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A social group of dedicated fly fishers who are passionate about fly fishing in the tropical north of Australia and equally as passionate about the close camaraderie this sport brings. This passion and dedication led to the creation of the NT Flyfishers Social Mob blog site; an interactive and creative outlet where everyone can share our wonderful fly fishing adventures and link into the “after fishing” social events we enjoy in this incredible part of the world.

Tuesday, 19 January 2016


Courtesy of the Stig.......see all his posts at    http://swoffingntwaters.blogspot.com.au/Monday, January 18, 2016

Anson Bay vs Lee Point

This blog a little long - but lots happened lately

Firstly - ANSON BAY report

Just got back from an overnight trip to Anson Bay and Cape Ford, near the mouth of the Daly River
I went with three other guys on two boats - me and Matt (his girlfriend and my wife are friends - that's how I got asked on the trip) on a 5m Stessl with a 90hp Suzuki and another two guys on a Fish Seeker 6m with a 100hp Yamaha.

Left Darwin at 5am, with the Lodge's tractor launching us off Dundee beach just after 7am Friday morning.

While great guys and each to his own - these guys are 'darksiders' (mainly lure tossers with a bit of bottom bouncing with bait) but it was worth the effort (and discomfort due to the nearness of the darkside, lol) to expand my knowledge of the area. Need to talk a few fly fishers to head down there as a group, maybe an over night at the Peron Islands first  trip, then next trip Anson Bay.

Definitely need good, well kept motors and other equipment for such an extended trip and be very wary of wind factors on trip to and from Anson Bay - size of boat a big factor - the trip down and the bay itself are quite exposed to any offshore wind and with its average shallowness causing the biggish uncomfortable (and more often than not very wet) chop that happens very easily.

Though with good weather, I am sure even my boat could handle it - even though a low profile boat and built for inshore work rather than offshore as once down there its ability to stay on the flats and creeks longer which would be a huge advantage. Would have to replace my motor for such a trip as I would not like someone to have to tow me all the way back to the Dundee ramp. My motor is good but regularly having issues with its age. Seeing I cant afford a new motor for a while - will have to talk my usual SWOFFING partner Peter to take his 4.8m Formosa with its 90hp Suzuki!

The trip down was mega choppy and took 3 hours as Matt's boat is sort of a larger heavy duty version of mine which also doesn't like pounding through waves - especially with all the extra weight in fuel that we had = so we slowed right down. Trip back was smooth as and we traveled at 50+ km/h most of the way back and would have done it in half the time of outbound trip, if Matt's motor (only 7 months old) didn't lose 60% of its power as we past Blaze Point on the way back. From there we only just got the boat on the plane and travel was slow as. Still we got back to Dundee round 4pm and I was home having a shower by 6pm. Ready for a meal of freshly fried fish and salad

We also had neutral position and kill switch probs first thing in the morning causing much anxiety when we could not start the motor many hours from help - nothing, zip response to turning the key!
Lucky, one guy with us had motor experience and tweaked a few things to get us going.

So if you want a trip down there you must have a good boat set up well and everything well maintained, and can carry an extra 120 or so litres above the 110litres in the main fuel tank. Good mozzie protect too as a night anchored and sleeping up those creeks would proverbially have enough mozzies to lift your boat.

Weird but funny story on trip down to Anson Bay.....
I was sitting on Matt's boat's casting deck on the trip down to balance the boat's ride through the mega chop. With nothing to hold onto I spread myself  myself out and tensed up my body for the irregular bouncing. My butt and the top of my shoulders are still sore from all the pounding they received.

Half way between the Peron Islands and Cape Ford, Matt saw my physical pounding in my facial expressions, so stopped so I could relax a bit and get a drink. Just as I was stepping down in to the cockpit at the back of the boat a wave hit the side of the boat, and with my muscles screaming out in exhausting I felt my self falling in to the cockpit as the step was a lot lower than I expected. Two options - hurt myself and break some equipment (I am 120 kilo these days) or fall into the water. I chose fall into the water but then my falling would see me split myself on the side of the boat - so I pushed and dove out of the boat. Matt gave the swan dive a grading of 7.5 out of 10 and just could not stop laughing (and every time he remembered it during the entire trip!!). Getting back into the boat was a B&%$#h, given my fatigued muscles and the back pod covered in fuel drums and gear. Overall the incident was positive, seeing I got a good judgement on my diving style and cooled down considerably! And Matt got a good laugh about it!

We rigged up the boat for sleeping in one of the creeks with one anchor out front and one out the back, but we anchored on inside of bend instead of outside of the bend (i.e. deeper water) - so as the tide dropped the boat sat on the mud bank at quite an angle (about 3:30am mind you - lucky the canopy struts kept my in the boat and not in the water with the crocs!) - before the tide came back in and floated us level and off the mud at 7:30am.

Fishing was great despite not exactly the best tides and conditions (hoping still some water running off flood plain after that Tropical low a few weeks ago but alas none - should have been there last weekend it seems) - still about ten barra were caught (their main target), Most barra well over legal size with biggest 85cm. Last morning plenty of 1m plus threadies ravishing large schools of bait in 70cm of water at the creek mouth of the creek we spent the night in. One of the guys in the other boat managed to get one of these awesome fish interested in his lure but it like it so much it smashed his lure at the side of the boat, then spooled him in seconds taking the line and the lure else where.

Here is Matt, my boating partner, with his first Barra of the trip only 50m into our first troll up our first creek - 81cm
The guys also caught barra around the rocky points - very easily fly targeted but the guys didn't like getting into the shallows in their boats when not meant or built for the shallows, too much weight on board in fuel and extras, plus not much experience fishing such shallows

Bottom bouncing was good too but not what they expected given the lack of angling attention the area gets. Lots of medium sized reef fish but not the mega golden snapper they were hoping for, was it tides? was it water temp? Water at times well over 35 degrees coming out of creeks, and 30-35 degrees in the bay

The various rock bars in the bay were trolled once or twice before moving on but a SWOFFER would really work these gathering points in what was mostly flat mud landscape on the bottom. occasionally you would see large fish tight in the rocks or following the lure before going back to rocks for protection. I had a well over a metre jewfish (Matt said 130cm plus) in 2m of water on one of these rocky areas hit my lure - so awesome to see it flash out of cover and take my lure - so visual - was hoping it would run out in to the bay but when it realize it was hooked it zigzagged me through the rocks breaking me off. WANT MORE OF THAT PLEASE! not the breaking off but that sort of visual fishing

Caught a few wolf herring off some mid bay rocks. One as I brought it to the boat got absolutely hammered by a gigantic mackerel just metres behind the boat. The commotion leaving behind a cloud of shining scales floating in the water. So great to see in the very clear water. The mackerel was gone in seconds, better yet with my fly hooked in it! Sadly with no wire trace, after a bit of to and fro, the mono leader wore through! bugger!

Given these guys not SWOFFERS, they didn't target other species or locations like a SWOFFER would. Mostly trolled the creeks and used huge sinkers to hold the bottom bait fishing while waiting to get back in the creeks.

While hoping I haven't become a tweed jacket wearing fly fishing snob.....
There was once a pack of 50 or so queenies well over 90cm working a school of bait and they turned their noses at them for just being queenies. Never once did they chase a flock of working birds = didn't seem to even notice, let alone look for it! Another time we were trying to find a patch of deep water with golden snapper. Sounder looked alive with fish, first five drops with a octopus like jig I got five golden trevally with the smallest being 65cm. Got absolutely blown away on a couple of big fish! I mostly used a light sport fishing 4-6 kilo rod, light line and leaders -- having a blast playing the fish I hooked with rod extremely bent and line screaming off my little and very old Abu reel. But again they moved on. If it wasn't mega golden snapper or Barra on the troll - they just were not interested. I would have loved some time to set up fly rod and count down a big squid fly on a full sink line to those good golden trevally we were once on top of in only 6m of water to see what would happen.

Although quite sporting in light rod and high quality reel combos when trolling for Barra, these lure tossers when bottom bouncing used brute sticks, big cranking reels and what seemed massively thick line when bait fishing - cranking their fish straight into the esky. Saying that, at times they did use their lighter rods and soft plastics etc once a concentration of reef fish were found. But would move on quite quickly if their prime target fish were not found.

Overall I had a great time. Would do it again - despite the lure tossing, trolling, and bottom bouncing with 200 gram sinkers - but thinking on it, maybe - maybe not!

But take a group of SWOFFERS down there - absolutely definitely, in a flash, even if I had to give a kidney to do so (a kidney would pay for that new motor and other upgrades!)  

But when I got back to Darwin - fairly tired but keen for some good SWOFFING.
Wife was in a surprisingly good mood and quite congenial to me fishing the next day
So not 12 hours later I was sitting in Canadian Pete's boat at the Dinah Beach launch ramp while he parked his 4x4 and trailer.

Better yet - Fly gear only in the boat - thank goodness!  (think I am getting too fly crazy - not quite tweed jacketed yet but definitely fly biased.

What an awesome day on the water weather wise! So calm, if a little rippled on the water from the gentlest of breezes (forecast to be gone by 8am).

Tide was low at 5;05am and we got on water late at 7:30am as Pete likes his sleep ins

Weed Reef first but nothing showing - water already over the main gravel bar connecting the high points with the in flowing tide. we gave it quite the going over but nothing.

The sun's heat was already impacting our enjoyment - and I was starting to feel the weight of the previous two long and big days of fishing

We moved on to bluer waters.....
The T bar rock formation at Mandorah next - nothing
Searched out front of Mandorah - again nothing but heaps of turtles

Heaps of boats on the water in the middle of the harbour - mostly anchored up and bottom bouncing

We head to East Point, found some birds working but as we get near they and the fish scatter else where - frustrating - will this be a similar trip to the week before for me

Almost time for that dropping tide at Lee Point we like so much
So next Stop was Lee Point but still far too early in tidal fall when we arrive

So we search wider and find periodic splashes 1.5-2km NW of our favoured spot.
In 35 feet of water we find mackerel, harassing viciously schools of baitfish that covered the screen on the depth sounder and that were occasionally flicker about on the surface

We chase, we cast, we chase, we cast, we chase, we cast, we chase, we cast
The splashes are HUGE, bait flying everywhere- it keeps us chasing and casting
Regularly we see the largeness of dark backed silver bullets slamming into the balls of bait but we cant get quite close enough or cast timely enough to hook up

We swap flies repeatedly to see if that helps and then Pete loses a large clouser fly with the barest of sensed touches on his line
Soon after this we come across a group of 30 or so mackerel just cruising in the water beside the boat
I cast a Pop's Foil Bait fish 8cm in length, Peter casts a big clouser (10cm long) on his 10w

Both flies are instantly attacked moments after we start stripping the flies..... 
Peter gets his fish in, the hook right in in corner its mouth 
I lose mine instantly after the barest moment of tension on the line - all seen in the clearest of water.
The tip of the leader cut at an acute angle clearly indicating a bite off

I have some pre-rigged small white bucktail clousers (4cm long) with 5cm length of single strand 20lb wire attached with a haywire twist.  We tie on the leader to wire with a quick barrel knot that will slide slide down the wire to the figure 8 knot at the end of the wire - and we are right to go again

After an hour or so, Peter has three to the boat - an average grey mackerel, a good sized shark mackerel and surprisingly - a small spottie mackerel - interesting variety!
Never seen a spottie up here. Use to be a staple species for me in Morton Bay when I lived there at Point O'Halloran on the south side of Morton Bay.

For most of the day thought I was going to be fishless, as a sign from the fishing gods I fish too much! (as if my tennis elbow and wrist are not signs enough!!!!)
But I finally get one too eventually
This a good 75cm long mackerel - a Spanish - quite happy if that was my only fish for the day

An hour later Peter, gets another this one around 70cm

Things go very, very quiet for another long time
We see periodic huge slashes across the surface, scattering and showering a mass of bait each time.
(but like always very far off in the distance)

Then with Peter casting to active fish in front of us and me halfheartedly fishing the fly behind the boat...
Out of the blue I get immensely whacked on my fly line followed by a huge first run taking out more than half my backing in mere seconds then a complete stop - I think I have lost it as although the line is tight - no fighting or swerving just a heavy line being reeled in
Maybe I got sharked and its is just a big heavy bleeding head I am reeling in like a dead weight
As the backing gets on the reel, along with the white running line I still am thinking dead weight

Then I see the black of the sinking head starting to emerge from the water knowing that the answer to my doubts and fears is not far away-
After a few more winds of the reel handle, I see a good fish's telltale silvery flash beneath the surface,
It clearly sees me too as it zooms off rapidly
It started its escape run vectoring to the right and as quick as anything it turns sharply left
It is jumping and skipping across the surface of the water way out to the left while the line is still streaming off to the right - AWESOME!!!!! Don't you just love it when this happens!

Again the full fly line and a fair swath of backing are gone in a very, very, very short time.
My fingers are hot on the rim of the reel as I use my palm for a little drag to slow its run
The blur of the spinning reel sees the small handle bashing my little finger, ensuring I know it is definitely not dead weight on the end of my line!

Eventual the reel slows, then stops and I can start to gain some line back without busting the leader
This time it fights more like I expect - the fish is regularly changing angles, flitting over the surface and going deep. You can easily feel the beating of its sweeping tail being transferred up the line into the rod and to my hand.

Now Pete is very nervous as the fish gets close to the boat as the last time I had a large mack on he missed the first netting and it rolled once and the hook fell out, and the fish swam back to the depths.
But he nets it no problem and it is hand slaps all round

This is one of the better macks on fly for me since coming up here (but not as big as the one that hammered a wolf herring and me in Anson bay the day before)

Measuring later on the rod based on the above photo it went 87cm. From tail fork at back of reel to halfway between first and second guide of rod.

But it felt a lot bigger and was very thick down the body - don't you hate it when pictures shrink your fish! thought it was closer to the metre mark!
And the fight was long and varying - i.e. heaps of fun

Hope you can also see the thermobraces I am wearing on my elbow and wrist for support for injuries from all my recent fishing - getting soft I know! never getting enough time to heal before I fish again! such a hard life!

Note: how awesome the water is in the background of the above photo - but it was also very, very hot and sweaty!

It was a day that started slow but ended well - plus it was fly only (see I really am a fly fishing snob!)
Plus an extra day of fishing, a day I didn't think the wife would agree to

We are now planning next weekend
and a long range trip to at least the Peron's early in the dry season

So, Anson vs Lee Point
One is closer and still has good fish
But the potential for SWOFFERS at Anson Bay - phenomenal!

And I got to fish both in one weekend!   AWESOME!!! So why choose! Do both regularly.
SWOFFING is great when living in the NT!

(in case you didn't notice in all the above - Barramundi are still my nemesis as I still didn't catch one!)

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