about us

A social group of dedicated fly fishers who are passionate about fly fishing in the tropical north of Australia and equally as passionate about the close camaraderie this sport brings. This passion and dedication led to the creation of the NT Fly Fishers (Social Mob) blog site; an interactive and creative outlet where everyone can share our wonderful fly fishing adventures and link into the “after fishing” social events we enjoy in this incredible part of the world.

Sunday, 18 September 2016

Tough day out to the Vernon Islands

A plan was hastily made on Friday morning to fish the Vernon Islands. I had never been there, but had of course heard great things about the area. The boat was packed and gear checked and double checked on Friday night.

I was up at sparrow's Saturday and picked up Tony around 5:30 AM. The road to Leaders Creek wasn't as bad as some may have you believe, I was able to comfortably tow the boat at 80km/h for most of it. 

It was a beautiful morning, we'd launched by around 7:00AM and were on our way. Outside the mouth of Leaders Creek and there was barley any wind at all, the sea was calm, but the current was roaring along between the south and north islands. We spotted some frigates and petrels, under the birds we found a fast moving current line with upwellings and a back-eddy. Along that line bait fish were being rounded up and taken by some big mackerel. It felt like a really promising start to a great day. Tony hooked up first. Initially we'd thought mackerel, but it wasn't fighting like a mac. 

Tony saw his backing a few times
We followed this fish around for a while. It took at least 20 minutes and perhaps half and hour before we saw Tony's leader again. Somehow out of a school of mackerel and tuna Tony had managed to catch a GT.

The uneducated GT hadn't realised that was a mackerel fly!

Quite a nice fish on a 10wt.
We'd lost ground on the back-eddy and baitfish during the fight. Once we were back with them we got plenty of refusals from mackerel. I had a fly dead drifting in the water while I was mucking around trying to program the electric to keep up with the current. I started to strip in for another cast when the fly got taken and taken pretty had too. There were some big head shakes and a powerful determined run deep into the channel that saw me into the backing quickly too. Wow, I thought I was onto my first GT and I probably was, but I'll never really know. About ten minutes into the fight and after a big shake the weight was gone. I retrieved the line to find the knot had failed at the fly! By now tide had reached the top of the high and we couldn't find the bait fish again.

We pulled a number of small reefies off the fringing reef of North East Vernon Islands and watched the odd big mackerel swim past outside of casting distance. Then the wind picked up! We tried using the electric to anchor along a current line that the birds were working between the two islands but even with 80lb of thrust we were slowing losing ground. Then somehow the electric motor threw its prop, somewhere in 40m of water. No electric certainly made the rest of the day interesting.

Near the bottom the low, great structure but no fish!
In an effort to get out of the wind we tried the southern side of South Vernon Island. There was great structure and water flowing off the reef in small waterfalls. The wind and no electric made position the boat tricky but worse there were just no fish. Eventually we threw the reef anchor onto some rocks and held a position hoping to ambush whatever came past. Again we got refusals from mackerel. Thankfully with more luck than skill I managed a single queenfish who oddly enough appeared to have no mates.

A long way to go for a small queenie.
By mid afternoon the wind was well above forecast and against the tide. It made for a long, slow, wet run back to leaders creek. Once there we had a few casts for barra. Something hit and circled my fly for a second hit. I missed the strike both times. It might have been a barra, but I told Tony and myself that it was just a really big archer fish.

It was the worth the time and fuel to see the Vernon Islands, but I wouldn't go back on such big tides again. I will take a look at the calendar and plan something for making tides sometime in the next dry season. For now it might be time to start chasing barra and threadies again.  

Thursday, 8 September 2016

"There is more than one way to skin a cat"

I love that saying,I grew up with that saying it was only in later years when I met people who love cats and found out it actually went down like a lead brick but then again I didn't like cats too much.

Sorry I pushed you in

Why the hunt becomes so important

To a ten year old when asking the "old man" should we drift the fly down the rapids on the Big Badja River to catch those frisky rainbows he explained on the way home we can get some for dinner we were there to find a fish by seeing it and then present the fly, he also said you will probably get the fish you want because you chose to try and catch it

                                               Sitting on a cliff you see all sorts of fish

In my ensuring years of varying hobbies and pursuits that was always in mind,years of hunting Foxes,many years spearfishing the southern NSW coast  I hunted by choosing the target.

Makes sense to me, when you hunt rabbits you dont fire shots all over the paddock then walk around to see what you got,same spearfishing I didn't shoot into every crevasse hoping for the best.

                                                 One of our greatest sight fished targets

Fortuitously when I came to Darwin in 1986 there were a number  of lazy days at Barra Base, I would sit on the corner of a creek or drain and really not knowing tropical fish habits I wanted to see what swam past, " everything did" suddenly I had "my choices" too big,too small,wandering mud crabs,trevally Queenfish, Thready's on and on.

                                           Right under the tree its a size worthy of the hunt

Take drains for example if you wait 5 mins Barra's evolutionary inquisitiveness will have them suddenly looking at you or they will do a short hop out and back in If you watch long enough you can choose, if its too small wait a bit they are gregarious and often in numbers.

                                This fish was with 2 others fortunately it was the smallest

I always make the spooking point but sometimes people who fish with me think that your not fishing unless your casting, thats ok too but that should not extend to shallows that obviously do not have anything in them for 35 metres, casting does nothing for hunting bigger fish  Barra especially have very alert eyes over distance and I often watch seeing the familiar pressure waves leaving up ahead.

                                             Probably a Muddie! dont use a weed guard

In my world its not unusual to suddenly have a fish appears 5 metres away (or closer) and your line is is out speculating at 15 metres, getting a shorter cast in vary rarely works without spooking them
some of the biggest Barra I have seen went begging primarily because the person didn't see them coming !

                                           I saw it, I cast, It turned and ate, I struck, I wish.

When it came to have a name on my Charter business it was simple  "Insight" thats my choice and how i wanted to approach it.I also soon learned that you can not marginalise your guiding for other's, fair enough you can find a balance casting into likely spots up along drains,colour changes etc and they produce and as a guide imperative to your survival, but for me out with Dotty or friends I spend 95% of the time observing the target not generally speculating the habitat.
                                The right boat was a dream in 1986 its a reality in 2016

            In a nutshell,you will get bigger and better fish on tropical flats by first finding them.

Cheers Graeme

Monday, 29 August 2016


Now we who  live in the fishing paradise called the NT are very spoilt, great fishing, both fresh and saltwaters, heaps of flats for us fly fishers and great weather (Most of the time anyway),  but there is another paradise for the saltwater fishers that is probably the next floor and an A grade spot for A grade fishing, the NT is A grade too, but a different game, like AFL -v- NRL, both A grade but different if you get my meaning.

 Cathie and I have been very lucky with our fishing in the NT, where we both started our fly fishing, but at times we have often thought that our luck was more arse than class because of the fish numbers and the environment that they are in.   Exmouth is different, and arse does you no good in the crystal clear water where the fish can see you coming from a long distance and will take off at high speed, so fast accurate longer casts are required there because there are no lazy barra laying in the cloudy water.  Have a look at this permit moving in the clear water, you don't have much time as it zig zags across the bottom at high speed.

Crystal clear shallow water with speeding permit photo courtesy Jono Shales and Exmouth Fly Fishing
Now that was just to whet your whistle.....lets start with the trip there....you have to fly to Perth, then catch another smaller jet to Exmouth (Learmonth) then there is a 35km trip to Exmouth township.
Nearly forgot to mention, Qantas (our mates) upgraded us to Business Class, so we had entry to Qantas Club and Business Club....unbelievable.

  Jono Shales from Exmouth Fly Fishing (click link) picked us up and took us to his holiday house (click for full tour)for the fly fishers. Three bedrooms, two bathrooms, wifi, bbq and beer and wine!!! in the fridge for us....

High ceilings, air cond. beer and wine....doesn't get much better.

Cathie settling in....hard life?

Rod racks with shower attachment on hose to wash the rods made cleaning easy.
Had ribs and pizza delivered for dinner, courtesy of  BBQ Father  (click for menu) and planned to go out after Cathie's Black Marlin the next day because the winds were favourable.

Drove around the next morning to the other side of the peninsular and launched at Tantabiddi ramp after visiting the Lighthouse to have a look at the Coast

and you would not believe, within a couple of kilometres of the ramp there was a welcoming committee of whales, waving to us and helping a calf swim north.  We started counting the sighting we had of these magnificent creatures but after 112 on the third day we gave up.  They would swim with you like  dolphins, pass under the boat in clear water and the tourists boats were putting their clients off into the water to swim with them, really mind blowing, especially when they breach and leap clear of the water.  We have a lot of footage of these, too much to put on this blog, but unbelievable stuff.

These are rolling after the breached, this is copied from one of the videos.
Better get back to the fishing, looking for Sails or Marlin....after Jono took Cathie through the requirements for this type of fishing.  He re rigged our lines and we had a double tube fly on the rig with two hooks.

Cathie and Jono.   Ready to go.  Jono is trailing a Teaser.

An Exmouth Marlin photo courtesy of Jono Shales and Exmouth Fly Fishing
While we were chasing the billfish, the whole area around us, and I am not exaggerating, there must have been square miles of tuna busting up and millions of birds.  Sails were jumping and black marlin were surfing the waves, but sadly Cathie did not get her billfish, but there is always another day...but what a couple of days.

The wind changed and the next day we went into the gulf.  Whales everywhere, again crystal clear water and Dugongs in the water....
Saw a lot of these, you would see a clouding patch and a Dugong would come out of it...photo courtesy of Jono Shales and Exmouth Fly Fishing
 The flats in the area do not have the big tidal movements like we do up here, I believe that 2m is the big tide, so you can spend a lot more time over the sand, reef areas and you would not believe the size of the blue bones...missed them, but got a queenie........ so Jono said that we would have lunch on a small sandbar and there would be goldies there....he was right...there were macs too.

Lunch  with goldies, macs and if you wanted to put out a small fly ..heaps of good size bream.

One of the Goldies coming in photo courtesy of Jono Shales and Exmouth Fly Fishing

A golden goldie..photo courtesy of Jono Shales and Exmouth Fly Fishing

and guess what else was around.....these were all over the place..and some right at the marina.

Non stop action with the Tuna....but lactic build up makes them very hard to hang onto after fighting numbers of them
of longtails around too, sharks took some of them after fighting them to the boat, and lost one  while talking too much and not concentrating.   All fishing was on barbless hooks.

We did a bit of tackle testing too, but will keep that for another blog, but don't forget to regularly check your knots and lines (Something I forgot to do).

Don't wait until you are in the veterans group to do this type of trip, it is an A game fishery, and you need to be on your game.

Last night in Exmouth tried the JALAPENO POPPERS at Whalers (click for menu) and what a blast they are!!!!!
        The Bassetts