Monday 3rd February 2014

Tackle specials and angling politics

from Downrigger Shop

Good news from Victoria, where kingfish have returned in a big way. Phil Stephens:



It's time of year when we get kings in vico and downriggers work well!


Yes. Yes, they do, Phil. J We’ve got the numbers up here but that size has been hard to find. Gareth Egan fished out of Port Fairy (western Vic) last Sunday. Good weather saw around two dozen boats jigging Lady Julia Percy Island. The boys scored around 20 averaging 6 kilos, until a great white turned up and spoiled the fun:



Some kings we caught on your jigs



Well done mate and thanks so much, for sending this update. The (always good) Richardson Marine website posting pics of Western Vic kings too. I never thought I’d be saying this but … could you blokes send some of these chunkies up our way???



Good report from Leo in the Apple Isle. Three years ago, (Fed Environment Minister) Garrett banned fishing for makos – then went on six weeks holiday. On return he was forced into a humiliating backdown, one of only two such events in Australia where a greenie minister has had to do a 180:



Hi Andrew, I haven’t got out too much recently but there have already been a few school SBT caught in Tassie. The main catches tho have been mako sharks which have been plentiful. We got the attached (about 60kg) last Monday on a live jack mackerel but there have been boats raising up to 17 sharks a day (blues and makos) up to 250kg. Best landed I’ve seen is a 139, there are a few Junior records now pending. A 9 YO boy got a 73kg on 10kg line last week and an 11YO girl got a 110kg a few weeks back. My mates went yesterday, raised 5 and got a 110kg and a 50kg Mako. Cheers, Leo



Welcome aboard, Mister Tasty! Glad to hear they’re swarming, Leo. Closer to home, and the big news locally is the run of dolphin fish out at the FADs. Andy Muir:



G'day Andy, currently up at Port Stephens, pulled these two out of the minefield wide of Broughton, fish went 11.2 and 9.7kg, they were hanging around for a while and refused all manner of hard bodies and soft plastics before accepting a live slimy.


Live slimy, good choice mate. Team Rayment is having a big season:



G'day Andrew, last weekend we fished the Bill Heyward Memorial Tournament run by Botany Bay GFC. Got some more jig wraps, couple of hooks, DVD and a great catalogue in the boat bag!  Saturday we tagged 7 Mahi Mahi and kept 1 98cm fish.



Sunday afternoon on Avalon we got son James his second Striped Marlin of the season with a fish estimated at 65kg on 15kg tackle.  Wide of Sydney's Northern Beaches the fish was spotted breaking the surface and was soon in our spread smacking lures. Water cobalt blue, 85 fathoms and 24.5 degrees.


So good! If only these howling nor easters would back off we could go chase them, Bruce. Dan Thomas found a nice mahi too:



Hi Andy , Caught this 87cm Dolphin out off the fads today. I was fishing with Mitch, how'd you pull up?


Not as well as you my young friend, but we did enjoy ourselves. Our biggest tackle supplier brought out his new catalogue recently, and I saw he had the light, springy Monel wire type spreader bars newly added to the range. That got me interested, because we used to use them to deadly effect back in the 80s. So interested that I ordered ten, on spec.



We’re all familiar with the spectacle of small pods of bait fish like sauries or gar moving fast and nervously through the danger zone, to escape predators. You see sauries showering out of the water between the 80-fathom line and Browns, all winter. Stand on the Crowdy Head breakwall or the rocks at Charlotte Head in February or March and watch the longtail tuna send small schools of garfish leaping, to escape their attack. The idea was, replicate that, but put a separate bait or lure behind the spreader bar to imitate the weak tail end charlie, trailing the school. We made a half hearted attempt at this project last year, using a welded stainless bar set up I bought from Mo Tackle. That one didn’t work because the heavy bar makes too much splash and drag and distracts from the lures, which should be the focus. Note that these ones have a hook in the last squid and are technically a lure:



Not being sure if the idea would work, we kicked off in the usual way with a live bait session at The Fridge.



Slimies and yakkas swarming, as they have been all summer, and it didn’t take long to fill the tank. Next stop Nielsen Park, and as soon as we arrived these chaps netted what looked like a nice one nearby:



Then they proudly displayed this king, taken off the downrigger soon after:



That got us motivated, but as it turned out we were unable to copy their success. Matt from Raptor Charters sent a pic by SMS showing the new 100 gram jigs were delivering the goods up at Long Reef so we shot up there, to join him.


Kingfish were swarming, but we were having trouble finding keeper size models. After a few small ones had been boated and the pressure was backing off, it was time to give the spreader bar a try. The bar is about one metre long. From each end, and from the centre point, heavy crimped mono is strung and then, large lures (no hook) are crimped onto the line. This setup flips and buzzes along the surface looking for all the world like a school of garfish caught in a place they really don’t want to be. I unclipped the downrigger weight, attached the bar, and it back maybe 15 metres, behind the boat.   Then rigged a garfish on a top water Head Start, and fed that back too, so it was popping and fizzing a couple of metres behind the spreader bar.



Lastly, dropped the rod in the downrigger rod holder. The results were just incredible. Kingfish – as far as I know, all small – hitting the garfish, the lures, nonstop. I don’t want to get over excited about what happened, because we only tried it for thirty minutes or so. But in that time, dozens of strikes. Many missed hits on the Head Start, probably because only a small part of a single hook is exposed. Replacing that with a 6x VMC treble and trying again next week, to double check this is a workable method. But there’s no denying the kingfish went nuts about it and as we all know surface strikes on popping lures are hella exciting to watch. We then jigged the Coolooli wreck with 100 grammers, plenty there but again, nothing big:







But I’ve ordered more by air courier. At $55 each plus postage, they’re well priced. Check this out, pretty spectacular, giant Pacific blues hitting dehooked spreader bars. Reduce the size of the spreader bar by 50%, and the size of the fish by 95%, and this is what we saw at Long Reef:



What would the weekly trip report be, without a boat ramp disaster pic? Matt Prior on the spot, Saturday 1st February:



Hey Andy went downrigging in the harbour today with a fella from work we didn't do any good but we were loading the boat back on the trailer at Wharf Road (Ermington/Ryde) when this happened right next to us felt sorry for the poor fella



Blimey. A warning to us all. Further north, and Cary Thompson found nice pearlies offshore:



Hi Andrew, Noel Ingold and I caught some good Pearl Perch last weekend off Nambucca Heads(I’m on the right.) Keep up the good work re the fight against bureaucratic idiots and those “Greenie terrorists”


You bet I will, Cary! Paul Smith had a good morning in SEQ:



Hi Andrew, I thought I’d give you little 3 kg outfit a go on spotty mackerel up on the Gold Coast but got a surprise with this 6kg Spaniard. Your little 3kg outfit never missed a beat.


Blimey, I’ll bet that light stick was bending! Thanks so much for the review, Paul. Andy Wily got the same reel for his son James for Christmas, but matched it with a Gomoku rod. Here’s the lad giving it a workout on a striped tuna in New Zealand:



Bryan’s been trying our Rapala Jig Day/Daiwa 4500T combo on some tough speedsters:



Jay and myself out having fun on a magic day chasing the mack-tuna with whales all around also.



Excellent. Very jealous of those sea conditions, Bryan. Ben Foster found sambos inside the Harbour. I know they are not everyone’s favourite but I reckon they’re a top sport fish.



Hey Andy, on the salmon front, I would have thought the water was a bit warm too, but they are there and great fun on micro jigs!


That’s amazing, in 24 degree water Ben. Latest edition of the always-good 'Boat Mag' out now - including an article from yours truly, on how to fish Brown's Mountain:




Bluey has a big one off Forster. There's a 17 and a 14 kilo bar cod in this catch:



Hi Andrew just a few pix from the weekend. Used your in house 24kg bent butt rods they preformed excellent (will be in contact to order a couple more), thanks Bluey Williams


Please do, Bluey. Steve Lee’s mate used one on a mahi on their recent boat delivery too:



Here’s Jeremy loading up our 20W game fishing combo:



$385 for rod, reel and line, or $130 for the rod alone. Note that the rod can be mailed so it’s not expensive to deliver.



To politics, and regular readers know of my utter contempt for the two NSW government ministers that affect our sport the most. That is, Fisheries Minister Katrina Hodgkinson and Maritime Minister Duncan Gay. The reason I get so cranky with these two is that so many promises were made to the fishing fraternity in exchange for our votes at the last State election. And ever since we have been treated like an ATM, by Gay in particular. NSW estuaries are full of rotting unused boats, while hundreds of boaties wait years for a mooring:



Maritime officers have been turned into parking police, with the sole mission of raising as much revenue as possible for Government coffers. But what really amps me up is the refusal to provide the facilities we pay for – in particular, boat ramps.


In previous reports we’ve covered the shocking state of so many NSW boat ramps, especially those in holiday areas. Little Beach ramp, at Port Stephens, with tonnes of scraped sand piled next to it, but the ramp still unable to be used for launching. Laggers Point ramp at South West Rocks, arbitrarily closed by the local Parkies, meaning a white knuckle ride over the notorious Macleay Bar. And now, Coffs Harbour, the largest city between Newcastle and Brisbane and arguably the most popular holiday destination on the NSW north coast. Our Man in Banana Land Jim Fleming sends an eye witness report:



Typical Council reaction .... Do nothing but put up warning signs!



But these poor guys are waiting .....



1 hour before the low.  Boats are cueing up waiting to get back in To the Coffs Ramp.  Jim


Local MP Andrew Fraser checked in on our Facebook page with some news:


Andrew Fraser $1million was made available to CHCC by Minister Gay and the NSW Gov on 16th Decembe rafter consistent reps by myself on behalf of local fishers to rectify this ongoing problem.It is now up to council and others to get on with the job urgently to avoid possible injury or death.


But not before a boat was lost on the bar:



The owner of the boat checked in on our Facebook page too. Here’s the full story:




Jim cynical and angry – deservedly so – about Coffs Harbour Council incompetence. They have the money, but won’t fix the problem. The word about this shocking and dangerous ramp has spread through the boating fraternity, meaning holidaymakers are taking their dollars elsewhere. Jim writes:


Ha ha ..... Already spent 2 x $60k grants on investigations into a remedy.... the big question at the moment is .... How did the council let the sand build up get this bad?? They purchased a long reach excavator expressly to combat this sand build up! Yet they do nothing until it gets so bad that the facility is unusable!! Ineptitude and Incompetence reign supreme at Coffs Harbour City Council. As Derryn Hinch would say Shame Shame Shame


Who’s to blame for the loss of Nick’s boat and the cost to Coffs tourism? I’m writing – politely – to each Councillor this week, to ask them for comment. Will have an update in next week’s report. In closing, can I thank once again the readers who are generous enough to send in the pics and reports we all enjoy reading? Thanks lads, we’re in your debt. Cheers,


Andrew Hestelow

Managing Director