Saturday 4th April 2015

Tackle specials and angling politics

from Downrigger Shop

Mackerel run still hot, on the NSW north coast. Phil starts his day at Scotts Head:



Gday Andy, we found some fish today 2 Spanish and 1 spotty, dropped 2 and got towed around the ocean for an hour or so by what was probably a large hammerhead. Paul was hurting all over and I think secretly glad when he broke off. I got the 2 Spanish on the graphite 7ft spin rod with the SeaSide 5000 eggbeater, what a great combo that is!



That’s a good one. The mackerel run from Queensland roaring back, in the same way the bluefin run from the Bight roared back. Which is why so many top reports have come in this week from the NSW mid north coast. Here’s Alan Goggin, at Coffs:



HI Andrew, another fish on the board for the headstarts on Friday morning! This time it was a Spotty on the blue one and while i was dealing with it yakside i threw out a pilly on a set of ganghooks and picked up the Spanish. Exciting fight on 20lb leader and no wire


‘Yakside’, lerv it. Brad Plummer’s extra cute daughter impressed with his Spaniard:



Hey Andy the head starts are working a treat up here at Coffs Harbour, can't wait for my next delivery, got two hits for two fish on them and lost another on a chin weighted Sauri


Glad to hear that Brad. Sauris worked for me too. Peter Catton sends an old pic. Catching one this big off at Steep Point ain’t easy:



Snap…………the attached fish was caught off the stones in Carnarvon WA back in the 80’s, on an Alvey with a 4kg tailor for bait and a green garbo bag as a balloon…….still the biggest I’ve seen.


Gold. Your ANSA cap a classic too, Peter. Kevin Collins sends a pic of a giant Whitsundays mackerel, after viewing the 27.3 kilo model in last week’s email report. What a brute this one is:



Have to say that Mack looks a bit better than 27.3 kg (maybe that was gutted and gilled)….

however, as to picture of a really big mack (attached) a fish just on 42kg caught up here last season.


Incredible. Would you believe I’ve been sent a pic of another one the same size, Kev? Here’s Col Prince from Oz Fish Productions:



Hi Andrew, all the photos of big Mackies brought back memories of a 42KG spaniard we caught of my charter boat a number of years ago ( I know it was along time ago as my hair has a lot more grey in it now) see attached. the lady in the picture caught it with a little help from me. I actually picked the rod up and handed it over to her. If i had landed it, it would have beaten the mens world record by half a kilo at the time (10kg line class) and if the lady had landed her self it would have blitzed the womens world record which stood at 28kg at the time…. it was caught off Dampier , WA there is normally a run of big Mackies late September early October. Heres a tip, all of the big Mackies we have caught (over 30kg) have been caught on live trevally between 1-2 kg another great bait if you can get them is Watson's Leaping Bonito.


That’s a good tip, there’s some Watson’s bonito where I’m fishing now, Col. Boating, and Jan, Our Man in the Sand in Oman, sends a jaw dropping pic:



Hi Andrew, look at this boat in our  Marina . Its here from Saudi Arabia for 5 weeks to catch Tuna and Marlin. She is 110 ft long.


Gee willikers, as my sister used to say. Here’s the Downunder version, made from PVC pipe. Thanks, Marten Eadie:



G'day Andy, check out this kingy slayer I came across at my local boat ramp today. Not sure what the maximum downrigger weight would be but wouldn't think it would be much!


Is that a wetsuit he’s wearing? Good call. In the last report I mentioned an encounter with assorted regulatory agencies at The Peak. They boarded my boat and found an outrageous breach of regulations – no rope tied to the handle on our bailing bucket. Now a reader sends a written warning given to him out there that day. Paper charts – when we were six miles out and in view of the coast?



Anyway, I have marine charts for our readers which can be sent by email. Meaning you could print them out on an A4 page and – I assume – be covered. These are Australian Nautical Charts, 3-4 meg TIF files, expandable and printable. Available for the whole of Australia. If you want one (or maximum two) here’s how to get them.


1.  Figure out which one you need and locate the AUS number which identifies it. That’s not hard, here’s how: go to your search engine and type in, ‘nautical chart (your area) AUS.’ So for instance, ‘nautical chart coffs harbor AUS’ brings up AUS 220;


2.  Send me an email with the number. Not a PM or SMS;


3. I’ll send your chart.



I headed back to Scotts Head last weekend, following a top trip earlier in March. In between visits I was trying to figure out an answer to the main problem this season – finding live bait. On the Facebook page some wise old heads (Matt L and John Holt) suggested using IQF Pacific sauries, instead of garfish:



Super interested because I was fed up with washed out frozen service station garfish, but had no time to get some quality gar from the markets. Scored some IQF sauries at a nearby Asian supermarket and rigged them up, ahead of the trip. Single 6x VMC treble on 40-pound twist weld wire, with a crimped split shot to hold the Head Start in place. You need wire to protect against mackerel choppers but it’s gotta be flexible, so as not to restrict the bait’s movement:



How to page: here


North coast fisho and regular contributor Marc Sams developed an interesting variant.

Sauri on ganged hooks, with a stopper split shot in front of the Head Start:



G'day Andrew, I had a look at your head start rig for pacific sauri yesterday and thought there was room for improvement. I added a pink squid. I hope it helps.


Thanks Marc. And if anyone else has rigging ideas, let’s hear ‘em. Down at Scotts Head ramp last Saturday and onto Phil’s tinnie:



First stop the bait grounds, where we managed two slimies and six pike. A live pike on a three hook mono wire rig set fifteen metres down, off the downrigger. Not long to wait and it got some attention. Check this 16 second downrigger video out? It’s a busy world down there:



We hooked up soon after:



I was busting to try the Head Start sauri brought all the way from Sydney:



It worked:



Great day on the water, and thanks to Phil and Goldie. Can’t wait to do it all again. To tackle, and shipping manager Tim says we have way too much bulky stock taking up space in the warehouse. Meaning when the April shipment arrives we’ll be packed to the rafters. He’s cooked up an Easter special, the best offer we’ve ever done. Here it is:


  • 1 x 7mm neoprene fish chiller bag (RRP: $59)
  • 1 x combination spotlight/camp lantern (RRP: $27)
  • 1 x lockable dry box (RRP: $25)
  • $110 value, for $65 – including delivery to Sydney!



Extra $10 postage, to Brisbane or Melbourne. That’s three fantastic bits of outdoor gear for half the (already discounted) price. Note that you could add jigs or braid to this package with no postage required. Call with your details to order, or send an email if you’d like a Paypal request?


 News of the Weird and how crazy is this? ‘He took beer, but no water’:



Lots of interest on the Facebook page, about this better-than-new Jet rescue boat renovation:


jet boat


Expensive? Yes. But you could fish out of widowmaker bars like Wonboyn and Brunswick Heads, in this go anywhere bullet. Here’s the link:


Fitz has been checking out those drug runner boats with multi outboard setups used for outrunning the law. He’s decided to do the same thing with his crabbing tinny:



Mackerel aren’t the only fish firing at the moment. Andrew Westlake out from Warrnambool last Sunday, finding blue & gold:



Only a rat but still a tuna kingfish double. Stumbled across the Kings in the middle of nowhere and they latched onto the tuna lures as we went past at 7 knots.  Two tuna and three kings made for a nice day out.


Too right they do, Westy. Looking at that golden light reminds me – autumn’s here. Further south, and Leo writes from the new home of Australian gamefishing – Tasmania. Here’s last weekend:



Hi Andrew, on top of our sword the boys down south got a heap of big tuna. I heard of a mate getting 3 x 50 to 60kg, another guy getting his junior sons a 45 and 48kg (on 15), another got a 57, plenty others 30 to 50 and a mate got a 112kg.


And here’s this week. Bleedin’ heck, what a horse:



Hi Andrew, we didn't get out recently but the place is on fire. 9 jumbo SBT landed since Monday up to 134 kilos including 4 today. Also a 172 kg sword and Albies are still there; one going 29kg. Also, still makos being caught too! Hopefully out next week! Cheers, Leo


Good luck ol buddy and keep these top reports coming. Our Man in the Sand in Oman sends a report on the yellowfin tournament held there last weekend. Persian Gulf has good tuna too:



Hi Andrew, we had a competition yesterday. These are some of the Tunas that came out yesterday  Today ( Saturday ) are going to be better. Will keep you informed. Regards Jan


Please do Jan and good to hear from you, as always. Matt Lowraway starting his son and heir early. Good on you, Dad:



My little man on fire at husky boat ramp Feeding the bull Rays and landing 3 times his age in fish today Very chuffed with himself He’ll be setting the spread for marlin and tuna on the Noosacat before I know it!


Good plan. I used to say to my two boys, ‘keep pumping that burley pot if you want to stay in my will.’ Harsh? Maybe. Effective? Definitely. Rahmi’s rod pod and bite alarms delivering the goods in Victoria. I’ve often wondered why almost no-one’s trying these on jewfish, here in Sydney? You’d think they’d be ideal on the wharves at night:



Here is a 78 cm Jewfish I caught the other night on live mullet. The pod worked a treat. Loving the night fishing again the pod has made all the difference...


Thanks, Rahmi. Keep us posted on any and all developments because you’re in new territory using a rod pod, to catch jewfish.


To politics, and the greatest change in NSW fisheries I've seen in 35 years offshore has been the collapse in the stock of striped and yellowfin tuna. My estimate is numbers are now around 2% of what we saw, back in the 1970s. Here's where 44,000 tonnes of *our* tuna go, every year. This filthy scow is leaving Honiara harbor in the Solomons for a week or two of longlining Australian tuna in the Coral Sea:



Here’s the history of the Solomon Islands tuna fishery. It makes for sorry reading:


Foreign fishing companies bribe PNG and Solomons officials to fish the waters between those countries, and Australia. PNG rates 145th out of 175 countries on the Corruption Index, the Solomons similar. Here’s more: 100 Solomon Officials Involved In Tuna License Corruption


The tuna companies know fish stocks are in free fall and want to get as much as they can, before the fishery collapses. They treat the islands with contempt. Here’s two abandoned tuna boats sunk at their moorings in Honiara harbor:



The important thing to know to know about the theft of Australian tuna is that it’s all happened before – with southern bluefin. Here’s the sorry story on that. Keep in mind, that while Japanese and Korean fleets were stealing $8 billion of Australian tuna the Australian Fisheries Management Authority claimed they were carefully scrutinizing each boat – with onboard observers:


So what’s to be done? We know AFMA are useless, just as they were with the bluefin scandal. On the positive side, if the rape of the fishery can be stopped, yellowfin numbers could rebound just as fast as bluefin numbers did. In a few short years we could once again have a world class yellowfin tuna fishery, like they do off Mexico:



But first we have to get rid of the grotty tubs destroying our resource at a rate of 44,000 tonnes per year. And that’s official figures:



The answer’s obvious. Australia provides over 70% of the Solomons foreign aid, each year. Those grants must be tied to reform of their corrupt tuna fishing industry. Corrupt officials – most of whom are known – must be dismissed: read


And the licensed boat numbers slashed. Otherwise, the aid tap gets turned off. Appreciate any feedback on this topic our readers might care to share? And appreciate even more those good hearted readers who send in the reports we all enjoy. Until next week,


Andrew Hestelow

Managing Director