Sunday, 1 May 2016

Wild Tassie


On many occasions whilst sitting around the camp fire with other keen LBG anglers, the subject of large Southern Bluefin Tuna in Tasmania comes up, as boats regularly land fish in excess of 100kg while trolling close to the rocks.
So in 2015 I made my first trip to Tasmania, to check out if there are landbased options.
What I found was deflating. The areas where the boats have most success are a landbased anglers worst nightmare. Sheer, vertical sea cliffs for the most part and if there was any fishable real estate the local Seals would be firmly planted there.


 Furthermore, walking tracks are limited and everything is a long way from nowhere. But it's a wild and beautiful place, which takes your breath away. After a week of cruising around and a lot of hiking and asking a lot of questions, I returned back to Melbourne wondering if it was worth bothering. I really didn't have high hopes that one of the ledges away from the main action could produce a hookup. 
But over the next year I couldn't get the beauty of the south east coast out of my mind and thought there would be worse places to spend a week and catch nothing.
The spot I had in mind needed some absailing, so I bought some gear and had a crash course in the ups and downs of it and practiced down on the Victorian coast.
When the time came I was as prepared as I could be and super excited but also very nervous when prepping for things like updating rescue beacon details


 
 My gear looked more like a mountaineering expedition than a fishing trip.




 Then it was time to get my old companion onto the Spirit of Tasmania



 


On the first day the aim was to find a descent route to the ledge and make my way up again. All I took with me was my climbing gear and my epirb just in case. I wish at that point i packed my head torch as well but I figured I would be down and back up before dark. There was a faster way down but I opted for the longer way around.






What followed over the next 7 hours was one of the most agonizing ordeals I ever had. Half way back up the hill my legs started cramping up and exhaustion set in. I had to sit down every few meters for a rest.






It became clear I wouldn't make it back to the car before dark and Ii weighed up my options. Not wanting to set off the epirb, I tried to find a suitable spot to sleep the night. But I didn't even have a jumper. Whilst there was still a little light I tried to make it to flatter ground, maybe 30 meters at a time before sitting down again. Scared of spending the night I just kept pushing on like that and eventually I was back up at flat ground. With the help of a little light from the phone I then made surprisingly good progress and was eventually back on the walking track. Now I knew i would make it back to the car and after another couple of hours and in a lot of pain I slumped into the Patrol.

The next day I wasn't up to doing much at all but i made a phone call to Damo from Wildoceantasmania who I spoke to the year before about a possible boat drop at a ledge.
We arranged for the following day to be dropped off in the morning, which was a mission in itself.











Although I didn't have too much hope of hooking a fish, I was well prepared in case I had to land a big Tuna by myself and I set up a 4 to 1 pulley system.




Camping was 5 star as usual and I was lucky with the weather as well. It stayed dry for the most part of my trip.



The ledge was the most stunning piece of rock I ever fished of and the feeling was a bit overwhelming at times. One couldn't help but wonder if anyone had fished off here before.

I won't get into the fishing details of things, that's for the next person's own journey. Needless to say i didn't get my dream fish or any other for that matter and things just continued to work against me with every turn, but it sure is one hell of an adventure to fish the Tassie rocks.


One thing i did take away with me was a huge amount of respect and appreciation for the area as a whole and it becomes apparent quickly what a special place it is and how important conservation is.
I was also lucky to have met Damo from Wildoceantasmania to get an insight into his world of giving rather than taking. Please do yourself a favour and have a look at his website and if you are down that way, go on a trip of a lifetime.

www.wildoceantasmania.com.au


For more landbased fishing blogs check out www.bustedfishing.com


Saturday, 16 January 2016

Niue Island Yellowfin

With the dream of catching a Yellowfin Tuna and opportunities in Australia fading away more and more since i started chasing this fish in 2008, i was keen to travel to Niue Island in the South Pacific, where these fish still get caught close to shore, along with Wahoo and other species that appeal.
I had 3 weeks annual holidays over Christmas and as it's cyclone season it was far from an ideal time to go but i booked the trip about 6 months in advance and started prepping. Both logistically and physically it was a challenge but i managed to freight a few helium bottles over as my main focus was on gas ballooning dead baits over the reef. I also started training as i assumed the humidity and terrain would be challenging.


 
Everything was packed weeks before and i was itching to go



Once i arrived, the trip didn't start well as i lost my camera on day one somehow and all pics were taken with my phone and some with the 10 second delay which was difficult at times, especially in the rain which there was plenty. So i don't have any pics from the charter i arranged with Ian from Seaturtle Charters. Ian took me around the island looking for rock ledges i could fish and possibly have access. Ian is a full time fisherman on Niue and knows the best areas to get strikes so his info proved very valuable. The boats are launched off the Niue Wharf with a crane.


The next couple of days i spent trying to access the spots i saw from the boat and some of these proved rather challenging but armed with a machete i managed to find them all. The terrain in places is brutal with razor sharp coral pinnacles.












The first couple of days didn't go well as the wind wasn't the best for ballooning and i snagged some baits and lost some valuable gas balloons. At the end of day 2 i already looked like a cooked Coconut Crab, of which there were plenty on the island called Unga.



Then things changed with the arrival of a category 2 cyclone and while everyone was busy to batten down the hatches i was excited as i was getting great drifts. The spot i had been fishing was getting too rough and i moved to the calmer side with the wind behind me.










I was getting my first hookups but the first 3 fish ran deep and shredded my line on the reef. The fourth fish stayed higher and i managed to get him into a crack in the reef and just as a Yellowfin Tuna popped up and over with a wave, my line got caught on the reef. The Tuna was on the reef and there was nothing i could do about it. The next wave swept him back out and it was all over. Devastated but excited i fished hard but there were no runs for the next 3 days.
Sunday is a day of rest on Niue with no fishing allowed and a great day for sight seeing, snorkeling and recharging the batteries.











While i was running low on helium i wanted to save it for the windier days and went down the wharf to fish with lures and live baits. Although i had no runs on the wide drifts off the wharf, i managed to catch and release a few fish in close. A Bluefin Trevally and Red Bass took a live bait while a Bigeye Trevally took a lure. I also caught a few reef fish on bait but mostly pesky Triggerfish.















This was my second last balloon and i was out of gas. The fishing was a bit slow and the boats were only getting the occasional fish but i heard a local canoe fisherman caught 2 Yellowfin Tuna the day before so i was keen to get a bait out there.



Around lunchtime i saw a splash and the reel screamed instantly. I got a solid hookup and went hard on the fish, hoping he would stay high which he did. As i watched the line come closer to the reef i was nervously trying to guide the fish into a crack and suddenly i realized the fish was already in there and i went hard to get him up on the reef. To my relief he popped up and over and now swam on the reef in full view and it was indeed a Tuna. Changing direction once more on the reef he came close to the edge and as i was fishing from up high i kept the pressure on right up until he popped over the last step on the reef but i couldn't get his head over as one of the hooks was stuck on the coral. I jammed the rod in a crack and kept the pressure on and raced down where i had my gaff set up ready and once the gaff was in i think half the village heard me shout. This was a dream come true and the fish i was hoping to catch.



I was keen to get the Tuna back to Ian's pace and when he saw it he was stoked for me and chilled it overnight to firm up the flesh and as he was working as a head chef in the past he certainly knew how to prepare a great sashimi, which we had for the next 2 nights. I also gave some to a couple of people who helped me along the way.



All up Niue Island is a great place. Rather than full of 5 star resorts it's full of great people and i hope i can return sometime for a crack at the Wahoo.

A special thanks to Ian Richardson from www.seaturtlecharters.co.nz who went above and beyond in helping me get what i needed while on the island. Also a big thanks to Stafford for his access and hospitality at the Sails Bar. And a big thanks to Niue Tourism and all the people of Niue


Fakaloofa lahi atu ............... hopefully back some time soon


If you liked this landbased fishing blog, please check out plenty more on my Busted Fishing website www.bustedfishing.com