The MacGyver rig

The Old Man with a nice little tea leaf trevally.
Lee Brake
This week Lee Brake tells us about a recent trip where he was forced to be a little innovative!

As Hannibal from the A-Team once commented, I love it when a plan comes together. A recent trip was a classic example with a solid game plan that was executed almost flawlessly; however, things could quite easily have ended rather fruitlessly.

Let me elaborate. It was a beautiful Friday afternoon – the kind poets waffle on about – and there was barely a cloud in sight or a puff of breeze to be felt. Being Friday though, the old man did have to at least make an appearance in the office, so the morning was unfortunately sacrificed in favour of an after lunch foray. Initial emails sent between him and I suggested the local impoundments due to a tide that was bigger than Ben Hur, but as time was short, we eventually settled on heading out from the harbour to chase a few pelagics.

Lee with a solid golden trevally jigged up on a Nuclear Chicken Gulp Plastic and customized jighead.
Lee Brake

Well, upon hitting the water, we discovered that the inshore waters were coated with a thick faecal-matter-resembling layer of what I assume was coral spawn, so we headed wider in search of cleaner, bluer water.

We found it just a few kilometres out and decided to do some jigging at a nearby rubble patch.

Now, remember that the tide was rushing like my bowels after a prune smoothy and things were not exactly ideal for drift fishing. But we were there, so we figured we might as well give it a go, right? I ferreted through the Old Man’s jig head collection and discovered somewhat of a void between three quarter ounce and three ounce, which was a worry seeing as how we were in less than forty foot of water. I settled on a three quarter ounce to start with and rigged it with the very tried-and-tested Nuclear Chicken 7' Gulp Jerkshad.
The Old Man put a metal slug on.

The golden swims off healthily.
Lee Brake

First drop saw our lines hit the water with a plonk. The sounder was lit up like Times Square’s Christmas tree and we both suspected we were in for some trevally action. Well, we were half right. The Old Man hit bottom and went to start his upwards crank, but found his rod loaded up instead. I think he feared a snag, but as the drag started screaming he cracked a grin pretty quickly. Meanwhile, yours truly had a lure that was taking the scenic route and for all I knew it could have joined a union and started strike action because, despite my best attempts, I was getting nowhere with it.

I cranked it in, grounded it and tailed a nice tea leaf trevally for Dad. A few quick pics and it was zooming back to the blue below. But, what to do with my striking Gulp? Pressure from upper management was needed; weight would need to be applied... but how? Luckily I've seen enough MacGyver to improvise a solution. It wasn’t pretty, but after some further ferreting I came across some size three bean sinkers and rigged one, via a loop knot, on the nose of the jig head. Combined with the red and green Glup, it kinda’ looked like the jerk shad version of Rudolph the lead-nose Reindeer, but I figured it’d at least get to the bottom and give me some sensitivity. There was only one way to find out!

The Old Man hit bottom and went to start his upwards crank, but found his rod loaded up instead.
Lee Brake

We backtracked our drift line on the GPS and were amazed at how far we’d moved in such a short time. Sure enough though, the new 'MacGyvered' head found bottom pretty quickly and I distinctly felt solid hits on the drop and during the first twitch of the retrieve, but that was all. Within seconds we were past the action and left scratching our heads.

This was a 'quick trip' and not an all day affair remember, so we just wanted to stretch our rods and take a few pictures to scratch the fishing itch, and time was running short. One last attempt – the Old Man would hold the boat over the rubble’s highest point with the Yammy and I’d drop right on their heads!

Baited breath, reel held ready and in freespool, and the MacGyver rig resting inches from the surface – it was time. My driver signalled the OK and away the Gulp went, into the depths. It went straight down, testament to the effectiveness of the little three bean, and sure enough even before it touched bottom I felt a solid whack through the braid. The spool stopped spinning – bottom. I engaged the reel, cranked the slack, gave three fairly hard twitches and felt contact. It was a hard smack, followed by another, and I was suddenly cranking line to try to get a hook set. This will often happen and is usually the result of a predator lunging up through the depths to snavel the lure and still being on a vertical path. Sure enough, as I cranked hard to tighten the line I felt weight and with a strong, controlled pull of the rod had exactly what I was after – fish on!!! From there, the fish stopped coming towards me and started heading back towards the safety of the peak. Queue screaming drag, grunting author and bending, thumping rod as what was almost definitely a trev' thundered through the blue currents.

It was a good fight, a real gut bruiser, and it certainly scratched my itch for the day. It culminated in the arrival of a big golden shape from the depths and, being one of the more prestigious trevally species, topped off a really enjoyable afternoon on the water.
From there, with my respectable-size golden returned healthy to the water, it was only a short run home and we were both very happy with the afternoon’s outcome. It’d also made a few things very clear to me.

Firstly, you have to be willing to adapt your approach. Everyone can catch a fish when the conditions are perfect, but if we, as anglers, waited for those rare occasions before we made the attempt, we’d all have boats with less sea time than a Sudanese camel, and what’s the point in that? No folks, sometimes when the going gets tough the tough have to get crafty and that’s the trick to catching fish consistently. Do the same things all the time and you’re bound to fail, but if you can adapt your tactics to suit each trial and tribulation, you’ll do ok.

By putting a simple bean sinker into the loop knot, the jighead was able to get down into the
Lee Brake

Secondly, persistence is so vital. We could have just turned around when we saw the crud on the water and the lack of diving birds, but instead we persisted and thought a bit about the situation. Sure, it was a gamble to push out wider with a short window of time to play with, but to lay another cliché at your feet – nothing ventured, nothing gained!

And lastly, it’s so important to have a game plan. Look at the conditions before you go, pack accordingly (we will be stocking up on 1-2ounce jigs now for example), try to think up a few places where you think the fish will play, and always have a backup plan! Some spots might let you down, but it’s rare that nothing will be playing anywhere. It’s also a really nice feeling to have your plan come together – makes you feel like part of the A-Team.
Fish hard and stay safe.
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