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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 30 November 2008

Great morning on Magnetic Island Shoals

Well a big day out on the Shoals off Townsville! Finally finished a shower and I almost feel human again. Our day started at 2.30am with the alarm sounding. I got up first to pull the boat out and get the fishing gear loaded. Then time to wake Tania and the boys. Both kids were very excited, running all over the house. Even though it was 3am! Fuel on the way and we probably managed to get to the ramp around 4.

We were greeted with some spectacular weather. Smooth seas and winds of no more than 5knots. I was flat enough that Tania and the boys crawled into the cabin and slept for most of the 50min run out.

On arrival at my newly found mark bait was showing with some big fish hunting around. With everyone still asleep, I simply dropped a metal slice before even thinking about what might be down there. On the bottom, a couple or cranks of the handle and bang. Good fish. The screams of the drag soon got Tania out of the cabin. A solid fight soon had a nice Trevally in the 4-5kg range in the net. Not one of the good eating variety, a few snaps and he was on his way again.

I had high expectations of this site producing some quality Nannygai. So with Tania now up it was time to try squid! I positioned the boat above the mark and both dropped our lines. Within seconds of hitting the bottom, both of us were hooked solid. I pulled the hooks on my fish quite quickly. But Tania stayed connected. The fish pulled hard, but Tania pulled even harder on that 50lb braid. The fish began to show, and it looked the right colour. And a good size too. Into the net and onboard came a Nanny in the 5-6kg range. Quick pic and in the eski.

Subsequent drifts produced a succession of hookup, but none managed to make it to the boat. We had a terrible time with pulled hooks, bit-offs and bricked fish. With the drift being pretty quick and the fish holding over a small area, I was decided that we should anchor.

We anchored right on the mark, and within minutes I was hooked up solid again. But this didn't fight like a Nannygai. It kept making big runs, almost like a Spanish Mackerel, but not fast enough. As the fish reached the surface if ran wide. Puzzled, but assuming a big Trevally, I was very pleased to see a good size Cobia come into sight. Tania got a little stressed out with the net, but it went in fine and soon joined the Nannygai in the eski.

For the next hour our bad luck on Nannygai continued. We consistently hooked up on good fish, only have the break off only meters up off the bottom. I was frustrated. Tania was frustrated. And I could not work out what was going wrong. We must have busted off on 1o or so quality fish. I was fishing 60lb leader on 30lb braid, and Tania 60lb leader on 50lb braid. The leader was giving way just above the not on every occasion. I had concerns the leader may have been sun damaged and brittle.

Then we were shown as to the problem. Tania got a good fish 3/4 of the way up when suddenly it took off like a freight train. Not fast, but unstoppable. Then a couple of fish later Tania had one almost boat side when two BIG shadows came up and stole the fish. SHARKS! And bit ones too. Reminded of my trip to Shark Shoal.

We up-anchored and moved to try some other close by marks. But everywhere we went the same thing happened. We would get the fish up off the bottom, only to have it stolen from us in seconds. We should have had an eski full to the brim with fish. But instead we went through and box of 25 5/0 hooks, a couple of dozen number 4 bean sinkers, and almost a spool of 60lb jinkai. So it will be off the Pro Tackle this week to replenish supplies!

Its only 8pm as I write this, and already I'm thinking of bed! My arms hurt, by back hurts and my legs can bearly hold me up. I hope others had as much fun as we did today, and perhaps managed to get some fish in the boat?

Saturday 29 November 2008

Ganging Hooks

I searched for a long time for a ganging method that was perfect for floating pilchards for Mackerel. I hated the the way normal gangs 'locked' together and became very inflexible at the joins. I started ganging hooks with a swivel between each hook. But was shown one day just how easily a swivel can be cut by the jaws of a big Mackerel. Test it for yourself one day, they just easily with a pair of scissors! So I was shown the following technique by Fish 'N' 4 wheels star Eddie Riddle. I have found it to be the best system I have used.

I use 2 x 4/0 hooks and half pilchards for Doggie Mackerel and 2 x 5/0 hooks and whole pilchards for Spanish Mackerel. I also use the 2 x 5/0's with large squid or pilchard baits for bottom fishing, particularly when Mackerel are around, as wire off the top hook is usually not required. I don't even use wire traces when specifically targeting Mackerel on floating baits!

The requirements are as follows.
  • 2 x hooks (I like the Tru-turn hooks for this).
  • 1 length of soft No 6 stainless wire (about 10-15cm).
  • 1 pair of fine side cutters.
The length of wire used will determine the gap between the two hooks.

Start by passing one end of the wire through the eye of one hook. Loop it around and pass it through a second time. Then twist the ends together. The result is a double loop on one hook.

Place the bend of the second hook through the loop. Pull on both hooks to stretch the wire out. Its important here to ensure the tags that are twisted together remain nicely half way between the two hooks.

While pulling firmly on both hooks, begin to rotate the hooks twisting the wire. Continue to do this until the loop around the top hook is firm enough to prevent the barb of the top hook sliding off the wire.

Lastly, trim the tags with a pair of side cutters. Unfortunately there is no 'neat' way to do this. There will likely be a little edge left. But I have never had a problem.

The final rig has significantly more freedom than normal gangs, and is much stronger than using swivels. The space between the two hooks seems to negate the need for a third hook. And the hookup rate on the Tru-turn hooks is amazing.

Wednesday 26 November 2008

Learning to fly fish

Thought I would take Dad and Liam to the Barra Farm yesterday. The idea was simple, teach Dad to cast and for Liam to practice with his rod for the trip away. It turned out well Dad was casting fine by the end and Liam sorted the rod and landed some nice fish. It is a good place to practice as there are plenty of fish and enough space to practice. It is also a nice place to learn how to land and handle a fish. A good fun afternoon.

Tarpon very slow on Sunday

This is a late report, but I have been busy. After helping Ward fix his internet connection Sunday afternoon we decided to go for a quick fish locally for some sunset Tarpon. What we thought would be a good session (hot stormy afternoon) turned out to be pretty quiet. First pond hardly had a ripple on the surface. A couple of other guys were fishing there, and they didn't see to be doing much better. One of the guys missed a couple of hookups on fly, but that was about it.

The second pond we tried had a lot of surface action from small fish in the 6-12in range. But we couldn't manage even a strike. The most exciting thing for the evening was the dance I had with a small Brown Snake! Yep, that's right, I literally danced with a snake. He appeared suddenly between my legs, and the best I could do was dance around him to stop him 'tagging' me! Very lucky indeed.

Tuesday 25 November 2008

Giant Trevally from around Rattlesnake

Another day and another changed weather report. We started for the shoals at the back of Magnetic Island but the slight chop and short seas made it a tad uncomfortable, so the plan was changed to head to the Rattlesnake Island area.

We fished a few of our normal locations and found a nice school of nannagai. The only problem only Liam could catch any! As it was a reef fin fish closure we decided to move on and chase the target species trevally and mackerel.

We picked up 2 GTs over the different locations and again some small reef fish. Dad was happy as he landed the largest fish of the day. A nice day on the water but the fish were hard to find all the same good fun.

Monday 24 November 2008

Fishing with Pa and Liam

Well done Liam! When we went out fishing for the season we thought we would have a bit off fun but as it turned out Liam snagged two prizes. The top Junior and the overall Lure and Fly category.

After the presentations we decided to take Dad out to our spots off Magnetic Island for a bit of a fish. This was the spot that 2 weeks ago we landed a nice catch of mackerel. Well today a nice Queenfish that threw the hooks! Not a good start. I always have a go at Dad because he lives at Bribie Island and when ever I fish there I almost always catch nothing, so I guess this was a bit of payback! We tried a bay around Magnetic and thankfully we pick up some nice barracuda, these kept us entertained for awhile. We then lipped over to Middle reef and we landed a nice coral trout on fly. Not to bad after all. The weather was perfect so hopefully tomorrow we might get out again.

Sunday 23 November 2008

Baptist Church Fishing Club awards night

Last night was the BCFC annual awards presentation night. It was a fantastic family evening held at the Riverway in Townsville. Beginning at about 3pm with a swim, we then had a BBQ dinner and presentations. Everything was going great until the storm hit part way into the presentations. A quick retreat to shelter and the proceedings continued.

Not everyone would be interested in all the results, but I though I would present the results for the three contributors to this site (Ward, Dion and myself).

Dion, being the wonderful bloke that he is, won the very prestigious 'Fishing Mate of the Year' award. This was presented to Dion for all his efforts in the club and overall willingness to put other people ahead of himself. Dion is always taking other members of the club out in his boat, and his efforts are very much appreciated by all.

Ward took out two divisions this year. Firstly, he too the top 10 division. Ward managed to capture 9 of his nominated 10 species for the year. This is a great credit to him, as all his captures have been on fly.

Secondly, Ward took the trophy for the 'Catch and Release' division. Ward is a good fisherman, and is more than happy to let the majority of his catch go. Even the keepers! It would be great to see this category grow in future years.

And lastly, I managed to receive the overal Champion Angler for 2009.

Thanks to everyone who attended last night. And a big thanks to the committe for 2008. We look forward to a great year in 2009.

Thursday 20 November 2008

Welcome Pro Tackle Townsville

I would like to welcome aboard Peter Hazard and his team from Pro Tackle. Peter is going to offer readers a weekly fishing report. This report will be written by one of his team and submitted every Wednesday. Along with a report, Peter will offer a weekly special exclusive to readers. So please show your support and visit Pro Tackle for your next stock up on supplies. And mention this site for a great deal.

Thankyou Peter, and we look forward to your reports.

Wednesday 19 November 2008

Coral Reef Fin Fish Closure

Just a reminder to fishers that the second of the three Coral Reef Fin Fish spawning closures commences on Friday 21st November. The closure remains up to and including Saturday 29th of November. This means the taking of all fish classified as Coral Reef Fin Fish is prohibited during that period. If you are unsure of what species are included in the closure, please view this DPI&F Web Page.

My understanding is that the third closure scheduled to take place over the Christmas break has been canned for 2008. Please read this Web Page for more information.

Monday 17 November 2008

Great day around the Island

Our morning started at 3am Sunday with a quick check to see what the weather was up to. Only 4 or 5 knots of breeze for most of the night. Yes! So I got things ready and woke the kids. We managed to get to the ramp by 4.30am. It was almost dead still and anticipations were high. Initially we headed out the channel, looking to at least reach the North Cardinal and, if things were looking good, further to the shoals.

We had a good run at 23knots for about 3/4 of the run to the Beacon. But that last couple of miles slowed us down to about 18. It wasn't THAT bad, but with the kids I like to take it easy. The wind was only light, but the swell was a bit messy. It was decided that wasn't worth the show bumpy trip to the shoal, so we stopped at the Beacon.

There was not a lot showing around the mark. But within a few drifts we had a mackerel each on board. Both caught high speed spinning off the bottom. But it went quiet pretty quickly.

I spun back to a couple of the other marks looking for the bait. But nothing seemed to be around. It was getting later in the morning by this stage, so we had to decide on a change. With some nice fish caught at West Point last week, we though we might head over that way.

It was a nice run across the back of the Island, with the swell behind us. And the Northern end of the Island was much more pleasant. I anchored right on our mark and set up some burley. It was pretty quiet, but we did manage a nice Grunter and a couple of under size doggies. And it VERY went quiet again. No bites at all. Then we spotted why. A small doggie mackerel came flying out of the water right beside the boat. He lept over a meter in the air. And hot on his tail was a small Hammer-head shark. Probably no more than 2m in length.

At this stage the wind had dropped right back, and the sea was easing. It was only about 9am, so I decided to take a run out wide to a mark off the back of Cordelia. It was only about a 25min run in pretty good conditions. We drifted the mark a couple of time and got some good bites. Tania got bitten off a couple of times, so we decided to anchor where the fish were holding and start some burly up.

Over the next couple of hours we were treated to some pretty fast action. The bites were coming pretty quickly, and we landed a couple of just under Nannygai and a nice little Red Emperor (now call Nemo by Sebastian).

But every time we hooked onto what looked like a good fish, things turned sour. First up, a nice size Spanish Mackerel that Tania fought hard with for over 10mins mysteriously transformed into a BIG Barracouda.....right beside the boat!!! Bloody thing. I was convinced it was a Mackerel. Even circling under the boat all lit up the 'bars' looked just right. It wasn't until it was in gaffing range that we realised what it was. Oh well, a nice jaw gaff and a quick pic and it was on its way again.

Next problem was some huge denizen of the deep that kept stealing our Nannygai. On no less than 3 separate occasions Tania had a nice fish (probably a keeper by the initial struggle) suddenly snatched by what we think was a BIG groper. I took the rod on the first occasion to try get a look. I looked up the drag on my Calcutta 700 which loaded with 50lb braid. But I had no hope. And after 10mins the fish was further further away than what it started and the side the reel was feeling a little hot! So I held on and snapped it off. The following two time I just just let it break.

Oh, and then there was the Doggie that took my floating pilchard intended for a spanish mackerel. It hit the bait and splashed on the surface as it too off. Yes, Spaniard I yelled. Only to find the fish came is WAY to easily once I grabbed the rod. At least this fish could go in the eski.

By 11am it was getting hot and everyone was tired. So we headed for home. A clean run at 28knots most of the way. Just the last little bit inside the island had a stiff little 15knot breeze starting.

Sunday 16 November 2008

NQ Flyfishers Day

Here are some photos of the NQ Flyfishers day at the Townsville Barra Fishing farm. The crew did a mixture of activies including fly casting, creating there own fly and finally catching a barra with that fly.

What a great day! Finally thanks to all club members for there effort in today's fly day. We had 7 very enthusiastic students who came to learn something or reinforce something old.

We had a great turn out from the club and effectively each participant had a private tutor for the day. Well done again to all members and participants.

Saturday 15 November 2008

Weather is interesting isn't it!

Liam and I thought we would go out for a quiet fish today, based on the weather report it should have been better than last week? Oddly enough it was about the same! So we headed to our marks but no fish this time. So we thought we would try multiple marks. Finally found some fish and Liam did nicely on metal slices. He managed a nice queenfish, a good sized grey and half a dozen undersized school mackerel.To top it off he finished with a hook up but not landing a very good performing spanish mackerel! Needless to say he had a good mornings fish. Fly did not do so well! Only a small trevally and a lost shooting head line! But there is always next week!

Saturday 8 November 2008

5/10's....Yeah right! Weather man gets it WRONG again

Our plan for today, like Ward, was to get out to some of the wider shoal. And with the 5/10 knot forecast issued last night we were very keen. So we left the ramp Friday after work and were greeted with a stiff Northerly breeze. It was obvious we were not going to punch out to the back of the island tonight! So we camped on a small mark inside the island. There we stayed for the night, praying the wind would die down by morning. I woke several times during the night to the sound of waves punching the side of the boat. It was not looking good!

Morning finally arrived, and when I opened my eyes the sun was already up!!! And that wind was still blowing. Just as well, I would have liked to have been out by this time! Anyway, comp weekend for us, so even though the weather man was WAY off, we would have been out regardless. A quick run to West Point was our only chance for a semi-decent fish.

It was a bumpy ride, especially once around the corner. So I chucked out a couple of lures, the kids were still laying in the bunks after all! One lure was a big 'crazy deep' intended for a Fingermark, and the other a standard red-head mackerel lure. We were almost at our mark and Lachy noticed the rod with the big lure bumping. Strange really, almost like it was bouncing out of the water, but not! I pulled it in to find a small Doggie Mackerel attached.

For the next couple of hours we drifted several marks I have in the area. Tania dropped a couple of good fish, but we did manage a nice bag to bring home. 2 good Grunter, a 42cm Nannygai and a Doggie. I failed to hook up on a couple more Mackerel on metal.

Heading off to the weigh in now, gotta have a good chat to Ward about 'sharing'....LOL...

Cordelia Mixed Bag

When Anna told me that her Dad Phil was visiting from Harvey Bay last week and that he was also a mad keen fisherman, plans was quickly made to ensure he got a taste of Townsville’s great fishing while he was here. The plan was to chase trout, nannygai and mackerel at a spot near Cordelia Rock. We had 2m of tidal run with a high tide at am.

Live greenback herring were collected from the northern Middle Reef channel marker and by 6am we had arrived at my spot near Cordelia Rock. I was disappointed to find a massive orange buoy anchored to the bottom, dead on my spot. Connecting the dots I quickly realised that it was probably the anchor of a commercial line fishing boat we past sitting in behind West Point – looks like he had fished the spot all night and got his anchor stuck.

My philosophy is that you work with what you have got, so we commenced fishing around this added obstruction. Despite a large swell and a solid ESE breeze we still managed a few fish. The lack of larger reds was evident, with Anna catching the only legal nannygai’s for the day. Plenty of undersize specimens were released. Phil got smoked by a few monsters that were impossible to drag away from our mate’s anchor chain, even using 30lb braid. Other fish included a little GT taken on a 45g Bumpa Bar lure in green and Anna’s big batfish. Best baits were squid and live greenback herring fishing on dropper rigs off the bottom. With the wind picking up and the fishing slowing down at the top of the tide, we called it a day and headed for home.

Mackerel from the Beacons

Well the last competition for the Baptist Club. I took Christopher and Liam out for the final fish for the club season. We thought we were going out to the Shark Shoals area off Magnetic Island. We found when we left in the morning the wind was still up and the sea a little uncomfortable. So we headed out but only got out as far as the last beacon off Magnetic Island! We spotted some fish on the sounder and we thought we would have a look. As the fly rod was still tucked away to be safe in the conditions we all dropped a metal slice down. An interesting effect, we had the metals slices down for a few seconds and we had fish in the boat in less. After 3hours and approximately 30 fish later we thought we should stop! We landed and released most and kept 10 for eating and the competition. Both Chris and Liam had a great fish and landed the Lions share, Liam won our private battle. Liam also landed a nice golden trevally and Christopher a nice black tipped reef shark!