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Fly Fishing

Chasing Golden Trevalley on the Magnetic Island flats.


Enjoying one of the many beautiful beaches of Magnetic Island.

Thursday 20 March 2014

Jacks & JP on Surface

Last Saturday Andrew and I decided to take advantage of the early morning Spring high tide and head up the back of one of the local creeks to chase Jacks on surface lures. With recent rains we predicted reasonable amounts of clean freshwater to be pushing well down the system. This is a great time to be able to get a small boat well up into the top the systems, where Jacks and JP love to sit amongst the structure ambushing anything that lands on the surface of the water!

We left early and decided to run the boat out the mouth of the creek and drop some Threadybusters over the shoals while the tide was still making. High tide wasn't until almost 8.30am, so the early start got us a hour or so on these marks before having to run the length of the river. But despite some quality markings on the sounder we only managed a couple of small Trevors and Cod.

As the tide topped out we ran the boat well up-stream. Finding the water clearing considerably we pulled out of gear and deployed the electric. Even though the tide was still running in, the surface water was running out with freshwater on top.

The water looked great, clean and green! And it didn't take long before we had our first enquiries. A couple of nervous misses as fish smashed the surface lures, sending them flying back, has us guessing the species of the culprit! But a few more casts and eventually the hooks stuck and Andrew was connected. It turned out to be a small school or Tarpon working a pressure point where the current was hitting an underwater rock. We caught an release a couple for fun before moving on in search of the target species.

The next fish that took an interest in our surface lures took us completely by surprise. Both Andrew and I put perfect casts into a set of sticks on the corner of the bank. Both lures hooked up almost instantly and a nice little pair of JP (Jungle Perch) were led from their cover. Behind them was a full school of fish in panic mode as their mates were lifted aboard. JP are a spectacular fish to see and a bit of a rarity to most anglers. We were both more than happy to see and photograph this pair!

As we progressed up the creek against the falling tide we saw literally dozens of fish. At times we had as many as 6 or 7 Jacks chasing after our lures. And we spotted more JP than I have ever seen in this creek. But, despite our every effort, getting them to take the lure was incredibly frustrating! Don't get me wrong, we caught plenty of fish and had a blast, but for the number of follows and fish spotted there were not many that actually had a go at the lures. At one point we even tried some small diving minnows and spinner-baits, just in an attempt to get the lures down to the fish. Most of the fish were small, but a couple of 40cm+ Jacks racing after lures sure got the heart racing!

By lunchtime the water was dropping fast and we had to get out before becoming stuck on the low tide. It was hot and the bit had slowed anyway. It was a very enjoyable morning on the water.

The trick to this type of surface fishing it to use small 'walker' style lures on light lines. The 'walk the dog' action of these surface lures is far more successful than the more common 'bloop' action. I fished with my Stella 1000fe and T-Curve 661, while Andrew had a go with my Sustain 1000fe on the same model rod. Despite both reels being spooled with relatively heavy 8lb PowerPro (well, heavy for this type of fishing anyway), light 6lb flurocarbon leaders present the lures to the fish nicely. But even lighter 4lb braid would make casting the very light lures even easier.

Below is a video clip cut together from the best footage of the session. If you enjoy the video please subscribe to our YouTube Channel. This video is best viewed in full screen as many of the surface takes and follows are hard to see.