Jim Harnwell is the editor of Australia’s premier fishing magazine Fishing World, and a top bloke too. When not busy running the magazine, Jim is most happy out chasing the fish. Australia is a place I would love to fish to one day, so I thought who better to ask to fill us in, as the choice of fishing in Australia is overwhelming. So here is Jim with his own favorite styles of fishing out there….
Me: What were your first fishing memories?
JH: I grew up on the south coast of NSW and spent a lot of time at a place called Jervis Bay. In fact, that’s where I live with my family now. As a little kid I distinctly remember catching a bream and a blackfish (two very common estuary species) off the main wharf at the bay.
Me: What kind of fishing do you enjoy most?
JH: I enjoy all forms of fishing. I’m equally happy fly casting for trout or trolling for marlin. In terms of accessibility, I enjoy lure fishing for species such as bream, bass, flathead and estuary perch and also like offshore fishing with bait and lures for snapper and kingfish.
Me: What has been your favourite catch over the years?
JH: I really like gamefishing. This past season we have enjoyed a great run of marlin and dolphinfish (mahi-mahi). It’s hard not to get a thrill when you see four or five lit-up striped marlin zipping around behind the boat as they try to crash tackle your bait or lure. Other than that, my favourite catch is the next one.
Me: What would you rate as a top boat fishing experience in Australia?
JH: Goose Creek on Melville Island in the Northern Territory is a pretty amazing place to spend a day fishing. You head up from the saltwater reaches through the mangroves and up into the freshwater. The banks are lined with pandanus, tea trees and palms; buffalo feed out on the floodplains and crocs sun themselves on the mudbanks. I’ve had days catching of 100+ barramundi in Goose Creek. Heading out to the contental shelf off Jervis Bay is always fun. It’s a fair run (15-20 miles out to sea) but in the right conditions you can expect marlin, tuna, sharks and dolphinfish. You often see whales, dolphins and even sunfish. Canoing down one of our inland rivers in search of prized native fish like Murray cod and yellowbelly is pretty cool as well. It’s relaxed fishing and you camp on the river bank. Great fun.
Me: What would you consider your favorite shore fishing experience in Australia?
JH: We have some really great trout fishing in Tasmania, Victoria and southern NSW. I enjoy walking the banks of a big lake like Jindabyne in the Snowy Mountains polaroiding for brown trout. It’s challenging fishing but very rewarding. Walking up the banks of a crystal clear bush creek casting lures for Aussie bass is pretty neat as well – you often see platypus, goannas and the odd snake and the bass fight hard in the skinny water. Beach fishing for Australian salmon, tailor, jewfish, bream and whiting is fantastic fun, especially in summer.
Me: If you were flying out from Ireland for three weeks fishing, where would you go and what time of year?
JH: I probably wouldn’t fly out from Ireland – I’d rather fly there! I’d love to do some salmon fishing and also chase sea bass, which I understand are on offer in your country. I’m not so keen on the European “coarse” fishing – but the salmon, sea run trout and sea bass sound pretty cool. Not sure if there are pike in Ireland but I caught some of them during a trip with Rapala to Finland a few years back and they were pretty cool fish. And there’s all that lovely Irish Guinness as well … One day I’ll get to Ireland and do all of the above.
Me: What fishing trip do you remember most fondly?
JH: A recent camping/kayaking trip to a small estuary system a few hours down the coast was particularly enjoyable. I took a good mate down there. We had perfect weather and the fishing was red hot. We caught (and released) 110 bream. All on lures, mostly surface lures.
Me: What’s the shark fishing like out there?
JH: Plenty of sharks over here. I don’t chase them much but enjoy catching makos during winter. Big whaler sharks are a common bycatch when livebaiting for marlin and there are plenty of smaller whalers and hammerheads to have some fun with on light tackle. Serious shark anglers chase big tigers – but that has never appealed to me. Makos are pretty cool though – they go hard and their jumps are spectacular.
Me: When not fishing what do you enjoy doing?
JH: I spend a fair bit of time fishing but when I’m not I enjoy a bit of hunting (wild goats, foxes, wild pigs etc), camping and bushwalking.
Me: What are your own plans for 2014?
JH: I’ll be doing a few road trips north and south targeting snapper and kingfish plus probably head to the trout lakes in winter and up north to chase a few barra. There’s plenty of good fishing near my home so I don’t necessarily need to go that far.
Me: Well thanks for talking to us Jim, I hope to see you over here one day and we will make it over one day thanks a million….
JH: No problem mate anytime….