I reckon one angler can spot another a mile off. That explains why I was instantly drawn (in a very manly way of course) to Ashley Bradnam at a recent Channel Seven function.
It turns out that Ash is part of Brisbane radio Nova 106.9’s breakfast team, and everyone who listens to his show knows he’s an avid angler. This bloke keeps a scale of the biggest barramundi he’s ever caught (a 91cm fish) in his wallet, and he reckons it will stay there until he can replace it with one from a metre barra.
Ash doesn’t claim to be the greatest angler in the world; in fact some of his best stories are about when things have gone wrong.
“I remember the first time that I bought myself a new tinny,” says Ash.
“I went fishing up at River Heads, and I was screaming up River Heads and I was about an hour and a half up the river. I’d put the crab pots out when the motor came just straight off the back of the boat, it hadn’t been bolted on, and I was literally waiting there for two and a half hours ‘til a pro crabber came along. First thing he said to me - mate you should have bolted your motor on.”
Anyway, as you can imagine our conversation that first night was monopolised by fishing talk, and I ended up inviting him to join me on a trip for Creek to Coast.
We met bright and early at the William Gunn Jetty at Manly and joined legendary local charter operator John Palermo and a half dozen other anglers on John’s 40ft cat named Nitro.
Light winds and flat seas meant that in no time we were at the bait grounds outside Moreton Island, joined by a flotilla of other smaller boats that were making the most of perfect conditions.
With a bait tank bursting with yakkas and slimy mackerel which are fantastic baits for amberjack, yellowtail kingfish and snapper. We then headed southeast about 9nm to one of John’s favourite pinnacles. It isn’t very wide, but rises from 85m to 79m, and the fish life sitting on top of it is amazing.
We fished the live baits with a paternoster or dropper rig, to ensure they stayed well off the bottom and presented themselves right in front of the fish.
John’s crew fish 60lb mono and I was handed a Shimano Tekota level wind and a Shimano Back-Bone series rod.
Ash and I were positioned at the stern, and John never anchors, he just stays up in the tower on the throttles and continually works the boat so everyone on board has the best opportunity to catch a fish. He really is a pleasure to watch in action.
Ash was first to hit the sea floor and my line was still rocketing down when he yelled out that he was already on.
It’s a bit of a mission to wind in, in this depth of water, but Ash started to win his battle just as my yakka showed signs of nervousness. Some good pump and wind action ensured Ash landed a yellowtail kingfish. Not bad for a couple of minutes work.
My efforts resulted in a trag jew and everyone else on the boat not landing a fish of one sort or another from that bommie.
John then called for a move, and we headed further north to another patch of ground in about 90m of water. That meant we had a serious amount of line out – in fact one of the deckies equated it to dragging a fish the full length of a footy field.
This time I opted to stay with the dropper rig and a whole pilchard but Ash went for a running ball sinker rig for a snapper.
Both rigs paid dividends, but it was Ash who was rewarded with a pinkish tinge and flick of blue coming up from the depths, as he wound a 40cm snapper to the surface.
With an ice box thick with pearl perch, trag jew, yellowtail kingfish, amberjack and snapper and with the wind starting to pick up, we decided to call it quits and head home.
No record breaking scales for the wallet today, but Ash and I are already talking about heading back out again together with John in August when the snapper fishing season really hits its straps.
For more information on John Palermo Charters phone 0407 127 405.Reads: 4603