After years guiding in the Seychelles and Oman, Stu Webb finally got to be on the client side of the relationship. He joined friends Eugene Pawlowski and Matt Born in Australia for fly fishing Farth North Queensland.
Let me start this off with a little kumbaya sentiment.
I guide for a living, usually in Oman (I’m based in Dubai) or the Seychelles. Being on the water and guiding clients for most of my life is without a doubt a passion for me. But, and I bullshit you not, getting to share in the stoke of first catches and bucket-list trophies is way more satisfying than actually catching fish myself. Most of the time. It’s more important than money and status I could be chasing elsewhere doing something else. It’s my escape and the place I feel most comfortable, most in control and connected.
When you spend as much time on the water as I do, you’re going to connect with a lot of people. Some connections are fleeting, just sharing a joke or a good story. Some live on as memories of an epic session of a fish lost or landed. Others, however, are the beginning of life-long friendships. Unless you fish solo all the time, you will know what I’m talking about. Kumbaya.
Eugene Pawlowski (aka Geeno aka Bruce) is one of those friends. We met on Alphonse Island back in 2017 and it didn’t take long for us to figure out we already shared a common friend in Mike Nolan aka Nowlsey from the popular YouTube show The Mike Nolan Show. One of my biggest regrets from the week Geeno was on Alphonse was being too hungover to go on a surf walk with him on my off day. Instead, wimping out, I pointed him in the right direction and went back to bed. As it turned out, Geeno didn’t need me, because later that evening he casually strutted up to the bell-ringing ceremony having caught a 126cm geet in the surf, on foot. Han Solo. The guy is a fishy bastard, from guiding dorado in Bolivia to big browns in New Zealand, he catches serious fish.
The second friend, Matt Born, is another mate I made while guiding in the Seychelles. We have spent many days on the flats together. Mostly, trying to avoid any finable offences. He’s chairman of Barrelhouse Rugby Club in the UAE and well versed in fines meetings. I’ve had the privilege of being with Matt for a few firsts and some classic fishing memories. Like that time I almost vomited from chasing his first milkfish around in knee-deep water on Cosmo trying to net it while a blacktip shark was chasing me and the fish.
Fly fishing in Far North Queensland
Cape York’s got a huge variety of species. We estimated about 23 between us, but there is way more if species ticking is your vibe. We focused on the main targets we had in mind. Anak permit (Trachinotus anak), big queenfish, golden trevally, barramundi, and cobia. But they also have blue bastards from time to time, their own weird little threadfin and numerous other bits and bobs that join you out there. These include monstrous guitar sharks, hammerheads and, of course, saltwater crocs.
If you can put aside the jet lag, the anticipation of a new fishery takes a heavy hold on your froth-ometer. It doesn’t matter how much pre-trip info you absorb. Most of the time the reality is pretty different when you arrive for fly fishing in Far North Queensland. The hours of daydreaming and YouTube videos only start making sense as you get out on the water and the picture comes together. I won’t name the three-river system that we fished over the spring tides, but they were all very similar. I would go as far as to say it was quite distracting in that there were so many fishy-looking options.
There are endless stretches of beach with amazing banks and holes outside the river mouths. There are gutters with long beach sections joining them. We struggled a few days with bad light and windy conditions which stirred the silt on the flats up and pretty much blew them out. But they cleaned up very quickly once the wind and swell dropped. Even on the “struggle” days we didn’t go wanting. We had the river systems to fish which produced some bomber queenfish on gurglers and an opportunity to target the barra.
Read the rest of Dingo’s Revenge in issue 41. It’s free my dude!