Thursday, March 31, 2011

How Tough is Tough? Field Testing Fishing Gear in the Toughest Place on Earth

How Tough is Tough? Field Testing Fishing Gear in the Toughest Place on Earth

PNG estuary fishing can be legendary, but many also return with legendary stories of fishing disappointment. As our regular readers know, recently sent a 5 man team to the wilds of New Guinea’s Milne Bay province in search of hard fighting estuary fish that New Guinea is famous for.

Located on the southwest coast of Milne Bay, the Sagari River and its tributaries flow through pristine mangrove forests into an impressive body of water known as Mullins Harbour. These waters hold some top class sport fish, including Barrramundi and the legendary Papuan Black Bass. Other fish found in these waters include Mangrove Jack, Fingermark, Trevally, Queenfish, Barracuda, Cod and Shark.

Catching big New Guinea Black Bass & Barra isn't easy. The New Guinea estuary fish are known as heavyweight jungle fighters and so you have ensure your fishing kit is in tip top condition.

The trip to the Sagari river estuary from Australia is long and hard, comprising international flights to Port Morsbey, domestic flights to provincial capital Alatou and then hours of 4WD travel over rugged terrain to get to the point where our banana boats were launched. Once on the water, it’s hot and steamy and we were all keen to know that how our gear would handle these tough tropical fishing conditions.

As expected, our Australian made Profishional Rod Tubes protected our rods and withstood the tough air and road trip with ease.  These rod tubes are easily the equal of, if not better than, any on the market that we’ve road tested. Well made with thick PVC tubing, strong zips, full lining and tear and water resistant covering, whether it was in the plane’s hold during flight or in the 4WD’s cargo bay while we fjorded rivers and streams and traveled along dirt tracks, we knew with confidence that these finally crafted tubes would protect our rods.

One thing about New Guinea in February – It’s Hot! And personal sun protection is a must. For the best sun protection available,  the FishMax team chose the Australian designed fishing shirts from Top Gear Adventurewear in Darwin NT. Those Territorians know a thing or two about what a fisherman needs when fishing hot and steamy tropical waters, and the 100% cotton Top Gear fishing shirts with their unique venting system were a pleasure to wear and proved themselves tough and hardwearing.

On our eyes, the team favoured polarising sunglasses from the Base and Polaroid Eyewear  ranges chosen for their comfort and hardwearing characteristics and to finish off, all FishMax team members used Banana Boat SPF30+  Ultra sunscreen because of its broad spectrum UVA and UVB protection, water resistance and non-greasy feel.

For a review of our tackle including the great lures from Reidy’s click here.

Fishing Quote of the Week

"Fishing, with me, has always been an excuse to
                                           drink in the daytime."
                                         Jimmy Cannon                                           

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Australian Squid off Tasmania

Take a look at this amazing video clip showing Australian squid in the southern ocean kelp forests off Tasmania.

This short video from BBC natural history series Blue Planet  shows some of the strange and unusual fish life which inhabit the plankton rich seas of the underwater kelp forests. See the mating habits of amazing colour changing squid and the weird movements of the aptly named hand fish.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Funny Fishing Photo Caption Contest April 2011

Suggest a caption for this very funny fishing photo for your chance to win a FishMax t-shirt valued at $29.95!

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  FishMax T-Shirt worth $29.95.

Terms and Conditions
  • Entries close on April 30, 2011. Winner will be contacted by us in early May 2011 and will be announced here on
  • You may enter as many times as you want.
  • The winner will receive a FishMax T-Shirt worth $29.95.
  • 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, March 25, 2011

Celebrity Interview - Dick Johnson - Hot fishing tips from a motor racing legend

Exclusive FishMax Interview

Now retired from driving, Dick Johnson has no intention of stepping away from the sport that has made him a popular national sporting personality and one of the most successful racing drivers in Australian history. The  five-time Australian Touring Car Champion and a three-time winner of the Bathurst 1000 is, like so many of his fellow Queenslanders, a keen fisherman.

Dick was kind enough to take time out of his  ongoing hands-on role with the Dick Johnson Racing team that  to answer some questions for us.

FM: What’s your earliest fishing memory?
I was about 8 years old.  We were living at Woody Point and I used to go fishing off the rocks there. I’d caught a swordfish and was carrying it home with the rod over my shoulder.

I made a wrong move and the hook on the end of the line went straight through my backside! I had to go home like that and mum had to pull the hook all the way through to get it out.

Another time I was fishing in the Noosa River with my father. He had tied the boat up to beacon so we could fish. Unfortunately he forgot to untie the boat and we ended up towing the beacon away.

To make it worse it was a hire boat!

FM: Catch and release or take home to eat?
It depends on the situation. I certainly release all the female crabs.  When I got to Swains Reef we normally catch enough reef fish to suit our needs. We always up the minimum size to be safe.

FM: Where is your favourite fishing spot?
Swains Reef. So peaceful and there are so many different species of fish there. Plus they always put up a good fight!

 FM: Your best fishing story?
It was in the late 80’s. We set out from Port Douglas on a game fishing trip. We were on the Palmer Tube Mills boat – Pipedream.

I caught and released a 950 pound marlin (which I have video evidence of).

It took almost 3 hours to catch it and sometimes you wouldn’t sight the thing for an hour. It towed the boat 5 nautical miles out to sea backwards and we went through 2 bottles of dishwashing liquid on the seat under my bum so I could slide around.

 FM: How often do you go fishing?
Quite a bit.  I fish seriously for seven days straight once a year which I've been doing for the last 20 years.

FM: Where is the most exotic place you’ve been fishing?
A fishing tournament in Hawaii.  That was pretty amazing.

 FM: Do you have a fishing tip you’re willing to share?
When you hook a decent fish, just be patient and let your rod,  reel and line do the rest.

Next week - Dick share's his favourite seafood recipe. And that's not all, for all you motor heads out there, stay tuned for our exclusive interviews with the next generation - Dick's son Steve Johnson and James Moffat, son of legendary Australian motor sport hero, Alan Moffat.

Words: Stevo Perry Pics: Dick Johnson Racing Team

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Fishing for King George Whiting

King George Whiting is the largest of the whiting species and would have to be considered as one of the best table fish around.

South Australia has densest concentration of King George Whiting in Australia and is a favourite for many South Australian fishermen although King George Whiting are common in coastal waters of southern Australia from southern N.S.W. to southern W.A. including north-east Tas.

King George whiting has a silvery body, which is dusky yellow above and has irregular oblique rows of small bronze or brown spots on the back and upper sides. It is the largest of all species of whiting. King George whiting has a delicate flavour and texture and one of its prime qualities is that it retains its flavour after being frozen but its also well known as a hard battler providing good sport to the lucky fisherman.

King George whiting generally school in large numbers in shallow coastal and estuarine waters with a preference for grassy flats with sand and mud bottoms. Young fish tend to congregate in estuaries, inlets, bays, beaches and other sheltered coastal waters in close proximity to see grass beds while the adults prefer the deeper water along channels, gutters and offshore with a less dependence on sea grass habitats. Larger fish may also be found individually in deeper offshore areas near reefs.

Most anglers recommend that the best bait for King George Whiting is bass abbies (nippers), beach and other worms, crab, cockles and other bivalve molluscs, octupus and squid.

We've found that because King George Whiting congregate in deep channels and holes during low tide and are found in the shallows at high tide at night, the seem to bite best in running tidal currents.

If you're fishing tidal channels and deeper water for the larger fish,use 6kg line and running sinkers as well as an extended leader. Size 2 or 4 hooks will usually do the trick. If  fishing for whiting from the beach make sure your baits are well secure. 

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

PNG Offshore Fishing

The Fishmax fishing team recently headed north to PNG to try our hand at some PNG offshore fishing and estuary fishing for barramundi and the famed Papuan Black Bass. Inspite of the fact that some our our team told their better halves that we were sleeping under a blue tarp on the edge of a crocodile infested swamp, our camp was the Driftwood resort located on the shores of Milne Bay. The resort consists of 7 waterfront bungalows. The accommodation was more than comfortable, the staff very friendly and the food in the over water restaurant on the jetty was wonderful. Our first day was offshore on the Driftwood 27 foot centre console glassy.

We headed out of Milne Bay then south past offshore islands including Samari island, the ex provincial capital of Mine Bay province. Trolling our Reidy's Big Boss lures along the fringing reefs our first hook up was a stonker of a GT, which Stevo landed after 25 minutes of huffing and puffing. His PB for a GT, the fish measured 97cm and weighed an estimated 17kg. Half an hour later more fun when we had a triple hook up on a school of 1.2 metre Barracuda. These fish went wild once hooked up with 4 to 5 aerial leaps before bringing them along side. Other catch for the day were a half dozen green jobfish. No spanairds or bill fish that day, but still a great day out in some of the most beautiful tropical waters that you could find.

A big thanks to Colin and Karen from Reidy’s lures who provided the lures for our trip. The Big Boss lures performed superbly trolling these waters at 6 to 7 knots. We used both the 3 and 5 metre depth versions. The Big Boss lures are a quality Australian made product, manufactured at Reidy’s Darwin factory. No need to upgrade the hardware on these lures as the Big Boss lures come with heavy duty split rings and hooks. We found the brightly coloured green/golds of the M15, 035, the fluro EJ’s and the ever popular ‘Qantas’ red/white 034 to convert the best for us during our time in PNG. For more info on these great lures visit

Next week I’ll fill you in on our PNG estuary fishing.

Cheers and great fishing - Snap

Monday, March 21, 2011

Fishing Quote of the Week

"My biggest worry is that my wife (when I'm dead)
will sell my fishing gear for what I said I paid for it. "
                                         Koos Brandt                                           

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Photo Caption Contest Winner

Lots of great suggestions to this month's photo caption contest, and a great deal of discussion here at the office about who should be the winner. Congratulations Matthew M of Bankstown, NSW you've won a pair of fishing sunglasses valued at $79.99

To read some of the other great suggested comments, just click here.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Whole Red Emperor Baked in a Salt Dough

Red Emperor ( also known as Emperor Red Snapper in the UK and Emperor Snapper in the USA and South Africa), is a superb eating fish with juicy white flesh. You'll find Red Emperor in tropical waters  from Shark Bay in Western Australia to Moreton Bay in Queensland. Red Emperor prefer coral reefs and soft bottoms to depths of about 100 metres. You tend to find find mature fish  in deeper waters and swift-running channels in reefs while younger specimens frequent mangrove lined estuaries.

The Red Emperor is a hard fighting trophy fish which responds to a wide range of bait including squid, pilchards (pillies) and fresh flesh. Most experienced fishermen say the key to catching Red Emperor is to get your bait on the bottom with a paternoster rig with large hooks and large baits.50lb or more line in mono and heavier in braid is recommended.

When you bring home your whole Red Emperor, try this fabulous recipe courtesy of the Sydney Fish Market.

Serves 8

1 x 3.5kg Red Emperor, scaled, gilled and gutted
Salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 lemon, sliced
1 brown onion, sliced
6 sprigs flat-leaf parsley (see notes)
6 sprigs dill (see notes)
Steamed vegetables or green salad, to serve
Salt Dough
1.5kg flour
1.2kg table salt
1.5 litres water

Make the Salt Dough: combine the flour and salt in a large bowl. Add ¾ of the water and mix well, if it is too dry, add extra water to bring the dough together, it should be quite firm. Tip the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 210°C.

Lightly flour the bench and roll out the dough to a 1cm-thick rectangle.

Rinse the belly cavity of the fish and pat dry with paper towel. Sprinkle cavity well with salt and pepper and place lemon, onion, parsley and dill inside. Place the fish in the centre off the dough and wrap it up, pinching together any cracks or seams.

Place on a baking paper-lined baking tray and cook for about 40 minutes, until the pastry has set and begun to colour. Remove from oven and rest in a warm place for at least 45 minutes.

Break open the dough at the table and gently spoon the fish onto plates. Serve with steamed vegetables or a green salad.

Notes: The dough can be prepared up to a week in advance and kept wrapped and refrigerated. Use whatever green herbs you like to stuff the belly cavity.

Alternative Species: Emperor, Goldband Snapper, Pearl Perch, Queenfish, Snapper.

Recipe and pics courtesy of the Sydney Fish Market.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Celebrity Interview - Adriano Pellegrino - Fishing with the A-League

Keen Fisherman and Perth Glory Star
Exclusive FishMax Interview

If you follow the A-League Football (soccer), you’ll know that Adrian Pellegrino is Perth Glory’s right midfielder, but did you know he’s also a keen fisherman?

Pellegrino, who represented Australia as a member of the Under 20 team that qualified for the 2003 FIFA World Youth Championship, kicking a ball at a very early age, and he started fishing young as well. “I remember my dad taking me fishing for European Carp off the Murray Bridge (two hours north of Adelaide), when I was only four and half years old” Adrian told us.

Pellegrino has many great stories of fishing off the coast of South Australia and he also tells us with affection about a 9 kilo snapper he took off Edithburgh, South Australia. And its not just catching them that he enjoys.

While he assures us that he is careful never to take more than he can eat straight away, “I’ll take home enough home to eat for dinner that night but then it is definitely  release the rest” he tells us, Pellegrino loves eating fresh fish. Like so many South Australian fishermen, Pellegrino’s favourite seafood dish is King George Whiting, “slightly battered in corn flower, lemon juice with salt and pepper” he says with a smile.

Adrian’s even willing to share a hot South Australian fishing tip with FishMax readers “If you are fishing for King George Whiting off Edithburgh,” he says with a laugh, “ use squid tentacles for bait with a single long shank hook and a small running sinker off the ground at the front of the light house!”

While fishing in South Australia holds special memories for him, Pellegrino’s all time favourite fishing spot is in the state he now calls home. Perhaps one of the reasons his club peers voted him “Most Glorious Player” in 2008/2009?

“Definitely Exmouth,Western Australia” Adrian told FishMax in response to our question about his favourite fishing spot . And its Exmouth that gives Adrian his favourite fishing story, having landed a 140 kilo blue Marlin, “it took 2 hours to catch” he says.

Pellegrino laments that his commitments to football don’t allow him to get fishing nearly often enough. In response to our question about how often he gets a line wet, he answers “Nowhere near as much as I would like to during the A-League season but I do try and make up for it in the off the season especially when I go home back to Adelaide to visit my family.” When he is an Adelaide “Its job on” he says, “I fish probably two to three times [a week], and if I’m down at the holiday shack in Edithburgh then its daily.”

Words: Stevo Perry Pics: Perth Glory

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Fishing Quote of the Week

"Good things come to those who bait."

Monday, March 7, 2011

Fishing Port Hacking - New South Wales South Coast

Yellowfin Bream, Port Hacking
by Steve Cooper

Times have changed. The humble bream has moved to the top of the estuary sportfishing chain. A combination of bream fishing tournaments, the soft plastic lure revolution and slick marketing campaigns helped push the bream cause. The result has been a swell of anglers moving to lure fishing, and a boom in catch-and-release.
These days in shallow water, anglers can fish for bream by sight, which is what Brett Wilson, Colin Tannahill and I were aiming to do. We launched Brett’s Bass boat at a small sheltered ramp at Lilli Pilli in Port Hacking. These boats are ideal for lakes, estuaries and the shallow water we fished in Dolans Bay, several kilometres south-west of the boat ramp.

Port Hacking is a sheltered bay surrounded by two-, three- and more storey homes that seem to hang precariously from the sides of steep embankments. Typical features of many homes are the boatsheds with rail lines running to the water. Some properties have mooring jetties and some have jetties and boatsheds.

Brett steered us into an area of extensive shallow sand flats interspersed with weed beds. We were fishing with ultra light gear: small threadline outfits, 2 kg line and Stiffy Fat Boy minnow lures. Brett explained that the method was to drift over the flats, working the lures down to the weed beds where the bream would be feeding. If you caught weed, you were swimming the lure too deep. Lures were retrieved slowly, with a lift and tug on the line. As you stopped pulling the line, you lowered the rod tip and the lure rose in the water column as you wound up the slack. This was the likely time for a strike.

Brett’s experience at this style of fishing showed early when he spotted bream, cast his lure and hooked up. It was a yellowfin bream of about 1 kg. The fish was brought to the boat, the hooks removed and it was released probably to be caught another day.

Not one to waste time, Brett recast, started to retrieve and was rewarded with another. Soon after, Colin hooked up and his fish was slightly bigger. There were certainly enough bream to hold our interest. Brett said that when these flats were firing the fishing was unbelievable and it was common to hook large numbers. The flats hold other species, such as dusky flathead and sand whiting.

During the previous couple of days anglers in Port Hacking had been trolling squid, hooking into yellowtail kingfish up to 15 kg in size. Brett had to leave early so Colin and I went and collected his boat, launched and headed across the bay to Bundeena, an area Colin said was consistent for squid. It was late in the day and sadly we couldn’t hook enough to go trolling.


Use a 2–3 kg-threadline outfit. Spool the reel with braid with invisible fluorocarbon leader of similar breaking strain. Shallow-water bream are easily spooked so anglers need every advantage they can get. The rod needs to have sharp recovery for spinning.

Lures used were bibbed minnows, in this instance Stiffy Minnows and Fat Boy models.

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, March 4, 2011

Western Australia Fishing for Easterners

Fishing off the WA Coast
 If you’re heading to Western Australia for the fishing trip of a lifetime, you’re in for a great treat, as it happens to be host to some of the top angling spots throughout the country.

WA’s long and magnificent coastline offers excellent fishing conditions and scenic beauty – an ideal combination for a great holiday with the family or a few mates. And there are plenty of amazing places to drop a line. Head for Walpole for black bream and deep sea fishing, Exmouth for squid and a huge variety of table fish, Rottnest Island off the coast near Fremantle for vast schools of samson or the wild and unspoiled Montebello Islands off the coast from Dampier for mangrove jacks, sailfish and coral trout.

WA has some excellent beach fishing
Other hot angling destinations along the coast include Kalbarri for deep sea fishing charters in search of huge snapper, groper, dhufish and tuna, Green Head/Leeman for a range of prime category-one fish including dhufish and snapper, the legendary Rowley Shoals (star of many a TV fishing programme) for waters teeming with wahoo, dogtooth tuna, sailfish, coral trout and red emperor and Shark Bay for land-based fishing at Steep Point, Big Lagoon and Turtle Bay or to head out to sea by boat and haul aboard pink snapper, bluebone groper, mackerel, red emperor, tailor and mulloway.

Western Australia also offers excellent river fishing. Catch threadfins, barramundi and 38 other species in the mighty Fitzroy River or head for the Blackwood River for tranquil scenery and plentiful bream and yellowfin whiting.

Wherever you’re planning to drop your line in Western Australia be sure to hold off for last minute hotels  as they tend to offer the best deals, leaving you more to spend on fishing charters.

Pics courtesy of Tourism Western Australia

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Long Stretch Out at Sea

After a day hard at it out on the water we can all pull up a little stiff. This week guest contributor and qualified personal trainer Luke Scott takes us through a   few stretches specifically chosen for fishermen to stay limber after all those hours on your feet.

Remember the better physically prepared you are in, the better chance you have of lasting that long reel in!

Calf Stretch

Forearm Stretch

Hamstring Stretch

Lat Stretch

Quad Stetch

For all of these stretches it would be best to run through them twice each holding the stretch for around 20 seconds each time.

Doing these stretches regularly, not just when you have been out on the water will really help your overall flexibility and condition. So if when you remember take five minutes and run through these fundamental stretch that cover the main area that can be troubling with a sport such as fishing which requires you to stand for long periods.

Words and pics courtesy of Luke Scott

Luke has been a personal trainer for over 8 years and has been constantly studying to improve his knowledge of human performance. Amongst his certifications, Luke is a ASCA Coach (Level 1) and AWF Coach (Level 1). 

For more information on Luke and his background you can visit his personal trainer profile page at   Luke Scott Personal Trainer. To connect with Luke visit his websiteRevolution Personal Training Melbourne.