Friday 20th December 2013

Tackle specials and angling politics

from Downrigger Shop

Water off Sydney heating up fast, and so is the fishing. Here’s Ryan Mander’s 106cm kingfish from The Peak last week:



Great looking king, Ryan. Greg Powell struck gold last weekend too:



Third or fourth drift and bang, fish on and our only king of the day. My first king on a jig and a pb by 20cm or so. A good solid king at a smidge over 90cm. Delighted. Fish was caught in approx 110m of water on gear sourced from Andy at the DownRigger Shop - thanks. The jig that did the damage was a 200g golden / orange number.


I’d be delighted with a yellow that size too, Greg! Well done.  New jig rods delivered on Monday night, thankyou Mr DHL. Fuji tip guide, 24 kilo rating, five feet six inches long, two piece (so they can be mailed, cheap delivery.) We swapped metal gimbal for a plastic one and brought the weight down to 240 grams. Price $110 plus postage at cost, so pleased with how they turned out:



Ahmad happy with our knife jigs:



Hey Andy got to test out your jigs today. We went out to the Peak just after sunrise. Ending up getting a 75cm kingy on the first drop. After that got a couple rats and another 75cm, den my cousin hooked onto a 89cm kingy. All in all ur jigs are amazing. The colours that worked best was the black and silver and the green and yellow. Not bad for our 3rd time jigging


Glad to see they delivered for you, cobber! We made Epic  Adventures 'Top Ten Jigs' list, this week:



David Vassallo AKA the Kingie Whisperer, found gold west of the Spit Bridge:



Got him yesterday arvo 87cm


You set the bar high, Dave. Rocket was within 100 metres of where your pic was taken:



Hi Andrew, trust you and your family are well. Took my new 3.9mtr Explorer to the big smoke last week! While the weather was pretty ordinary we got to fish around the Spit bridge and found this nice 2.238kg Spangled Emperor to our surprise. Look forward to catching up in the near future cheers Robert




This monster red was a PB for one of our clients & was released with the use of a release weight after a few happy snaps.


Good one, he looks happy as Larry. Big kings are … mostly, across the Tasman. Herb Lonsing and his two boys followed them over:



Good King fight going on... 80lb braid Stella 10000 Xzoga pE6


Heavy drag and big fish was tough, on the terminal tackle:



Williamson single assist hook failure.  Here is the photo of the hook gap bent open again on a monster king that wanted to find the bottom rocks/reef.  My son Michael couldn’t turn the head of the Kingfish using a Xzoga jig rod and Stella 10000 with JM upgraded spool. Again drag was up tight trying to turn and stop a monster kings. The deck hand John  commented  was thats a “good fish”  you have on there. This occurred just after I thought I’d try a different brand hook after the assist cord failed!


Great story, Herb! Thanks for sharing. More gear failure for Sam Higgins, unfortunately:



Andy, after the reports of the warm water at Jervis Bay we headed down for a spin off the rocks. On the third cast snapped my new T Curve throwing a heavy popper not a good start!


No it’s not and I’m sorry to hear that happened, mate. Matt Prior scored well on the freshwater:



Hey Andy Will Barwick and myself also went bassing this weekend and done alright.

We launched Will’s tinny at Tench Reserve Nepean River at lunch time, then headed up stream for about an hour or so. There was no shade and there was no escaping the sun for the first few hours. We never got a hit while the sun was high up but as the afternoon come around and there was a lot more shade the fish become more active. Then at about 5pm it was all happening within about a 100 meter stretch we found the big boys with will catching the biggest going 47cm and putting on a massive fight on a 1-3 kg rod and 1kg braid.


A 47, on one kilo. Trust you blokes to meet that challenge. Andy Muir fished in my old backyard using our light combo, and sent a welcome note about his excellent result:



G'day Andy, just a quick email to let you know how effective your light spin combo is for light wharf fishing. While they certainly aren’t kingies these bream and squire will be very welcome guests at Christmas lunch, the fish were all caught at Balmoral on unweighted service station prawns.




Some top reports from friends and clients mackerel fishing in Queensland this week. We are looking at one hell of a Spaniard season early next year, if this keeps up. Chris Colvin:



Hi Andrew, got this respectable Spaniard on light tackle at Port Douglas 13/12/13. Not our usual hunting grounds but a good feed all the same


Beautiful fish, Chris! Regular crew member Jack L took his lovely bride to Hamilton Island for a second honeymoon this week. Fished around 4 out of the 5 days, nice work Jack.



Hi Andrew, got out again today. Apart from reefies a 1m Spanish Mackerel. Always something different! Back on the water on Sunday.

Cheers Jack


Good one mate, stay focused. J Nick out there too:



Hi mate, quick trip off The Daintree for a PB fingermark at 62cm and a cobia at 103cm. I dropped a much bigger finger, so will have to go back another time for round two. It was quiet out on the reef mate, we put in a lot of hours for four reefies before moving inshore to chase fingermark.


Nick I would be over the moon with that beauty in the esky! Glen Chambers from Cairns sent an order, and a short report from last weekend. Nice fish:



(looking) forward to putting those Head Starts to the test on some of these dollies and wahoo we picked up on the weekend out at Linden Banks.


Go get ‘em my friend, and please send me a pic of your success. What blows me away about this fishing caper is realising that, all over Australia, there are blokes out there kicking incredible goals that, until recently, we never knew about. Because it's only the new digital technology that has given average fishos the ability to record the quite often amazing adventures they’re having. Case in point, Dan Goodhew. Lads, just imagine how hard this dogtooth would have been, to capture from a 12 foot tinnie. Dan, I take my hat off to you mate, because this is one of the greatest fishing achievements I've seen in years:



Hi Andy summer storms are well under way up in Cairns. I've been picking some of the 0-5 knot openings between them and racing out in the 4m tinnie.


Sharks have been a real nuisance destroying everything red that comes near the boat so during the days we have been jigging for pelagics instead of trout.


I smacked this ripper Dogtooth Tuna cranking a 100g jig through a school of banana fish on 20lb gear. Not sure whether the fight or holding the tiller for 60km hurt the shoulder more!




Across the country, and Mark Crewe has been kicking noteworthy goals too:



G'day Andrew, here's a few pictures of some fish I caught the other day with my Yamaga slow pitch rod on pe2 line. It's still our closed season for our demersal fish over here in Western Australia so I went out wide to try for some pelagic fish and test out my light jigging gear. I noticed some larg fish on the sounder so I set up my drift and down went the 130 gram jig. It didn't even hit the bottom and I was on to a horse of a fish, after about 15 minutes up popped this 17 kg sambo. In all I had three fish this being the biggest.


Such a tough looking fish. GT at the front, kingfish at the back! To boats and so glad for our roving reporters, who know of my shameful addiction to Boat Fail pics. Mustafa, on Monday:



6.00 am this morning, Port Kembla boat ramp, fully submerged


Strewth. Poor bloke! Marc Sams at Ballina, imagine explaining this one:



G'day Andy. This poor bugger dropped his boat 100 metres from the cop shop and opposite the court house today. I guess he won't have far to go to sort out his fine.


Sheesh. Only a local could stand on that burning hot asphalt in bare feet, Marc.

Yours truly got out wide on Monday and thankfully added the Tanacom 750 combo as an afterthought:



The Peak and Twelve Mile jigging grounds were dead, so on we went, to Brown’s Mountain. Had the whole place to ourselves – four fishos, and ten thousand blue eye trevalla. Here’s Chris with a 12 kilo specimen:



Jay with a chunky 14:



Great day, great conditions, great friends. What more could you ask for? Last but certainly not least Jan fished the Red Sea out from his home town of Oman:



Hi Andrew, thanks for your weekly report. We have gone fishing, but did not send any photos, so I am sending you some now . This is to show that we enjoy your weekly report. Weather now 23-27 during the day, so fishing is very good. You should try and come this way for fishing.


That’s a generous invite my friend, but the way things are taking off I may have to wait until retirement. L Which reminds me I *must* thank our readers most sincerely, for your support:





I've got one of those stickers on my boat and I've noticed a massive difference in better fuel economy, a smoother ride in the ocean, I catch heaps more fish, and it's a great 'Chick-Magnet'...



Note that it’s just a stream of consciousness rant about the challenges we face and hopefully the next one will be somewhat more listenable. To politics, and more shenanigans from South West Rocks/Kempsey. In case anyone thinks Les and I are piling on, let me state I only publish about half the angry feedback that comes from that area. Between Hat Head creek, the Macleay River bar, Laggers Point ramp, Hitchins Dive Centre and VMR SWR, the place is a non stop Scandal Town:


About four months ago I was out in Trial Bay attaching compliance stickers to the bait FAD ("NO MOORING", "FINES APPLY" etc), a little job I was doing in coordination with the NSW Fisheries to hopefully keep our FAD in the water a bit longer and to hopefully stop the 'Long-Liners' busting it off every time they illegally moor to it.


I was alone and was the only boat out at the FAD when I intercepted a faint distress call on 'VHF 72' from a boatie way up north. The message read "Trial Bay, Trial Bay, Trial Bay this is 'So & So' (the name of the boat) we're in trouble, we're out off Grassy Head and have lost nearly all electrical power and their engine had stopped and were drifting dangerously close to the beach. Very little power left in the mobile phone as well".


This call repeated for about three times however Trial Bay didn't respond, so I grabbed the radio and called the stricken vessel and was lucky enough to make faint contact with them before I lost contact again.


I tried to contact the boat again to get their co-ordinates but couldn't connect, so I radioed through to 'VMR Trial Bay' and told them of the situation. They said they didn't hear the call and asked me to continue trying to contact them while they tried to contact them as well.


All calls to the stricken vessel were again in vain. I told VMR Trial Bay that they'd have to scramble their rescue boat immediately and get up to Grassy Head ASAP. After several radio calls back and forth between me and VMR Trial Bay, including phone calls, they advised me that they couldn't scramble the rescue boat and asked me if I would go and search for them myself. I told them that I had a job to do and that I had a very narrow window of opportunity to get it done before the wind blew up and that it wasn't my job to go searching for stricken vessels.



After about fifteen minutes I heard the same faint call again from the vessel. I tried to make contact but they dropped out again. I contacted VMR Trial Bay again only to be told that they couldn't scramble the rescue boat because there was no-one available to man it or operate it and asked me again to "go and  see if I could find them".


Eventually after realising that VMR Trial Bay had no intentions of searching for them I ceased doing my work and headed north to try and find them. I made radio contact with another recreational fishing vessel from Nambucca Heads who also engaged in the search. It took about 20 minutes to get to Grassy Heads and all the time I kept contact with the other Nambucca Heads fisherman. I also advised VMR Trial Bay that I was trying to find the vessel. When I arrived at Grassy Heads I started a search pattern which took me out wide and north to Scotts Head and beyond. All the while the other rec-fishing boat searched in vain as well. After about an hour of this I decided that we'd either been part of a hoax or that the vessel had sunk. I contacted VMR Trial Bay again and after some heated words I said I was calling off my involvement.


As I turned to head south to return to Trial Bay I caught a glimpse of a reflection from something in close to the beach between Grassy Head and Middle Head so I powered in to investigate. The closer I got the more I realised that I had found them. (It's a dead give-away when the occupants are standing on the bow waving feverishly at you).


Anyway I came broadside and assured them that they were safe and I would give them a hand in one way or another. They told me that they were just about to jump overboard and try to swim into shore.


I contacted VMR Trial Bay and told them that I had found the vessel and that I was tied up beside them and asked them again could they scramble the rescue boat and head up to Grassy Heads to tow them back.


The response was "no, we can't assemble a crew for the rescue boat and considering I was officially connected to the other vessel it was my problem and said I would have to tow them back to safety myself".


I argued the point for some time but saw I was getting nowhere with them. There was no way I was going to leave the crew and their stricken boat to the elements so I got them on-board my boat and connected the tow rope. I towed the vessel all the way back to South West Rocks (about an hour and a half) still hoping to get the Marine Rescue to take over the rescue. I was denied with the same response that "they couldn't scramble the rescue boat because they couldn't find anyone to man it".


I ended up towing their boat across the Macleay Bar and after a battle with the run out current, got them into the safety of the Macleay River and from there up to the Stuarts Point boat ramp.


After I delivered them and their boat at the boat ramp I went back outside across the bar to try and finish my job however by that time the weather was getting out of control so I came back inside without getting my work done.


I ran my boat onto the trailer and got it out of the water and got on the phone straight away to VMR Trial Bay and gave the radio operator a mouthful he won't forget in a hurry. Eventually he handed me over to the Commander (Chris Mainey) who told me that he was very sorry and that there should not have been any reason why the rescue boat couldn't have been deployed and said that there must have been some confusion in the radio room and again apologised.


This is the fourth time I have conducted a full rescue (by myself) on behalf of VMR Trial Bay and quite frankly, I'm getting tired of it.

I was a dedicated active member of Trial Bay Marine Rescue for quite some time but walked out the door one day, never to return again, because I came to realise that it was nothing more than a 'Dads Army', and it still is.


They have a State-of-the-Art rescue boat that can't be used because they can't find a crew to deploy it.

On one trip we did, as members of the Marine Rescue, they skippers couldn't even find the FAD out at 100 mtrs because they didn't know how to set the GPS to 'WGS 84 Datum'. They were searching for the FAD about 2 kilometres north of where it was until I re-set the Datum on the unit and took the boat back down to the proper co-ordinates. I'm not sure how they'd get on if someone was relying on them to get rescued at their co-ordinates in a heavy sea.


On other occasions in the radio room I have had stand up arguments with radio operators who were replying to radio calls from visiting rec-fishermen who were asking the best way to cross the Macleay River bar, however the radio operators didn't have a boat licence and some had never been across the bar themselves but were advising the boaties to stick close the north wall and head straight out into the bomboras. Boats were tipped over because of that. That sort of bar crossing advise should only be given by the locals who know the notoriously deadly bar like the back of their hand, not to someone who'd never been across it themselves.


The next thing I see lately at South West Rocks is the fleet of brand new state-of-the-art 'Marine Rescue' jet-ski's. On Sunday there were three of them, all sign written and polished with the signwriting insignias getting towed by a brand new 4x4 with the big flash trailers and there they were, all donned in the 'hi-viz' gear doing the exercises at full throttle up and down the river, which was more of an on-water drag race than an exercise.


It makes me wonder, what the hell do the Marine Rescue really think they can do on a jet-ski when someone calls 'May Day' and they're 10 miles out with a stuffed motor, four on board, and a bloody jet-ski turns up.


Is this for real? Who oversaw that expenditure and what the hell do they think they are going to achieve by having the 'latest of the latest' jet-ski's when they can't even man the real rescue boat. It is a bloody joke. It's a hobby for the weekend oldies. It's Dad's Army and between the lot of them they wouldn't know the transom from the bow.


I have a 'PWC' licence, but not the regular run of the mill boaties do so who do they think they're going to get to deploy the flash new fang-dangle jet-ski's in the heat of an emergency, and what is a jet-ski going to be able to do if it ever does get there?


The entire Marine Rescue unit is a joke and it needs a complete overhaul and recruit experienced and qualified boaties who know the ocean and get rid of the Boy-Toy jet-ski's.


Further to this, 'BE WARNED' in my training with Marine Rescue it was pointed out to us that as soon as anyone connects to a stricken vessel by touching or by ropes, the attaching vessel is then fully responsible for the outcome of the stricken vessel. They cannot disconnect to the vessel nor abandon them. By attaching you accept full responsibility of that vessel. When you allow someone from that boat on-board your boat you are also fully liable for their safety and if they get hurt from that point onward they can sue you for injury or loss.


When you engage in towing a stricken vessel, if anything happens to that vessel you are also liable. If you attempt to tow the stricken vessel across the bar to safer waters and their boat gets tipped over or the crew on-board your boat get hurt, you are liable and can be sued to the full extent of recovery.


Also, bear in mind, that if you pull a person from the water for any reason, as soon as their on-board your boat, even if they were drowning, you are liable.


If you become engaged in a search for a stricken vessel, once you find the always stay a safe distance away and observe the vessel and insist on getting a rescue team to attend (if they can man the boat), even if you have to call the police for direction, but, be very sure of yourself before you make physical contact with the boat, connect to it, take people on-board or assume control of it, because if anything goes wrong.....'YOU'RE IT'......


The above is a true story, it happened on the 12th of August and it is logged with VMR Trial Bay Rescue.


Yep. The challenges we face as fishos and boaties are enormous. But I’m staying positive because, from what I see and hear, anglers – although slow to anger – have just about had enough, of the green and red tape merchants who torment us. But let’s worry about that after the Christmas break. In this last report for 2013, the 154th consecutively, I want to close with sincere thanks to all our readers and contributors. You send in the news and I get the glory. That’s unfair but please keep writing because literally thousands of fishermen enjoy reading *your* adventures. Best wishes to all for a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year,


Andrew Hestelow

Managing Director