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Jon Williams

I have recently had the privilege of taking my second trip north into Cape York Peninsula on a family camping and fishing trip. On our last trip I was stuck fishing land based, but in saying that still managed to catch a lot of great fish. This trip though I had my Cross Country roof topper on top of the camper, so needless to say I was overflowing with excitement for the trip to come.

The lead up to the trip was mayhem, trying to get enough gear for every scenario that may happen up there. Compiling all my favourite colours and styles in the ZMan range and then trying to account for different weights in my TT HeadlockZ, SnakelockZ, ChinlockZ and Jig Spinners to allow me to fish all of the vastly different environments that I would encounter throughout far north Queensland. The team at Tackle Tactics then gave me an even bigger privilege, the opportunity to do some R&D on new products in their range, including the ZMan 10" HeroZ and some additions in the colour range, including Golden Boy, which very quickly became a part of my go to arsenal.

In this article I am going to cover my adventures on the western side of the cape, fishing around Weipa and the Pennyfather River.

We had a slow start to the trip. Our first planned stops not working out for us, with the wind blowing a gentle 60km and the water levels in the freshwater creeks, where I had tasted success on our previous trip, being very low. Having the alternator fail in the car we then ended up in Weipa with a few days to kill, waiting for the car to get fixed. What else is there to do but go fishing right?

I was hoping to find some pelagic action around Weipa and work the channel markers that run out from the Embley River, some 16km out into Albatross Bay, on the run out. I had my eyes peeled for birds working but none could be seen, so I started sounding around the channel markers and straight away there were fish everywhere on the screen.

Dropping my Opening Night coloured ZMan 4" SwimmerZ down, rigged on 3/4oz 5/0 TT Lures HeadlockZ HD jighead, I started hopping it around then saw a dark shape slowly swimming up towards the boat. It was a nice size cobia and although I didn't get my plastic back up fast enough to have a go at him beside the boat, I knew he was around. Five minutes later, when the cobia returned, it didn't take me long to get my SwimmerZ in front of him and he couldn't resist it, engulfing it and then the drag started screaming and off he went. A short while later we managed to net him and as we fishos are, I was pretty stoked as this was my first cobia. We snapped a couple of nice photos, released him and continued fishing. Apart from some big hits missing the hooks it was a slow afternoon and I didn't manage another fish.

The next day we had a few hours for a flick, so with the missus and kids loaded the plan was to entice some more of these pylon dwelling beasts that we could see on the sounder the day before, to play the game. This time I decided I was going to drop the new ZMan 10" HeroZ in Nuked Pilchard Glow colour down, rigged on a 1 1/2oz 8/0 HeadlockZ HD. The action that this plastic has is so good, whether it's on the drop or high speed spinning or jigging, it's is a thing of beauty. As it dropped down the channel marker I watched my line start peeling off the reel a lot faster than it should have been, so I closed the bail arm and gave it a nice set. That's when the fun started and my PE3 outfit buckled over and started screaming line off! Then the fish turned back towards the pylon and I was going to be in trouble! I had the electric on full speed, trying to get into a better position to fight the fish. It then decided to head into open water, which I was rather happy about because I could feel it was a good fish. After ten minutes I had a nice 15kg trevally in the boat and after a few photos he swam off strong.

We moved to another pylon and this time I dropped down an Opening Night coloured ZMan 5" StreakZ, rigged on 3/4oz 5/0 HeadlockZ HD. Again it was eaten on the drop and my line started peeling off faster than it should have been, so I closed the bail arm and set the hook. Again I was in trouble around the pylon and I had to put the motor in gear to navigate around the pylon while the fish was screaming line off my reel! It was on a 20lb outfit this time and it took a fair bit longer to gain the upper hand.

It appeared higher in the water column and we could see it was another nice trevally. As we were watching a huge shark came charging up from the depths and mayhem broke loose! The shark was thrashing around, the trevally was getting the hell out of there and I was just trying to get the fish to the boat. Luckily it swam straight at the boat and wrapped my line around the boat motor, so I quickly grabbed it by the tail and just cut the line so that I could deal with it later. A couple of photos and I released the fish strong so that it didn't get eaten. It wasn't quite as big as the first but still a nice fish on light gear. The time had come to pick up the car and head to the Pennyfather River.

The Pennyfather will always hold a place in my heart. It is truly a magical place as you drive up over the sand dunes and start driving north along the beach. You can see reef and rock bars, along with weed beds, everywhere along the coast and your excitement levels go through the roof.

We arrived at the river and found a nice place to set up camp, right on the banks of the river, looking out over the gulf. Watching the sun set as you get your gear ready for the next day is something else. My plan for the next morning was to head out along the coast to try and find some pelagic action and see what I could get the reefs to produce.

After breakfast off we went, out of the river mouth and south back towards the reef and weed we could see as we drove along the beach the day before. It was the start of the run in tide and as soon as I arrived over the reef I could see bait everywhere, with some decent shows on the sounder.

Dropped the new RaZor ShadZ down, to hop around for some reefies but all I could manage were little stripy snapper and tusk fish with no real size to them, so I continued to move around on the electric until the screen filled with some really nice shows. Down went the new Motor Oil coloured ZMan 4" SwimmerZ, rigged on 3/4oz 5/0 HeadlockZ HD and it wasn't long before my rod was buckled over and line was peeling off. It ended up being a nice queenie and after a couple of photos I watched it disappear back into the deeper water.

I then sounded around for the school again and as soon as I saw them down went my other outfit, rigged with a Baby Bass coloured ZMan 5" StreakZ on a 3/4oz 5/0 HeadlockZ HD. A few quick hops up through the school and I was getting some good hard hits, then bang one found the hook. You can never get over that feeling when a fish hooks up and you can feel it is a good fish. After a short battle I netted another nice queenie. After doing this for some time I decided to head back into camp for some lunch and to get the missus and kids out to catch some fish

I saw the odd longtail tuna break the surface every now and then on the way back to camp but nothing I could target. Many casts were thrown in areas where I would keep seeing them but no luck... they can be very frustrating at times. One thing I have to say that I loved was when they would hit a school of flying fish and you would watch the little flying fish take off through the air. This was to the point that they would be able to control the flight by gliding higher and turning. Having them fly beside you while motoring along in the boat was amazing.

While we ate lunch we decided to head up river to chase some barra, jacks and well pretty much anything that we could find in these fish rich waters... but that is for part two of this story... fish on!    

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