The Usual Suspects

Its high summer down under, which means peak season for many pelagics species on the East Coast. The fish have arrived and chased schools of bait into bays and estuaries along the New South Wales coast, making it the perfect time to target them from a boat or kayak. Early in the morning, late in the afternoon and sometimes even all day these fish bail up bait into balls of nervous water before carving them up like angry torpedoes.

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Truckloads of 50+cm salmon

Find the bait and you will find the fish, which most often consists of Australian Salmon, Tailor, Bonito and Kingfish. The athletic capacity of all these species could easily justify the use of rods in the 9 weight category, however they are dead set reel burners on a 7 weight, which I prefer to fish in open bays.

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Fly of choice, the surf candy

Extensive fly selections are not required as a simple surf candy on an intermediate line will cover most of a days action. Just pick the size to best match the bait and cast it directly into or around the edges of any bust ups. These swimming missiles slurp them down, often as soon as they hit the water.

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These salmon pull like freight trains

Pound for pound the Australian Salmon would have to be one of the top sports fish in the ocean, anywhere. Once hooked they feel as though they will never stop pulling. Hook into a big one, 60+cm, and be ready to go the full 12 rounds.

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Doesn’t get much better than Kingies on the fly

For most anglers big Kingfish are the ultimate summer prize. While there are usually good numbers of rat Kingfish up to 65cm (the legal limit), the numbers thin out above this mark. Landing one over this on fly is a real achievement and anything over 85cm should be considered a trophy.

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Plenty of rats, but a few half decent kings as well

Tailor are always about and often seem to arrive at the right time break a quiet spell. While not as revered by most sport anglers as the other species mentioned, they do fight hard, and as long as they aren’t biting through your tippet are always good fun.

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Even the larger Tailor go pretty hard

No doubt there are bigger fish in the sea, but for a day on the fly, it doesn’t get much better than this.

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Weipa

It was a brisk spring morning when I met up with the rest of the group at Sydney airport. There was plenty of gear, especially considering it was for six blokes and we were only on a domestic flight. Getting through check-in took slightly longer than usual and we all crossed our fingers that our gear would make the two flights and arrive at our destination in Weipa.

The Qantas flights ran like clockwork and later that afternoon we touched down amongst the dusty red scrub of Weipa airport. The heat was an immediate force as we walked to the shed to wait for our baggage. Ten minutes later a small cart pulled up with the baggage. You wouldn’t believe it but a bag was missing. After a bit of squabble with the airport attendant she informed us that Qantas had decided to leave that piece of luggage until the next flight for some unknown reason. Luckily we had a night in town at the Heritage Resort before boarding the houseboat the next day. The missing gear did arrive later that night. We spent the rest of the afternoon shopping for supplies for the next week, then had a few beers around the pool at dinner. The heat was fairly dry being September and wasn’t so bad in the shade. The next morning we turned up to the shipyard and loaded our houseboat, the Tillimay, and organised our three tenders for the group of six to fish from.

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Shipyard in Weipa

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The Tillimay crew; Roger Woodward, Chris Harding, Ben Campbell, Paul Dwyer, Kim Prehn & Leo Harding

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Home for the week

We spent the 6 days fishing all the way down the coast to Boyds Bay, the Weipa Harbour and up the river systems. Unfortunately strong winds from the West and the accompanying swells cut short our time at Boyds and sent us on a forced retreat up river.

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Heading back from Redcliffs in the tenders

The fishing was good by world standards but poor against the usual Weipa experience according to the guys in our crew that had been before. Possibly due to the unusual wind direction. We still managed to catch plenty of fish, nothing huge, mostly on white clousers, surf candies and the Kim Prehn rim fly.

During the week our group caught a wide array species including Coral Trout, Queenfish, Oceanic Queenfish, Dart, Giant Herring, Golden Trevally, Spanish Mackerel, Tarpon, Fingermark, Bigeye Trevally, Barracuda, Spanish Flag Snapper, Tuskfish and Barramundi.

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Plenty of Queenfish

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Paradise on the south side of Weipa harbour

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Sight fishing to Trevally on the flats

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Exploring tight creeks at high tide

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A Barramundi that was bullied out from the mangroves using a small white clouser

Sunset in Weipa

Sunset in Weipa

Unfortunately we didn’t get into any Long Tail Tuna, Permit or Blue Bastards. Next time.

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