30 Jan 2009

TJ in the Tropics!

My work as a Corporate Trainer sees me travelling up and down the east coast of Australia. It's often a hectic itenary, full of client sessions and paperwork. Occasionally the fishing gods smile down upon me and I get an afternoon to explore.
I had such an opportunity during my January and Febuary stays in Cairns, far north Queensland.
Having found a semi suitable rod & reel that would fit in the luggage, armed with helpful advice and a hire car, I headed to the Barron River mouth just outside of Cairns Airport.

I flogged the waters here for an hour or so, watching locals using cast nets to catch prawns. Although all I had was a tap on the fly and a brief hookup on some unseen creature in the murky, coffee coloured water, I still enjoyed the very different experience. It was far removed from my usual trout fishing. The water was warm, I was wading barefoot in shorts and loose shirt. No wading boots, vest or waders required! Man, how cool was that!

Barron River mangroves

The mangroves were a spooky place to explore. There was always the chance of a croc being in there somewhere. Needles to say, my foray was quick, my eyes and ears ever alert. In the end, better judgement and knife edge nerves won out and I left that area quickly.

The outfit I took along with me was a 9' Sage XP 7wt, buckled up to an Abel Super 5 with a Rio Outbound 6wt intermediate line. Not exactly a 'by the book' rod/line/reel match but a surprisingly perfect one none the less. It cast 2/0 clousers with no problems. I wanted to pack the 8wt XP but at 9'6", the darn thing just would not fit in the suit case. It was about a half ince too long!
In hindsight, I'll put an 7wt line on a bigger reel for the next adventure.

The lil gun After chatting to a local about the fishing, he mentioned that Palm Cove peir could be woth a try. I remember seeing the peir from the air on our landing approach and it did look good from the air. A short drive later past cane fields and the cool looking homes in Palm Cove, streets lines with palms and lush front gardens, I arrived at the pier.

Palm Cove Pier, 10 minutes before the fly rod session of my life.

It was blowing pretty hard, but over my shoulder from behind. I found a spot where I could cast a bit without hooking anyone and got smashed on the first cast.
Another fly tied on and 10 minutes later, smashed again. I tied another fly on, and then saw the culprits. Spanish Mackeral. I tied on a heavy leader and then saw some green backs in the water. Then more! I cast over the fish and stripped back and that started an hour of endless hook ups, water boiling with silver flashes and fly getting smacked, slashed, hook up!

The silver flashes turned out to be Wolf Herring. I ended up with quite few, they'd chase and slash at the fly like, well, a pack of wolves! Changing to a 2/0 clouser improved the hook up rate.

Mac hook up!

Although I didn't actually land any the first time, next trip in Feb I was better prepared.

The awesome afterburning speedster Spanish Mackerals
When these guys hit your fly, you know about it! They have to be the one of the fastest things with fins that swims!

An awesome set of dentures!

The macs were lurking under the peir itself. They would cruise out from cover to chase the fly but turn as soon as it slowed or stopped. To get any, I had to send a tricky along the pier. The tactic worked a treat but was reliant on room. As the fishing hotted up, so did the mumbers of hopeful locals and soon it became impossible to get a decent cast out.

It pays to pack a few extra clousers when the bities are about!

In April, I took a look around Yorkys Knob. It has a breakwall that shelters the Marina there. Talking to an older local guy, I found out that a few fish get around. Not that any found my fly tho. Bastard things.

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