Monday 24th March 2014

Tackle specials and angling politics

from Downrigger Shop

Tasmania’s the place to be right now. Check out this beast, caught at Eaglehawk Neck on Thursday:



Just when I thought it had gone quiet, young Lachie Nichols bags a 104kg today!


Thanks, Leo Miller! What a season it’s been, in the Apple Isle. Back home, Dave Vassallo’s scored again. This 103cm is huge, for Middle Harbour:



At the other end of the scale, Ben Squire caught the smallest I’ve ever seen:



Andy, you should run a smallest kingie comp. This is a good start.


I think I could finish in the top three, Ben! Brett proved autumn’s nearly here with this John Dory, from the Harbour:



An early season dory. Strange to see this and a rainbow runner at the same spot a week apart.


You can feel the change coming, Brett. But mostly it’s been all dolphin fish all the time, off Sydney. Not giants, but in huge numbers, and on every trap buoy and FAD. Matt Summerhayes:



Hi Andy, saw a free jumping marlin in close off Barrenjoey in 35m today on our way out to the fad. Trolled around for nix. Got 4 big dollies on live yakkas and had my home made teaser made from two v cans smashed big time on the way back in. No hookups but a great day



Yours truly got out on Tuesday with a top crew of regulars and an excellent forecast to hand. The only minor question mark was the full moon, known to affect the kingfish bite negatively. The theory is that, on bright nights, they can hunt through the dark hours and aren’t hungry, the next day. And the moon was so bright on Monday night you could have read a newspaper by it. Lindsay sent some helpful advice to the Facebook page:


Hi Andy. Hope you have a great day on the water tomorrow I am very jealous. Was just on the balcony here at Narrabeen and an old thought came back will be interesting to see if it affects pelagic's as much as bottom fish. Fishing in the 80's we never went through the day on a full Moon as the theory was they feed all night and hid through the day. We did target Jew on a full moon but found we had to stay out all night as sure as when we left they came on the chew.


All good, plan was to stay flexible and look for targets of opportunity. Jay and I launched at Roseville around 7.00AM and went straight to Watsons Bay wharf to pick up Rico and Ed. Then back to the Centurion wreck just inside Quarantine Head, where XOS yellowtail were swarming:



The upside of leaving late is that I can phone around and find out what’s happening before committing to a plan. On Tuesday, I phoned George on Any Keepers who told me he was up at Long Reef - but the place was dead as a doornail. So instead we headed straight for some FAD marks Greg Radford had kindly provided on the Facebook page. Here’s the marks for two good ones, if you’re fishing out of Sydney:


33 48 756/151 25 593

33 48 720/151 25 895


Straight into it, with each of the lads using their preferred technique. Rico jigging, Ed ripping his soft plastic back fast, Jay with a top water live bait, and myself downrigging. Everything worked:




I clipped a cheap Officeworks camera onto the Z-Wing and scored some footage of swarming mahi, plus the live yellowtail being trolled off the downrigger. Rubber band and bait needle method provides stretch, when using braid. That's much easier, on the live bait. Here’s a still from the video, note the hook is aligned vertically so nothing’s offset:



Called George on the mobile to say we’d found them. Within 10 minutes he and two other boats arrived. It’s a real social event out there midweek, everyone in a good mood when seas are flat and the fish are biting:



No problem, there was plenty for everyone. But we had other marks to investigate in the quest for bigger fish. The thought was that, if we went a little wider and fished deep with live baits we could find some 90s. That tactic worked for Tristan on the day. He sent me this pic:



En route to the next waypoint the lads spotted a floating object which on closer examination proved to be a dead seal. We approached from downwind which was a big mistake, because the pong was incredible. The good news, it was holding plenty of dollies:


Mostly just over legal, but that was fine. I geared down to 3 kilo tackle to maximise the sporting factor:



Next stop, the Black Can private FAD. Plenty there too:



A big current line could be seen to the east and with plenty of tasty dolphin fish in the chiller bag the thought was, let’s chase marlin. The water temp jumped half a degree to well over 23 as we passed through a smooth current stretch, turned south and ran out the lures. It all looked good but no strikes, excepting small dolphin fish on the spreader bar:



With fish for everyone on ice and the nor’ easter starting to lift it was time to pull the pin. I wanted to avoid what happened on Friday, stuck in horrible peak hour traffic on the way back from the ramp. So, homeward bound after a top morning’s sport. Greg Scicluna sent me a Facebook PM asking for marks and all I did was, pass on the ones above which Greg Radford so generously supplied. Here’s how that worked out:



Hey Andy me and the boys had an awesome day thanks to you. We got over 40 dolphin fish aboard the Boab centre cab only keeping a few for a feed and releasing the rest. It was good seeing two mates get their first dollies and we landed them on gear from a 1-3kg stick, baitcaster, fly rod and the usual heavier gear. They weren't touching lures or plastics aside from a Sebile magic swimmer in gold. the rest were caught on pilchard, slimy mackeral and even cowanyoung! Thanks again it made hiring the boat worth it. ps: most fish caught at the traps or wave rider buoy


Not me! All credit is due to Greg, I just passed it on. Dan went to FAD 19 instead of the trap buoy marks on Sunday 23rd. That didn’t work out, too many other fishos had the same idea:



Like a car park at fad 19 this morning total of 15 boats managed 3 legal dollies & lost 2 decent ones , although rats & smaller dollies at the wave buoy all on pillies , great weather but fishing not that crash hot


Mate, that’s what using Greg’s marks would have avoided! I don’t want to make this week’s report all dolphin fish all the time, but Allan Mak gave them a try:


Got there but realised i didn't ask you what we were looking for out there (Also doesnt instill confidence our Lowrance GPS map was playing up earlier, so were weren't sure if we were in the right location). We started spinning and dropped a few baits down but after about 15 mins, we still didn't have a bite and the sea sickness was starting to hit me. Since this was the first time we had been this far out, I didn't take this into account as I am normally ok in the harbour or at Longy.


Trying not to hurl and looking towards the horizon, I spotted 3 white objects in the distance. First I thought they were birds but a closer look revealed 3 buoys. So we went over and then it clicked, these are Andys marks...yay!



My sister was spinning a small waxwing lure and before you know it, she was on! After a short fight on light bream tackle, we had our first dollie onboard. Woohoo! Best cure for sea sickness.



So we all start spinning and start hooking up some small dollies, great aerial displays and before you know it, we get a double hookup! (you were right, it does get a bit crazy in such a hot session) My new reel and rod get christened and I'm stoked! (trust me I am even though i might looked stoned in this photo). Back in she goes.



Then we remembered the pilchards you talked about.  Within a minute of hitting the water, it gets smashed. They definitely liked the pillies more. As we keep drifting over these buoys another boat rocks up and the first thing they do is launch a livie over. As soon as it hits the water, bang they are on. Wait, we have livies too, my sister rigs one up, over it goes, and within a minute, she's on! I then try garfish as well and they smash that too.




One of our best days on the boat, we caught around 15 dollies and 4 were keepers. All thanks to you Andrew.


All thanks due to Greg Radford, Allan! But let me throw an idea out there. If we can catch 65-85cm mahi from FADs and trap buoys on the 100 metre line, imagine the ones we could catch on the 200 metre line? Here’s me back in the day holding Grant Koschel’s mahi taken on the 200 metre line off Port Stephens:



If we can arrange deepwater FADs by next summer we could be hooking up this size mahi, because there’s plenty of them out there. More to follow, on that. To fishing tackle, and all kinds of interesting feedback from readers this week. Paul tried modifying the reel knob on our light combo, and says it feels great:



Hi Andrew. I had the old reel knob from the SW5000 that punched straight out with a centre punch when I upgraded the knob so I put it on the little softbait 3000. The EVA knob feels fantastic on the little reel.


Great! Might give that a try myself, Paul. Lots of interest on the Facebook page when I mentioned our supplier had offered wishbone outrigger bases:



Organising a sample or two and will have pricing soon. Jason stopped by for some tackle on Monday and showed me a popper he modified for max contrast. Painting the hooks black too, that’s hardcore:



A client writes:


I saw the SW 5000 reel on your Facebook page and wanted to see the specs for the reel.



No problem! Here’s details:


Weight including line and ball reel knob:         480 grams

Drag, 14 kilos – 5 carbontex and 5 stainless steel washers

Line capacity:    240 metres 50-pound colour change braid (supplied)

Gear ratio: 5.5:1

Ball bearings: 7

Price (including ball reel knob, already fitted): $170 plus postage at cost.


This 38 second video showing the drag system might be interesting too:



Lastly, client Paul Smith sent a pic and reel review last week:



I have used the SW5000 twice and am happy to say caught fish both times and it goes great paired with your 5’6 Hoshinos.


Thanks, Paul! PS That model Yammie takes me back, in a big way.  Glenn P from Eden sends a pic of his new pride and joy. These 28s are my favourite game boat – not too small, not too big, and all business:



She has the bigger 230Hp Yanmars with 850Hrs, Twin HDS10's upstairs, single lever controls and Reelax 6m poles.


Beautiful, such classic lines the design just never looks outdated.



To politics and a huge week it’s been, lobbying over the utterly shameful boat ramp at Coffs Harbour, on the NSW north coast. Quickest way to explain what’s happened is to add this email sent to all Councillors, this week:


Hello Mayor Knight,


Could I request a response from you on an important local issue?


I’m a Sydney based fishing tackle retailer who visits Coffs Harbour multiple times each year. So do many of our clients, perhaps encouraged by the invitation on the Coffs Coast website, describing Coffs as the ‘ultimate holiday destination’ for ‘boating and fishing enthusiasts:


Currently the reality doesn't match that description. We have over 2100 readers on our Facebook page, 4700 subscribers to our weekly fishing report – plus around 18000 new visitors to our website each month. From that considerable number of boatowners and anglers I’m hearing horror stories about the Coffs Harbour boat ramp. They’re saying the ramp is so badly sanded up that it can still be inaccessible for launching or retrieving - just one hour, before or after high tide:



And that boats are regularly being lost or damaged on the ramp, putting occupants in genuine danger – this one, last month:



And this one, on the weekend just passed:



Warning signs – in this ‘ultimate holiday destination for boaters’ – are regularly placed on the boat ramp:


And boaters returning to the ramp must sometimes wait hours until enough water is over the sandbar, to attempt a white knuckle ride into the channel:



The surge in the channel is so bad at times boaters are posting videos to Youtube:



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



Others said that insult was being added to injury – literally:


 On Saturday 8th March on our way up to Wooli, we stopped at Coffs for lunch and we saw the piles of sand around the ramp. To add to the insult to fishos, a local copper in an unmarked 4x4 was parked at the top of the ramp going over every boat coming out of the water.


But the main theme from correspondents is that intermittent removal of the sand by a crane seems to be having little effect - yet there’s been no discussion, of alternatives. Would you be so kind as to let me know your thoughts on the way forward? Because given recent events a tragedy is quite predictable and I’m sure no one wants that on their conscience. Thanking you in advance, etc


A few Councillors responded immediately, which was good. Rod Degens:


Hi Andrew, Yes, moneys have been received, and staff are wanting to go, however a few recent considerations are also being addressed, mainly the continuing sand build up. I've heard of recent trouble with the dredger and the design of the ramp is being altered to make dredging much easier or in other words actually take place more often. That's creating the holdup Please call if more Questions Regards Rodney


I recorded a podcast and emailed it to those who didn’t reply. Pretty brutal stuff but there’s no point beating around the bush when fishos lives are at risk. Check this out, I’d be very grateful for your feedback:



Then late on Sunday night we received news of success on an issue we’ve worked so hard and long for. Laggers Point Boat ramp, at South West Rocks. The subject of countless updates in this newsletter. Thanks to Les Palmer, and his tactics of going in hard, fronting the Parkies and naysayers, and getting political wherever possible, there’s been a breakthrough. Good on you mate, everyone who fishes South West Rocks is in your debt:



Hi Andrew, well, after all the battles, red-tape and hurdles thrown at me from the 'National Parks & Wildlife Service' to get the 'Laggers Point Boat Ramp' opened back up to the public, I'm happy to say that we start to pour the concrete tomorrow morning. The Boom-Gate will be fully operational by Easter, hopefully a fortnight before so we can iron out any bumps.


What a fantastic result my friend, you’ve inspired us all. Thanks to our readers and double special thanks to all who contribute pics and reports. Until next week,


Andrew Hestelow

Managing Director