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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 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!

Tuesday 12 October 2010

Boat Ramps - Proserpine River

This is a small single lane concrete ramp located toward the mouth of the Proserpine River. The ramp is an excellent quality creek ramp but has no specific facilities located with it. There are no toilets, pontoon, lighting etc. The ramp can be found along Conway Rd South of Airlie Beach or East of Proserpine. Conway road is a good sealed road, and there is just a short section of gravel (maybe 300m) from the main road to the ramp itself. Parking is just in the open gravel area. I have no experience with this ramp. All I can provide is some photographs and my observations. 

Monday 11 October 2010

Boat Ramps - Airlie Beach and Shute Harbour

Airlie Beach is a small township located about half way between Bowen and Mackay. It is beautifully positioned to provide easy access to the esteemed Whitsunday Island group. This group of 74 tropical islands include well known destinations such as Hamilton, Daydream, Haymen, Lindeman and SouthMolle to name just a few. While these islands are better recognised world wide as holiday destinations, they and the region in general provide the opportunity for some spectacular fishing. All of the islands are within easy reach of small trailer boats, and good fishing can be had within just a few kilometres of the ramps.

The Airlie Beach region has two main ramps that could be considered all tide deep water ramps. Both ramps are good quality and feature some kind of pontoon or jetty. However, there is one massive drawback of both ramps...PARKING! If you thought parking was a problem in Townsville on good weekends, go have a look at what's available here!

Airlie Beach Marina

This ramp is probably slightly better quality and has a better floating pontoon associated with it. Albeit surrounded by small tenders most of the time! The pontoon is not located down the ramp, but only a short distance away. The ramp is a two lane concrete ramp in excellent condition. Its located inside of the Airlie Beach Marina, and as such is very sheltered from poor weather. Parking here is a massive issue. I didn't count the parking spaces available, but at a guess there is no more than two dozen CBT parking spaces available. I'm guessing on a good day these fill real quick! The Arlie ramp is probably best used by bigger boats and those wishing to access Hooke and the more northern islands.

Shute Harbour

Shout Harbour also has a reasonably good quality 2-3 lane concrete ramp. There is no floating pontoon here, but a jetty not too far away. But the jetty is quite high out of the water, making it a big step down into the boat. This jetty is also covered with many small tenders most of the time. The ramp is located inside the bay and is fairly well sheltered from most strong winds. Parking here is even worse than in Airlie Beach, with just a few CBT parking spaces along the side of the road! This ramp gives closer access to most of the main Whitsunday Islands.

Sunday 10 October 2010

Unsuccessful Cape Barra

Forum member Dave Little (lil'Dave) and I did a two boat trip yesterday morning to chase the elusive big Barramundi of Cape Cleveland. He brought along his girlfriend Lucie, but had to put up with the company of my Dad! We put in at Cocoa around 6am where the tide was still a little low and we were holding down the noses of our punts as they came off the back of the trailer to ensure we weren't launching the transom into the mud! But we got going without any dramas.

We shot out the mouth and started to head up the coast of the Cape. In was a little bumpy in the stiff breeze, but being from the south it was just a little chop that we had to deal with. Mind you, I ended up saturated from the spray by the time we reached our destination!

On arrival the wind picked up strongly as a bit of a rain squall passes us close by. It wan't dangerous, even in out sub 4m punts, but it make it dam had for the electrics to hold us in ideal positions. So try as we did we eventually gave up and headed for some sheltered water inside the bays. We fished the last few hours of the incoming tide with all sorts of lures, but failed to find the target fish. Dad hooked up a beauty of a Barra right beside the boat, would have gone well over 1m too... But alas, it was a Barra-couda! I also managed one rubbish fish, a catfish that threw the hooks beside the boat.

The two boats separated for a while as we both searched hard for where the fish might be hanging. Dad I eventually gave up and headed back into the mouth of Cocoa to try our luck there. Not that it did us any good! Eventually Dave did the same and joined us for one last try. But he had had slightly more luck than us, he at least hooked a fish! Apparently a nice fish well over 60cm took his little 'vibe'. But the weak hooks of this 'fineness' lure didn't last long against our tough Barramundi! Bad luck Dave, time to upgrade all those trebles.

We pulled out about 12.30 with the tide much higher than when we launched! With a few discussion of what went wrong we concluded the strong winds had shut the fish down. And with that we headed home for some well earned rest! Well Dave had a good afternoon nap anyway!

Friday 8 October 2010

SOLD - 2008 6Mtr Hooker Pro Fisherman

Purchased new in August 2008 this rare Hooker is in immaculate condition.

  • Centre console with full-length custom built alloy canopy.
  • Standard Horizon 12 inch screen, all in one colour chart plotter, colour sounder, marine radio.
  • 115hp Suzuki 4-stroke with 110hrs.
  • 300lt under floor fiberglass fuel tank, hydro steering, Auto bilge, EPIRB, huge kill pen, in line filter, extra length stainless guard rails and transom ladder, live plumbed bait tank, dual batteries with isolation switch, 6 rod holders
  • Includes all off shore safety gear, 4 lifejackets, two anchors, anchor retriever ball, Solas stainless steel prop, spare alloy prop, custom made engine strut.
  • Remainder of 5 years warranty on motor, 8 year warranty on the hull.
  • Boat has been under cover since new, excellent condition, includes spare tyre for trailer and 12 months rego.

Price: $39,900 ONO
Contact Harley @ 0439070563

Monday 4 October 2010

Coral Reef Fin Fish Closure

Just a reminder to everyone that the first of the Coral Reef Fin Fish closures begins tomorrow (5th October 2010) and runs for 5 days. For more details about Queensland Fishing Regulations visit the DPI&F website. For a list of species included in the closure please visit this link

Coral reef fin fish closure dates for 2009-2013:
  • 15 October to 19 October 2009, and 14 November to 18 November 2009
  • 5 October to 9 October 2010, and 3 November to 7 November 2010
  • 24 October to 28 October 2011, and 22 November to 26 November 2011
  • 12 October to 16 October 2012, and 11 November to 15 November 2012
  • 2 October to 6 October 2013, and 31 October to 4 November 2013

Saturday 2 October 2010

PB Jack on Lure

Spent yesterday morning luring the morning outgoing tide with Dad. Was quite uneventful really! We went up and down various 'arms' of the Haughton throwing lures at some really good looking country. We managed a couple of small Jacks to 35cm and a flash or two from a Barramundi. But despite the quiet morning I was rewarded for my thousands of casts with a PB Mangrove Jack. At 47cm he was a ripper. Hit my little Flatz Rat in 'Ice Tea' like a freight train, buried me in the snags in the blink of an eye. But with a bit of to and fro-wing he eventually came free. Realising with the fish sitting beside the boat that we didn't have the net it was a quick lift and held breaths to get him in. 

Went back there today with Tania and the kids to see if its just lures that are not working for us. But even with bait we found the fish quiet. I had a nice live mullet out all morning and didn't even see a run from a fish. I had one Jack burry me hard on a half pillie and Tania caught two small catfish that had our hopes up. But for the morning we would hardly have used a dozen Pillies! Time for us to look elsewhere, the Haughton just isn't playing the game at the moment.