James Is Back From the Down Under!

James Is Back From the Down Under!

Well here it is!  This is my little story about how our trip to Exmouth, Australia went.  First off, all of you have to realize that no matter how much planning, money or effort you put into a trip, there is always a chance that it will not go your way.  I received a taste of this, on our trip to AU.  Just a warning, I am not gonna sugarcoat it for you in the beginning, but read through and it gets better.

We had several wrenches thrown into the works, while trying to get there.  The most major was the Chilean ash cloud.  Our flight from LAX to Sydney was canceled without notice when we landed in LAX.  We spend a couple days in the Hilton before the flight restrictions were lifted.  This cut into our valuable fishing time.  3 more flights later we arrived in Exmouth and were greeted with torrential winds and dumping buckets of rain.  Out of the 7 days we were supposed to fish, we really only fished for 2.  We had lots of time to eat junk food, read fishing magazines, polish off a couple bottles of jack and bitch about our bad luck.

The fishing was and I quote from our guide Brett, “sh@t”.  The winds were wrong, the rain kept coming, the tides were off and the visibility was bad.  Areas in Australia were seeing record rainfall (weird because it is a desert in the middle of their dry season).  A couple days into the trip our guide told us that we were on his “black list”.  He thought we were such bad luck, that we were not allowed to come back (I hope he was joking).  We were his cursed clients, we were blamed for flat tires, broken GPS units, lost fish, bad weather and just plain bad luck.  All things I laugh about know, but felt like a dark cloud above us while we were there.

A flat in the middle of no where!

Now that I have vented about the negatives, what about some positive.  We did catch some fish and it was an incredible experience.  The people are wonderful and the land is something I have never seen before.   Ya, the fishing was rough, but I still had a great time.  When a trip goes south, you have to look at the entire experience and get as much out of it as possible.  I do this with my camera.  There is a chance that I will never get to see Australia ever again, so I did my best to make the most of it.  I took the picture above in our guides lowest moment of the trip.  We launched the boat in the morning and had a windy day of fishing, only to come back to a NEW flat tire.  Despite all of the moaning and groaning, I took some photos (that got me out of helping with the greasy tire).  During the moment, they all thought I was crazy, but it turned out to be one of my favorite photos.  My uncles face says it all.

Cousin Clayton with a Golden Trevally

For those of you who have never caught a trevally before, I must tell you….they DON’T give up.  These fish have incredible strength and stamina.  When most tarpon, bonefish or permit give up, a trevally keeps going.  The guides down there hate them, because of their brute force, rod snapping tendencies and unbreakable will.  This is why I love them!   They take screaming runs and once you get them close, they bulldog it out.  One cool fish I think.

Our guide, Brett, was one cool dude.  He had his act together and did his best to put us on fish.  I have been around many guides over the years and try to take away a little for myself from all of the good ones.  One of the things I loved about Brett, is that he told you like it is, but not in a rude way.  He was a real straight shooter, and an interesting guy non the less.  Something that makes enduring a rough trip, just a little bit easier.

My “small” bonefish

The bonefishing was way off.  The flats were cloudy and the weather kept us from getting there.  We were able to bonefish for about 4 hours on only one day and I was luck to even get a fly on one.  Once I did, it was the smallest bonefish the guide has seen down there in years….of course.  But, a small bonefish in Australia is still a good bonefish.  He still gave up a tussle and was a welcomed sight for me.

Morning on the Jetty

Now let me tell you something about the sunrises in AU.  They are sick!  I haven’t ever seen anything like them.  Some mornings were better than others, but they were all breathtaking.  I took several pics of sunrises that I have never seen anywhere else in the world.

I was also able to experience one of the fastest fish that swim, the Kingfish or also known as a King Mackerel.  I hooked this fish blind casting on a day were were not able to fish the flats.  Once I laid into him, he took off so fast I thought my reel was going to spontaneously combust!  I saw 100 yards of backing disappear in 9.8 seconds.  After a couple minutes he pushed up the speed even more, then with no warning, a 10 foot shark blasted him out of the air.  I watched the shark send the mackerel 5 feet into the air and is was spinning like a boomarang.  When it came back down, the shark tool one bite and 20lbs of mackerel went down his throat.  I still had something on the line, so I cracked all my backing and fly line back in (which took forever!) and all I had to show for it was a bloody mackerel head.

Nice half of a Kingfish

All in all it was a good trip.  You always wish it could be better, but any day fish is a good day.  Especially in a wild new place that you have never seen before.

It’s time to nail down your 2024 fly fishing trip with Minturn Anglers.

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Justin Nolan

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