Escaping Winter to Chase Permit and Tuskfish
For most of us at Tom’s Outdoors, winter means snow and all the fun and adventure that comes with it. However, for me (Mickey), that means time to run away to somewhere warm until the snow melts and becomes more useful to me, as water. This year I returned to North Queensland, with my new boat and some friends in tow. Our aim was to get out and about on the tropical sand flats chasing Permit and Tuskfish and anything else that swam our way.
My trusty guide rig was packed to the brim (we stole everyone's summer gear at the shop as they wouldn’t be needing it) and we made the 2000 kilometre odd trip in just a couple of days. Running away from -5 degrees and snowfall to white sandy beaches and t-shirt weather. We had a few weeks to explore, fish and generally lay about in the sun.
Paddy, Henry and I got to work setting up a basecamp within sight of one of the flats that we would be haunting for the next week or so and got to work on a game plan. The fish we were primarily targeting on the flats liked rising tides so we aimed to chase the trophy species during the middle of the day. Early mornings were devoted to hunting reef fish and pelagic species offshore, hoping to subsist off them for most of the trip.
Our first few days were spent exploring new areas. We had a few memorable hits and misses while we got to know the area and started to understand where we had to be and when to succeed. That's one of the best things about figuring out a new area with friends. Building up those little bits of information garnered from the days fishing and talking it over in the evening. Slowly building up a bigger picture that eventually leads to success.
The crews first big win on the sand flats was a big Permit on a sandlot that we worked together to stalk and then catch on a Flexo Crab. Permit are a beautiful silver fish with bright yellow fins. They fight extremely hard and are even harder to fool with a fly, so we were pretty pumped to have gotten this fish to the boat as our first proper fish for the trip. Celebrating with beers by the fire is mandatory in Queensland. The little beach party we had that night will go down as one of the most fun nights that a bunch of trout bums from the Snowies have ever had north of Brisbane.
Next, the target species was a Tuskfish, also known as the 'Blue Tractor.' They are one of the most enigmatic and beautiful fish that you can catch on fly in the salt. We had plenty of shots at them and seen, even more, they glow blue and are visible from a mile away. However, they are as spooky as any fish that swims and so far, they had eluded us. Unfortunately, it was time for the boys had to head home, so I was left to get it done by myself.
And of course, the next day, I was presented with the perfect shot. The Tusky was cruising down the flat in 2 feet of water, leisurely eating crabs off the bottom. I presented a crab imitation a few meters in front and was hooked up and bending my 9wt in no time. I was stoked to have landed that Blue Blob, although I do wish the guys had been there to see it. The good thing is, there is always next winter.
- Written by Mickey Finn