The ‘Four Rod Day’!
  |  First Published: May 2004

THE FLYFISHING this season in Weipa has varied from great to sensational, particularly along the coast and offshore. All of my flyfishing clients have boarded the plane south with big smiles and huge wraps for what is arguably the north’s premier flyfishing destination.

The Four Rod Day is NOT a typical example of a fishing day in Weipa! At least, it’s a typical day in terms of the fish encountered but not in the tackle mortality department! On with the story…

The two flyfishing clients were father and son, dad having some trout experience, the son a raw beginner. Each sported two outfits, an 8wt with intermediate line and heavier 10wt or 11wt with sinking line. By the end of the second day both had caught their share of fish, with the constant action helping the son progress his casting ability from poor to excellent. So, by the start of their third and final day, I was ready to introduce them to some of the local heavyweights.

In near-perfect weather we found the longtails busting baitfish just outside of the river mouth. The fish were difficult to approach but the boys were casting well enough to maximize their chances. Dad was the first to stick a hook into one of the speedsters.

Your first tuna always seems like it will never get to the boat but this one eventually found the net, was photographed and released. Dad hooked up again, more confident now that he had landed his first one. The first of those ‘cracks’ you don’t want to hear came as the fish dived close to the boat.

The top-of-the-range rod had turned from four to five pieces – not a pretty sight. The fish was hand-lined aboard and the damage examined. The rod had busted just below the second join.

Dad pulled his heavy rod out and about a dozen casts later there was another sharp snap and the tip folded over about 5cm from the end. The day was not shaping up well on the tackle front.

The tuna disappeared at this point so we set sail south for Boyd Bay where there had been plenty of action earlier in the week. Leaping silver bodies, diving gulls and lots of white water greeted us when we arrived in the area.

Dad was now using son’s second rod and, before long, son had his first couple of tuna and dad had another tuna to the boat without further mishap. Somewhere at about tuna number seven, just as the boys were really getting into the tuna shuffle, the third rod collapsed, followed shortly after by number four.

What a dilemma! Four rods down and tuna everywhere. We could have broken out the baitcasters but flyfishing is so much more fun. Out came the knife, the super glue and a bit of ingenuity borne of 12 years as a professional rod builder/repairer.

I managed to get the tip off the rod missing a couple of centimetres, then pared down and re-attached it to the end of the break. It didn’t look all that flash but ended up getting us through the rest of the day.

The second serviceable rod took a fair bit of to-ing and fro-ing but after removing a stripping guide, I managed to fit the top two pieces of one rod to the top two pieces of another. We were apprehensive about the casting ability of the hybrid but, when loaded with one of the intermediate lines, it cast quite acceptably.

Both of the doctored rods then landed another tuna or two before we headed off in search of other species. From memory, quite a number of small to medium sized reef and trevally species were landed on the outfits that afternoon.

In spite of stepping off the boat with a bundle of rod pieces well in excess of the number they had carried out that morning, dad and son were upbeat and extremely pleased with their Weipa efforts. They’d enhanced their saltwater flyfishing skills and had the scars to prove it.

The four rod day? Well, it’s a ‘record’ I’d rather forget, but it happened and is worth recounting. Whether due to bad luck, angler or rod construction failure, I’m not speculating as it was more probably a combination of both – particularly when you see the bends some flyfishers put in their rods and get away with!

Remember, keep your fly rod bent – but not too far!

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