We started off the trip working the isolated reefs and with a nice flat forecast for a few days ensured some good fishing to follow, our first bunch of guests were on the boat nice and early and with a flat calm ocean it was quite difficult to get the eggs and bacon the hatch without constantly gazing out the window at the shoal of bludger trevally which by this stage was busting up all over the reefs edge only 50m from the edge of Odyssey
The guys quickly got there tackle rigged and were on the water in a flash and a blur, it wasn’t long before I heard the comments on the radio of Alex getting stuck into a pack of GT, Welcome to Bugatti reef guys. The second plane was due in a few hours which left the other 2 boats back at Odyssey ready to go, the guests arrived and a quick safety briefing and a feed and we were at it… the first spot we stopped at I noticed a solid bar a fusilier all over the edge it going to game here for sure, and that wasn’t far wrong, second cast and there he was a nice GT pushing just over 25kg destroyed the popper from the surface, wow that why we fish for GTs.
The rest of the afternoon was consistent and every spot we stopped at that had a bit of current flowing over it was lined with fusiliers and under the carpets of fusiliers were the angry beasts. We had been on the water for an hour and a half and already had 5 fish to the boat with a few casualties in between, there was one particular spot that sticks in my mind here and I remember driving around this perfect current edge and just knowing the game was on the guys cast there lures out in a frantic panic, I don’t think the first lure hit the water as a GT came and engulfed it immediately, the rest of the drift was just carnage one of the guys threw their lure between a frothing patch of fusies and just couldn’t get hooked up, not cause there wasn’t any fish but the opposite, there was too many, the GTs were fighting each other for the lure, there seemed to be more fish bit out the water than in and in the turmoil the lure seemed to vanish and the game was on as Jason nearly got lurched out the boat, line screaming off his reel insured us that this fish wasn’t all that happy, a small while later and the block of silver came spiralling out of the deep a nice solid 32kg specimen not a bad way to start a fish trip, we had a cracker of an afternoon in near glass condition and we ended up watching a pack of GTs completely obliterate a small shoal of mack tuna, the only way that seems adequate to describe the occasion was like an airstrike on a small village, lots of white water and things flying all over the place and in seconds there was only the disturbed surface of the ocean and seconds later an eruption of mess in another spot all this while the sun set over a glass calm ocean after already catching 12 GTs not a bad way to end the first day….
The weather during the following days made a bit of a turn although there was very little wind and we were still fishing in very calm seas the air temperature had dropped by 10 degrees, it’s the first time I can ever recall being in full wet weather gear in perfect sunshine out on the barrier reef and still freezing cold, the fish still seemed to be showing their faces and but did seem a little reluctant to get their backs out of the water in true GT fashion, never the less every day we were consistently catching good numbers of fish. There was one particular afternoon that the wind had picked up a little more than previous days and we decided to chase some mackerel and try and widen our species list it payed off and we ended up having a fantastic day catching some good Spanish mackerel, a 12kg long tail and a mammoth of a creature that consisted of 40kg of barracuda, the biggest barracuda I have seen by a long way and probably the most memorable fish too it got airborne on several occasions and actually put up a spectacular fight for a barracuda.
The last couple of day of the charter were forecast for some foul weather so we decided to make a move to the out edge of the barrier reef where there is more protection, this area of reef had not been fished since last year August so we were all looking forward to getting into a few blue holes to go and target some of the beasts this is probably my favourite area for targeting big fish and they were there we managed to see a couple of fish around the 50kg mark and had our chances but in saying this we did boat our fair share of fish that would have tipped a scale to 35kg. There was one particular morning in the rough water that proved to be very entertaining, I found this sneaky little edge that was packed full of dogtooth tuna a rarity in this particular area so we took full advantage of this blessing we managed to catch 8 fish on poppers trolling minnows and soft plastics, it was a short lived little session but it was on fire, we had one specimen of about 60kg just cruising under the boat watching us good to know that the odd pack of these creatures will pass through the area, Alex and Pete were also lucky enough to put the hooks in 3 fish all the fish seemed to be small pack size up to about 18kg but a nice surprise. The GT fishing by this stage in the weather had completely moved into the blue holes and the fish were a little sparse but the sizes had definitely stepped up a notch and it seemed that every second fish we saw was a beast and this certainly kept the guys on their toes, we were a little unlucky not to boat a big one but I’m sure the guys next week are going to get lucky on a few, they certainly hunting the area…..
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Flying in over the reef really is one of the most impressive things you can do in your lifetime and especially when you’re on a seaplane bound for an extreme 6 day fishing trip to the outer barrier reef! Even though I’ve done the flight a couple of times you never get sick of the anticipation that is at the end of the journey.
When we landed, the remainder of the guests waiting to fly out all had an infectious amount of satisfaction oozing from them, which was a great way to start our week. As most of the day had already passed the guys decided to gear up ready for an early start the next morning. The wind was up earlier than us unfortunately which made things a little tricky for the first day and most of the guys seemed to take safe homage in the blue holes where most of the action seems to happen on the rougher days. Grahame Stevenson managed to land a hefty 43kilo GT today with Pete in Blue Dory and I’ll tell you one thing a fish like that will keep you casting for hours on end in anticipation for the privilege to see another specimen like that. Most of the boys coming home with similar catches of a few GT’s, Big Red Bass, Gold Spots and Spanish making up most of the menu.
Waking up on the second day things were looking much the same out of the window as the day before, heading out though things seemed to be a little different with a lot more fish showing themselves which was great to see. Again Pete on Blue dory managed to line himself up on another beast of a fish which was estimated much bigger than the 43kilo model he boated yesterday. Trying to land these monsters that shelter in blue holes is very tricky – for both parties and it really is a special moment when the fish is boated. This one however obviously had done his homework and managed to find his way to the exit leaving the boys in tears. Other guys opted for a spot of light tackle assault today which for parts of the day is a great way to stay entertained in the rough conditions. Going light really can produce some quality unexpected fish which makes for some of my most memorable catches.
We were promised dissipating sea conditions along with the wind and it seemed that for a change the weather bureau had given us a decent forecast. Heading north today to a new anchorage brought with it an eagerness as to what the new ground had to offer. As we headed up one of the main channels it soon became apparent that the sea was still rather large from the wind over the last few days with pressure waves painting the horizon like a scene from point break. The wind however had dropped a lot which was a good sign that things would settle down in the days to come. We pushed through to get around the corner where things would be a little more manageable and managed to raise a pack of fish at the entrance to our short cut which was a great start to the morning. As the tide turned things started to look up for us and we started to see more and more activity along ledges. Kyle managed to land a nice fish of 37 kilos before lunch which was a real winner and this made the other two guys find their casting arms for the rest of the afternoon which was in need. Zach was casting a popper all day and he managed to land a fair few fish on it from nice 6 kilo red bass and GTs, gold spots but he didn’t have any idea of what was about to happen…..he grabbed his other rod with a stick bait and on his first cast a MONSTER came up and broadsided the boat to show us his size and left a hole where the lure was…..game time! I was running around like a stunned mullet and felt like I was at a million dollar horse race screaming at my pick for the last 50 meters, go Zach get up him. The fish came in at an outstanding 43 kilos and even though we had boated this fish it really truly and honestly finished Zach, all his battery cells were now bone dry and nothing would bring him back. Driving back to the mothership and passing Alex on Red Dory Brian and Larry Rapp were jumping and waving their hands as if they were in distress so we motored up to them to see what was wrong only to see the excitement on Brian’s face that he had just landed his first dogtooth and they had just seen another decent fish miss there stickbait just then. Things were heating up and it was time to get our dancing shoes on.
With a long road ahead of us today we decided to do most of our running early on in the morning. Approaching our first stop saw the guys waiting in anticipation, our first 10 casts saw us losing 3 stick baits to cross eyed Spanish which was a little frustrating for the guys so we moved on only to lose another two before lunch! So this became a challenge where the fish were beating us 5 – nil. As the day progressed however we managed to slowly catch up without losing anymore lures but still finding it hard to stay attached for some reason. We evened the score at the end of the day with a nice 31 kilo GT that breeched to get Warren’s stickbait then couldn’t get his prop back in the water causing a huge commotion on the surface before finally digging in and peeling line off across the flats, chasing them in the shallows is a really exciting way to catch these fish. Again there were reports of doggies in the area which is really nice to see.
Finishing off the week with flat seas and fish frothing is always a favorite for me. Which is how it went down for us this trip. Flat seas, sun shining and patches of bait scattering the edges is what you want to see! Reports coming in over the radio of mayhem happening all over the place is not really what you want to hear while you stuck on the mothership waiting for the seaplane! Itching to get out there and slay some fish – today it was up to the other boys to bring the game home and boy did they. Alex had Dave Butfield on his boat and they managed to land 6 GT’s by midday and must have lost another 6! Although it was time to head back today everyone was on high spirits including James who managed to land a thumper 28kilo GT on a 8wt fly rod on the flats along with heaps of other species. This week saw us boating well over 70 GT’s two of which were 43kilos and 5 over 35kilos! alongside some stonker Red Bass, gold spots, bludgers, doggies and decent Spanish. Looks like Elusive delivered the goods once again!
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