#NSC20 – The Wrap Up

In what seemed like no time at all, NSC weekend rolled around again and the scramble began to pull everything together in time. After a tough Christmas fire season for the whole country knock-on effects were still being felt in terms of delivery services and it was looking like it would go down to the wire to have everything arrive on time. The last batch of NSC shirts arrived at midday on Friday allowing us to finish the welcome packs and pack the car to be on the road to Portland for briefing Friday evening. Last year’s sweltering heat was a thing of the past and conditions were looking reasonable for the weekend, we just had to hope the fish played ball. With 40 guys registered for the comp (8 for the first time) and a team making the trip over from South Australia we were set for a big weekend. With work commitments the way they are these days, I was looking forward to catching up with a bunch of blokes I don’t see on the water as often as I used to.

Day 1 – (Fishing 6.30am – 2pm)


The morning launch saw mint conditions with light offshore winds and swell wasn’t an issue.  The safety crews hit the water and the girls hit the beach armed with clipboards to check off all the safety gear. The launch saw the field spread out quickly with a variety of tactics being tried with some opting to risk it out wider facing the threat of a long run home into the strengthening wind. We had three late launches (Shane making the trip back from interstate and a local Portland team that entered on the day) but by the time an hour had passed we had all vessels out on the water.

It was evident early that there were pinkies around with a number of anglers getting some early, the best of which went to Rob with a  48cm model.

There were whiting about too, and with Spider telling me stories of monster Portland whiting after NSC17, I had added them to the species list but had yet to see one of these unicorns entered in. That changed on Day 1 with Ben entering a solid 40cm model while Mal went one better with a 45cm model. Worth noting here that comp fish are measured in fork length so the ‘ting the boys entered were closer to 50cm overall than 40 and solid catches for the species.


Peatop managed to find the slimies for livebait, but unfortunately only bronzies took a liking to them with two good sized sharks back to back towing him out behind the anchorage before the end of the session. After battling two sharks to the surface, an offer of a nudge a little closer to shore from the Coast Guard was gratefully accepted.

We had a few salmon hit the measuring table too the best of which was Mav’s 44cm model, but at the end of session one the talk moved to kings…

Ben was the first to throw his hat in the ring for the best catch comp with a rat king on the board, previous comp winner Lennon then added to his tally going slightly better with a 67cm (fork length) version but bragging rights for the day went to Tas with not one but both fish landed from a double hookup, the second on very light gear. As the session drew to a close Tas had a healthy lead in the individual comp but less than 20 points separated the teams. Tales of bust offs by kings abounded over pizza for lunch and right on cue there was a bust up out off the bluff allowing Ian to test his casting distance land based to no avail.

Day 2 (Fishing 6.30am – 11am)

Launch on day two saw calm conditions the wind had dropped during the night but was due to steadily increase throughout the morning. Day 2 saw the smaller fishing zone in operation but based on the previous few days fishing, you didn’t have to travel far to find the kings.


The launch on Day 2 also saw the beginning of the Day 2 Dash with a pair of Mako polarised sunnies up for grabs for the first person to nab a legal whiting. The dash was won by Cheater with one of his trusty prawns nabbing the required King George.

There were still some smaller snapper around on day two that were happy to be hooked as well as a few more salmon, coming in giving most teams points on the board. The wind was making things a little bumpy out wide. As the 11am cut off drew nearer the field began the slog back to the beach.  This year’s tale of woe came from the Donkey Hunter team with Ian having a relaxing pedal back, pulling in on the beach beside a parked Stealth just before eleven only to find out that his beach didn’t have an admin tent or  even a caravan park and wasn’t the same as our beach. He then had to round the point and make the slog back to Henty into the wind.

The big question that remained however was whether or not anyone would come to the weigh in with kings. That question was answered soon after when Aussie Dave hit the beach with not one, but two of his own. Gear was packed up and the group moved to the BBQ area to see if Dave had done enough to topple Tas at the top of the leader board…


The Results

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Early Bird Draw:

Winner: Tristan Davies (Henty Accommodation Voucher)

Day 2 Dash:

Target Species: Whiting

Winner: Stephen Kent (Mako Polarised Sunnies, Drystore Drybag, Lowrance Buff)

Masters (Entrants born in 1970 or earlier):

Winner: Tas Russos 205.5pts (Soft Plastic and jig head prize pack)

Team Challenge:

Team Team Average
1 Shane & Tas 138
2 The Mud Brothers 92.75
3 30 Fathoms 91.75
4 Portland Pescadores 91.25
5 Donkey Hunters 57.25
6 Grassy Whiting 50.75
7 FG Not 46.25
Stealth Fishas 46.25
9 Cheaters 40.5
10 Port Jacksons 39.5
11 Toadies 38.5
12 His Way 20.75
13 Banjos 20.5
14 Miller’s Militia 15.75
15 The Woodies 15.5
16 The Wrasse 7.75
17 JillyMacca 0
18 Hookt On 0

Individual Competition:

Angler Points
1 Tas Roussos 205.5
2 David Fealy 169.5
3 Ben Pinniger 132.5
4 Stephen Kent 110
5 Lennon Doherty 82.5
6 Mal Donaldson 75.5
7 Shane Esmore 70.5
8 Christopher Dick 62.5
9 Rob Gloutnay 62
10 Paul Coghill 61.5

A massive thank you once again to all of the entrants that made the trip down the coast  to support our comp, it was a great weekend away with a top bunch of blokes. To the offshore first timers, well done on surviving the wind, I hope you gained some useful experience and built up your confidence to keep giving it a crack. Thanks again to all of our event sponsors, please keep them in mind when making your purchases.

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Sea Sherpa

#NSC19 – The Wrap Up

Last year’s weather certainly made offshore fishing difficult, but as NSC19 weekend drew closer and the long range forecast began to settle in, it started to look like Saturday’s weather might not be just good, but mint for the first session.  Friday saw Melbourne swelter and messages rolled in from entrant on how best to get their kayaks and skis to Portland without melting as the mercury reached 47°C. Luckily by the time we arrived down the coast the cool change had already hit and unloading the trailer was a much easier affair.


The cool change hitting Portland on Friday afternoon

7pm saw the briefing take place up on the bluff with members of Coast Guard Portland in attendance to outline the use of smoke flares in an emergency situation out on the water. Welcome packs were distributed and this year saw the inclusion of boat number stickers to make admin and emergency procedures much more streamlined as well as making it easier for Cheater to find where he left his kayak.


Day 1 – (Fishing Window 6.30am – 2pm)

The morning launch saw mint conditions and a fishing window until 2pm gave entrants time to cover plenty of ground in search of pelagics. Early Yippahs over the radio from team Berleypro suggested that the kings had been located with a video coming through moments later showing Shane Elverd’s knots being tested by a solid king while the surrounding yaks couldn’t land any from that school. Rumours that the paddling within 10m of Marto has a similar effect on kings as a shark shield on noahs has yet to be proven, but there is certainly a strong case for it.


Shane Elverd with a cracking king

There had been a number of reports of kings out of Nunn’s beach on our arrival on Friday and a portion of the field had headed that way from the start. Mozz was glad he wasn’t relying on his bait tube from South West Rocks when he started pulling in 55cm slimies on his Jack Sayoris hard body. The first two were sent back out as livies for a double hookup soon after. The first rod was handed off to his team mate while he battled and landed the first king only for the second, larger model to bust him off once the rod was returned.


Jayme Morris with the first king to hit the beach on Saturday

The rest of the field were left to sort through undersized pinkies and rat kings in search of legal models in order to get some points on the board. As the session drew to a close at 2pm anglers had a steady following sea sending them back to the beach at Henty with Cheater’s GPS reading 16kph on the Profisha ‘without much effort’. The weigh in had twenty pinkie snapper entered to see thirteen anglers on the board after session one with 7 ½ points separating the top two anglers going into session two.


Thankful for the points on the board

Tales of bust offs by kings abounded over pizza and beers for lunch while Bill had caught the most unusual catch of the day – a cuttlefish on a smash squid soft plastic lure, that was after a king took a liking to the small soft plastic he was throwing around on a six kilo rod for snapper, which had a more predictable ending than the Titanic movie.


Day 2 (Fishing window 6.30am – 11am)

Launch on day two saw calm conditions but the wind had swung offshore and was due to steadily increase throughout the morning along with the swell, while the period was dropping. The shorter fishing window on Day 2 meant that Julia Reef was not fished, which was just as well as reports from the guys that had fished it on Day 1 said their sounder would have had similar screens sitting on the beach.


Day 2 Launch

The launch on Day 2 also saw the beginning of the Day 2 Dash with bonus prize packs for the first two people back to the beach with a snapper.First prize went to Nev Pollock with his Evolution proving it still has some mojo left. Tristan Davies was next to land a snapper but opted to fish on, figuring someone else would hit the beach first for second place as his was already out wide. That someone else arrived on the beach a few minutes later with Wayne Jensz taking out the second spot.

The cool weather on Saturday and rain overnight coupled with a drop in water temperature did not bode well for kings on Day 2. Sure enough the kings were proving hard to find Shane Esmore located a few but struggled to find the size he was after while William Filliponi also managed to tempt one in the 50’s.


Live update from William during the comp!

There were still some smaller snapper around that were happy to be hooked and Tas Russos managed to tempt a solid salmon, the only one entered in the comp but overall the fishing on day two was tough and the wind was making things a little bumpy out wide. As the 11am cut off drew nearer the field began the slog back to the beach.  The measuring table saw very few wipes with only a couple of snapper upgrades coming in and many a tale of woe.


The Results

Early Bird Draw:

Winner: Peter Eaton (BerleyPro Orb Light)

Day 2 Dash:

Target Species: Snapper

Winner: Neville Pollock ($200 Dinga Voucher, AO Cooler, Buff, Dinga Shirt & Cap)

Runner Up: Wayne Jensz (Catch Fishing Lure Pack)

Masters (Entrants born in 1969 or earlier):

Winner: Tas Russos 41pts (Buff, Dinga Cap, Set of Easy2Hook Knotless hooks)

Team Challenge:

Team Points
1 Long Zebra 77
2 The Mega Powers 73.5
3 The Fishas 69.75
4 Shane Plus 1 33
5 FG Not 20.5
6 Cheater & The Apprentice 18.25
7 Jolly Rogers 15
8 GT South 14.5
Glass is Class 14.5
10 Go Fish 14
Team BerleyPro 14
12 The Mud Brothers 0
The Westies 0
The Portlanders 0

Individual Competition:

Angler Points
1 Shane Elverd 139.5
2 Jayme Morris 132
3 Tas Roussos 41
4 Nathan Wooldridge 36.5
5 Shane Esmore 34.5
6 Peter Ritchie 31.5
7 William Filliponi 31
8 Tristan Davies 30
9 Neville Pollock 29
Jeremie Steedan 29


A massive thank you once again to all of the entrants that made the trip down the coast in the sweltering heat to support our comp, it was a great weekend away with a top bunch of blokes. To the offshore first timers, well done on surviving the weekend, I hope you gained some useful experience and built up your confidence to keep giving it a crack. Thanks again to all of our event sponsors, please keep them in mind when making your purchases.

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See you all at #NSC20!

Sea Sherpa

#NSC18 – The wrap up.

It is the morning after the night before, there’s a thick fog rolling in off the water outside and a dedicated few are hitting the beach to launch in a stark contrast to yesterday’s conditions where the promised 9 knot wind was actually  14 knts  coming in from the South East in opposition to the prevailing South Westerly swells. Less than ideal conditions for yak fishing, but undeterred a flotilla of yaks and skis hit the beach in the pale morning light and began to set up for the day ahead. The Sea Sherpa crew hit the beach to conduct pre-launch safety checks and entrants began to roll into the admin marquee to collect their keytags in preparation for the 6.30 start.


A few looked at the conditions and decided against launching, leaving a field of 38 to take on the elements in search of point scoring fish. 36 of those managed to launch through the shorey unscathed,  leaving a couple to go pedals up.  Some gear was donated to increase Davy Jones’ already impressive collection. As per last year, the field scattered rapidly with some looking for shelter from the easterly over behind the break wall while others threw caution to the headwind and headed for the horizon. With the wind increasing as time passed, a couple of entrants returned to the beach looking a little green around the gills deciding to pull the pin. Apparently the shallow reef had plenty of natural burely. Luis returned to the beach to pick up his forgotten key tag and nabbed a quality salmon on his way, making it worth the trip back in.


Radio chatter indicated kings were around and 8am saw the 12m Coast Guard vessel join the patrol crews from Portland Bait & Tackle and Portland Surf Life Saving already on the water. Tas’ accidental decision to turn his whole AI into a livewell, predictably resulted in a SOS call via VHF and Rescue 1 was deployed to his location. He and Kieran were struggling to bail his swamped AI so the call was made to do a tow-back, with his ama on the front of the RIB and his AI running as a shallow-diving hard body on the way back to the beach. Despite a bubble trail that Williamson would be proud of, he failed to hook up on the way back in. An unfortunate end for his comp, but lucky that it occurred in the comp window given the availability of support crews on the water.  Even when back on the beach, it took a crew of six quite a while to drain the hull.


Back at the admin tent I was anxiously watching the screen with updates on the wind conditions, and at 15knts the wriggle room was beginning to disappear so I radioed the field to let the guys heading for the horizion know that with the increasing trend there was a fairly high chance we would hit our 17knt cut-off point. Sure enough within an hour the wind had hit 18kts and in line with insurance and our safety procedures I had to make the call to cut the comp short and recall the entrants to the beach. Some opted to land in the harbour and avail of the Sea Sherpa shuttle service, while the Coast Guard looped out the back to follow in the paddlers out wide. The CG pilot reported difficulty keeping up with GAB paddling back in from behind the Anchorage.


Just as I was pondering what to do with the Best Catch award and prize this year if no pelagics were caught, Lennon hit the beach with a quality king and others began to hit the beach with pinkies and squid and it began to look like we would have enough fish entered to fill all of the prize slots despite the shortened comp time frame. Luis measured in the salmon he picked up and it went 62cm to the fork a quality fish for the species. A number of entrants picked up pinkies for their tally and Shane and Gab both took advantage of squid being an allowable species to pad out their bags.



As the BBQ was already booked in for 2pm with the Henty crew, the entrants had the opportunity to pack up gear and chill out before the ceremony, while a brave few decided to brave the conditions until after lunch. Two o’clock came and the Henty crew began to serve up some grub and the prize ceremony began.

In the Teams Comp, it was hard to separate the bottom two in order to award the wooden spoon. In the interest of fairness, but mostly to decide who was slightly less rubbish on the day a round of rock paper scissors was called for. Jack stepped up for Team Berleypro and for Glass is Class, Crazycheski took the podium. Unbeknownst to Jack, Steve Chen was given the name Crazychenski after an all-in round of rock paper scissors against Vladamir Putin. Chenski won a Commdore 64 that day, and was feeling confident  as he came to the front. The round ended predictably and Jack along with team Berleypro were left to bask in the glory? of propping up the results table with a doughnut.


At the other end of the table, the Team Challenge title for 2018 went to the Westies with Lennon’s kingy combined with some local knowledge from Spider saw them get across the line with a team average score of 37 points. Each team member walked away with a $60 voucher for Jigman, a headscarf from Buff, a Pains Wessex Flare kit and a waterproof container for their safety gear.


The Westies 37.38
Pedal Pushers 14.75
Team AI 9
Notunas 7.5
Bream Busters 7.25
Man overboard 4.67
Glass is Class 0
Team Berleypro 0

For the Best Catch award it was an easy decision with only one eligible pelagic caught during the comp window. Ben from Portland Bait & Tackle was on hand to present Lennon with a Shimano Torium reel and the Best Catch trophy for 2018. In the main event it was again Lennon who took the honours and the top ten shaped up like this:

Place Name Fish Score
1 Lennon Doherty 89cm Kingfish 133.5
2 Luis Ferreiro 59cm Salmon 59
3 Shane Esmore 31cm Snapper

29cm Snapper

25cm Squid

21cm Squid

4 Chris Tyerman 33cm Snapper

32cm Snapper

5 Gabriele Meoni 27cm Snapper

22cm Squid

6 David Webb 32cm Snapper 16
7 Peter Ritchie 30cm Snapper 15
8 Stephen Kent 29cm Snapper 14.5
9 Geoff Smith 29cm Snapper 14.5
10 Nelson Rouw 28cm Snapper 14


Special mentions to those who peaked a little early or a little late, managing to get kings over the comp weekend. Tas was first cab off the rank with a king less than a km from the launch. Both of the Ians also managed kings after the comp using cephlapods as bait.

A massive thank you to all of the entrants that made the trip down the coast to support our comp. Two years in and hopefully looking good for a third. It was unfortunate about the weather cutting the day short but I think almost everyone that made the trip down got on the water at some stage throughout the weekend. To the offshore first timers, well done on launching in tough conditions, if nothing else I hope you gained some useful experience in an environment as controlled as you can hope for in the Southern Ocean.


For those that couldn’t make the trip, here’s the photo reel of all the goings on thanks to our three talented photographers, Damian Goodman, Amy Rouw and Jennifer Ngo, its as close as we can get you to the action.

Time for a month’s break then its back to chasing up sponsors and organising the next one. In the interest of fairness next year I’ll put one red AI on each team!

See you guys at NSC19!

Tight lines,

Sea Sherpa

Coffs Harbour Stealth Comp

A few of us Mexicans decided to put our annual South West Rocks trip back a few weeks this year to coincide with the Coffs Harbour round of the Stealth offshore kayak fishing competitions. Thursday around midnight the westie half of the convoy assembled and headed to the servo for last minute checks before heading off for the meeting point at Glenrowan, two and a half hours closer to the NSW border.


The next stop was Yass where Cheater and Kieran nursed their whiplash injuries from Leejo’s driving over breakfast. It seems Cheater’s car doesn’t have cruise control and Leejo isn’t much of a fan of constant throttle pressure. A good run of traffic through Sydney saw us arrive in Coffs Harbour in time to visit Mo Tackle before closing much to the relief of the aforementioned Leejo, the offshore newbie of the group, who had packed rods and reels but not lures or rigging tackle for the trip. With his wallet suitably lightened, we punched the address of the campsite into the GPS and made the five minute trip down the road to our home for the weekend. Cabins 226 and 227 at Park Beach Holiday park became base camp.


A very recognisable carbon fibre ProFisha with orange tip on the roof of the car next door, identified Rokkitkit and Ant as our new neighbours, and with quick stroll around, it quickly became apparent that we had chosen the right campground with a number of Stealths to be seen on the roofs of passing vehicles.  There was a great buzz about the place (it may have been residual buzz from Chenski’s snoring during the car trip) and talk moved to tactics for the comp ahead. The forecast was looking pretty good and due to some networking on Cheater’s part, we had some GPS marks in our sounders courtesy of Tommo one of the locals, so even though we hadn’t fished that far up the coast before at least we had an idea where to head once out through the surf.


Mozza and I made the decision to target tuna on livies for the comp, we made the call to leave off the wire traces going on the theory that more bites was a better prospect even if we got the occasional bite-off. Mozz went with two 10-15kg  rods with penn 560’s running 30lb braid to 40lb leader with a dusta and 7/0 live bait gammas. My gear was similar with an identical 10-15kg setup and also a 6-10kg snapper stick given the call-up opting to run two spin setups over my other 10-15kg overhead rig. We both also had a lighter 2-4kg setup to run our sabiki rigs.

Comp Day 1

A 5am start saw the trailer loaded and we were off to Digger’s beach for a quick briefing and a run down on the lay of the land from the local crew. Paperwork completed and setup done on the beach, we awaited first light for the launch.

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Small surf and the assistance of a rip made for an easy launch and we were on our way to McAuley’s in search of livebait. My first string of livies was stolen and with the obvious presence of mackerel or hoo I was beginning to second guess my choice of tactics. A re-tied sabiki resulted in two lonely yakkas in the bait tube, not the slimeys I was after but a start so on one went on my 6-10kg setup. With livies bridled, Mozz and I decided to paddle from McAuley’s close out towards the second mark out wide. We hadn’t gone far when a rod on both of our skis screamed off. Mine spat the hook  during the initial run while Jayme came up tight on his and not long after a solid mack tuna was yakside. It had inhaled the rig and couldn’t be released.

Cheater came on the VHF not long after enquiring on the minimum length for the brown ugly thing he had just caught, making things hard for Dennis without a positive ID. It was settled as being a cod of some sort and was sent back after some happy snaps. Kieran made friends with a blacktip reefie, and not to be outdone Cheater did the same soon after, announcing via VHF that Coffs Harbour gummies have a nice set of teeth. One of the locals got spooled by what was assumed to be a wahoo and Mozz and myself made the call to paddle north towards Karora. About a k from the mark we stopped and drifted while I adjusted views on the new sounder. As is usually the case, when you are not ready for it, both of us at this point had a rod scream off. My light rod again was the target and Mozz was clearly onto a nice fish. Yet again my fish skipped the noose while Mozz settled in for a good fight. Ten minutes later a much larger tuna was circling the yak and much to Mozza’s delight, this one had no ‘leopard print’on its side. I paddled along side to identify his first longtail and Jayme’s new kage gaff got its first use soon after.


Leejo found the fishing tough on day 1 but did manage to catch his rudder (twice). Chenski managed to snag a quality flathead on his sabiki to add to the Vic tally.  Back on the beach the photo evidence identified Cheater’s ‘brown thing’ as a point scoring Maori Cod.


We began to refill the trailers and were gifted a nice spottie mackerel by Paul Pallett which was gladly accepted. A Coles run and some re-rigging in the afternoon followed by some filleting and some sesame tuna steaks back at the holiday park. Reflection on the days events made me ditch the snapper rod, the theory being that the rod had too much flex, absorbing some of the impact and preventing the thicker livebait hooks from penetrating the tuna despite having a solid drag setting. Mozz was sitting in a competitive 5th spot after day 1 and was in the best position of the Vics heading into day two.


Comp Day 2





Day 2 saw similar conditions out front, with a little extra wind early on but it died out quickly. Fishing was tougher on the second day with even livies proving hard to find for most on team Vic (expect Cheater who somehow managed to pull a whole string of slimies first up). Chenski and Leejo had hooked some pike and after spending an hour at McAuley’s in search of live bait Mozz and I had only managed two yakkas between us, (along with some more flatties and a few whiting).  We rigged one each we opted to follow a similar track to yesterday to see if any more longtails could be found over at Karora. They couldn’t, it turns out, but I did have a brief run  on the way out to Marsh Shoal that resulted in my livie becoming a deadie with post mortem revealing the cause of death to be a severely compressed head. The only legitimate catch of the day for me was a solid flattie (late 40’s) coming in on the sabiki. Team Vic came third in the state of origin behind both the yanks and the canadians, Mozza was the highest placer of the Vics with 6th spot. After a BBQ and a chat with some of the blokes we hit the road for South West Rocks where we would spend the rest of the week. A big thank you to Australian Kayak Specialists for organising another great event and to the crew of fisho’s for the hospitality.

Tight lines,

Sea Sherpa





A three-day week at Lake Tyers…

A conversation with a mate over a beer quickly turned into a solid plan and accommodation was booked for a three-day stint up at Tyers. Having never been before, I was keen to chase a big dusky and with reports of 90cm+ fish being caught at the previous weekend’s flathead challenge, excitement was high.

We left Wednesday morning driving through to Bairnsdale where a quick stop was made at the bakery and then on to Lakes Entrance. We stayed at the Lake Tyers Camp & Caravan Park with easy access to the boat ramp, but you could easily stay in one of the many spots on the main strip in Lakes Entrance.

Lake Tyers Map

Good to knows

  • Phone coverage is pretty sporadic (on Optus at least) we took vhf radios to keep in contact on the water.
  • Google maps won’t load in much of the area so load the maps in town and take photos to refer to in the state park and out on the water.
  • Most of the tracks are passable in a 2wd but check if there’s been rain before hand. There are a couple of big potholes on the Trident track that require careful navigation.
  • Lots of wildlife on the trails in the Tyers State park, watch out for crossing wallabies!
  • The fork on the Trident track- the campground is on a cliff with no water access, take the right hand trail to get to the water.
  • If you need to top-up during the trip, The General Store up from the Waterwheel Tavern stocks both Munroe’s soft plastics and Jigman jigheads.
  • The boat ramp isn’t signposted from Lake Tyers Beach Road, so look for Gully Rd instead, it is right across the road from the caravan park.

Gear selection

I opted for a 2000 reel on a 2-4kg graphite spooled with 8lb braid and an 8lb fluro leader (two rod-lengths).

Mozza my offsider went with a 2500 reel on a 2-5kg graphite again spooled with 8lb braid and 8lb fluro leader.

I elected to fish the trip exclusively on sp’s. I visited Munroe’s Soft Plastics to stock up. (No affiliation, just supporting another local small business) I bought three new types of plastics from to add to the collection in the tackle box and have play with for the trip:

  • ‘fools gold’ 76mm c-tail minnow
  • ‘black gold’ 3.75 inch paddle tail aka the Wokka special
  • ‘smelt’ 3.75 inch paddle tail

Mozza brought a mixed  collection of vibes, prawnstar hardbodies, keitech plastics as well as the same collection I had from Munroe’s.

In terms of jig heads we ran 1/8oz with 3/0 and 1/16oz with 2/0 hooks


Day 1 – Long Point

It was lunchtime by the time we reached the caravan park and unloaded the gear. We opted to hit the water for an afternoon session with a plan to fish up to dark. We decided to try the Upper Reaches first, with the theory that the main lake areas might have had more fishing pressure over the competition weekend just gone. For the first session we made our way in the Long Point Track. It was passable with the two skis on the roof of the wagon, but a kayak trailer might have been hard work. A couple of the bigger holes required careful wheel placement at an angle across the road and you would be doing well to get three sets of wheels to follow the same path with trees tight to the edge of the track. Near the end of the track we found a steady slope down to the water making for an easy launch. Easy in a 4wd, but doable in the wagon with dry ground underfoot.


There was soft mud at the waters edge but luckily it doesn’t take much water to float a Stealth so launching was pretty straightforward. A stroll along the shore before launching revealed an abundance of small mullet in the shallows so the ‘wokka special’ and ‘smelt’  paddletails were rigged to give the same dark top, light bottom silhouette in an attempt to match the hatch.

We had left the sounder back at the cabin so we covered a bit of ground around here trying to find out the depths and setting up suitable drifts with the wind picking up at times.  It proved slow on the fishing front with only two duskies each for the tally in the 30’s range for 3 hours fishing, despite various retrieves and many, many casts. On our return another vehicle had joined ours on the bank with a tent set up behind and two kids fishing land based on the shore. Our enquiry if anything was biting was met with the response that they had caught one trout, a claim quickly corrected to a bream by their father. We packed everything inside the skis ready to go in the morning and made our way back out the track in the fading light. On our return to camp, we left the wagon and strolled down the road to the Waterwheel Tavern for dinner and a frothy with an aim to form a plan for the morning. Unfortunately the data coverage put paid to those plans but the food hit the spot.

Day 2- Main Lake

After breakfast on day two we headed back towards Lakes Entrance to get some phone coverage to load new maps for the days adventure. The plan was to launch from one of the boat ramps in the main lake and do some exploring. When we got close enough to town to load google maps we discovered that access to the boat ramp was down Gully Rd, across the street from the campsite we had left 10 minutes earlier!

Once we found the boat ramp we saw that you can drive right to the waters edge 100m up the shore and unload and launch there. Immediately at the launch there is a short trough followed by a sandbar to cross to get to the channel.

We made our way up the channel towards the point at the end of Hendries Lane. I hopped out of the Stealth and parked it on the point to wade back in and cast into the drop off at the channel. Mozza followed suit and this proved a good idea with the first of the day coming from there again on the wokka special. Not quite the big girl we were after but definitely a start!


We proceeded into the inlet to explore over towards Fisherman’s Landing setting up long drifts to the far shore before resetting and going again. There were a few boats fishing the same area but we all seemed to be managing fish in the 30-40cm bracket. A few more were caught here on a mix of caramel eclair minnows, worms and the good old wokka special. Lunch was beckoning so we headed back to the ramp and packed up for a trip back into Lakes Entrance to load more maps, find a bakery and make a plan for the afternoon session.

After recharging the batteries, and re-applying the sunscreen, we hit the water again launching from the boat ramp area but this time pushing further up towards Mill Point. It didn’t take long to get onto more fish but again we were struggling to get size. Mozza tested out a few scents and pulled in a few fish in the late 30’s and early 40’s.


The best I managed was a 50cm model. We set up on a drift on a very fishy looking drop off when splashes could be heard in the shallows. Small bait fish were jumping clear of the water and skitting along the surface. We figured they had to of been chased by something so we headed that way and began casting into the action. It wasn’t long before the tailor made themselves known with spectacular ariel displays and fighting hard on light gear. Tailor are spiteful buggers -one of them managed to bite a nice hole in Mozza’s environet, but then refused to open his mouth for the lip grips.


We chased the tailor for a little while before pushing up to Mill Point and also trying a few drifts past a very fishy looking snag on the point opposite but it had again gone quiet. We were running out of daylight at this stage so made our way back down towards Hendrie’s picking up another couple of fish on the way. One last stop off on the point where I got my fish early in the morning, but the channel was devoid of life this time round. Last casts were made in the fading light and then we proceeded to track our way back to launch in the dark trying to navigate around the sand bar in the process. We packed up in the headlights of the car and made our way back to the campsite for a quick shower before hitting Lakes Entrance for dinner at the Sports Club  Good coverage meant plans were made for the upper reaches with maps sorted for a crack at the Trident Arm the next morning. The wagon was packed for morning checkout with Sam Newman & Co providing a soundtrack then it was a welcome kip after a long day on the water.


Day 3 -Trident Arm

Day three saw a half hour hike around the lake to the other side to explore the Trident Arm and upper reaches. Again the tracks were navigable in a 2wd with only a couple of larger potholes to navigate. Plenty of wildlife on this side of the lake with large reptiles and frequent wallabies crossing the tracks. The waterside is busy too with pelicans, black swans and crimson rosella making their presence known. I’m not much of a bird watcher, but a few days in a spot like this is good for the soul!


After a fair drive we hit a fork in the trident arm track. We elected to hang the left following the sign for the campground assuming it would be on the water’s edge, but a few minutes later we found out that it is in fact on a cliff with a very steep track down to the water – not doable with a kayak. We tracked back and took the right-hander which turned out to be a trail right down to the waters edge with a where a nice easy launch awaited us.


A change in the water clarity from the other launches led us to a change in tactics pulling out the ‘fools gold’ and ‘smelt’ plastics from the tackle box. The opposite shore from the launch got a few duskies on the board early but again we couldn’t find the big ones. The bream were around in good numbers in the shallows in the inlets with silhouettes scarpering forwards with every stroke of the paddle. Some were hungry though not deterred by 8 and 10lb leaders and they were more than happy to have a crack at 3/0 hooks as they passed, even if they couldn’t grab hold. This one did manage to hook up on a 2/0 jig head.


We explored further afield with Mozza out-fishing me on the duskies. Same lures, same leader, jig head and retrieve so it must have been his wasabi scent that made the difference. The smelt paddletail was his go-to lure for the day while I managed to land both duskies and bream on the fools gold. Overall it made a nice change to explore a new spot and it is safe to say we’ll be back to explore again as we only covered a tiny portion of the whole system.


Tight lines!

Sea Sherpa

NSC’17 The Wrap Up

I returned to work today in a semi-zombified state after what I have to say was one of the most full-on weekends away I’ve had since I can remember. What started as a pie-in-the-sky idea discussed with Maz over coffee on holiday last year quickly snowballed into NSC17, the best fun I’ve had in years, thankfully a sentiment shared by those I got around to catching up with on Sunday morning.

If you build it they will come…   

Being newcomers to comp planning, we brainstormed a list of all of the companies we would have liked to have on board and Maz busied herself emailing and presenting sponsorship packages that echoed the dogged determination of Andy Dufresne trying to get that library in Shawshank Redemption. She did well and managed to entice some key sponsors on board to get the ball rolling.


Meanwhile I was left the task of finalising a location, insurance, permits, contingency plans, safety assessment and all the other fun bits. I settled on North Shore as the venue due to the relative shelter from big swells making the comp more accessible to new entrants with less offshore experience, having easily accessible reef areas in close to the launch. We were lucky to have Henty Bay jump on board as a location for base camp and a boat ramp located within the caravan park allowing entrants to roll out of their cabins/tents straight to the water.



Having a swell time…

The week leading up to the comp gave me a few more grey hairs, checking the long range forecasts waiting for them to come into range. They tended to reverse predictions daily with winds going with and against swell and ranging from 5knts to 25knts. As the long range forecasts became medium and short range, it became apparent that there was a very good chance that we might get not one but 4 days of fish-able weather over the long weekend. My back-up plan of running away to Ningaloo Reef with all of the prizes would have to be put on hold, this thing was going to go ahead!  A mad scramble ensued to get the last few January skis fitted out and delivered. I also had to go and find a jet ski of all things and on arriving home with the ‘rescue vessel’ was duly informed by Maz that her mum had a tracksuit in those same colours back in the eighties! It looks fine in the far off shot she took…


Another entrant was kind enough to pass on this shot:


With all of the necessary gear packed in three cars and two trailers, we headed for Portland on Thursday, arriving in the early afternoon. The excitement built as we drove around town, where yaks could be spotted on top of cars in most of the main streets. We had a meet and greet with the Henty staff, checked in and set up camp. A quick walk around showed that many of the entrants were down and pre-fishing with Kieran nabbing a cracking tuna to get the ball rolling and a few of the Pie Floaters team reporting dropped fish out at Julia Reef. The fish were around and it boded well for a cracking weekend to come!


Friday rolled around and while I was running a few errands around  Portland, the boys were on the water with Tas and Shane showing people how to get onto the fish. The marquee went up on the bluff (Thanks to Hatters for the loan) and people started to file in for the comp briefing. With everybody registered, welcome packs were divvied out and the competition procedure explained. The weather forecast was reviewed and we were on for the morning barring a major shift in the weather between then and 6am. A few of the entrants remained for the demonstration of the safety equipment, while the seasoned pros ventured off to get rigged up and discuss tactics with team-mates.


Comp Day

A picture paints a thousand words and we were lucky enough to have Amber from Sweep images on hand to capture the action on comp day. As teams set up in the pale morning light, keyrings were handed out and the start drew closer…

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6.30 came and 35 keen fishos hit the water in a range of pedal and paddle kayaks. Some opted for a trip out to Julia Reef while others raced to the Anchorage. By the way, hats off to some entrants who paddled between 200km and 300km over the course of the weekend – a solid effort!  A couple of yakkers decided to play the numbers game on the reef with the Dirty Faced Westies and All Show No Go trying their luck on the snapper. A squall rose up over the harbour suggesting some rain might move in over the comp area and a weather update over the VHF informed the field that it might get a little bumpy for 10 minutes but the rain radar showed the showers were due to push inland. Soon after, word came over the radio that GAB was on, as well as requests for someone to deliver him a gaff (with a few expletives thrown in for good measure). Cheater hit the beach looking for aspirin leaving Mal to do the hard yards on the reef for the Mud Brothers. I launched the jet ski to check in on the field, bloody hell those two strokes are loud – four stroke for next year! A hungover ‘McLovin’ in the Dirty Faced Westies was busy untangling three birds nests, none of which were the result of any fish. Scattered catches of snapper and salmon from those on the reef with Iron Horse having already sorted through over 60 pinkies for team All Show No Go, in search of some larger models. Others reported a struggle to find the fish but better conditions on the water after the squall passing with the drift slowing down somewhat. The Pie Floaters had disappeared over the horizon, as had most of the glass crew including the guest member Marto from the Up Sh1T Creek team, who opted to troll with one rod, from the Stealth Toura I had brought down on demo despite it not having any rod holders! The Hobie Get Along Gang were having mixed fortunes with Cruiser reporting a quiet one when I visited, Nello had only caught his rudder and the others were out wide. The Yakeroos were the relative unknowns, hard to locate on the water and the radio silence suggested they hadn’t found the fish but you can never write off Phil…


The time ticked by and the announcements over VHF revealed that there wasn’t long to go. Some of the guys began to hit the beach with reports relayed that Jordo had hooked up and was on his way to Tassie! As the entrants rolled in it was clear that it had been a tough day’s fishing – for some the numbers game on the reef had been the wise decision, while the gamble to go out wide for pelagics and glory made for a bittersweet tale.

As entrants filed up the ramp to sign in and measure their catch a call came in from Shane to report that he probably wouldn’t make it back in time as progress was being hampered by a large tuna. Jordo and Shane were the last two on the water with Jordo’s radio having failed to hold charge. Shane at that point reported that he didn’t have a visual on Jordo leaving me wondering if he had passed the ships at the Anchorage on the way back or was passing customs at Auckland. Tas luckily had a set of binoculars and from the bluff I could see the yellow deck of Jordo’s Kaskazi pushing for the shore. Unfortunately the distance was too great to cover in the time remaining for both of the boys with  Jordo hitting the beach at 1.50pm and Shane a further 20 mins back the road.

The Results

The Individual Challenge Award and Best Catch Award went to Gabriele Meoni who caught a 98cm tuna from his Stealth fibreglass kayak.


Second prize went to Peter Ritchie who caught two snapper and a salmon, showing that a large pelagic fish wasn’t a prerequisite to success. Pete had gone out fishing again after measuring in his fish, but we crossed live to him out on the water to give him the news that he hadn’t come first and his Hobie had in fact been beaten by a Stealth…


Third prize went to Mr Nelson Rouw who caught two snapper and four Adventure Island rudders. Unfortunately the rudders were not on the accepted species list, but the snapper earned him a set of Lockracks, a Fish Chilla bag from Dry Store and a Visor Buff.


Portland man David Webb used his local knowledge of the reefs to nab fourth place.


…and Luke Easton took fifth place much to his own surprise, earning himself a Beachwheelz kayak cart for his efforts.


Special mentions to both Jordan Rouw and Shane Esmore for their cracking catches on the day.  Jordan landed a 19.4kg tuna having paddled 40km on the day and Shane landed a 23kg model as well as a kingfish. Unfortunately both Jordan and Shane did not return to shore within the competition window.



In the Teams Challenge, Iron Horse’s plan to play the numbers game on the reef paid off, even if he had to land over 100 snapper for the day to pull it off. The Team challenge was decided by calculating the team average, giving All Show No Go the first spot on the perpetual Team Challenge trophy with a team average of 11.8. Steady catches from Luke and another Portland local Derrick, helped Team Berley Pro into second place. In the absence of Shane’s tuna on the scorecard, the Get Along Gang had to settle for third spot despite the efforts of Spider for the Dirty Faced Westies. The wooden spoon goes to the Pie Floaters, of whom no-one really expected much, in a cruel turn of events it turned out that unfortunately for them the only South Australian that can catch a fish these days had entered as an independent. They have vowed to return  next year in an attempt to relive their days of former glory, such as the time they lost the State of Origin to the Vics in Port Augusta.

All Show No Go (Team Mirage) 11.8
Up Sh!t Creek With A Paddle (Team Berleypro) 7
Hobie Get Along Gang (Team A.I.) 6.7
Dirty Faced Westies (Team Pink) 4.1
Yakeroos (Team VKA) 4
Mud Brothers (Team Western Port) 2.6
Pie Floaters (Team SA) 0

That about wraps up the North Shore Challenge for this year with only the winner of the photo/video comp yet to be decided. With some cracking photos already in, it will be a hard task to choose a winner. If you want to check out entrant’s photos, search #NSC17 on social media.

Here’s a collection of some of the event photos taken by Amber over at Sweep Images as well as some shots sent my way by the entrants:

I’ll finish with a massive thank you to all involved in the weekend, the entrants, support crew, the sponsors, spectators and those that gave help and advice along the way.

Roll on #NSC18 !

Tight lines,

Sea Sherpa