Thursday 23rd April

Tackle specials and angling politics

from Downrigger Shop

We kick off the report with Steve W’s major milestone, last weekend:



Andy here is a pic of a little stripe i picked up today on the shelf from Sydney. First for my boat, water went 22.8. on a lumo sprocket


Well done Steve, beautiful fish. Mate, you were very lucky to get offshore before the shocking weather we’ve suffered this week arrived. So was I, on Friday:



We launched at 7:00AM and headed down Middle Harbour, ready for a big one. I'd packed plenty of frozen bait because scoring live bait recently has been a nightmare, for us anyway. The reason being that juvenile kingies are all over the bait reefs, making our preferred bait – small live yellowtail - too scared, to bite. But because it was both overcast and high tide, (prime live bait conditions) I figured a drop on Cammeray wreck was worth the effort. Dead wrong, the kingies were in charge:



On to the Artificial Reef. On the way, passed this sorry sight. High, dry, and battered, on South Head rocks.

Crikey some blokes get themselves into strife:



A nasty backwash off the cliffs, making close-in jigging difficult. So we headed wider, hoping deeper water would make the lumpy seas abate. Passed two long liners heading in. I'm guessing they didn't want to be offshore this week:



Trolled all the way to the Peak without result, but on arrival a few boats on station. That was encouraging because with kingies it’s either feast or famine. If you get a known spot and no other boats are there it means the kings aren’t there either. The sounder screen encouraging too:



Down went the jigs and we were into them:




Six kilo light jig combo made every king feel like a Tairua greenback, but I didn’t ping one fish. Which was a refreshing change:



Not huge kings but all legal. A hit or hookup on most drifts:



A word on light jigging. I’m using our $170 light combo with 6 kilo line, and having a ball on 65-75cm kingfish. Yes, they take twice as long as usual jigging gear, but give twice the fun. The key is a slow action rod that absorbs the shock, and a reel with a super smooth drag. Carbontex washers essential:



6 kilo line and 3000 size reels might sound crazy, but it’s important to remember that the deeper you go, the lighter the jigging tackle needed. It’s the shallower inshore spots like Long Reef, the Coolooli, the Annie Miller and the Artificial where a big tug-of-war is required to keep the fish from the sharp stuff. To the best of my knowledge, deeper reefs like Twelve Mile and the Peak have no exposed rock at all.



Every few years out there we snag a piece of the reef on a jig hook and wind it up. It’s soft pink coral but if you push hard with your thumb a mark will indent on the surface. Having said that, there is a lot of trash on the bottom. Ropes, anchors, snagged tackle and the like. But that hasn’t given me a lot of trouble. If there is a downside it’s that landing fish on the light gear takes longer, and it’s quite normal to drift off the mark during the fight. Meaning the rest of the crew can’t fish until your fish is boated. A bit of consideration fixes that one. Either don’t bring out the light gear until everyone’s got a few aboard, or only use the light gear when drift direction and speed keeps you over the strike zone, for an extended period of time. Here’s more:


Back to the Peak and Chris feeling a bit off colour, not up to jigging. On the previous trip we jigged a cuttlefish, and I’d put a big frozen candle from him in the esky:



Dropped to the bottom and cranked up ten metres produced results for the man:



Kings, bonito, giant LJs and a teraglin all hit the cuttle strips:



What a great morning, hankering to go again. Inside the heads and Michael Gates takes his daughter out on Lake Macquarie:



a piccy of my daughter with a nice 55cm flathead on a hardbody with retro fitted singles.


Just scary how fast she’s growing, Gatesy! Pete Hodgkins bassing, before the rain hit:



Hi andy had a fun session on the bass this arvo near kiama! Me n my brother pumped a heap of nippers and hit the brackish for some nice fish,the best going about 40cm


You’ve heard of Black Hawk Down? Fraser Island, Black Merc Down:



Bill Stroulios asked me to mention his paintings. Happy to do that:



The marlin is all aerosol on canvas measuring 150x70 cm , was asking $300-$350 all original and one off.

The trevally measures 120 x 85 cm, $160-$200 all aerosol and one off original!

I personally think they could be sold for lots more being canvas art, but I've placed my prices at bare minimum!

Get in touch with me at "paintstainedhandz (at) gmail" if anyone would like a custom canvas or to discuss sales.



Trevor J  jigging kingfish east of Moreton Island last Sunday. It’s only been six days since the trip above but I’m already suffering the pains of jigging withdrawal syndrome (JWS):



Hi Andrew, I took some mates from work off and about Moreton last weekend.  Saturday was too rough for offshore so we fished inside. Sunday morning passing a swamped/flipped 4.6 platey we went offshore for some kingies and pearlies.



The guys aboard the sinker were swamped trying to get out predawn and met some waves at Moreton Comboyuro Point – just shaken up not hurt – the boat righted and towed ashore.  Our boys had a good time offshore fishing for kings and we got our bag with bait and jigs and double and triple hook-ups.



Sounds great Trev! Now mate I am already thinking about another Hervey Bay run in November. What about we put together a few boats? On that topic I’m hearing the boating market is flatlining, no pulse detected. Having said that, some clients are ordering beautiful machines. Here’s Pat Little’s new weapon:



Andrew, hows it going?  Picked up a new boat last week. 6.1 Origin (built by Col Svessen)



Seething with uncontrollable jealousy, Pat! Can’t wait to hear what she delivers for you. To tackle, and John V needs a powerful spotlight for coming back in over north coast bars – at night. We’ve got just the thing:



35 Watt HID hand held spotlight with internal ballast. Pistol grip, cigarette lighter plug, shoulder strap and tab connectors for portable battery. Trigger lock, adjustable stand, weight 750 grams. Gold anodising looks great. If you’re not familiar with HID, they make all other spotlights obsolete. These give a long piercing beam extending hundreds of metres into the night. Price, $90. Should also mention we have this $39 12V 7 amp battery which comes with car and home chargers plus canvas bag strap. The spotlight above plugs straight in to the socket shown below, meaning you can easily move the light from boat to car to home:



HID spotlights are a fantastic bit of gear. Stewart has a question:



Good evening Andrew, could you please recommend a top quality all round spinning reel suitable for Barra , snapper, red emperor, cobia etc. Thanks.


In the past tackle quality was closely connected to both price and brand name. But because so much gear – including those big brand names, is now made by OEM manufacturers, that’s no longer a rule.


We have two ways of deciding what tackle to range. Firstly, because so many clients want to visit on weekends, I can pretty much only fish mid-week. So for crew I’m often joined by blokes who are in the business and work in tackle stores. They work on weekends too. They give me prime intel on what techniques are trending amongst keener fishos (like micro jigging, when it started) and what gear does the job best. Because they’re young guys they want good value for money and are more interested in results, than prestige. As I always say, at the end of the day, it’s about the fish you catch. Not the tackle you use.


Having said all that, you can’t cut corners on quality. Which is why we source reels from factories who manufacture for the big brands and can supply those items unbranded to us, or from overseas manufacturers whose Australian distributor doesn’t do much with their products. In the case of the reel I’m recommending both factors come into play. Firstly, a client put me onto the brand. I knew Ryobi already, because they were huge when I was younger. But then they sorta dropped off the radar after making a successful move into power tools. As you would know they have dozens of good products in your local Bunnings. But they are still making top quality well priced fishing tackle too. From my personal experience – only a few reels, but hard fished – I’ve found them every bit as good as Daiwa or Shimano.



This one is the Ryobi Ecusima 8000vi. Spooled with 190m x 50-pound colour change braid. Gear ratio 5:1 and 9 kilos of drag, but weighs only 550 grams. 7 ball bearings and a factory installed power knob which fills the hand and feels really comfortable – plus, it looks great. Reel and line $145. You can’t beat it for quality and value, but most importantly it’s passed every test on our boat with flying colours. Points south, and Leo ‘Mr Unstoppable’ Miller sent a red hot Tasmanian update on Saturday:



Hi Andrew, we're chasing tuna tomorrow, swords Monday. In brief jumbos still being taken everyday, one boat got 3 on tues! Today young Chloe (14) got a 121 and the vic boat got their 2nd sword!


Further afield, and I hear some pretty shocking stories about fishing the South Pacific. ET catching malaria in PNG. A week of 30 knot winds wrecks a jigging safari, in NZ. Darryl coming back from the Solomons (two months ago) with dengue fever. I reckon Bali is, in many cases, a way better option. Mark Way:



My Balinese mate who owns Mataharri Bungalows in Kuta, has just been on a fishing trip to the Island of Sumba (also good surf there!) and had some great fishing using poppers and jigs mainly on GTs



Jan (Our Man In The Sand in Oman) reports a red hot day offshore. That’s his gigantic catamaran centre console, on the right:



Hi Andrew, went out today (Thursday) and caught

1 x Tuna  lost   2

1 x Barracuda lost 3

13 x Dorado  Lost 4 .


So good! Jan is just as generous with his fishing as he is with reports and has offered to take any of our readers passing through Oman (Dubai) out fishing. Get in touch if you need his contact details?


To politics, and instead of our usual greenie monitoring we have something just as important this week – a story of offshore disaster. Everyone afloat can learn from this one. And really it is political, because the agencies charged with ensuring public safety were nowhere to be found when needed, this time. Note – I’ve had to edit it in a minor way, for length.



Brett a former water policeman and now a paramedic, had arranged with his friend Ian to paddle into the lee of Barrenjoey headland to experience the mountainous seas being swept up the coast by 30-knot winds. He was well prepared with a lifejacket, a bailing bucket, two floating torches and a mobile phone waterproofed inside two zip lock plastic bags. The tide would be coming in, so any difficulties would be ameliorated by the incoming tide. They anticipated that if swamped the tide would sweep them into the safer and calmer waters of Pittwater. However unbeknownst to them, a freshwater flood from weeks of heavy rain had led to the opening of the floodgates of Warragamba dam.  The lighter freshwater ignored the sea and continued to flow over the incoming tide. This was the miscalculation that had placed Brett’s life in jeopardy.


They had arranged to meet on the beach behind Barrenjoey headland at 4:30 pm but Ian had not been able to rendezvous till six. When Brett objected that it was too late, Ian responded that it was Daylight saving time with plenty of light left and persuaded Brett to join him. So they ventured out, Brett in his river kayak and Ian in his 5.5 m touring kayak.  They paddled past a couple of fishermen anchored in calm water on the inner end of Barrenjoey and headed for the excitement of the monstrous waves.




As they paddled seawards, the seas began to stand up steeply and close together. The strong outgoing water flow was causing the incoming seas to stand up while the crests were being compressed together. This type of sea is very dangerous. It was not long before Ian, oblivious to the strong current, was swept beyond the headland into dangerous water where he was capsized. Brett, better prepared and carrying a bailer, paddled to his stricken friend and helped him bail the canoe. Ian re-entered and began to paddle to safety. With each steep wave the kayak accelerated and the nose bit into the water and tried to turn and capsize the kayak (broaching). Desperate to avoid another capsize Ian paddled with great care and anxiety while attempting to keep an eye on Brett. But looking behind when Brett was hidden from view by the gigantic waves most of the time made this difficult. When Ian had made it to the calm end of Barrenjoey, he stood on submerged rocks and lifted the kayak above his head to empty it.


Shortly after helping Ian, Brett had turned his canoe into the wind and capsized as he was turning in. Now it was his turn to recover. However his attempts to re-enter the canoe were constantly frustrated by swamping in the steep seas. After half an hour of failed attempts but without too much concern he decided to contact rescue authorities. He had been a member of the water police, is a volunteer member of the marine water rescue, and a paramedic. The police and the ambulance service had helicopters, and, the police and marine rescue had seaworthy rescue craft. Rescue, he assumed, should not be too far away.


So it was that on Saturday second of March 2013 at 7:30 in the evening, while there was still light, Brett phoned his wife. He asked her to phone Emergency on triple zero and inform them of his predicament. She contacted Emergency as well as a friend who put out a Mayday call on his boat radio. Desperate, seasick and tired, Brett again called his wife at five past eight as it was getting dark, to explain his precarious situation.

The night had blackened with unusually low dark cloud making it too dangerous for the police helicopter to venture out. To add to the dilemma the police boat crew found themselves on a land job in Gosford, miles away, and unavailable to man the rescue boat.  The marine rescue boat was not alerted till later. So Brett continued to drift out to sea with no immediate hope of rescue.


Ian standing on the submerged rock at Barrenjoey searched for his friend. He could just see him in the distance swamped and struggling to get into his kayak. Now he realised that the situation was desperate. Not confident that he could survive the sea conditions and aware that to rescue Brett would be impossible, he paddled over to the fishermen, Peter Stofka and John Rule and asked them if they could rescue his friend.


 It was getting dark as Peter and John pulled up anchor and headed out. The seas were rougher than anticipated so Peter took special care negotiating them. Even so, at one stage the boat breasted a wave and fell off the other side. Without the stabilty of the sea the boat landed on its side. After some time looking back and forth, and a near broach on an outsize wave John told Peter; “The boat is not handling these condiditons, there’s no point in three being lost out here let’s go back.” They called emergency three times on triple-0 but in the confusion were asked each time for the nearest street corner to the position of the distressed person. This was not encouraging so John was relieved when he noticed a boat approaching and assumed it was Marine Rescue. Peter corrected him; “No, I think it is Mitchell.”


Mitchell’s boat ‘Chillin.’ Mitchell’s airconditioning company is “Licenced to Chill”


Twenty nine year old Mitchell Burge in his 5.5 m deep vee launch belonged to the same fishing club (Hornsby-Kuringai) as Peter and John. Mitchell was fishing for Whiting in Smiths creek about 15 km upriver. Intrigued by the clutter on the marine radio he worried that a member of his club may have struck trouble. He upped anchor and motored to the mouth of the river and talked to Peter and John. John was able to report the missing kayak and that he thought he had seen a light near a well known under water shipwreck. A challenge such as this excited Mitchell who decided to attempt a rescue. He warned his friend Mark of the peril they might be in and offered him the opportunity to leave the boat, as he had a wife and child to look after. Mark declined the offer so they carefully planned the rescue. Mitchell’s boat was larger and heavier with a more seakindly shape and they thought it might be able to handle the conditions. Peter had confidence in Mitchell and told him: “ Mitchell, this bloke’s life depends on you.”

The low stern of the boat helps land more than game fish. Mitchell is standing.


Brett had now been missing for over an hour and it was necessary to estimate where he might be. How fast was the current flowing and in which direction. So they removed the side covers to reduce the wind effect and allow the current to hold most sway. Then they motored to the area of the shipwreck and cut the motor. Mitchells boat was a deep vee craft and so was deep enough in the water to be influenced by the current more than the wind. As well, when between the 6 metre crests the wind became almost dead. Without a usable timing device, Mitchell turned on his sound system and listened to “November Rain” by Guns and Roses. He knew this song lasted about seven and a half minutes, so he plotted his speed and direction of drift for the duration of the song. From this he was able to make an estimate of Brett’s position, about four and a half nautical miles ENE of his starting point. This position he plotted on the chart and began to motor to it while the morale boosting sound of Guns and Roses blasted in competition with the crashing seas. Slowed by the seas, they advanced realising their method of estimating Brett’s position was “far fetched” but it was the only hope.



Brett vomited copiously as he drifted out to sea clinging to his swamped craft. Each time he reached the top of a swell he flashed his torch around. At last, after one and a half hours, he saw the lights of Mitchell’s boat and directed his torch at it. He waited in hope for some time, could they see the torch? Finally Mitchell stopped the boat in the plotted position with all lights off for a determined look. After some minutes and by a miracle they spotted the tiny flash of Brett’s torch about 500 metres distant. They thanked the very dark night for highlighting this miserable beacon. “That must be him.” Said Mitchell, so they motored in the direction of the light. As they, at last, sighted the lost soul, a feeling of triumph embraced Mitchell and Mark. Brett on the other hand was engulfed with feelings of relief, hope and gratitude  as the boat closed.


But now it seemed after all their effort their troubles had just begun. The boat bucked and reared and crashed down in the turbulent seas. For one instant the boat was above Brett by several metres and in the next it was below him by the same amount. In another instant the boat alongside Brett would be swept forty feet away by an unseen wave. Without due care or by accident the boat could crash down on Brett and kill him. Mitchell joked; “Mark, if we kill him we might as well say we couldn’t find him.” A problem arose when one of his manoeuvres happened to bring the bow in close proximity to Brett.


Life is never so sweet as when you are about to lose it. When the bow sunk into an oncoming wave Brett wrapped his arms around the pulpit and clung on fiercely. Now Mitchell had a problem, he could not land Brett from the bow and Brett’s weight created a safety problem, as the bow could not rise readily to the waves they could not see approaching. Now all Mitchell’s assertiveness and persuasion was needed to overcome Brett’s deep-seated survival instinct. Mitchell begged and pleaded for Brett to let go. After promising to stay till Brett was recovered, Brett let go.

What to do next? Motoring up to Brett posed the danger of crashing down on him or running over him with the propeller. Throwing a rope to him also posed the danger of immobilising the propeller by tangling it in rope. They eventually decided to tie a lifejacket onto a rope and to get the lifejacket to him. Mitchell trailed this device from the boat as he ran in circles around Brett till he was able to seize the lifejacket. Now the boat lay at peril while the motor was put into neutral. This was done to avoid fouling the propeller with the rope, or cutting Brett to pieces. The boat lay at the mercy of wind and wave while Mitchell and Mark hauled Brett in. The low boat and the wave action helped as they dragged Brett bit by bit over the stern and into the boat. There he lay, motionless but still able to think of his canoe. But it was left to drift off into the Tasman as Mitchell motored to safety


Brett lay on the floorboards vomiting seawater while Mitchell tried to radio in confirmation of the rescue, but, there was no response form Marine Rescue or the Coast Guard. For some reason, Marine Rescue had already recalled the boat it had sent out. Mitchell now carefully motored the boat at nine knots through the swells to safety behind Barrenjoey headland. The danger and challenge of saving Brett from certain death exhilarated him.  He reflected that it had been an “awesome” experience unlikely to be repeated in his lifetime.  John Murray:  mobile 0419606832


Good warning and inspirational too. Thanks to Mitchell for being there in a crisis and John, for letting us know about it. And thanks with gratitude sauce to all those who contribute reports to this email. Couldn’t do it without you. Until next week,


Andrew Hestelow

Managing Director