These past few weeks of fishing has pretty well confirmed that the reef around the Bugatti area is amongst the best GT fishing available anywhere. The average size of the fish we were catching was right up there, generally 20-23kgs would have been the average size, with plenty of fish over 40kgs landed during the 4 week block of trips, and several over 50kgs, with a few pushing 60kgs. We released over 180 GTs in a week when the wind howled at 30-40kn, and I don’t think there is anywhere else that you could achieve this.
The quality of the light tackle sportfishing for longtail tuna, spanish mackerel, coral trout, red bass and a vast array of other reef species was astounding. The acres of busting tuna at every turn made it difficult to concentrate on the GT fishing at times.
I truly believe that the combination of fishing variety, all weather fishing access and the huge quantity of fish available at this location will see this area develop into one of the truly great sportfishing destinations over the next few years. We simply could not have expected any more from this location, it really delivered the goods this year.
There’s so much about this area that words, pictures and videos will never describe, regardless of this, these are the means we have available to try and communicate the truly amazing nature of this location. Imagine being up an isolated narrow creek in one of the most remote areas of Australia, with mangrove trees lining the bank and fishy looking snags all along the bank, in some places the creek is only a matter of metres wide and up to 50 metres deep. Well if you replace the mangrove lined edges with pristine coral reef that rises up to a metre above the water at low tide, you are some way to imagining what cruising around this maze of reef is like.
The number of narrow channels, blue holes in the coral flats, gutters and blind gutters is simply impressive. It is this immense structure that provides sanctuary for such a huge volume of marine life. Also remember that we have now explored maybe 30% of the actual reef area in this location, and it is still a highly exploratory area. I would dare to say that this is probably one of the largest uncharted areas of reef still remaining in the world, and I can see why. Navigation through the plethora of reefs is simply impossible without good visibility and during the middle of the day.
The first week started with average weather, and around 20kn of wind, which is quite acceptable in this location. We had a variety of guests from all over the place, with Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Malaysia and the USA all represented on the same week. You can imagine that the conversation over various sporting and political issues became interesting at times!
Anyway, there were a lot of first time GT anglers and everyone managed to catch at least a 25kg GT within the first few days. Andre Favret from the USA managed a personal best GT of 35kgs within the first 2 days, and considering this was his first ever GT trip, this left a few jealous anglers.
The longtail tuna and spanish mackerel were in plague proportions and it was a case of catching as many 6-12kg longtails as you wanted. I can safely say that after having fished most places in Australia where longtails are prolific, I have never seen so many longtails, at such a good size, and feeding so hard for so much of the day. There were literally longtail tuna everywhere, acres of them busting all day long. You could catch them from the mothership before breakfast, at lunch and most of the day. Sitting at the breakfast table eating bacon and eggs while watching 10kg longtails bust up a few hundred metres away makes for some quick eating!!
The GT fishing the first few days was a little slow, but it was just because we were fishing the wrong places. The GTs were hanging down deep and so were the fusiliers they were feeding on. It was just a matter of fishing where the fusiliers should be, rather than where we could actually see them, and this was enough to find the fish. Most of the GTs were hanging in 25-30m on the edges of the drop offs, and feeding on fusiliers hanging mid water. There were of course the usual GT hordes in the shallows and in the blue holes, but the big numbers of fish were in the deep drop offs.
By the middle of the first week the fishing had improved (or maybe it was our knowledge of where to fish for them) and everyone was getting into some great GT action. We moved to an anchorage about 10 miles south of our first anchorage, and had some spectacular action along the way. In 5 hours fishing on the day we moved the dory with Ky, Uncas and Andre released 20 GT’s, and probably saw at least 60 fish hit their lures in the 5 hr session. It was some of the most amazing action fishing we have ever seen and the proliferation of GTs was hard to comprehend.
The second week saw a group of very keen GT anglers fly in, many of the group had been put together by Hal Harvey’s bluewater tackle store in WA, and while some anglers were extremely keen GT anglers, some were also quite new to the game.
The first afternoon saw Brandon, Gerard and Andrew knock over 6 solid 20kg+ GTs in 2 hours before dinner, a quite spectacular effort. A couple of the highlights for the second week were the 22 GTs landed in a day by Captain Ed, fishing with Malcolm, Che and Martin. Martin was on his first ever GT trip, and boated 13 GTs on his own in one day, quite an amazing effort.
Gerard was also on his first ever GT trip, and boated a big fish in the high 40kg bracket, not bad for your second day of GT fishing. There were several other 40-50kg fish hooked and lost, and also boated during this week, but the saddest story goes to Andrew Woodley-Page, who hooked an absolute behemoth GT on the edge of a reef. The fish screamed over the reef flat in amongst breaking waves, where we could not chase it. Our only choice was for Andrew to hold on tight and drive the opposite direction. By some absolute miracle we managed to pull the fish back into deep water and endured a 10 minute fight under massive pressure, only to pull the hooks on the fish with it under the boat and in sight. I think we used all our luck early in the fight, but this would have been a solid 60-70kg GT from what we saw under the boat. Of course I have to point out that Andrew was using a treble hook, and while we’ve lost plenty of fish on singles, our luck on big fish with trebles has been appalling over the past 18 months.
Ed Lester managed to get himself a new nickname of Captain Crunch, owing to the number of times he hit the reef during the trip, and Jason had some rather colourful nicknames for Brandon and Che, after they hooked 36 fish one day and got 2 fish in the boat.
The feeling at the end of the second week, even though we endured 30-40kn wind and some rain patches, was that the approximate 180 or so fish we released for the week could easily have been up to 300 released with a little more luck and a few less pulled hooks. The fishing was truly prolific, and even in the wind, the reefs around Bugatti provided everyone with an amazing experience.
Week 3 and 4 report by Jason Preece
The start of week 3 was a little bit breezy, but with 5 knots forecast for the end of the week no one seemed to mind. For the first day everyone was easing themselves into the GT fishing slowly with most boats chasing a few general sportfish to warm the arms up. Spanish Mackeral were plentiful in the 15-25kg range and were great fun on the lighter tackle. Michael managed to hook up to about 20kg version that proceeded to spool him on his small spin reel, until some slight catch up with the boat was required. LongTail tuna were also around in absolute plague proportions and with schools the size of football fields that weren’t exactly shy (you could drive into the middle of the school without them spooking) the light tackle spinning was an exhilarating option. Beng Lim from Singapore had an interesting longTail encounter, on hookup the tip of his rod popped out and went overboard with fish in tow. Luckily the tuna got off so recovery of his rod tip seemed certain until another tuna smashed his lure blistered off across the surface. The fish was played to the boat using just the butt and again he was close to regaining his tip until a huge shark decided the tuna was to be lunch and used his tip as a tooth pick.
With the weather improving rapidly GTs were on the agenda for the rest of the week, with almost glassy conditions the strikes were proving spectacular as the huge fish erupted at the surface behind the poppers. The blue holes were fishing well with Ed and Tim’s guys landing some great fish in the small confines of the coral lined holes. Everyone was starting to Get the GT bug and it was evident that with the pics that night of some great fish everyone’s efforts were paying off. Scared fusiliers could be spotted from miles away and were providing us with some great double hook-ups and the poppers were slammed as soon as they hit the water next to the nervous school of bait. Good numbers of trout and red throat were being caught on soft plastics in between GT drifts with the odd large chinaman stretching the light gear. Some large goldspot trevally were also making an appearance.
As the week unfolded and everyone had began to fine tune their GT fishing some real quality fish stared to emerge. Chuck, Beng and David were managing to extract some really nice fish around the 30kg mark, but the fish of the week came from Mark Herlars group. We were fishing in a small blue hole up on the reef flat and Neil put a cast over into the bottom corner. He blooped the popper a few times and turned to talk to me and as he did a monster GT came up and engulfed his popper. I yelled Fish on your lure! And as he turned back around he was already connected to a fish of a lifetime. The battle that followed lasted about 10 minutes and with some help from mark the fish was landed and estimated at around 55kgs! Not a bad effort for Neil’s first time GT Fishing!!!!
The guys on the fourth week flew into flat calm glassy conditions, and with a few hours left in the arvo it was straight off the plane with time to rig a rod or two and on the water for an late arm stretch before dinner. Tony and Reg landed a few nice fish on the first arvo around the 25kg mark. The next morning was a cracker with glassed out conditions and GTs a plenty! Tim Ed and Karl were up in the blue holes for the morning and saw a huge number off fish, with packs of 8 and 9 coming out and following but not quite munching. The action started to warm up as the day went on and Tony managed an awesome black GT. Matt also was rewarded for his efforts with some nice fish around the 25-30kg mark. The big macks were still around with some spectacular jumps up to 5m out of the water with popper firmly clenched in their teeth in the air.
As the week progressed and the GT numbers we growing we hard a call on the radio from Tim and Ed. We had suspected that there would be doGTooth out at Bugatti but hadn’t targeted them. While casting stick baits at an edge Tim said a doggie got airborne as it smashed the stick bait on the surface but unfortunately didn’t hook up and moments later Steve on Ed s boat had the same encounter when a rather large beer keg with teeth came charging out after his stick bait and unfortunately didn’t hook up!
Later in the day I came into a small channel to check out a spot that had previously had GTs smashing bait up in the shallows, cartwheeling out of the water and pushing each other out of the way. I never thought I would see it again but sure enough as we idled up to the spot about 10 huge black shapes blasted up into the shallows with small bait showering out of the water in front of them and then proceeded to churn the water to foam right in front of us. It’s not like the relatively sedate feeding motions of a tuna, this was like watching cars being dropped out of a plane and hitting the water at a fair speed, the explosions were un believable. Once we closed our jaws and the guys got a cast into the mayhem they all turned and came charging after the poppers with that much aggression they were pushing the poppers clean out of the water and engulfing them on re entry!
It’s fair to say that the presence of dogtooth tuna at Bugatti Reef is exciting enough in itself, let alone the huge numbers of GT’s and other species. We thought that the doggies would be there, and now we have seen a few, I think it’s just a matter of time until some really large doggies are landed at this location. The combination of the amazing light tackle sportfishing, GT fishing and potential dogtooth tuna fishing at these reefs is truly exciting. Bugatti Reef truly is one of the most exciting sportfishing locations available anywhere.
Can’t wait to get back there next year.
Damon Olsen and the Nomad Crew.
[divider top =”1″]
[jbutton size=”small” color=”black” link=”http://nomadsportfishing.com.au/?p=5000″]Photo Gallery[/jbutton] [jbutton size=”small” color=”black” link=”http://nomadsportfishing.com.au/?p=164″]Lagoon Explorer Trips[/jbutton] [jbutton size=”small” color=”black” link=”http://nomadsportfishing.com.au/?p=4206″]Rates&Dates[/jbutton] [jbutton size=”small” color=”black” link=”http://www.facebook.com/pages/Nomad-Sportfishing/290756067609453″]Facebook[/jbutton]