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

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Promoting family fishing.

Fish for the future promotes catch and release fishing.

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Regular fishing reports from our fishing trips.

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Fly Fishing

Chasing Golden Trevalley on the Magnetic Island flats.


Enjoying one of the many beautiful beaches of Magnetic Island.

Monday 30 August 2010

Townsville Game fishing Club - Billfish Challenge

This week the Townsville Game fishing Club will be holding its annual Billfish Challenge. This is the clubs largest event on the calendar, and this year is shaping up to be the biggest in its 28 year history. This year anglers will be competing for over $50,000 in cash and prizes. And Fishing Townsville will be along for the ride! I will hopefully be onboard one of the bigger boats to photograph and film the event for a feature article.

The official sign on is this Friday the 3rd of September. Fishing is from Saturday 4th through to Tuesday 7th, and the final presentations are on Wednesday 8th. If you are keen to participate in the event, but don't have your own monster boat, there are boats available for charter. Just check out the Townsville Game fishing Club website. For more detailed information on the competition the club has produced a brochure with all the details.

This year the club will be inviting the general public to come along to the Townsville Yacht Club to take a look at the boats competing in this years event. Boats will range from 19 foot through to the multi-million dollar "Kekoa", a 56 footer built by local boat builder Peter O’Brien of O’Brien Boats. Times will be from 5:30pm to about 7:00pm this Friday. Everyone from the general public who attends will be given a free ticket into a draw for 2 seats on a Northern Conquest reef fishing charter. So put the event in your diary and bring your family down for a gander. And while your there, why not stay for dinner at the Townsville Yacht Club?

For the commencement of the tournament there will be the traditional sail past at 0715 and shotgun start at 0730. This is always a spectacle and well worth the drive for a look. The sail past will be from the Yacht Club down past Coat Guard. Best viewing point will be along the rock wall of the harbour. 

Sunday 29 August 2010

Product Review - Ctek 4003 Battery Charger

With the recent purchase of an electric motor and deep cycle battery for the tinnie, we need to get ourselves a good battery charger. With the budget well and truly stretched we had to find a charger that would be of good quality, but at the right price. Most of the stores in town recommended the Ctek range of chargers. These chargers are incredibly intelligent 8-stage chargers designed specifically for lead-acid batteries. These chargers can also charge gel and AGM batteries. The charger comes with a 5-year warranty and represents the latest in charging technology to give you maximum charge and maximum life out of your battery. 

The charger is extremely compact and comes with both battery clamps and a set of leads that can be permanently attached to the battery and simply plugged in and out to allow easy charging.

The 4003 is brand new for 2010 and is a 12v 4A charger. There are more powerful chargers in the Ctek range, but this one represents pretty good value. I made my purchase from an ebay seller by the name of 4wdextreme. It cost me $114 express post deliver to my door. I ordered late on a Thursday and unit was posted on Friday. It arrived to the door on Tuesday. They have the 7A version for $205 and the 15A for $285. The 4A version took about 36hrs to get our 95Ah deep cycle to 100%. But it should get to an 80% charge in about 20hrs. And thats fine for us, we are only using the boat on the weekends. 

Technical Specifications

Electrical Characteristics
Voltage 220-240 VAC, 50-60 Hz.
Current 0.6 A rms (at full charging current)
Start Current < 25 A
Charge voltage 12V, 14.4 V or 14.7V
Charging current 4
A max.
Ambient temperature - 20°C to + 50°C
Charger type 8 - Step fully automatic
Type of Batteries All types of lead-acid batteries
Battery capacity 1.2 till 120 Ah
Cooling Natural convection
Back current drain 1.3 mA
Ripple Max 50 mV rms, max 0.13 A
Mechanical Characteristics
Dimensions 165L x 61W x 38H mm
Weight 0.5 kg

Bulk Charging Time

Battery Capacity - Ah Time to 80% charge - h
2 2
10 10
14 3
20 4.5
50 11.5
80 18
120 27

Barra with Knighty

Yesterday I got to spend the day lure casting in one of the local creeks with forum regular and G&T Fishing School proprietor 'Knighty'. We launched the boat about 10am and raced to our spot at over 30knots in Grahams beautiful Glass flats boat 'Cruse Control'. After about an hours run we reached to top of a fantastic looking creek, right in time for the change of tide. We then spent the rest of the day casting Flat Rats tight among the timber as the tide slowly receded. Grahams brand new 80lb Minn Kota did a great job of holding us close to structure, and when a likely looking spot is reached a quick push of the 'anchor' button sees the electric automatically hold us in position despite all the efforts of wind and tide trying to push us on.

Knighty was the first to see some action, with several Barramundi 'rolling' on his lure before I had even spotted a fish. He was the fist to hook up too, a good Barra smacking his lure tight amongst the timber. But it was a short fight with the fish burying him almost immediately. Oh, and Knighty was also the first to get a fish in the boat too....a small Mangrove Jack. Despite the large number of casts in-between hits, it was enough to tell us the fish were there, we just had to work out how to get them biting.

Graham was off to a good start, but I soon got the monkey of my back. Only a small Jack, but I was now on the board and didn't look so silly! I soon had my first roll from a Barra too, and then one that stayed connected. Oh, yeah.....Barra on. Again it was only a small fish, but lots of fun on a particularly difficult morning.

By the time we finished our session at the bottom of the tide late in the afternoon we had landed 6 rat barra and several Jack. I will add that the score ended up pretty even with 3 Barra and a couple of Jack each! But the fish of the day was Grahams 36cm Mangrove Jack.

Thursday 26 August 2010

Jumpin' Mackerel

Regular forum members Curmudgeon and Mozza had an interesting session on the water the other day. It was such a good read in the fishing reports section that I asked them if I could publish here. It's not often fishing is this good, but Mozza seems to be among them a lot lately! Here is their story.

Yesterday afternoon, Mozza and I were tooling around the mackerel patch towing wolf herring when a 20lb+ mackerel took to the sky about a hundred yards in front of us. That fish must have gone 20 feet into the air, I kid you not. We were like, "Wow! Did you see that?! Whoa! There's another one! And another one!". More and more long silver bullets were arcing across the sky. There were literally dozens of mackerel getting airborne across a quarter acre of water. If we'd continued on our troll line, we'd have driven right through the middle of it all. "Stuff this!" called Moz. "Wind the lines in. We gotta get in there quick and have a cast!" We got the lines halfway back to the boat when they both got slammed. Mozza's stayed stuck, and a 20lb spaniard was reclining in the ice slurry.

The aerial activity had come to an end, so it was back to trolling. Taking a cue from one of the other boats, Moz tied on a big popper to drag behind us. Bugger me if a 30lb mackerel didn't make a meal of that in double quick time. A quick pic for the unbelievers, and he was released.

The purpose of this trip was two-fold. Mozza wanted to put me onto my first substantial spanish mackerel, bless him. He tried. Hey, I tried too. I mean I really tried. I jigged, I trolled, I poppered, I prayed. Luck was just not with me. I was connected to several solid mackerel - temporarily - both on jigs and trolled wolfies, but I could not get one to the boat. Hopeless.

Eventually, Mozza took pity on me and called an end to the mackerel session to move back toward the cape to fulfill our other goal. Mozza's quadrella. Spanish mackerel, coral trout, fingermark and barra, all in the same day. Yes, he's an ambitious SOB. So we jigged up a couple of livies, anchored and waited. We didn't have to wait long. A little gold spot climbed on my line. Too small to keep, but the first thing I'd gotten to the boat all afternoon. My livey survived that experience, so was quickly redeployed to the bottom. A minute later, he was absolutely monstered. That experience lasted all of about 30 seconds, finishing with a monumental wipe out in the reef. Fifty pound braid, eighty pound leader, twenty-two pounds of drag on the Tyrnos and I didn't stand a chance. My confidence was well and truly shattered. Things went quiet, so as the sun set, we made the decision to try for a barra right in close to the cape.

After half an hour of barra trolling, we hadn't had a touch. We passed the time reflecting on what a great afternoon it had been. We'd seen whales. We'd seen flying mackerel. The ocean was oily smooth. If I'd have caught some damn thing - anything - I'd have been positively delerious. Moz cheerily asked, "Do you want that last beer, Brian?" I snapped back, "Bloody oath, but not until I've caught something worth celebrating!". I was sincerely beginning to doubt that I would. For the next trolling run, I tied on my fifth favourite barra lure. On my current run of luck, I was convinced that if I tied on one of the top four, I'd only lose it to a bloody snag. Best decision I made all day. First lap with that lure scored me a 66cm barra. What a relief!

I cracked the last stubby, took a swig and lobbed the lure back out. Seconds later, I was on again! 61cm barra (released) and still not halfway through my beer. Another two mouthfuls... bang! Dropped him. We reset the lines again only to have a 56cm barra promptly jump on that same lure. Three barras, one beer. Unreal. And I don't muck around drinking beer in hot weather. Dropped another one and landed a 51cm and a 48cm before we called it quits at around 8:30. Doug was shaking his head in disbelief. He'd hooked two barras but didn't land either.

Talk about a change of fortune...

Fast, smooth, moonlit ride back across the bay. Another awesome day in paradise.


ps. No beer was spilt in the making of this story.

Monday 16 August 2010

Beautiful day on the water

The weather Gods really did turn it on for us this weekend. And about time too. Other commitments meant Tania and I had to wait until Sunday to get the kids out on the water. But no worries, Sunday was predicted to be the better day anyway. 

We woke the kids as 3am and were at the ramp by 4.30 in the hope we would secure a park. But it wasn't to be, cars where already parked outside, and by the looks of it they had been for quite a while! We did hear someone on the radio later in the morning mention some parked as far away as the strand. We wondered at the time if we should go to Barnacle st considering the extra parking now available there. So on the way home we went for a drive to check it out. Nope, just as bad there! And while there is probably as many spaces there as the Coast Guard, there is only the one set of lanes, so it was major congestion for those returning. There must have been hundreds of cars not able to secure a proper park, just highlighting how far short we are of the requirement. To top it off, I noticed quite a few single cars parked in the new area on Barnacle st. I wouldn't be surprised if one day some of these cars get damaged from rather disgruntled fishermen forced out of their entitled car park! Anyway, onto the fishing.

We headed first to the Mackerel Grounds to fish for some Spaniards on first light. A lovely school of fish showed right on the mark as we pulled up. Tania's first bait down resulted in an instant bite off, so I rigged up a gang hook with sinker and she sent it down for a second try. Didn't take long and she was hooked to good fish. The fight was a little strange, and initially both of us were thinking by Trevor. There was no blistering run and the fight was 'head-shakey'. Then, as the fish came up, it started to head to the surface. Again, not fast, but very powerful. We were now thinking Cobia. But eventually she worked the fish into sight and it was indeed Spanish Mackerel. We estimate about 12kg, her best to date and a top effort.

The school had moved from our original mark, so we had to sound around a bit. We relocated them not too far off and I sent down a Bumpa-bar and Tania stuck to her Pillie. I got a hit straight away, but the hooks didn't find their mark. Tania got a good hit on here pillie, but when she pulled it in the tail had been sliced clean off, just missing the back hook. From here we had real trouble locating the fish and holding to them. So we decided to troll a couple of Gar. There were a lot of boats now anchored in the area doing their thing, as well as a few trolling. We trolled around the boats and after about 15mins Tania's rod goes off. I hit the throttle to sink the hooks and she was into a good fish again. Close to other boats she now had a bit of an audience....but she managed like a pro. Also meant I had an audience for the gaff shot! But I hit it clean in the back of the head first go! Not as big as her fist fish, it was still a respectable 8kg or so. 

We trolled for a little longer with no further success. So time for another spot. As the weather was so good I decided to head to the Bommer Wreck. Its a spot I have never been to, but always wanted to take a look at. From where we were it was only about a 15min run. On arrival there were about 5 other boats in the area. None of whome looked like they were doing a whole lot. There were large schools of Batfish cruising around and plenty showing on the sounder. But we could hardly manage a bite. The other boats slowly dispersed, so we headed off too. I'm not sure if this spot fished better earlier? Or if it's just not that good?

Next spot was over to the Maggie Shoals to look for a Nannygai. A few fish were showing on the sounder, but most of what came on board was quite small. I managed on keeper Nanny that needed to go on the tape to make sure, and one good size grass sweetlip. Lachy even had a bit of a fish here as there was no real size.

With other things on the agenda for the day we called it quits about midday and headed in. Glass run home in what can only be described as perfect conditions. If only we could get more days like this!

Saturday 14 August 2010

Trevarific Day

Ward and Richard manage to get out today on that beautiful ocean tossing around a few Saltwater flies. This is what Ward had to say.

Richard and I decide to head out on Saturday to our spot of the back of Rattlesnake. It was perhaps not as smooth as Sundays prediction, but the best day for us. We arrived at our spot to find no one else there, a great start! We starting drifting and searching and found very little. We thought there was a pretty good chance of dropping the pick and finding a suitable spot. So we looked around using the sounding and found a good piece of bottom. As soon as we dropped the pick we started landed trevally on each cast! After a while we were interested in catching something else, so Richard decided to hook up to a couple of monster fish that blew him away on the bottom! Not quite what we had in mind, but still different! 

Then Richard decided to play with some sharks.....and his fish lost! 

For the next couple of hours we hooked up to well over 20 trevally. Finally we called it quits and headed back to the back of Maggie to chase something different. As we travelled, Richard spotted a school of fish breaking the surface. We put the boat in place quickly changed the flies and managed to hook up a couple of spotted mackerel. Nice change, then we finished the day with a drift over some flats. Richard landed a nice GT to finish the day. 

A truly Trevarific day!

Sunday 8 August 2010

Townsville Boat Ramps - Haughton River

The Haughton River boat ramp is, by North Queensland creek standards, a pretty good quality single lane cement ramp. The ramp is actually located on Cromarty creek where Cromarty joins the Haughton river proper. The ramp is relatively easy to find, drive south out of Townsville and turn left toward Giru. Drive through the Giru township and then follow the signs over the railway to the ramp. Just don't miss the right hand turn after you have driven beside the railway line. 

This ramp use to suffer badly from mud on the lower sections making it difficult on lower tides. But some rock work is being done that has improved this scenario. These photos were all taken on about 0.5m of tide and ramp is clear of mud and easily usable.

Parking is in the form of a large dirt car park. The dirt is firm and no problems in the wet, and parking is sufficient for the traffic the Haughton sees. A large area of the parking does become consumed by campers that migrate north from NSW/VIC during the cooler months. But it doesn't seem to create any problems. 

This ramp does go under water on big tides! This photograph was taken during a 4m tide that Townsville experienced earlier this year. But most of the ramps went under on this tide. I'm not sure just how big a tide needs to be for here, but it's safe on 99% of the tides for the year. The road in also goes under on big tides and during flooding.

Like most of Townsville's ramp, facilities are lacking here. But, there is a toilet! Something very few ramps here have. There is no securing cameras, no wash down, no tables and chairs and no cleaning facilities. There is also solar powered lighting, a bit of a plus for those going early or late. There is also no pontoon of any description, so I would probably stick to aluminium boats. But almost any tinnie could be launched here, and a 4wd is not required.

The other ramp that access the Haughton river is located at Cungulla. Its more for smaller boats, but gets you in closer to the mouth. See here for details.

Tuesday 3 August 2010

NQFlyfishers Fish Hinchinbrook

This weekend saw the NQFlyfishers first weekend trip to the Hinchinbrook Channel. It turned out to be a great weekend with 7 guys fishing out of 3 boats on Saturday and 6 guys were on the water on Sunday.

We knew we were always going to be fighting an uphill battle with the 50cm of run between the morning low and the afternoon high, but with a lot of faith and a little bit of determination we headed out in the morning to froth the channel to foam.

Saturday was a tough day to fish, but we still managed to land 4 species between us.

Richard S, Ray and Steve went fishless, but did miss a barra boof in the morning and followed a school of salmon for a while. Their day was apparently quite relaxed crusing around drinking tea and taking photos of a place that these guys hadn't seen much of before.

Richard W and Ward started out on the Flats, and they did see one or two fish, but were unable to convince the fish (permit and golden trevally I believe) to eat. However, after their slow start, they moved into the snags and their efforts won the day landing a total of 4 trevally, 1 queenfish, a barracuda and even a flathead by the time they pulled up stumps.

After a promising start Bob and my day was a frustrating, even though enjoyable one. I managed a nice little queenfish early in the piece and Bob got blown away by what we picked as a "monster jack". We fished everywhere that looked like there would be a fish but to no avail, we missed out on the only other fish we saw... a school of small GTs.

Sunday morning saw 3 boats head out again. Ward and Richard W spent a couple of hours on the flats, sight casting unsuccessfully to a number of permit and golden trevally. Ray and Richard S again spent the morning cruising and play the part of scholarly gentleman... and Bob and I had another frustrating day, this time punctuated by a couple of nice fish.

We found a snag early that produced a number of good strikes, and while I missed the hook-ups on a couple, Bob managed to land himself a little queenfish to open his weekend's account. I learnt that I need to tie more effective weed guards, and only succeeded in a staying hooked to a barracuda. Bob continued peppering the snags with pinpoint accuracy and was rewarded with a couple of nice trevally, a black spot cod and an archer fish.

To finish the day we headed up stream to find some barras, but alas it wasn't to be. 7 species on neap tides isn't a bad effort, and I can't wait until next year on a slightly better tide!

Report By Dave Little