Exmouth Gulf action in the Western Angler Westerberg Bandit

He's gone to boats

Legendary WA fishing writer Ross Cusack, aka Cuey, has a favourite saying – “He’s gone to boats”.

It is a damning comment by the veteran beach fisherman on the credibility of any shore angler who dares forsake the sand beneath their toes for the allure of offshore fishing.

I’ve never quite “gone to boats” but I did go to kayaks when I started looking for something to expand my fishing horizons more than a decade ago, and a thoroughly rewarding decision that has been.

However, I’ve never really felt the urge to take the next step into serious offshore fishing, despite the obvious attraction for many other anglers.

I enjoy bluewater and game fishing in small doses generally and haven’t had the urge to invest in a big boat, maybe partly because WA stands for Windy Always and boat stands for “bring out another thousand” – neither of which add to the appeal!

Throw in the ungodly early starts and boating has always seemed something of a mission, meaning generally I have always been most content in the inshore environment, often in estuaries and rivers which as it happens are perfect for kayak fishing.

This year has seen a subtle shift in my mindset though in that we at Western Angler have been lucky enough to be given access to a 5.4m sportfishing centre console by Albany boat builder Westerberg.

The Western Angler project boat is a cracker and has inspired me to do some more boat fishing, which in turn means I am starting to see the appeal that it has with WA’s many dedicated offshore fishos.

By no means would I call myself an expert in offshore fishing and I do have great admiration for those who regularly put in the miles and have honed their craft to be able to consistently catch the iconic bluewater species as dhufish, red emperor and billfish.

The Westerberg Bandit is certainly encouraging me to get out on the water and expand my fishing horizons.

On a recent trip to Exmouth, I dedicated a couple of days to sportfishing in the gulf from the Bandit and had a ball.

The front casting deck is perfect for either casting at pelagics or jigging for demersals, and the Minn-Kota GPS Spot Lock electric means the boat can be held in position without anchoring, which is a fantastic tool to have at our disposal.

Centre consoles can be wet, but the Bandit has already proven it handles chop very well and the flare at the bow has kept us dry in some pretty average conditions, while the Honda 150 four-stroke has the boat sitting at over 30 knots on a good day and is very economical to run.

Throw in an electric winch, live bait tank, kill tank and some of the latest electronics from Garmin and you have a winning combination for offshore sportfishing.

The custom-built Westerberg trailer makes towing a breeze and its even got a Boatcatch on the front, which means we can be on and off the trailer in seconds at the ramp, avoiding death stares from other boaters waiting their turn.

So far, it’s been hard to find fault with the boat and I am actually looking forward to doing some exploring it over the next 12 months.

Don’t tell Cuey, but I might get used to boat fishing yet!

Caption: Exmouth Gulf action in the Western Angler Westerberg Bandit.