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Off the beaten track
  |  First Published: April 2012



NOTES

The best thing about going fishing for me is getting off the beaten track.

Fishing quiet waters generally takes a bit more effort as you usually have to go a bit bush. Over the years I have built up my 4WD and camping gear to tackle the terrain that comes with this type of fishing and I have compiled some of the essential, important and nice-to-haves of 4WD fishing.

4WD gear

Off road driving can be fun, but dangerous. Nevertheless, with a little bit of care, patience and the right gear, then the danger can be reduced significantly.

My 4WD has been set up over the years to match the type of terrain and style of camping and fishing I encounter most frequently. The type of terrain is generally soft sand on the beach or gravel and mud in the bush. I tend to stay well out of the mud holes as I only have standard suspension and all terrain tyres, but a little brown goop on the car is inevitable.

The most important element to off road driving is the tyres, and tyre pressure. A good set of all terrains or even some mud terrain tyres will get you where you need to go better than any other addition you can make. As a minimum when out in the bush you should be able to adjust the pressure of your tyres. This will save you if you get stuck in some mud or your tyres are slipping on loose gravel.

Another key item is the humble snatch strap. If your tyres fail, a mate or kind passerby can always give you a little pull to help you back on your way. But for major treks you can’t go past a quality strong winch. If no one is around to help you can at least put a trunk protector around a tree hook up and pull yourself out.

A bullbar not only provides the vehicle with frontal protection from animal, tree or other vehicle strikes but it is also a functional safety item. With a reliable winch mounted on the bullbar and some safety equipment, an off road vehicle can be confident that if it gets stuck out on the tracks alone, you can at least attempt a self-recovery. Bullbars also provide you with a place to mount a set of driving lights and an aerial for the UHF radio.

After a few trips taking the 12V fridge, I soon got sick of taking it in and out of the car to open the lid so I knocked up rear fridge slide/drawer unit out of ply and carpet. The fridge slide allows me to pull out the fridge all the way for full access. The drawer provides convenient space for recovery gear and food that doesn’t need to be refrigerated.

I have recently installed a DP CHIP in my car, which brings the stock 3L diesel motor more into line with what you should be expecting out of a newer model diesel. The added power I have is awesome, especially when towing a boat or camper trailer. Better still is the ability to adjust the power settings down a notch if not towing. I have found this tends to get me a little more out of a tank than the standard motor.

Camping gear

Our camping locations differ widely, and our versions of accommodation vary to match. Usually we take the swags and camp under the stars for overnighters. We take two single, three pole swags when the dog comes; he gets his own Maxie Swag dog swag to camp in. For longer stays, we use the camper trailer. This gives more space and allows for a few more creature comforts, like a bed that is off the ground.

One can’t-do-without addition I have made to the 4WD is the Helton hot shower unit. This unit allows you to hook up a pump, shower rose and water supply and gives you steaming hot water for showering. This unit gets a workout no matter what type of camping we do, especially when I’ve been out fishing all day.

Sleeping arrangements are horses for courses, what works for us may not be suitable for others. Not everybody can sleep in a swag, especially if it’s raining and blowing. I find the best thing to do is get gear that makes the other half comfortable and you’re set.

Fishing gear

I enjoy the thrill of the fight when fishing more than taking home a bucket of fish, so my fishing gear is usually light gear and lures. Unless I’m after a feed of flatty then I might take out the odd pilchard.

If I’m targeting bass or saratoga I generally use a two-piece Shimano Starlo Stix pro split butt 2-4kg stick and a Shimano Sahara 1000 spinning reel. I will usually take out two rods and reels to save changing lures too often, so my backup kit is a fun micro-light Shakespeare 1-2kg rod and Shimano Sienna 1000 reel. This gear is light and cheap enough to take through bush without worrying too much about damaging the expensive stuff.

I have an assortment of metal blade lures and change up to anything ranging from poppers and all assortments of floating soft plastics from frogs to cicadas.

Where the bush is too thick to walk through I like to take out the kayak and paddle from snag to snag. Salt water creeks are generally wider and less obstructed, making kayaking a lot easier.

When I fish the skinny salt waterways I generally target mangrove jack. The gear I use is beefed up a little to handle their aggressiveness. I use a stiff Wilson one-piece 2-6kg rod with a Shimano Sahara 2500 model. I back this up with a one-piece Shimano Raider II Barra rod and Abu Garcia 5600 overhead reel.

Your fishing gear needs protection out in these environments. I always pack mine away in rod tubes: a home-made 8’ PVC pipe with screw caps for the one-piece rods and a smaller Mojiko Tackle travel tube for the two-piece rods. Rod tubes save your rods from damage out in the bush and stops you worrying about exposed rods on the roof, or loose rods in the car, getting damaged.

Upgrading to this equipment has allowed me to access some great camping, off road driving and, most importantly, some amazing untouched fishing areas.

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