Quads & Rods – Dick Eussen September 2014

I ride a Can-Am Outlander 650 Max XT quad bike these days, a full camo model that I mostly use for hunting feral pigs but also for fishing. Quad bikes are remarkable units that can carry you into and out of wilderness country that is impossible in even the best outfitted 4WD, and the Outlander is no exception in its ability to do so.

I have got into the habit of carrying one of those nifty pack rods in the cargo box and have four outfits that include a Shimano Chameleon Barracast 3-6kg model fitted with a nifty compact Shimano Calcutta 100 reel and loaded with 10lb Fins braid.  I also carry a small box of lures and other tackle needed. It takes up little room. This is the outfit I use when hunting along eastern streams, but for barra and beaches I have heavier outfits based on Shimano and Okuma pack rods, fitted with Shimano Curado reels and loaded with 30lb Fins Windtamer braids. A Plano tackle box filled with a selection of barra-size lures and Asari leaders complete the outfits. Generally, when I head out, one of these outfits is stored in the cargo box.

I have been hunting a remote river somewhere north of Cooktown for several years and it generally dries out into a series of isolated pools once the dry season kicks in. The area was ground-zero when it was hit by Cyclone Ida of Category 4 strength this year. Besides blowing most of the trees down, it dropped buckets of rain on the ranges. The resultant flooding has changed the face of the local rivers and creeks and the once verdant gallery rainforest-lined banks are now gone. The watercourse beds are choked with huge 100 year old trees that have been washed out from the banks. I have never seen such riverine destruction with the exception of the Goomadeer River in Arnhem Land when Cyclone Monica devastated the region some years back.

Riding quads about in the region is now very difficult and our once cleared tracks are no more. We spent some time cutting an old track into the river using a chainsaw and gazed in astonishment on the flood damage that the poor old river had sustained. But the stream itself was running canal-like and crystal clear. The flooding has also deepened it out and it may even last longer.

As my two mates walked downstream looking for hogs, I rode the Outlander down the steep bank and parked it on a narrow, stony, beach-like flat beside the river. Doing so gave me access to any gear needed, plus the quad provided sanctuary should a crocodile suddenly take an interest in me. They do live in the river and they are probably faster than I am when it comes to hot-footing it up a river bank.

I rigged up the Shimano Chameleon pack rod with the Calcutta 100 baitcasting reel and tossed a few green Reidy 3” Shads into the snags. The river was hot and I soon had several jungle perch landed and released. In fact, in the days ahead I tried different spots and all produced perch and once a small barra. Not big fish, as they only averaged about 25cm, but they are hardy little blighters and fight hard. I am unsure of their growth rate, but I feel that by the end of the year they will be bigger and even more hungrier when the river stops flowing and the fish are congregated in drying pools.

Beach Ride

Last year I hunted on a property on the Cape’s west coast. We made camp beside a big creek pool and rode our quads far and wide. This time I carried a custom-like Okuma Graphite Baitcast 4-7kg G2-563 Cam rod fitted with a Shimano Curado reel in the cargo box of the Can-Am Outlander 500DPS I had then. We found hidden billabongs and river pools in remote monsoon forests that probably had never seen a lure. Barra, saratoga, sooty grunters and other fishes literally lined up to eat the lures. It was amazing fishing like I have not experienced in years as these days vehicle tracks lead to most “secret” fishing holes.

On a long, lonely Gulf beach, a 40km ride from our camp, we caught barra in numbers in a muddy creek inlet that could only be accessed by boat, walking or with the handy quad bikes. Indeed tossing bait or lures anywhere along this remote beach resulted in fish. It was absolutely amazing and I am looking forward to doing the same trip this year.

Quads are the new adventure toys of today and many hunters use them to hunt. I have also met a few anglers that share the same means of getting into remote country. They included a couple of blokes who had 3m tinnies tied down on a purpose-made rack on their quads at the Musgrave Road House. They were planning to fish some remote beaches on the Cape’s east coast and a long beach ride from the Captain Billy Landing to Ussher Point. Others I have come across carried baitcasting and spinning rods fully mounted in an upright position on their quad rack, but it is so easy to forget about them and broken rods are common when riding in timber country.

But pack rods are ideal because they can be kept folded and are easy to assemble in only a couple of minutes. Once I have mine ready, I just pull the ferules apart and fold the whole thing leaving the reel in place, ready for the next pool. I have two Shimano Raider pack rods, a Barra 603 6-10kg baitcaster and a Raider Travel Inshore 5-8kg spin rod. It is fitted with a Shimano Saros spin reel that is spooled with 30lb Fins braid. The latter is mostly used when I ride along remote beaches where gutters often hold good fish, including barramundi.

A Plano lure box is ideal for storing and carrying all the lures needed for a day’s fishing on a remote beach, pool or billabong. Don’t forget a hook remover, fishing knife, bait hooks, sinkers and leader material. If you have a quad, using it for fishing isolated beaches and remote fishing holes is easy if you have the right gear. Folding pack rods are purpose-made for that and they open up a whole new world of fishing adventures.