A charter operator can only be as good as his boat. This is the shop front, the work place, the heart and soul of any good day out on the water.
That is why it is fundamental to any charter to have a boat that delivers a great experience to clients in all fishing conditions in comfort and safety.
One of Tasmania’s best and busiest charter operators is Michael Haley, of Gone Fishing Charters. Michael primarily operates in Georges Bay at St Helens, on the north east coast of Tasmania. Not only based in Tasmania, Michael has also hitched his boat up to the ‘cruiser and headed north to Darwin to charter in the dry season up there.
Michael has been chartering for well over 15 years, and in that time has had several boats, but none like his current Bar Crusher.
Georges Bay is like a miniature Port Phillip in Victoria; it has a tight opening to the sea with a broad expanse of water inshore. The marine environment of Georges Bay is exceptional; a total ban on netting and the exclusion of all commercial scale-fishing has transformed this water into one of the best recreational fishing systems in Australia.
At around 10km from the township of St Helens to the bar way and about 4km at the widest point and up to 20m deep, it is a complex waterway surrounded by shallow flats and intersected by a channel with a brisk current.
Combined with a strong seaside wind influence there is plenty of scope for very choppy conditions, and in summer you can count on the sea breeze popping up 1m waves in quick time. While early mornings can be quite idyllic, come lunchtime and the sea breeze can turn things around pretty quickly.
This doesn’t change the fishing at all of course, but it does require the use of a boat with enough rough water capacity to maximise the fishing opportunities.
Where else in Australia can you tangle with big bream, thumping trevally, yellowtail kingfish, pinkie snapper, large King George whiting, sizeable flathead, whopping salmon and tailor and huge garfish within 4km? Add to that tuna, marlin and abundant reef species just outside the bar way and anyone can quickly recognise the potential of this place given the boat to exploit it.
Three years ago Michael moved into a Bar Crusher, specifically the 670 XS. This side console boat has transformed the way Michael operates his charter business. In previous boats work has been restricted to the bays and estuaries along the east coast, from Ansons Bay down to the Swan River at Swansea.
With the 670 XS he can easily cross the bar at St Helens and fish for reef species and game fish and then fish the shallow flats in Georges Bay for bream and whiting.
In fact, so good is this boat that Michael has landed a marlin in it while in the Northern Territory, a 90kg+ southern bluefin tuna off Eaglehawk Neck in Tasmania and plenty of yellowtail kingfish and striped trumpeter offshore from St Helens. Such is the versatility that offshore and bay species can be successfully targeted in the one charter.
So what does Michael have to say about this boat?
“I do around 230 days a year in this boat – that is nearly 700 days on the water since I got it. These boats are tough and will never break, even with the sea miles I do in rough water and the distances covered on rough roads.”
“The deep V at the front means that choppy water and bar ways are negotiated without that old slam-bang of other boats I’ve had.
“The real testimonial is the comfort of my clients. They get in my boat to catch fish, and this boat has plenty of room for four anglers and gear. That way they concentrate only on the fishing and not anything else – this boat delivers an awesome experience.
“Some of my clients are advanced in years, and the high coaming height means that they are confident in this boat – they aren’t always holding on to something as the height of the sides is such that they feel at ease all the time. The smooth ride, even in quite rough conditions, is fantastic”
“It is very stable at rest, which is fundamental to client comfort but is extremely capable in rough water, which adds to the comfort factor on the water.
“In this boat I can do a half day bay charter in the morning, and if conditions are right we can slip out to the reef offshore and get some striped trumpeter and king flathead. Then we can come back into the bay and drift the shallow flats for bream or anchor up for a King George whiting. I’ve never had a boat that can cross over into so many different applications.”
It is also the small, yet important features of the Bar Crusher that Michael finds invaluable. As a charter operator he is launching and retrieving more times in a week than most do in a year, and the Bar Catch and specifically designed and built trailer makes this necessary task much easier and quicker, especially when the ramp is busy.
The Quickflow water Ballast system is also great for ensuring a stable experience at rest. This innovation allows for water to flood a purpose built compartment under the boat and give additional stability in choppy conditions. It simply empties when the boat moves onto the plane.
But the biggest question for Michael is what his next boat will be.
“Without doubt it will be another Bar Crusher – I’m not sure which model yet, it might be the next size up, or I might get a Hard Top or a Walk Around, but with this sort of versatility I simply can’t go past a Bar Crusher”.
Michael Haley guides year round on Georges Bay and can be contacted on 0419 353 041, or through his web site www.breamfishing.com.au.Reads: 2962