Wednesday, 1 April 2020

The Outflow Podcast is launched!

We have huge news...

The Outflow Podcast is here!

The Outflow

Ebb Tide Tackle Podcast 

Talking All Things Lure Fishing

We will be chatting about loads of fishing related topics and we are well and truly open to your feedback and ideas! We want you to have input!
Let us know what you want to hear on the podcast!

Have a listen & PLEASE SUBSCRIBE to get episodes as they drop!

This podcast is not just about fishing!
It's about the people, the travel, the experiences and everything that we love!
We really do love your input and who knows, we may even give you a call up to jump on as a guest with us!

Let's hear it fisho friends!!!

Monday, 17 February 2020

Topwater Sportfishing on the Great Barrier Reef

It's always great when you see good people connect in business and life... Our good mate Tam Missen recently bought himself a game boat (awesome) to be based up in Cairns, Australia on the Great Barrier Reef.  The rig is a 36 foot Black Watch known as Black Ops (cool name) is skippered by Jason Legg, former Nomad Sportfishing guide who has been doing his own thing for a few years guiding up and down the Barrier Reef and Coral Sea out of a few different vessels and is a seriously accomplished guy.  The whole operation goes by the name Topwater Sportfishing Charters.  The boat is about two main things; the heavy tackle Cairns black marlin season and the topwater casting and jigging game the rest of the time, a perfect combo in our eyes!

The boat based out of the Cairns marina will also be spending some time further south at Hervey Bay, doing some runs down to Fraser Island to target baby blacks, big blue marlin and the famously large GT's at Breaksea Spit, we can't wait for that!

Andy and I got a chance to fish with the boys in January 2020 along with Phil who had been the high bidder in an auction raising funds for the bushfire victims, good man he is!  Tait Missen a serious up and comer was also on board, watch this kid, has serious credentials already....

It was a pleasure to step onto Black Ops, the centrepiece of the Topwater Sportfishing Charters operation for a few days on the reef.  It was a mixed bag of jigging, topwater and some billfish trolling all laid out and it was a ton of fun and comfort.  Black Ops is a versatile boat, just at home mixing it with the big boys in heavy tackle season as it is edging onto the reef gutters, Jason is a skilled skipper and the boat is agile.

Some game boats are a chore or actually dangerous to cast from, with bow rails, life rafts and deck fittings being in the wrong place and height.  Thankfully Black Ops is literally 'just right' with two anglers comfortable on the bow while one or two can work the back deck with most things in just the right place.  There is nothing like the versatility of being able to go from your bunk to the casting position in a matter of minutes to start your fishing day (via a fresh coffee of course), it makes the whole process a lot more affordable also.

Topwater Sportfishing has a website under construction (we will update it here when complete) and Facebook and Instagram pages - they also have a Facebook Group for anyone looking to establish a shared charter (great idea).  Click the highlighted fields to go directly there.

Wednesday, 18 December 2019

River Escapes, Ultimate Murray Cod Guiding

By John Cahill

OK this intro is a bit of a long story, but it's kinda necessary to set the scene... you need to meet the players first.  I first met Nate Tsao on the infamous Reef Raiders GT popping trip to No Boundaries Oman in 2017 where we had land based big Giant Trevally mayhem.  Well Nate and I have remained in solid contact and have fished together a few times since then and become great mates.  Nate is a very modest but accomplished fly caster as well as conventional lure angler and whilst he will deny it he has a fair reputation on Hawaii for his accomplishments off the rocks over there, Nate also wanted to catch a Murray cod (yep I should be able to help with that) - on fly if possible (crap, I am going to need some help here).

First on fly, welcome to the club Nate!
Cameron McGregor I also met in 2017 during a Victoria fisheries Authority initiative, the 'Care For Cod' campaign.  I got to fish some clear water rivers with Cam as my guide, Joshua Hutchins (Aussie Fly Fisher) as my photographer.  It was a pretty sweet deal at the time!.  I hit it off with Cam and really enjoyed his calm personality and solid guiding skills on his local rivers which I was pretty unfamiliar with, without his help I think I may have struggled to be honest.  Now Cam is a lot more than a guy who can put you on fish, he also has an extensive background in fisheries management with the qualifications to back it up, rather than misrepresent his CV, take a look at his 'about' section on the River Escapes web site;

Cameron McGregor
B. Environmental Management and Ecology (La Trobe University), PFIGA Fishing Guide

'Cameron was practically raised on the rivers' banks, and it has been his playground for most of his life. His passion for fishing has transferred into a love of all things to do with rivers and their inhabitants. He has fished for Australian natives all his life. Cameron learnt to fly fish at the age of 12, which fuelled his early interest in entomology and fly tying. During his time at university he studied macroinvertebrates and Australian native fish species such as galaxids. His research interests led him to various positions for both New South Wales and Victorian fisheries departments. Here he researched native fish species such as Murray cod, trout cod and golden perch, invasive species such as carp, and sport fish such as brown and rainbow trout. His research and personal interests have allowed Cameron to accumulate an extensive knowledge of Australia’s freshwater ecosystems, particularly in the Murray-Darling Basin. Some of Cameron’s achievements to date include the discovery of a remnant population of olive perchlets in the Lachlan River and a new species of Coloburiscoides mayfly in the Murrumbidgee River. Cameron, together with Katie, also researched a remnant population of southern pygmy perch in the Ovens River catchment, of which have now not been seen for several years. Cameron is a highly competent angler and instructor with much experience fishing around Australia and abroad'.

Hybrid from skinny water for Cam
Pre drift obligatory pose down two fly boys and me with no idea
So to round out the backstory, Nate had flown into New Zealand then Australia on a fly fishing mission that included a hunger for cod on fly  I had enlisted Cam to help on this particular mission as I know it's his speciality.  Picking up a mate straight from Melbourne airport with the boat on the back of my ute was not a new thing for me, but I wonder how often it happens, the curb side security staff at Tullamarine didn't seem impressed to be honest and didn't think it was the done thing, ah well clearly they don't fish.  Scooping up Nate and his gear we were off with a B line to the North East of Victoria to meet Cam.  Pulling in late arvo, we also got to meet Katie, Cam's fiance and a living and breathing Murray cod encyclopedia.  Now I will never do justice to explaining Katies credentials, so this is again ripped straight from the River Escapes website, check it out;

Katie Doyle
B.Science (Hons, First Class)(Sydney University), Post.Grad.Dip River Restoration and Water Policy Management (Charles Sturt University), PhD Freshwater Ecology (University of Queensland)

'Katie has been enthusiastic about nature all her life. This passion led her to study biological science at university, and then to specialise in her post graduate career in freshwater ecology and the management of marine and freshwater resources. Katie has recently completed her PhD on the management of invasive common carp (Cyprinus carpio) in the Murray-Darling Basin (supported by the University of Queensland and the Invasive Animals Co-operative Research Centre (IACRC)). Part of this research involved detailed studies on the diet and habitat preferences of native percichthyid fishes including Murray cod, golden perch and Australian bass. Her aquatic-based research has taken her to places such as Thailand, the South Pacific and throughout Australia. Throughout her lifetime, including her travels, experiences and university career, Katie has gained an intimate knowledge of fauna in both aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems, and has a deep appreciation of Australia’s native fauna species. She aims to communicate current scientific research to the general public in an enjoyable way in the hope to maintain and protect freshwater resources and the life they support'.

Katie clearly knows here stuff, because when she talks, Cam shuts up and pays attention, it was an absolute treat to have her with us for the 5 days.  Nate also is a marine biologist, so there was a lot of fish nerd stuff being discussed during this trip, I did a lot of listening.

Introductions over and once settled in it was time to consider some fishing.  We had pretty hot weather so wading a small river was in order and Cam took us to the first spot X, the same river he had guided me during the Care for Cod campaign, a place that looks more suited to trout than cod to be honest.  The very hot day suddenly cooled off  to a chilly windy evening and wading was not quite as much fun as we thought it might be.  Fishing for about 2 hours in gin clear water Cam and Nate both scored our first fish on fly and I blanked on conventional casting.  It was so cool to see Nate tick off the cod on fly wish so quickly, nothing left to do but upgrade!  Job done, time for a beer and perhaps a rum or two.

Smile, you're on dome cam
Waking to a hotter than hot day, a decision was made to fish the afternoon through to dusk, after a best ever meat pie experience for Nate, we made our way to river number 2 with the River Escapes drift boat in tow with a plan to fish 8 and a half kilometers of prime clear water river, the only thing against us were slightly elevated flows.  It was invaluable to do this activity with a experienced guide for a number of reasons, firstly safety, the competent operation of a drift boat in current cannot be understated, secondly it's a completely different style of fishing and being 'guided' is extremely helpful, the tweaks that Cam suggested to our approach were spot on. Real 1% adjustments that make a big difference.  Finally, talking all day about the fish's behaviour with someone who understand them so well is a treasure, you just soak that stuff up like a sponge.

Drift boating, must be experienced!
River number 2 provided some decent shots at fish,.  Nate pinned one on fly and I also managed one on  conventional tackle, for small fish it was notable that they go so hard in the fast, clean and clear water.  We both missed chances and had follows, I briefly hooked a better fish late in the afternoon on a weedless rigged Megabass Magdraft, which is absolutely perfect for skipping under willows, but on the flip-side, can be tough to get a solid connection.  We finished the last hour of the day on foot fishing creek number 3, no fish were harmed in that process.  After a substantial drive back which included a near miss with some deer and the revelation that pineapple on pizza is in fact not a Hawaiian thing.  We fell into bed around midnight, not a beer was had we were way too weary.

Clear-water cod taking a liking to the Megabass Big M4.0 in 'Aussie Reddie' color
Walking banks, avoiding snakes
Rising mid morning for day 3, the plan was for a collective move to Lake Mulwala.  We had ticked off a couple of fish for Nate on fly, it was now time to set our sights on a trophy fish.  90cm's was the bar which is a pretty lofty for the cod on fly brigade.  It was a two boat affair now, with the drift boat tucked away and the River Escapes 5.8m Action Craft and my 4.2m Mako Craft in tow.  Unfortunately it was blowy and the lake proved too difficult to fish so we opted for some shelter further up river.  I again had a missed bite flipping willows with the weedless Magdraft from an 80's class fish which rocketed up to smash it on the splashdown.  The fish dropped the bait before I even engaged the reel in gear, it was obviously a reaction bite.  Later in the evening when the wind dropped out, Nate raised two fish on the surface but neither seemed motivated to connect.  Our first blank day for the journey, welcome to Murray cod fishing Nate!  It was  another late night.

Cool Mulwala sights, and potential cod food if they fall in
One on top on a blooping fly for Nate
Mulwala, land of many opportunities and Murray cod of all proportions
Day 4 was an early start, my favorite time to be on the water and a solid plan had been hatched with Cam to work an area that should be just right this time of year,  the two boats about 200 meters apart, we worked every laydown and stump we could see and some we could not, thank goodness for the brilliant Chartered waters Mulwala maps on the 12 inch Simrad screen, it is almost unfair!  Well it's not, still need to get the fish to eat!  A few fish were raised on surface that missed and Nate scored one on top on a blooping popper fly, awesome!  I also managed one subsurface at about 60 cm that came home for a BBQ.  Nate was keen to try wild Murray cod on the plate, it did not disappoint either!  The wind came up and it was all over unfortunately, building through the day and right through the evening creating a bit of a fishing write off for the day.

Some healthy looking Mul fish at the moment
Nate on the wand
Happy days on River Escapes with Cam
Provided the wind dropped overnight, the plan for day 5 was a slightly different area.  Good news, it did!  With about a two hour window of opportunity before I had to get Nate back to the airport, it was game on!  So with our 4 a.m. start it was a quick coffee and launch.  Serious and proper cod fishing hours and routine.  Cam and Katie were working fly, with Nate and I throwing wakebaits as his casting shoulder had succumbed to the strain of the 10wt, day after day on his 20 day Down Under fishing odyssey.  Pretty soon it was obvious the fish were on the job... finally! Nate was boofed but the fish missed and in quick succession I scored a couple of nice fish all on top.  With 20 minutes to go before our designated stop fishing time and as the sun appeared over the tree line, my little Megabass I-Loud was detonated on by a clearly bigger fish... it hit like a GT!  Stripping a short amount of line very fast, I was buried under the lay down from where it had come.  It was time to get over there and stay calm!  Positioning the boat over the fish, I tried to work out how to get the line untangled as Nate prepared to dress down and jump in.  Just as it looked like he may need to get wet, my drag sprang to life and the fish powered out with the line twanging off from whatever it was hung up on,.  Line was crackling on the reel and mud and weed churning up from the bottom... we were free!  Never have I had a cod play up so much in a lake.  Showing ample power and stamina with the 20lbs flurocarbon getting a serious workout.  Nate was sure and calm on the net and the adrenaline dropped with the prize secured. YES!  It was a very happy couple of minutes with her in our company, job done at 102cm's a new Mulwala PB for me.  Nate's commentary was "I now get why you like these fish", enough said.

Boom!, this fish was the cherry on top of a great trip, thanks Cam.
Off you go beautiful
To wrap up... I dropped off Nate in plenty of time.  We scored well,.  Ticked boxes.  Had a great time and got our trophy!  A true happy ending and good vibe that did an excellent job of keeping our weariness away on the drive back to Melbourne.  A final word on Cam and Katie's River Escapes operation; if you are a new cod on fly or lure caster, book with them!  Plain and simple you will accelerate your learning at multiples you would not imagine.  Experienced anglers, I defy anyone to not still learn from these guys.  Their knowledge pool is deep and they have a calm, no pretences friendly way of imparting it to others. I highly recommend the operation and people.  Check out River Escapes on the web, Facebook and Instagram
They also fish trout, but that's another story!

River Escapes, working the timber on the wand

Tuesday, 10 December 2019

Lo-Cab International X Ebb Tide Tackle, Landbased Topwater Yellowtail Kingfish

By John Cahill

As an Aussie topwater guy you can't help but be eternally jealous of our New Zealand cousins and their endless mega kingfish that litter us daily on social media.  Whilst the inshore zone in NZ is limited in terms of the variety of species, the quality and quantity of the yellowtail kingfish fishery more than makes up for this, it's pretty insane.

Nice work for your first LB king, great work Cish, Brendan and Slice.
You may remember my mate Nate Tsao from Hawaii, well through him I met Jake Pyne, the bossman behind Lo-Cab International, a New Zealand based online lure shop and rad line of fishing clothing that is inspired by hip hop street wear, pretty cool stuff (check their socials or at  
Long story, but Jake invited us over to sample some NZ topwater landbased game, its didn't take long to agree to that idea and Cish was quick to take up the fourth spot with Nate flying in as well, it was game on for an international topwater fish-fest!
Lo-Cab bossman Jake Pyne, - loves kings
Scooping us up from the airport Jake took to the wheel in earnest and we covered some miles into the night before arriving at his chosen destination, different guys from different parts of the world but instantly mates, the topwater scene is like that I have found wherever you go.  By reports, all signs looked good; warm water was pushing in onto the east coast and Jake and his mates Brendan and Slice had gotten stuck into some good fish a few days before, we were peaking with excitement but sadly, ridiculously weary!  With a total of about 90 minutes sleep total, it was the early morning fishing routine; 4.30 am wake up, coffee, load up and launch the boat in the darkness.  Now this is worth a mention, Jake has hot off the production line, the very first ever Future Boats fully customised 5.5m centre console.

Team work - JC controlling the fish and Brendan entering the surge zone to do the dirty work

4 on the floor; moving fast to keep them healthy after a manic multi hook up
The practical application of this boat became obvious when we got to Jake's chosen platform.  The spot, is only accessible by boat and in the ocean conditions we experienced, subject to a couple of meters of surge.  This required some serious experience, skill and balls on the controls to get the anglers safely on the rock as things could very easily go wrong and someone get hurt bad.  Full kudos to Jake, he had this process nailed down tight and the cool head to execute the deal.  Once on the rock it was clearly a mega fishy environment with lots of current, wash, blue water and lots of small bait and bigger kahawai.  Due to the swell surge, the safe casting zone was quite high above the water, a pretty common issue to overcome with landbased casting which really tests your lure selection and stickbaiting skills.  No sooner had we set up and started to cast in the gloom of post dawn, I had a follow, then a few casts later another.  I can't tell you how good it felt to be getting attention within minutes of firing the first shots, New Zealand is rad!  Instead of my sticky getting inhaled however, it was Nate's fly.  Like a true fluff chucker, he had skillfully dropped in a meter behind my lure and stripped into the wash zone where it was slurped up just at the point where you have no water left, he was tight!  The poaching bastard! Insults aside, I have witnessed some hectic fights before, but this one might take the cake, Nate was in more trouble than the early settlers but somehow managed to pull it off, a 103cm king off the stones on fly!
Nate on fly, he is kinda extreme

Meter king on fly landbased, surely a small club?
This fish ignited things on the rock and it wasn't long until we had screams from the other side from Jake, coming over the ridge it was mayhem, and just a matter of getting a lure in to join the fun, a 5 way hookup followed which included the fish of the trip, a 124cm, 24 kilo brute for Brendan, simply wow, this was an insane bite on quality fish.  It would have easily been a 6 way but Nate was running around leadering everyone's fish.  That was some hectic fishing I wont ever forget, we didn't even get good photos as there were too many fish to deal with and we wanted them released healthy as the main priority, we were throwing 20 kilo class fish back without a care.  That bite came and went, and to be honest the sequence of events after this point is foggy but the fish are not, over the course of the two days the group scored a total of 28 fish on topwater  and released 27, one smaller fish made it's way into our poke bowls.  For an Aussie these are Impressive numbers but even better quality, with nearly all fish being well over a meter long and lots in the 112 - 118cm range, very good fish!

Tag, measure, release
Big kings on top on the bricks; put a fork in me, I'm done
It was an awesome time to be able to try different lures and hook combinations and get back in the groove of getting the best out of your lure in all the conditions, across chop, elevated, with current, against current, these are the subtle skills of stickbaiting and essential to get finicky kings to bite, the number of follows we had were off charts.  I remember one 15 minute period on day 2 when I had 5 schools follow me in a 15 minute period before they switched back on and I got one to commit.  yeah it would be relatively easy to drift out a live bait and catch a lot more kings but this is what we do, we cast to fool.  Day 3 we were meant to be back on the rock but the swell had picked up to the point of being pretty sketchy, the right decision was made to call it and snapper softbaiting from the boat was in order, Lo-Cab x Ebb Tide was sick, until next time.
JC releases, Jake fights, Cish films - hectic

Tuesday, 3 December 2019

Swimbait fishing with Fluorocarbon mainline for Murray Cod!

Sitting at the departure gate at the airport with some time on my hands I thought I'd type this. It's about fluorocarbon as a mainline. Growing up lure fishing I only had access to monofilament, and when braid came along the transition to that direct feeling line was easy to make, I've used little else in probably 20 years or more. 

Swimbaiting for Murray cod, which I have done a lot of over the last 5 years, I have become accustomed to missed bites, a solid whack followed by nothing, the hit leads you to strike and wait for the weigh of a fish and the load up but probably half the time the bite was missed, and the rest of the time we came up solid but often with lip or even face hooked fish. We theorized about these bites and put it down to the fish 'killing' the bait, spitting it out then looking to inhale it again dead, the theory seemed reasonable. About a year ago after watching my 10654th U.S. bass video, where they fish a lot of fluorocarbon mainline, we decided to give it a go ourselves in an endeavor to hook more cod. Sourcing casting fluro is not easy in Australia unless you are talking light stuff (fine for bream fishing fans) but we sourced what has turned out to be excellent YGK Olltolos fluro in heaver breaking strains which we are wrapped with.

 YGK Fluorocarbon

Andy, Cish and I spooled up and got casting. It took a little to get used to, it has a different feel, if you aren't careful it backlashes like a bitch, it's a little spongy but you still know exactly what is going on with your bait. It kinda makes you concentrate... and get in the zone.

At first light the fluorocarbon strikes!

12 months on I can comfortably state it has made a MASSIVE difference to my/our success fishing swimbaits for cod, the bite to hookup ratio has gone onto the range of more than 90% up from 50% or less with braid... Why you might ask?

Cod are an implosion feeder, they don't chase food down and bite it, they open their mouth and suck it in and at the same time expel water from their gills, they create a big vacuum and anything in front of that bucket mouth gets sucked in. Now here is the problem, on a braid line with no stretch, there is every possibility the line pulls tight and can't stretch any more so it stops where it stops. Often short of deep in the fishes mouth. The fish turns and the hookup is missed because it was basically a short strike, not a kill attempt by the fish, or if you are lucky, a hook may catch the outside of the fish's mouth or face. Fluorocarbon allows that lure to get sucked to the back of the gob, the fish turns and if struck properly usually results in a solid hookup. 

In the day and age of technology and accepting what people say is the right gear to use you can blindly accept it and overlook killer techniques and methods, I never thought I'd go back to a stretchy line but there you go, a step backwards has been a MASSIVE step forward in terms of success for this species. Prediction is that in a couple of years this will be mainstream in Australia for cod and barra casting.