This was GT fishing and general sportfishing simply as good as you could ever hope to see. Were blessed with great weather, heaps of fish, and many great groups of guests for this block of trips. The spanish mackerel were prolific at times, the GTs were just everywhere, and there was the usual April plagues of longtail tuna. The GT fishing just keeps getting better at Bugatti the more we learn about the reef structure and location, and our decision to do more trips to this area throughout 2009 is an exciting prospect. There are still large areas of this reef system we’ve never even fished at yet, and given that we’re out there again in July, this is an exciting prospect for our fishing crew and the next group of guests.
TRIP REPORT PART 1
Compiled and written by Glanville Heydenrych
Once again this GT infested area did not let us down and some amazing fishing was had on the 4 weeks of charter with well over 650 GTs being subdued and brought to the boat in the course of our 4 six day charter blocks.
After some information we received from the commercial boats that the reef had been somewhat traumatized from the cyclone “Hamish”, during the middle of March, we were a little sceptical and were wondering how the fishing would turn out due to the prior weather conditions.
On our arrival at the reef seeing the current at full flow streaming between the maize of channels which make up the area of Bugatti reef, we knew the fish had to be around; the place just looks too good!
After readying the boats and tackle for the first fresh, load of guests who arrived at midday, it was a standard safety briefing and a lunch which consisted of some tasty prawn dish that Brett prepared for the team, it was time to get straight out on the water, and the spots produced just as they are renowned to and never let us down with some late afternoon GT action and a whole bunch of excitement to get the blood pumping through the veins and to wake the guests up to the fact that they have a full week of madness in the form of GTs erupting on lures – all part of the game at Bugatti!
In my 5 and a half years of experience as a professional sports fishing guide that has concentrated and specialized mainly on catching GTs and other pelagic species on all forms of tackle, I have never seen nor dreamt of a place that I could compare to this area. I have guided in some great fisheries like Mozambique, Oman and other tropical locales, but the numbers and even the sizes of the fish that inhabit the waters around the Great Barrier Reef and especially this area of reef called Bugatti are just something I can’t even really comprehend…
There was a couple of incidences on this charter that absolutely blew me away and I still from time to time think was I dreaming and take a look back at couple of the pics from the day just to remind my blown memory, the first full day of the second week of charter the current had just stared to pick up properly and with this we decided to move to a new section of reef and split the area up by fishing 2 teams of boats, a 25ft centre console an 18ft centre console, with the smaller boat targeting blue holes and larger centre consoles in the channels and pressure points where the water was a little deeper and more manageable. Blue holes, for those who aren’t familiar are deeper areas of water on top of the reef which from tidal pools as the tide runs completely out and the GTs and various other reef species actually use them as ambush points as well as a place to hide from the raging current.
As the tide began to run out with huge amounts of bait rich water draining off the reef into these holes it was time to get into them and do some hunting, armed with a team of mad keen GT anglers, Brandon, Tak and Paul we went searching and what we were blessed to see on entering the first blue hole that I was confident would produce was extraordinary. The first couple casts in mad current feeding into the hole were baron until we drifted a little further into the hole where there were a few coral bommies, an expression of interest was made and I quickly alerted Brandon to send a cast to a bommie and what happened next was all chaos, there must have been no less than 15 fish all of quality size trying to smash each other out of the way and as Brandon ran out of water and paused his lure just a meter from the tip of his rod some angry GT decided the time had come, and a fish of around 35kg solidly hooked up, was the angler hooked?, by this stage in the middle of the blue hole and Brandon’s “Super Popping GT Rod”, bent from the reel seat and what was left of a jealous shoal of GTs swimming around the boat laughing at the expressions of what one could only call pain coming from the angler, some quick shouts were made to the other anglers to make a cast to the bommie and in the excitement and chaos it seemed like the “CNS” (Casting Navigation System), had been completely destroyed already in the first day of insane GT fishing, the lures ended up going behind enemy lines 180 degrees apart covering a wide area of water nowhere near the danger zone being the bommie where I was thinking the enemy would still be lurking and as I looked up before trying to wrap my hand around the fat scoots of the first GT that Brandon was still doing battle with, I noticed the water behind Taks lure off the bow of the boat was being bombarded by attack and frothed up by a completely different pack of fish and at the same time some nervous shouts were heard from Paul back at the stern and what I looked up and saw what is still tattooed in my mind as an army of angry GTs trying to smash each other out of the way to be the victor of Pauls lure, I quickly placed Brandon’s beast on the deck in a puddle of water at the stern and out of the way and was on the controls to try and save Tak from getting abducted by a pack of GTs from my boat as he was pulled over the cage arms fully stretched which ended up in tears as the fish tied a bimini twist with 130lb varivas around the bommie in such impressive fashion that the fish’s knot tying ability made me a little envious as a guide. Attention was immediately focused onto Pauls fish now which gentlemanly ran into the middle of the hole away from any structure and unluckily a couple minutes later the hooks pulled before the fish was brought to the boat, during all this mayhem I managed to place a tag, get the measurements of Brandon’s angry monster, (FL-118cm/G-90cm) and a couple quick pics before the fish was returned to its office, we were left with what part of the shoal in the blue hole which still took interest in my boat, a shoal of no less than 40 GTs which circled around the boat as if to say, ”is that all you got?”, between them more than just a few specimens that would have tipped the needle of a scale well past 40kg.
It didn’t all end there… the day continued it pretty much the same fashion but only packs of 5-10 fish at a time, meeting up for a chilled out lunch, drifting around while we waited for the run in tide with Damon on the centre console who had been fishing exact piece of reef as myself but completely different style, in the deeper channels and points to see how they had been? To no surprise they had some pretty mad action by the sounds of things and we were at that stage both 6 quality fish up each…The tide began to run in and the game was back on and a small social competition was to be had between myself and Damon which resulted in some out of this world fishing that followed that afternoon, Damon managed to pimp me by 3 fish and our numbers for the day were 11 and 14 and a worn out crew who stretched to the max by the Bugatti GTs.
The next 2 weeks followed in pretty much the same fashion and in 5 consecutive days I fished very similar areas around the particular reef system and end up catching consistent fish every day and when the new guests arrived I had come up with a couple of names for the places I had been fishing. I subsequently asked my anglers “are you hungry?” and told them to place their orders and don’t be scared because ….. We are going to the “Drive Thru”!
Soon they just laughed, and thought I was kidding, until their poppers were sent flying through the air towards the danger zone which was a narrow channel between two bommies, where they were instantly on with their first pops of the lures, and met with a triple hook up and in the madness never managed to boat a single fish as they angrily all chose a different path which resulted in a double bust off and two donations to the ever increasing GT fund and one angler bent double over the stern a I backed the boat up in the chop chasing the fish which at this stage had reef on its mind and contributing yet another lure to the GT fund. After a solid five minutes of fighting this fish Tony who is a solid man himself started bleating a little, which is a rare thing for those who have ever met Tony!, and the fish came to the surface with the extra pressure and I nearly fell off the boat with the size of the specimen, I don’t really like giving figures on fish that have been lost and I confidently called the fish over 50kg after seeing only just near the boat where unluckily and extremely disappointingly for Tony the hooks ended up opening up under the boat with the excessive pressure he put on the fish to save it from wrapping around the bommie.
This day and all the other stupid action we had throughout the 4 weeks just made me wonder just how many GTs make the waters between the maize of Bugatti reef their homes, some pretty phenomenal reef system where stories like these can only be believed when you see the sort of action first hand for yourself.
I could sit and write stories like this one until I shrivelled up and died of old age but I don’t think Damon would be able to fit it all into the website, and you guys would start to think I was making it all up because there are just so many stories to tell. It is hard to convey to you just how mental some of the days were out there on our last visit to Bugatti Reef and that is only from 4 weeks of charter in the area which I am sure is so large and full of fish that it is an unexploitable GT fishing industry which is sure to last a lifetime.
Between the GT fishing, we did mix it up a little to see what species we could tame an expectedly due to the damage that Tropical Cyclone, Hamish, caused earlier in the year the reef species were a little slow although during the last week we did notice a few more Coral Trout, Maori Wrasse and other species coming back onto the top of the reef and back into the blue holes which they usually make their homes, saying this we managed to catch some good sized Spanish Mackerel , Shark Mackerel when we took the time to troll some lures around, Tim also managed to raise and catch a Wahoo which pulled the Boga grip to full extent of 60lbs a good quality Wahoo taking into consideration that we don’t target this species at the Bugatti reef system.
How could you possibly explain this to an audience? Dean and his 3 guests fishing out of the dory for the day, with a couple GTs in the boat already for the morning, he managed to find a good patch of “Fusiliers” on a point where the current was wrapping around, the shoal of bait fish looking very frightened with a short life expectancy as the two poppers were cast between them, as the lures were retrieved something abnormally big appeared behind one of the lures and followed it interestedly to the boat and on noticing what it was some quick thinking action was made by Dean as he grabbed a rod rigged with a stick bait a casted it out to the area and passed the rod over and on retrieval of the lure a small Black Marlin 50-80kg stuck its bill out the water and gracefully smashed the lure, was hooked up for a good few seconds, but it unluckily managed to spit the hooks before they were properly set but an exciting moment on the boat as you can imagine.
Like I said there are so many events that took place that I would be able to write a book in only 4weeks but it was awesome fishing with everyone on the charters and we look forward to seeing you guys again. Personally, I can’t wait to get back to this area and explore some more of this incredible place.
Keep well and tight stick
Glanville and the Nomad Team
Trip report PART 2
Written by Damon Olsen
I’ll struggle to top Glanville’s trip report for excited writing styel. For those that have met and fished with Glanville, you’ll appreciate that his writing reflects the way he fishes, the excitement that comes through is palpable.
There’s not a lot more I can add to the trip report other than add in more stories of chaotic GT fishing, and to have a look at some of my favourite moments from the 4 weeks we were out there. I think one of the important things to realise about this, and any fishing location, is that every location has good days, great days, and then some slow days. This is the nature of fishing, but it must be said that during the past 4 weeks of charter, the slow days were few and far between, and it is this consistency, probably above even the chaotic action sequences, that sets this area of Bugatti Reef apart from many other destinations.
A couple of my favourite memories from this round of trips included a very large GT swimming up to the side of the boat, so close you could have patted it, and subtely inhaling a fly presented by Rod Kimberley. The delicacy with which this fish calmly swam up to the boat, then ate the fly, and unceremoniously busted Rod off in a matter of seconds is testament to the unique and endearing ways of these fish.
We spent a good part of the first week at Bugatti reef targeting GTs on fly, and even managed to land a couple of GTs of 25-28kgs on the fly, which was a fairly impressive effort. I should however say that landing and even hooking these fish on fly is extremely difficult, and landing 1-2 fish in a week per angler is an exceptional effort.
I also have to mention the last week of fishing that we experienced at Bugatti Reef. It was flat calm, and I mean so calm that you can’t see where the sea finishes and the sky starts, and did I mention it was hot! Anyway, usually when the weather is like this the fish go off the bite a bit, well not this week, they stepped up a gear and went crazy. The surface strikes from angry GTs crashing poppers and stickbaits in glass calm seas was something truly spectacular. Our best day for the trip occurred during this incredible weather, and with Graham Campbell, and Steven and Tom Cooper onboard the contender, we managed to land 22 Gts in a single day. We would have easily hooked up around 40-45 fish for the day and probably saw somewhere near a hundred GTs for the day. Added to this were numerous 20kg spanish mackerel, shark mackerel, and even a solid red bass. Steve Cooper even landed a personal best GT that would have been somewhere around the magic 100lb mark, and probably a touch over if it had been weighed, either way it was a massive fish.
I could go on recounting fish stories all day, but I’d also like to mention the effects of Cyclone Hamish to everyone, because we get asked about this a lot. It was obvious that the Category 5 cyclone named Hamish had done a serious amount of damage to the windward edges of the reef systems. In fact some of the new boulders piled on top of the reef were testament to what 200-250km/hr wind gusts can do. It was also obvious that the reef species that usually inhabit the shallows had headed for deeper water. The fishing for coral trout and red throat emperor in 30-60m of water was excellent when we did do it, but there was a distinct lack of smaller coral trout, red bass and emperor in the shallow lagoons areas. The GTs, spanish mackerel and other pelagics were however in abundance in the shallow areas.
The only concerning feature we saw on the Reef was an abundance of green algae in the shallow areas of the reef. It seems that this weed is only present on the windward edges of the reef, and my suspicion is that the massive waves ripped this weed off the deeper bottom areas and washed it up onto the shallow part of the reef.
It was however nice to see that the coral on the protected edges of the reef was just as pristine as ever, and that despite the huge seas during the cyclone, the reef is in very good condition overall. The thing to remember here is that cyclones have been battering the reef for a lot longer than people have been fishing it, and this simply seems to be a process of cleaning and renewal. It will take maybe a few years for the coral on the windward edges to come back to life, but it won’t take too long for the reef fish to return. The amount of baitfish we saw in the shallows was truly incredible. I can safely say that this reef system is in good health, and that I’ve never seen such an abundance of baitfish anywhere. It will be interesting to see what condition the reef is in when we visit in July. I’d expect just as many GTs, but I think the reef fish will be back in plague proportions again.
Hope to see you all out on the water someday soon.
Damon and the Nomad Team.
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