Townsville report

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Broomstick
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Townsville report

Postby Broomstick » Tue Jan 05, 2016 8:29 pm

G’day guys,

As some of you will know from past reports, I study fish and do all my collecting in Townsville. I’ve just come back from an unplanned trip (I had some unexpected deaths in the lab and needed to top up my fish stocks) and of course I managed to sneak in a couple of fishing sessions in between fieldwork. As always I had my old man with me as my ‘research assistant’, and again we decided to drive up. We were racing the clock as I do all my collecting on a flood plain, and if the wet season had kicked in I would be pretty much screwed.

Fortunately the first part of the drive went by smoothly, and as always the scenery was beautiful:

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When darkness fell I took over the wheel for the night shift, while my Dad had a well-earned snooze. It’s always a little hairy driving through northern NSW and central QLD during the night given the roads are plagued with maniacal kangaroos, but time was of the essence. I somehow managed to avoid any collisions with the thousand kangaroos I passed during the night, but several of these guys weren’t so lucky:

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In amongst the toads there were also some cool native frogs, like this green tree frog:

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And I was super excited to see this awesome crucifix frog:

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But just as the sun appeared on the horizon:

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My luck took a turn for the worse, and I somehow hit three kangaroos in about 15 minutes. The first two were only glancing blows and caused no damage, but the third smacked straight into the front of the car:

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I guess it could have been a lot worse - we could have hit one of these guys:

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And ended up like this:

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My dad took over again once the sun was up, and the last part of the drive went by without a hitch. However, the further north we went, the more it started to rain. And as we approached Townsville, the weather looked ominous:

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I was getting really worried that my field site would be flooded, especially with all the reports of isolated flooding along the northeastern coast. Oh well – we’d find out soon enough. And after 30 hours in the car we finally pulled into our cheap little motel:

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It was about 4pm by this stage and too late to go sampling, so we decided to have a quick flick before dark. All fatigue forgotten I rigged up the gear in record time and we headed straight to the flats at the mouth of the Ross River to have a crack at some flatties:

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We started flicking around little hards and it didn’t take long before a few nice flatties hit the sand:

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We also picked up a couple of tiny cod, which I was surprised to see on the flats:

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But the tide was rapidly rising and we were running out of sand, so we decided to relocate to the rock wall under the bridge. I swapped my bream gear for a slightly heavier outfit (I was hoping for a barra), while my old man stuck with the light stuff. He immediately started pulling in little cod and moses perch:

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Until something bigger absolutely slammed his lure and quickly bit him off. Reassured that there were some bigger fish around I persisted with the heavier gear, while dad tied on a double clutch. A few casts later his reel was screaming again and a nice barra around the 60-70cm mark came flying out of the water. Somehow my dad’s 6lb leader held true, and he got it right to his feet before it gave one more lunge and won it’s freedom. We were shattered. My Dad re-rigged and caught some more small stuff including this cool barracuda:

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But we had no other big hits, and as the sun disappeared and the sky filled with bats:

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We decided to call it a night.

The next day we were up before the sun and after getting all the gear organized, we were on our way to my sampling site at Alligator Creek. I had all my fingers crossed that it hadn’t flooded but when we got there and saw all the new vegetation (this area is usually brown and dry):

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I’d pretty much resigned myself to the fact that the wet season had arrived. But when we made our way to the actual river bed, I was surprised to see that it was still dry:

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In fact, it was drier than I’d ever seen it, and all my sample sites from the last couple of years had dried up. I guess there had been a little bit of recent rain in the area – enough to trigger some new plant growth – but not enough to fill the flood plain. But now I had a new problem (and the opposite problem to what I expected) – I had to find somewhere that still had some water in it. This involved some pretty serious bush bashing through some rough terrain:

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But eventually we found a couple of likely looking water holes:

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And thankfully, they were full of fish. This included the usual native by-catch of gudgeons, rainbows and glassfish:

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The noxious Mozambique mouthbrooder (first photo = juvenile, second = adult):

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Plenty of cool invertebrates like this water scorpion:

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And thankfully, my study species – guppies:

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We spent the next three days sampling in this area but on the afternoon of the third day, it became apparent that there were no fish left. We decided to wait until the next day to find a new sampling site, and spend the last couple of hours of light having a flick in a likely looking pool we’d discovered earlier in the week:

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This pool was only tiny, but I was hoping there might be a few hungry barra or tarpon stranded in it. I tied on a sugapen while my dad went with a little X-55, and first cast I landed this tiny spangled perch:

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We caught a few of these aggressive little guys before my dad hooked into something a little more substantial, and after a short fight this guy popped up:

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A nice little jungle perch – not at all what I was expecting in this area, but a nice surprise. A couple of casts later my Dad’s lure was belted, and after a couple of seconds of screaming drag the hooks pulled, revealing some seriously bent trebles. After my dad pulled the hooks on a third good fish in the space of about 15 minutes I reluctantly swapped my surface lure for a shallow diver, and it didn’t take me long before I came up solid:

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A nice little tarpon – not the barra I was hoping for, but a cool fish nonetheless. By this stage the sun was quickly disappearing and we had a long walk ahead of us, so we decided to call it quits.

The next morning we started our search for a new sampling area by heading to the Alice River, which I’d heard held a reasonable population of guppies. This river alternated between thick, swampy pools:

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And shallow, sandy riffles only a few inches deep:

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Fortunately both of these habitats held guppies, but they were in low numbers and sampling was hard work. This area was also home to some angry horses who were determined to keep us out of their river:

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And hundreds of butterflies like this awesome little guy (how cool are the markings on the wings – they’re meant to look like a second head to confuse predators):

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But unfortunately, any slightly deeper water was full to the brim with Mozambique mouthbrooders. The river bed was dotted with their nests (the males dig a big hole where the females lay their eggs, then guard them aggressively until they hatch):

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But despite these obstacles, we managed to fill our quota of fish over the next three days (and I breathed a big sigh of relief):

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By this stage we were exhausted (it’s bloody hard work trudging several kilometres through thick bush carrying eskies full of fish) and covered in horrible blisters and mozzie bites:

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And multiple nasty scratches (everything is prickly up there):

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But all week we’d been thinking about those lost Barra at the river, so when we finished sampling on the afternoon of the 6th day, we went straight back to the bridge. I again took down the heavier gear, while my dad stuck with the bream gear – but this time with a 30lb bite leader tied onto the end of his 6lb leader. And as always, the little cod and moses perch were out in force:

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Check the baitfish down this greedy guy’s throat:

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After about an hour of flicking my dad’s reel started screaming again and it didn’t take long before another nice barra cleared the water, pulling the hooks on the first jump. F%$k! Again I hadn’t had a touch on the barra gear (they seemed to like the small lures) and just as the sun was going down, my dad came up solid again. This was another nice fish, and after a great fight including some awesome acrobatics, we finally managed to slip it up onto the rocks:

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You beauty! By this stage the sun had gone and we were getting eaten alive by mozzies, so we decided to head home on a high.

The next day was our last in Townsville and with our sampling finished we wanted to do some exploring. After a bit of reconnaissance work on google maps we decided to head down to Ayr and fish the Burdekin River. We arrived in Ayr around midday and after stopping for a quick lunch (when you ask for a burger with the lot in Ayr, the take it literally):

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We headed down to the river. And it looked great:

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This part of the river was a lot bigger than I expected, but there was a nice drop off close to the bank that felt very fishy. There were also heaps of mudskippers and fiddler crabs, which are a sign of a healthy environment:

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Again I opted for my heavier outfit (I was determined to connect with something big eventually) while my dad stuck with his bream outfit, and it didn’t take long before he had a solid hit that pulled the hooks. Good signs! Over the next hour my dad managed to pull the hooks on two solid barra around the 60-70cm mark, while again I didn’t get a sniff on the bigger lures. Eventually my old man managed to keep the hooks in something, and after a really solid fight that included some scintillating runs, up popped this guy:

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A diamond trevally – not a barra, but a super cool fish. The next hour was fairly quiet (excluding a 45 minute fight my dad had with a foul hooked stingray that ended with him losing his favourite lure):

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Until the sun started to drop, and I FINALLY came up solid on the heavy gear:

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…to a tiny little GT - definitely not the big barra I wanted. Over the next half an hour we landed a few of these guys (they give a really good account of themselves – especially on bream gear):

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Until I hooked into something a lot bigger. I fought this guy for a few seconds until he started thrashing around on the surface, throwing the hooks. I can’t be certain, but I’m fairly sure it was a big barra – I was shattered. Two casts later I came up solid again to another good fish, and after a really solid fight this guy hit the sand (modelled beautifully by my old man):

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A nice consolation prize – these little GTs certainly punch above their weight – but not what I was hoping for. By this stage the sun had nearly disappeared and the magpie geese were heading to roost:

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So we decided to head home. It had been a great little session and with a little bit of luck, it might have been something really special. But I guess that’s what keeps us going back:

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The next morning we were up with the sun and after packing the car, we started the long journey home (it was blissfully uneventful excluding the masses of cattle that kept clogging up the roads):

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It had been a tough but successful trip, and I’m a little sad that it will be my last sampling trip to this area (barring any disasters in the lab). Quick shout out to my old man who, at 60 years old, does it all. From bush bashing all day through rough terrain:

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To flicking lures for endless hours in questionable territory:

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To swimming for snagged lures in potentially crocodile-infested waters:

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The man is a legend – thanks again Dad.

Cheers!

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Last edited by Broomstick on Thu Jan 07, 2016 9:28 am, edited 1 time in total.



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Huntnfish
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Re: Townsville report

Postby Huntnfish » Tue Jan 05, 2016 8:56 pm

Nothing more to say mate :good:

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safia
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Re: Townsville report

Postby safia » Tue Jan 05, 2016 9:12 pm

Always exciting seeing a broomstick post and I wasn't let down. Awesome report and thanks for taking the time to post, greatly appreciated.

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wokka1
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Re: Townsville report

Postby wokka1 » Tue Jan 05, 2016 9:20 pm

What do you say to that...you'd struggle to find better reporting and photography in a glossy magazine, that's what.

Thank you.

samjas1316
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Re: Townsville report

Postby samjas1316 » Tue Jan 05, 2016 9:30 pm

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. My son and I love reading your posts.

Nude up
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Re: Townsville report

Postby Nude up » Tue Jan 05, 2016 10:14 pm

Great read, 30 hrs in the car one way my knees would give way. I would fly in. I didn't like the look of your legs as a man the mozzies love to bite I always wear long pants.
What a great trip though some ripper fish
Last edited by Nude up on Tue Jan 05, 2016 11:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.



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Haygmbp
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Re: Townsville report

Postby Haygmbp » Tue Jan 05, 2016 11:02 pm

Amazing as always

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Re: Townsville report

Postby poodoo » Tue Jan 05, 2016 11:14 pm

Cracking report as always Broomie!

Fish-Hunter
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Re: Townsville report

Postby Fish-Hunter » Tue Jan 05, 2016 11:32 pm

Thanks for sharing great pics & nice fish you got, shame the Roo's damaged your cars grill.

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Broomstick
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Re: Townsville report

Postby Broomstick » Wed Jan 06, 2016 12:01 am

Thanks for the kind words everyone, they are much appreciated :)



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