Exploring Australia’s South Coast and Fishing Jervis Bay

Australia's South Coast has miles of uncrowded beaches.

Australia’s South Coast has miles of uncrowded beaches.

Who you know and who your friends and relatives know can lead to exciting adventures. Prior to my month long trip to Australia, to visit my Daughter, Sheri, and her husband
and two kids, I asked her if she knew anyone who could take me fishing. As it turns out, her sister in-law’s father in-law, Phil Breckell, responded to Sheri’s request in an enthusiastic manner, setting up a couple of trips for me. Phil is the kind of guy with an infectious sense of humor and loaded with charisma. This man has lived and worked throughout New South Wales for his entire life and knows countless people. Prior to my arrival Phil contacted one of his former co-workers, Steve, who has a sister, Diane. Diane works in the medical field and worked and lived in Alaska for 26 years. She now lives with her husband, Rolf, and lives in Australia’s south coast at St. George’s Bay, near Jervis Bay.

Upon learning about me coming to Australia, Rolf and Diane invited Phil and I to stay the weekend at their home and go saltwater fishing. The road trip from Sheri’s house
took us through some scenic areas, including Mount Keira Summit Park, Kiama Coast and Kiama Blow Hole. Australia’s South Coast is nothing less than spectacular, with miles long
sandy beaches, rocky headlands, white surf, fish filled azure collered waters, steep cliffs and abundant wildlife. The tiny towns that sit stratigically along the coast have a unique charm and postcard quality abience that excites my photographic eye.

Five hours after leaving for St. George’s Bay, we arrived at Rolf and Diane’s waterside home. Rolf enthusiastically welcomed us and invited us into his home. A quick look
around the house revealed Alaskan art adorning the walls, book cases and even Rolf’s shirt. Visiting with this couple was a joy, and included lots of stories from Australia
and Alaska, where the couple now owns a cabin near the Kenai River.

The boat launch at the park, which is in Australia Capital Territory

The boat launch at the park, which is in Australia Capital Territory

Pre-dawn the next morning, with boat in tow, Rolf stopped at the local gas station. The small store had a wall of local tackle that caught my eye. Rolf told the young lady
behind the counter I was visiting from the United States and was also a guide in Southeast Alaska. She quickly told me she spent time in Ketchikan and knew some of the
people I know there, proving the world is small.

We launched the boat at Booderee National Park and headed into Jervis Bay and then to the Canyon offshore, in search of marlin. Our marlin attempt resulted in no strikes,
prompting Rolf and Steve to move close to shore at a place called Drum & Drumstick. Layers of rock soaring toward the sky create an angler’s or diver’s paradise. I used
Point Wilson Dart jigs here, sending them to the bottom and jigging them through the water column. Rolf and Steve used “Auzzie” lures and baits. My first saltwater fish,
a small mackerel tuna grabbed my anchovie jig. Steve caught several morwong and Rolf reeled in a big cuttlefish. I also caught and released a small flathead while in front
of the world famous “Tubes” on the northern headland of Jervis Bay. This is the spot anglers catch big marlin and tuna that follow a current from offshore to this cliff
that was formerly used for storing submarine torpedoes.

Rolf waiting for a bite as the sun rises near his house.

Rolf waiting for a bite as the sun rises near his house.

Day two we launched the boat just in St. George’s Bay and fished close to Rolf’s house. While I failed to land any fish during our short morning of fishing the bay,
Rolf’s neighbor managed to land one snapper and a nice flathead that Rolf held for my pictures.

Thank you to my daughter, Phil Breckell, Steve Fornasier and Rolf and Diane Wick for helping me fish Australia’s beautiful saltwater.

Here's a nice sized flathead

Here’s a nice sized flathead

As they say, it’s not always
what you know, but who you know. In this case, who you know helped me make new friends and have a great experience in Jervis Bay.

Here’s a few shots of parrots that hang out at Rolf and Diane’s.

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Australian Bass Fishing Adventure at Lake St. Clair in New South Wales Australia

Bass Fishing in Australia

High above Lake St. Clair in Australia, a mob of kangaroos feed on a grassy knoll overlooking the lake

Map showing Lake St. Clair in Australia

Map showing Lake St. Clair in Australia

High above Lake St. Clair in New South Wales, a mob of kangaroos feed on a grassy knoll overlooking Lake St. Clair. I’m here to go fishing, and of course get lots of photos. Australia’s bass fishing can be a challenge, especially if you don’t have a clue where to go or when to go. Luckily, my daughter Sheri, who lives near Sydney, has a great network of friends and family. Prior to my month long visit to Australia, She hooked me up with her sister in-law’s father in-law, Phil. Phil knows the area and has lots of “mates,” the Auzzie term for friends or buddies. Knowing my passion for fishing, Phil arranged a fishing trip with Bill Thomson, a local postal manager who also has a love of fishing. My fishing adventure began early Saturday morning, at 5 a.m. From Bill’s house we traveled three hours with boat in tow and encountered just three cars the entire length of the massively remote Australian bush country.

Road Killed Brown Snakes

During hot weather, which happens often, brown snakes are attracted to the hot pavement, and become road kill.

Our destination, Lake St. Claire, an impoundment created years ago when a small dam was built to hold water to be used as the water supply for a nearby small town.  After snapping a few images of the kangaroo we continued down the road, where we spotted a road killed snake. Upon close inspection Bill said it was a brown snake, one of the most deadly snakes in the world. Luckily though, it posed no threat to us.  Australia is filled with deadly snakes, spiders, jellyfish and a number of other animals that can kill you.  Most Australians, including my daughter, shrug it off and say, “no worries.”

Lake St. Clair Bass and Perch Fishing

Casting or trolling small diving plugs works great when targeting Australian bass and yellow belly perch

Within minutes of registering at the state campground we launched the boat into the warm, calm waters. Bruce, a friend of Bill’s and Phil’s would join us within the hour, leaving us enough time to explore the lake and look for likely looking bass fishing areas. Blue skies combined with white puffy clouds provided awesome photo subjects as well as areas to cast small diving lures. Bill looked through his tackle box and handed me a small, Australian made purple lure. He said “Bass love purple in this lake.”

Trolling or casting diving plugs at Lake St. Clair works extremely well to trick Australian bass into biting.

Trolling or casting diving plugs at Lake St. Clair works extremely well to trick Australian bass into biting.

At least 100 photos taken and casts made, we headed back to our future campsite, where Bruce patiently waited. Setting up camp could wait, everyone wanted to catch fish, so we headed to a quiet bay to begin trolling around trees. Lake St. Clair provided one of the most scenic bass fishing areas I have ever fished, but still no bass. Bruce suggested we try an area near a small island, where they previously caught fish in years past. Ten minutes later we entered a secluded little bay filled with birds, grazing cows on the hillside and flat calm waters we hoped would be full of bass. With three lures in the water, all purple diving plugs, Bill trolled the shoreline on the edge of the weeds.

John Beath catches his first trophy Australian bass while fishing Lake St. Clair in New South Wales Australia.

John Beath catches his first trophy Australian bass while fishing Lake St. Clair in New South Wales Australia.

My lure got several hits, but unlike largemouth bass in the United States, a quick hook set does not sink hooks home, it rips their lips, literally. The other two anglers aboard had several small bass each to their credit — my score — zero landed. After figuring out the best strategy would be restraint, I finally hooked into my first Australian bass, (Percalates novemaculeata) a 15-incher (380 mm), a  whopper by Australia standards.

Bill & Bruce both hooked up with nice Australian bass while trolling through a school of bass near shore in a small cove on Lake St. Clair in New South Wales Australia.

Bill & Bruce both hooked up with nice Australian bass while trolling through a school of bass near shore in a small cove on Lake St. Clair in New South Wales Australia.

A school of bass showed on the fish finder, prompting Bill to turn around and go back through the area again. This time I steered the boat while the other two anglers held their rods in hopes of attracting a bite. Bill’s rod doubled first, followed by Bruce reeling his plug to the boat. While reeling his lure Bruce hooked up for a rare Australian bass double header on nice “keeper sized” fish.

Lake St. Clair tent camping and fishing in New South Wales Australia.

Lake St. Clair tent camping and fishing in New South Wales Australia.

All totaled we caught eight bass that afternoon, three of which were considered nice fish by local standards. Unlike bass fishing in the U.S., anglers here often keep their catch and are limited to two fish each, one over 350 mm and one under. All of Lake St. Clair’s bass are planted for the purpose of recreational fishing. And unlike a largemouth or smallmouth bass, these bass don’t spawn in freshwater. These bass only spawn if they can reach saltwater. In Lake St. Clair they just continue to grow without spawning and provide opportunities for the hardcore anglers who purse them.  Next chore, clean fish and set up camp for the night.

Bruce had prior engagements and left early Sunday morning, leaving just two of us to fish the early morning bite before heading back to civilization. Minutes after waking up we headed back to the same cove and quickly began catching small bass. We each caught a couple bass and then caught another couple nice sized Australian bass. Seven bass later, Bill says, “I really want you to catch a yellow belly perch, (officially called a Golden Perch) (Macquaria ambigua) lets go troll around the trees.”

Australian Golden Perch at Lake St. Clair in New South Wales Australia

Bill Thomson holds my first ever Australian Golden Perch, caught a Lake St. Clair in New South Wales, Austalia

Same purple diving plugs, same trolling speed, slightly different area. Perch, Bill explained, love hanging out in and around the flooded trees. Sure enough, his local knowledge paid off when a 1.7 kilo perch slammed my plug and put on a nice shallow water fight. Perch, everyone has told me, taste great, so this fish got filleted and put on ice for the trip home.

All totaled, in one afternoon and one short morning we landed 15 Australian bass and one golden perch. Bill said it was the best two day trip he has ever experienced at Lake St. Clair. He also noted, it was the first double header on Australian bass in his boat. In addition to the fishing, numerous wildlife provided photographic opportunities for my cameras. Here’s a few shots of the spectacular animals and scenes during my short camping trip to Lake St. Clair in New South Wales Australia.

Pair of Australian Eagles

This pair of Australian eagles flew overhead and landed on this tree.

This pair of Australian eagles flew overhead and landed on this tree.

Australian Eagle Takes Off

This Australian eagle entertained us with frequent overhead flights as well as landed in the tree with its mate.

This Australian eagle entertained us with frequent overhead flights as well as landed in the tree with its mate.

Australian Swan

This Australian Swan was showing off for its mate.

This Australian Swan was showing off for its mate.

Australian Pelican

Australian Pelicans normally reside near saltwater. Lake St. Clair had a few of them feeding along the shoreline's edge.

Australian Pelicans normally reside near saltwater. Lake St. Clair had a few of them feeding along the shoreline’s edge.

Echidna foraging along the edge of the river

These little long nosed animals feed on bugs, grubs and worms. They have quills, much like a porcupine.

These little long nosed animals feed on bugs, grubs and worms. They have quills, much like a porcupine.

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How to Fish Diamond Point Inside Discovery Bay

SquidPro Tackle's Salmon Chronicles

Discovery Bay’s Bounty of Blackmouth at Diamond Point  “Click to Enlarge Map”

Diamond Point Discovery Bay Salmon Fishing Map

Many of the hardcore blackmouth anglers don’t bother fishing flood tides at Protection Island or inside Discovery Bay. They say the Ebb tide produces best, which I won’t argue. However, since the area has an abundance of bait, that moves with the tide, it only makes sense to find where bait and blackmouth can be found and enticed into biting.

Diamond Point Salmon Fishing The Point revealed salmon and bait and continued to show blackmouth feeding on bottom as we trolled farther inside Discovery Bay.

This week I fished five days in a row, prospecting Hein Bank, Eastern Bank, Protection Island and Diamond Point, inside Discovery Bay. The two banks failed to reveal any bait or blackmouth, while Protection Island did have bait and some nice salmon during the ebb tide. Thursday morning when I launched at…

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Protection Island Salmon Fishing Map For Ebb Tide

SquidPro Tackle's Salmon Chronicles

How to Fish Protection Island During An Outgoing Tide

Ebb Tide Salmon Fishing at Protection Island How to salmon fish at Protection Island during outgoing tide

Ask any regular at Protection Island and they will tell you an outgoing (ebb) tide is best for catching blackmouth salmon. Some of the anglers I know say the ebb tide produces about 3 to 1 over the incoming (flood) tide.  The chart above shows the current direction as it flows across the shallow sandbar extending out from Kanem Point. As the water moves across the bar it creates a strong current that forces bait into the “Horseshoe” like area. As the current increases more bait appears and so do the blackmouth salmon.

How to fish Protection Island for salmon Massive schools of bait and feeding blackmouth salmon at Protection Island

Some of the anglers stay close to the contour line while others, including me, venture into the middle of the horseshoe. My trolling pattern varies according to…

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Kingfisher Spoon Size 2 Field Test at Protection Island

SquidPro Tackle's Salmon Chronicles

Saturday six blackmouth salmon hit our artificial baits. Some of the fish were shakers, others were nice “keeper” sized immature Chinook salmon that measured over the legal minimum of 22 inches. Two nice sized fish hit, striped line and eventually got off our barbless hooks. We kept two fish and brought them back to John Wayne Marina’s cleaning station. First order of business, open the stomach and see what the fish were eating. Not surprisingly, their stomachs were filled with two to three inch little “poggie” like baitfish, tiny shrimp and baby squids.

Small Salmon Spoons Sized 2 Kingfisher Silver Horde, Gold Star Salmon Hooks Match The Hatch When Salmon Feed On Small Baits.

After visiting Silver Horde in Lynnwood on Monday, I told Kelly Morrison about these small baits.  Morrison is the son of the founders and said, “I have a lure for you to try.” He then showed me the small…

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Silver Horde — Gold Star Downrigger Rudders, F4 Piscator Flashers & Kingfisher Spoons

SquidPro Tackle's Salmon Chronicles

Yesterday I visited Kelly at Silver Horde. We’ve known each other for more than 30 years and during that time visits to their Lynnwood Washington store has always brought a smile to my face. My reason for visiting was simple — replace some items not available locally. Specifically, downrigger rudders. Over the years these rudders have accompanied my downrigger balls and helped attract more fish. Anglers always ask me, what is that thing on your downrigger ball? My answer, it’s a fish magnet!

Silver Horde Downrigger Rudder Special LFS downrigger rudder custom color

LFS (Lumi Fishing Supply) in Bellingham Washington custom designed the color of this awesome looking Silver Horde downrigger rudder. They will be available at the LFS booth at the Seattle Boat Show. Today I tried one and it worked great!

Notice the heavy mono line at the end. I use 500 pound mono with glow tubing over the mono and crimp…

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Protection Island Winter Blackmouth Fishing Map & Techniques

SquidPro Tackle's Salmon Chronicles

Winter blackmouth fishing can be a challenge, especially if you don’t know the area. After moving to Sequim two years ago I began the fun task of learning new waters, specifically the Protection Island area. This great area is close to John Wayne Marina and offers some protection from wind.

Protection Island

The chart above shows the prime areas to fish Protection Island. The finger that extends from the SW side of the island holds bait which in turn attracts hungry blackmouth. A few anglers jig the area on an outgoing tide. When jigging start at the inside of the finger, in shallow water, which drops into the deep. During a perfect tide the drift will carry your boat across the prime zone marked in yellow.

Winter Blackmouth Fishing at Protection Island Trolling mini FAT Squids at Protection Island works great.

Most anglers, including me, use downriggers to fish this area. On either tide troll the outside of…

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