POC 4/19/17.

FISH CATCHING TRAVEL

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Time for some Saltwater Fishing

We just got back in town from a quick trip to Port Aransas.  We love staying at the Tarpon Inn, the history and pictures from the tarpon heyday are amazing.  But it is pretty easy to see why the tarpon just quit stopping there in mass for decades.  Most of the tarpon taken were an easy 100lbs plus, mature breeding fish.  They were taken by the thousands over the years and the effects were devastating, but fortunately they are now back every year on their migratation and becoming more prevalent.

One of the (my) reasons for going was to stop at Roy’s Bait and Tackle, one of my favorite tackle stores.  But guess what?  They were closed.  Must have been on vacation.  Fortunately the store on Port Aransas was open and I was happy to find the new Rapala Skitter V walking the dog bait.  The shape has a keel/v like a boat, and according to the package will switch directions on a dime and then glide much further than a regular Spook or Skitterwalk.  So we shall see what all the hype is about.  (Report:  It caught fish just fine.  It walked the dog basically like every other bait of that style.  So no complaints but unless you just want one save your money.  I did not find anything special or different about it.)  After a big absence from the salt I will get a chance to use it in the morning when I am waist deep in the bay.

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Get Inhaled!

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Weather

78/71  Partly cloudy in the a.m. with possible scattered thunderstorms in the afternoon.  Chance of rain 40%  Wind out of the SE 10 – 20.  (An easy 20 most of the day.)

Tides

Low   5:58 am  +0.3     High  4:53  +0.9

Solunar Times

Best   5:40 – 7:40 am      Good   11:29 am – 1:29 pm  (Yep)

It All Worked Together

Sometimes things work out, and today it did.  Not by the number or size of the fish but how it went.  A topwater, a Controlled Descent, my Wade Right Wading belt, and a pair of Cocoons.  All were equally important today and it actually made for an interesting day of wading.

I got to one of my favorite cuts on the island and jumped over the side.  The wind was coming over the island, and it was windy most of the day.  The water was clear and as I worked my way to the cut I could not buy a bite.  The water was a big up-low, and it was trying to work it’s way into the cut, and the wind was blowing it out the other way.

Wanting to try the new Rapala Skitter V I kept after it and finally caught one.  The fish were right in the middle of the cut, and were cooperating.

                 The Controlled Descent put them on the Boga today.

Here is the punch line and why it all was necessary.  First the Wade Right wading belt let me carry 2 rods, one for plastics and one for topwater for the bait and switch.  The topwater was getting bites, but only a couple in a place and then nothing.  So time for the Controlled Descent Lure.  A black/goldlimetruese rigged on a 4/o hook with a 1/8th belling weight on the hook.  I was fishing it just like I have been for bass, just jerking it right along.

The best of the day smoked that topwater.

So having the extra rod, with a topwater and the Controlled Descent, I was able to double up on them.  As they moved around in the cut, probably chasing bait, I would catch a couple on topwater, maybe miss one, and they would quit.  By following with the jerk shad I was able to put it right in their face and catch one or two more.  The Cocoons were critical because I was making long casts and it was hard to see the jerk shad, but you could see the trout materialize out of nowhere from 5 foot of water and eat it.

                     Nothing real big but they were willing for a while.

They were hard to hook and I confess I missed more than a few.  But I tricked some and as soon as they would quit I would move 20 feet and do it again.  They bit from the time I got there at 9:00 until I moved at 1:00.  I could have stayed catching them in the cut but the outside flat in front of the cut is one of my favorite flats, with a great mix of grass and sand.  There are usually some great reds there, but I have just not hooked up on any the last couple of trips.

                                            It all worked together today.

So after I finished a wade around the outside grass and potholes without a bite, I noticed the wind had laid some, and then I made a bad decision.  I headed to Barroom thinking there would be a light wind on it and I could catch some reds, but no, by time I got there the wind was back up and it was white capping.  I was hoping to catch a red, and I did give it a go, but not a bite on top or on the jerk shad.  So one last stop was in order.

It was a cut in Big Bayou where I caught a bunch of trout last trip, whenever the hell that was.  It only produced one small trout and 3 small reds, all on plastics.  So at 3:30 I called it a day.  The wind was blowing hard enough that I just did not feel like driving back out to the island.

It really did all have to work together today.  Giving them a one two punch worked great, reminded me of throwing back in with something different when you miss one bass fishing.  It really was cool to see them roll over on the jerk shad, and I should have caught some more, but it is just part of the learning curve with the Controlled Descent Lure.  It really is something different for me in the plastic line.  It fishes different, and one thing I have really learned is having a variety of weighted hooks with screw locks is really important.  Wind, tide, depth, water color all play a part of fishing it visually, which is the way I like to get em!

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Over the years I have commented that I believe that guides should pay more for the privilege of making a living with a public resource.  If you have not read me before understand one thing, I guided for almost 20 years, been there done that one.  When I started I was getting $45 a day when I provided the boat and $30 when guiding for a trout dock.  Basically I was barely scraping by.  So it would have been tough to pay more, I understand that.  I just felt, and still feel, that it is fair for guides to pay more. It always struck me as unfair that I was only paying for my guide license and the state was providing me with a free resource to make a buck.  If you reduce it to its base, making money as a guide involves taking a pubic resource that we have all paid to bring back and manage and selling it to customers.   I am not anti-guide, hell I occasionally get the itch, good thing I am old enough to know better.  But to go along with that, to bad we can not trust our government to use any increase in license fees or other taxing methods and place it back on the resource, that would be way to much to ask.  So here is why I brought this up right now.

The April 14th issue of the Lonestar Outdoors News has an article on the front page entitled Taxing Guides.  First, if you are a guide you need to pick up a copy immediately.  Calhoun County will start taxing the value of the goods you use in your guiding business, rods, reels, boat, etc.  And that applies to any guide, full or part time, that operate in Calhoun County.  As an example if you were operating in POC or Seadrift on January 1 this year no matter where you live you should have assessed with the county by April 15th.  If you are guiding you will be taxed just like any other business, so get ready.  And according to the article they are cross referencing those people who bought a Texas Parks and Wildlife guiding license.  I feel your pain but it is coming whether you stick your head in the sand and try to slide by, or you suck it up and do the right thing.  I represented lots of clients over the years who thought if they just did nothing, nothing would happen.   Thanks to Lonestar Outdoors News, pick up a copy today, always a great read.

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And speaking of Port A, we always hit Roy’s and then drive on the island over to Port A.  On the way, just outside of town on the right, there is one of the fancy golf resorts with the ridiculously priced houses.  In fact, it is where the golf cart bridge crosses over the road.  At the resort, Palmilla Beach Golf Club, is The Black Marlin Bar & Grill.  Passing by it many times I wanted to stop but thought it might be a little high falutin for my tastes.  Well I could not have been more wrong.  Happy hour was 3 – 7 with delicious apps half off and drinks were reasonable.  The food was great and with 2 drinks was well within my comfort zone.  And the help was great.  So if you are looking for a place to eat on the island give them a go, it was good.

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I really had a good time today.  They moved, I moved.  They missed, and I tricked them.  It was way cool to see them roll up, I love that.  There was lots of bits and the action was consistent.  So there will be lots more salt in my future, starting to get my mojo back.  As our winds start to subside the topwater bite could last all day with the right clouds.  It will be watch the weather, then go.  There are lots of other places that should be loaded right now.  And I am still waiting for a couple of days on the Laguna.  And I appreciate all of you who take time out of your life to read my stuff.  Keep stopping in.

Good Luck and Tight Lines

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This and That 4/15/17.

FISH CATCHING TRAVEL

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I was working on the trailer lights when Jeffish and his son Korbin stopped by.  He came up with a solution to the problem, at least most of it.  Of course he had ulterior motives, Korbin wanted to go bass fishing.  So since we were legal how could I resist.

Bass fishing with lures is not the best thing for fishing with small kids, and while Korbin had a go at it, he is just not quite old enough.  He loves catching fish, the operative word, catching.  But hey we gave it a go.

We got to the lake at about noon, and it was already hopping.  The parking lot was filling up, as was the camp ground.  Jet skiers, skiers, and pleasure boats were already out in force.  The weather was perfect for enjoying the lake.

Fish number 1.  Beautiful day.

We started on a main lake bank and I thought the best bait for Korbin would be a topwater, a Pop-R type bait, no problem detecting a bite and easy to fish.  Jeffish started with a Texas rigged craw, and I kept with the Controlled Descent pearl jerk shad.  I put a couple in the boat in the first area, and on our second place Korbin had one smoke the topwater, but it came off.  I caught another 1 there then we decided to head up lake to our old stomping grounds.

This guy was a freakin’ cannibal!  That is Korbin’s thumb next to the baby bass this guy puked up.

By this time Korbin was losing interest, he gave it the old college try but it was just not enough action to keep him entertained.  Meanwhile Jeffish put on a swim jig and got a couple of bites so I put one on and we started having a little action.  He was throwing the crawdad look and I threw the white.  They were close to the bank and most of them just smacked it.  Jeffish did get bambozzled by one that swam 15 feet towards him and he just kept reeling wondering what was wrong with his bait.

                                           Jeffish got it going on the swim jig.

Before it was over we caught 9, nothing big, but an ok result for 4 hours in the middle of the day.  Korbin did not catch one, and that is all about the attention span of a 6 year old.   Shortly after he wanted to go home we hit the road, the last thing you want to do is make them stay.  But he is a little tough guy and we will keep taking him occasionally, and he will get the hang of it.   Fun to get out with them as they keep busy and we don’t get to fish together as much as we like to.

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We got back in one cove today and it was just literally overflowing with tilapia.  Jeffish likes to shoot them so he and Korbin went out for a little this morning and here is a quick report.

The tilapia spot from yesterday had wind blowing in it and chocolate colored. They weren’t coming up to the top so we found a spot out of the wind. Beds everywhere but being out of practice I only brought 4 in. The one here is the smallest of them.

Nice job boys!

The tilapia are everywhere right now.  So if you like to bow fish now is the time.  Just ease back into the back end of any cove and watch, they are in most of them.  Plus some good eating can be the result.

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And just a reminder, that law enforcement will be out in force this weekend.  Time to take stock of the important stuff.  Trailer bearings ok, life jackets, registration and paperwork in order, fire extinguisher and flares, there is tons of stuff to take a look at this weekend.  Game and Fish was out on Coleto yesterday so be advised no matter where you are, get your stuff together.  I just had the head to toe check at POC last month, it happens.  So take some time to look it all over, then spend a little money to get up to snuff, or you can just hand it over on a ticket.  Your choice.  Plus, it would really suck if you had to get off the water because of it.

And to go along with that, it is a “be nice” weekend.  Everybody and his brother are out there, our weather is just fantastic right now.  So be the bigger guy at the ramp and on the water.  Lots of folks on their first trip to the water this spring so be patient.  And watch for folks having boat trouble, a common occurrence this time of year.  Stop and help if you can, it will come back to you in spades.

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Get Inhaled!

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Makes a grandpa proud!

My grandbaby Mia.  She loves her fishing and we will be fishing together on Lake Travis in a little more than a month.

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One of the things I really enjoy about watching MLF fishing is seeing how they dissect a body of water and try to catch as many fish as possible.  If I had to describe my style of fishing that would be it.  Keep your bait in the water and keep the faith.  I find my myself often fishing what I know will work, sometimes to my deterement as far as big fish go.  My wife describes that place, both in life and fishing, as your warm and fuzzy spot.  It is hard to get out of that spot at times but it goes back to the old adage that is applicable to fishing;  “A bird in the hand is worth 2 in the bush.”  Hard to get off what is working sometimes.

Another thing I like even more than that about the show, which we can all take away from watching that format, is that “guess what?” – There may be 6 or 8 of the best bass fishermen on the planet, and usually one or two will have a tough day.  All fishermen should find some comfort in that.  We may not be the best fishermen in the world, but the pros have their tough days too, it is still fishing.

And last, I see guys post on Facebook some really nice big fish, and some of them are really good fish.  But I never see their “We went today and it didn’t work out.” post.  Easy to just put the big ones up, but unfortunately that is not how every day goes.  And I notice one other thing that is common with that kind of big fish post, notice how they never tell you where or what they caught it on?  That is one thing I take pride in with this blog, I can not catch them with the best of them and tell you about how with my superior skill I managed to screw it up.  We can learn just as much from a not so successful trips as we can from a successful trip.

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That is all for today.  I am still having a little vacation blues.  Hard to get motivated from all that, but some serious fishing should help.  I spent the morning detailing the boat, it needed it.  I will leave it to everyone else to enjoy the water today.  It looks like a perfect weekend to be on the water or in the outdoors doing whatever floats your boat.  I on the other hand will get up the Sydney post, watch some fishing and MMA, and get ready to get back at it as soon as the weekend traffic clears out.  I hear those speckled trout and reds calling me.  Have a safer and fun weekend and keep stopping in.  Thanks for reading my stuff.

Good Luck and Tight Lines

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Coleto Creek 4/12/17.

FISH CATCHING TRAVEL

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Day 3

It was supposed to be cloudy all day and finally clearing, and that is exactly what the weather did.  The end of 2 days of rain and clouds with clearing does not bode all that well for the day.  I took it easy this morning, the bite has been in the afternoon, and it played out just like it has the last couple of days when I fished the lake.

I started way up lake, and other than one small one pitching, and a couple of small ones on spinnerbait, it was a bust.  The water is quite off-color and it is hard to guess whether that had something to do with the lack of bites up lake, or it is just an afternoon bite.  So after not doing all the much I went back to the Controlled Descent pearl jerk shad and stuck with it the rest of the afternoon.  It was 3 here, 4 there, 1 on this point, 3 in the back end, it was a consistent bite even if they ran smaller today.

               They bit the Controlled Descent pearl jerk shad all afternoon.

The bite really started about 1:00 after I headed down lake to a little clearer water and they were biting when I called it a day at 4:00.  Of course they wanted it differently today.  It was a steady jerk/pause working it sub- surface like you would walk the dog with a Spook.  Remember it is critical that you make sure the jerk shad is on there as straight as possible so it glides and not spin.  I have been using a hook with a keeper and a 1/16oz weight on the shank and it is important to let it sink just a second before working it.  The belly weight on the hook will keep it up right and walking nicely.  It takes a minute to get a good cadence, and it is all about having it on there straight.  Not a one took a pass at it when  I stopped it, they just wanted a nice regular cadence.

                                  I missed the only big fish bite I got all day.

Now using it that way I definitely missed more fish when moving it along today.  Several materialized out of nowhere half way back and just did not get it, or at least I missed them.  Unfortunately I made a big mistake, the kind that drives a tournament fishermen crazy.  A really big fish, the only one I saw in 3 days, came out of an isolated  bush and rolled on the Controlled Descent and did not hook up.  I was ready and tossed a watermelon red senko back on her and she ate, and I did not get a hook in her.  No excuses, should have been a slam dunk.

The lake is definitely clearing and holding steady.  A lot of the water temps over the lake are in the high 70’s.   I have learned a couple of things that are applicable to the lake right now.  First, though I did not pitch much today, that is really the way to go as it has been for me the last couple of summers.  There are multiple banks on the lakes with deep water and heavy cover, the place to be right now.  Second, there are still fish in the coves, but they are getting smaller by the day as the lake heads into a summer pattern.  We are a month early this year and it shows.

I did not fish all that well today.  Got a little to hung up on places that are just done for the spring, at least as far as the big fish go.  And since I only had one bite from a really big fish, obviously I need a change of tactics.  It is apparent that being gone I probably missed the best fishing with the Controlled Descent Lure, a great bait for shallow bass, it sure did put them in the boat the last couple of days.  Funny how when you catch 20+ in a short day and am not really happy with the results.  All in all I could have fished better.

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Get Inhaled!

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Thanks to a couple of Jims, and few others, for your welcome back.  It is good to be back on the old stomping grounds, but I am still feeling like some fish catching travel.  I have a couple of things in the works and we will just have to see how the timing works out with everything else going on around here.

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As soon as I hit publish it is out to the boat and see just why in the hell I have running lights but no brake or turn signals on the Mako trailer.  When I changed both boats over to LEDs a couple of years ago I have not had any problems.  If I were guessing it is either a ground issue or a plug issue.   First I will just back up and hook on to the Carolina Skiff and make sure they work, probably the quickest way to ascertain whether it is a plug problem, ground problem, or a problem with the Mako trailer.  And while I am at it check and grease the hubs and make sure nothing in the compartments is wet from being in the rain a couple of days.   Owning boats is a never ending process that takes time and money.  I really should not complain, when you fish over 150 days a year stuff is going to fail, it always has and always will.

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Not sure what or where is next, but time for some wading.  Our wind has stayed up, it often just turns into putting on your big boy pants and just go.  Occasionally being able to pick your days is a good thing, and other times it is easy to let time pass and then  you wonder why you haven’t been.  The wind usually is just a hassle on the ride, but once in the water can be managed.  Plus, I want to get in some topwater fishing, this is usually the best time of year for it other than late fall.  So off to get some stuff done so it can be back on the water.  Keep stopping in and thanks for reading my stuff.

Good Luck and Tight Lines

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Coleto Creek 4/10-11/2017.

FISH CATCHING TRAVEL

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It is Sunday night as I get some of this ready.  I have not been in the boat in 3 weeks so am excited about hitting the lake.  There has been some fish caught and there was a big tournament this weekend and Colby won it with 22lbs, a good string.  The boy can catch fish in fresh and salt and would be a great guide if you were needing one out of POC

The weather looks windy, but with clouds and a possibility of rain it is my kind of bass fishing day.  This whole week is free so there will be quite a bit more fishing to come.

Weather

80/67  Scattered thunderstorms in am.  Cloudy rest of day.  40% chance  15 -25 SSE

Lake Level

Today  97.56 msl    Last Trip – 3 weeks ago 98.03

Solunar Periods

Best  10:42 am – 12:42 pm   Good  4:52 pm – 6:52 pm

Monday

Today I started off having a tough time.  Not being on the lake for a while it was trying to figure out a pattern.  The lake was down just a hair, and it has color to it in most places.  I wanted to start with the Whooper Plooper, and after over an hour with one bite I knew that was not going to cut it.  That one fooled me, and I stuck with it a little longer than I should have.

I noticed a few shad flipping by the bank so I tossed the crawdad swim jig for a while without a bite.  It finally soaked in to my little pea brain and a switch to white was in order, and that saved the day.

Once I figured it out it was a good afternoon.

They were not interested in much of anything till I started throwing the white swim jig with a craw trailer.  They wanted it differently and it took a minute to figure it out.  They wanted it faster than usual, occasionally jerking it pretty hard a couple of times, and they would smack it.  By time I figured that out I had fished for 3 hours without much success.

As it is so often is on Coleto the afternoon fishing was the best.

It was cloudy all day, and it surprised me they would not hit other stuff.  And with the water color it was interesting how they wanted it fast and jerked.  They were tight to cover on the bank and it had to be moving when it hit the water.

                                 And the rain did not hurt anything.

I caught fish here and there, uplake and down.  They really want the cover, I just have not quite got it down yet.  Funny how not fishing for a while is like starting over.  There are shallow fish, I just  need another way, or maybe location, and it could be awesome.  Not a bad day considering, and it is always fun to catch them a different way, and as fast as they wanted it was different.

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Get Inhaled!

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Tuesday – I did!

I try to cut the weatherman as much slack as possible, but sorry about that.  He could not have been anymore wrong if he said it was going to snow.  I just got back from the lake, and when it blew in around 3:30 it was exciting.  Rain, high cold north wind, thunder, big rollers, it had it all.  The weatherman said this would be out of here by mid morning, and it would be sunny.  This thing must be barely moving, because he got it wrong big time.  There was a weather alert for the coast, and the way it came through here it was probably ugly.

He may not be a man eater but I would not give this guy a chance.

I decided to fish the plant arm today, as the wind was not near as bad as yesterday.  I just knew that the white swim jig was the ticket, and a couple of hours later I was beginning to wonder.  Starting in a creek, I worked back in and out, and if memory serves me correct the only fish I boated was a tilapia.  It was a good one and will be tasty tonight.  Next up a wooded point, and one small one jumped on the swim jig, but it did not seem to be happening.

Finally put a few in the boat pitching.

So after that not working out I decided to do a little pitching.  Out came old reliable, a 3/16th weight, pegged, with a 5″ stick worm in watermelon red.  If there is cover that combo will catch fish anywhere.  They want a little deeper heavy cover, and the better one was a tussle dragging him in over all that trash.  From there I headed back to the main lake area, but the banks were just not right for pitching, and for the life of me I could not get the swim jig working.  I caught fish a fish or two on topwater, pitching, swim jig, and then I made a good decision.

The pearl Controlled Descent Lure got the job done.

As I rounded a point there was a little flat with cover on it, right on the main lake.  So out came the pearl jerk shad and it was game on in the bushes.  The ones above came in literally 8 casts.  From there on I caught a bunch of fish but just could not boat a big one.  But it was fun.  They wanted it right below the surface in a walking the dog pattern, and they would eat when you stopped it occasionally.  They would roll up and eat it, or you could see them below it and you just had to keep it coming.  I used a small split shot in it to give it just enough weight to stay up, you had to see it to catch them.  2 thumbs up to the yellow lens Cocoons, with the cloud cover the pearl bait stuck out like a sore thumb.

I have caught several of these this year.  Supper.

Once I started throwing the Controlled Descent I had bites the rest of the afternoon until the storm blew in.  I think my problem right now is I am just not quite on the right bank.  The fish are up and biting, and there is nothing wrong with the weight of my best 5 both days, but it feels like there is more out there.

Not sure what is next, but it will be totally wind controlled.  I will probably hit the lake one more day tomorrow.  It just feels right.  But I am itching to get back to the salt.  And if we can get 2 days with low winds Baffin is still in my future.  It is good to be back, nothing like familiar haunts.  I appreciate you all sticking with me while I was gone.  Let the fishing begin.  Keep stopping in and thanks for reading my stuff.

Good Luck and Tight Lines

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Fishing Port Douglas Australia

FISH CATCHING TRAVEL

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Fishing Port Douglas

Dawn is breaking, time to go fishing.

Port Douglas is situated on the northern edge of the Great Barrier Reef.  The reef goes for over 2000 miles along the coast and extends out to the area of 30 – 40 miles off.  It is actually a series of reefs dotted all along the coast.  From small to big, many are named.  We fished Chinaman, Three Sisters, and many more that were unnamed.

I had made arrangements with Dragon Lady Charters before I went.  I did the usual research and the reviews on Trip Advisor were great, basically the best reviewed thing to do in Port Douglas.  I booked through Fishing Port Douglas and Lynton coordinated everything.  It was very reasonably priced and the booking was handled professionally, so my thanks to Lynton.

http://www.fishingportdouglas.com.au/

The Dragon Lady is a 34ft offshore fishing boat based in Port Douglas.  I booked 2 days and left a couple open depending on how it went.  My main goal was just to spend some time trolling the reef and just experience being there.  This is light tackle season, basically the marlin and tuna are not there at this time.  For the big marlin it is fall: October, November, and December.  This is called the heavy tackle season when the big fish are there.  So I had no expectation of catching marlin, but did want to catch some of what they call Spanish Mackerel, which I have seen on tv.  Looking a lot like our kingfish, they get big but unlike our kingfish are good to eat.  Of course I was cool with whatever happened to jump on the line.  I just really like offshore trolling.

Can you say anticipation?

I met Capt. Steve the owner and Capt. Louie who would be the deck hand for the day.  We headed out and started trolling after about an hour trip.  Our spread was 2 big shallow running minnow baits on the center lines and one skirted bait and one regular trolling bait on the outriggers.  Our first bite was on a skirt/ballyhoo, which they call a garfish.  Unfortunately must have been a small nick in the line as it parted way above the swivel.  So we kept at it and finally had a bite on a crank bait.

Capt Louie and me.  We are having fun now!

If there was one thing that I thought I would not catch on this trip was a marlin.  A juvenile blue marlin whacked a minnow bait then jumped and went absolutely nuts all the way to the boat.  We boated him for a quick picture and back in he went.  It was the first marlin boated there this year that they knew about.  In fact we had a few other bumps on the minnow bait over the next couple of days, the boys said that marlin often hit it with their bill first and that is what those bites probably were.  Little did we know that it would happen again a couple of days later.

                A couple of Spanish Mackerel.  A great fight and a cool fish!

‘We continued trolling and finally got a couple of Spanish mackerel in the boat.  After the first bite everything that bit the rest of the day came on the big minnow baits.  If memory serves me well we trolled in the 5 – 6 mph range.  It was a great day on the water and topping it off with a marlin was just plain crazy.  He may have been small, but guess what?  I caught a marlin on the Great Barrier Reef.  Steve and Louie were great, the eats were good, and they are good guys to spend the day with.  I was really looking forward to the next day.

Day 2

The next morning we got started at 8:00.  One thing I wanted to try today was popper fishing for a Giant Trevally.  Louie was captain today and the first mate was Cam.  Louie has been fishing with Capt. Steve for 3 years.  Getting a guide license is not as easy as it is in the US.  But at 23 Louie got his license last year and in his first year of heavy tackle they wired a grander over a 1000.  For his first season it was unusual, and I predict if he keeps after it he will be one of the hot young captains on the reef.

We started on a reef that usually holds GTs, but did not raise a fish.  It was dead calm and hot and humid as heck today.  Bait was everywhere, with the occasional bust, but try as we might we could not raise a fish.  Interesting how it is done.  You make a cast from the corner then move to the other corner and the next guy casts, and keep alternating.  The popper itself is the size of a small car, and ripping and popping is nothing short of work.  With that not working, and being 90 degrees and humid as heck, we headed off to do some bottom fishing.

Using cut bait we did the drop straight down thing, and you never knew what you would catch next.  Our main quarry was a big nannygal, but unfortunately did not put one in the boat.  I had a great trout on, and on the way in felt a bump, then it went slack, then bump, and as I reeled in what was a good keeper, a fairly big shark was swimming along reducing him to nothing but a head.

We kept moving and dropping, catching fish wherever we fished, but nothing much in the size department.  A little later in the day I had a really big fish on when bump, bump, and then gone.  The leader was chaffed way up the line, another shark feeding on my nice fish.  Finally we set up for a troll back in.   We put a scaly mackerel in the boat and had a few other misses, but for the day it was slow.  Just like fresh water, no good tide, dead slick and mile high sky is just not the best fishing conditions no matter where you are.

Day 3

All that day’s fishing did for me was make me want more.  I really enjoyed those couple of days and wanting more booked another day.  The plan today was just trolling.  I did the bottom fishing just to do it, but I love the throb of the big diesels, watching the baits as they make a smoke trail, and seeing the occasional blow up.

Today it was almost noon before we got our first bite.  This time it was on the trolling lure.  We had a knock down on the outrigger but no taker.  Cam grabbed the rod and jerked the bait back and forth and felt one tap it.  The fight was on and after a good fight in the boat came my second marlin of the trip.  He only jumped a few times by the boat and Cam did a great job of billing it.  A quick pic and in he went, maybe to end up a grander one day.

This was so unusual that people in town were actually talking about the boat catching 2 marlin in 3 days.  That moment made my trip, again.  When you talk about expectations vs. reality, this was clearly the case.  In my wildest dreams I did not think we would catch a marlin, much less 2.  Now I can say I caught 2 marlin on the Great Barrier Reef.

My second blue marlin.  You always see my ugly mug so here is Capt. Louie and Cam, they were just as excited as I was.

We caught 6 or 7 fish today, and 3 of them were small bonita, which we caught  a few of both days of trolling.  2 were small, perfect skip baits for heavy tackle season so in the freezer nice and straight they went.  Who knows, maybe some one will catch a grander on one this fall.

My last fish, a scaly mackerel.  And a bonita headed for heavy tackle season.

The fishing was not fast by any means, but it was as good as I could have hoped for.  It has given me a bad case of wanting to go back for heavy tackle season.  Being on the reef is a real experience, and the thought of hours of trolling a skip bait waiting on the bite of a lifetime is driving me nuts right now.

The happy crew and customer.

I give props to the crew, they were competent and just plain fun to be around.  They have added a second boat to the fleet and are looking to replace the main boat in the future.  Capt. Louie is a good fisherman and the sky is the limit for him.  Putting granders on the end of the line is what it is all about and he is just the guy for the job.  I don’t know if I will ever get back there, so many places to fish on this earth, but if I do it will be with these guys.

Day 4  The Daintree

Headed in with Capt. Jamie.

Back to the reality vs. expectations.  We booked one day with Jamie Beitzel on the Daintree River.  The hope was to catch a barramundi, a bucket list fish for me, and see some saltwater crocs while we were at it.  Unfortunately neither of those things happened.  The lesson learned from that is I should have checked the tide tables before booking.

The river mouth and the ferry, the only way to cross the river and get into the tropical Daintree rain forest.

When we started in the morning the tide was just up and the water was barely moving, and it would not move the rest of the day.  So with the water way up in the creeks and mangroves we started with live bait on deep brush piles.  We caught a variety of fish, snappers, trevally, and small what looked to me like groupers but were juvenile cod.  We kept moving when my lovely wife had the bite of the trip.  (Of course not counting the marlin!)

One crazy fish and a hell of a tussle!

After a big tussle Jamie boated her shovelnose shark.  We caught a similar fish on PINS shark fishing, which was a guitar fish.  With so many different names for fish it was hard to tell if it was exactly the same fish, but it sure looked like it.  Nancy handled it like a pro and it goes down as one of the cool catches on my trips.

Next we went up an arm of the Daintree to the edge of an area that is no fishing.  They have several large areas on the river that are protected and it ensures the area will be great fishing for decades to come.  We anchored up in about 30 foot of water and he gave me a light spoon/jig which he said to cast out, let sink, then jerk back to the boat.  On my second cast one tapped it and the fight was on.  This thing went absolutely nuts, jumping like crazy, I thought it was a tarpon.

Tarpon have nothing on a Queenfish.  What a jumper!

It turned out to be a queenfish, which looked like a member of the jack family, but is not.  It was every bit as exciting to catch as a tarpon and was a great jumper.  His jumps were epic and once he got sideways was a load.  Then to really put a stamp on reality vs. expectation the next fish I hooked on the spoon was a tarpon.  Just like catching the marlin, a tarpon was clearly the last thing I thought I would catch.  Theirs do not get real big, and this one was maybe 6 – 8 pounds and flopped off at boat side.  We tried it in one other place without success, but there were quite a few small tarpon rolling in that arm of the river.   They catch them on a fly rod, and as an interesting side note to you long rod guys, not only can you boat a marlin on a trip, there are permit here.  Would make for a great multi species trip.

                  This, that, and the other.  They all liked live bait.

To finish off the afternoon he kept the boat off the bank and I threw the Controlled Descent plastics trying to boat a barra.  The tide was not moving, and other than one rolling on it, I never had a bite from a barra.  On the other hand I caught small jacks and a couple of small snappers on it.  Then I caught a couple of the most interesting fish I have ever caught, the Archer Fish.  I have seen them on TV, they are the ones that spot bugs and small stuff on limbs close to the water and spit them off.  It has a groove in the top of his mouth to make the kill shot by spitting.  A cool fish, who would have thought it would hit plastics.

You just never know what you will catch.  One of a couple of archer fish on the Controlled Descent Lures.  I am sure I am the only guy I know who has caught one of these crazy fish.

It was a really nice day, it rained on and off all day and really cooled off from what it was the first few days in Port Douglas.  Jamie was an interesting fellow.  His parents drove to the end of the road long before this area was known and spent their lives commercial fishing.  He was able to buy a place in what is now the Daintree park, and has a place that is off the grid, and he said, “I haven’t been anywhere”.  He is the quintessential Australian, hardy and self sufficient.  His history of the area was great and he was a very accommodating guide.  So no barra or big croc, but a big shovelnose shark, an acrobatic queenfish, and even a tarpon made it a special day.  Traveling to new places it really helps to temper your expectations, you just never know.

The mangroves.  Looking off to the Daintree forest.

So that is how the fishing went.  At no time was it fast by any means, but on the other hand there is just something magical about marlin.  Big or small, they are a beautiful fish and seeing them coming to the boat all lit up is one of the great sights in fishing.  This was really a great example of expectations vs. reality.  The Great Barrier Reef is all that and more, and the Daintree was the coolest river I have ever fished.  I hope I live long enough to make it back to Port Douglas.  It is a fisherman’s dream and I barely scratched the surface of the fishing, much less getting to snorkel and explore everything else there is to do there.  And you know what?  I am still that young kid with dreams of big black marlin, and this trip did nothing to dispel that dream.  Heavy tackle season has moved to the top of my bucket list.  And take my word for it, you can get a bigger boat or spend more money, but you will not have a better day on the Great Barrier Reef with anyone as good as the crew of Dragon Lady.

Only memories left.

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What’s for supper?  Chinese again?

 I am not sure when gold was discovered in this area, but it was the 1800’s sometime.  Along with Australian miners 10,000 Chinese landed and started mining gold.  According to a couple of stories we heard the aboriginal tribes in the area practiced cannibalism and before it was over there were only 1,000 of the original Chinese miners left.  Australia has a great and wild history, and on our next leg of the trip we learned much about the beginnings of the state.  Convicts and cannibals, no wonder they are such a hardy and interesting people.

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I want to take a minute to add a few general observations on Australia.

  1.  The Roads.  They are great and it is clear they spend money on keeping up the infrastructure.
  2. Bathrooms.  They are everywhere and clean.  Whether on the road, or wandering around any town, there are clean public restrooms everywhere.
  3. Safety.  I have never been in a large city, much less the smaller towns and felt so safe.
  4. Guns.  After a big mass shooting the government banned most guns.  There are no pistols, semi autos of any caliber, much less ARs.  About the only people that have them are landowners of a certain size, gun club members after extensive checks, and the cops.  I am a 2cnd Amendment guy so do not get your panties in a wad.  But it was interesting that there were no shootings, zero, while we were in country.  And not one 7-11 got held up by your friendly gang banger.
  5. Tax.  It is included in most prices, and is paid directly from the seller to the government.  Not saying it was less but it sure made buying stuff easier.
  6. Running a tab.  In the pubs, I confess I lurked in a few, they have an interesting and efficient way to keep track.  You give them your credit card and they put it in a book and give you one back with your number on it.  As you buy another beer or supper they just pick it up and swipe it.  Whether time to settle up, or just getting another drink, it is an easy and efficient way to keep track without having to grab your card or your name every time.
  7. Driving.  Don’t get me wrong, the other side of the road is freakin’ different, but the drivers in Australia are so polite.  No real horn honking or aggressive driving, the traffic laws are very strict.  DWI is 0.05, a little over half of what they are here, and is considered a major crime.  In fact, some taxis offer a ride home for you and they bring your car.  What a great idea.
  8. The People.  Traveling to some countries you realize that things get done when they get done.  Australia is similar.  “No worries Mate.” is a manta you hear quite often.  In this case it is more of a mind set that seems to be prevalent throughout the country.  Americans can learn a lot from that one, take a breath and relax, it will all work out.
  9. The Food.  Lots of seafood obviously, and they are big shrimp eaters, which are generically called prawns.  They have cool pies, which are a form of the pot pie, but are available in convenience stores and in small cafes.  They come in all types and are really good and reasonably priced.  I ate kangaroo loin among other things, and most of the food we ate was good.  It can be expensive, especially in the big city, but if traveling on a budget good cheap food is available everywhere.
  10. Cost.  Australia is not a cheap trip, but with the exchange rate we got $1 aud for every 0.78 US.  So while it seemed expensive you could take the 24% off the price for the exchange rate, and then the 25% that was government tax and basically the cost was the same as in the US.  Stay or eat at a fancy place and it was expensive, but there were plenty of low cost food and accommodations available.
  11. Guide licensing.  Unlike the US to get a captains license requires hundreds of document hours with a real captain, then an 8 weeks school.  They are proficient at navigation, maintenance, and first aid.  They are inspected by up to 3 agencies and have extensive documentation requirements.  Here you are guaranteed you get a real captain, not some weekend warrior.
  12. Tipping.  It is generally not done.  Part of that is the minimum wage is over $17.00 and the help in food service are paid a living wage.  Every where we went the service was great and they really did appreciate our business.
  13. Gambling.  They love their betting on sports and horses.  In fact the daily papers all include the racing form.  They have small casinos here and there with machines, called pokies.  We actually went to a big one in Sydney, and my home girl won enough to pay for the whole evening.
  14. One huge country.  Australia is massive and there is no way you can see it all, even if you live there.  We met one lady who traveled and camped in country for 2 years and did not see it all.  The Boss spent 6 months of research to decide what we wanted to see and do.  We wanted country side, big city, and the reef.  If you ever go spend the time to do your research, there is never enough time.

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It really was the fishing trip of a lifetime, and only left me wanting more.  I hope you get how much this trip impressed me, this is one fine country.  And the Port Douglas area should be a destination on any trip to Australia.  There is so much to do there, and we did not even scratch the surface of what the Great Barrier Reef has to offer, I could have stayed a month, or a lifetime.  I have one other post to do on our trip and that is on our last destination, Sydney.  One of  the great cities in the world it was all it was cracked up to be.  It is off to the lake in the morning, back to real life.  So keep stopping in and thanks for reading my stuff.

Good Luck and Tight Lines

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Port Douglas

FISH CATCHING TRAVEL

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We were so fortunate on getting to Cairns and then Port Douglas.  There was a giant, and I mean monster, cyclone off the coast of Cairns on our arrival in Sydney.  As the week progressed it spun slightly south and we were fortunate to be able to fly around it and make it to Port Douglas.  It turned out to be really hard on the folks on the coast for hundreds of miles.  Once it spun ashore it rained for days on the coast causing massive flooding and town after town were inundated.  We were so lucky and felt for all the folks as the cyclone raised hell for a week.

The beach a block from the resort.  Note the swimming area.  Surrounded by a chain link net it keeps out all the stuff, you hope, that can eat you!

We hoped in the rental car and headed to Port Douglas, an hour from Cairns.  Port Douglas, a town of around 3000 that swells to as many as 50,000 during their winter season which started a week or so after we were there.  Snorkeling and diving the reef, trips to the Daintree forest, camping, fishing, bike riding, it is a great town for experiencing all the reef and rain forest have to offer.  But the town was quiet while we were there, and the great eating and craft beer drinking continued.  Every night as it would get dark the parakeets, starlings, and cockateels would come to roost and were as noisy as possible.  And it was cool to see the big fruit bats, stuff right out of the horror flicks.  And sun rises and sets that were out of this world.

And I would give a shout out to “by the Sea Port Douglas”, the resort where we stayed.  A trip to Australia would not be complete without a trip to Port Douglas.  And the resort was not only right next to the beach, they have bikes, coolers, ice, carts, books, movies, laptops, among other things that are free to use.  It was reasonably priced and in the heart of town within walking distance from the marina and all the food and shopping you can stand.  If you are fishing there is plenty of things for the family to do with the reef, the Table Lands, and the Daintree forest, all close and easy to drive to.  The ladies at the resort will set it all up for you and are extremely helpful.

https://www.bytheseaportdouglas.com.au/

                            Fishing the rocks.  The landscape was beautiful.

Once we arrived the guide called and there was a north wind coming the next day and it might be a little uncomfortable on the reef.  He asked if I could change one of the days, and as I had 2 open that was not a problem.  Plus no matter where you fish if the guide doesn’t want to go it is definitely time to stay at the dock.  So that left us with day 1 for a drive through the mountains to the  Table Lands and then a visit back through Cairns.

               Red kangaroos, they are considered part of the course.

In the late 60’s and early 70’s the giant black marlin fishing exploded and turned this area on the Great Barrier Reef into the top fishing destination in the world.  Great fisherman on great boats flocked to Cairns from October through December for a chance at a 1000lb black marlin.  Much of the evolution in big game fishing and equipment came from Cairns during this period as the most famous fishermen in the world descended on Cairns to catch the greatest game fish in the ocean, a black marlin grander.

                                                           Hallowed Ground

As a boy I saw Curt Gowdy and Lee Marvin catching giant fish, and dreamed of catching my own marlin.  Every Saturday I waited for American Sportsman hoping that they would marlin fish.  I dreamed of it constantly.  I had never seen the ocean, unless you call an ocean of corn fields one, but I never missed a chance to catch a glimpse on tv.  I finally caught a marlin in Puerto Rico, but have never lost the desire to see the reef and make it to the Cairns Game Fishing Club.  For me being there was a visit to hallowed ground.  And for this boy it was all it was cracked up to be.

                                  These pictures do not do this place justice!

We stopped at the Cock and Bull to eat lunch and see the club.  Unfortunately the club was closed until 5 but the waitress was kind enough to open the club and let us see what for me was everything I dreamed about as a boy.  Huge fish, famous fishermen, the club is real fishing history like no place else on earth.  These folks were on the cutting edge of a revolution, and fish of epic proportions were landed every season.  Just when a person might think he is all that in the fishing world there is nothing like a visit to the club to put that in perspective.  This is a place where dreams are realized, and when you see these giant fish it is impossible to not be impressed.

                                  Some of the greatest fish ever taken on the reef.

One of the places we stopped on our first day drive was Bransfords Discount Tackle.  The salesman was really informative and friendly and took time to just talk about fishing.  On the wall were pictures from the early days of Black Marlin fishing on the Great Barrier Reef.  Pictures of Lee Marvin and Ernest Borgnine catching giant fish in the early days.  And coming from the ceiling was a reproduction of the front half of Lee Marvin’s grander.  The history here is so impressive.

                                    Of course I hoisted a pint to my heros.

Our drive that first day took us up the mountains into the rain forest in an area called the Table Lands.  As you rise up winding roads into the mountains it flattens out and some of the best fruits and vegetables in world are grown here.  Along with the fields of sugar, there is tons of stuff grown in this tropical region.  And of course they have a problem with wild hogs.  There are lakes in the region and it was interesting how there were swampy areas so high in the mountains.  And when you see the gauges for high water it becomes real apparent why some folks have SUV’s with snorkles on them.

                                   Everywhere you looked it was beautiful.

So after a great day driving the area it was a great meal and to bed filled with anticipation of the next days fishing.  I was to meet the folks on the Dragon Lady at 8:30 at the marina, a short walk from our motel for my first day of fishing.  The Boss wanted to come that day to experience the reef so she tagged along to take pictures.  So I will close with that and start on the 4 days of fishing.  It was not what I expected in some respects, and much more in others.  One thing about fishing in so many places, I have learned one thing, expect nothing particular, because you just never know.

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Get Inhaled!

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Time to catch up on a couple of comments, back to the real world we go.

Welcome home!!! Fish are biting at Fayette Lake. Took my wife out Thursday night and she caught two 8′ s on top water, she was in heaven! Got a trip to Costa Rico at La Grange CCA banquet recently and will be going in 2018. Sailfish is on my wife’s bucket list.
Rest up and tight lines,
Rusty

Sounds like the fishing on Fayette and Coleto is hot right now.  I have seen several big fish on line this week from Coleto.  Congrats to your wife, the kind of day that keeps us fishing.  And you should have a great time in Costa Rica.  My trip there was exceptional, and we caught a bunch.  Good to hear from you.

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Lelia dropped me this comment after reading the blog post on the Powderhorn.

Thanks! I plan to bring my RV to camp at Magnolia Beach soon. I’ll be bringing my 12-ft kayak and your helpful tips will really give me a good start. I’ll check with the marina when I arrive for more information. I’m also eager to do some crabbing and shrimping, so am hoping this area is salty enough. On the satellite view, it looks like the pass into Powederhorn Lake might be ideal for shrimp.

Good luck on your trip.  The pass out of the Powderhorn is full of shrimp during the fall.  It is a shrimp nursery and I have seen them rolling out of there on a full moon falling tide in October.  Please be sure to review the regs, if memory serves me right there are some specific rules for that pass.  And there is the crabbing bridge which you will cross when you first come out on the island and both the lake and the bay have crab traps so there are some around.  So have at, there are plenty of areas for your kayak.  Let us know how it goes, we would love the report.  And thanks for reading.

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And I got this tongue in cheek comment from catfishtom.

You are so blessed to Fish the way you do all your life! Enjoy your trip to the down under while you are there! If you do not want to come back to the Northern Hemisphere, can I have your boat here in Texas ? LOL Enjoy Life while you can I will if You give me your boats! Again LOL

Can I and my neighbors have your 2 boats or not? Jeff and Korbin and I wii enjoy them while you enjoy the down under trip.

Have fun while you can

Trust me, if I could have stayed forever you would have scored, but life goes on.  And you, Jeff, and Korbin are welcome on the boat anytime.  And yes I realize just how lucky I am, trust me.  This boy from the cornfields of Iowa thought trips like this were a dream, and they are.

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I know most of you have been waiting for the fishing and I am going to do it right now.  I just needed to post this stuff in order trying not to forget the tons of stuff I have already forgotten about the trip.  So the fishing is coming.  And in the morning the boat will be on the truck and headed out the driveway.  Where I have not decided, but it is usually Coleto Monday and there have been some big fish posted on line this last week.  So keep stopping in and thanks for reading my stuff.

Good Luck and Tight Lines

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Australia 4/7/16.

FISH CATCHING TRAVEL

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After an all night flight we arrived in Sydney at 6:30am and by 7:30 we were on the road to Melbourne.  We wanted to make a drive to get it out of the way so we could enjoy the first part of the trip in an unhurried fashion.  The road from Sydney to Melbourne is 800km and is a great 4 lane highway, a good place to practice driving on the wrong side of the road.  It took a little getting used to of course, but I want to say this right now – Australian drivers are considerate and driving this trip was a pleasure, though somewhat scary at times.

Fresh food at the open air market.

We passed farms and tons of sheep as we hit the state of Victoria, and our first 3 nights were in Melbourne.  A big city, it is cosmopolitan and a melting pot of folks from around the world.  We stayed in the downtown area in a boutique hotel, my wife’s favorite accommodation, with no need to drive in the city.  And it was a great place to settle in after the big time change.

                 The Harbor Walk.                                             Headed out.

We explored the city, ate like pigs, and had a great time.  I can not over emphasize how safe Australia is.  No matter where we were on this trip it was the safest place we have ever been.  The people are great and helpful, and the 3 days gave us a chance to rest up and get ready for our big travels.  It was interesting how people would bring up the subject of Trump.  They did not know how to approach it, but were definitely interested.  Suffice to say they are not impressed.  But the people were polite and respectful and they live by the saying, “No worries Mate.”

The Victoria region is so like South Africa, which make sense as it is basically on the same level as South Africa.  It is a heavily farming/ranching area with sheep being the main crop.  As we headed to our second stop we drove on the Great Ocean Road, which is one of the top 10 drives in the world.  And it was beautiful.

Australians love the water, camping, and all things outdoors.

The coast line is stunning.

On the drive we stopped to watch a surfing contest, and saw the rescue guys who take the boats out to save folks.  The water was beautiful, and the beaches run for miles.  One thing that was different in this part of Australia from our Port Douglas adventure was the water was not quite as active as up north, in other words not as many sharks, or big crocs, or deadly jelly fish.

They catch all kinds of crazy stuff off the pier from big to small.

On the way we stopped at a fishing pier, which turned out to be a fishing club.  There are fishing clubs all over Australia.   While we were there we watched someone launch a boat from the beach and then work his way through big rocks to get out to the ocean.  Interesting how they got that done.  One trailer had a tractor attached, so launching there was no easy proposition.  With some many people living on the coast the country has a large fishing culture, along with camping and 4 wheeling, and you see people fishing everywhere.  It sure got my blood to pumping.  One thing I learned this trip, if you go take a break down rod and reel, there is plenty of stuff to catch and places to do it on the coast.  From there it was off to our second stop, Castlemaine.

Our B&B, a cool converted barracks in a cool town.

We chose this as our driving portion of the trip as it was recommended by some Australians we met in Turkey.  This is the heart of the gold country.  When gold was discovered in the 1800’s thousands of folks, including the Chinese, came to find gold.  Gold here is alluvial, in other words it is found on the ground, so while they dug conventional mines, much was recovered simply by walking.  They still come from all over the world to search with metal detectors and find gold today.  And the areas is dotted with forest and lakes which have trout and a few other odd fish in them.

Magpies and Cockateels are everywhere.  They raise hell from dawn to dusk.

After a night there we continued on to our next destination, Beechworth.  Another mining town, it is now a tourist destination in the mountains.  We stayed in another B&B, which turned out to be the number one in the world a couple of years ago.  It was nice, but one of those places where I was constantly afraid I was going to break something.  We walked around town, and of course ate and drank, as I continued my beer tour of Australia.  No matter where you are in Australia Happy Hour is 5 – 7 pm everyday.

This place was fancy, but the owners were great and the town was fun.

From there it was off to Katumba, a town outside Sydney where we would hop on a plane the next morning for our flight to Port Douglas.  It was a great drive and we ended up in the Blue Mountains, which we did not have time to explore.  This is a big freakin’ country, and figuring out what and where to go and see was hard.  There just was not enough time.

                    Rolling hills and sheep, and sheep, and more sheep.

It was interesting in that we saw few Kangaroos until we headed out of Beechworth back to Sidney.  Australia has a problem in some areas with deforestation, or loss of habitat.  As an example the owner of the B&B in Beechworth is a life long resident and he has never seen a koala in the wild.  And an artist we talked with in Castlemaine said there was a big reduction of wildlife in the last 30 years.  Like everywhere, the encroachment of man is never a good thing but they are taking active measures to replant and replace the original landscape.  But even with those problems it is a wonderful country that respects it wildlife.

So nice to see these old buildings still in use as we went through the small older towns.

Once we got to Katumba it was traditional Aussie food in a cool pub, then off to the airport to fly to Cairns, pronounced Cans.  It is the home of big game fishing.  From a sleepy coastal town to one of the top destinations in the world, Cairns has drawn the pioneers of big game fishing for a shot at a grander.

I am finally getting a little more squared away after the big trip home and after catching up on stuff got a chance to finish this first report.  We went over pictures of the next part of the trip, the fishing, this morning and I am going to sit down and work on getting that posted by tonight.  Port Douglas was awesome, and I still say since it was named after me I should have been able to stay a couple of months.  So keep stopping in and thanks for reading my stuff.

Good Luck and Tight Lines

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Get Inhaled!

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The Great Barrier Reef 3/31/17

Just a quick note as I have had a comment or two wondering where I am.  I am on the trip of a lifetime.  From the time as a boy I saw Lee Marvin catching 1000 pound Black Marlin I have dreamed of Cairns, the Reef, and the Cairns Big Game Fishing Club.  The dream of a boy growing up in the cornfields of Iowa, this is every thing and more.  Rarely does the reality meet the expectation, but this a dream that I hope I never wake up from and it makes me emotional just writing this.  No disrespect to our fishing, but having a fancy flats boat and catching big trout is cool, but this puts that in perspective.  We might think we are all that, well buddy boy, this is the freakin’ real deal.

I just fished 2 days on the Great Barrier Reef.  We have been burning the candle at both ends, so much to see and do, Australia is one fantastic country.   So while I had plans to post on these trips, it is not happening, just do not want to waste a minute.  Tomorrow it is as a day on the Daintree River, a river bordering a tropical heritage rain forest.  Hope to catch a barramundi, a big one on my bucket list, the guide said maybe some Queenfish off the beach popper fishing.  Then head into the jungle on the river to see the giant man eating crocs.  Crazy!  On the reef I caught a juvenile blue marlin, some awesomely cool mackeral, along with some beautiful bottom fish today.  Luckily after tomorrow’s river trip I get one more day of trolling on the reef.  So we are alive and well, and as soon as we get back I will post pics with lots to tell.  One week to go.  I have not forgot you all, as the Aussie’s say, “No worries Mate!”

Good Luck and Tight Lines

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Coleto Creek 3/16/17.

FISH CATCHING TRAVEL

Brought to you by  waderight2-50

** For a super deal on your Wade Right use promo code FCT15 and get 15% off on your online  order!**

As I get some of this prepared on Wednesday it is just beautiful outside.  It really bodes well for tomorrow’s fishing.  Jim is driving over from the Houston area, and of course I feel some pressure to produce.  It always generates a little apprehension in how the fishing will go when you first fish with someone new.  But Jim is a tournament fisherman who won on Coleto last year so I am sure it will work out just fine. Thinking back on first trips like that I had a couple that stand out.

I took a non-fisherman to the Powderhorn one morning and it was so foggy you could not see your hand in front of your face.  We idled into the lake just a little and started with popping cork, it stayed foggy, and we caught trout literally non stop all day.  He did not have a clue that was not how it works, so he was not suitably impressed.  And the first time I took my buddy Jeffish spinnerbait fishing on Coleto we killed them.  3 – 5lbers all afternoon.  They were literally trying to jerk the rod out of our hands.  He being a fisherman was suitably impressed as he knew it does not always go like that.  And of course there are lots of days where it did not go worth a hoot.  Time to go do any equipment checks and re-tie fluoro leaders.  We will be on the lake in the morning trying to have that epic first day.

Weather

77/65  Cloudy patchy morning drizzle possible.  20% chance.  Wind SSE 15 – 25.

Lake Level

Today – 98.03 msl    10 days ago – 97.53 msl

Solunar Times

  • Best      2:29P – 4:29P
  • Good    8:17A – 10:17A

Well the fishing today turned out to be far from epic, but in another sense it was a great day.  Jim and I have been corresponding since he started reading me a couple of years ago, and when he suggested we get together and fish I was all about it.  We met at 8:00 at the ramp and were fishing 15 minutes later.

The gators were on the prowl all day.

It was real evident how much the lake had come up.  It is still off-color, especially way up lake.  The water temp was 68 degrees in most places in the morning, and later in the day as the sun came out we found some 70 degree stuff in the back ends of some of the pockets.  With the wind supposed to hit up to 25mph, which it did, I wanted to hit a couple of spots that I knew would have the wind on it when it started to blow.

We struck out on the first place, and on our next move to a main lake bank we started catching them on swim jig.  Jim fished blue/black and I stuck with the bluegill color.  The blue/black was clearly the better color today with the off-color water.  Guessing I think it was 5 on the second place.  After that we moved to a small creek and caught another 4 or 5, all on the swim jig.  From there we scooted up lake to fish a long windy main lake bank.  We caught a couple on spinnerbait when we hit a small cove and I had my “bite.”  I made a perfect cast, buzzed it right on top making a big wake and when it got next to a bush one in the 8lb range blasted it, and after a cool jump was gone.  Simply a case of a larger trailer getting in the way of the trailer hook, which I remedied by removing the trailer.  Who knows?  Operator error may have played a small part.  As my old buddy Tad used to say, with your superior skill you managed to *&^$  it up!

Jim with a good one.  And my stretch of catching “other stuff” on the swim jig continues.

From there it was up the river where the water is still really off-color.  We picked up one or two here and there, but it soon became evident that the fishing was better in the clearer water.  As the day wore on the fish moved shallow, and I mean into water where we saw several move on the bait in the shallow grass.  Spinnerbait worked during the day, but the swim jig still produced the most fish.  They really like this rise and the fishing is going to get better and better as the next week goes along.

        Though no real big ones it was a nice average size for the day.

We also had a bite or two on topwater and one on a buzzbait, they are getting there.  After fishing up lake we headed back down to re-fish some of the places we had fished initially and the fishing stayed pretty good.  One here, 3 there, they kept biting.  They really have moved into the new water, and even though the lake is way up they are making beds in that new water as fast as it is coming up.  I am telling you, flipping and pitching plastics in super shallow water is going to be the way to go, and should be really awesome in the coming weeks.  Funny how I will be in Australia next week and wondering what I am missing.

The best areas were mid-cove with grass and shoreline cover, and as the day wore on they moved really shallow.  One thing that was interesting today was when we missed a fish we were able to throw back in there and catch them.  We probably added 2 or 3 fish that we initially missed to our total by throwing back on them.  And today we had quite a few bites that did not hook up, slightly unusual for the swim jig.  I suspect they were crappie and catfish.  Everything is up and biting.

Jim sure did his part today.  Funny how a guy 6’6″ makes a good one look small.

For the day it was an easy 25 plus, and while we never boated a big one, our top 5 were nice fish, and we definitely had a fun day.  Very few places we fished we did not catch one or more.  Jim is a good fisherman and a great boat partner.  As we moved back to the creek we fished earlier it was 3:30, and before we knew it we had fished until 6:30.  Time to get him back to the ramp for his drive back to Houston.

I feel pretty good about what we caught considering how hard the wind ended up blowing.  It often limited where we could fish, one of those days when we were often fishing where we could and not where I wanted to.  But I can flatly say this, if we do not get any more rain letting the water clear just a touch, the fishing will be off the chain on Coleto next week.  It should be a stretch where you can fish what you like, and catch fish.  But no matter your preferred method there is one piece of advice, shallow, then shallower.  And last, the crappie I caught was shallow and spawning.  Get back in a likely looking spawning coves and dip jigs and minnows in the new cover on a long rod and you just might load the boat.

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Get Inhaled!

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Many of you know I finally broke down and bought some real waders and boots.  Having owned 3 pairs from 3 different companies in the last 6 years, they all leaked.  In fact, the longest one brand made it without leaking was 2 springs.  So I finally broke down and bought some Simms and they are the bomb.  Nice to not worry about “how much” they will leak.  One thing that happened on the last pair was a leak started on a seam right where the ray guards were.  So I emailed them and asked about that.

They responded immediately with some good information.

Depending how abrasive the fabric is on the inside of the guards, the rubbing may cause that area to wear quicker overall. In regards to gravel and debris getting between the two layers, that could most definitely cause quicker wear. I would suggest first, rinsing your waders and ray guards after every use to clear out the gravel and debris, and second, depending on how often you are out fishing, send your waders into us for general maintenance as I’m sure there will be additional spots where your ray guards sit that will need to be tended to.

Yes, we have a repair and warranty center here where our GoreTex waders are made and if we can fix pinholes and tears/scrapes before they become larger issue(s), that will help to extend the life of your waders.

So I am not sure how much of a problem it could cause, but sounds like not much with rinsing after each use, which I do.  With what they costs I was wanting to be sure I wasn’t messing them up.  But one thing is perfectly clear now that I have been wearing mine, they are worth every cent.  In fact if I had started with them the cost would have ended up being half that as I have 3 leaky pairs sitting in the garage which I would not have bought.  Some quality stuff is all it is cracked up to be.  And the real kicker for me being a little guy is they had waders that fit me perfect, something new and different.  I appreciate their quick response, definitely living up to their reputation.

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I got this comment from Gary, which applies to all of you as far as I am concerned.

I’m taking my grandsons Friday and Saturday, it you see my black and white center console with a raised platform on the lake, say hi.

Thanks for the offer, not sure if I will make it out there then, but I will watch for you if I do.  And the rest of you are always welcome to stop and say hi.  I have an all white Mako LTS 18 with a white power pole on it.  I always like meeting folks who read the blog.

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After Jim picked up some Controlled Descent Lures to use on a Carolina Rig he did a little experimenting in his swimming pool.

It may not be clear enough here, but this is the idea.

He was able to get his bait to suspend just right, nice and level.  And when he would move it the bait would dive down, and then slowly suspend back up perfectly level.  For those of you who fish this way the benefits are obvious.  I am looking forward to fishing with Jim on Fayette when I get back and see if it works as good as it looks like it will.

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While I was the usual amount of apprehensive fishing with a new partner, like I was every morning facing new guide customers, it was all good.  We managed to figure out enough to catch fish all day, and once we really started going shallow it was apparent the fish are loving this rise.  The future looks bright for the lake.  And my desire to fish with a few more readers this year was bolstered by spending the day with a good fisherman, and more importantly, a great guy.

Now the countdown is in full freak out mode.  Funny how when you are planning a big trip it seems like it will never get here, and now only 4 days to Australia.  We have been planning this for 18 months and have done everything we can do to prepare, nothing left to do but get on the plane, and maybe eat a little kangaroo on a stick.  I might fish one more day this weekend, if for no other reason than to make these last couple of days pass quicker.  So keep stopping in and thanks for reading my stuff.

Good Luck and Tight Lines

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Keller Bay 3/15/17

FISH CATCHING TRAVEL

Brought to you by  waderight2-50

** For a super deal on your Wade Right use promo code FCT15 and get 15% off on your online  order!**

I just could not help myself!

I was feeling pretty good yesterday and had plans to do a couple of things, which did not include fishing, but by noon I finally could not take it any more.  About 1:00 there was not a leaf shaking on any tree and it was cool but nice and sunny, and the no wind thing was driving me nuts.  So without looking at the weather or tides I loaded up and headed to Keller Bay.  As this was an impromptu trip the conditions did not matter, I was going anyway.

It has been while since I fished there, but it is a lot easier to fish on a short day.  The ramp had a bunch of trucks and trailers  when I got there, obviously everyone else was enjoying the no wind thing.  My plan was simple – Wade the whole pasture/east bank.  That is a good bank as it is long, has a mix of grass, sand, and some shell, and usually holds both trout and reds.

There were 2 boats on it so I headed quite a ways down and ended up making 4 wades over the next 4 hours, slowly working the bank as others left.  To cut to the chase, when I jumped in it was freakin’ cold.  Our overnight temps in the 40’s cooled the water, and the light north wind had a bite to it.  I was hoping to throw topwater some, but that was obviously out, so it was all about working with the Controlled Descent Lures.

You have to give them their due, they are real fighters.

Today I had a full load of foam in my CDL, and was using a blackgold/limtreuse jerk shad on a 1/16th ounce wide gap 3/0 which had the bait at a slow drop.  If figured as cool as it was they were not going to be overly aggressive, and they weren’t. The reason I like that bank is you have so much varied structure shallow to where it drops out in the 3 – 4 foot range into about 5 depending on the tide.  It really gives you plenty of places to locate them.  You can usually catch one there somewhere if you can pinpoint where they are holding, it is one long bank.

Get Inhaled!

The water never did move much and the bite was slow.  First wade I missed one and caught a fish stick.  Next wade I lifted up on one, which I never felt bite, and the fight was on.  One thing about a black drum, it usually only takes a second before you figure out what you have, they love t0 bulldog, and on 8lb line are a great fight.

A nice one.

After no action I kept repositioning down the bank, as everyone else had left.  On the third wade I could see some mullet action so I waded towards them, it was a big mullet mud.  It reminded me of seeing big muds like that in Belize. So I got up in them and managed one nice trout and 2 more small ones.  It was not fast by any means, even with the sun shining there was no real warming happening, and the bites were subtle.  I might have missed one more there, but that was about it.

So one last move to my favorite spot on the bank resulted in one bite.  But is was a freakin’ bite!  I made a cast to shallow water and one just exploded on it.  When I set the hook water flew everywhere and off he went, and went, and went.  My thumb is getting fried, I am trying to head down the bank with him, but it is no contest.  I flat got spooled.  As I watched the line melt off the spool it was now or never, time to see if I could stop him.  Ha!  That went no where as I could see the spool and it popped like a rifle shot, and cleaning the fingerprint off my thumb.  One thing about Keller Bay, it has some big jacks, and this was one of those I was happy to break off, to bad he took about 75 yards of fluoro with him.  And that was the last bite of a short trip.

That was a $10 bite.

The water color reminded me of the lake right now, that brown, tanic looking water.  Obviously Keller had a big influx of rain water, and with the clear cool night in the 40’s really cooled off the shallow flat.  I ended up catching 3 small trout, one keeper, the black drum, missed a few and got spooled.  Not to bad considering I had not fished there in months and the little cold front had definitely knocked them down a little.  Nothing like a mile high sky, a temp drop, and a north wind to keep them off their feed.  But I was happy with the results for a 3 hour trip.

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Tomorrow I am fishing the lake with Jim, one of my readers from the Houston area.  One thing I hope to accomplish this year is fish with a few more of you.  Jim is a die hard bass fisherman, who like me is retired.  Anyone who is willing to get up and drive 2 hours to fish is a man with a touch of the fishing disease.  It is good that we will have some warming today, hopefully the lake will have cleared some.  And with some clouds in the morning we should have a good day. Today will be getting some things done for the Australia trip, hard to believe it is only 6 days away.  So stop in tomorrow and thanks for reading my stuff.

Good Luck and Tight Lines

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