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Chasing Golden Trevalley on the Magnetic Island flats.

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Monday, 12 January 2015

Townsville Boat Ramps - Coast Guard Ramp

The well known Coast Guard ramp is the primary launching facility that services the Townsville region. The CG ramp is located on Sir Leslie Thiess Drive in the middle of the city. It is easily located by heading toward the Casino. Full details are in the video below. This ramp is currently Townsville's only launch site suitable for all tide ocean access for larger offshore vessels.


There are two separate 3 lane ramps here. For convenience they will be referred to as the Eastern ramp (to the ocean side) and Western ramp (to the town side). While both ramps are considered 'all tide', they are slippery on extreme low tide, and on the lowest tides of the year the bottom of the ramp is exposed. There is deep water ocean access directly into the bay, with bar to cross like many southern areas.

There are public toilets on location that are always fairly clean. There is no was down facility available and, like most northern ramps, no cleaning tables. However, good floating walkway pontoons now service both ramps. While one lane was sacrificed on each ramp to allow for this addition, launching is now much safer and easier.



There are a number of trailer parks available, but for may years now this has been inadequate for Townsvilles boating population. On most weekends with light winds forecast the ramp parking is full by as early as 6am. Public holidays are a nightmare! Boaties are left with little option, park illegally on the grassed area by the road in, or turn around and go home. Its best to get to the ramp very early to secure a park, although this is sometimes not enough. An alternate launch site does exist on Ross River. However facilities are not as suitable for bigger boats, and navigating to the mouth is tide dependant to some extent.

The Eastern ramp in generally the better ramp to use. Its in good condition and tends to be less slippery. It is also usable on a lower tide than the Western ramp. The ramp is steeper at the bottom end, allowing launch and retrieve on a low tide while keeping the car a little higher on the dry section of ramp. The downfall is that this ramp is un-lit. Parking at the Eastern ramp is also more difficult on weekdays as it is open to normal cars parking. This was done to allow people to park who are going to the Island from the nearby ferry terminal. But they don't need to pay! So in actual fact, our trailer registrations pay for their parking. On the odd occasion when its really good weather mid week boaties can't find a park because its full of single cars going on the ferry. Its a very touchy topic in Townsville, as we do often end up in situations where boaties paying full registration fees are unable to park and get on the water due to legally parked single cars. There are also occasions where events at the Townsville Entertainment Centre cause the entire facility to be closed off for parking. The upside of this is the Coast Guard raises some much needed funds through parking fees.


The Western ramp tends to be the most popular one. It will be the one with the bigger queues. The main reasons being the lights. It was also the one closest to the only pontoon available. But now floating walkway pontoons service both ramps this might even things up a little. But old habits die hard! The Western ramp is not as good at low tide. It gets slippery and has a sudden drop off at the end. Even with low tides that see the bottom of the ramp almost out of the water, the Eastern ramp is still generally usable. But take care and check first.


Both ramps are reasonably protected from the wind. NE winds will come down the channel, but thats usually manageable. The main concern here is boat traffic. Especially the ferries, and especially so for the car ferry! It is recommended that you want until the car ferry passes before trying to drive onto a trailer. The car ferry draws a large volume of water! As it approaches you will see the water drawn off the ramp. Its nothing to see the water drop by a foot. And then it surges back again as the ferry passes. You don't want to be trying to drive a boat onto a trailer when that happens. Its also a good idea to give partners and young kids a hand holding the boat while the ferry passes or they will find it hard to hold a boat on the ramp as it can get sucked out quite strongly.


Given the addition of the floating pontoons, this is a pretty good ramp to use. People often launch boats up to 25foot with no problems. The only issue is with parking, so just watch it at busy times and at very low tides.


Sunday, 23 November 2014

Cleveland Bay Exploits

Well the last two weekends in a row have had light winds forecast that did not eventuate. Northerly winds and Townsville do not go well together! The Cleveland Bay actually faces more North than East, providing little protection from those Northerly winds. Both last Sunday and yesterday I had planned to get out into Halifax Bay and wide of Rattlesnake to chase some bigger offshore fish. But both times the wind at the mouth of the harbour has kept us in close. Apparently wide of the island conditions have been much better, but its a long hard slog through the chop to find out. Especially with the kids on board. But we have still managed to get in a couple of good sessions on smaller fish in the bay.

Last Sunday I had Tania and the kids on the water and we managed to put together a good back of solid Blue Salmon. The biggest of which went 76cm. We also managed the usually assortment of smaller Trevalley and Grunter. The majority of the fish fell victim to the trusty Threadybuster soft vibe, though I did have the kids flicking around a Gulp Prawn on a small jig head for a while. Two other silver fish in the mid 60's rage were caught and released, including one Sebastian caught all on his own. This makes Sebastian's first at a legal size.




Then yesterday I took Mark, a mate from work, for a run. Again the plan was to run wide, but it was very messy in the bay. So after a very wet ride we managed to find somewhere that wan't too bad and proceeded to catch fish after fish. At times it was quite literally a fish a cast! Initially both Mark and I were using Threadybusters, and they were very successful. But for something different I decided to tie on a Gulp Prawn like the kids were using the week before. I put this on a 1/6oz TT-Lures jig head. It was very successful, with a lot of fish hitting the sinking plastic before it was even jigged up off the bottom. However, it did manage to attract a lot of small fish that might have been selected out with the Thready. Still, good fun for kids and on light line. In the end we put a couple of Salmon in the eski as well as 4 Grunter and a Fingermark.



I have not run the GoPro's for quite a while, and with a 3rd on order for Christmas I though I really should get them out again. So here is a bit of footage from yesterday.


Thursday, 30 October 2014

Last Chance Barramundi

With the close of Barramundi season fast approaching, the weekend just gone was looking like the last chance I would get to target the infamous species. Saturday was busy, so it had to be Sunday. And with the weather predicted to drop out, it looked like the ideal time to put the effort into heading to Hinchinbrook. So Andrew and I decided we would leave early Sunday and put the boat in at the Cardwell end of the Channel.

The alarm was set for 3.30am, and by 4.15 we were driving out of Townsville. After a long but exciting drive up the coast, we finally arrived and put the boat in a little after 6am. We had an incoming tide until about 10, so we planned to take advantage of the early morning clam and chase some Fingermark at an offshore wreck. But the weather was not as good as we thought it would be, and the fishing wasn’t much better! We were sill able to reach the spot we wanted to fish, and it marked up well on the Humminbird. But all we could manage were a few small Nannygai. We persisted in bumpy conditions for a couple of hours, putting down GIMPS, Threadybusters, Species One50's and an assortment of Gulp plastics. With no luck we headed off into the Channel where we planned to spend the rest of the day.

We fished the Mangroves, Headlands and Bays as the tide topped out and began to drop off. Despite fishing an area where Andrew had nailed plenty of good Barra just weeks earlier, we managed just a handfull of Barra….couda and Trevalley, but only caught a glimpse of 2 silver flashes from the target species! With much persistence we did manage to put a couple of fish in the eski, just small Fingermark, Grunter and some nice Blue Salmon.



It was an extremely long day on the water, and with few options left we decided to head home earlier than anticipated. We eased the boat through the shallow waters of the Cardwell Marina right on the bottom of the 1.5m low. We spotted a small Croc inside the Marine Cove, a reminder to keep an eye out at the local ramps. By 7pm we were home and look forward to a show and bed. Not the finish to the season we had hoped for. Hinchinbrook is a beautiful destination that in really close to Townsville, but boy... it can be hot and cold!


Monday, 6 October 2014

Townsville to Host the Flotilla for the Reef

An alliance of environmental and community groups (see groups here) is organising Townsville’s first Flotilla for the Reef. It will take place along The Strand on Sunday 19 of October and is aimed at drawing attention to the damage that mega industrial ports and dredge spoil dumping do to the Reef. The flotilla will call for a ban on dumping in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.

Flotilla spokesperson and James Cook University Marine Biology student Ms Jacinta Tonkin said ‘We will be marching along The Strand alongside the flotilla of boats to send a message to the state and federal governments that we want the incredible natural icon; the Great Barrier Reef protected for all time. We’re calling for a ban on dumping in the World Heritage Area’.

Interested community members can register for the flotilla by clicking here!

‘Even though the state government has signaled plans to dispose of dredge spoil on land at Abbot Point, we have not seen any commitment to ban dumping at all the other proposed mega industrial port expansions in the World Heritage Area, let alone any concrete plans showing their intentions at Abbot Point’, said Ms Tonkin.

‘Plans that will require 100 million tonnes of dredging, significant amounts of dumping in Reef waters, and an increase to 7000 ships crossing the Great Barrier Reef each year are still in place.

‘Fishers, divers, boat owners and community members are invited to bring a boat or kayak if they want to join the flotilla. Non-boaties can join the land march from 10am, meeting on the beach next to Tobruk pool on The Strand. People interested in bringing a boat are asked to register at flotillaforthereef.org.au and to arrive in time to register their boat before 9.45am.

The flotilla and march will finish at Burke St Headland, where scientists and Reef advocates will talk about the health of and the need to protect the Great Barrier Reef. Local bands, including young duo Terrapin, will entertain the crowd. Food will be available.

Participants are encouraged to make costumes, signs and banners to make this event special and spread the message.

Details: Sunday October 19, starting on the beach next to Tobruk pool. Boat registration from 9am-9.45am. March and flotilla starting at 10am.

Pre-event Photo opportunity: 3.45pm on Thursday the 2nd of October at the jetty at the end of Anthony Street volunteers will be inviting boat owners with snorkel masks

For interviews contact: Ahri Tallon: 0423 515 941 or ahri.tallon@gmail.com
For more information go to: www.flotillaforthereef.org.au


Saturday, 27 September 2014

Family Fishing Day

Friday was family fishing day. According to the weather man, this was the pick of the days to be on the water. Light 5-10knots winds were forecast and we planned to try a run to Maggie Shoals to chase some Spanish Mackerel and Nannygai. But with strong Northerly winds blowing late Thursday, I wasn't convinced we would wake to calm waters. When I woke at 4am, the Beauro was still showing a steady breeze. Preparing the rods for the day saw me placing 8 or 9 different outfits into the rod locker. I just wasn't sure where we would end up and what we would be chasing. Anything from Barra in the creeks to Marlin off the Cape was a possibility, just depended the weather. Even packed some old pillies and gar, just to cover all bases.

When we arrived at the ramp at 5am, there was definitely a light wind making its presence felt. We launched and began to run toward the shoals. But it was just too uncomfortable for an hour long run with two kids and a wife! So we decided to try the creeks and see what the weather did as the morning progressed. But the fish here just didn't want to play the game, so it didn't take long to make the decision to run to the Cape and investigate conditions out wide.


Initially we sounded around the inside of the Cape for anything interesting, but then poked our nose out the front for a look. As it happened, the swell was horrible, but the wind wasn't too bad. So I decided to wonder on over to a mark about 3km away. Even if we just did a few drops of some plastics for a Fingermark. At lease get a chance to see if things would settle.

We sounded around the mark and found a couple of really nice bommies that looked promising. Conditions made using the electric to anchor a little testing, with the odd wave making it over the bow of the boat. But once settled into position it was definitely fishable. It wasn't until now that I made Tania aware there was bait on board! Immediately I had to rig up a hook and sinker on the Stella 8000SW so she could investigate what was below. And it din't take long and she was pulling up fish after fish. Unfortunately, most were small or undesirable! But thats what you put up with when using bait ;-)


I continued to work the old faithful Threadybuster lure. Even in 16m of water, these lures get down quick and attract all sorts of attention. And spiced with a little S-factor makes them even more irresistible. This was also a great opportunity to put some turns on my Stella 4000SWB combo. This reel is loaded with 20lb Power Pro and sits on a T-Curve 701. Its a great soft plastics combo, but is more suited to offshore work and has not had a whole lot of use thus far. While the Thready didn't attract as many bites as the old stinky pillie, the fish that did hit the lure were of a better quality. I managed a couple of Nannygai and the biggest Grassy Sweetlip that I have ever seen. At 50cm I was hard to believe it wan't a Spangly.



Conditions did slowly improve as the morning progressed, but not enough to tempt me to go further offshore. And by late morning the tide slowed and so did the bite. I made the decision to run back to the creeks to have one last go for a Barra on the falling tide.

Back in the bay and the pesky Northerly wind was starting to build. But I was determined to give the Barra a go. We spot-locked on the dropoff I wanted to fish, and a couple of Barra were showing on the Side Image of the Humminbird. It didn't take too many casts and a nice fish smashed the Threadybuster. This fish ran hard and had me all around the electric motor. Barra are not really well known as being a hard fighting fish for their size, but this one had my on edge the whole time. A couple of jumps and very tense moments and the fish was led into the waiting net. Dinner! At 65cm this was almost a carbon copy of the fish I landed just one day earlier. The kids were excited as, they just love fresh Barra fillets. And one of this size is just perfect to feed the four of us.


Lachy and I tried for another one for over half an hour. But it wasn't to be. The wind was now in the 15-20knot range and we had long run home. So we called it quits. Glad we did too, the run home was very wet!


The Minn Kota iPilot motors never cease to amaze me. The iPilot feature kept us dead on the mark all morning. And despite the breezy and sloppy conditions, the batteries were still showing almost full after the mornings fishing. If you are sick of anchoring and re-anchoring to postion your boat on small marks, do yourself a favour and get a Minn Kota iPilot. You will NEVER look back!

Mid-week Barra

Lately it seems all the good weather has been during the week. Luckily I can actually take advantage of this at the moment. Thursday was forecast to be good, and dropping, while Friday looked like the pick of the days for a run wide. So I decided to put the family on hold for the Friday run, and grabbed Mark from work for a run Thursday. I though we would again go for a run around the creek mouthes with the Threadybusters.

We headed off nice and early, but were greeted by a Northerly breeze and hefty swell. With confidence the weather would only improve, we persisted and pushed comfortably across to our location. By the time we got to where we wanted to fish conditions had really improved. And it wasn't long and it totally glassed out.


We fished the remainder of the incoming tide out the front, but only managed small fish. There were numerous, but nothing big.



As the tide topped out we pushed onto the flats and tried to get to the mangroves. At 2.8m there was only just enough water. The lecky was churning up the mud, but we could hear Barra boofing up the back of the groves, and bait was pouring out the front. We gave it a good shot for about half an hour, but falling water had us retreating fairly quickly.

We then headed into the creek to work the Mangrove edges as the water feel out of the roots. We tried a few different Hard Bodied lures and some DOA's. But despite great looking water, we managed nothing more than a nudge from a baby Barra.

Back out the front the wind had really gotten up. But I suspected the Barra may now be in the deeper holes as the water fell off the flats. So we positioned the boat in the chop and got to work with the lures. It didn't take too long and a solid fish hit my Threadybuster and took off. He bloke the surface quickly and gave us a good view, Barra! A solid looking fish, he worked me back and forward around the boat. With only one hook lightly in the mouth, it was a couple of anxious jumps before he was lead into the net. High 5's, a few photos and at 65cm a nice fish in the eski.


It wasn't long and a second fish smashed my Thready. This only hit hard and immediately launched in the air. My line went slack and I thought I had lost the fish. But I wound quickly and soon found I was still attached to the wildly jumping fish. This time the lure was firmly embedded into the fishes mouth with both trebles. This one wasn't getting away easily and was soon in the net. At 61cm it wasn't as big as the first, but dinner all the same.


Soon it was Marks turn with a yell of 'yeah, I'm on'. Well, he was on alright! A massive bucket mouthed big girl soon got her head and shoulders out of the water wildly shaking her head. I haven't see many big fish, but this had to me over 1m. She made my 65cm fish look like a guppy! It was incredibly tense as the massive fish had Mark back and forward around the motor. But unfortunately a couple of jumps later and the head shakes wore thought the leader and she won her freedom. Still, a spectacular sight and we were happy as pigs in mud.

We keeps going a little longer with no more hits. The wind was only building and we bailed for home. What an amazing day. Funny how a quiet morning can become a great day with only a couple of nice fish.

The Threadybuster lures have really been doing the job for me. They are definitely my goto lure for this style of fishing. I have been fishing them on a Stella 4000FI and 15lb Slick-8 PowerPro. The reel is on a GLoomis SJR-843 IMX. This an incredibly light and capable outfit for working soft plastics.