Friday 20th March 2015

Tackle specials and angling politics

from Downrigger Shop

The big news this week is the crazy run of mackerel on the NSW north coast.

So many great reports and pics it’s hard to know where to start but this monster from Hat Head truly remarkable. Thanks, Chris:



G’day Andrew, attached photo of Spanish weighed in at recent Hat Head Fishing Club comp. Caught by Mark Rudduck off Hat Head and weighed in at 27.3 kg. Just a note of interest, I have been talking to old locals about big spanish and the biggest reportedly caught over 25 years ago was a 49.5 kg monster using a 5 kg spotted for bait! I am trying to find if there is a photo which I will pass on.


What a beast. Alan Goggin, at Coffs Harbour:



Hi Andy, how are you mate? Thought you'd appreciate this pic of a nice spottie I caught today in the yak on a HeadStart rig along side the chiller bag that kept it in top notch condition until i got home. The action in the dead baits from the head starts is something else!  I had one bitten off 2weeks ago when I was out and I'm looking at getting another set of four. What colours have you at the moment? Cheers Al


All colours! Thanks, Al. He then backed up last weekend with this beauty:



I went a little north and picked up a nice Spanish on the green HeadStart. Speaking of which my order arrived yesterday, thanks very much for the quick despatch. Cheers Al


Truly grateful, Al! He took the kayak out from Coffs last weekend and trolled dead garfish on two Head Starts. Of course he hooked up to two mackerel at the same time.  The camera recorded what happened next, just so good:



I put together a little vid of the double hook up. Unfortunately the ratchet on my TLD gave in before the double hook up. It’s just not the same fighting a fish when the drag is making no noise.


Ricky making the most of his new downrigger. Top stuff:



Both of these on the downrigger, back one was 13kg, on a 4000 size spin reel and 10-20lb rod


Bob P says spotted mackerel were ravenous at Minnie Water, last weekend:



We went to mackerel alley and anchored up…  Started a heavy burley trail.  Spotties took everything we threw at them.  They ate yellowtail under floats,  pilchards under floats, unweighted pilchard tails.  There seemed to be no bait fish about and they were hungry.  We could not throw baits at them fast enough.  Used 15 pounds mono with 15 pounds wire leader.  Got bitten off a lot, sometimes 5 times in a row.


That’s fantastic, Bob. Unless another flood happens we still have one more month of this great fishing to go, maybe two. A lot of excitement from clients planning a north coast trip for Easter. As I always say, when things are hot, you’ve gotta go. Which is why I headed to Scotts Head last weekend to fish with old mate Phil on his friend Paul’s new Stessl. At Scotts you can launch on the low tide, but retrieval for a good size boat needs to be on or around the high.



On to the mackerel grounds straight out the front with a live pike rigged on a three hook set up, including a stinger treble:



Pike deployed off the downrigger, maybe 15 metres down:



Yours truly, lucky to score the first fish:



Paul’s spotted mackerel was a beauty, this pic doesn’t do it credit:



Here’s what mackerel fangs do to a slimy mackerel. This bait caught the fish above:



Thanks to Paul and  Phil for a wonderful morning, can’t wait to do it all again soon. Needless to say we’re in prime time right now, and it’s not just mackerel on fire. Thanks for sending, Barry Ballard:



This Tailor was caught near Forster off the Beach by Peter Willis of Taree. 5.3kg


Gary Letton sent an amazing update from SA. He’s giving our 250 gram jigs a solid workout:



Quite impressed with the quality of the jig hooks too mate as we were running heavy drag I mean 18 to 20kg set off of the tool and none gave way or have bent yet at all


Brutal. Good on you, Gary! Drew Auld and mate Al jigging up a storm too, but closer to home:



Hi Andrew, thanks for the report, a great read as always. My mate Al and I managed to get up to Coffs last weekend, it was our first trip up so really didn’t know what to expect. We didn’t catch 100’s of fish but we did have a sensational time and managed two decent Kings while jigging in 80m of water. Going to try and make another trip up before the end of March. Cheers, Drew


To boating, and Mercury offering these weapons now. Dan writes:



Ohhh andy check out these babies


I am Danny. Imagine how the greenies will vaporlock, when they see these? Extra points to the wag on our Facebook page, who asked if they’re are available with tiller steer. Our Man in the Sand sends good news for South Coast fishos and divers:



Hi Andrew, new artificial reefs going into St Georges basin today. Where ??? Fishos will find it on their web site soon Cheers from down south, Dave and Kate


So grateful for your constant reports, Dave! Most readers know I spent much of my youth growing up in western NSW and have a deep affection for the bush. So when I read in the paper that inland towns like Moree and Wagga are suffering through ice epidemics I wonder, what are the police doing? Last week they were at the Peak, taking Fisheries and Maritime inspectors from boat to boat:



They didn’t like me taking photographs for the Facebook page so immediately they finished with this guy, blasted over to us. Three separate checks of my boating and the crews fishing licenses including photography of licenses and safety gear checked out, and then the officer aboard the RIB asked, ‘where’s your paper charts?’ We also didn’t have a rope tied to the handle of our bucket, meaning we were in breach of a naval regulation introduced probably at the time of Admiral Nelson. And not reviewed since. They were polite and professional but you’d think NSW Police– including Water Police – have better things to do, than to chauffeur other agencies around to check expiry dates on fire extinguishers? Fisheries and Maritime between them have a fleet comprising every class of vessel:



Ken Musgrove sends a progress report on the boat he’s having built at the Gold Coast. He’s a perfectionist and wants everything right for his prime purpose - saltwater fly fishing:



The tricky bit was accommodating the long shaft electric. The issues were getting the head of the outboard clear of the side of the cabin and creating a mechanism to “break” the bow rail so as to permit the electric to be deployed. In the third and fourth pics you can see that they have managed this very nicely. The open tread ladder is make it easy to board when wearing wading boots down at Eucumbene. The cleat in the anchor space is my idea to make sure there is no bollard to catch fly line when fishing front.



Looking good, Ken! Keep us posted? Inventive genius Dan Abadir tearing himself apart that he didn't come up with this one first.

Gotta admit, I’d buy one:



To tackle, and the biggest sleeper item in our tackle range is the spreader bar. My original one caught a marlin off Sydney within the first 30 minutes of use. Then I didn’t use it for another twenty years, mainly because the bloke I used to game fish with sold his boat. . But when a supplier offered some at a good price we jumped straight onto them. We’ve already proved they’re awesome on dollies and kingfish. Now clients are using them for marlin. Ian Beavis:



Andrew, just a short note to say we had a great time last Saturday with the teaser I purchased from you last week. We were trolling the teaser with dollys chasing the teaser and a marlin chasing the dollys we sent a lure out past the teaser and caught our first marlin out of Broken bay See attached picture of the 35 kg Marlin


Glad it delivered results for you, Ian! If any readers want to know more, please click here:


Kent has a question about light jigging rods:


Currently the rod i am setting up is for the larger jigs (200g) so the line is 40-50 pound. Reading the reviews i am thinking your Five six rod would be perfect. If it is advisable to get a more dedicated rod for the smaller 100g jigs i would be interested in your advice?


All depends on your budget but, if it can stretch to $170, we have a fantastic PE 3 light jig combo including Devil Killer rod and reel with ten ball bearings spooled with 200m colour change braid:



I’m finding that the more you do it the more important matching the rod to jig weight is. The idea of jigging is that you first lift the rod to the 2:00PM position with your upstroke. That obviously lifts the jig through the water column but also, stores energy. As the rod tip straightens the stored energy is transmitted to the jig, maintaining its momentum upward. When I first started watching jigging videos I used to be turned off by how much effort appeared to be involved. But once you get the rhythm going it’s so easy and smooth. The key is to have everything matched, especially rod to jig size. Because a stiff rod designed for 250 gram jigs won’t store energy, with a 100 gram jig.



Meaning you can’t get a comfortable rhythm working. This doesn’t mean you have to spend a zillion bucks. Our rods are $120 each for both sizes, 100 gram and 250 gram. But what I do say to clients thinking about it is that, if you can’t get on the water as often as you would like, get the right gear. Doing that will help maximize the results when you are out there.



And if it turns out you’ve bought something that isn’t really needed, no biggie. Just sell it on the forums, there’s always someone looking for lightly used tackle there. News of the Weird, and Les’ luck ran out this week:



Hi Andrew, well I've seen all the pictures and I'm always careful but it finally happen to me.

We were having a great day catching a few snapper and pearl and then I went and slammed this 6/0 Gamakatsu Circle into my thumb. You ever tried tearing a Circle Hook out of yourself...don't waste your time. I tried swinging off it with multigrips and pliers etc, we even tried the 'String Method' but it wasn't going anywhere. About 15 km's boat trip back to Mattys Flat boat ramp (my decky had to do her first ever bar crossing) followed by a 30 km road trip to hospital. I wanted them to cut the hook out with a scalpel to save my hook but they had different ideas. They pushed the hook right through and then cut it in half with little bolt cutters and got it out that way.



Tough hooks those Gamakatsus. I was pretty annoyed with the doctors wrecking a perfectly good hook. Oh well, no fishing for a day or two I suppose. Bumma...


Erk! Across the country, and pretty sure this is the biggest dhufish I've ever seen:



Hi mate, Dillan here. 104cm 20.2kg WA dhufish to top a great day out!


Hoo yeah. Champion fisho Anton Vogiatzis from Melbourne heads to Bermagui and puts his mate onto a fish to remember:



Fished the Alliance Tag and release tournament at Bermagui over the weekend to land this solid striped Marlin. Took a lumo Topgun lure and was Justin's first Marlin after quite a few attempts. Around 80-90kg on 15kg line. Very happy boy! Cheers Anton


Cheers to you too Anton and keep this great stuff coming. Talking about billfish congrats to Dan, on his first blue marlin. Just hoping no fusspots complain about such a beautiful creature being killed etc etc:



Caught this 240kg marlin at Jamberoo where you control the action.


Adam Janik went to Vanuatu (before Cyclone Pam) and for a life changing event. He got married, too:



Hi Andy, I thought I'd share some pics from a recent trip to Vanuatu. We fished from a $1600/day 32ft Edge Water and a locally run $300/day 14ft banana boat. (I also tied the knot in between fishing trips). We caught some decent Dollies, Wahoo, Trout and some small GT's and Yellowfin. We dropped some stonkers though including a 15kg Doggie and a huge Black.



The banana boat easily out-fished the Edge Water and it proves you don't need to spend a packet to get into some quality fish. Just bring your own gear (including lures). It was a pleasure to spend a day with the locals in such an amazing place. Was great to see their faces light up when we brought in a few whopping trout. The expensive 'French contingent' could definitely learn a lot from the locals. Great trip. Cheers, Adam


Leo Miller! Just seeing his name on an inbox email causes my heart rate to accelerate like a top fueler dragster coming off the line, at Eastern Creek. This time he’s excelled himself with this amazing timeline from Swordfish Town, Tasmania:


Hi Andrew, the swords are back!


Monday was calm enough to see 10 or so boats deep dropping of eagle hawk neck. Some for bottom fish, some for swords, some for both.... It went like this.....


1030 Lachie Nichols on Big Pig hooks a sword off the bottom in a Stella with braid and no top shot.


1040 My mate Terry on my boat (ChoonaChasa) has a bite when retrieving a sword bait but hooks don't set after it takes 20m line.


1100 another boat reports hooking something big retrieving a bait.


1120 another boat has something big take their electric while retrieving.


1130 the 2nd boats fish busts off.


1150 Terry is retrieving his next bait and comes tight on something big; we're on!


1200 the 3rd boats fish gets off


1220 Lachie has a mako arrive and try to bite his braid off. His brother Toby; 8, knowing the category for small fry 37kg mako is vacant chicks a bait in and hooks the mako and let's it run away from the boat.


1230 another boat reports having a ray's bream cut in half while retrieving.


1235 Lachie lands Aussie sword fish on Stella but it's dead so he can't release as planned.


1300 Toby on big pig lands his Mako.


1305 John who's been trying for a sword for over a year has hooked up.


1310 After initially pulling up to 16kg drag Terry's fish is coming easy and doing nothing; still not sure it's a sword.


1315 up comes Terry's fish; hooked in the tail, a big sword near dead. We hook on the block and tackle and in she comes; hi fives all round!!!



1610 John lands his big sword after the best fight of the 3 and some epic jumps.


Johns went 180, Lachies 189 and ours 188kg.


Terry now has a pending club, state, national 60kg and all tackle record claim pending.



Oh, and the albacore have been going off too and the odd school sbt; we got 20 on Sunday in a few hours and a mate managed 81 for the weekend! A lot of small ones but fish to 22kg amongst them. Cheers, Leo


So good, bud! Can’t wait to see what you guys accomplish, as we head into autumn.


To politics, and one week to go, before the election here in NSW. Labor and the greenies pushing the lie that only a vast marine park off Sydney can save fish from extinction:



The same Labor-Green coalition behind the marine park campaign told us if forest industries were shut down, and state forests turned into national parks, endangered species would have a chance to rebuild their numbers. Blatant lies. They told us that global warming meant that seas would rise and drown coastal areas, and that our children would never see snow. Blatant lies. Now, with one flathead per square metre in some places off the coast, with gemfish so numerous at Browns the schools sometimes show 200 metres thick on the sounder screen, and with bluefin schools seen to the horizon *from a plane* off South Australia, they’re telling us ‘90% of fish are gone’ and we must stop eating seafood. If only these taxpayer funded parasites were as good at anything else, as they are at lying. From this week’s Daily Telegraph:



‘Visiting US scientist Sylvia Earle’ is a hard core greenie who works for Pew Group, the greenies' militant arm. And she just happened to arrive here a couple of weeks before the state election. Gee what a surprise:

But we don’t need rent-a-greenie from California to spread the Greens’message.

NSW Labor leader Luke Foley is perfectly happy to do that himself:



A ‘koala summit’, when this country has so many koalas 700 had to be put down in Victoria last year:


My gut feeling is that the greenies – both inside and outside the Labor party - will not do well. Which is why they’re pulling out all the stops in their campaign to scare voters, that the fish anglers pursue will be extinct without fishing bans. Here’s a particularly disgusting example.



Greenie dive instructor Marc Thompson uses his daughter as a prop to promote fishing bans at Clovelly, then demands the major parties show their hand on the proposed marine park. Scroll to the bottom of the story:


“If they keep catching all of the older fish and sharks one day there won’t be any more baby fish left in Clovelly,” she said. “I used to see a lot of silver fish when I snorkelled but now they’re really hard to find.”


How contemptible, to fill a little girl’s head with those lies. Then again, they’ve tried to fill our head with lies on everything from forestry, farming, mining to global warming, so I guess no real surprise. The feedback from the pollies a good insight into where they stand though. Bruce Notley-Smith from the Liberals gives a mealy mouthed yes and no answer, on his position. Labor candidate Paul Pearce: ‘NSW Labor have a policy which includes setting up a Sydney marine park – from Pittwater to Port Hacking.’ Lads, here in Sydney, a knife is to our throat as regards the future of recreational fishing. It’s not just your vote that’s needed to defend our sport. Ask friends and family if they’ll give one of their two votes to Shooters and Fishers. It’s that serious.


In closing, as I always say, deep gratitude from thousands of readers to those who contribute their thoughts and pics to this fishing report. If I published all the positive feedback it would be nearly as long as this email!

Which tells us that what you send in is appreciated, and please keep sending.


Until next week,


Andrew Hestelow

Managing Director