Fishy Resolutions – John Boon – Jan 16

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!! Three simple words that signal out with the old and in with the new. First of all a big happy new year to all of the Fish and Boat team and especially everyone out there in reader land. It’s time to forget what happened last year and move forward onto bigger and better things.

Generally at new years eve parties a lot of chatter revolves around what resolutions are going to be set for the new year. For some it might be to lose a bit of weight, give up smoking or maybe for wives to treat their husbands like the kings they want to be (ha ha yeah right).

For me at the start of the year my thoughts turn to which particular species I really want to improve on. Which species do I really want to become a regular at catching. For some people this doesn’t apply to them because they are just happy to be on the water and it doesn’t matter which particular fish they catch on any given day. I like the thrill of the chase and the satisfaction when a target species is acquired.

No one really just picks up a rod and drives off into the distance to become an instant expert. Research, time on the water and a number of other factors all contribute to becoming a master of any given species. For example I have a few friends who love chasing Tusk Fish and thats all they think about.

They will take the time to collect a specific type of crab, pick specific tides and fish specific areas. Some of my other mates are barra mad. They can pick the tides and locations where barra are going to hold and feed. For some people they will have only one particular species that they dream about and chase day in, day out.

If you spend that much time chasing a species and have an open mind then of course you are going to figure out what makes them tick but for me I just can’t bring myself to only chase one breed of fish. My aim is to be a “jack of all trades” so to speak.

At the start of the year I really struggled with chasing tiger squid around Great Keppel Island. I was constantly seeing great reports of squid being caught but I was turning donuts or the odd one or two. ‘Enough was enough’ I thought to myself. It was time for a different approach because what I was doing wasn’t working. A full day casting for bugger all does wear thin I can tell you and when the wife looks at you and says “maybe you should just give up” then you know it’s time to up the ante. I started chatting to everyone.

Helpful guys at tackle shops, mates that had caught them before and anyone else who was kind enough to share information with me. I was in fact creating my own little data base. When I had chatted to everyone I could think of I moved onto types of squid jigs.

There are a thousand different types so how do you work out what works? The good old internet thats how. I found articles, youtube videos and photo’s. Exactly what I was after. I had even found video of particular retrieves that were making a difference. You could say I had hit an electronic gold mine. One thing that kept coming up in my search was a squid jig made by Yamashita. If it’s one thing the Japanese are good at it’s making fishing gear.

These particular jigs were made with a woven jacket over the top and had been advertised as “warm jacket”. The science behind this was for the jig to be warmer in the water and therefore more attractive to squid. Was this clever marketing on trying to get me to part with my hard earned? All the research I was doing on the web suggested no. There was only one way to find out.

I was now bobbing around out at Keppel Island with a couple of good mates. The sun was just poking it’s head up and I was armed and ready. Armed with new confidence, new knowledge and of course new hardware. By midday it was time to go home. Did my research pay off? You bet it did. We had seven nice squid chilling in the esky. Seven definitely isn’t a lot but compared to previous trips it was a success.

The mates that I were out there with had other types of jigs on and out of the seven that were caught I had nailed five of them. We sat around after and compared our experience from the day and the Yamashita’s were a clear standout. Since this day I have passed on and shared many tips and techniques with close friends and now it’s not uncommon for us to go out and have 20 plus sessions for the day. The power of research has no boundaries.

I’ve been able to tick a few species off the list over the years. I still chase a selection over the year ahead but I will normally pick something out and give it just a bit more attention then anything else on the hit list. I’m pretty confident with such species as Red Emperor, Large Mouth Nannygai, Coral Trout, Fingermark, Black Jew, Grunter, King Salmon and also the humble Mud Crab. Yes the muddie does take a bit of working out also.

Back in the day we would just drop a few pots off in the shallows, go fishing for the day and then return to collect our pots. If we did manage a couple for a feed then we were happy. It wasn’t until we decided to put some more effort in to outsmart these tasty crustaceans that we started to work them out.

With the help of some local DVD’s, a couple of switched on brothers who live in Emu Park and some good old fashion trial and error we finally cracked the code and started seeing an increase in catch rates. Moving pots every 1-2 hours was the biggest game changer. Moving them up into the mangroves with the tide and then back out seen great results for summer time. As the water cools into winter then the deeper water is the go. We have seen a few different fish frames perform better but as long as they are fresh then you’re on a winner.

There have been some failures in the past though and it did come down to not allocating enough time to have a proper go. For the past 2 years I have wanted to catch a Snapper from the waters off Yeppoon. It’s no secret that they are a cold water fish so obviously the Winter months would be best. The biggest distraction is getting desperate to catch a fish when things aren’t working.

Stepping outside the comfort zone does take a fair amount of discipline to stay focused. In the few trips when I have given it a go and started to fail I went running back to some good old faithful marks and techniques that I knew would work. I guess the sooner you realise there is no losing in fishing the better off you will be. You either win or you learn. It’s that simple.

So whats on the resolution list for this year I hear you ask? Well it’s going to be a tough one. Mangrove Jack are a very sort after species here but they are few and far between around the Yeppoon area. Some of the locals have them worked out but the info is closely guarded and I don’t blame them.

They have put in the time and effort to figure it out so why give away secrets for free? I started off having a go last year but just like the Snapper I went running when things got tough but i’m determined to crack the code.

The second species on the to do list for 2016 is the Barramundi. I have done ok in the past but they would have to be one of the most temperamental fish I have had the pleasure of throwing a lure at. They are by far the most sensitive fish when it comes to things like tidal run, moon phase, wind direction etc.

Everything seems to have to line up to get them to bite. I guess it’s more the fine tuning of skills I want to improve on. Most fishers including myself target them around the last of the run out and the first of the run in. Finding any information about them with regards to top of the tide is few and far between. I’ve asked a few of the gun barra fisho’s and they have looked at me with a blank look and a shrug of the shoulders.

The buggers are there somewhere, it will just take a bit of extra effort to nut them out. It will be tough to allocate time to both of the mentioned species because being an avid reef fishermen when the weathers good on the little time that I have to pursue my passion between family and work then I want to head wide. I guess i will be praying for the odd 15 knot day so I have no choice but to hit the estuaries.

So now that we are in the new year what’s your resolution going to be? What do you really want to pour your heart and soul into? With enough research, patience and perseverance i assure you the results will come. Just don’t lose sight of the big picture or get distracted because who knows, that very next trip is when everything could fall into place.