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Fly Fishing

Chasing Golden Trevalley on the Magnetic Island flats.


Enjoying one of the many beautiful beaches of Magnetic Island.

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Townsville's Freshwater Tarpon

Took a mate from work for a run yesterday morning into some flooded freshwater not to far out of town. After all the rain I figured it might be a good time to get swamp Barra in the runoff. We took his car and my kayaks and headed off about 5am. But all the spots we looked at just didn't feel right. Too much water is still running in a lot of the systems. Most of the places we looked at were running hard and filthy. Not to say that you won't catch a Barra in that type of water, but I didn't like the look of it for putting the kayaks in. Maybe next weekend. So its good to have a backup plan! And my backup is a sent of ponds I know usually contain some good Tarpon at this time of year. So that where we ended up!

It was probably about 6.30am or so by the time we had sussed out other spots and got the kayaks in the water. On arrival we did see the Tarpon rising in the ponds, but it was a lot quieter that I am use to here. But it didn't take too many casts to discover the fish were there and still willing to play!

The video below tells the story well. Over the next 2 hours we caught about a dozen fish between us. The action wasn't thick, but it was consistent. All fish were solid Tarpon, as this spot is well known for. Tarpon are no good on the table, too many bones! But their hard hit, strong runs and airborne acrobatics makes them an excellent sport fish. All fish caught were released to fight another day, but if you do happen to hook one that won't release they also make excellent troll baits for Spanish Mackerel.

I fished mainly with a very small 65mm Squidgy Wriggler on my Stella 1000fe combo. I have found that the Tarpon like a steady but quick retrieve of the plastic. No twitching of the lure is needed with these fish, just give the lure a good cast out and just wind it back. The tail of the Squidgy Wriggler does all the work. I have found dark coloured wrigglers to be the best, and black with an orange tail did it trick yesterday, but I don't think this colour is available any more. Keep the lure high in the water, just under the surface, as these fish are top water feeders. If you see a rise from a fish, put the lure out just past it and bring in to the area where the rise was, it will likely result in a strike. I also found trolling the Squidgy behind the Kayak incredibly successful. Maybe the paddling added as an extra attractant to the fish?

By about 9.30am the fishing started to slow. We were still getting the odd one, but it was hot and getting uncomfortable in yak. So we decided to pack up and head home early. Hopefully by next weekend the flood waters have settled down a bit and the Barra are a better option. Until then I hope you enjoy the video.

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Morning session in the Bay

Finally some half decent weather presents itself to Townsville! Saturday was forecast for 5 knots most of the day, and I think all of Townsville tried to take advantage of the calm conditions. We arrived at the Coast Guard ramp about 5.30am and car-park was already overflowing onto the lawn. To avoid the congestion we launched at the un-lit ramp and were soon on our way. Despite the lack of breeze on the water it was a bit sloppy out the front of the harbour. It was still a nice run to our fishing destination and soon the Minn Kota was deployed and were spot-locked in position.

Fish were marking clearly on the Humminbird Side Image, and the first hits came very quickly. A steady succession smaller fish began making their way over the side of the boat. Small Grunter, Fingermark, Queenfish and Trevalley were all hungry for our lures.

But persistence eventually paid off when a larger fish tore line from my Ci4+ Stradic. Clearly a better fish, I was hoping the Barramundi might have finally shown up. But soon a much larger Grunter came into view. Lachy assisted with the netting and we had a ripper 58cm Grunter for dinner.

As the tide built the fish seemed to grow. The bite slowed, but larger fish began to take the lures. The next Grunter to take my lure again nudged the 60cm mark. These are top fish to catch in many respects. They are aggressive on the lures, fight hard and excellent on the table. Grunter a fast becoming one of my favourite fish to catch.

The next fish to take my lure left a large boil on the surface as the Threadybuster came flying back at me. I never saw the fish, but I would be lying if I said I didn't suspect a big Barra! Even though we hadn't seen one yet, the take was very different to the Grunter.

Just then another boat rocks up, and who should it be? Mr Gleeson out for a run. He had a bit of a late night and didn't get get on the water as early as he would have liked. We have a quick chat about how the fishing has been and I tell him we haven't seen a Barra yet. Nek Minute..... Barra on! It was quite funny and I soon confess to him that the last fish I dropped I had suspected was a Barra. This was a nice fish that, despite a lack of airborne acrobatics, put up a good fight. But tension grew as the fish came into sight and we spotted the poor hookup. Just one hook of the treble holding on the outside of the mouth. A few final lunges from the fish at it was safely led into the net. At 71cm it was my best Barra for a while, and got that blasted monkey off my back for 2014.

Andrew proceeded to land two Barra in the 60's from his boat, and I missed two more myself. One busted the leader as it smashed the lure and went airborne, and the other simply threw the lure back at me. Both of these were captured on the video below!

As the tide topped out and began to turn the fishing slowed. So we decided to take a run to the mangroves and try for a fish on the run-out. We said G'day to Ryan Moody from Hooked on Hinchinbrook who was collecting some live bait. But by now it was getting too hot for the kids and the mozzies were rampant. So we decided to give ourselves and early mark and head for home.

The lure of the day was undoubtably the trusty Threadybuster. This lure is so well suited to fishing deep holes, drop-offs, rock-bars and sunken timber. On this occasion the larger Threadybuster accounted for the majority of the fish, including the bigger Grunter. But Sebastian was still having good success with the new smaller Mini-Thready. If you haven't given the Thready a go yet, I suggest grabbing a few and giving them a run on your next trip.

Below is a short clip from the morning. Two missed Barramundi at the end of the clip were pretty exciting!