Fly Fishing Middle Harbour on a Hobie Outback

Fly Fishing Middle Harbour on a Hobie Outback

After a few still water, bass outings, I decided it was time to take my kayak out onto the harbour in search of some larger saltwater fish. My plan was to spend the early hours looking for pelagics, specifically kingfish, in deeper water, and then to hunt a few bream or flathead if the going got tough.

When I woke up the weather was less than ideal (from a human perspective), and I was forced to load my kayak onto the roof in the pouring rain. As a result I waited for daylight, not wanting to deal with the dark and rain, and therefore only ended up launching just after 8am with a hot cup of coffee in the Hobie’s drink holder.

I chose to launch at the Tunks Park Boat Ramp, only because it was the closest to my house, and seemed as good a place as any to start. The boat ramp itself was fantastic, with a fair amount of free parking, boat cleaning facilities, toilets, and lots of greenery. I got the feeling that, due to the weather, the ramp was quieter than usual, which was great for me as I got to unload the ‘yak close to the water.

Five minutes after launching I realised I’d forgotten my sunglasses, and spent another 5 minutes trying to decide whether to turn back or not. I didn’t need the glasses thanks to the thick cloud cover, but I always prefer having them on for safety purposes. So I bit the bullet and turned around, and I’m thankful that I did as I ran into another kayak fisherman busy launching his Hobie. We paddled out together, having a good chat, and he was kind enough to give me a few tips before we parted ways.

I was quickly lured away from my initial plan (to target pelagics) by a beautiful looking bay, surrounded by structure, with a rusted shipwreck guarding the entrance. I tried a few techniques, fishing the bottom with a 9 weight and an intermediate line, as well as fishing the surface with a 7 weight, floating line, and a variety of small poppers. Sadly, despite putting in the effort, I only got one bump on the surface from what I think was a small whiting.

On the upside, the bay was immensely picturesque, and I spent a lot of time enjoying the multitude of rays casually cruising the bottom (also disinterested in my fly).

Eventually I decided to ditch the bay and head back out to deeper water in search of kingfish. I ran back into the other kayak fisherman, who called me over as he’d just landed a rat king of around 65cms.

According to his sounder the fish were sitting close to the bottom, which was less than ideal for me as my intermediate line was slinking incredibly slowly, making it difficult for me to get the fly down to the fish. After giving it a good go I decided to give spinning a bash, and threw out a lure which I knew would get deeper down. I immediately had a few follows (back to the boat), none of which resulted in a hook-up. Being new to lure fishing I have no idea whether the fish were being selective, or whether I was doing something incorrectly, such as retrieving too quickly or slowly, or not pausing during the retrieve. I did try to vary things up, but it was not to be.

After a while I stopped getting follows and therefore decided to do a little exploring. I paddled out of Willoughby Bay, around the headland, and into Sailor’s Bay. It was a beautiful paddle, but sadly what I found in the next bay was not what I was hoping for. The water was exceptionally dirty and was littered with all sorted of debris from the recent fires and flooding. On multiple occasions my fins hit large submerged logs, giving me a massive fright, but thankfully surviving the impact. I fished a few promising areas in Sailor’s Bay before deciding that the right thing to do was to head back to the cleaner water (and school of small kingfish).

When I finally got back the fish has sadly departed and, since the sun was getting high in the sky, decided it was time to head home. Despite not catching anything, and paddling well over 15kms, I learned a lot of important lessons from my first day out on the harbour. Firstly, despite the water being discoloured, I was not in the least bit concerned about sharks, which was great news for future trips. Secondly, the kingfish are easier to find on a kayak. And thirdly, I need a fish finder, and a fly line that gets down a LOT faster. So in summary, it was a school day, and I’ll be back for revenge.