Fish-On with Nick

Watch this space to find out what Nick's been up to, his latest adventures, best catches and heaps more!

Maldives Ruby’s

Here’s a quick story from a group of anglers fishing the Maldives. It’s great to see the Fish-On website having such far reaching effects.

Hi Nick,

We are a group of friends doing sport fishing in Addu Atoll, the southern tip of Maldives. Yesterday we went out to do some jigging with 2 guests from Netherlands. The weather wasn’t too good, so we couldn’t spend too much time fishing, but we managed to catch this beautiful fish, at first we did not know the name of it. It looked a bit weird with the bulgy eyes. After a bit of research we concluded that it was a Ruby Snapper. It’s not much of a story but thought of sharing it with you guys.

www.addusportfishing.com

www.discoveraddu.com

Also keep an eye out for Perth Fishing T.V. episode 1 inaugural screening soon to be released here Jan 26th. Explains why it’s been so long since my latest post. Yes, Steve Correia and I have once again joined forces in an attempt to produce Australia’s most popular fishing show. This 1st episode highlights the home made lead head jigs mentioned previously in this section and much, much more. Stay tuned, we hope you enjoy the viewing.

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Hand tied fly’s and lead heads are still the bomb!

Well with the warmer weather finally on our door step it’s time to tie up some fly’s and lead head jigs and head off in search of some flatfish. Targeting Bar tailed flathead and flounder here in our magnificent Swan River is something I have enjoyed immensely over the years. Not only are these fish great sport on ultra light spin and fly tackle they are also not too bad on a plate either. Flathead and flounder are generally not that difficult to catch with most junior and novice anglers beginning their angling experiences targeting these great little fish. The Swan River here in Perth is an ideal location to target these species with plenty of warm, shallow water and likely flat fish haunts. The fly’s and lead head jigs pictured are quite simple to tie up and are one of the most effective flat fish artificials I have tried over the years. They are cheap, quick and easy to tie up and most importantly, blow fish proof. These particular models range from ultra light size 4, bead head fly’s to 3/4 ounce 1/0 lead head jigs and are tied from both synthetic and natural fibers. The fly’s are tied from chartreuse and white deer hair fibers to add extra movement in the water and also help to prevent tail wraps during false casting. The lead heads are tied using synthetic fibers which are great for durability and hold their shape in the water perfectly. The gold flash in the center of them all shines through and represents the lateral line of a small bait fish and the hot pink binding appears as open or flared gills which all panicked bait fish display when being preyed upon. The green or chartreuse and white theme with hot pink binding seems to be the most effective colour pattern for flat fish such as flat head and flounder regardless of their location here in Australia and represents the appearance of most small prey items these fish prefer. Simply hop and drag these lures across some warm, sandy shallows using ultra light spin and fly tackle, flatfish will often lay in areas of broken up bottom such as sand, weed, rock and especially gravel or crushed shell. Their camouflage allows these fish to remain completely undetected as they lay in wait of any small fish or prawn that may make the mistake of venturing too close before exploding from the river bed to engulf their prize. Light 10 – 15lb leaders and tippets are preferred depending on the size of the fish being targeted and are simply joined to ultra light 4 – 6lb braided lines using an albrite knot. Loop knots are also preferred to allow the fly or lead head extra movement during retrieval.

This Friday 2/10/15 the tide is perfect and rises steadily from around midday to late afternoon in the location I have chosen to fish, the water will be warming nicely by that time and the rising tide should see the Swan River flatfish coming on the chew. Wish me luck and I’ll post the results soon.

Calm seas, clear skies

Nick Hocking

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The year that wasn’t

Well after arriving home from a week of solid fishing at Harvey Dam I am sorry to report nothing but bad news. It seems there has been a stocking incident resulting in the loss of the prestigious and highly sought after Brown Trout the area has been so famous for over previous years. Apparently they all went belly up in the release tanks during a hot spell before they could be released into Harvey Dam. Oops! Western Australian fisheries did manage to release around 1100 brood stock, rainbow trout into the dam successfully however these fish seem to be extremely difficult to find and catch this season?

Opening day of the 2015 fresh water season saw Harvey Dam literally covered with competent fresh water anglers of all shapes and sizes, shore based anglers lined every likely location as deep water sections were scanned and searched by all manner of water craft imaginable. With opening day this year falling on a Monday it was extremely surprising to see so many lucky anglers venturing away from their work places to target trout. It seems half of Perth managed to chuck a sickie? It just goes to show you how popular a decent fresh water fishery would be received here in the west. Dare I say it again AUSTRALIAN NATIVES!!!

With many seasoned and competent fresh water anglers now scouring every nook and cranny of the dam it soon became evident that this year’s fishing was going to be poor compared to the previous? After speaking with many seasoned anglers and hearing the same disappointing results it soon became clear that this year’s season was shaping up to be a real dud. Like most other anglers I managed around a dozen yearling rainbow trout from 26 – 30cm and a heap of redfin perch around the same size range during each trolling session but alas no decent sized trout. Although these smaller fish were quite plentiful and moderately entertaining the satisfaction of hooking and landing that one good fish unfortunately eluded me for this trip.

There were however plenty of good trout to be found around the local feeder streams and rivers leading to and from the dam itself but unfortunately I was there to film a trolling for trout segment and these fish were not going to help my cause. Stand out lures for the trip included Halco RMG Scorpion 35 and 52 in classic rainbow trout and gravy train patterns. These two lures out fished anything else I put in the water during the week long period by far and are now my go to trolling lures for Harvey Dam, thanks again Halco.

These lures were fished over short, ultra-light graphite rods coupled with 1000 – 2500 class SHIMANO spin reels loaded with 4 – 6lb braided lines attached to around 1 – 2 rod lengths of 6 – 10lb fluoro carbon leader material. With local fresh water anglers restricted to trolling with one rod per person it helps to also have a mate in the boat to allow the use of two separate outfits. One is usually set back at around 30 – 40 meters with a small, shallow running lure (HALCO – RMG Scorpion 35, 1.6m sneaky suspending diver in classic rainbow trout pattern) and another closer to the boat at around 20 – 25 meters with a larger, deeper running lure (HALCO RMG Scorpion 52, 2.5m diver in gravy train pattern). Staggering lure distances not only avoids tangles during strikes and turns but also allows anglers to cover much more of the water column in search of their prey. This technique has worked extremely well for most fresh water anglers over the years with most rainbow trout taken on the smaller, shallow running lures and larger brown trout and red fin perch preferring the deeper running lures closer to the boat.

Harvey Dam is strictly an electric motor only option and does not allow the use of petrol engines at all! Most electric motors have around 5 speeds with the most popular speed for trout trolling proving to be the number four setting which produces a boat speed of around 2-3 knots depending on the vessel to which it is fitted. It does sometimes help to vary your boat speed to induce strikes when fish become lazy due to extremely calm or warm conditions.Gel cell batteries are a key factor in maintaining motor power for a good days trolling and need to be charged with a specified gel cell battery charger run by a decent 1 – 3 KVA generator system.

Echo sounders also help in locating fish and structure; once you have located good showings of fish in a certain area simply troll your lures around and through them until you start achieving results. Echo sounders with temperature readings are also handy for finding thermoclines; trout will often sit in a certain temperature of water rather than hanging around structure. Once the favoured temperature of water is located simply attach a lure capable of swimming at this desired depth/temperature range. Landing nets are also handy when fishing for trout from a boat and not only aid anglers in the landing of their fish but also prevent hooks in fingers, a fairly common occurrence when trying to hand lift lively trout attached to treble hooks.

Barometric pressure plays a very important role in fresh water angling and generally determines whether fish will be feeding of not. High, steady barometers are preferred for most fresh water angling situations, this generally occurs during warm, sunny conditions. Fish will often sit deeper in the water column or in shaded areas during these conditions. However calm, overcast conditions are also ideal for tempting trout into shallow cooler waters.

I’ve been fishing Harvey Dam for quite a number of years now and have enjoyed watching the fishing steadily improve to the point it was at a couple of years ago. Large, healthy brown trout to the magical 10lb mark used to be a real possibility back then and after having released so many of those beautiful fish over the years I am now left to wonder what became of the fish I was once so hopeful would remain there thrilling anglers for many more years to come? Now I do fully understand that Harvey Dam like most of our south western fresh water impoundments is stocked with brood stock trout and that it is respectively a put and take fishery system only. But it still to this day leaves me wondering where do all those trout go each year? Surely some must survive the angling onslaught and remain, grow and become semi wild? Why would this ever improving fishery suddenly take such a downward spiral? These are the questions that need to be addressed to ensure our Western Australian freshwater fisheries remain protected and improve. Perhaps some funds invested into building fish ladders to retain our trout in the dams to which they are released would be a good start? Rather than having them take off up the cooler, oxygenated feeder streams running into and out of the stocked dams to end up in areas totally inaccessible to most anglers paying good money for a freshwater fishing licence.

Trolling for trout is a relaxing and enjoyable form of fishing that is slowly growing more and more popular with the fresh water angling community, fingers crossed our fishery here in the west improves with age offering Western Australian anglers the diversity of fishing for some of Australia’s most popular and iconic fresh water species. Fingers crossed!

Calm seas, clear skies

Nick Hocking

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Blood Moon Battle Tactics

Saturday the 8th of April this year produced an extraordinary meteorological phenomenon known as a blood moon. This occurs when the earth’s shadow is cast onto the moon’s surface resulting in a total eclipse of the moon. Not only was this a visually spectacular sight but it also sent the fish absolutely wild for those lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time.

After discussing the local weather patterns with a couple of mates a decision was made to head north to Port Gregory and do battle with some of the larger species of beach fish the region had to offer. Upon arrival we were faced with absolutely ideal conditions, the swell was down and so was the wind and as we scanned our way along this pristine beach our fishing possibilities were simply endless. Being the Easter long weekend, we were amazed to find only a few seasoned anglers about leaving us with our pick of many fishy looking haunts. There was a long fringing reef running parallel to the beach with a break at the end leading into deep, foamy looking water but unfortunately was unfishable due to a massive weed build up so we headed further south along the beach to the Hutt river mouth. This spot looked great with many deep, clean looking gutters and churning sand banks.

The idea was to set up camp on the beach and fish through the night until high tide using a variety of techniques from complicated slide baiting to standard beach fishing. The sun was setting and the blood moon was about to rise as we excitedly made our way down to the water’s edge to send out the first few baits for the evening. The water was abnormally warm and there were blue bottles lining the tide line everywhere signifying the presence of an inshore, warm water current. I remember thinking “this could be either a really good thing or a really bad thing?” It only took a few casts for the tailor to move in and begin feeding on the fresh mullie baits, this produced not only some red hot action but also some great burley and highly valued fresh bait for later. We were fishing with standard sweeper, running sinker and Paternoster rigs made from 50lb fluoro carbon leader materials with 4 ganged 4/0 tarpon hooks attached. Sinkers varied from 4 – 6 ounces in both star and grapnel styles. Our main lines were a variety of both braided and nylon 20 – 30lb and had full rod lengths of 40 – 50lb shock leaders attached, these lines were fished over both spin and low mount overhead outfits with typically braided line on spin reels and nylon on the overheads.

As the blood coloured moon began to rise into the darkening sky the tailor bite began to slow leaving the area littered with burley scraps for larger predators to now come sniffing around for. We decided to continue fishing with the light mullie rigs we had been previously using with such success in the hope that they would produce some school sized mulloway. We also covered our heavier options by slide baiting some larger baits out on heavier outfits just in case. These heavier outfits were rigged with 80 – 100lb fluoro carbon leaders and 80 – 250lb wire with 8/0 – 12/0 sized hooks. Baits varied from live tailor to fillets and heads.

The scene was now set and as we sat there remarking on how stunning the moon looked and how perfect the weather was we knew it was only a matter of time before something really happened. Dave’s rod was the first to go and as he comfortably sat back into a decent fish those all too familiar charges of excitement began rushing through our bodies. Our feelings of excitement were soon realized by the glimmering, silver body and bright red, glowing eyes of a nice school sized mulloway flapping around in the light at the water’s edge. Not a bad start at all and as the night progressed we managed to hook, loose, land and get absolutely destroyed by some very nasty fish indeed. The warm water current had brought some very unusual and unlikely species very close to shore spoiling us with the sight of large 30kg Spanish mackerel biting us off after long battles as we tried to land them in the shore break thinking they were sharks. The blood moon had produced more than we could have ever possibly hoped for with the only question left now being would the fishing be just as good the next night on the bright moon?

The weather remained perfect as we fished throughout the next morning and afternoon catching a few more nice fish and simply enjoying life. We found the fishing slow during the daylight hours around the full moon and that bait cotton was a must to prevent soft baits from being torn apart by the dreaded pickers. The slide baiting technique again proved its worth and really came into its own when targeting larger species such as sharks and big mulloway from the shore. It really is the ultimate method of delivering large, live baits out into deep, clean water without causing injury or damaging the bait. The Richter brand of slide bait clips are made in South Africa by a South African gentleman named Doug Swanell and are in my opinion the best available. They are produced from top quality, high tensile materials that will last the distance and not let you down on that fish of a lifetime. The powerful low mount, overhead outfits used to cast the heavy grapnel sinkers far out into the ocean were also brilliant, these outfits were originally designed by South African surf fisherman to achieve maximum casting distances due to their multi sectional surf breaks and are not only more powerful and easier to cast but also much more comfortable to battle large fish for long periods of time. For more details on the slide baiting process or any rigs and fishing outfits described above visit www.fish-on.com.au .

At 2pm on Sunday afternoon something swallowed the 1kg live tailor that I had slide baited on my 30lb overhead outfit and took off for the horizon, the solid head shakes and shear speed of the brute leaving me convinced I was hooked up to a decent sort of shark. Thankfully I was prepared and confident the heavy 100lb fluoro carbon leader and 150lb wire trace would all hold up. The battle ensued for an hour and a half leaving both the fish and I completely exhausted. For those of you that have been fortunate enough to battle large fish on long rods for extended periods of time you’ll know exactly what I mean. Eventually I had over 100kg’s of shovel nosed shark beached and beaten. After managing to find the strength to lift her for a quick photo the fish was released back into the ocean where all sharks belong. Rather than have to go through the truly enjoyable but physically brutal punishment of battling another large species on my heavy outfit I decided to fish with my lighter 30lb braided, spin outfit and recover over a beer or two. This was always fraught with danger and as the rod was pulled flat and line began to scream from the spool I knew I was in for another torrid battle. The fish had taken over 200 meters of line in a few minutes and didn’t look like stopping any time soon, “this is not good!” I thought and began to place some more pressure on the spool with my fingers. The added pressure just upset the fish more and after a series of violent head shakes took off even faster. I was in some serious trouble here and looked like losing everything including $120.00 worth of braid. Something had to be done but what? I was now well into my nylon backing and was contemplating clamping down on the spool and hoping the line would break up at the fish end and not at the join knot precariously joining my braid to the mono. I eventually decided against plan A = losing $120.00 and the fish, and decided to back as far up the beach as I could whilst Dave brought my 30lb overhead outfit to me. The idea was to pull some line from the rod tip of the overhead outfit and as the line ran out on my spin outfit I would try to join the two lines together and continue the battle with the secondary outfit. At least worth a try right? I handed Dave the screaming spin outfit with a dozen or so wraps of line left on the spool and grabbed the end of the 30lb nylon dangling from the rod tip of the overhead outfit and gritted my teeth. CRACK! Went the nylon backing as the spool to line connection knot let go, the overhead outfit was in free spool with the ratchet on and was now howling as I took off running down towards the water with both lines in trembling hands. The knot was fumbled but it was good, no time to trim tag ends just get back up the beach to the second screaming outfit and settle back into the battle. The fish managed to rip another 150 plus meters of 30lb nylon line from the overhead outfit before finally slowing to a complete stop. “Maybe another big shovel nose gone to ground?” I thought. Whatever it was it had either died, become tail wrapped, or was just simply very stubborn. After an hour or so of dragging the thing back across the sea floor we finally caught a glimpse of a huge 200kg plus sting ray. A truly poor result by most anglers fishing standards but at least I got my braid back and most importantly saw what it was.

The sun began to sink lower into the ocean as the tailor bite began; we all fished hard to procure our all-important fresh bait for the night ahead. The bite only lasted for an hour or so before darkness fell and the big fish came out to play. Again the importance of the feeding tailor creating all that commotion and burley proved to be crucial as we battled away into the night against some truly sizeable opponents. The bright moon seemed to shut the fishing down a couple of hours after dark and compared to the previous night was merely average. We turned in for a few hours’ sleep before waking in the morning to yet another glorious day; the weather had turned and was now producing overcast conditions and light easterly winds. We decided to fish throughout the morning’s high tide before packing up and heading off during the low. This session proved to be our least productive of all probably due to the combination of a daylight full moon and easterly winds, it did however allow us to get rid of all our unwanted bait and produced a couple more decent fish.

Geraldton and its surrounding areas are home to an endless variety of outstanding fishing locations for both boat and shore based anglers alike. From Kalbarri to Jurien Bay lay some sleepy little towns full of great people and sensational fishing. These areas are sure to receive more and more fishing pressure as the years pass and should be treated with respect by all who visit ensuring they remain the treasures they truly are for many generations to come.

Calm seas, clear skies…

Nick Hocking

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South West Salmon

Watch as I test the fantastic Shimano T-Curve by casting lures at massive autumn Salmon in South West WA while huge swells roll in. This video is proudly presented by Zulu Media.

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Stream trout on soft plastic

A detailed look at how to fish Australia’s freshwater impoundment dams. This particular video covers both brown and rainbow trout fishing on soft plastic and is presented by popular Western Australian fishing personality Nick Hocking. We hope you enjoy.

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Stream trout on fly

A detailed look at how to fish Australia’s freshwater impoundment dams. This particular video covers both brown and rainbow trout fishing on the fly and is presented by popular Western Australian fishing personality Nick Hocking. We hope you enjoy.

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Dam Fishing for Trout

A detailed look at how to fish Australia’s freshwater impoundment dams. This particular video covers both brown and rainbow trout fishing on the fly and is presented by popular Western Australian fishing personality Nick Hocking. We hope you enjoy.

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