HT travels North – Finally. Tim Kempton

For someone who is fortunate to get the opportunity to travel the world fly fishing, Covid brought things to a sudden stop. Seven months not flying anywhere.  All borders closed. Netflix a new experience. I found a woman sitting on our couch. She said she was my wife…she seems like a nice person.

Finally we were allowed to travel around our state…Queensland in Australia. The weather and tides looked good I booked a trip to Weipa in far North Queensland with Ben Bright from Last Cast…Weipa is fly fishing paradise for a large variety of salt and freshwater species. 

I packed my family of HT 8,10 and 12 and headed North (The HT 4 and 6 stayed home).  The sailfish had been there in large numbers so I packed my new HT12 (#1), but the packs had moved by the time I arrived. We raised one, had a shot but the fish did not stay connected. 1/1/0. Things did not look good for sailfish, so the HT12 was packed away and replaced by the HT8 and HT 10

The next day we explored the flats and reefs hunting for the elusive Blue Bastards (Plectorhinchuscaeruleonothus) ..yes this is actually a fish so named because they are incredibly spooky and bastards to get to eat the fly, hook up, and get a photo. They fight dirty.  I fished a shrimp pattern and landed a variety of saltwater species..Pacific Tarpon, Diamond Trevally, Spotted dart, Queenfish and a Striped Threadfin Salmon (Polydactylus plebeius) which had never been seen before in those waters. There were plenty of shots at BB’ busted off, one fell off and one stayed for a photo.  3/3/1 was not bad for BB’s. The HT 10 was performing well…long casts, delicate presentations, and plenty of fighting power. I was elated.

For the next few days we camped on the beaches and fished the flats and river mouths north of Weipa. The weather was glamour, no wind and plenty of sun…perfect conditions.  There were permit (Anak) at the river mouths, but try as we may they would not eat a merkin style cab. We changed to an Alphonse/flexocrab and we started smiling…hooked 4 and took photos of 3 on day 1.  The next day I hooked and landed 4.  I was hooked up to a metre plus Queenie..aschool of permit swam into range..Notso made the cast..5 permit in one day..a new boat record. The permit gods were smiling.  There are all sorts of species on the flats.  A large Giant Trevally  swam by on a chased down the crab fly with gusto. Big (1+m) queenies, big Golden Trevally, and cobia.  One  cobia the size of  shark ate the crab, but straitened the hook on the first run…probably lucky because we would have been there for hours.

The last day..the permit must not have read the Permit Times..we hunted all day until finally we found some late in the afternoon.  Another 2 from 2 giving a total of 9 permit landed from 10 hooked(10,10,9) …a truly amazing experience and an absolute privilege.

The weather.  Ideally neap tides with and early morning low, no wind and sun.

The gear.  I was fishing a HT10, with a WF10Int line on a Sage 6010 reel, with a 9’ 40/20lb Galis FCleader.   The HT10 was amazing..all the fish hooked were incredibly strong, they put in long runs (some 200+m).  There was plenty of power on the butt. As the number of fish increased, I became more confident with the 20lb tipped and had the drag wound up to 10. There was plenty of fighting power in the butt. The rod is a pleasure to cast and suited me and my style.

Technique.  Having good eyes makes the day. Ben the guide from Last Cast has exceptional eyes and together there were not many fish we did not see. There are big tides in this part of the world, and the current can be quite strong on the run out and run in tides. The fish feed into the current, and so at times long casts so that the fly can travel past the fish are an advantage. Being able to cast both right and left handed is one of the best skills I have learnt…it makes everything so much easier for both the angler and the boatman and gives greater control and maximising opportunity to fish the angles.

Line management is critical…once hooked all saltwater species take off for the sunset at speed.  Are you standing on the line, is it wrapped around something, has a loop forward around the reel handle or some part of your clothing. Is the reel handle likely to jam on your clothing?  

Although strip strike is essential, more important is staying in touch with the fly.  In most cases once the permit came onto the fly, they would follow it, and the “strip strike” became more like  “feeding the fly to the fish”. Great stuff.

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