and still looking good. The wind slowly picked up and started nudging 15knots. So we decided to run in closer and fish over the flats while the tide was still high. But the wind just got stronger, so we took off for home while the tide was still high enough to make the run back to Ross River in close along the shore.

As we got back to the Ross the wind seemed to drop off. It actually looked pretty good inside the island. So we headed out into the channel for a look around the pylons. Big mistake! The run over was good, and we fished for a few minutes in reasonable water. But then it really came in. All of a sudden it was more like 20-25knots and we had to punch into in all the way back. Lucky that 485sf can eat up the at wind chop!

So I'd say thats it for me for the school holidays. Maybe the wind will be back down next weekend?

Friday, 11 July 2014

Mid Week Fishing

Oh yeah, I love it when the weather is down mid-week during the school holidays! It doesn't happen very often, but when it does I get very excited. And Wednesday was just that day! Winds were predicted to be light all day, and I had big plans! Whenever I write a report for this website, I like to talk a little about how and why I plan the day I do. It often revolves around the wind and tide, and where I think I will find a fish AND be able to comfortably fish at that time. So for Wednesday my plan was to run the boat directly to the Mackerel Patches off Cape Cleavelend to chase some Spanish Mackerel at first light, and then head wide to the Norther Marlin Grounds and troll for a Billfish for the remainder of the day. This should fit with the lighter winds early, and then dropping for the remainder of the day. It would hopefully let us put a few fish in the eski early before looking for that elusive Billie. We also had a kids dental appointment at 3.15pm so had to be back at the ramp early.

Knowing that mid-week half of the Coast Guard ramp would be full of single cars going on the ferry (trailer parking only applies on weekends), and the fact that more than a few sickies would be called in, we headed to the Ross River ramp to launch at about 5am. This is a little earlier than I would normally put in, but I wanted to be on location at the Mackerel Patches when the sun came up. We ran across the bay comfortably with a slight 5knots breeze over our shoulder. We cleared the cape and slight wind chop soon slowed us down a little. But knowing the wind was predicted to drop out we continued comfortably to our destination. On arrival at the Mack Patches it has almost glassed out. At least 8 other boats were already in the vicinity trolling and it didn't take long for us to sound up a good patch of fish. The fish were so thick we could see them in their thousands over the side of the boat.

But within minutes of arriving, the wind that had hampered us on the way out reached us and began chopping up the water. But we persisted and sent down some metal slices. Unfortunately the school of fish showing so well on the sounder was only Trevally. And we could have caught them one after the other! Tania and the kids had a bit of fun, but it was not what we had come this far for.

As the morning progressed the wind just built more and more. Eventually we were taking the odd wave over the bow of the boat as the Minn Kota iPilot worked to keep us over the school of fish. It was just to uncomfortable. By about 8.30am we decided enough was enough. It just wasn't worth smashing ourselves about in this swell when we were not even getting the Mackerel we had came for. So we decided to make the very uncomfortable run back to the Cape and protection form the Southerly breeze.

Fortunately the hull of the Haines 485sf is incredible through wind chop. And despite extremely sloppy conditions and a very wet ride for my passengers, we were able to maintain 15-17knots all the way back. Once inside the Cape the water completely glassed out. Opening the throttle to 30knots we raced to a Weedbed mark off long beach.

Conditions were stunning. A beautiful runout tide, cold clean water and glass conditions. Perfect for Doggie Mackerel. Normally when fishing the Weedbeds I would anchor up and get a burley trail going. But stuff that!!! Down when the iPilot electric and I hit 'spotlock' to hold us in place. Luckily I had picked up a block of Pillies the day before from The Fishing Warehouse. I normally wouldn't have bait on board, but Tania wanted some to fish for Nannygai if we got out wider. So we started a burley trail and sent out a couple of pillies on gang hooks. By the time we got all set up it was almost 10am. And despite the good water conditions, I wasn't holding out to much hope for fish this late in the morning. But it didn't take long and one of the rods sitting in the rod holder gave an almighty bounce. Pulled it in and the bait was gone. Mackerel.... Out it went again and it didn't take long and we were hooking up in the Mackerel one after the other. And they were good solid Doggies to. Just one wend under size and the rest were in the mid to high 60's. Fish that go straight in the eski, not on the tape!

The technique we used was very simple. The boat is 'anchored' in position and a steady burley trail sent out the back. Two rods are set up with gang hooks to float pilchards. The gang hooks are completely un-weighted and have no wire. They are not under floats either. Just braid, mono leader and gang hooks. The pillies are cast a good distance at 90 degrees out the sides of the boat. The tide carries these down the side of the boat and out the back where the burley trail is. When the baits reach the back of the boat they are VERY slowly wound back in. Tania and the boys were using these rods, and at the same time I was throwing a Threadybuster directly out the back of the boat between the other two lines, and work it back through the burley trail. I would not normally work a lure like this against the tide, but in this situation it was always going to work. The Threadybuster had a short length of single strand wire, maybe 2in in length. This just prevents the bite off of a very expensive lure should it be completely inhaled. More strikes would come if no wire was used, but thats a big risk. I don't mind loosing the odd gang hook, but not a $25 lure!

I lost count of how many we caught for the morning. But it was at lease 10 and more likely a dozen. I had forgotten Ice at the servo that morning, so the fish were filleted and put into the car fridge. So I never did a proper count.

By lunchtime the tide and bite had well and truly died. We switched to a troll of some lures to see if we could locate a patch of feeding fish, but it was all over for the day. We headed home and back to the ramp.

Monday, 7 July 2014

Mixed bag plastics fishing around Townsville

I had the most awesome day on the water yesterday with good mate Andrew. The plan was to go back to basics and spend a full day working plastics amongst the timber in one of the local creeks. Although the water temp is well down at the moment, and the Barramundi traditionally go a little quiet, the tides are small and the water is running super clear. This clean, clear and slow running water is makes for great conditions for working small plastics in tight to structure. While the water is a little cooler and the Barramundi are suffering from fishermen term 'lock-jaw', there is no doubt the smaller prawn imitation plastics work best. And as these are very light and slow sinking, you need smaller tides and lighter run to allow the plastic to sink down into the timber without drifting out to quickly. A 1-1.5m change in tide is usually ideal.

So we put the boat in about 6am and ran across to our creek of choice. We sounded up a few fish in the deeper water at the mouth of the creek and dropped a Threadybuster to see if we could pick up an early fish. But nothing was biting. So we began our long run up the back of the creek.

We started at a small side creek that looked like it should hold a fish or three. The tide was just starting to run out and some snags at the mouth of the creek looked impressive. I tied a brand new Live Target 3in shrimp onto the 8lb Stella, and Andrew put a DOA onto his little 4lb Rarenium outfit. The Live Target Shrimp looks good enough to throw straight on the BBQ! The detail in the final product is unbelievable. Price isn't to bad either, the Fishing Warehouse has them in a pack of 4 for $19.50. Less than 5 bucks per lure works out ok. But unfortunately my first shrimp didn't last long before finding a new home amongst the snags. While it looks great in the water, and will no doubt attract a bite, they are quite snag prone. And, unlike the DOA, they don't 'push' off the snag quite as easy. So back to old faithful I went.

We slowly made our way right up the back of the creek, almost as far as I could get my boat. And while we were consistently getting bites and landing the odd fish, there were lots of quiet spells and the fish were well down on size. We managed a few small Jacks and a handful of just under size Barramundi. We only landed 2 or 3 Barra, but jumped off at least that many more. But none would have gone size anyway. Deeper snags or snags in very close proximity to drains seemed to be the ones holding fish.

Eventually we got into less than 2m of water and turned back. We motored back to where we began and then worked our way out with the still falling tide. We continued to get the odd fish, but it was very quiet. Then finally Andrew got the kind of the strike we were looking for! A fish that hit hard and burned off into the deeper water. Andrew took it easy on what was obviously a good fish. Eventually the unmistakable colour of a good Jack came into view. A couple of surging runs later and he was in the net. At 45cm this was a great looking fish.

As the tide turned made its way back in things went even quieter! We had been looking at the weather on Seabreeze all morning, and the updates of images form the AIM's webcam every 15mins. Seabreeze had the winds dropping for the afternoon, and it looked like glass in the channel. So we decided to bail on the creek and go for a look out the front. But not before one again stopping and dropping some Threadys around the channel at the mouth. Here we found large schools of Queenfish and Trevalley more than willing to nail the mini-Thready. But while this was a lot of fun for a short tine, the fish were only small. The only decent fish to take the lures was a nice little Fingermark. Still only a small fish, but well and truly of legal size. So it went into the eski for the kids to have for dinner. My boys love fish, and at the end of the night Andrew left his Jack for me as well. As it turned out, the kids devoured BOTH the Fingermark and the Jack on their own!

The allure of the glass conditions in the channel was to strong. Up came the iPilot and we headed for the North Cardinal. It was now about 3pm in the afternoon and we were keen to see if we could get an afternoon bite out of a Doggie or two. As we neared the final marker conditions were so good it was tempting to keep going and chase a Spaniard on the shoals. But it was getting late already and the heaviest outfit I had was 15lb. We sounded around the marker and to our disappointment there was very little bait showing. We dropped metal slices for about half an hour and didn't get a single strike.

From here we made our way back toward home, sounding around each and every marker as was passed them by. Not one single lead had any decent show of bait! Despite this we gave a couple of drops of the slice on a few and couldn't find a fish.

I then took Andrew across to a rubble patch I have marked closer into the island. It gave a good show on the sounder so we decided to drop the Thready's and try for a Fingermark. A few less desirable came up (lets just call them Grinner) when Andrew finally nailed a good fish. He was only fishing 8lb, and there were some very nervous runs along the bottom. Hoping and preying for a nice Fingermark to make its way to the surface, soon came the despondent call of "Cod". But it was still a good capture on 8lb. A couple of quick pics and he was released to grow even bigger.

A short time later and my reel was finally screaming with a good fish. This one was a little confusing, good solid runs, but not super fast. Some runs deep, but then some toward the surface. Turned out to be a foul hooked Doggie Mackerel. Obviously he took a swipe at the lure, but it had nailed him in the side of the body. Probably a good thing to, with no wire I can't imagine that little Thready would have come back in one piece! At 60ish cm it was a nice finish to the day.

One final sound around a few markers on the way back to port and we were off the water about 6pm. A solid 12hours on the water and great day overall. I really do love the versatility of my boat. Miles up the creek one minute, and out the back of the island the next. And I doubt the Suzuki would have gone through more then 25lts of fuel.

Friday, 4 July 2014

Product Review - Shimano Stradic 3000 Ci4+ & Raider Soft Plastics Barra Spin

I have been lucky enough to have the opportunity to test out Shimano's new Ci4+ Stradic for almost a year. I owned one of the original 2500 Ci4 Stradic's and was always very impressed with it. This time I was looking for an affordable outfit to chase Barramundi, Grunter and Fingermark on Soft Plastic Vibes in the deeper holes and rock bars. With the Ci4+ promising to be even lighter and stronger than the original, it is an obvious choice. I wanted to run 15lb Power Pro on the outfit, and the 3000 size was spot on.

Shimano also released the Rarenium Ci4 at the same time as the Stradic Ci4+ range, and while the specifications of the two reels are very similar, my preference went to the faster gear ratio of the Stradic. However, I do have a few friends who are rating the Rarenium very highly.

The Ci4 technology used by Shimano is a Carbon infused material where the 4 represents the number of electrons in the Carbon atom. This material is incredibly light and strong. It is boasted as being one-and-a-half times stronger than Shimano's XT-7 graphite, while being 20% lighter as well. The original Ci4 Stradic did suffer from a fair degree of body flex in then material, especially in the reel seat and reel post. But the second generation 'plus' material is said to be 250% stronger. And there is a very noticeable improvement in the body flex on the new reels. While improving rigidity in the Ci4+ Shimano has also managed to make the material 12% lighter than Ci4. In the Stradic's, this Ci4+ material is used in the frame, side plate and rotors, making for an overall very light and strong fishing reel. The carbon infused material contains no metal, so rusting of the body is completely eliminated.

Another improvement over the fist generation Ci4 Stradic is the inclusion of X-Ship Gearing. This technology was originally developed in the top end Stella range of reels, but in now making its way into more affordable models. X-Ship Gearing is more efficient and powerful, meaning less effort is required to turn the handle. This is achieved by using a larger diameter drive gear, and moving the pinion gear closer to the centre of the drive gear. The pinion gear is then supported on both ends by A-RB ball bearing. Overall the reel has a smooth and effortless retrieve, critical when casting lures all day.

The Ci4+ Stradic features 7 A-RB stainless bearing. These are positioned around the reel in all the important places. There are bearings supporting the handle and grip, spool, line roller and main and pinion gears. This gives support and smoothness to all the critical componentry of the reel. The A-RB bearings from Shimano undergo an Anti-rust process that improves durability by 10 times that of standard stainless steel bearings. In the Ci4+ these A-RB bearings are also shielded to provide another level of protection. A-RB bearings are backed by Shimano's extensive 10 year guarantee. So you can rest assured the reel will remain smooth after years of use, obviously with proper maintenance and care.

The Shimano 3000 Ci4+ Stradic has a gear ratio of 6:1 giving it a retrieve of 88cm of line per turn of the handle. The drag capacity is rated at 7kg, more than enough to fish 15 or even 20lb braided lines. The drag is smooth and accurate, and has never faulted in the time I have been using the reel. The 3000 spool holds 235yds of 10lb Power Pro, a little closer to 200yds for 15lb. This reel weighs in at a very impressive 198g. Thats considerably lighter than the equivalent size Stella!

The grip on the Ci4+ Stradic range is a high density EVA material. This is again very light and comfortable, but takes some getting use to over the traditional rubber grips. The rounded shape of the grip can feel a little poxy in the hand compared to the flat paddle shape of other reels. You just don't quite feel like you have the same level of grasp on the handle. But on the flip side, it does contribute to the overall delicate feel of the reel. Extra care needs to be taken with the EVA material as its not quite as robust as rubber.

Due to the very light and nimble nature of this reel, it is ideal suited for use by young kids. My boys both find this reel comfortable and easy to handle for long periods of time. And I can rest easy in the confidence that the reel will handle much larger fish if one should take the lure. The last thing you want to do is put a cheap k-mart reel in the hands of a child and watch them loose a quality fish when it fails to stand up to the task.

Depending on where you purchase this reel, you will definitely get some change out of $300. Putting this reel, that has a lot of the quality and feel of a Stella, into the range of the average angler. This is a perfect reel for very large range of fishing options. It will not disappoint! My Ci4 Stradic's sit proudly along side the more expensive Stella range.

At around $120 the Raider Soft Plastic Barra Spin is definitely at the cheaper end of the graphite range of rods. However, the graphite is nice and light and very crisp. Designed by Shimano specifically for fishing soft plastic lures, the rod features a fast actioned blank to help impart action in the lure. The cork used in the grip of this rod is not particularly high density, but it is comfortable and functional. Over time this lower density cork may suffer from some degrading, but a full year on and my rod still looks good. Cork grips on the Barra Spin add to the overall lightness of this outfit and fell great to use.

This rod has an overall length of or 2.03m or 6'8". This falls slightly short of the preferred 7 feet most people go for with a plastics rod, but it gives the rod more power for fighting bigger fish. This particular model is a 2 piece outfit and packs down well for transport in the car. The connection between the two pieces is clean, solid and strong. Once together it feels just like a one piece. The rod is rated 4-8kg, making it perfect for 15lb braid, and is rated for a casting weight of 8-30g. Again, perfect for the soft plastics used to target fish all along the coast. Guides are Sea Guide Zirconium and are two footed in the lower portion of the rod and change to single foot in the tip section. The graphite is good quality and feels great to use.

The rod also features a hook keeper that is useful for stowing lures without damaging the precious guides. But just be careful of lead heads and other hooks damaging the graphite as the rod bounces around in rod lockers or rod holders.

My best capture to date on this outfit would be a 4kg Queenfish. This fish really tested out the staying power of the reel, with the fight lasting a good 20mins. Screaming runs and lots of pressure put the drag, gears and rod through it paces. The reel came out the other end still running silky smooth.

This outfit is perfectly suited to a wide range of lure casting situations. From soft plastics for Barramundi, Grunter and Fingermark, to high speed spinning for Mackerel. This setup is capable of it all. After a year of very heavy use and plenty of good quality fish, the entire outfit looks and feels as good as the day it arrived. Both this rod and reel come very highly recommended. I would give the 3000 Ci4+ Stradic a 8.5/10 and the Raider Soft Plastics Barra Spin 7/10.