Sluggish Dawson Toga Hunt w/ video links

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Ads22
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Sluggish Dawson Toga Hunt w/ video links

#1 Post by Ads22 » Sun Feb 10, 2019 6:57 pm

Session one for my Moura trip: https://youtu.be/57nsHgn51jo

Session two for my Moura trip: https://youtu.be/tKbjnNO-zyE

This weekend I headed out of Rocky to chase some freshwater fish. With the Yak Hunters Qld Fish of the Month being Saratoga, I figured it would be a good chance to both catch a Saratoga (an itch I've been keen to scratch) and enter one of the FOM comps, as many of the monthly competitions have fish not common, or not common in decent size, in the local area for me.

I know that the Dawson is said to hold big Toga and I have seen recent pics of 90+ models, so was hoping I could get lucky! It was also a good chance to get some head space. After rounding off some chores and preparing a salad to go with dinner I ordered to arrive at home (to save my wife cooking), I headed out of town around 1pm. This got me to Moura Apex Park on the Dawson River just on 3pm. I quickly set about getting the tent organised at the top of the hill right next to the boat ramp and removing the 30lb leader from my Tatula and replacing it with a 12lb.
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Rolling down the hill and launching at 4pm, I was ready to catch some Saratoga! The coast had been very windy, another factor in my heading out of town, and there was a little bit of wind out here, too. However, it was forecast to drop. This it did but channelling up the river in some places still made it a little less desirable.

It must be said, the Dawson River at Moura is a cracking stretch of water. It has apparently dirtied up again recently while the water level had dropped, but there was still some clarity. Having reviewed some under water shots, it is still a little murky, though. I started immediately upstream of the ramp casting a spinnerbait on the new travel rod, a 5’10” Abu Garcia Veritas baitcaster 5-10kg. It is similar to the Pflueger Trion travel rods in that it comes with 5 pieces, for a 3-piece setup – so two mid-pieces and two tips. I had it set with a moderate fast mid and the lighter tip. What I find interesting with this rod is the lure rating of 7-72g, so this could be useful throwing bigger baits for Barra or Cod if it holds true. Time will tell!

The first spinner I used I suspected to be a bit rusty to function well, and so it was, replacing it after a few casts. The banks held ample structure to cast around and I peppered the edges with casts for an hour or so, switching sides a short way up the river. My lighter line on was a 5lb/8lb combo that I left unchanged and used to flick small hard bodies like the Atomic Shad 50 deep.

Right on 45 minutes on the water I received a hit on a cast under a tree at the opening to an irrigation pumping inlet. Thinking it had missed, I raised the rod tip and it took off. Such a subtle nudge but the hooks had stuck, despite not having changed them in some time. The Shad 50 in Ghost Pearl Tiger is one of my most used lures. The fish fought deep to begin, and just as I was thinking it might be a catfish swimming towards me, I saw a flash of flat silver sides and knew I had hooked my first Saratoga. Now it just needed to stay hooked. An aerial leap at close quarters didn’t manage to throw the hooks and I backed off the pressure a little to protect the light leader. It was a decent battle to keep the fish away from the sticks but I managed to land the fish, a neat 57cm Saratoga that I tagged a released.
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This wasn’t enough to be a winner, so I got back to the task of trying to catch a bigg’un! I worked a couple of kilometres upstream casting a snags and out into the open, trying a variety of lures and retrieves but just couldn’t find another. As the light lowered, I tried a few surface lures and was still unable to attract enough attention for even a close follow. And so, happy to at least have one reach the net, I trolled my way back in the dark hoping a fish would jump on. Unfortunately, the only jumping that occurred was from me when I spooked a number of big Toga cruising out in the middle in the blackness. Getting off the water around 8pm, I downloaded the videos from the camera and had my Jatz and tinned tuna, some almonds and a couple of Lazy Yak’s for dinner. It was soon bed time, ready for an early launch Saturday morning.
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The night’s sleep wasn’t too bad and when the alarm went, it didn’t take long to be dressed and have the yak down at the water’s edge. It was just after 5am and I was on the water, just ticking along the edge slowly while I waited for Brian (a local yakker that fishes the river a few times a week) to turn up. It was only 7 minutes on the water and I could hear Brian getting ready to launch behind me while chatting to a boaty when I got my first surface hit on a lure I had previously found, a River2Sea Bubble Pop. The fish went hard and being thick in the structure, I struggled to control it as it went to the air, revealing a handy sized Saratoga. With adrenaline running through my veins, I worked harder then bang! The leader snapped. An 8lb leader was not an ideal choice for this type of fishing! Next trip it may be 12 or 15lb.
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I re-tied the leader and flicked the next cast, an Atomic Hardz Pop 50 to the cover of some twigs as they touched the water, where it was hit at the first twitch, without hook up. I tried again and then pushed on through the next lot of wood when Brian met up with me. He gave me a run down of what has been working and what he has been using to catch fish. Thankfully, small hard body minnows were on the money this week. He was on a limited schedule on the water, so headed off upstream toward, while I pushed to the opposite side where I had seen repeated surface hits.

After a few casts on the other side, I saw a fish emerge from the water between a fork. I had cast either side a few times already, so settled to put a cast straight through the middle. The cast landed a few feet past the original splash, then a couple of little pops and a pause on top of the log saw a hit, then again and I was on. The fish swam for the clear and rounder my bow. I held the line taught without over fighting when the hooks pulled. I sent the lure straight back in but couldn’t entice another hit. Two hook-ups, two lost fish.

I kept working upstream along this edge and watched a big swirl chase a quickly retrieved lure, and a couple of minutes later was hit again without hook-up. It was becoming challenging, with some attention present at least, but not being able to land a fish, but I persisted. Reaching the corner of the irrigation inlet, I sent a couple of casts up under the trees and was woken from a daze by a good hit. I slowly popped and rested the lure as I drew it out and the fish followed it out perhaps 15 metres before hitting it again, and again. But the hooks still didn’t hit their mark. Still to land a fish, I decided to push quickly up river and saw boaty flicking away in his boat in the distance; glassy water reflecting the sunrise. As I passed, I stopped and had a chat. He fishes the Dawson regularly and was finding the going tough, too. He had landed two small Saratoga, sub-45cm.
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I continued upstream on the left side again and finally came upon a fish. A cast up close to the bank was hit shortly after landing and took off hard. The line hitting the water made little circles during the run, revealing a likely catfish on a soft plastic with a jig spinner. And so it was, a little catty came to the yak. It wasn’t the target, but at least I had landed something.

About now I reached a little jetty and crossed path with Brian, who was getting ready to head off to work. After chatting for a bit, he set off and I started flicking again with the jig spinner. Within a few casts, I was on. A feisty little Toga went to the air as I called to Brian. He turned to come and celebrate with me as I landed a nice 53cm Saratoga. My first landed target fish for the day. A few pictures, a tag and the fish was swimming once again.
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As Brian headed off again, I worked up to the pumping station jetty, then switched sides and started heading back downstream. It had been a few minutes of standing and casting when Boaty came into sight heading back upstream in the boat. As he approached, I sat on the tackle pod and cast close to a submerged tree, hooking up. Just as I felt I was getting some control, and after a little shout out to celebrate, the hooks pulled. The day had showed promise, but it just wasn’t quite happening today.
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Another chat with Boaty, who had picked up another Toga, and a massive catfish, then I headed slowly back downstream. I switched over to the baitcaster and began to flick around a Hell Yeah Finesse Chatterbait. It was a Gudgeon colour, but I had changed out the damaged plastic and added a stinger. A cast tight against the base of a tree on the bank received a brief hook-up. I followed with another cast into the snag, then gave it a rest for a few casts. Having another go, I was perhaps half way back to the kayak and paused to check the tip-piece attachment on the rod, then hooked up when I tightened the line again. A quick little fight ensued with my first Central Queensland Yellowbelly. It was being chased by a large catfish that was perhaps twice its size. I netted the fish quickly. It measured 38cm and received a tag before returning it to the water. These chatterbaits feel awesome in the water! At a slow crawl they vibrate like crazy!
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I turned around soon afterwards and saw a dead Saratoga floating on the surface. I checked it over quickly, a 53cm model, the same class as what I had recently landed. It was a mere three minutes later when I came up tight again on a cast tight against the bank. I drew the chatterbait out from the edge and paused adjacent to a submerged stick right near the kayak when the fish hit and took off. With the fish hitting at close quarters, it fluttered around under the surface for a little, before taking to the air only a few feet from the tip of the rod. Steering the fish away from the structure followed by a little little patience, I led the fish into the net. My second Saratoga for the morning, this one went 55cm. A measure, picture and tag and it, too, was released.
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Still drifting downstream, I soon found another Saratoga on the chatterbait. Crawling the lure from a cast almost onto the bank, it lure was hit two thirds of the way back to the yak. This was a short fight as this fish, too, was chased by a big catfish. I couldn’t work out if it was chasing the lure or the fish. Either way, I hauled the fish into the net quickly, still a quite green. This one went 49cm.
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I fished on with the chatterbait then hooked a branch. Thinking it was lost, I paddled over and found it released easily. I then lost it a few minutes later when a cast against a stump was hit hard. I thumbed the spool on reflex from the big hit and the 12lb leader snapped. I don’t know what the fish was, but the hit leads me to think either big Catfish or Barramundi, probably the former, but wishing the latter. I think I’ll be replacing this one in an order again soon!

I soon changed over to a Rapala Jack Deep and started casting the lighter diving lure around the stumps on the opposite side of the river while drifting the Atomic Shad 50 out the back. I watched as the lure rounded the stump and was subsequently chased by a smaller Toga. I tried to repeat the attention without luck then a short distance along the row of trees, the drifted Atomic was hit in the immediate vicinity of the last follow. I still had my other lure out, so had to manage the fish a bit carefully but navigated another 49cm Saratoga into the net. It had been tougher than anticipated, but four Saratoga for the day had made it worth the effort.
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I fished along the edges as I headed back but the day on the Dawson had been made already. No more fish came to the party, so I packed up, had a feed and headed off. Before I went home, I drove out of town and found a crossing 20km from town for a quick look. There were Catfish in the 60-70cm range huddled in the opening of a culvert hammering bait. I quickly flicked a lure only to bust off on the 12lb – don’t fight big catties on such light gear! I then launched for a quick explore downstream of the crossing. It’s shallow at the start, but drops out into some deeper holes pushing 3-4 metres (in dry conditions). I managed one catfish on spinnerbait and dropped a couple, one of them taking the tail of the plastic along with the stinger. I also got to watch a few lizards getting around in the water, pretty cool little creatures! I would be keen to re-visit this spot in the future. There would be Saratoga somewhere along this stretch amongst the catfish, but I reckon a paddle from here to the Moura weir (about 16km) could be quite a journey with the prospect of Saratoga along the whole stretch. If anyone is keen on a trip to Moura, seriously consider it. And let me know, I may just swing back out there to join in the fun! And if you haven't caught one, it's a great chance for your first Saratoga!

I'm not sure where my next session will take me, as this depends on time and weather. But until then, cheers and happy fishing!

Adam
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Last edited by Ads22 on Tue Apr 09, 2019 12:42 am, edited 3 times in total.
Yak PBs
Estuary Cod 50cm; Mangrove Jack 49cm; Barra 108cm; Flathead - dusky 62cm; Flathead - bartail 51cm; Flounder 28cm; Forktail Catfish 60cm; Bream 32cm, Sand whiting 30cm; Striped Butterfish/Scat 20cm; Barred Javelin 47cm; Bull Shark 80cm; Queenfish 103cm; Tarpon 60cm; Golden Perch 47cm; Estuary Perch 33cm; Saratoga 72cm; Leathery Grunter 43cm.

Paulioq
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Re: Sluggish Dawson Toga Hunt

#2 Post by Paulioq » Sun Feb 10, 2019 8:40 pm

always a great read ads22. and great fish picks too, was that you in last months fishing monthly yaking around Gladstone article? if its not you then you got a doppelganger out there. congrates on knocking another species of the list as well, going some where you always know your going to catch a feed isn't always as much fun as exploring new grounds and cracking the code(as they say). good on yah

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Re: Sluggish Dawson Toga Hunt

#3 Post by Dodge » Sun Feb 10, 2019 10:07 pm

Well done on the toga results Adam, on a trip worthwhile.
Cheers RICHO [the older one]
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Re: Sluggish Dawson Toga Hunt

#4 Post by Ozzybass » Mon Feb 11, 2019 1:01 am

You are da man ads!

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Ads22
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Re: Sluggish Dawson Toga Hunt

#5 Post by Ads22 » Mon Feb 11, 2019 9:41 pm

Paulioq wrote:
Sun Feb 10, 2019 8:40 pm
always a great read ads22. and great fish picks too, was that you in last months fishing monthly yaking around Gladstone article? if its not you then you got a doppelganger out there. congrates on knocking another species of the list as well, going some where you always know your going to catch a feed isn't always as much fun as exploring new grounds and cracking the code(as they say). good on yah
Thanks Paulioq. I'm learning my way through all these areas and species, and hope that others can learn with me by little victories or losses I have along the way. It was me in the QFM mag. Overstated my ability terribly, but couple of good pics.

Have a few Toga under my belt now, but I hadn't caught one in over a year I think, so was getting itchy to try again. Have had one or maybe two sessions targeting that went unrewarded. The Dawson has been fishing well. Not sure where I go next, but Bedford Weir may be on the cards. Or perhaps Callide or Cania. Think Bedford might get first shot, though. The exploring is fun. Off to a job near Calliope tomorrow, so a few crossings along the way to have a squiz for recon. Always slow down over waterways, right??
Dodge wrote:
Sun Feb 10, 2019 10:07 pm
Well done on the toga results Adam, on a trip worthwhile.
Thanks Dodge. It was slower than I had anticipated, but definitely worthwhile.
Ozzybass wrote:
Mon Feb 11, 2019 1:01 am
You are da man ads!
Very kind, cheers Ozzy.
Yak PBs
Estuary Cod 50cm; Mangrove Jack 49cm; Barra 108cm; Flathead - dusky 62cm; Flathead - bartail 51cm; Flounder 28cm; Forktail Catfish 60cm; Bream 32cm, Sand whiting 30cm; Striped Butterfish/Scat 20cm; Barred Javelin 47cm; Bull Shark 80cm; Queenfish 103cm; Tarpon 60cm; Golden Perch 47cm; Estuary Perch 33cm; Saratoga 72cm; Leathery Grunter 43cm.

Paulioq
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Re: Sluggish Dawson Toga Hunt

#6 Post by Paulioq » Tue Feb 12, 2019 12:15 pm

Ads22 wrote:
Mon Feb 11, 2019 9:41 pm
Overstated my ability terribly
and he's modest as well lol

you should submit an article or 2 too them who knows something might become of it

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Re: Sluggish Dawson Toga Hunt

#7 Post by Ads22 » Tue Feb 19, 2019 11:08 pm

Paulioq wrote:
Tue Feb 12, 2019 12:15 pm
Ads22 wrote:
Mon Feb 11, 2019 9:41 pm
Overstated my ability terribly
and he's modest as well lol

you should submit an article or 2 too them who knows something might become of it
It's important to know your limitations. I know mine very well. I have considered submitting articles, perhaps some day.
Yak PBs
Estuary Cod 50cm; Mangrove Jack 49cm; Barra 108cm; Flathead - dusky 62cm; Flathead - bartail 51cm; Flounder 28cm; Forktail Catfish 60cm; Bream 32cm, Sand whiting 30cm; Striped Butterfish/Scat 20cm; Barred Javelin 47cm; Bull Shark 80cm; Queenfish 103cm; Tarpon 60cm; Golden Perch 47cm; Estuary Perch 33cm; Saratoga 72cm; Leathery Grunter 43cm.

Paulioq
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Re: Sluggish Dawson Toga Hunt

#8 Post by Paulioq » Fri Feb 22, 2019 8:36 pm

Ads22 wrote:
Tue Feb 19, 2019 11:08 pm


It's important to know your limitations. I know mine very well
that's why I don't do interpretive dance any more

my opinon is your posts are a better read then some of those articles, specially for the kayak section. I wish it got a bit more space but that could be a biased opinion

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arpie
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Re: Sluggish Dawson Toga Hunt

#9 Post by arpie » Sat Feb 23, 2019 3:49 pm

OMG Adam! That is REALLY showing off you know! :wink: Nah - just jealous!!! Toga are still on my list!! :?:

Well done - great when a plan comes together!!

cheers

Roberta
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Ads22
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Re: Sluggish Dawson Toga Hunt

#10 Post by Ads22 » Sat Feb 23, 2019 9:08 pm

Paulioq wrote:
Fri Feb 22, 2019 8:36 pm
Ads22 wrote:
Tue Feb 19, 2019 11:08 pm


It's important to know your limitations. I know mine very well
that's why I don't do interpretive dance any more

my opinon is your posts are a better read then some of those articles, specially for the kayak section. I wish it got a bit more space but that could be a biased opinion
Thanks Paulioq. I enjoy the yak sections of mags, too!
arpie wrote:
Sat Feb 23, 2019 3:49 pm
OMG Adam! That is REALLY showing off you know! :wink: Nah - just jealous!!! Toga are still on my list!! :?:

Well done - great when a plan comes together!!

cheers

Roberta
So it seems we have Barra and Toga on the list for a trip north. I already have some ideas for when you come up this way! I haven't fished Bedford Weir, but I believe it would give you a chance to tick both off! But I do have some other ideas, dependent on lizards, etc. :wink:
Yak PBs
Estuary Cod 50cm; Mangrove Jack 49cm; Barra 108cm; Flathead - dusky 62cm; Flathead - bartail 51cm; Flounder 28cm; Forktail Catfish 60cm; Bream 32cm, Sand whiting 30cm; Striped Butterfish/Scat 20cm; Barred Javelin 47cm; Bull Shark 80cm; Queenfish 103cm; Tarpon 60cm; Golden Perch 47cm; Estuary Perch 33cm; Saratoga 72cm; Leathery Grunter 43cm.

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Ads22
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Posts: 928
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Re: Sluggish Dawson Toga Hunt w/ video links

#11 Post by Ads22 » Tue Apr 09, 2019 12:44 am

If you're interested, I have added some video links to the original post. Have a look over a beer and schedule your Toga expedition.
Yak PBs
Estuary Cod 50cm; Mangrove Jack 49cm; Barra 108cm; Flathead - dusky 62cm; Flathead - bartail 51cm; Flounder 28cm; Forktail Catfish 60cm; Bream 32cm, Sand whiting 30cm; Striped Butterfish/Scat 20cm; Barred Javelin 47cm; Bull Shark 80cm; Queenfish 103cm; Tarpon 60cm; Golden Perch 47cm; Estuary Perch 33cm; Saratoga 72cm; Leathery Grunter 43cm.

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