Sunday, 14 February 2021

Topwater Southern Bluefin Tuna - The Ebb Tide Guide

By John Cahill

A little bit like our all-encompassing topwater kingfish blog, we have been meaning to turn out a bluefin tuna one for an awfully long time. A Covid lockdown weekend in Victoria provides the opportunity (yep goodbye fishing plans this weekend). We have done a few instructional vids in the past as well as some trip vids where you will probably learn a bit by just watching, for easy reference here they are planted below where appropriate, or, just go to Ebb Tide TV on YouTube and select the Tuna playlist, easy!

 
Watch - Some great action here, this is summer topwater bluefin tuna in Victoria!

Topwater Tuna

So topwater tuna in Victoria appears to be coming of age finally, this is great news! We have been saying for a very long time it will happen, but it’s been slow, and we still think it’s a fair way off but the tide is certainly turning now! It has happened in many places globally; the USA’s famous Cape Cod fishery is a good example of the scope of the change. It was a place where only the brave would stop and cast or else face the wrath of the trollers, over time the mindset has changed to the extent that the casters and jiggers dominate the scene now. So, what is topwater tuna? It might seem obvious, but we see some confusion locally. Topwater Tuna fishing is casting to prospective water and/or signs the environment throws to you, then retrieving a lure across the top or near the surface of the water. Most often by the use of poppers & stickbaits. Topwater Tuna fishing is not trolling the above-mentioned stick baits and poppers, that’s still trolling, but if that floats your boat, sure go for it! 

The local Victorian and South Australian scene has developed into a mostly summer activity, and whilst the New South Wales fishery is more centred on that short migration period that usually coincides with the end of June, it is a very different affair and is certainly not inshore. here in Victoria, we believe that tuna can be targeted with some reliability any month of the year, however some periods may require some searching a lot more than others. The situation over the last 5 or 6 years has seen an increased awareness of their summer inshore presence, however. I stop short of saying this is new, it cannot be, but what we might potentially be seeing is a result of stock recovery and some normal patterns resuming, it’s also a product of social media and people becoming more aware of what might be there if you look. The Aussie SBT catch peaked in the early 80’s at over 21000 tonnes on the back of a global hammering dating back through the 60’s. It was thought that the original tuna biomass declined by more than 90%. Thankfully some pretty strong global measures have been enforced to the point we are now at today. I believe we do not know enough about them on the whole and the commonly held beliefs on SBT movements could be challenged as stocks recover, but hey, it doesn’t matter right now, it’s all pretty good news. 

Watch - Flighty bluefin and how to tackle them - tips aplenty!

What the hell are these tuna doing?

This piece is primarily about the summer inshore run, as a rough guide it seems to kick in for Victoria almost simultaneously with South Australia or be perhaps a couple of weeks after, usually in December. The fish can often be in vast schools, ranging in depth from behind the breakers to however deep, out wide were deepwater bottom bouncers venture. We usually don’t push much beyond 50m but may look as wide as 70m if we are having trouble getting a fix, or need to escape the boat traffic or green water on a run out tide. Usually, the water temp seems to be at least 18 degree’s C and as high as 20 or so. Yes, it’s warm for SBT and that seems to be the attraction! We see a lot of fish milling around in large schools and for the most part appear to sun themselves. It’s a commonly accepted notion that fish digest better when they are warmer, and when they are milling on the surface they often certainly aren’t feeding, but at some point they have to, hence timing of the tide and most certainly mood phase are just as critical with inshore fish as those much wider towards the shelf. 

These tuna really want to hang near the surface, to the point that they can be put down by a boat trolling over the top of them, only to resurface immediately. If you can find these inshore fish without them being disturbed, approach with caution and where possible cast long and downwind. I’d start with a sinking stickbait resembling the bait size and profile that you know to be in the area and try a variety of retrieves, from flat out to a slow twitch and sweep and don't be afraid to try every variable in between! If they want to eat, this will usually get the job done. If this doesn’t work my go to is either a popper or a floating stickbait that has an aggressive and splashing action. This approach seems to get reactions when fish otherwise have lockjaw or are feeding deeper and you need to get their attention.

Watch - how to find them, no need for bust up's!

Finding tuna, easy one day tough the next

A big part of the inshore run is visually locating fish. No feeding tuna usually equals low bird activity so it’s a bit of a different game. The visual game is massively aided by bright days and low wind. Literally you can see them… look for dark patches, water that looks different from the rest and ripples or slightly chopped up water. It is beneficial usually to have the sun behind you, and despite less windy days being prime for spotting, a little bit on it still makes it possible and is very much likely to increase your chances of getting a bite. 

What can be a target rich environment one day, can appear a dessert the next but fear not they won’t have gone too far, and will usually often appear as a tide change looms. It pays massively to have a sounder that can read at speed. Whilst you cover water looking for tuna, one eye on the screen can give away the fish or the bait they may be on. What might not look like much on the return at 25 knots may be the mother load when you slow up. I use a Simrad NSS EVO3S and a thru hull Airmar SS175HW specifically aimed at targeting pelagics and bait in less than 100m. If you find tuna 30m down get casting, yep they will come up, very fast. In the absence of anything, follow the general direction of the birds, they always know.

Watch - raising fish from down deep

Found 'em! Now what? 

Let’s start with the approach, if you have tuna on your own away from the crowds I’d consider dropping the electric motor and carefully planning where I want the boat to be, this is only to reduce the risk of disturbing them with boat wake and outboard noise. If that’s not possible because the armada is closing in, approach calmly to try and assess which way the school is heading and position yourself up wind and adjacent to the lead fish and cast long to the front edge. 

It seems to me that tuna often take the decision to eat or not from the fish on the front fringes, whereas casting to the middle of the school is very likely to get shunned (unless they are ’on’ then it doesn’t matter!). Even when there is boat pressure you can do this, but once the fleet arrives it is going to get harder and harder, especially if someone doesn’t get it and drives right through the school. 

The intersection of summer tuna and bait 

Once these summer tuna get onto bait (this usually doesn’t take long) they will feed! Not all day (sometimes at night), not at all times, but if you are there when they want to, it should be happy days. If they are on pilchards, mackerel, yakkas and/or redbait, matching the hatch with a profile and colorway that suits should not be too hard, it’s also made a lot easier when the fish are able to stack the bait up, as they don't move off it quite so fast as when the bait is spread out. When they line up on other bait such as anchovy or whitebait, getting a bite on fast moving fish can be hard (this bait can be tiny!). There are two factors at play here, one is that the fish plough through the clouds and often don’t even double back, simply moving forward to the next cloud of bait which makes getting ahead of them a challenge and secondly the right stickbait profile becomes crucial. The way I see you have two choices here; match the hatch precisely, or ignore it completely and go for the splash and noise made by a floating stick or a popper.

Watch - more action including the biggest Victorian tuna on topwater!

Summer Tuna Gear 

Tuna stickbaits usually sink and swim very tight and true. Probably more fish are caught on this style than any other, and when they don’t work, as per above – splashy sticks or poppers are a genuine alternative. I’d look at the bottom of this page to our kingfish blog link for a solid guide on what works for kings and tuna lures can be quite similar, but bear in mind my preference for sinking stickbaits as a first option, it really is helpful when there are a lot of mutton birds and gannets on the bait, unhooking them gets old and costs you fish. Tuna rods are another ball game. I do not mean to be disrespectful, but your gummy shark rod makes a very average tuna casting rod. If it’s all you have and are happy with it, carry on, but if I can convince you of a much better alternative, look at a specific tuna casting rod. You may be asking WHY? Tuna rods are designed to cast light lures, they bring lures to life, they bend where they are meant to so they don’t hurt you on vertical fights and they have the power to lift stubborn tuna from deep under the boat, SIMPLE!

Howk Tuna Rod in action


Check out our Kingfish guide below!

Click here for the Topwater Kingfish guide!


Thursday, 1 October 2020

Topwater Yellowtail Kings - The Ebb Tide Guide to Kingfish!

By John Cahill and friends

Hey guys it has been a while between posts here and we are catching up on a ton of things that we have been meaning to do.  As we head towards summer, one thing we get asked on the regular are "what are good topwater lures for kings" this question has a list of variables as long as a boat ramp queue after COVID-19 but we are going to sort through them all right here and try and give some perspective and knowledge, not just blatant brand recommendations! While we are at it, lets go a bit deeper into one of our favorite species and most certainly our favorite way to fish for them.

The topwater game is where the challenge and fun is at

Now let's get this out in the open, these are our opinions and not gospel, we aren't here to say this is the only way because it surely isn't. In writing this yarn I reached out to some mates, Jake Pyne the landbased kingy tamer and head of the Lo-Cab International crew and Mark Armistead.  Now Marks topwater kingy CV probably has no peer, many of the Japanese crews including Konishi San choose to fish with Mark as he still offers a guiding service years after shutting up his charter operation.  So this small panel of experts we have really different bases covered from the island and shoreline hugging kelp dwellers to the deep water squid hunters, there are a ton of variables to topwater kingfish.

Straight up, Yellowtail kingfish or yellowtail amberjack (depending on where you are from) have a massive range and we see photo's sometimes from Argentina of massive hoods but this piece is written with Australia and New Zealand in mind, no doubt what we say will have some or significant crossover to a range of locations where kings are found globally.

This summer is seeing a fantastic local run
This summer is seeing a sensational run across the Victoria coastline

With no arguments entertained, topwater is THE best way to catch them.  The visual aspect of a pack of hoods tracking your sticky before one commit’s is exhilarating and the visual memory of it breaking the surface to inhale will stay with you forever.  The flip side of this is that topwater can be a tough way to play the game; quite simply you can fire a lot of casts for not much when livebait or jigs may have dominated, but it can go both ways where topwater becomes the true hero so don’t dismiss it as a pointless or elite exercise to just make catching a fish harder than it has to be.  More to the point, chasing hoods on topwater should be seen as the goal, and not an alternative or a numbers game.

Solid kings off the stones on top are arguably the pinnacle of the game

Now when kings are 'on' there are a big range of lures that may get a bite, they are rarely reckless however to the point where any old lure will do.  More often they are careful, curious and watchful, often following or tracking a lure without committing to the bite, sometimes they are just downright dismissive towards topwater, following for a cast or two before not responding at all!   But when you get it right and they crash tackle your lure and you come tight it is all worthwhile.  The point of telling you this is that if you are serious about TW kings, then what you are throwing really does matter.

Now this article is intended to be an all-inclusive journey so let us dive into a bit of the backstory of topwater kingys first.  The technique was pioneered and perfected by Japanese anglers, make no mistake they did it first in the modern era, which was pretty much hand in hand with how they established topwater GT fishing.  The early innovators would first prove their tackle on local hard fished waters with both kingfish (Seriola lalandi) and Hamachi (Seriola quinqueradiata) the targets.  They would travel in groups led by the pioneers to New Zealand to test their lures and rods and fish with people like Mark who in turn learnt so much.  It has probably been through this process year after year that many kiwi topwater anglers believe that it pretty much has to be a Japanese timber lure to be any good for kings and they kind of have a point, the performance of the good Japanese lures tuned for kings are exceptional fish raisers. BUT let me be clear, they don’t have a patent on what fires up kingys and in 2020 a solid number of lures exhibit the attributes that are proven to interest kings but let’s talk much more on lures later.

Balanced and specialised tackle matters, we can help

The Topwater kingfish 'season'

Is there one? Well kinda due to accessibility really.  In the winter months when water temps usually drop significantly in our part of the world (southern Australia) kingfish head out wide to deeper offshore reefs making locating them a difficult TW target but more susceptible to other techniques if you can find the fish.  Don’t get me wrong quite big kings still do frequent inshore waters in the colder periods but they are a lot thinner on the ground (but often a lot bigger).  Even so there are exceptions to this, bays, harbours even estuaries can suddenly be alive with kings for a period when their habits say they shouldn’t be, I am convinced because they have become trapped in a pocket of warm water and don’t really want to leave it, especially if there is abundant bait.  This regularly occurs in regions and enjoy it if you find fish holed up like that in your favour, you should be in for a good time.  This is a big generalisation as we are talking generally here across a vast area, but in spring warmer currents will see the kings start to move inshore in numbers but where they will specifically show up is a year to year proposition no doubt current related and somewhat random but semi predictable in nature due to past patterns, it is a case of if you know you know and by the time the reports filter through the best fishing has probably occurred quite often.  Usually kings will feed veraciously in spring into early summer and once they have spawned tend to end up in smaller schools and put on condition throughout the summer.  In our warmer months seemingly they will stay on or around a reef for a few days to weeks to potentially several months depending on the availability of food however they absolutely never ever stay still, constant movement seems the norm which is a significant part of the challenge of locating them on a given fishing day and appearances are often tide dependant, nowhere to be seen on the ebb, and everywhere on the flood or vice versa. 

Ranfurly Banks TW kings, probably the pinnacle - nice one for Aaron Dillon

Finding kings to cast at

Random appearances aside, most anglers are dusting off the TW gear in September and keeping an eye on sea surface temperature charts.  In Victoria for example if the bait is present water as cool as 15 or 16 degrees could see the first push, on the east coast of New Zealand the guys start to look around 17- degrees, this will give you a huge idea where they will be in your particular zone, warm water licks, current, structure, food and you might just have a winner.  No run no fun is an old fishing adage for a reason, and places that combine all three are the spots to look whether you are landbased (safety clearly the most important thing here) or in a boat.

Now via boat things change and open up considerably.  Your best friend are good charts and the new  C Map reveal are excellent for identifying contours, ledges, channels (and markers) reef and sharp drops (other mapping with other brands are showing great improvements as well).  The right real estate combined with the magic combos of warm water licks, current and bait you are in the zone which will hold fish at one time or another – working that bit out is up to you!  Obviously, kings can be found in a ton more places than described open water for one, especially if there is bait you don’t need all the magic ingredients, it could be only one!  How you go about finding them with this random nature they are known for can be a challenge.  You kind of have two main choices there cover ground and go find them or stick to an A grade area and plan on them turning up at some stage of the tide.  Now this is about topwater kings, but if you need to drag a teaser, pull some liveys or jig a pinnacle to bring fish up to get them firstly located before you cast at them so be it, you have to do what you have to do!  

Once you have located them, the fun starts.  The best thing that you can have is a visual bust up or to spot a cruising school up high in the water (keep your eyes peeled) but another aspect to creating topwater king opportunities, is sounding up kings that are holding deep.  Depending how deep, they can be raised by persistent casting, firing them up by jigging or teasing.  The moral being that just because they are deeper doesn't mean they will stay there.  Birds seem to be lesser associated with kings than tuna but in my experience that is a bit of a myth, they are just as relevant! 

The Simrad lit up with a screen full of kings and bait

Kingfish rods

For the rod to be suitable to cast lures (obviously) in some cases small through to moderate sized plugs that are required to cast a long way (needs to be tippy), before we delve too much into the rods themselves, there are a big range of fish sizes and lure sizes to consider here let’s look at the basic characteristics required, they are:

  • a springy and responsive tip to effectively work and get the best from a swimming and lively lure (rod with wrong tip section = a dead lure and likely a lot less bites)
  • and the power through the mid to low end to fight a fish that won’t quit without breaking your back.

In term of fish fighting ability, kings simply do not stop, even when boat side and the sheer power be it from a rat or a donkey is easy to see - they have both power and endurance.  I’m a guy who has made GT popping my thing for almost a decade and I will go on the record that a king of equivalent size goes harder for longer than any equivalent sized GT.  The fights are very often vertical too, or if land-based will inevitably end at your feet with a fish that is still diving for the cover of a ledge or kelp bed; you must be able to lift.  Now the given is that we are talking about casting here, so rods  have to be long.  7’ is at the short end and 7’6” to 8’3” is about right, specialist land-based rods can be much longer again around 10 foot.  Basically, a kingfish casting stick has the same characteristics as a tuna rod but are much more forgiving than a GT rod which are faster actioned and tend to punish the angler when things get vertical and are generally designed to cast much heavier and larger lures on average.

Under control and on the leader, but feet from disaster, it's a fine balance

Reels

Reels that hold 250 / 300m of your chosen PE is enough capacity, smooth and non-sticky drag is essential (12 – 16 kg at the heavy end) and generally smooth and robust is sound advice, and balanced to your rod for day long stickbaiting sessions is important also.  What matters most however is the gear ratio relative to the line retrieved with each crank of the handle.   High gear models will be somewhere around 110 - 130cm (1.3m) per crank, while low gear model (usually made for jigging) will be more like 90 to 105cm (or so) per crank.  Let me be clear that retrieve ratio makes a massive difference to your cadence when you are getting your stick bait or popper to dance!  The slower ratios, despite you furiously winding simply are not fast enough and it will get old very quickly and are borderline ineffective.  I am going to talk both Shimano and Daiwa sizes now because they are the most popular for a very good reason, here are some rough sizing considerations that have served me well when it comes to Shimano and modern Diawa Saltiga’s and YTK’s.

N.B all line ratings, leader sizes and line recommendations are a rough guide, individual circumstances will dictate this can be much less or more.

6000 – PE 3 or 4, for rats up to 90cm’s – leader up to 100 lbs

8000 – PE 5 or 6, for kings up to 120 cm’s – leader up to 150 lbs

10000 – PE 6 or 8, for hoods to how big? – Leader up to 180 lbs

14000 – PE 8 for the big dogs – leader up to 200lbs

Whilst dealing with reels, lets have the line discussion at the same time, you need quality braid, that’s kinda the end of that discussion!  Probably go a tiny bit heavier than what you think you need and buy good quality, not what’s cheap.  For leaders see above for length, at least a rods length, preferably more.  If you spend any time chasing kings you are going to end up deep in the foul, I promise you that.  You will get slight lure performance differences out of mono or fluorocarbon leaders (float v’s sink) so that is a bit of a personal choice and should be determined by the tuning of the lure which incorporates many factors probably most significantly the hooks you add on. 

Yamai Suteki Plugging Doubles - super sticky (pic by Lo-CAB)

Terminals

Firstly I will say that kings are pretty easy to hook, provided they eat it well.  There is ample meaty firm flesh and thick lip to drive a point into, they can however be notorious for swiping at lures and not fully committing to the eat, this is quite common.  They do release very well if a degree of care is applied when out of the water but probably the nemesis to their post release health may be deep hooked trebles.  Now fish care aside, the average top water kingy guy will spew if he raises a fish and misses the hook up, especially if that was his only chance for the session.  That leads me to lean towards trebles and plugging doubles (more on those later).  Guys fishing more productive grounds that get more chances at fish won’t be so devo if they miss a bite, there will be another to replace it before too long most likely… That opens up a wider variety of hook options that can fit the need from the trebles or plugging doubles to inline singles, undoubtedly better for the fish if you are releasing.Hooks are worth a good chat and to be are very circumstantial in terms of what I would recommend you use.  Let me explain in a bit of detail. 

Barbless trebles (or singles) aid in successful catch and release

Trebles might have the runs on the board and potentially take the chocolates in terms of sticking fish, as usually one of the points will find something to pin into and are also very good in many cases at getting the best swimming action from your lure.  A relative new player however are plugging doubles and short assist singles that are amazing at attaching to fish and can result in a better lure ‘tune’ than running singles alone.  They seem to manage a way to hook fish very well and are hard to throw out especially if the fish makes it to the kelp or foul where trebles very often bury and the fish is lost too regularly, but the singles regularly seem to pull through and hold on.

A final word on hooks, regardless of what you choose are consider lure tuning.  Regularly devoting time in different sea conditions to using a range of kingy lures with different hook combinations will show you that small variants to hooks or rings for example can actually make a big difference.  That lure you think is a pig or a bit dull just might need some hook fine tuning, you simply can’t do this enough and this alone will catch you more fish.

OOOF, Jake from Lo-CAB with a big animal from the wash

Lures

Now all the talk about the Japanese pioneers has relevance here, the lure design, R and D and good old-fashioned trial and error resulted in some very effective topwater plugs.  There is a huge range of lures that work to match the huge range of situations and sizes that kings may be encountered, from 30g / 80mm to 200g / 260 mm and everything in between.  All of our experts agree on a few things and differ on a couple, lets go….

The perfect Kingfish topwater lure is a floating stickbait…

It does exist and it’s called a Carpenter Bluefish.  Let’s not sugar coat it, the action and performance of the Bluefish has probably gone close to accounting for more big TW kings than any lure!  Before you stop reading and rush out to buy all the Bluefish you can get your hands on (they aren’t cheap and are hard to source) lets look at the formula of what a Bluefish does and we get a few big clues on what works for kings a lot of the time, remember they don’t want it because it’s a Carpenter Bluefish, they want it because of what it does!  It’s all in the swim guys and for everyone desirable attributes of a lure will vary.  Some guys like the rhythmic beating of tight actioned swim (such as many tuna lures or even bibbed minnows) compared with the eclectic swim of a tuned kingy lure which is just that, eclectic!  They dart, they dive, they break the surface and slash before gripping in the water and diving again.  No two casts will produce the same result, and this drives kingys crazy because it looks very much like a panicked baitfish trying anything it can do to escape and this is their Achilles heel!  This is what the Bluefish does so well, and it happens through great design – highly buoyant, precision weighting and shape. 

Another hugely effective lure is one that represents a fleeing garfish. And Kingfish love garfish like crack cocaine! Even if they aren't feeding, a fleeing gar imitation is a BIG CHANCE to flick the switch and get mauled! And there is no better fleeling Garfish that a JACK FIN STYLO! The newly released Jack Fin Stylo 240 is already making its name in the underground brotherhood of kingfish tragics, and rightfully so.

SW Vic Topwater kings

Now to back track a little to the rhythmic beating ‘predictable’ swimming lure, for sure they will still catch kings, fish do make mistakes and might be young and dumb or have not been under pressure, you also can fish these types of lures different ways to impart different responses but on the whole they lack the excitement factor to get kings fired up and unable to resist at least on a consistent basis.  Now a ton of lure designers have worked out the kingfish formula (erratic / excited / escaping) and created their own interpretation and you do not have to source a Bluefish, there are a plethora of Japanese and other designs that do this job very well.  I will list the Ebb Tide tackle Options at the end of the article for your reference.

What else is there?  Sinking sticks?

Much less popular on the whole!  It’s a tad harder to get that excitement factor into a sinking lure than on the surface but there are certainly occasions where a sinking lure provides an advantage.  Be it inshore or offshore, conditions can dictate that it’s actually the only thing that will work sometimes.  Reason being, when it gets really rough through wind or current or both, in those circumstances the floating sticks can spend way too much time flying through the air and not even closely resembling a baitfish.  Add in stacks of sea birds such as gannets grabbing your lure and a floating stick may just not work, the famous New Zealand ‘work up’s often have kingfish under the kahawai on the surface and sinking a lure is not only necessary it also makes sense.  In any of these circumstances a sinking stick depending on a bunch of factors not limited to sink time, sink rate, current etc will really be so close to the surface it’s hardly down there dragging the depths but at least it’s below the surface, this is really their time to shine. 

Pop, pop, boom? Well kinda

Poppers and kingys don’t always go together, but they also work really well.  Not meant to confuse but I know I have so I need to explain!  Poppers on the whole do a really great job of raising kings, but sticks get way more bites!  Especially if you are using large chugger style poppers, more likely intended for GT’s.  Now if you modify the approach for a popper with a smaller face that splashes more than it pops, swims and darts more than it chugs and you have probably got a winner, did someone say diving popper?! This is exactly what they do!  The right popper attributes fit nicely in alignment with the style of lures that get kingys excited so do not ignore them especially if the stickys aren’t getting a bite.  The range or poppers can also broadly include skipping pencils at a stretch as fleeing garfish (piper if you’re from NZ) are an absolute favourite forage. 

The right style of poppers definitely have their place

Ebb Tide TW Kingy Gear

We have come full circle back to the question we get asked all the time!  We pride ourselves on knowing our gear and proving it on fish ourselves.  We like to sell knowledge over product, so what we put in front of you works because we have seen it work for ourselves.  Lets run through our kingy specific TW stuff piece by piece, there is a bit.  Of course if you want advice please hit us up, but it will help if you have read this first.

Rods

The Howk Bullfighter range are perfect for this application.  Yes they are tuna rods, but as I said in the rod section, tuna rods and kingys sticks share the same characteristics.  These are Japanese blanks and stack up to any made and yes that is a big claim.  The Little Tunny is also a great option for smaller fish as it has a similar fighting curve albeit a lot shorter.  Here is my rough guide:

Howk Little Tunny,  6000 size reel – PE 3 or 4, for fish to 100cm’s or so

Howk Bullfighter 150, 8000 or 10000 sized reel – PE 5, 6, or 8 for kings up to 120 cm’s or so

Howk Bullfighter 170, 10000 or 14000 reel – PE 6 or 8, for hoods to how big?

Howk Bullfighter 200, 14000 reel – PE 8 for the big dogs or for landbased action

If you are after more general purpose rods that are engineered more towards tropical reef fishing but will still perform well at topwater kingfish application, check the ASWB Indian Pacific ELSEA and GT Tamer rang

Lures, starting with floating sticks (in no particular order)

Jack Fin Stylo 240 (240mm) resin, made in Italy NEW RELEASE AND DOMINATING!

Jack Fin Argo (180mm to 240mm) resin, made in Italy

Jack Fin Pelagus 165mm to 200mm) resin, made in Italy

Jack Fin Stylo (150mm - 240mm) resin, made in Italy

Massimo QD (160mm to 180mm) Timber, made in New Zealand

Shout! Entice Two Seduce Dive (230mm to 260mm) Plastic, made in Japan

Megabass Or-Poi Floating (148mm) Plastic, made in Japan

ASWB Gardie 120 (240mm) Timber, made in Asia

Reaction Lures Diving Scad (190mm - 215mm) Resin, made in Australia

Amegari Flavie F (130mm to 180mm) Timber, made in Spain

Amegari Leen (145mm - 180mm) Timber, made in Spain

Amegari Kaxu (215mm - 240mm) Timber, made in Spain

Strategic Angler Mikros (127mm) Injection molded plastic, made in the USA

Strategic Angler Espada F (235mm) Injection molded plastic, made in the USA

Strategic Angler Walker (255mm) Injection molded plastic, made in the USA

CB One Ryan (130mm through to the big dog 250mm) – Timber, made in Japan.

CB One Zorro (140mm through to the 270mm) – Timber, made in Japan.

CB One Rodeo (135mm to 185mm) – Timber, made in Japan

Poppers

Heru Skipjack (30g 50 180g) Timber, made in Indonesia

Shout Entice Pop (230mm) Plastic, made in Japan

Massimo DP170 Diving Popper (170mm) - Timber, made in New Zealand

Amegari Urpekari (160mm - 240mm) - Timber, made in Spain

Tackle House Contact Feed (100mm - 120mm) - Plastic, made in Japan

Dzanga 195 and 180 S cup (180mm - 185 mm) - Timber, made in Spain

CB One Dixon (180mm to 200mm) Timber, made in Japan

Sinking sticks

Jack Fin Pelagus 165S (165mm) Resin, made in Italy

Jack Fin LARA 135 (135mm) Resin, made in Italy

Megabass OrPoi Sinking (148mm) Plastic, made in Japan

Heru Wahoo (145mm - 265mm) Timber, made in Indonesia

ASWB SS range (175mm - 235mm) Timber, made in Asia

Amegari Flavie (130mm - 180mm) Timber, made in Spain

Amegari Lingo (160mm - 190mm) Timber, made in Spain

Tackle House Contact Brit (145mm - 175mm), plastic, made in Japan

Orion Mr Joe (135mm), resin, made in France

Bassday Bungycast (100mm) plastic, made in Japan

Terminals for Topwater

Gamakatsu GT Recorder trebles (barbless)

Shout Curve Treble 31

Shout Single Kudako Assist

Shout Ringed Kudako

Yamai Suteki Crafter (barbless single)

Yamai Suteki Crafter (barbed single)

Yamai Suteki Plugging Double 

Yamai Suteki Plugging Single


  



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,...you 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