A boat isnt a necessity, but even a small tinny can give you access to fish like this magnificent Coral Trout caught by Tanya Christie just 50m from shore

"Some ideas that might just save the day when things get all pear shaped on the Big Trip"

I'm lucky enough to live and work smack dab in the middle of one of Oz's fishiest areas, for me, it's a 2 minute trip to the creek, beach or ramp, and only a long cast to get into some champagne fishing.

Because the Pilbara is getting so well known as a piscatorial paradise, lots of fishos head this way on their annual sojourn to sunnier, fishier climes, you cant blame them really, after years of abuse from the "Have Freezer Will Travel" mob, spots like Exmouth and Kalbarri had started to lose some of their attraction.

Fortunately, some nearly-too-late intervention from Fisheries in the form of the introduction of Special Zones, Bag, and trip limits has stopped the rot, and these fisheries are slowly returning to thier former health.

But back to the story. The Pilbara is a long way from anywhere. 2500km from Darwin, 1700km from Perth , and a world away (2 hours daylight saving time!!) from the East coast means a big investment in time, effort and $ just to get here.

We've come a long way from the old-school mentality of needing a tonne of fillets to make the trip worthwhile, but most who make the effort expect something pretty special for their efforts. And a lot get just that, a special experience. Fired up and with a head full of glossy images gleaned from the fishing media, keen fishos arrive here with great expectations, a lot of the time it's a repeat trip, and anglers use past experiences to make sure they cover all the bases, but unfortunately some first time visitors come unstuck and leave disappointed

Its scenery like this, not the fish, that visitors take away as memories

I'll try to give you a few tips to help make your big trip work for you. Most drive here, so I'll stick with the assumption that's how the average fishhead will want to travel. It probably seems obvious, but make sure all your vehicle servicing is up to date BEFORE heading off, apart from the cost of mechanical services (generally over $70 an hour) its not a lot of fun being stuck somewhere on a 600km stretch of empty road.

Parts may not be available, and "24 hour roadside assistance" may mean that it'll take 24 hours to GET roadside assistance! So get that vehicle up to scratch, same for your boat, if you're bringing one.

Your mobile 'phone WILL NOT help you more than about 25km from a major centre. There is not yet telephone coverage along the entire coast, so be aware that being stuck still isn't a joke in about 85% of the Wide Brown Land. Oh yeah, its Brown because there ain't no water, so carry plenty.

Minimise night driving, a kangaroo thru your radiator means something completely different when you're hours, or even days from help. Try to learn at least a few fundamental things about what makes your car tick, it might just get you (or someone else) out of strife.

And once again, even tho' I feel I'm stating the obvious NEVER "CHECK THE RADIATOR" unless the vehicle is cool. I did it myself....once.... never again, the burns totally ruined a long planned trip to the Gulf Country, these things sound silly, but all it takes is a lapse in conscience, and you're goose is cooked (amongst other things!).

There is a great little sweetwater fishery for Tarpon Giant Herring and other small natives, So.. bring your trout gear for some real fun!

The other thing that has a habit of ruining a trip, particularly here in WA, is the wind.

Our patch is the same as yours, there will be a "windy season", ours is from around June for about 3 months, right through until August/September.

That also coincides with school holidays, and the most friendly climate, so lots of travellers arrive here in the windy part of the year, it can easily blow its wotsies off for 2 or 3 weeks non stop, pretty upsetting to arrive at your destination, only to find excellent kite flying conditions.

There's not a lot we can do about the wind, but there ARE some things you can do to minimise its effect on your trip.

Firstly try to plan to be here at either end of the season, its very possible to strike a good patch between those mega high pressure systems that march across the Great Australian Bight, and generate our West Oz "refreshing breeze".

The weather may be cool, but the fishing gets red hot in winter, pelagic action hots up, this is the time for mega Spaniards (some nearing the old 100lb mark), and small billfish for the boaties, and Giant Threadfin Salmon, Bluenose Salmon and Jacks for the shore based angler. There's often a good run of Blue Swimmer crabs, these blokes can be scooped from the shallows at low tide, or drop netted, a boat helps, but isnt an absolute necessity. Another way to minimise the effect of wind is to eat less beans, OOPS! Sorry I meant spend a few bob on some decent maps, prevailing winds are from the East in winter, so check out the lie of the land, you'll be surprised the number of spots hidden away, that are beaut in a howling easterly. And the fishing can be outstanding, with Salmon, Trevally(all kinds), Bream, Whiting, Flathead, Bluebone, and Northwest Snapper, all catchable from the beach/rocks.

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