Monday, February 28, 2011

Barbecued Bonito Fillet with Tomato, Fennel & Capers

The Australian Bonito (also called Bonny, Common Bonito, Horse Mackerel, Horsie, Little Bonito, Skipjack, or Striped Bonito)  is a fast surface feeding fish with the ability to fight hard. You'll find Bonito on coastal reefs and estuaries from southern and central Queensland to about Wilsons Promontory in Victoria, with a similar sub-tropical to temperate distribution along the Western Austgralian coast.

If you've got a boat, try trolling diving lures parallel with the shoreline, close to headlands and rock ledges. Land-based fishermen should try casting and retrieving lures from the ocean rocks, jetties and breakwalls.

Bonito will also go after pilchards and garfish rigged on ganged hooks, as well as liveand strip baits or cubes.

For many years, many fishermen considered that Australian Bonito was fit only for bait or berley but in fact bonito flesh is actually quite tasty.  Some have suggeted that the prejudices concerning these fish could stem from fishermen confusing them with the less palatable skipjack.  Bonito much better to eat if the fish is bled immediately after capture an of course, if eaten fresh rather than frozen.

If you have any doubts about the eating quality of Australian Bonito, you won't once you've tried this recipe courtesy of the Sydney Fish Market.

Serves 4
1 x 800g Bonito fillet, skin on (see notes)
2 teaspoons chopped thyme leaves
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
Salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 golden shallot, finely sliced
1 small red chill, seeded and finely chopped
1 tablespoon salted capers, rinsed and dried
1 bulb baby fennel, diced
3 small tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
½ lemon


Cut the fillet in half lengthways, following the line of bones down the centre, cut away the bones, trim and discard any dark meat. Cut the pieces in half. Place on a plate, sprinkle with thyme, lemon zest, salt and pepper, drizzle with half the olive oil and turn well to coat. Cover and refrigerate until ready to cook.

Heat a barbecue or char-grill plate.

Meanwhile, heat remaining olive oil in a frying pan, add garlic, shallot, chilli, salt and pepper and fry until the shallot is translucent. Add the capers and fennel and cook until the fennel has softened slightly. Stir in the tomatoes, parsley and a squeeze of lemon juice and remove from the heat.

Place the fish skin-side down on the BBQ or char-grill and cook for 2-4 minutes, until the skin is very crisp, then turn and cook the other side for a further minute or 2, until flesh flakes easily when tested with a fork.

Arrange fish on plates and spoon sauce over the top.

Notes: Bonito can be served rare in the centre, if using sashimi-grade fish.

Alternative Species: Albacore, Atlantic Salmon, Mackerel, Marlin, Swordfish, Tuna.

Recipe and Pics courtesy of the Sydney Fish Market

Friday, February 25, 2011

Photo Smart Tips - Taking Great Seascapes

words and pics by Danielle Lancaster

With the advent of digital there has been a resurgence in photography! There are not many of us who now do not own a digital camera – even our phones can take photographs.
Seascapes are one of the most sought after of all professional imagery. They are in fact a landscape, just with a bit of sea in it.
So how do we make those seascapes look dynamic? Here’s a couple of simple tips:
1. Create Depth: Position subjects so you have a foreground, mid-ground and background such as a boat, rocks even driftwood.
2. Choose a small aperture anything from f/11 to f/32 or smaller and watch your shutter speed – when it falls below what you can hand hold at, use a tripod.
3. Use a wide angle lens: This gives a greater angle of view and depth of field.
4. Compose! Are there lines you can use to lead the viewer’s eye into and around your image; look for frames, contrast and colour.
5. Use the rule of thirds!! Ask yourself: what is the most important part of your seascape. Is it the sky or the sea? If it’s the sky, place your horizon close to a third up from the bottom of your image frame. If it’s the seas , place the horizon a third down from the top of your image frame.
6. Use those clouds: Clouds are a secret to amazing seascape photography and often as the rain is going they are even more dramatic!

An object in the foreground gives a greater feeling of depth

Danielle’s Top Tip:
At full moon, the sky in the opposite direction to where the moon is rising or setting will often be more exaggerated in the hues of pinks and purples!
Danielle Lancaster is a professional photographer who loves sharing her passion with others. Her company Bluedog Photography shoots a range of imagery for corporate and private clients and runs Bluedog Photography Courses, Retreats and Tours More: Visit; or call 07 554 54777

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Fishing Quote of the Week

"Despite all the variables and advice, like love
and marriage it seemed to me that learning to cast ought
to be a lot easier than it was."
                                         Jessica Maxwell                                           

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Holy Sh*t or Bull Sh*t- Giant Mekong Catfish - the truth!

Last week we published this photo claiming to be of a giant catfish from the Mekong River and asked the question -  "Holy Sh*t" or just plain "Bull Sh*t"?

So is this really a photo of a  Giant Mekong Catfish or a hoax?
There is no doubt that the Mekong giant catfish(Pangasianodon gigas), native to the Mekong basin in Southeast Asia grows to magnificant proportions.

With recorded sizes of up to 3.2m (10.5ft) and 300kg (660lb), the Mekong’s giant catfish currently holds the Guinness Book of World Record’s position for the world’s largest freshwater fish, but is this particular photo real? have these two men really caught a catfish as big as two full grown men?

The answer (praise the lord) is yes! This photo is of a real giant fish caught by  net in the Mekong River  by fishermen in the Chiang Khong district of northern Thailand on 1 May 2005. It was measured at 2.7 metres long (nearly nine feet in the old money) and  weighed in at 293 kg (646). That august journal the National Geographic described it as "Big as a Grizzly Bear!".

Smaller (but still huge) Mekong Catfish Are Not Unheardof
 Media reports from the time say that a team of fishermen struggled for more than an hour to haul the giant fish in. Apparently, Despite efforts to keep the Mekong giant catfish alive, it died and was later eaten by villagers.

The Mekong giant catfish (Pangasianodon gigas) species is listed as critically endangered by the World Conservation Union (IUCN), which means it faces a high risk of extinction in the wild.
Well it looks like that's another great big fish we're just going to have to go after before we die! (catch and release of course!). So, its clear that the story of the Giant Mekong Fish is "Holy Sh*t" not "Bull Sh*t"

If you've seen a big fish photo, crazy fishing video or tall fishing story that sounds too good to be true send 'em all in to and our team of reporters and experts will investigate and tell you whether they are truely "Holy Sh*t" or "Bull Sh*t"!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Fishing the Yorke Peninsula, South Australia

by Steve Cooper


In the surf, when fishing for mulloway or gummy sharks, a running paternoster rig is used and rigging basically the same as you would use for snapper.

If you are chasing whiting, a 3 kg outfit will suffice. A running sinker rig is used and hook size should be from about No.4 Baitholder pattern to a 1/0 Suicide. Anglers chasing silver whiting in the shallows use a fixed paternoster sinker rig with two leaders with No. 6 hooks attached and baited with pipi.

Snapper near Wallaroo Tyre Reef
For squid, a baited jig or a prawn imitation will catch them. A handline spool works as well as a rod for the jigs. There are two methods of presentation: first, rig up a baited jig a metre or so below a large bobby cork, cast it out and keep an eye on it while fishing for other species. Alternatively, when working prawn jigs, cast out over weed, allow them to sink and then retrieve slowly. Most bait anglers chasing snapper or mulloway use 10 kg outfits, sometimes spooling their reel with 15 or 24 kg braid, which is much thinner than monofilament and has less stretch. The advantage of braid line is that it allows you to fish deep water and strong currents with less sinker weight. The popular rig is a running paternoster with a 24 kg leader of about 1.5 m long and two 4/0 Suicide hooks.


Snapper bait includes squid, salmon, pilchards, whiting heads and Tommy ruff. Whiting will be caught on pipi and squid.

Anglers using crab pots off the piers rig them up with a bait of fish frame or similar, drop them to the bottom from the pier and lift them every 20–30 mins to see whether they have attracted crabs.Snapper bait includes squid, salmon, pilchards, whiting heads and Tommy ruff. Whiting will be caught on pipi and squid.

This is an edited extract from Steve Cooper’s book "1000 Great Places to Fish in Australia" reproduced with the kind permission of the publisher Explore Australia. You can buy "1000 Great Places to Fish in Australia" online at Explore Australia for $34.95 or find it at selected bookstores.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Holy Sh*t or Bull Sh*t?

In our Holy Sh*t or Bull Sh*t" series, we look at some of the wierd and wonderful fishing and boating stories that circulate the' net and dig deep behind the hype to find out the truth. Whether it's big fish photos, crazy fishing videos or tall fishing stories - our fearless reporters  investigate and answer the question -  "Holy Sh*t" or just plain "Bull Sh*t"?

This week we investigage this picture which claims to be of a Giant Mekong Catfish sent in to us by one of our readers!

The picture certainly appears to show a fish that's as long as two men's outstretched arms. But is this giant catfish photo real? Certainly there are some big catfish in the world, but there are some tell tale clues (e.g. shadows and skin colour) that suggest the photo might be faked. 

Well, our reporters are investigating, and next week, we'll tell you whether this giant mekong catfish photo is
really "Holy Sh*t" or just plain  "Bull Sh*t"!

Fish Like Royalty

Snap might think he is fishing royalty because we call him "The Snapper King" but ever wondered what gear real royals use when they go fishing? Well now days they use the big brands we are all familiar with, but back in the day it was all hand crafted just for them, and they had some impressive kit.

The below photo from the old Royal Palace in Copenhagen ,the Rosenborg Slot, and sent in by one of our readers (thanks Monksy!) shows handlines custom made for the Danish King and Queen.

How's that for some custom gear? Note the differences in the little silver statues!  Our reader can't say how old the kit is (the number at the bottom of the photo is a catalog number, not a year) but it's clear that these royal lines have been in the family for some time!

The future Queen Mother in Aust 1927.
(photo: Life Magazine)
The current danish royals are not reported to be fishers although they come from a proud maritime nation.  Prince Frederik (married to "our Mary") certainly enjoyes boating, but appears to be more a sailor than a fisherman.

We don't know if our own Queen Elizabeth II fishes although official photos taken for her 25th wedding anniversary in 1972  show her standing next to Prince Philip fishing at Balmoral, and just last year she opened a new wing at The True's Yard Fishing Heritage Museum at King's Lynn - close to her Sandringham estate, so presumably she is a fishing fan. 

One great royal fishing lover was the Queen Mum (god bless her) who fished often including during her visit to Australia (while she was still the Duchess of York) in 1927 (see photo at right). HM Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, as we know her, was quite handy with the rod and reel. Media at the time reported that on 26th February 1927, The Duchess of York (as she was then) caught  twenty fish in half an hour during a fishing trip in the Bay of Islands, New Zealand! Photos and reports show her still a keen fisherwoman well in to her later years.

22 kg Amberjack on a 2500 Spinning Reel – Crazy or not!

On a recent trip with my good mate Snap to 12 mile Reef, off Caloundra, I rigged my Daiwa Luvias 2500 spinning reel with a ganged pilchard as a floater out the back of the boat. My thinking being “a spotty mackerel on this rig would be a bit of fun”. We were anchored up on our “secret spot” and as the run started to ease my bait slowly made its way down to the Reef below. I wasn’t too worried about this as we have caught good Snapper this way before.

Within a few minutes the rod bends over and the reel starts screaming. I was hooked up on something big and my braid was peeling off at a great rate of knots. Being anchored didn’t give us the option of chasing this one and winning back some of my 20lb line, so it was a case of having to tightening up the old drag or be spooled. Well, after four goes at the drag and the 10 lb backing starting to show, I finally turned him and started to win back some of my line. Just as I thought I was starting to win this battle and getting close to seeing some colour, off she would go again.

After the forth time I had seen the backing I thought that I was definitely going to lose this fish. At that moment Snap gave me some words of encouragement and told me to hang in there. It gets a bit disheartening after you work so hard to get back every foot of line only to see it get stripped away in a mater of seconds. After another 10 minutes the battle was finally won, Snap quickly swapped the net for the gaff and it was high five’s and photo time.

Catching big fish on light tackle. - Cam's tips to improve your success rate.

  • Not being anchored up will let you give chase to enable you to win back line when there is no turning a big fish.

  • Always keep your rod tip high. Use the action in the rod and your arms as a shock absorber.

  • When you think your winning and the fish is getting close to the boat, back your drag off a bit. I see a lot of fish get lost at this stage. There’s most likely always a big run left at the end especially when the fish see’s the boat or bank.

  • Use good gear. My Luvias 2500 cost $400 + when they first came out and it has caught a lot of Jack over the ½ meter mark, Tuna and Barra and still is as good as the day I bought it (it’s gets washed and dried after every use). Remember to always have the drag backed off fully when not in use.

  • Use good Line and leader. I see a lot of people buy good Reels and Rods then let the outfit down by spooling them up with average Braid/Mono and very average Leader.

  • Be prepared to lose a few. If I have lost a fish by line breakage I will try and work out were I went wrong and learn by my mistake.

  • Hang on and Smile!


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Celebrity Interview - Liz Ellis - No Bananas on the Boat Liz!

Exclusive FishMax Interview

You might know that she was captain of the Australian Netball team from 2004 to 2007, and you will no doubt have seen her heaps on TV, but did you know that Liz Ellis, Australia’s most capped international netball player, also enjoys dipping a line when she gets a chance?

Liz, admits that she doesn’t get out fishing nearly as often as she likes, however, she has taken the time out of her busy schedule (she is currently ove of One HD’s leading commentators) to share a couple of her favourite fishing stories with FishMax readers.

Liz, who now runs netball coaching clinics herself,  fondly remembers her fishing tutelage under her father’s instruction. “I remember my Dad getting me out of bed really early to go fishing while we were on holiday” she told us of her early fishing experiences. “I caught my first ever fish ” she remembers fondly, “a good size yellow belly.”

Liz, who lives in the Northern Beaches of Sydney with her husband, former New South Wales Waratahs player, Matthew Stocks, doesn’t just enjoy catching fish, but cooking and eating them as well. Her favourite dish is, she tells us “ Fresh fish pan fried”, “ I also do a pretty good fish curry.”she says with her trademark smile.

As you would expect, if you’ve seen her on TV shows such as Good News Week, Liz is not afraid to poke fun at herself. “I went on a commercial fishing trip out of Noosa a few years ago, and we were having no luck.” She says, “ I pulled out a banana to eat and the skipper went spare – i didn’t know that bananas were bad luck! So we had a ceremonial throwing of the bananas, and within 15 minutes the fish were biting!”

Words: Stevo Perry Pics: Adams Management

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Funny Fishing Photo Caption Contest February 2011

Suggest a caption for this very funny fishing photo for your chance to win a pair of Fish Polarised Sunglasses valued at $79.95!

Simply post your funny caption in the comments section of this article or on the FishMax facebook page, to go in the running to win a pair of Dorado Sunglasses by Fish worth $79.95.

Terms and Conditions

  • Entries close on March 14, 2011. Winner will be contacted by us in late March 2011 and will be announced here on
  • You may enter as many times as you want.
  • The winner will receive a FishMax sun-safe pack comprising a pair of Dorado Sunglasses by Fish with a RRP: $79.95..
  • Only entries posted in the comments section below or on the facebook page will be eligible.
  • Entries valid for Australian residents only.
  • The prize is not transferable and not redeemable for cash.
  • A valid email must be left in order for us to contact you if you win. If the winner cannot be contacted, we will award the prize to the runner-up.
  • The best entry will be selected by the staff. The judges decision is final and no correspondence will be entered in to. 
Make sure that when you leave your comment below, you use a google ID or other form of ID as shown in the dropdown box, or if you don't have one of those, choose "anonymous" and enter your name and email address in the comments section, so we can contact you if you win (don't worry,  we'll remove you're email address before the comment is published, so no-one else will be able to see it).

Friday, February 11, 2011

Fishing Quote of the Week

"God never did make a more calm, quiet,
innocent recreation than angling."
                                         Izaak Walton

Monday, February 7, 2011

Fishing the South Gutter out of Darwin Northern Territory

Golden Snapper - Prized Table Fare
by Steve Cooper

Returning from a barramundi fishing trip in the wilds of Arnhem Land to a reef-fishing session offshore from Darwin is like comparing apples with oranges. Seeing big barra exploding from the water in a mass of spray is an adrenalin-pumping experience, but bottom bouncing is about dropping bait down onto a reef structure and waiting for a bite.

It is the essence of Samuel Johnson’s famous quote describing fishing as: ‘A jerk on one end of a line, waiting for a jerk on the other.’

At least, that’s what I expected the first time I fished offshore from Darwin. Steve Compain, who ran Arafura Bluewater Charters, took me out with several other anglers for an evening on his smart, twin-hulled vessel, Ocean Fox.

We boarded at Cullen Bay Marina and steamed about 30 km offshore to our first drop, out from Charles Point. Skipper Chris Highland used the sounder to find structure in about 20 m of water. There was no swell, just a chop pushed along by a 15 knot wind.

On that first drop, golden snapper were on the chew immediately. Local fishing identity Alex Julius was on board and he described the fish, averaging about 8 kg, as ‘the biggest goldies I’ve laid eyes on for years’.
When smaller fish started terrorising our baits we moved, this time to the South Gutter some 40 km offshore. Chris wanted to hit the gutter at the change of tide, and said that because it was a big tide (7 m) the window of opportunity would only last for about 90 mins.

‘The gutter’s been fishing well and we should get some jewfish,’ Chris said.

The skipper was spot on. What ensued was the hottest piece of bottom-bouncing action I’ve come across in years. It was pure piscatorial mayhem with eight rods buckling on both sides of the boat as black jewfish (mulloway) of 6–8 kg took the baits.

Steve then decided to try something different. He put a rubber squid imitation down. This lure was fitted with a single hook on a leader at both the head and tail and Steve inserted a red Cyalume light stick into the body of the lure.

Jigging the lure in 1 m lifts just above the bottom proved deadly. The jewfish couldn’t resist and Steve nailed three fish on consecutive drops. The third fish destroyed the glow stick, but it didn’t make any difference. In 45 m of water, at night, the jewfish were hot to trot; every jig of the lure resulted in a hook-up. It was a phenomenal session. The biggest fish of the evening was the last, a 15 kg jewfish that delivered what looked like the coup de grace to a lure that had paid for itself many times over.


For bottom-bouncing offshore use 10–15 kg outfits with a single leader paternoster rig. Attach a 5/0 Suicide hook and a heavy snapper lead to counter the strong current.


Baits were cocktails: a mixture of mackerel strips, pilchard and bottle squid.

This is an edited extract from Steve Cooper’s book "1000 Great Places to Fish in Australia" reproduced with the kind permission of the publisher Explore Australia. You can buy "1000 Great Places to Fish in Australia" online at Explore Australia for $34.95 or find it at selected bookstores.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Steamed Whole Pearl Perch with Chilli Cucumber Salad

Pearl Perch is regarded as one of the best tasting fish in the ocean, it's flesh is beautifully white, it is always tender and it has a delicate flavour.  Pearl Perch (also known as a Pearlie or Pearly) are found in small schools on deeper offshore reefs  between about Rockhampton in Qld and Port Macquarie in NSW.

Fish Pearlies with medium to heavy tackle and most fishos recommend that the best baits for catching Pearl Perch are pilchards (pillies), squid, octopus, prawns and small live bait. 

This week we have one of the best whole Pearl Pearch Recipes we've tried, courtesy of the Sydney Fish Market.

Recipe Serves 2
1 x 800g Pearl Perch, scaled, gilled and gutted
¼ cup coriander leaves
Steamed jasmine rice, to serve
Steamed snowpeas or sugar snap peas, topped and tailed, to serve
Chilli Cucumber Salad
2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons palm sugar
2 limes, juiced
1 Lebanese cucumber, seeded and finely sliced
2 golden shallots, finely sliced
1 medium-sized red chilli, sliced into rings
¼ cup mint leaves, roughly chopped

Half fill a wok or large saucepan with water and bring to the boil.

Rinse the belly cavity of the fish, rub away any black lining and pat dry with paper towel. Cut several deep slashes into the thickest part of both sides of the fish.

Place a plate in a steamer basket, or line with baking paper. Place the fish in the steamer. Place steamer over wok or saucepan, cover and steam for about 16 minutes until the fish is opaque and flesh flakes easily when tested with a fork.

Meanwhile, make the Chilli Cucumber Salad: combine fish sauce, palm sugar and lime juice, stir well to dissolve palm sugar. Taste and add a little more sauce, sugar or juice to suit your taste, it should taste salty, sweet and sour. Add the cucumber, shallots, chilli and mint and chill until ready to serve.

Remove fish from the steamer, discarding any cooking liquid, and place on a serving platter. Scatter coriander leaves over the fish and spoon the salad around it. Serve with steamed jasmine rice and peas.

Alternative Species: This is a great recipe for other species including Barramundi, Coral Trout, Morwong, Murray Cod, West Australian Dhufish, or any of the Bream species.
Recipe and Photos reproduced with the kind permission of the Sydney Fish Market.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

1000 Great Places to Fish in Australia

1000 Great Places to Fish in Australia by Steve Cooper.

In this, his latest book, "1000 Great Places to Fish in Australia", fishing writer Steve Cooper lists his top 1000 fishing spots around Australia, helpfully dividing the hot fishing spots State by State.

In this 400 page paperback, Scoop, as he is known in the industry, provides useful fishing information on each of his favourite fishing spots and highlighting  fish species in the area, recommended methods for each region and many interesting fishing anecdotes from Cooper’s own fishing adventures.

A clean and easy-to-follow structure makes this fishing book a useful  addition to every Aussie fishermen’s collection of fishing guides, and is a big help for those of us who like trying different fishing spots but need some guidance about where to start.

Steve Cooper himself is an avid fisherman and journalist, leaving newspapers a few years ago to pursue his own passion for fishing. Cooper now spends five months of the year on the water in Australia and overseas and has regular national fishing columns and a weekly radio show in Melbourne. "1000 Great Places to Fish in Australia" joins Cooper's other books  including Snapper Secrets, Fishing Techniques, and The Reel Issues as a great fishing resource for Australian anglers.

You can buy "1000 Great Places to Fish in Australia" online at Explore Australia for $34.95 or find it at selected bookstores.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Photo Caption Contest Winner

Wow, we were overwhelmed by the response we got to our January Fishing Photo Contest! So many terrific suggestions (you can read them all here). However as they say, there can be only one winner and here is our selection:

Congratulations to Mr D Graber of Mt Isa, you win a pair of Amberjack Polarised Sunglasses by Fish worth $79.95.

If you didn't win this month, don't worry, we'll be back later this month with another great fishing photo looking for a funny photo caption.