Swoffing Safari

Join fly-fisher Jono Shales on an angling odyssey across Australia in this ongoing series

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Back to school with Matthew

31 years ago my teary eyed mother dropped her little angel off for his first day of junior school, wearing clothes that didn't fit, carrying a bag full of crayons and a lunch box stacked with supplies, I was left on my own to venture into the big wide world of school. The class was filled with kids of all colours, shapes and sizes, most with wide eyes, snotty noses and almost certainly most of us there had no clue as to what on earth we were all doing there. It was on this first day of school that I met Matthew Smithyman.

And so it was for the following 12 years that Matthew and I were in the same class throughout junior school and as things would have it, we also ended up going to the same senior school together in the Natal midlands where as teenagers we cut our teeth trout fishing the rivers and dams around our boarding school. The foundation was being laid for a lifelong love affair with fly fishing.

As if we hadn't seen enough of one another during those early years, we both ended up moving to Oz and living in Sydney...today Matthew is a stock broker with a young family, me a saltwater fly fishing bum - exactly what the teachers had predicted all that time ago!! Who better-a-mate to join me on safari.

The day Matthew arrived, the weather turned from cloudy and drizzly to beautiful sunshine and no wind, so it wasn't long before we packed the boat and headed off in search of some sight casting opportunities.

Isn't it meant to be the middle of winter ???

It wasn't long before the cobwebs were wiped off the casting arm and Matthew was into some decent fish...

Brassy trevally

Golden trevally

It's a special thing indeed when you can share a conversation with someone that spans over three decades. The laughter and boyish behaviour flowed freely and the conversation swayed from mate's birthday parties to teachers we had crushes on, to more modern pressing issues like the stock market (boring) and Russians (interesting).

Camping for three days in the Australian wilderness really allowed us to get back to basics but it reminded us of 20 years ago while at boarding school together, we had to do a 60km bush walk with a backpack, rations etc ... but today we are taking it a little easier and just enjoying a hearty breakfast around the campfire before heading out for a full day on the boat

Matthew putting his city slicker traders fingers to good use, washing dishes :D

A few years back, Matthew and I ventured to Cape York together to join Seafaris for a week - www.seafaris.com - We had some great fishing and enjoyed some frantic Spanish Mackerel action together where he got completely smoked and I bust a rod. It was time for round 2 so using heavier rods, sinking lines and some pre-prepared flies with wire, we went in search of 'maccies'. Both of us hooked up to some seemingly unstoppable large fish that either bust us off a few hundred metres out or the hooks would pull. Here's one that we did manage to get to the boat ...

The good weather meant good action with the longtails too

Matthew sporting the bling

After a week of brilliant fishing action, non-stop laughter and so much talking rubbish and generally having the time of our lives, another chapter in the Smithyman / Shales legacy comes to an end.

In closure, let's take a moment to reflect upon what all that time spent together at school has really taught us...

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On the water with Duckbill

Once I said goodbye to the folks, I was joined by a mate from Brisbane Queensland - David 'aka Duckbill' Reverdito. I was invited to fish with David in one of the tuna comps earlier in the year in Hervey Bay and he was also instrumental in helping me with the mods to the boat. David has the same boat and over the months of preparations was a fantastic help and sounding post. Naturally as fly fishing is all about sharing, I reciprocated by inviting him to join me on safari out West.

We headed out on the first afternoon and were immediately greeted by a dozen or so humpback whales that were on their journey North at this time of year.

David is a very experienced tuna-on-fly fisherman so it made sense to put some time in chasing the schools of striped tuna that were behind the reef. These little guys are the fastest of all the species and on light gear they are a lot of fun. Boat driving needs to be bang on the money to get the shot as these guys are complete bullets in the water, built for speed and super fussy to get the eat.

The weather was again rather average with overcast conditions and rain for a few of the days, however we were undeterred and continued chasing pelagics on the fly. While pursuing the tuna one day, we were greeted by an awesome sight ... a very large and very fast spanish mackerel that rocketed about 20ft into the air, ripping a hole straight through the middle of the school. Time to change tactics we thought so using a couple of tuna as berley (chumm), we positioned ourselves upwind from the schools, dropped anchor and with sinking lines, large flies and wire, started dredging for mackerel. It didn't take long before they arrived and after a few bust-offs, missed shots and the odd line burn, David connected to a very respectable shark mackerel.

You never know what might be attracted by the burley and one day it was very quiet indeed with no takes, no hits or no signs of anything behind the boat. It was then that we realised we were not alone...

It was pretty cool seeing a 2.5m hammerhead that close behind the boat and after watching my fellow crazy countrymen fend off great whites in False Bay on the TV once, I was inspired to do the same and see if I could touch the shark !

Umm what !!! ...

Please do not attempt this unless you are stupid like me!

Moving along with all extremities in tact, we braved the weather and made the 24nm trip across the gulf to Wilderness Island were we spent the next 3 days. All food, drink and camping gear needs to be taken over. Cold beers are always high on the priority list.

On the way across the Gulf we came across some small schools of longtail tuna and without needing an invite, it wasn't long before we were blasting flies into the action.

A little further on towards our destination we found some more birds and bait being harrassed in shallow water...out goes the fly, something eats it and screams off some line...big splash and in comes half a fish

Being eco-swoffers it was decided to recycle the half tuna and use him as burley in search of spanish mackerel and it wasn't long before David landed his first mac and a new species for him

And a new species for me too, a bat fish!

It was great to see the species count being racked up, David added 15 new species to his tally taking him to a total of 95 species caught on the fly, a truly remarkable feat, well done mate!!

This mangrove jack adding another notch to his tally

However as with everything in life, if you play hard you run the risk of falling hard too and after the wind blew all night, it was that horrible sinking feeling that reared it's ugly head one morning when we woke to find my boat had come off one of the moorings and had been blown up against the rocks, spending the entire night and falling tide with the starboard side's chime slowly working it's way down the oyster encrusted rocks.

A very sorry sight for any boat owner...

Considering my boat had spent the better part of 6 hours rubbing it's way down the rock face, the damage was relatively minimal and my trust in the toughness of these boats was further restored. Onward we go...

Next: Swoffing Safari Archives>>

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The swoffing family

Next to visit me on Safari was my mother and father who made the journey over from South Africa to join me for a week and having not seen them for the past 18 months naturally there was a lot of catching up to be done. Both mum and dad fly fish and it wasn't long before rods were rigged and we were off in search of some fish on the flats.

Mum was using a 7wt Orvis T3 that I gave her for her birthday coupled with a Shilton SL5 and Dad was using a 9wt Sage Xi2 with a Shilton SL6.

The swoffing family, kitted and ready to go...

We walked the beaches in search of fish moving along the flat and it wasn't long before Papa Swoff connected to his first fish and naturally there was a healthy dose of 'I caught the first fish' ...

It wasn't long before Mum's 7wt was soon put to the test when she connected to an 'unstoppable' off the boat on a windy afternoon. 20 mins later we were still connected and with fading light I decided to pop it off. It would have been a big cod or something...

Ninja buff and all, there's no stopping my mother...scanning the horizon for signs of action from the safe perch of the casting deck

Family time is very special indeed and having not seen the folks for the past 18 months, it was a great opportunity to do something unique together. April to July is prime whale shark season along the Ningaloo Reef so we spent a day on a local charter boat and snorkelled with the biggest fish in the sea. A truly remarkable experience...

As ever, the day was filled with humour and the man behind the laughs was none other than my Dad...

We also had the chance to swim with a group of manta rays which was totally mind-blowing. There were 7 of them that swam around us as they fed.

The weather was pretty average and the wind blew for most of the week but when it cleared we loaded the boat with fuel and supplies and headed off for a little camping and fishing.

Mum not afraid of a little hard work, collecting fire wood.

We caught mud crabs for dinner and sat around the campfire at night, under a blanket of a billion stars enjoying a fine bottle of wine in the Australian bush. Nothing in the world is better than spending quality time with those you love.

After breakfast we headed out for a fish and with the weather against us again it was into the creeks looking for jacks and cod. Mum casting flies into the snags...

Under extremely difficult conditions, Dad eventually connected to a fish ... that's the way Dad, pull down and to the side, turn it's head...

Mum and Dad, I love you both and thanks so much for getting behind me and supporting me during this adventure. Sharing time with you both on and off the water means the world to me.

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More remote exploration

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**I was recently joined by John Auer, another fishing mate from Sydney. The Englishman that he is, wore ninja gear from head to toe otherwise he would have fried in the sun and we had a brilliant time yet again fishing together and talking crap on the boat. We focussed our attention exploring the remote corners of the Eastern side of Exmouth Gulf and did two separate camping trips where we loaded the boat full of fuel, supplies and camping gear and headed off.

A new species and personal best...golden trevally (kingfish), on the flats

Followed shortly afterwards by a very respectable queenfish. We are only fishing in about 1m of water so these things have nowhere to go except off the flat. You see them cruising, make the cast and watch as they lunge for it and hopefully eat the fly.

And then to end the day we headed a few miles out and found some longtail tuna. These things are heaps of fun and John and I had a ball chasing them around for a few hours in perfect conditions.

We thought that was a good day, but that was nothing compared to the action we experienced in the coming days. We found an island and made camp there going by the usual ritual of finding wood, setting up camp and preparing food.

With a low tide in the morning, we had to wait a few hours for the tide to come back in ...

...which provided a perfect opportunity to get your mate to wash the dishes...

...or pig out on pancakes on an open fire.

Then for some reason the fishing just went completely through the roof. The following day we approached a flat that I had tried before at a different tide but didn't have success at. When we got there, a few large swirls greeted us in the drop off adjacent to the flat, at first I thought they were milkfish from the tails sticking out of the water, then after getting a little closer we realised they were queenies, lots of them.

We both cast, John hooked a queenie and I connected to a nice golden. With both of us hooked up, we drifeted over a patch and when I looked down all I could see was large queenies, goldens, blue bastards, blue bone, turtles, rays and everything all together under the boat. It was like fishing in an aquarium.

We stayed on that flat all day and basically followed the fish as the tide and fish moved up to feed. I connected to a nice giant herring (skipjack) on the flats that spat the hook, plus I had a shot at 3 permit that were swimming really erratically. A truly spectacular day of action!

We also used some sinking lines around some bommies and shoals in the Gulf. It's blind fishing over structure and you never know what might be down there...

To give you an indication of the distances we've been doing, here's a pic of the track from my GPS.

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Fishing with Rod

The past few weeks have been filled with some truly memorable experiences, not only for me as Safari leader but for my mates who have been invited to join me.

Sharing personal bests and new species captures with guys really is something special ... high fives on the boat and laughing until our stomachs are sore seems to be the norm these days. Being with a mate when they are having an experience in their life that they will never forget is a great thing. I am humbled by these experiences I am being fortunate enough to be a part of.

On the last Christmas Island trip I was joined by fellow Sydney angler Rod Kimberley who was great fun to be with so it was only fitting that he was invited to be a part of the Safari. Rod is a 16 year old boy in a 66 year old body ... the man just goes and goes and goes .. casting all day, constantly doing stuff and keen as a bean to catch fish. With multiple marathons, triathlons and a Hawaiian Iron Man under his belt, it's easy to see why.

Not long after flying in, it wasn't long before we were straight into the action

The best of 5 goldies that rod landed in this session

A lovely rankin cod caught dredging flies over a shoal

The second half of the double hookup, another quality goldy

There's something truly magical about a camp-fire under a clear night sky. Dinner was freshly caught fish with a hint of garlic and dash of lemon on the open fire, yummy tomato and onion relish and cous-cous, plus a nice bottle of red to wash it down

When the wind was blowing from the East as is so often does at this time of year, we spent a day walking the beaches on the Western side (Ningaloo Reef) of Exmouth looking for anything that moves. Although it was beautiful there, the fishing on that side has been really quiet for some reason and I am yet to see a bonefish, let alone be lucky enough to catch one

Exmouth and mother nature have a very healthy relationship

Rod also enjoys casting poppers on traditional gear and it wasn't long before we found some bait being harassed by some toothy shark mackerel

I picked up the popping rod and got absolutely smoked by a big GT that ran me into the reef on 50lb braid ... I'd better stick to fly fishing I think. Rod on the other hand was using 130lb braid so when he hooked up, we just put the boat in gear and pulled them out ... like this nice GT on the last day

The smiles say it all. Thanks Rod for a truly memorable week

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**Boneheads with the WA Swoffers

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After Wilderness Island, we joined up with 'Boneheads' which for those who don't know, is the annual migration of swoffers to Exmouth for a week of fly fishing nirvana. Most of the guys are from the Perth club 'Saltwater Flyrodders', but this year there were guys from Darwin, Karratha, Sydney and even a dude from Idaho!

Here's a few pics of the shenanigans ..

May as well celebrate life to the full

Matt Dundas with his slab of Exmouth gold

4 mates camping on a remote island, a million miles from care, talking crap around a campfire

Wes from Idaho tying his first ever saltwater flies, the humble clouser...while the billie heats water for a morning cup of tea

Nobody is going anywhere until the tide comes in

Matt eventually got this his well deserved goldy on the flats ... on day 12!!

My first threadfin salmon - super stoked!

Also got a wolf-herring which was another new species for me

Seriously-pointy pointy-end

A welcomed change from the relentless goldy attack ... a brassy trevally

On the last day of Boneheads I dropped Matt off at the airport after 2 weeks of seriously eipc fun.

At 4:30 that afternoon after carying out some maintenance on the rig, Wes from Idaho came across to our cabin and was mumbling something about how cool the last few days have been for him, learning all this new stuff, meeting new people who are into fly fishing etc ... The previous day Wes had caught his first golden on the first fly that he'd ever made that very morning. To say he was stoked is an understatement. When he hooked up, we could hear him holler from 2km away.

I suggested we bettered the previous day's feat and offered to take him out on the boat for the sunset and see if we could get him a longtail tuna on the fly.

The pics speak for themselves..

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**Part VII - Wilderness Island with Matt from Darwin

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My mate Matt Henger flew in from Darwin and we enjoyed 2 weeks of laughing, drinking, fishing and the odd bit of fishing. The first week we went across to the Eastern side of Exmouth Gulf where we stayed at Wilderness Island http://www.wilderness-island.com.au. The second week we would spend with the yearly migration of flyfishers into Exmouth for the week of 'Boneheads'.

Here's what happened:

The boat was loaded with fuel, beer and all our gear and we made the 27 mile journey across the gulf into a 20 knot Easterly. Bash, bash, bash all the way across ... The boat with new Suzuki handles like an absolute dream in these waters and to say I am happy with the boat is an understatement. With both tanks full we are able to fish for 4 days without refuelling, covering most of the gulf, I'm getting better fuel economy out of the new 90 than I did with my 50 4 stroke Yammy.

We made it across no problems and were greeted by Jim the owner who loaded us and our gear onto a quad bike and took us to the 'lodge'.
Matt looking somewhat weary about the rusty trailer though

Wilderness Island is a very cool place indeed. The way it's been setup is very basic and rustic but that's the whole charm of the place. Accommodation is in fixed tents / cabins and the view is due West across the Gulf.

The balcony area that leads out from the communal dining room and kitchen area

If you feel like showering there's a saltwater shower with a 40 gallon drum over a fire that provides hot water

The Eastern side of Exmouth gulf is something very special indeed. Remote, wild, pristine ... all the cliche'd words. Perhaps do yourself a favour and check out what I'm talking about on Google Earth if you get the chance.

We spent a week exploring miles and miles of flats, creeks and shoals and what we experienced would rate as some of the best quality sight fishing experiences that I've had. We saw one other boat in a week and pretty much had the place to ourselves to explore.

Flats, flats and more flats, literally as far as the eye can see, with a barrier of age old mangroves that separate the water with the West Australian desert.

We experienced some sensational sight casting to large queenies and goldens that were cruising in skinny water ... what more do you want as a fly fisher ??

And when the action gets too hot, what better way to cool yourself down than fall off the boat

We spent most of the time out there scouring the endless flats for crusing fish. We saw great quality queenies and golden trevally, tailing and all. We saw no permit but there have been reports of large numbers of them in the water months ... perhaps I should just stay here and find out fist hand when it warms up ?

We also spent some time exploring rockbars, reefs and creeks for jacks, cod and anything else that we could entice with the fly

Poor Matt seemed jinxed by the goldens on the flats ... he popped off six in the week that we were there, including one that was totally my fault where we were on a double hookup and both fish ran around the same mangrove stump. I handed him my rod and jumped into the water trying to land his fish but it popped off, however after throwing my rod into the water around the tree, mine fortunately remained connected and we landed it. Thanks dude !!

Saltwater fly fishing is hard work ... just ask Peter Morse :D

One of the funniest things of the week was when at 3am one morning, Matt started sleep talking. Perhaps popping off 6 goldens got to his brain ... or maybe it was the beer, not sure.

'You're farting too much .... that's why we're not catching any fish on the flats'

Bwaha ahaa - classic line dude!! I won't forget that one

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**Part VI - First week in Exmouth with Big Gav

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**The bottom of Exmouth Gulf is a great place to fish, the flats are vast and varied and the islands provide many options from rock ledges to beaches to mangroves with semi-sheltered areas from the winds. My mate Gav and I loaded the boat with fuel, food and some camping stuff and headed about 40km South Exmouth Marina for a couple of days camping, exploring and fishing.

It didn't take long before we started spotting large queenfish in singles and doubles, cruising the surface in the shallows.

Double hook-ups were not uncommon...

We found a likely spot to camp on a beach somewhere ... made a fire and cooked up some fresh fish on the open flames.

The next morning we were greeted by another of nature's miracles, a brilliant sunrise to welcome in the new day.

We spent the rest of the day scouring the flats and sighted some truly trophy fish however getting them to take a fly was another story completely. We had a run of bad luck but saw some goldens, a monster blue bastard and got bust off by numerous giant herring.

After some persistence we eventually figured out that we could scare the crap out of the goldens with my ugly mug ... :D

Conditions heading home were terrible at times too

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Part V - Shark Bay to Exmouth

So on we went to Exmouth, 8 hours drive North, the rig packed and our excitement brewing for some hardcore fly fishing.

What a beautiful sight ...

As we drove into town we turned right towards the marina, dropped the boat in and headed out for a fish. Not knowing the place from a bar of soap we played it safe and headed about 2km down the beach looking for anything that moves, but it was an afternoon filled with a few small reef fish each.

Exploring the place and not knowing where to go is rather challenging. Learning everything from scratch like where where to stay, where to get fresh water, where the shops are, how the tides affect launching the boat, where the zones are (there's lots of them), where the bloody coral bommies are .. and so on.

Here's some pics of the first few days as we started finding our feet and getting into some good fish around the Western side, the ocean and in the gulf.

Spangled emperor that was teased in with a hookless popper along the Northern tip of the Cape

A teenage GT from one day when we headed down the gulf looking for some of the big queenies we'd been hearing about

Then on the way home we came across some longtails and instantly the fun-o-meter started peaking!

We had a brilliant afternoon, a couple of double hook-ups and 4 or 5 fish each, one of which provided us with a delicious fish feast that night. Tuna on fly really is the shit !!

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**Part IV - Heading North to Shark Bay

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Moving on ... I stayed with my best mate in Dunsborough for 4 days and this gave me the chance to service the truck and make sure everything on the rig how I wanted it to. I stocked up on some supplies and carried on with my journey North through Perth.

First stop was just North of Perth where I was due to meet one of the pioneers of our sport here in Oz. It was a true honour to have been given the opportunity to meet the one and only Max Garth. His welcoming nature, boyish smile and obvious undying passion for saltwater fly fishing really was inspirational. We shared stories, laughed a lot and spoke about gear, species, locations and Lefty.

Max is a true gentleman of the sport who is as unwavering from his ways as a fat kid with a candy bar.

Continuing on with my journey North from Perth, my next destination was the World Heritage area of Shark Bay where I would meet my good mate Big Gav who was flying in from Sydney.

Flights go from Sydney to Perth, then the regional airline Skywest flies from Perth to Denham. My timing couldn't have been better, after 2 days of driving I pulled into the airport as Gav was collecting his bags having just landed.

Both of us were super keen at heading out for a fish and checking the place out so we headed to Monkey Mia where the boat ramp was and set up camp there where the locals greeted us...

The sun was going down but that wasn't going to stop us from heading out for a quick flick. It was fitting that Gav managed the first and only fish at Shark Bay and what better species than the iconic tailor.

A normal reaction for the first fish and the t-shirt to prove it

The forecast for the next week was 25 knot winds all week so instead of battling the winds, emus and hordes of tourists ogling at the dolphins, we decided to pack up and continue on to Exmouth where the forecast was good for the next week.

Exmouth will be my new home for the next 4 months

**June 26, 2009

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The rig and I made it to Esperance which is a gorgeous part of the world in the South of Western Australia ... I was so tempted to put my boat in a see if there were any salmon about but I needed to get to Dunsborough the following day so time was precious.

Cool scenery - a suitable backdrop for the rig which I had started referring to as a space shuttle due to it's unbelievable performance

After 6 days straight, driving solo across Oz for 4552km I made it to Dunsborough WA where I caught up with my best mate whom I hadn't seen for 2 years. Naturally we did the logical thing of picking up a few cold beers and heading straight out in search of some over-sized WA salmon.

It was also a good chance to get the boat wet and give the new Suzuki 90 a run after the journey. It started first go and man does it push my UB 520 along nicely!! Economy is brilliant and it's actually quieter than my Yammie 50.

And here it is ladies, gents and cynics ... the first picture of a fish on this post and my first fish of the trip. It was like catching my first fish on fly all over again, I was so friggin stoked !! A monster WA salmon than you very much..

**June 16, 2009

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The route across Oz is from Sydney due west through New South Whales to South Australia and down to Adelaide, then across the Nullarbor Plain which is 1200 km of desert and straight roads. After I get into West Australia and across the bottom left of the continent to Esperance and then through to Dunsborough, I will meet up with my best mate from South Africa Etienne Nel. It will take 4500 km and six days to get to Dunsborough.

From there I will continue north through Perth and on to Shark Bay, followed by Exmouth, then Broome. By this stage I would have done around 9000 km.

Around the beginning of November, I will make my way back down to Perth, drop the rig off and head home to SA for a month for some family time and a bit of a holiday - then back to Perth in January where I will kick things off again.

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So I left Sydney and before long was greeted with the wide open road, a sight that I would get very accustomed to.

There's a great thing here sponsored by Bushells tea where the local Rotary clubs volunteer their time and give out free tea and biscuits to drivers every few hours along the road. You can pull over, take a break, stretch your legs and have a free cuppa!

Doing everything on my own was manic ... I intended to leave Sydney on April 1 - however, in reality, I didn't get out until the 9th. Traffic leaving Sydney was rough but I was patient as I knew it would be the last time I would have to endure it for awhile.

A day and a half later, after having slept in the rig at a truck stop for a few hours, I made my way into Adelaide. This was a planned stop where I was due to catch up with a fellow angler for an day and also have the chance to check how the rig was holding up. It was a good thing I did, as the trailer has lost one of its brake pads and required maintenance.

After leaving Adelaide, the countryside was amazing and very similar in parts to South Africa. There were wide open expanses of land with massive skies and huge distances between towns. Throw in my blaring CD player and the solid performance of the rig and it felt like I was flying along in a space ship. Yes, the journey was truly under way now!

Continued>>

After three full days of driving, I pulled into the little town of Kimba - halfway across Oz. The rig was holding together well, and to say I was impressed with the Toyota's performance is an understatement.

When you are driving Australia from east to west all you are doing is covering a massive distance but not for a moment did I feel bored or lonely - you just need to get used to seeing a whole lot of straight roads...

Thinking I was kinda brave doing this drive on my own, I passed a cyclist in the middle of nowhere...what the hell are these dudes thinking?

Stay tuned for more updates from Jono Shales!

**May 8, 2009

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As a kid, I used to page through National Geographic magazines and wonder why on earth the woolly, bearded explorers featured in the Rolex adverts would want to climb the world's highest mountains unaided, with no oxygen. What a ridiculous thing to do! But now that I'm a little wiser, I've started thinking about why people do things out of the ordinary. I'll probably never know for sure, and I doubt I will ever find myself on the summit of an 8,000-mile peak. But in my own little world, I have decided to climb my own Everest and in the spirit of adventure have grown my own woolly beard.

OK, so I'm not a mountaineer; I'm a fly-fisherman, and I won't be ascending a mountain anytime soon. Instead, I have decided to wrap up my life in the "big smoke" of Sydney, Australia, following my passion and dreams doing what I know and love best: traveling, meeting people, fly-fishing and having fun. My journey will take me from Sydney all the way across Australia, where I will spend the rest of the year exploring the bays, beaches, reefs and blue-water opportunities with a fly rod in my hand.

Australia has been referred to as one of the final frontiers for the saltwater fly-fisherman - just ask anyone who's been here. They will tell you stories of a seemingly endless variety of species and opportunities available to the long-wanded explorer.

To sustain life on the road and on the water in the Australian outback for a year or more, I need to be as self-sustainable as possible, so the planning and logistics of such a trip are somewhat daunting. Where does one start? Gee, one of those fancy Rolexes would be good!

Anyway, for the past six months, I have worked day in and day out trying to get this trip off the ground. My little runabout was traded for a Toyota Land Cruiser 4x4, which has been modified with dual batteries providing power to a 40lt Engel fridge and an inverter for charging cameras, laptops and electric toothbrushes. The rear of the truck has a new false floor that will double as a sleeping area with plenty of underfloor storage. I also fitted a high-gain antenna to the truck, which will provide long-range telephone and Internet access in remote areas. A new set of Cooper STs will keep the rig glued to the road.

My boat is a 17-foot Southwind center console that has been modified with a forward casting deck, underfloor storage, long-range fuel tanks and a new 90 hp Suzuki four-stroke. The trailer carrying it has also been re-enforced with dual axles and four new wheels and brakes.

Lists of wants and needs were drawn up, scribbled out and redrawn. Budgets were formulated and locations were scoured on the Web. In response, e-mails from all over the globe have been pouring in, offering all sorts of questions and answers.

So that's it. I'm saying goodbye to one life and embracing the challenges, fun times and hopefully insane fishing action ahead of me. Some would call this saltwater-fly-fishing nirvana; I'm calling it a swoffing safari.

Stay tuned for regular updates from Jono's fly-fishing odyssey here on FlyFishinSalt.com!

_Read about some of his other adventures at _www.swoffa.com

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