Decided to go for a change of pace with a batch of flattie tails this time around. They generally get the panko crumb treatment in our house, but if you are up for a trip to Suzuran, the Japanese grocery, here is something a little different…
- Flathead fillets
- Japanese pickled cucumber (fridge section of grocery and keep for about a month)
- Nori flakes
- Shichimi Togarashi
- Otafuku branded okonomiyaki sauce
- 1 cup Medium grain rice
- Frying oil
Tempura batter (you can buy the batter mixture in the supermarket or make it)
- 1/2 cup cornflour,
- 1/2 cup plain flour,
- 1 egg (beaten),
- 3/4 cup soda water (cold)
Here’s what you are chasing up at the Japanese grocers:
- Cook rice using ratio 1 cup grains to 1 1/2 cups water,
- To prepare the tempura batter, place flours in a bowl and add beaten egg. Add soda water and stir until batter coats the back of a spoon.
- Place batter in the fridge for half an hour to chill (you may need to loosen it up with a little more water before you use it)
- Heat up the oil
- Dip the flattie fillets in the tempura batter and fry until golden.
- While the fish is frying, scoop out the rice into bowls
- Sprinkle the Shichimi Togarashi and nori flakes over the rice
- Lay the fish on top of the rice
- Drizzle with okonomiyaki sauce
- Top with more nori flakes and a handful of Japanese pickles
- Wash down with a frothy of your choosing!
A few of us Mexicans decided to put our annual South West Rocks trip back a few weeks this year to coincide with the Coffs Harbour round of the Stealth offshore kayak fishing competitions. Thursday around midnight the westie half of the convoy assembled and headed to the servo for last minute checks before heading off for the meeting point at Glenrowan, two and a half hours closer to the NSW border.
The next stop was Yass where Cheater and Kieran nursed their whiplash injuries from Leejo’s driving over breakfast. It seems Cheater’s car doesn’t have cruise control and Leejo isn’t much of a fan of constant throttle pressure. A good run of traffic through Sydney saw us arrive in Coffs Harbour in time to visit Mo Tackle before closing much to the relief of the aforementioned Leejo, the offshore newbie of the group, who had packed rods and reels but not lures or rigging tackle for the trip. With his wallet suitably lightened, we punched the address of the campsite into the GPS and made the five minute trip down the road to our home for the weekend. Cabins 226 and 227 at Park Beach Holiday park became base camp.
A very recognisable carbon fibre ProFisha with orange tip on the roof of the car next door, identified Rokkitkit and Ant as our new neighbours, and with quick stroll around, it quickly became apparent that we had chosen the right campground with a number of Stealths to be seen on the roofs of passing vehicles. There was a great buzz about the place (it may have been residual buzz from Chenski’s snoring during the car trip) and talk moved to tactics for the comp ahead. The forecast was looking pretty good and due to some networking on Cheater’s part, we had some GPS marks in our sounders courtesy of Tommo one of the locals, so even though we hadn’t fished that far up the coast before at least we had an idea where to head once out through the surf.
Mozza and I made the decision to target tuna on livies for the comp, we made the call to leave off the wire traces going on the theory that more bites was a better prospect even if we got the occasional bite-off. Mozz went with two 10-15kg rods with penn 560’s running 30lb braid to 40lb leader with a dusta and 7/0 live bait gammas. My gear was similar with an identical 10-15kg setup and also a 6-10kg snapper stick given the call-up opting to run two spin setups over my other 10-15kg overhead rig. We both also had a lighter 2-4kg setup to run our sabiki rigs.
Comp Day 1
A 5am start saw the trailer loaded and we were off to Digger’s beach for a quick briefing and a run down on the lay of the land from the local crew. Paperwork completed and setup done on the beach, we awaited first light for the launch.
Small surf and the assistance of a rip made for an easy launch and we were on our way to McAuley’s in search of livebait. My first string of livies was stolen and with the obvious presence of mackerel or hoo I was beginning to second guess my choice of tactics. A re-tied sabiki resulted in two lonely yakkas in the bait tube, not the slimeys I was after but a start so on one went on my 6-10kg setup. With livies bridled, Mozz and I decided to paddle from McAuley’s close out towards the second mark out wide. We hadn’t gone far when a rod on both of our skis screamed off. Mine spat the hook during the initial run while Jayme came up tight on his and not long after a solid mack tuna was yakside. It had inhaled the rig and couldn’t be released.
Cheater came on the VHF not long after enquiring on the minimum length for the brown ugly thing he had just caught, making things hard for Dennis without a positive ID. It was settled as being a cod of some sort and was sent back after some happy snaps. Kieran made friends with a blacktip reefie, and not to be outdone Cheater did the same soon after, announcing via VHF that Coffs Harbour gummies have a nice set of teeth. One of the locals got spooled by what was assumed to be a wahoo and Mozz and myself made the call to paddle north towards Karora. About a k from the mark we stopped and drifted while I adjusted views on the new sounder. As is usually the case, when you are not ready for it, both of us at this point had a rod scream off. My light rod again was the target and Mozz was clearly onto a nice fish. Yet again my fish skipped the noose while Mozz settled in for a good fight. Ten minutes later a much larger tuna was circling the yak and much to Mozza’s delight, this one had no ‘leopard print’on its side. I paddled along side to identify his first longtail and Jayme’s new kage gaff got its first use soon after.
Leejo found the fishing tough on day 1 but did manage to catch his rudder (twice). Chenski managed to snag a quality flathead on his sabiki to add to the Vic tally. Back on the beach the photo evidence identified Cheater’s ‘brown thing’ as a point scoring Maori Cod.
We began to refill the trailers and were gifted a nice spottie mackerel by Paul Pallett which was gladly accepted. A Coles run and some re-rigging in the afternoon followed by some filleting and some sesame tuna steaks back at the holiday park. Reflection on the days events made me ditch the snapper rod, the theory being that the rod had too much flex, absorbing some of the impact and preventing the thicker livebait hooks from penetrating the tuna despite having a solid drag setting. Mozz was sitting in a competitive 5th spot after day 1 and was in the best position of the Vics heading into day two.
Comp Day 2
Day 2 saw similar conditions out front, with a little extra wind early on but it died out quickly. Fishing was tougher on the second day with even livies proving hard to find for most on team Vic (expect Cheater who somehow managed to pull a whole string of slimies first up). Chenski and Leejo had hooked some pike and after spending an hour at McAuley’s in search of live bait Mozz and I had only managed two yakkas between us, (along with some more flatties and a few whiting). We rigged one each we opted to follow a similar track to yesterday to see if any more longtails could be found over at Karora. They couldn’t, it turns out, but I did have a brief run on the way out to Marsh Shoal that resulted in my livie becoming a deadie with post mortem revealing the cause of death to be a severely compressed head. The only legitimate catch of the day for me was a solid flattie (late 40’s) coming in on the sabiki. Team Vic came third in the state of origin behind both the yanks and the canadians, Mozza was the highest placer of the Vics with 6th spot. After a BBQ and a chat with some of the blokes we hit the road for South West Rocks where we would spend the rest of the week. A big thank you to Australian Kayak Specialists for organising another great event and to the crew of fisho’s for the hospitality.
I tend to fish all months of the year, in order to do this comfortably it is important to be sun smart and immersion smart when considering your choice of clothing. A range of suitable clothing is available from most kayaking stores or online at affordable prices. Unfortunately there is a myriad of options out there making it hard to know where to spend your money, so I’ve put together a collection of some of the options I think are worth considering. The following is just a quick guide of some of the gear I tend to use and not an exhaustive list by any means, but you can follow the links to find stockists and outlets to source the gear for yourself. Contact us if assistance/advice is required.
During warmer weather, the more you can cover up, the less sunscreen you have to apply! You should also consider moisture-wicking and drying-times when kayak fishing and as a result do not use any cotton clothing or rash vests as they dry slowly and are cold when wet. Wet suits are great in the water, but out of it they act like a Coolgardie fridge with the wind carrying away your body heat in much the same way as an evaporative cooler does in your home.
There are a couple of options for head wear during summer. You can either go with a hat & buff combo or an all in one flap hat. Buff offer a wide range of face scarves that fit the bill, and an official Buff® buff can be purchased from Technical Headwear or most outdoor sports stores. If you go down the road of an all in one unit, you can get the Adapta-cap from Sun Protection Clothing Australia.
Up top long sleeves help cover the skin to protect from the elements. This can be in the form of a light thermal such as the 2P Thermo from Adrenalin or a lightweight UPF50 polo from Sun Protection Clothing Australia. In the height of summer a UPF fishing shirt can also fit the bill. Avoid the cotton t-shirts and rashies and on colder days you can layer up with a spray top or cag jacket from Lovig’s or Kokotat.
On sit-on-top kayaks and skis we don’t have the luxury of leg protection from the deck of our boats so again coverage is key. A pair of lightweight UPF paddling pants or cargo pants can do the trick on warmer days such as those available from SPCA or if there is a breeze about a pair of light thermal pants can do the job nicely again the Adrenalin 2P thermos fit the bill.
Due to sharps on the beach as well as landing on slippery rocks and reefs, some protection for your feet is very important and often overlooked. So pop a pair of old runners on or pick up a pair of dive boots and you are ready to go!
Winter can be a little harder with a lot of paddlers opting to put their kayaks away until the sun comes out again. There is plenty of great fishing to be had down south over winter, with monster whiting and squid in Western Port as well as the usual quality flake. There are always some solid flatties available in North PPB until June not to mention trout in the fresh and not forgetting the tuna down at Portland. Water temperatures plummet however and hypothermia is a real threat if you do go for an unplanned swim.
I normally go for a thermal beanie (polypro not neoprene) to keep the heat in, again Adrenalin have one on offer and I wear my buff and sunnies all year round.
Up top during winter in milder conditions you can again roll out the Adrenalin thermals and if you really feel the cold you can also add merino layers or something heavier like a Lavacore long sleeve. Essentially you are looking for clothing that dries quickly and stays warm even when wet. You can then add a protection layer over the top to keep out the wind and rain. Hoods are a welcome addition on your cag to stop the rain running down your neck and stop the wind whistling in your ears. Check out the Lovig dry top or the kokotat tropos range as suitable outer layers.
A pair of gloves will help keep the circulation in your hands, especially on windy days or after a cold launch in sloppy conditions. I prefer finger-less gloves to allow me to cast easily when fishing. SPCA offer these fingerless gloves in a good range of sizes, you can also get Sea to Summit versions in Anaconda stores. When just out for a paddle a set of pogies are also an excellent option.
On my lower half I usually have a pair of thermals (Adrenalin or Lavacore) with a warm pair of socks (merino or thermal not cotton) under a pair of dry pants. Depending on how much you want to spend there are a couple of options out there again both Lovig and Kokotat have good offerings, pants with incorporated socks make winter launches a breeze! Again footwear is a must, not only to protect your feet but also to protect the socks on your drypants from accidental perforation.
The majority of winter gear for kayaking is very much a case of function over fashion so a change of clothes is always a good idea in remote areas in case of an emergency landing where you might require a lift to town. A waterlogged yakker in full garb might have a hard time thumbing a lift!
The main goal is to be able to layer up properly to allow you to fish right through the colder months, after all there is no such thing as a season too cold for kayaking , just the wrong gear for the conditions! Don’t forget to practise deep water re-entries in your new gear as it can often be much harder in full winter gear than in the lighter layers you would wear in the height of summer. Also if you have found more gear worthy of a mention add it in the comments below.
A conversation with a mate over a beer quickly turned into a solid plan and accommodation was booked for a three-day stint up at Tyers. Having never been before, I was keen to chase a big dusky and with reports of 90cm+ fish being caught at the previous weekend’s flathead challenge, excitement was high.
We left Wednesday morning driving through to Bairnsdale where a quick stop was made at the bakery and then on to Lakes Entrance. We stayed at the Lake Tyers Camp & Caravan Park with easy access to the boat ramp, but you could easily stay in one of the many spots on the main strip in Lakes Entrance.
Good to knows
- Phone coverage is pretty sporadic (on Optus at least) we took vhf radios to keep in contact on the water.
- Google maps won’t load in much of the area so load the maps in town and take photos to refer to in the state park and out on the water.
- Most of the tracks are passable in a 2wd but check if there’s been rain before hand. There are a couple of big potholes on the Trident track that require careful navigation.
- Lots of wildlife on the trails in the Tyers State park, watch out for crossing wallabies!
- The fork on the Trident track- the campground is on a cliff with no water access, take the right hand trail to get to the water.
- If you need to top-up during the trip, The General Store up from the Waterwheel Tavern stocks both Munroe’s soft plastics and Jigman jigheads.
- The boat ramp isn’t signposted from Lake Tyers Beach Road, so look for Gully Rd instead, it is right across the road from the caravan park.
I opted for a 2000 reel on a 2-4kg graphite spooled with 8lb braid and an 8lb fluro leader (two rod-lengths).
Mozza my offsider went with a 2500 reel on a 2-5kg graphite again spooled with 8lb braid and 8lb fluro leader.
I elected to fish the trip exclusively on sp’s. I visited Munroe’s Soft Plastics to stock up. (No affiliation, just supporting another local small business) I bought three new types of plastics from to add to the collection in the tackle box and have play with for the trip:
- ‘fools gold’ 76mm c-tail minnow
- ‘black gold’ 3.75 inch paddle tail aka the Wokka special
- ‘smelt’ 3.75 inch paddle tail
Mozza brought a mixed collection of vibes, prawnstar hardbodies, keitech plastics as well as the same collection I had from Munroe’s.
In terms of jig heads we ran 1/8oz with 3/0 and 1/16oz with 2/0 hooks
Day 1 – Long Point
It was lunchtime by the time we reached the caravan park and unloaded the gear. We opted to hit the water for an afternoon session with a plan to fish up to dark. We decided to try the Upper Reaches first, with the theory that the main lake areas might have had more fishing pressure over the competition weekend just gone. For the first session we made our way in the Long Point Track. It was passable with the two skis on the roof of the wagon, but a kayak trailer might have been hard work. A couple of the bigger holes required careful wheel placement at an angle across the road and you would be doing well to get three sets of wheels to follow the same path with trees tight to the edge of the track. Near the end of the track we found a steady slope down to the water making for an easy launch. Easy in a 4wd, but doable in the wagon with dry ground underfoot.
There was soft mud at the waters edge but luckily it doesn’t take much water to float a Stealth so launching was pretty straightforward. A stroll along the shore before launching revealed an abundance of small mullet in the shallows so the ‘wokka special’ and ‘smelt’ paddletails were rigged to give the same dark top, light bottom silhouette in an attempt to match the hatch.
We had left the sounder back at the cabin so we covered a bit of ground around here trying to find out the depths and setting up suitable drifts with the wind picking up at times. It proved slow on the fishing front with only two duskies each for the tally in the 30’s range for 3 hours fishing, despite various retrieves and many, many casts. On our return another vehicle had joined ours on the bank with a tent set up behind and two kids fishing land based on the shore. Our enquiry if anything was biting was met with the response that they had caught one trout, a claim quickly corrected to a bream by their father. We packed everything inside the skis ready to go in the morning and made our way back out the track in the fading light. On our return to camp, we left the wagon and strolled down the road to the Waterwheel Tavern for dinner and a frothy with an aim to form a plan for the morning. Unfortunately the data coverage put paid to those plans but the food hit the spot.
Day 2- Main Lake
After breakfast on day two we headed back towards Lakes Entrance to get some phone coverage to load new maps for the days adventure. The plan was to launch from one of the boat ramps in the main lake and do some exploring. When we got close enough to town to load google maps we discovered that access to the boat ramp was down Gully Rd, across the street from the campsite we had left 10 minutes earlier!
Once we found the boat ramp we saw that you can drive right to the waters edge 100m up the shore and unload and launch there. Immediately at the launch there is a short trough followed by a sandbar to cross to get to the channel.
We made our way up the channel towards the point at the end of Hendries Lane. I hopped out of the Stealth and parked it on the point to wade back in and cast into the drop off at the channel. Mozza followed suit and this proved a good idea with the first of the day coming from there again on the wokka special. Not quite the big girl we were after but definitely a start!
We proceeded into the inlet to explore over towards Fisherman’s Landing setting up long drifts to the far shore before resetting and going again. There were a few boats fishing the same area but we all seemed to be managing fish in the 30-40cm bracket. A few more were caught here on a mix of caramel eclair minnows, worms and the good old wokka special. Lunch was beckoning so we headed back to the ramp and packed up for a trip back into Lakes Entrance to load more maps, find a bakery and make a plan for the afternoon session.
After recharging the batteries, and re-applying the sunscreen, we hit the water again launching from the boat ramp area but this time pushing further up towards Mill Point. It didn’t take long to get onto more fish but again we were struggling to get size. Mozza tested out a few scents and pulled in a few fish in the late 30’s and early 40’s.
The best I managed was a 50cm model. We set up on a drift on a very fishy looking drop off when splashes could be heard in the shallows. Small bait fish were jumping clear of the water and skitting along the surface. We figured they had to of been chased by something so we headed that way and began casting into the action. It wasn’t long before the tailor made themselves known with spectacular ariel displays and fighting hard on light gear. Tailor are spiteful buggers -one of them managed to bite a nice hole in Mozza’s environet, but then refused to open his mouth for the lip grips.
We chased the tailor for a little while before pushing up to Mill Point and also trying a few drifts past a very fishy looking snag on the point opposite but it had again gone quiet. We were running out of daylight at this stage so made our way back down towards Hendrie’s picking up another couple of fish on the way. One last stop off on the point where I got my fish early in the morning, but the channel was devoid of life this time round. Last casts were made in the fading light and then we proceeded to track our way back to launch in the dark trying to navigate around the sand bar in the process. We packed up in the headlights of the car and made our way back to the campsite for a quick shower before hitting Lakes Entrance for dinner at the Sports Club Good coverage meant plans were made for the upper reaches with maps sorted for a crack at the Trident Arm the next morning. The wagon was packed for morning checkout with Sam Newman & Co providing a soundtrack then it was a welcome kip after a long day on the water.
Day 3 -Trident Arm
Day three saw a half hour hike around the lake to the other side to explore the Trident Arm and upper reaches. Again the tracks were navigable in a 2wd with only a couple of larger potholes to navigate. Plenty of wildlife on this side of the lake with large reptiles and frequent wallabies crossing the tracks. The waterside is busy too with pelicans, black swans and crimson rosella making their presence known. I’m not much of a bird watcher, but a few days in a spot like this is good for the soul!
After a fair drive we hit a fork in the trident arm track. We elected to hang the left following the sign for the campground assuming it would be on the water’s edge, but a few minutes later we found out that it is in fact on a cliff with a very steep track down to the water – not doable with a kayak. We tracked back and took the right-hander which turned out to be a trail right down to the waters edge with a where a nice easy launch awaited us.
A change in the water clarity from the other launches led us to a change in tactics pulling out the ‘fools gold’ and ‘smelt’ plastics from the tackle box. The opposite shore from the launch got a few duskies on the board early but again we couldn’t find the big ones. The bream were around in good numbers in the shallows in the inlets with silhouettes scarpering forwards with every stroke of the paddle. Some were hungry though not deterred by 8 and 10lb leaders and they were more than happy to have a crack at 3/0 hooks as they passed, even if they couldn’t grab hold. This one did manage to hook up on a 2/0 jig head.
We explored further afield with Mozza out-fishing me on the duskies. Same lures, same leader, jig head and retrieve so it must have been his wasabi scent that made the difference. The smelt paddletail was his go-to lure for the day while I managed to land both duskies and bream on the fools gold. Overall it made a nice change to explore a new spot and it is safe to say we’ll be back to explore again as we only covered a tiny portion of the whole system.
A massive thank you to Marto over at BerelyPro for hopping on board as a sponsor for this year’s competition. He was left with the difficult task of picking a winner from the 19 entries we received for the photo/video comp. Picking a winner proved harder than catching a tuna for Marto, so he enlisted the help of his gran to try to separate a winner. Even with her help he had two finalists he liked, but it was gran’s vote that got our winner over the line. Because it was so close, we’ve decided to kick in a runner up prize of a 12 month AFN digital TV subscription and Marto being the top bloke he is has also offered all of the other photo comp entrants a 20% discount on all BerleyPro products purchased in the next two weeks. (I’ll email you the coupon code.)
So without further ado, the runner up in this year’s BerleyPro comp is Jordan Rouw with this great snap of his cracking tuna:
Well done Jordo, there’s a 12 month AFN TV subscription on its way to you.
And the winner is Jayme Morris with this beach shot during comp set-up:
I’m guessing Marto’s gran prefers Stealths to tuna! Jayme you can contact Marto here to organise your fantastic BerleyPro Orb. Looks like you are sorted for snapper season mate!
Thank you again to all of the entrants, roll on NSC’18