Product Reviews

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Local Boat Ramps

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

Family orientated

Promoting family fishing.

Fish for the future promotes catch and release fishing.

Great Fishing Locations

Popular fishing spots including GPS locations, sounder shots and maps.

Regular fishing reports

Regular fishing reports from our fishing trips.

Product Reviews

View the latest Product Reviews.

Fly Fishing

Chasing Golden Trevalley on the Magnetic Island flats.


Enjoying one of the many beautiful beaches of Magnetic Island.

Wednesday 29 December 2010

Shimano Stella 1000FE and T-Curve 661 Product Review

Over the past couple of months I have been testing out the 1000 size of the latest release of Shimano's flagship spin reel, the Stella 1000fe. I am a big fan of the 1000 size reels, even in North Queensland waters. While they are considered 'bream reels' by most, there is a lot of fun to be had on a whole range of fish up here in the north. Over the years I have used these small reels to chase everything from Sooties, JP and Tarpon in the fresh to Flathead, Bream, Jacks and even Barramundi in the salt. What makes this size real so ideal and pleasurable to use is that they are very light weight and nimble. You can cast small lightly weighted or unweighted plastics and lures all day without getting sore arms. Small plastics and light poppers can be cast considerable distance, and with incredible accuracy, with little effort at all. And matched to the right rod and some good quality braid, these little reels can handle some big fish!

On this occasion I matched the reel to a Shimano T-curve T 661 rod. The T-cureve T-series of rods are Shimano's top shelf range, formerly knows as the Tournament rods. This rod is a 6'6" (1.98m) one piece 2-5kg blank with fuji sic guides and a beautiful cork grips. Spooled up with 8lb Power Pro this little lightweight is capable or some serious fish.

My first chance to try out the combo was on a Kayaking trip to the Burdekin with All Aussie Shock Leader manufacturer Phil Lawlor. The reel arrived in at ProTackle on the afternoon we were due to drive out, so it was a quick trip into the store before heading off. The outfit received plenty of attention from the other guys on the trip and performed admirably on the many Sooty Grunter caught from the kayak.

But this was just a drop in the ocean for what I had planned for this little reel! I have since been using this particular setup to cast lightly weighted soft plastics, like the 3in prongs, into the snags for Mangrove Jack and Barramundi. This setup has the advantage here of being able to get the small plastics right into the mangrove roots and snags where the fish are hiding. But on light line, the challenge begins when the fish hits and heads for cover. The drag on the Stella 1000 is capable of 3kg of pressure, more than enough to push the 8lb Power Pro to its limits. I'm not going to lie, I have been dusted by some big fish. But those that have been landed are a lot of fun and very rewarding, you just have to laugh at those big ones who smash you up!

The reel features no less than 14 Shielded A-RB stainless bearings and 1 stainless roller bearing, has a 5.0:1 gear ratio, weighs just 170g and holds just over 100m of 8lb Power Pro. That is an amazing spec list for such a tiny light weight reel! There is no doubt this is an expensive setup, and if you only fish a few times a year its probably not the reel for you. But if your hard core about your fishing, you won't beat the precision and smoothness of a Stella reel! If you are interested in this or any of the Shimano range then head into ProTackle and talk to the guys about a top deal.

Shimano Stella 1000FE

• X-Ship
• Paladin Gear Durability Enhancement
• Propulsion Line Management System
• Aero Wrap II
• SW Concept
• Shielded A-RB Bearings
• Rigid Support System
• Waterproof Drag
• Maintenance Port
• Dyna-Balance
• Ultra-Light Saltwater Safe Magnesium frame
• Super Stopper II

Shimano T-Curve T 661

• TCurve Blanks
• Fuji SIC guides and reel seats (VSS for
  threadline models and ACS for casting models)
• Split-style butt sections (excluding Estuary Spin
• Enhanced decorative blue trim

    Friday 24 December 2010

    Boat Storage opening in 2011

    Townsville Marine Centre

    Townsville Boat Storage in association with Townsville Marine is pleased to announce that 2011 will see construction commence on the first Townsville Boat Storage facility.

    The Townsville Boating community will be able to store their boats securely and out of the weather without having to spend tens of thousands of dollars on sheds.

    People who would love to own a boat but live in a unit, townhouse or simply don't have the room to build a shed for a boat can now enjoy the lifestyle that Townsville offers and get out on the water!

    Construction of the first of a planned 15 boat storage facilities at the Townsville Marine Centre site is due to commence in March 2011.

    19 boats up to 12 metres in length (including trailers) can be stored in stage 1.

    Demand for the new facility is expected to be high - given the thousands of boats already registered in Townsville.

    Boat owners looking to store their boat under cover should contact Townsville Marine to express interest.
    email with details of the boat size. Boats from tinnies to 9M cats can be stored.

    Prices will be published in early 2011 - storage fees will vary depending on length of the boat, duration of the term required and any special requirements the owner may have.

    Emmanuel Theodosiou
    Townsville Marine

    Merry Christmas

    On behalf of the Fishing Townsville team I would like to wish everyone a safe and happy Christmas. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank and acknowledge all our sponsors. If you are stuck for that last minute Christmas prezzie then I'm sure they will be able to help out. Thankyou Townsville Marine, ProTackle, Shimano and About Fishing NQ.

    Have a safe holiday everyone and keep checking back regularly for more fishing reports, tips and reviews in the new year.

    Thursday 16 December 2010

    Suntag News - 173

    Sunday 12 December 2010

    Coast Guard gets a new boat!

    Saturday morning Lucy took me (Dave Little) to the official commissioning of the Townsville Coast Guard's newest vessel... "Rotary Rescue".

    The coast guard made a special point of thanking the wider boating community and other local community clubs, because without your support this great new rescue vessel would never have been built. Sponsorship came from Xstrata, Townsville Port Authority, Rotary Townsville, as well as the Local, State and Federal governments to name but a few.

    The new boat at 14.95m by 4.7m is 1m wider, longer and taller than the former flagship, Spirit of Rotary. Rotary Rescue displaces 17t with a top speed of 28 knots. It has a fuel capacity of 2836L to support twin Cummins QSM11 motors that are rated at 610bhp. The Flybridge is kitted out with state-of-the art radar, forward looking infrared camera (thermal night vision), ray marine plotter depth sounder and automatic identification system.

    It's a beautiful new boat... and is there for our safety... So please continue to show your support for the local chapter of the Australian Volunteer Coast Guard. AND look out for the hot chick at the wheel next time your on the water!

    Dave Little

    Sunday 5 December 2010

    Quick shoal run

    Yesterday morning Dad I took a quick run to the shoals for a long awaited bluewater fish. We took Dad's boat as mine is now in at Townsville Marine for sale. It was to be a very quick run indeed, I needed to be back at the ramp no later than 9am to get my car in for some work. So we met up at his place about 3.30 and were in the water and off by 4am. Despite the good forecast, the ramp wasn't overly busy.

    As we headed out we experienced quite variable conditions. Patches of calm water and some patches with almost white-capping conditions. Maybe it was from the back end of a small storm cell we could see headed out to sea? What ever it was, it made going a little slower than anticipated. But still a good run.

    We pulled up on our mark and I immediately threw over a 7in Gulp soft plastic on my TwinPower 6000fc combo. It hadn't been sinking for more than a few seconds when the line stopped going down! I gave it a jig to see what was going on and SMACK, it ran off at a million miles an hour. Now I'm only fishing 30lb on this outfit as its intended for Spanish Mackerel spinning, so I was a little nervous about this fish. I'd gain line slowly and loose it all and some in another big run. The spool was starting to feel warm from the friction of the drag and it was becoming clear this was a quality fish. But everything held and eventually the fish was in gaffing range. A perfect head shot from Dad and the fish was on the deck. A beautiful cobia!

    After re-positioning the boat Dad was next with a fish. He hit the fish and the fish hit back! This was a freight train. It ran, and ran, and ran....and then it ran some more! There was no stopping this thing, even with the 50lb Jigwerx he was using. So eventually we fired up the motor and tracked back on it. After recovering all the line a massive GT came into view. Expecting a large cobia I had gaff in hand ready. So it was then a quick scramble for a towel so I could tail the fish. I grabbed the fish around the tail wrist what? I seriously struggled to lift this thing over the side! I then struggled with Dad to get the fish onto his lap for a quick photograph. We pulled it through the water for a moment and it swam away happily. Turned out the fish had been tail-hooked. Any wonder it ran so easily and didn't look like stopping!

    We then anchored on the mark to get in some bottom fishing. I was determined to fish plastics for something a little different. And despite landing a small Barracouda and a couple of nice Bludger Trevalley on the Gulp, the only Nannygai I landed was a 45cm specimen that fell to a 4in Prong. But Dad did well on the Pillies. My final Cobia fell to the 4in Prong! This particular Cobia followed up a Nannygai on Dads line. He held the Nanny beside to the boat to keep the Cobe interested. I flicked the Prong in the water and as soon at the Cobia spotted it he was off! Not as big as the first fish, but still nice to see take a plastic.

    By about 7.30 am we had an eski full! A good half a dozen Nannygai and our bag limit of Cobia. What a day. On the water at 4am, back and at 8.30am with a good feed of fish. Now I remember why I like fishing the Bluewater so much!! Here is a little video footage from Dad's GT.

    Saturday 4 December 2010

    about fishing NQ released!

    Fishing Townsville contributor Dion Forman today officially launched his first edition of the locally written 'about fishing NQ' magazine. It has 243 GPS Marks, 40 Boat Ramps, 24 Fishing Maps, 30 Writers all in 208 beautifully coloured pages written just for the North. Copies are NOW available for purchase on their website or from the best tackle store in Townsville, ProTackle. Price is just $19.95. You can check out my article on Fishing the Channel Markers on page 114. 

    Here is Dion Forman pictured with about fishing NQ's youngest writer, Christine Little, from the launch at Dion's house today.

    Wednesday 1 December 2010

    Fishing Townsville - December Competition

    Congratulations to forum member cam0511 who won the November longest Mangrove Jack. His Jack measured an impressive 42cm and won him a $50 ProTackle voucher.

    For the month of December Fishing Townsville will once again run a 'longest fish of the month' competition. This month we are looking for the longest total length for a Fingermark.

    Competition Rules
    • Fish can be caught on ANY line class and via any normal legal line fishing method. 
    • The fish must be of a minimum legal size, measured accurately and photographed in a way to prove its total length (ie on a brag mat). 
    • Photo entries can only be submitted online in the appropriate thread of the forum
    • Fish must be caught between Lucinda (excluding Hinchinbrook channel) and Ayr.
    • Competition runs between 1st December 2010 and 31st December 2010 (inclusive of those days). 
    • The angler must be a member of the forum prior to the capture, or be an immediate family member (ie child/wife/husband) of an already registered forum user.
    • To beat an already submitted entry a fish must be a minimum of 1cm longer than the current leader.
    • Photo entries must be submitted within 48hrs of capture.
    • Entries close at 8am on 1st January 2011.
    The prize is a voucher to the value of $100 donated by our good friends at ProTackle Townsville. 

    Fishing Townsville promotes catch and release fishing. Fish to don't need to be kept for entry to the competition.

    If you are not already a member of the forum and would like to take part in this fun and innovative competition then head over and sign up. Its totally free to join and participate. Good Luck!


    Tuesday 23 November 2010



    The savings continue this week at Pro Tackle with huge savings to be had on a large range of Shimano reels. Shimano make the best reels available today, and Pro Tackle has just made them more affordable for everyone. If you are interested in some of the light line Prong fishing that Dave and I have been doing lately, grab yourself a Stratic Ci4 1000 for only $270. Spooled up with 8lb Power Pro you will have an absolute ball. Or if you are preparing for the re-opening of Barramundi season next year then grab yourself a new Curado E7 for just $289. This beautiful little bait-caster is probably the best value for money reel for lure casting in the creeks. Check out the full range of discounted reels by clicking the images below or head into Pro Tackle and have a chat to the guys. 

    Monday 15 November 2010

    Pro Tackle MONSTER SALE


    Pro Tackle are having a massive sale on floor stock! The sale includes Shimano T-curve rods, G-Loomis Rods and Daiwa Rods and Reels. Click on the images below to check out huge savings. 

    Saturday 13 November 2010

    Mangrove Jack on Plastics

    With Barramundi off limits, Dave Little and I decided today to fish plastics on light 1000 size spin gear among the snags for some Mangrove Jack. You might call it 'finesse' fishing for Jacks! A bit of a scary thought at first, but despite the odd fish burying you in the blink of eye, its a whole lot of fun. 

    We started the morning meeting up at my place around 4.30am and after a quick re-fuel and some ice, we were off to one of the nearby creeks. At the moment there is likely to be a fair bit of fresh coming down the bigger rivers, so we decided on one of the creeks that doesn't have a catchment area. The water where we put in was spectacularly clear and a beautiful rich colour. We initially headed up stream looking for some 'quiet' water, but it proved to be the wrong move.

    Up stream the water did have a little fresh in it and, despite being quite clear, had a bit of a cloudy look to it. It still looked good, so we worked the area for a while. I was fishing a Stella 1000fe with 8lb power pro. My first fish came reasonably quickly hitting hard and running for cover. The reel raced and it was all over! 'More drag, more drag' I was saying repeatedly to Dave! Despite only fishing 8lb braid, I could have had the drag screwed up considerably more. Dave was next to get a fish, and the way it hit and ducked for cover had us convinced it was a Jack. The fish made it to the snags, but was still attached to the end of the line. We took the boat in and freed the fish, only to find it was a nice Cod. He was happily sent on his way again. 

    We continued to work the upper reaches of the creek, but could only manage the odd strike. We were almost at a loss as to where the Jacks were when suddenly my prong was smacked. This time I was firm on the spool and fish was 'firmly' led from the snags. A nice netting from Dave and we had our first Mangrove Jack. Unfortunately it only went 34cm. So a quick pick and release. 

    After working this area for a couple of hours with very little reward, we decided to head back to the mouth and the better looking water. As we raced past the ramp my car was still the only one parked there, so at least we would have the area to ourselves. Indeed the water was much better looking, and after spotting some big bream cruising the shallows, and seeing a couple of fish smack the surface of the water, we were keen as mustard. And it didn't take long to see some interest in our plastics.

    The main fish working the area appeared to be Bream, but there were some stonkers among them! One nice big black fish we spotted sitting high in the water among the mangrove roots. I put my 3in prong that was rigged weedless on a worm hook in behind the fish. As it dropped off the roots and into the water the big bream spun around and grabbed the lure instantly. It failed to hook up, but was an awesome sight to see. Dave had some interest from a Bream that was over 40cm. It had a go at his plastic and followed it out from the snags, but again this fish never found the hooks. 

    I managed a couple more Mangrove Jack, one that went 36.5cm. It was a good fish, and a real challenge on light gear. We also managed a few small GT, a Barracouda and couple of flathead. I also caught 2 small Barramundi that were unavoidable among the sticks. The biggest was approximately 55/56cm and put up a brilliant fight on the Stella. Probably the fish of the morning.

    We didn't pull the boat out of the water until about 1pm, and despite only putting one fish in the eski we had had a blast catching and releasing plenty of quality specimens. The pick of the lures for the morning was an Atomic 3in Prong in a pure white colour. It was rigged on a 1/0 worm hook with a '00' size ball sinker tied into the bottom half of a small loop knot. This is a deadly combination offering a relatively snag-proof plastic to fish among the mangrove roots. I used a Shimano Stella 1000fe and T-cureve 661 2-5kg rod, 8lb power pro and 20lb mono leader. This is proving a spectacular combination. 

    Monday 8 November 2010

    Kayaking the Burdekin

    Last weekend forum regular and All Aussie Shock Leader manufacturer Phil Lawlor arranged for a bunch of us to get together and kayak the Burdekin. Phil has just put together a trailer of 6 extreme kayaks. 4 of which are the bandits and 2 the longer outlaw. Phil announced the idea on the forum a couple of weeks ago, and from there all arrangements were made online. At one stage we had 9 members planning to attend the trip, but at the last moment we were down to 6. The members who attended included Phil Lawlor, Goddy, andrewgleeson84, Li'lDave, Snake and myself (sailfish). Most of us had only ever chatted online in the forum, so this was also a great chance to get together in person. 4 of us headed off in my car about 5.30 Friday afternoon, Andrew was already there with his family and Dave was not far behind finishing work a little later. Plan was to camp the night at the Bivouac Junction holiday park and head out Saturday morning. 

    We were all up early Saturday, very keen to get on the water start fishing. We took two cars along with a couple of the guys from the holiday park and drove into a section of the river approximately 6km upstream. One of the guys stayed with us in his kayak as a 'guide' for the paddle home, and the other two dove the cars back to base camp for us. This allowed us to work downstream with the flow of the river and finish back at the park. The track in is a little rough, but it was nice to engage 4wd in the Pajero and use the car for what its designed to do! After about a 30min drive we reached a section of beach where we launched the kayaks and headed off

    We had been told about some very spectacular Sooty fishing along this stretch of river, but I was sceptical. I have never been overly successful with Sooties, often only catching 2 or 3 in a morning session. And with 7 kayaks following each other down the river, I personally wasn't expecting much more than a leisurely paddle and beautiful views. But I couldn't have been more wrong! First fish came from the bank on the opposite side to where we launched, most of us hadn't even got a line wet! Even my fish came within the first half dozen casts.

    From here we slowly worked out way down through some very spectacular country (and a few scary rapids!). According to the locals we had experienced one of the quieter days, but I had seen some of the best Sootie fishing ever. And we did find some bigger fish too. I think my tally was about 10 fish for the morning, and a couple of the guys did better than that. We had to have seen over 50 between the 7 of us fishing. The biggest of the fish were around the 35cm mark, but on the light gear all the fish put up a great fight. If you haven't fishing for Sooty Grunter before, they are a bit like a fresh water version of a Mangrove Jack. They hit hard and dive for cover quick.

    It didn't seem to matter what lure was used, they all caught fish. I used mainly 70mm Squidgie fish rigged on a 1/0 worm hook and '00' ball sinker. But small hard bodies and spinner baits also accounted for plenty of fish. Dave got the 4wt fly rod out for a while, but unfortunatly didn't manage one on it. But he nailed a few on a small squidgie wriggler. I got all my fish casting around structure. The best structure was the rocks and timber sitting in the faster flowing sections of the river. The fish would sit in the back of the structure out of the flow waiting for food to come past. Some places like this we pulled up to 4 or 5 fish from the one spot. But a couple of the guys got their best fish simply 'trolling' a small diving hard body behind the kayak as they paddled along!

    On this trip I had the opportunity to test out a new Shimano Stella 1000fe and T-cureve 661 2-5kg for the first time. The 'fe' is new for 2011. I had it spooled with 8lb Power Pro and it handled this type of fishing with ease. This is by far the best reel I have ever used, and if money is no problem its clearly one to own. I will be using this setup a lot in the coming weeks, and will eventually write a review on my thoughts. But to keep costs down, a Shimano Stratic 1000 Ci4 on a light Jewel rod would also be a pleasure to use. 

    We finished up back at camp about 1pm. Packed up and a quick shower and we were on our way home again. This was a great trip and some pretty good fishing. Phil plans to repeat the trip again in the near future, so if you are keen keep an eye out for the announcement in the forum.

    Monday 1 November 2010

    Barramundi off Limits

    Just a friendly reminder to everyone that as of midday today Barramundi are off limits. The closure remains in place until midday February 1st 2011. Not only is it illegal to keep a Barramundi during this time, it is also prohibited to deliberately target fish for catch and release purposes. This is because the stress of capture may prevent a fish from spawning. If a fish is accidentally caught it should be handled carefully and release as soon as possible, preferably without even removing the fish from the water. Different regulations apply throughout the Gulf of Carpentaria, check out the DPI&F website for specific details.

    Fishing Townsville - November Competition

    For the month of November Fishing Townsville will once again run a 'longest fish of the month' competition. This month we a looking for the longest total length for a Mangrove Jack.

    Competition Rules
    • The fish MUST be a creek or inshore caught fish, reef Jacks are excluded. 
    • Fish can be caught on ANY line class and via any normal legal line fishing method. 
    • The fish must be of a minimum legal size, measured accurately and photographed in a way to prove its total length (ie on a brag mat). 
    • Photo entries can only be submitted online in the appropriate thread of the forum
    • Fish must be caught between Lucinda (excluding Hinchinbrook channel) and Ayr or west to Charters Towers.
    • Competition runs between 1st November 2010 and 30th November 2010 (inclusive of those days). 
    • The angler must be a member of the forum prior to the capture, or be an immediate family member (ie child/wife/husband) of an already registered forum user.
    • To beat an already submitted entry a fish must be a minimum of 1cm longer than the current leader.
    The prize is a selection of lures to the value of $50 donated by our good friends at ProTackle Townsville. 

    Fishing Townsville promotes catch and release fishing. Fish to don't need to be kept for entry to the competition.

    If you are not already a member of the forum and would like to take part in this fun and innovative competition then head over and sign up. Its totally free to join and participate. Good Luck!


    Sunday 31 October 2010

    NQ Flyfishers October Meet

    The NQ Flyfisher’s went out Saturday morning. Initially we were looking at fishing Cape Cleveland and then inshore at Cockle Bay as the tide starting making. But the best layed plans went a little astray with the weather, so we ended up working Cockle Bay only. 

    After an uneventful trip across the bay (though very wet on Bears boat), we headed off into two different sections of the cockle bay. Bear, Richard S and Dave went onto the flats near the mangroves and worked this area, while Richard W and myself worked the flats out the front. We stayed in radio contact and reported to each other as we went along. After awhile it was evident that the flats out the front were working better. Richard and I managed a nice haul of 8 different species. This included stripies, cod, coral trout, and trevally. I will let the photos tell the rest.

    Ward Nicholas

    Last Chance Barra

    With the Barramundi closed season beginning midday Monday 1st November, yesterday was our last chance to have a go at these iconic fish. The tides are quite interesting this weekend, with a nice steady outgoing run in the morning, ideal for the creeks, and a bigger afternoon tide that suits chasing the big girls at the Cape. A quick chat with Mark in at ProTackle Friday afternoon confirmed my idea, so we decided to put in a full day on the water and give that a go.

    We put in at Cocoa about 5am and headed across to Crocky. The wind was light and the water was very clear, making it easy to find the channel out and across. The channel out of Cocoa is actually quite deep, but its very narrow and hard to stay inside of, and if the tide is low you have to head a fair way toward Magnetic Island before you can cut across. I don't have a GPS in the tinnie, but I do have an iPhone 4 with google maps. That really helped and the map is quite accurate.

    The water at the mouth of Crocky was stunning! Very clear and a beautiful colour. Despite it screaming 'fish here' we had planned to head further up, so we kept on going. A good 30min run up the creek and we got to an area that looked very fishy. Down went the electric and out came the lures. Water further up the creek was not as clean, but was good enough to give it a decent go.

    Things were typically quiet to begin with, and we were thinking this would be a poor end to the season for us. But suddenly a strike came completely out of the blue! We had worked this particular set of snags earlier in the morning convinced it should hold a fish. It was my first cast back in among the timber and I was about to say to Dad 'if there isn't a fish in there I'll eat my hat'. But I didn't get a chance. The Barra hit my Flatz Rat hard just as I bounced it off a hidden branch. This was a good fish and pulled 20lb braid off my Calcutta with ease. A couple of jumps and this was clearly a keeper fish. Some tense moments and the fish was in the net. At 63cm it was no monster, but good to have one finally landed.

    I pulled one more smaller fish from the same snag, and Dad was rolled by another bigger fish. But it all went quiet again from there. A little later in the morning I managed another small fish, but as the tide bottomed out we headed back toward the mouth to see what the wind was doing.

    By the time we got back to the front of Crocky the tide was rolling back in. The water was still spectacularly clear, so we tossed a few more lures around the mangroves. Despite finding huge schools of herring rolling around some of the snags, we couldn't find any Barra. We had a short stretch of the legs on one of the exposed sand bars before heading off to the cape for the afternoon session.

    It was a wet trip across, with the wind blowing quite hard off the starboard front quarter. But the protection of the cape meant we were only running across a slight wind chop. The plan was to troll some deep diving lures off the rocks at the cape until there was enough water to head into the mangroves. But I'm not real keen on trolling, and after a few passes and no hits we gave up and headed to long beach for a walk and to wait for the tide to come in.

    About 3.30 in the afternoon the water had covered enough of the mangroves to start fishing again. I decided to put the heavy gear away and fish some 3in prongs on a Sustain 1000 and 8lb braid. A dangerous idea, but a hell of a lot of fun! I had only made a few casts when a small Barra devoured the prong. He was a lively little fish, jumping all over the place. Despite the light gear he was easily led into the net.

    We worked the edge of the mangroves for the next 2 hours as the tide topped out and began to fall. However, despite lots off 'buffing' and bait crashing both among the mangroves and out the front, we didn't manage anything other than some flashes and rolls. We did, however, witness something I have never seen before. A small Barramundi get airborne out of the water chasing my prong as I lifted it to make another cast! He made a couple more jumps as he disappeared into the mangroves. Dad I just looked at each other! We also watch a turtle move among the timber that appeared to be munching on the mangrove leaving hanging in the water. 

    Back into Cocoa at about 6.30pm the water was the best I have ever seen it! Very clear and a beautiful rich blue/green colour. Quite a few boats were still fishing around the mouth, obviously having their last go for the season. If you are lucky enough to be able to get in another fish before Midday Monday, good luck!

    Monday 25 October 2010

    Modifying a Flatz Rat for Barramundi

    The Killalure Flatz Rat has long been one of my personal favourite lures. It is extremely versatile, and works on a number of species. It can be trolled quickly for Doggie Mackerel and other pelagic species, or cast and worked slowly for Barramundi. Being a floating lure, it can be worked with a slow twitching motion just under the surface, or pulled down deep and twitched over snags and rocks. Its a very snag resistant lure, and out of the box comes with a decent set of rings and trebles. 

    However, one thing Barramundi like is a lure that suspends or very slowly rises when paused. They are an incredibly lazy fish, and will generally hit a lure when its not in motion. Out of the box the Flatz Rat has a tendency to rise a little too quickly, and a pause brings the lure out of the strike zone and back toward the surface too fast. Keen Barramundi fishers have know this for many years, and spend countless hours with a bucket of water adjusting hook and ring size on all their lures to achieve that nice suspending action the Barra love. Fortunately, this is a pretty easy modification for the Flatz Rat. This hot tip comes curtsy of Graham Knight of Townsville's GandT Fishing School.

    The only adjustment necessary with a Flatz Rat is to upgrade the front treble to next size up. A VMC 6x in a #2 size seems to be the perfect combination. Using a set of split-ring pliers, remove the front treble and slide on a new VMC. Its important to fit the treble back on so that the body of the lure lays in the V of two of the hooks, and the third hook of the treble hangs directly down. If the hook does not sit right the action can be upset. Remove hook and refit it to the split ring in the opposite direction. Keep the smaller hook that comes off, its a perfect spare if the rear hook ever needs replacing. As the rings and hooks already on the lure are quite strong, these don't need to be replaced at all. Thats it! You now have a lure that will float gradually to the surface when paused, rather than race quickly.

    The Flatz Rat is best worked on a baitcaster outfit with a low profile reel. Rods should be graphite in construction and short in length, about 5'6'' is ideal. Baitcasters allow for accurate casting, and a nice light configuration gained from low profile reels and graphite rod means you can cast comfortably and accurately all day long. The short length is needed for casting from small boats in the tight confines of mangrove lined creeks. It allows quick short flicks to get lures in under mangroves and other overhanging structure. The Shimano Curado E is an ideal reel, and matched to something like a G●Loomis GL2 CR644 will produce an awesome outfit. 20lb Power Pro braided line and one of Phil's 40lb 'light game' shock leaders is a perfect match for the outfit and lure.

    To work the lure, put a cast out as close as possible to the structure you want to work. Engage the reel and give a firm but steady pull down on the rod tip to get the lure to swim deep while still closer to the structure. Pause and give a count of 3 before doing anything else. If the fish are there and keen, thats all it will take! A hit will most often come on that first pause. If not, give the lure a couple of steady twitches and pause again, just taking up the slack with the reel. Again, count to 3 before repeating the process. Its quite important to give a good long pause each time. A Barramundi will often look at a lure for several seconds before engulfing it, don't pull a lure away from a fish that is about to strike! This is where the adjustment to a suspending, or slow rising, lure is critical.

    If there was ever a 'must have' lure, this would be my pick! Flatz Rat lures, Shimano reels and G●Loomis rods are all available from ProTackle at very good prices.

    Sunday 24 October 2010

    Cape Barra - Take 2

    With the big tides on again this weekend we decided to head up the inside of the Cape in search of the big Barramundi again. 2.95m tide at about 8.30am should have been ideal! We put in at Cocoa with Li'lDave early and managed to find our way out the mouth relatively easily with the calm incoming tide. After taking it easy over the shallow sections we were soon off at full pelt across a very calm sea...things were looking good. The water was a little dirty, but we expected that to clear up as we headed wider. But unfortunately the wind picked up the further we went! And it just didn't have enough East in it to provide any decent protection for where we were.

    We stopped for a look just the other side of Long Beach, but the water was terrible. A quick look around and it was clear we were not going to find fish in this water! It was choppy, but not dangerous for the small boats, so we poked out a little wider and tried to find protection around the inside of the rocky headlands, at least the water was a bit cleaner this far wide. But we had to keep in mind the run back into the chop that we would have later in the morning.

    We put in a few casts around the rocks and it wasn't long before Dad was hooked up to nice little fish. Its been a while since he had a Barra of any size connected, so it was nervous times as the fish swam into the next. A quick measure of the tape put it at 55cm. While not legal, it was nice for him to be on the board again! A few more casts and we simply couldn't repeat the success. It was hard going holding a small boat around the rocks with an electric in the wind, chop and swell!

    At Dads recommendation we gave one more rocky headland a go before we were to pull the pin and head back closer to the creek. First cast and Dad was connected to a solid fish. It took the lure almost immediately in a big swirl and swam out away from the rocks into open water. It was obvious this was a BIG fish, lots of unstoppable power. It manoeuvred its way around the boat a few times and then suddenly the hooks pulled. We never got to see the fish, but we are guessing one the Big Barra we came to see!

    A few more casts saw a small GT before we gave up on the conditions and headed back into the creek. We looked in on some of the mangrove areas inside the Cape, but the water was dirty everywhere we went. As a final resort we headed into Cocoa for look in the clearer water upstream, but the tide was simply too big. Dave did manage one 36cm Jack on this 3in prong, but that was the only fish seen. One last ditched effort at the mouth saw Dave smacked by a Barra, but it failed to hook up.

    Home by lunctime the weather really did dissapoint us. We were in the right place at the right time, but the wind just wouldn't let us fish it properly. All we needed was a little more East in the wind and it would have been protected, but not to be!

    Tuesday 19 October 2010

    All Aussie Shock Leader Systems

    Local forum regulars Phil Lawlor and Ben Weston have recently been developing some of the best quality shock leaders I have ever seen. Targeting lure casters chasing big Barramundi and Mangrove Jack, the pair have put years of testing and refining into their final product. "It all started about five years ago sitting around with mates discussing the finer art of connection knots and leaders systems" says Phil, "The big question was, what was the ideal leader system to use in particular situations?". The pair tried several different knots with varying success until someone mentioned trying a 'wind-on' leader. "I conducted a bit of research and purchased a couple that were available in a tackle store" Phil explained, "Most wind-on's were targeted towards the 'bluewater' anglers for use on larger overhead style game reels. Anyway I found a couple of the lure-casting models and gave them a go". With that the pair went about trying these unique leader systems. But they knew they could improve on the system and make a better leader designed specifically to target Barramundi in a lure-casting scenario.

    After twelve months of trial and error, lost leaders, lost fish and lost lures, the pair have developed a leader now know as the 'All Aussie Shock Leader System'. There are currently four models within the All Aussie Shock Leader range. The most popular has been the 'Light Game' shock leader, specifically targeted towards the lure-caster targeting the likes of barramundi, salmon, jacks, queenies etc. The most recent leader produced is the 'Big Dam Barra' shock leader to target the big girls in the stocked mpoundments up the east coast of Queensland. 

    All leaders consist of a small Dacron section to create a joining loop, Black Magic leader line, a small section of Line Guard and a high quality Decoy clip or Shogun ball bearing swivel clip. I have now had the opportunity to test out the 40lb 'light game' leader in a lure casting session in one of the local creeks. I was a bit wary initially, trusting someone else's knots! But when you first take a leader out of the packet you become immediately aware of the quality and enormous amount of time is put into the production of every leader.  I was also a little dubious about the use of a clip and line guard. But I can happily report that all knots held well, and the clip and line guard did not deter the fish in any way. I managed a 44cm and 38cm Mangrove Jack, a rather beefy Pikey Bream and a small Barramundi. If there is ever a fish that would be put off by a clip and line guard it would be a bream, but he happily hit my Flatz Rat in crystal clear water.   And at the end of a full mornings fishing there is not a mark on the leader, its good for many more trips yet!

     "With continued development and committment to customer satisfaction, I reckon we can supply a quality product that is user friendly. And if it saves you a lure or trophy fish, we have done our job" Says Phil. The All Aussie Shock Leader System is available directly from Phil or Ben on the following details, or via a PM in the forum.

    Phil Lawlor - 0422 564 880 or email
    Ben Weston - 0431 195 141 or email

    The following leaders are available for purchase. The guys can also produces specific leaders on request. 
    • All Aussie "Light Game" Shock Leader - 50lb dacron to create the loop, 1.5m, 40lb or 60lb Black Magic leader line, 100mm Line Guard and 90lb Decoy clip. $10.00 each.
    • All Aussie "Big Dam Barra" Shock Leader - 80lb dacron to create the loop, 1.2m, 80lb or 100lb Black Magic leader line, 200mm Line Guard and 120lb Decoy clip. $15.00 each.
    • All Aussie "Bluewater" Shock Leader - 80lb dacron to create the loop, 2.0m, 60lb or 80lb Black Magic leader line, 150lb Shogun ball bearing swivel clip combination. $20.00 each.
    • All Aussie "Big Game" Shock Leader - 80lb or 130lb dacron to create the loop, 4.0m, 80lb or 100lb Black Magic leader line, 150lb or 180lb Shogun ball bearing swivel clip combination. $22.00 each.

    Sunday 17 October 2010

    Solid Jacks from the creeks

    I got to fish yesterday morning with forum regular Li'lDave. We took my boat into one of the local creeks to see if we could lure up some Barra and Jack. I was really keen to have a fish with Dave, he is a bit of a specialist with the 3in Atomic Prongs and I wanted to see how he rigged and worked these soft plastic lures. With the lack of success I have been having on hard bodied lures, it would be interesting to see how we sent side by side.

    We met up at my place about 4.30am and it was blowing a gale! It wan't going to stop us going fishing in the creeks, but it did force us to have a change of plans and head upstream rather than work around the mouth where we predicted the Barra would be sitting. But it worked out being the better choice anyway, with the small run in tide the water upstream was much cleaner compared to the 'chocolate' colour at the mouth!

    We dropped the electric in and started working upstream into the outgoing tide. I like working into the tide, it keeps the boat straight and makes it easier to stop and hold position on a likely looking spot. It uses a little more power from the battery, but we have not gone anywhere near running it flat yet.

    Dave was the first to get a strike, and it hadn't take too long either. He saw the flash, but couldn't identify the culprit. Then a few casts back in the same location and he was connected. A short fight and a small undersize Jack was in the boat. A quick photograph and he was on his way. A good start that got our hopes up for some better fish and kept working.

    We hadn't gone too far and Dave was connected again. A MUCH better fish causing the line to 'zip' through the water as it took off downstream. Dave quickly turned the fish and we soon caught a glimpse of it in the clear water, a BIG JACK. A few nervous moments and it was soon in the net. High 5's all round and a dozen photos later and she was in the eski. At 43cm it was an awesome catch, and yes, it fell to one of those 3in prongs! Funny thing was, it came from an indent in the bank that I had put a few casts into already thinking  'there has to be a fish sitting in there'!

    I was beginning to think these prongs where the way to go! But I was determined to stay with the Flatz Rat for the morning to be able to make a fair comparison. And it wan't too long and I had a fish on the board. A big black bream. I got to see him come up and smack my Flatz Rat as it sat suspended just below the waters surface. With better fish on offering, I let it go in the hope of a Jack for dinner.

    And my Jack wan't too far off, another solid fish that smacked my lure as I worked it under some sticks. I had used a trick of casting just slightly to the upstream side of the snag, then dragged the lure under water. I then paused while the current took the suspending lure under the snag. Then a twitch when it was in the right position and 'BANG' I was on. Soon another fat Jack was in the net and in the boat. This one went 44cm and joined its mate in the eski for dinner.

    A few snags later and I had another 38cm Jack in the eski. I had said to Dave that to feed my tribe I would need two fish, and now I had them both. The rest of the fish for the day were to be released. Not that it mattered,  things went a bit quiet from there. Dave managed numerous other fish on this Prongs, including some nice bream, a couple of small cod and a ripper creek GT. I got one small Barra from a drain, but as the tide fell the water dirtied and most of the snags came out onto the bank. We were left with mainly mud bank to fish. So consequently we didn't manage too much else. The decision was made about 12pm to pull out and call it a day, it had been a good one anyway. Dave's prongs had served him well, but my Flaz Rat put two fish in the eski for me. So I'm happy to stay with the hard bodies, but I will be getting some prongs to keep in the tackle box just in case!