This article tells is about my early experiences with saltwater flyfishing in Australia. Not much has changed I see...
It's not the 200 yard runs. Its not that the standard attire is swimming trunks and silly hat (and often just the hat). It's not that warm sand between one's toes is erotic. It's not even the topless babe's...
Well hang on just a minute, I'm getting carried away here, of course it's all of these things; the one thing I learned long ago is that warm saltwater fly is the sexiest form of fishing there is. But the one driving force above all else is that I don't know what the hell I'm supposed to be doing. Every time I attempt this strange mysterious thing I learn something completely new. Never have I had this feeling of rapid discovery since I first got into trout fishing. So it makes me feel good in all sorts of ways.
I first started my saltwater bit more by mistake than by design. I was bumming around, the way one does, when I found myself in Australia with a clapped-out van, a girl, my trout tackle and a hang-over.
Now, mainland Australia is not renowned (with good reason, I discovered) for its high quality of trout fishing. Indeed in much of Oz they don't even have trout, and naturally this was the bit where I ended up.
If you've done it, you'll know that continual travelling makes you blasé about your fly fishing; I figure that with a modicum of experience you can catch trout anywhere. A trout is a trout is a trout. Fair enough. And with this cavalier attitude one gets into, I reckoned on being able to get to grips with this saltwater thing in next to no time at all.
However, after considerably more than no time at all, it began to dawn upon me that whatever else a trout might be, it most certainly wasn't a trevally. Also, and this came to me as a overwhelming surprise, an ocean is not just a big lake.
Somehow I had got it into my head that salt water fly fishing is extremely straightforward lure bashing on a particularly large lake. A mistake anyone could make. That it took me three years to discover that this was not the case should tell me something, but quite what, I don't think I'd really care to know.
However, I think my real difficulty was my failure to accept that the only way to become competent in any area of angling is to fish in one place and to stay there until a reasonable standard of ability is obtained. Sure once that standard has been reached then you can go and fish anywhere and that can teach you more than ever. But I spent years wasting time, casting in to each and every bit of salt I could. Ok it was fun, but in terms of working out what I should be doing in any constructive sort of terms, it was pretty fruitless.
For quite a number of years now I have been spending my winters in New Zealand. This affords me the luxury of enjoying women's figures for most of the year and also enables me to avoid the close season. Both of which are thoroughly good reasons for abandoning all the accepted lifestyles which people impose upon themselves (indeed are probably the only reasons).
However there is a slight gap between the end of September (when I finish with UK trout) and November (when the back-country fishing in NZ opens). This gap has been well catalogued for many years and is in fact called 'October'.
Now October, for me, was always a fairly tedious month involving little fishing, however that was all before I discovered Noosa. If you've got (a) to spend some time in just one place to get to grips with the basics of saltwater fly and (b) one month of nothing to waste, then you can't do much worse than Noosa. My only reservation about going the whole way and thoroughly recommending it as the place to be is that although there are plenty of sexy women you can't see them from the bits you want to fish, that and they're not all topless. But even so, if you're on your way to New Zealand and you've got a month to burn then it's not all that bad.
(Noosa, for those of you who must know everything, is about 1˝ hrs North of Brisbane, which is about 20 hrs South of Heathrow.)
If you haven't figured it out by now, then I'd better tell you that this is not your everyday how-to-do-it article. I don't write like that, and in this particular case I don't think I could, even if I wanted to. I'm pretty ignorant when it comes to time-management, fat women and saltwater fly fishing techniques. For all my attempts at a constructive learning approach, I still find it fairly interesting to 'chuck it out there and see what happens'.
However ignorance not withstanding, I can't help having learned a few odds and ends in the last few years. And from this relatively unexpected position I now find myself in, I should like to share them with you now.
Serious fishing tackle
The first and probably most important consideration is cluttered baggage. If somewhere such as Noosa is a stopover for you on you're travels to the NZ back-country, where you're going to rough it for weeks at a time, then weight becomes a priority. For NZ you need two rods (one is a 4-piece 9' #6, the other is a spare 4-piece 9' #6). I have found (after extensive scientific testing) that this particular rod is unsuitable for the salt, you need a minimum #7, which is a real bummer because for NZ you need a maximum #6.
So I take a 3-piece 9' #8 weight (unless I intend to go to somewhere like Darwin where I would reasonably expect to go Barramundi fishing with flies bigger than bananas, in which case I would take a #9 or even #10.
For trevally you need a good reel. For travelling I need an indestructible reel. I also need a minimum of 400 yards backing (one never knows) a warm-water floating line and an intermediate.
I try to keep my saltwater fly selection to a bare minimum. For lure bashing Deceivers are universally accepted in sizes from 1˝ to 3" long, bigger than that tier's tend to go insane. For 'nymphing' I'll use leaded crabs, the exciting 'booby-crab' (another article - soon to be published here in FFFT, as soon as Mark B. remembers where he put it) and various epoxy-shrimps.
Trevally tend to haunt the deeps coming up around first and last light (bit like me sometimes), Tailor are found just about anywhere but especially around obstructions, and Flathead can be taken from shallow estuaries (try Czech nymphing with shrimps).
I'm a pretty irregular sort of guy, but if you have to get into a routine then you can't do much worse than fishing the evening rise, partying all night, ineffectively fishing the morning rise, then snoozing on the beach during the day (interspersed with brief chases for flathead, women and ice-creams).
So ok, I'll come clean; when I started this article I wasn't entirely open, I suggested that I have been involved in an intellectual pursuit, enlightening the shady areas of my mind. Well it was an interesting thought but I think you really know why I do this stuff, and it certainly isn't for the education experience. I can get that from the library down the road. And librarian women are just not my type. Even in bikinis.