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Earlier this year (2007) I was invited to Sydney by the Sydney Fly Rodders Club to do a full weekend workshop. We finished up on the Monday night with a talk and slide show presentation at the clubroom.  You know the stuff, fly tying, talking about bugs, techniques and a whole lot of good fishin’ stuff.
 
John Vaccaro co-ordinated the weekend and as a bit of a surprise, he somehow got me a morning session fishing for King Fish with Sydney’s leading guide, Justin Duggan.  Now this was no mean feat as getting a seat in Justin’s boat is like getting a box seat in a grand final.  Not that he is fussy on who he takes out fishing but it is because he is always booked out; a true testament to his skill as a saltwater fly fisherman and guide.

a right
royal fish
by
MICK HALL

Now me being known as a freshwater flyflicker/ fly-tier, it was a bit of a bonus to be offered this trip.  It had been a long time since I swung a saltwater fly rod around; the truth is living up in the mountains at Eildon it is a bit difficult to find any saltwater species around my place.
 
It was a whisker before daylight when Justin motored his boat into the bay at Clifton Gardens near Mosman where we were waiting.

Early Morning Mosman
Early Morning pick-up at Mosman
Page 2

It was G’days and handshakes, as it had been a while since I had last spent some time with Justin.  
The sun was still behind the horizon as we motored out of the bay into the Harbour.  The reason for the early start was in the hope that the Kings may be up on the surface and chasing each other around the buoys that dotted the harbour.
 
I was really looking forward to this trip as I had never caught a King Fish on fly so it was a big first for me.  I was totally unprepared for this trip; no flies or gear.  This was due to John’s advice not to worry as Justin had heaps of gear.  As Justin is on the Sage Australian Pro Team I did not feel so bad. The only contribution that I could offer was a zip lock bag with a heap of Chartreuse Clousers/Deceivers that had been tied by John Vaccaro.
 
As we travelled along, Justin filled me in on what to expect.  Since commercial fishing was banned in Sydney Harbour, sport fishing species such as Kings have increased dramatically and during the season it is not uncommon to land a number of fish in a session.
 
Within a few minutes we were on the first marker and as we arrived, we could see that the King Fish were already on the surface chasing each other around the base of the marker.  This action was amazing; at least three of them were actually chasing each other around and around the base of the buoy.  The crash and splash that they made was more than obvious.
 
Following Justin’s instructions I chucked a popper close to the marker.  It landed within a centimetre of the base and with a couple of jerks, a King splashed at it but missed.  It tried again and again it missed the lure and nicked off.  Another cast and this time we had a hook up, only to be broken off a few seconds later; so be it.  Justin also put out a cast and hooked up.  It was landed and released like pronto but as the sun came up, so the fish went down.

Justin into a popper- caught King Fish right up close to the FAD buoy (Fish Attracting Device)

We headed off to another buoy close by to see if fish were still on the surface over there, to no avail so we headed back to the big yellow FAD and there sitting on the surface was our lost popper with a King Fish pushing it around; it looked like it was just playing with it.  We both watched in absolute amazement as it crashed at it and slapped it then finally taking it away into the depths, never to be seen again.
 
When the Kings went down we changed to sinking lines and Chartreuse Clousers and the action was on again.