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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 25 June 2012

Winter Barramundi at Morriseys Creek

I went for a fish yesterday with All Aussie Shock Leader developer Phil Lawlor and his fishing mate Nev. Nev has recently purchased a nice big Sea Jay Barra Masta and, over the past few weeks, the pair have been harassing the local fish population in Morriseys with small plastics and blades on light spin gear. When I got the invite earlier in the week, I jumped at the chance to join them.

The pair picked me up at my place about 5.30am and after loading my gear into the boat we all squeezed into front of Nev's ute, like sardines in a tin can! A fuel stop at Alligator creek let us stretch the legs and then we pulled into Morriseys ramp a bit afte 6.30. The wind was blowing and it was drizzling with rain. Dam it was cold! Barra Masta was launched and we were on our way.

First stop wasn't to have a fish, but to watch a crazy fox swim the full with of the river just a few bends up Big Salty! He made it across, but would have been cold and wet for the rest of the morning. We continued on our travels and soon arrived at the set of snags we intended to work for the morning. The tide had just bottomed out and good clean water was starting to re-enter the system.

Phil was trying out a new technique of fishing a fly rigged with a 'oo' ball sinker. Its then heavy enough to cast on the light spin rods. Nev stuck to the vibes that had been working so well in previous weeks, and I was trying out the new JellyPrawn lure designed by Ben Jones. These lures are quite unique in that they are rigged backward. The theory is that a fleeing prawn doesn't swim forward, but flicks it tail and goes backward. The JellyPrawn lure has this exact tail-flick action when worked correctly with the rod tip. It looks very realistic on Ben's online video footage, and I was sure it would produce the goods. Ben also has a range that include the popular weedless hook configuration, a big advantage in the timber. As we were targeting smaller fish like Jacks, Bream and rat Barra in tight timber, I started with the Mini JellyPrawn rigged weedless. 

Phil was the first to nail a fish, a solid Bream on the fly that would have gone well over 30cm. But the JellyPrawn soon took over, nailing a couple of fish in quick succession. A couple of thumping Bream and a Rat Barra put me in the lead. Nev's vibes just didn't want to play the game for him.

Then came the Barra of the morning! I had tossed my Prawn in behind some structure hoping to find the fish holding tight. I had just said to Phil 'I'll worry about getting the fish out after I hook up, getting that hookup has to come first'. And wouldn't you know it, I hooked up. Well, the video tells it all!! That was the last of my Mini JellyPrawn. 

I tied on the bigger weedless prawn and continued on. Another thumper Bream and then a real fish smashed the lure and launched into the air. A better Barra was now dancing around the back of the boat. I was up the front and had to make a quick dash down the back to work the fish around the motor. Memories of my trip across the eski last time I did this came flooding back! Luckily the fish had jumped clear of the snags and was now tussling it out in open water. From hear it was pretty easy going on the 8lb PowerPro and the 62cm fish was quickly lead to the net. 

Things went rather quiet from here, so we decided on a change in scenery. We passes a couple of 12foot Crocs and found a section of bank that looked good. Nev finally managed to put a few quality Bream in the boat and Phil landed a nice Grunter, Bream and a small Jack. I got dusted again on a big fish and had to resort to a DOA for a while. I missed a couple more hits and landed a nice Flathead. By 4pm we had had enough for the day and headed off home. Another cold run home in misty rain! Not a bad mornings fishing in very tough conditions.

Thanks Phil and Nev for a wonderful day on the water. These guys really know how to enjoy themselves. A a hot brewed Coffee for breaky to warm the belly and a freshly cooked sausage in bread for lunch. Then a nice cold beer in the arvo to celebrate the day. Now thats the way to go fishing!

Overall I am very impressed with the JellPrawn lures, especially the weedless variety. I will be getting some more off Ben in the next few days. If you would like to try them out just click onto his website. Ben currently has free domestic postage on all his range. Otherwise you can catch up with Ben at the Cotters Markets every Sunday. 

Monday 18 June 2012

Spotted Mackerel on the Weedbeds

We shot across to the Weedbeds for a quick fish again Sunday morning. It really is a great spot to take the family when the Mackerel are on. We initially headed over to the deeper water off Long Beach to float some Pillies in a burley trail, but a stiff early morning breeze made things difficult. The tide was still running in and the wind was in the opposite direction. So the burley and lines just did work properly. We managed to raise a few fish in the trail and missed a couple, but overall it was very quiet. We persevered until the tide turned and when that didn't improve things we decided to try trolling to locate the fish.

We trolled toward the Cape for almost an hour and couldn't even raise a Grinner. The water was very clear and we could easily see the bottom in 4.5m. I think it was just too clear and the Mackerel were spooking easily. So a change in plans was in order.

I decided to head in closer to the creeks where bait should now be running out with the tide. I moved into about 3m of water and deployed the trolling lines. It wasn't long and I spotted a few fish flicking on the surface with some bait. Sure enough, as soon as the boat moved through the bait one rod went off. A nice solid fish and, to my surprise, a health Spotty was lifted over the side. Lines back out and we continued to troll the area.

Using the Side Image capability of the Humminbird 998 I managed to locate the schools of Mackerel fairly consistently. And every time we trolled past the school we got a hook up. We even managed a couple of double hookups! In fairly short time we put a good half dozen Spotted Mackerel and one nice Doggie into the eski. A few smaller fish were let go and numerous hits that didn't hookup. I also managed one nice Spotty on a small 20g slice thrown into the school on my little Stella 1000fe. Great fun on light line.

This sounder shot shows what the Mackerel looked like on the 998 Side Image.

I have only ever caught one or two Spotten Mackerel incidentally in an entire season, and have never seen so many in one spot. But apparently they use to frequent this area in massive numbers before the seine netting. Its really nice to see them back in good numbers. Let hope they continue to frequent the area in the coming months.

Friday 15 June 2012

Trolling the Weedbeds for Doggie Mackerel

I have had a load of people ask me about lure selection and technique for trolling the Weedbeds for Doggie Mackerel. So I thought I would post up a bit of information on what works for me.

I tend to approach trolling for Doggie Mackerel in exactly the same way I would Spanish Mackerel, just on a smaller scale. So my lure selection and technique is very similar. I am a really big fan of the Rapala CD range of lures for Spanish Mackerel. So for Doggies I like the same lure, but in a smaller size. The CD9 is about right. Its 9cm in length and dives to around 3m. The areas of the Weedbeds that I like are between 3m and 4m in depth, so this is perfect. Like for Spanish Mackerel, the red head and white body is hard to pass up, but any good reflective colour is fine.

The Rapala range of lures are on the pricey side of things, and in the small size can be hard to come by. The Halco Laser Pro is a dam good alternative. It's Australian made and really well built, they represent a good vale for money alternative. 

The model I am using is the Halco Laser Pro 120DD. Its about 12cm in length and dives to 2.5m. Again, the depth is perfect, but at 12cm its a little larger than I would like for Doggies. But I guess you can discount the smaller fish at least! I have trolled the above two lures side by side, and there wan't a clear winner. Both took fish. 

I do fish a small length of wire off the front of the lures, they are too expensive not to! But I keep the wire very fine and very short. Use a gauge to match your line class. You don't need 500lb wire if you are trolling 20lb braid! Single strand is far better than multi-strand. I only use about 2 inches of wire, just enough to prevent a bite of from a head strike. I have never lost a lure to a bite off with this short trace. I attach the wire to the lure with a haywire twist and then build in a loop in the other end with the same technique. Then a small clip will attach the lure to line. 

You don't need any special tackle to troll for Doggies. I tend to use basic barra gear, a Calcutta 200 on a G•Loomis 644 with 20lb braid. But spin gear would be fine. 20lb is an absolute maximum line class reqired, lighter is fine. Just make sure the line class has enough strength to take the pressure of the lure under speed and to set the hooks when a fish strikes. Light lines and low drag pressure will not provide sufficient pressure to set the hooks. 

I troll at about 4-5knots. Cover some ground and try to locate schools of fish. Then continue to work the area the fish are holding in. The Weedbeds cover a massive area inside the cape, and you can encounter fish anywhere from the mouths of Alligator and Crocodile Creeks right out to Cape Cleveland. Keep an eye on the rod tip and make sure the lure is always working. There can be some floating weed around that will foul the hooks, this will stop the lure working and rod tip will stop vibrating. Its also worth watching for strikes, not all fish will hookup and strikes often don't pull line from the reel.  A bounce from the rod might be all you get!

Thursday 14 June 2012

Suzuki DF150 & Garmin GMI-10 Review

As most readers would be aware, I recently had the opportunity to replace the 130hp Yamaha Saltwater Series 2-stroke on my Cruise Craft 575 Outsider. The 2-stroke Yamaha was simply costing too much to run, and really restricted the range of the 160lt underfloor tank. At a fairly modest cruise speed of 25knots, the Yamaha was averaging about 1lt per km. That gave the tank a range of just 160km. Our closest reef is about 70km, meaning it would take a full tank of fuel to get out there and back. The 2-stroke motor was also noisy and smelly, not conducive of good family boating! In fact, we hated the motor right from the first time we turned the key. After spending over $60,000 on a brand new boat the last thing you want is disappointment. After putting up with poor fuel economy and a limited 19 foot glass boat, we actually decided to sell it! But again the 2-stroke came against us. Even though it was less than 2 years old and had minimal hours, nobody wanted to buy a large glass boat with a 2-stroke. Well, at least not for what we wanted. To get rid of the boat would have meant massive loss in money on a perfectly good boat it top condition.

So after discussion with Emmanuel at Townsville Marine it was decided that re-powering my boat might be a better option than selling. I did, after all, love the hull and everything else about the boat. The Outsider was a boat Tania and I had been looking at for many years. The layout and design of the boat is ideal for a fishing family. All 4 of us can sleep in the cabin overnight and the deck space is plenty big enough for us all to fish. The two options we had were a DF140 and DF150 Suzuki 4-stroke.  The DF140 is great option on a boat this size, and there are 575 Outsiders in town with that particular motor fitted. The weight to power ratio is very good in the 140, but we decided to go straight to the maximum rating for hull and bolt on the DF150. Being the maximum hp and transom weight for this boat, it was hoped that it would allow the boat to cruise effortlessly at low rpm and use minimal fuel while being able to push out some good speed at the top of the rev range.

The motor was soon fitted, and the job Peter and boys at Townsville Marine did was second to none! The old oil tank for the 2-stroke was removed and the filler cap finished off beautifully. You can hardly tell there was ever a big hole through the fiberglass. The new gauges were fitted along with the control box. It looked just like the motor was an original fit-out. I think thats important when your talking about a boat that is almost new. At the same time I had Peter fit hydraulic steering and plumb in a the live bait tank and add a deck wash. Again the fit-out was outstanding.

The first run with the new Suzuki was with Tania and the kids across to West Point. First turn of the key and I knew we had done the right thing. The motor ticked over immediately and you couldn't hear anything at idle. I had to look over the back to see the tell-tail running! Tania was on the ramp at the winch and didn't know the motor had even been started. I reversed off the trailer and drove over to the pontoon, the hydraulic steering was beautiful! When we got outside the harbor I pushed the throttle down and immediately the boat jumped up and out of the hole. The revs jumped and motor came to life. It really has a beautiful sound at high revs! AND NO SMOKE. Tania was suitably impressed. With the addition of a few little luxuries, this felt like we were in a whole different boat. The one we should have had from the beginning!

The following pictures show the boat with the Yamaha 130 Saltwater series (left), and then with the Suzuki DF150 (right).

The motor has now been on the boat for about a year, and I am as impressed today as the day it went on. The fuel economy in nothing short of outstanding. In good conditions we can easily manage 0.5lts per km at a smidgin under 25knots. This now gives the 160lt tank a range of over 300km. Basically I have halved our fuel consumption figures. At the same time we have gained 20 extra horses, bettered our top end speed and increased the handling of the boat. The tabe below shows actual fuel and performance figures from this motor fitted to my boat. The CC hull is a heavy fat beast of a boat for its size, and the motor still performs beautifully.

RPM Speed Fuel Flow Fuel Economy Image
3,500 34.8km/hr
17.2lt/hr 0.5lt/km
4,000 43.1km/hr
22.8lt/hr 0.5lt/km
4,500 50.3km/hr
29.2lt/hr 0.6lt/km
5,000 55.4km/hr
38.5lt/hr 0.7lt/km
5,500 63.5km/hr
49.0lt/hr 0.8lt/km

Shaft LengthL: (20ins) 500 mm | X: (25ins) 627 mm
Counter RotationX: 635
Starting SystemElectric
WeightL: 215 kg | X: 220 kg
Engine TypeDOHC 16-Valve
Fuel Delivery SystemMulti Point Sequential Electronic Fuel Injection
No. of Cylinders4
Piston Displacement2,867 cm3
Bore x Stroke97 x 97 mm
Maximum Output110.0 kW
Full Throttle Operating Range5000 - 6000 rpm
Oil Pan Capacity8.0 litre(s)
Ignition SystemFully-transistorised
Alternator12V 44A
Engine MountingShear Mount
Trim MethodPower Trim and Tilt
Gear Ratio2.50:1
Gear ShiftF-N-R
ExhaustThrough Prop Hub Exhaust
Propeller Selection (Diameter)14.5
Propeller Selection (Pitch)17-27 (s/s)
WarrantyLimited five (5) years for recreational use.
Start SystemElectric Start
Multi Point Sequential Electronic Fuel InjectionStandard Equipment
Multi-Stage Induction SystemStandard Equipment
Two-Stage Gear Reduction SystemStandard Equipment
Offset DriveshaftStandard Equipment
Thrust Mount SystemStandard Equipment
Over-Rev. LimiterStandard Equipment
Low Oil Pressure CautionStandard Equipment
Fresh Water Flushing SystemStandard Equipment
Speedometer Pickup on Gear CaseStandard Equipment
Suzuki Anti-Corrosion SystemStandard Equipment
Rigging KitsOptional - see Accessories

My ONLY concern when having this motor fitted was its weight. It's not that its a particularly heavy motor for its size, but this is right on the maximum transom weight for the hull. And even the lighter 2-stroke Yamaha struggled at low revs to keep the nose down in choppy seas. I really thought this would make the boat back heavy and struggle at low speed. But the boat actually performs better. I can plane at lower speeds than with the Yamm, and the boat is faster out of the hole. Peter and Emmanuel both tried to convince me that the extra torque of the big block Suzuki would easily compensate for the added weight. But it wasn't until I experience the motor on the boat that I actually believed them! The extra 20 horses probably help too.

When this particular motor was fitted, it came with the standard Suzuki analogue gauges. As impressed as I was with the motor, the gauges drove me bananas! I couldn't believe such a modern motor came with such obsolete gauges, even the Yamaha had a set of digital gauges fitted as standard. Luckily there is an alternative, and it wasn't long before I moved up and fitted a set of Garmin GMI-10's.

The GMI-10 is a Marine Instrument Display that plugs directly into an NMEA 2000 bus to display all manner of engine management information on a full colour customisable LCD display. Each GMI-10 features a bright 3.5" QVGA screen in a sleek 4"flush-mount bezel.

I opted to install 2 units on my dash and each can be customised to display different sets of data at the same time. For me, the left hand unit is set up to display engine management information such as RPM, tilt/trim, and fuel remaining. The right hand unit is more for economy data. It displays speed, economy (lts per km), range remaining from fuel and fuel used. But the displays can be set up to show all sorts of data. The data can be displayed as graphics or figues with 1, 2, 3 or 4 sets of data on a single screen. Multiple screens can also be set up on a single display and then easily flipped between with a single button.

The GMI-10 is capable of displaying a whole range of NMEA 2000 information including navigation, weather, fuel and engine management.

Key Features
• GMI 10 digital colour instruments
• Super bright, easy to read colour display
• Fully sunlight viewable and adjustable night mode
• Quick access to important information using preset or custom data pages
• View up to four sets of data on a single screen in digital, gauge or graph styles
• Easy to install to new or existing systems
• NMEA 2000 and NMEA 0183

The GMI-10's have enabled me to establish the best economic running speed for Suzuki D150. Instant feedback on fuel consumption allows me to adjust trim and rpm to best suit the conditions while still giving optimum fuel consumption. I know exactly how much fuel I have used, how much is still in the tank and how far I can go on whats remaining. The following video release by Garmin show the advanced features of the GMI-10

The whole experience of re-powering my rig was, although daunting, a pain free experience. It was made very easy by the experience crew at Townsville Marine. I dropped the boat of one afternoon and picked it up in a few days with all the work completed.

There are many arguments to be had about 2-stroke V's 4-stroke in outboard motors. The biggest argument is the extra cost of the motor compared to the fuel saved. Many argue that it takes years to save the difference in fuel. But for me, it was about the whole boating experience the 4-stroke offeres, not just raw fuel savings. I will probably never recover the cost of the changeover in fuel savings alone. But I now have a motor that is quiet, clean and powerful. I save not only on fuel, but 2-stoke oil that the Yamaha burnt at 1lt per 50lts of fuel. I have doubled the range out of my fuel tank and I will have good resale value later if I decide to sell that boat. Was it worth it? Hell Yes!

If you are considering upgrading your old 2-banger and bolting on a fuel efficient 4-stroke then look no further than the Suzuki range of motors. Suzuki truly is the words best 4-stroke outboard. And Townsville Marine has the largest range of Suzuki 4-stokes in stock in Australia! Go see Emmanuel and team and ask for a quote. And do yourself a favor, get a GMI fitted at the same time. Well worth the investment. 

Tuesday 12 June 2012

Weedbeds are starting to produce

Aftern a morning on The Strand Sunday looking at near perfect conditions in the bay, I decided to take Tania and the boys for a run in the Cruise Craft Monday morning. I had heard reports of the water temp dropping on the weedbeds and bait in good numbers. So I figured the Doggie Mackerel wouldn't be too far away. But when I awoke at 4am Sunday morning it was quite breezy at my place. I didn't feel like waking up 2 kids and a wife to find it was bumpy and not worth going out. Back to sleep. 

Later that morning the wind dropped out and looked like staying that way. So we thought we would head off for the afternoon instead. And it was a good choice too. We left the ramp about 1pm and had good run over to the weedbeds with just a slight wind chop on the water. 

As the sun was still high in the sky we figured the Macks would be deep and spread out. So a couple of hours trolling was in order before setting up a burley trail and putting out baits. We trolled a Lazer Pro and Rapala in QANTAS red/white in about 4m of water off Long Beach. The water clarity was good and the temp was down to about 21ÂșC. 

We got our fair share of Grinner, agressive little buggas, but eventually a Mackerel hit one of the lures. He was only small and hooked in the back. He threw the hooks just out of reach. But I said to Tania "where there is one there will be more, and where there is more there will be bigger ones". It wasn't long after that we had our first hit and run by a decent fish. I slowed the boat but didn't take it out of gear completely (this helps keep tension on the line if the fish runs toward the baot). As I picked up the second rod to bring in the lure another fish hit, double hookup. I passed the rod to Lachy and soon two nice fish were in the boat. We continued to troll and managed to put a third fish in the eski. 

As we had seemed to locate a general area where the fish were holding, we decided it was time to anchor and try the baits. First bait hits the water and I pass the rod to Sebastian to hold. He soon says "I think I'm getting a bite". I turn around and his rod is bent and line is running! He struggled with the fish around the motor and had to hand the rod to me. But once clear it was just a lift and the fish was in. 

We continued with baits for about an hour, but as the tide slowed and topped out we didn't see another fish. One last try at a troll for Dad to catch a fish and we left for home. A beautiful winters afternoon and feed of fish for the week. What more can you ask for! Lets hope we continue to see some calmer weather over the next few months. 

Sunday 10 June 2012

EPIRB Malfuction

Please if one of our readers experienced a malfunctioning EPIRB this morning at approximately 0149hrs, and made a call on VHF 16 to advise it was malfunctioning, could you please take it back to the place of purchase to forward back to the manufacturer. Apparently this beacon (which appears to be unregistered with AMSA) has gone off several times in the last couple of months. It is not your fault but each time it goes off search operations are undertaken, which cost considerable amounts of money.