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FISHING TRIP REPORT: Western Australia, May 1999.
By Steve Starling

Hi all. I'm just back from a wonderful 10 days or so in the Wild West, and thought I'd bring those of you who are interested up to date.

Main reason for the trip was to visit Eco Beach Resort, just over an hour's drive south of Broome, and take part in their annual Shimano Legends' Tournament. This was my first visit to Eco Beach, and I must say, I was extremely impressed by the place. It's a brilliant location and the resort itself is built and run using sustainable, environmentally-friendly guidelines. The staff are great, the food excellent and the accommodation unique and rustic. Don't go there expecting five star glitz and the hum of air conditioners. Instead, kick off your shoes when you arrive and don't expect to need them again until the day you leave. I loved it!

The Tournament itself was also one of the most laid-back and enjoyable I've fished. There's very little emphasis on winning, it's all catch-and-release, and because of the pointscore structure, a small tinnie in one of the creeks has as much chance of picking up a major prize as a 20 metre charter boat out on the sailfish and marlin grounds!
In fact, a couple of mad-keen fish-heads in a tinnie blitzed the comp' by catching and releasing a truck load of blue salmon, black jew (mulloway), queenfish, jacks and the like in a nearby creek!

Some other great fish recorded included a Spanish mackerel of close to 30kg on 6kg line, a couple of nice sails and a good cobia. Everyone caught fish, and all involved really seemed to enjoy themselves. I was lucky enough to fish aboard the famous little vessel "Freespool" with Capt. Dan O'Sullivan, and we had a ball! We mostly mucked around with fly rods, but I must admit to slipping a garfish out on 'conventional' tackle at one stage to nail a 16 kg Spaniard!

As is usually the case, the fishing got even better right after the comp', and Dan, Jeni Lerch and I released one nice sailfish on fly and raised a dozen others the very next day after the presentation night, as well as catching so many 6 and 7kg longtail (northern bluefin) tuna on fur 'n' feathers that our arms ached! We also walked the beaches just north of the resort and sight-fished with flies for queenies, trevally, blue salmon, threadfin and tripletail. On our last morning, big numbers of Indo-Pacific permit (also known as snub-nosed dart or 'pumpkinheads') turned up in a metre of water along the beach, and provided us with several frustrating hours of rejections before I finally nailed a tiny (400 gram) specimen on a very small crab fly fished 'dead' on the bottom. Dan was extremely excited at this catch, despite its 'modest' size (!), as he and many other anglers have been chasing these enigmatic fish without success for some time.

It was an absolute delight to fish with Dan O'Sullivan on board "Freespool", and I cannot speak highly enough of this gentleman's professionalism and dedication to his craft. Anyone planning a visit to the area would be well advised to track him down for a charter, or to make use of Eco Beach's other great skipper, Patches; especially when he takes delivery of his brand new vessel in a few weeks time.

After Broome, I travelled south to Perth and had a half day out aboard Ian Stagles' 35 foot Bertram. Ian is Editor of "Western Angler" magazine, and a great guy to fish with. We visited the FAD on the edge of the Rottnest Trench on a morning that could only be described as 'perfect' in every sense of that word. My very first cast with a 10 weight fly rod produced my 'personal best' mahi mahi (dolphin fish) to date on a fly ? a specimen of just under 7kg. We went on to catch (and mostly release) several dozen more of these wonderful fish in the 3 to 6kg range, and had a ball doing it.

I've always enjoyed my visits to Western Australia, but I guess I'd have to rate this one as the best yet. You Sandgropers sure do live in a great part of the world!

Recreational Fishing Guidelines Queensland Australia
Size & Bag Limits
Anatomy of a Fish, Fish Terminology, FAQ about Fish

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