Fly fishing Weipa- The Tale of Two Rods

Fly fishing Weipa- The Tale of Two Rods

Tim Kempton | Wednesday, 28 July 2021

The world of Covid is making fishing difficult, however where I live in the state of Queensland Australia we are still allowed to travel within the State… so I booked a trip to Weipa in Far North Queensland with Ben (Notso) Bright… a never-give -p fisherman with exceptional intuition and eyes to spot fish

This is a tale of two rods.

Hot Torpedo 12

We planned to fish for Blue Bastards (by name and by nature) but the day was overcast, the swell had clouded the flats and so the visibility  was poor. The backup was fish for sailfish.  We ran two teasers with either a swimming queenfish or a garfish.   The day started well… a sail came up on the short teaser, but in my excitement I cast the fly over the second teaser line before we changed the boat angle... Bugger... over enthusiastic… the fish hung around, we cleared the line and had a number of shots but it became tired of the game and left.  We teased up a second sail, it came up on the fly, but turned as it ate the fly and fell off after a few seconds.  We were about to pull stumps at 4pm… up came a sail, out came the teaser, in went the fly and text book hookup… ten minutes later a photo… what an awesome finish to finish the day.. 3/2/1.  I was using the  HT12 #1 with a fibre glass butt.  When Notso first saw it he shouted that I would bust he rod… it has now caught several marlin and now sailfish... it has incredible lifting power.

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Hot Torpedo 10.

We spent four days driving by boat along the flats north of Weipa, and camping on the beaches.  Day 1 was a glamour day, and eagle eye Notso soon spotted a school of permit.  I became embarrassed at how many shots I stuffed up.. I did not have the rhythm… the penalty for not doing much fishing.  The first permit I hooked pulled the hook, the second straightened the hook (SL12S #1). I have marked the backing at 100 metre intervals...every fish would pull 100+ metres with the drag set  to 9 /10 (whatever that means) plus me palming the reel.  I was using an intermediate line and 40/20 lb leader. Unfortunately the loop in the flyine pulled out, and to make do I tied a Perfection loop into the end of the flyline… a costly mistake as I would learn. Permit no 3 made it to the  boat and a photo.. the monkey was off my back.   The day progressed and at stumps I had landed 6 permit from 10 hookups.. two straightened the hook, one pulled the hook and one fell off.  Wind is a given in Cape York, and the inevitable happened, a loop formed in the flyline, a knot formed, it went through the first two sections, then pulled off the last two sections of the rod. In the process of recovering the situation, we allowed slack line and the fish fell off.  What a day.. a boat record for the most permit hooked/caught in one day (6 from 10). Day two, overcast and windy. We persisted and 2 permit from three hooked. Day three, the forecast was wrong (it was supposed to be cloudy and windy) so we spent time again on the permit after a morning offshore catching long tail tuna, mackerel tuna and cobia. The sun come out, and things were going great..we had developed a rhythm and had 4 permit from 4 by 11am.  There were permit on the flats and it looked like a great day. Then a large hammerhead shark came onto the flats headed for the school.. a massive explosion as it chased down a permit and caught it in the shallows.. the school took one look and headed for Dodge.  We spent a few more hours searching the flats but alas they had gone.. so into the rivers for barramundi, mangrove, queenfish and golden trevally.  So now we were 12 permit  from 17.. an amazing number of  fish hooked and one day to go! We had so many shots. These fish lived up to their name... some would eat the crab fly be it on the bottom or mid water, but others would swim right on by.

Day 4.. overcast and blowing 20 knots!.. so we ventured offshore looking for birds, bait schools and  predators.  The fly does not matter as long as it is a white clouser.  There were feeding frenzies on the bait schools, sharks, mackerel, tunas and birds.  Cast in.. one strip, hookup and searing runs.  We landed a few fish, but Bruce the shark and all his mates had gathered for the fray. Free spooling the hooked  fish sometimes worked, but mostly there was an urgent flurry and then slack line.  The skies cleared, but the wind was still a steady 20 knots so back to the flats. Another two permit, one probably foul hooked as it took 250 meters of line before it fell of.  The last permit of the trip.. a school coming happily swimming towards us casually mooning ..cast the fly in front, wait until they were onto the fly.. slow draw and watch the fish.. one tuned onto the fly, head down as it ate.. keep the slow draw to feed  the fly to the fish and set the hook, feather the line onto the reel as it screams out. Watch the line onto the reel, not the fish. Once on the reel, wait until the fish stops running and then start the process of reeling it back in. It's interesting that the first half of the fight is winding the fish to the boat.. the second half or longer is playing the fish at the boat..they are powerful and cant be hurried. Rolling them over helps, and once you have them head up, they are ready for landing.  They are a frustrating and exhilarating fish to catch.  Treat them with respect...a quick photo and back into the water. They are also great eating.

We found several large stingrays with schools of cobia as passengers... cobia are supposed to be crab eaters but they ignored our permit crab fly. Instead they eagerly took a white clouser.   We hooked and landed several cobia, and eventually hooked a larger model. They are  a bundle of muscle and although they don’t put in searing runs, they are dogged and hard to lift.  I had this fish at the boat for at least 5 minutes but could not lift it to the net. With the perfection knot in the flyline, I could not wind down onto the leader, and so just kept applying more pressure until eventually the rod snapped in half…a very sad outcome for such a great rod. 

This was exceptional fishing. The crab fly worked a treat..13 permit from 19 hooked.  The HT 10 handled them perfectly. It was a pleasure to cast, and was easy to fight the fish off the butt.  A great rod!.

Special thanks to Notso from LastCast for great eyes and great photos. Between us there were very few fish that swam by unseen.   Weipa is a saltwater fly fisherman’s mecca. Like everywhere it is weather dependent, but if you strike it lucky, the fishing can be exceptional. For me, its great to tie a fly, and present it to catch fish.  The marlin/ sailfish fly was developed from my days catching marlin. Sailfish have great perception...add in a Cam Sigler head...bloop the fly once and let it sit…they will find it and swoop on it.  The permit fly was a Alphlexo crab fly  (SL12S #1 and #2/0) simplified to make it easier to tie…simpler the better.

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