By Glanville, Nomad Pro Guide: profile page >>
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Bugatti ReefJun 2009
3 weeksDrive Out Mothership trip
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This was the first of our drive out trips, where we do not use the seaplane to access the reefs, and instead just drive out to the reef onboard the mothership. These set of trips proved beyond any doubt that the reefs within range of Mackay for this type of trip are able to produce the same excellent standard of fishing that we enjoy at some of the more distant reefs accessed by floatplane. And for those that don’t mind a 12-15hr overnight ocean passage, these trips certainly offer a more affordable trip option.
After our guests meeting us on the boat at 5pm with the full operation ready to get under way, a quick safety briefing and an awesome dinner before it was time to throw the ropes…
The trip out to Bugatti reef takes on average about 10-14 hours, depending on weather, and we, the crew, were awaken by Karl on arrival at the reef at about 7am…Brett was going all out on a full course breakfast that he prepared whilst the rest of the crew sorted tow lines out and prepared the crane to throw some boats off the roof and into the water for a mad week to come of fishing.
On this trip we were accompanied by a bunch of guys who had rigged up and were mad keen on getting out on the water to chase some exciting surface water fishing in the form of GT popper fishing.
With the boats all ready to go, a mirror calm sea ahead of us and an ocean size body of water that had just started running out, making its way around, through, and over the endless supply of fishing area. Not knowing exactly where we were on the reef it meant a quick glance at our trusty means of navigation, (Aerial photos) then breakfast was a mere case of swallow now chew later…as a bunch of keen guys wanted to get some fish attached to the end of their lines.
With a game plan in all the guides heads it seemed it was a gun start as everyone set out in different direction to go hunt in their favourite grounds…before I could get to where I was heading I had shouts from Tim who was driving the Contender that they were 2 GT from 4 bites just reminding me that we not in some barren desert piece of water. With a new, fresh bunch of anglers on the boat I pulled up at the spot I was intending to start the day and with the sight of some terrified ‘Fusiliers’ (better known in our language as GT chocolates) up ahead the call to the guys was, “get ready and brace yourselves!” first casts and 2 fish immediately came charging through the Fusies a little over excited and missed the poppers, next cast resulted in a serious tight stick and the game was on…Welcome to the Coral Sea and Bugatti Reef guys!
The rest of the day continued in a similar sort of fashion and GTs came busting up on just about every acceptable piece of water and just about every second piece of water resulting in sky rockets propelling from the water ignited by cubera 125g poppers as Spanish Mackerel decided the a painted piece of wood shall be the meal of the day on their menu.
As the call on the radio earlier that day from Brett our chef for the subtle execution of one of these Spanish mackerel specimens as it was to appear on the starters menu for dinner, all decorated up in some ridiculous fashion, that I would not even expect in a top class restaurant, let alone to be fed to a bunch of fishing enthusiasts.
As the afternoon sun seemed to melt away we decided to make that the last event for the day before taking the cruise back to the mothership for some good snacks, on tap beer, accompanied everyone’s stories as to how day one turned out…
After one day of windy conditions that made life a little difficult and the fishing a little slower than usual, the weather cleared the following day and so the fishes tapeworms stood to attention and the fish seemed to be eating their faces off…the action, excitement and craziness that was conveyed that evening by some video footage that one of the guys took whilst catching 19 GTs on a boat in a single day was pretty awesome.
On the other hand we, fishing in the complete opposite area were lucky enough to end up with 15 GTs, 3 Spaniards and a heap of Bludger trevally where we joined up with Ed who at this stage was 3 rods bent over in an aquarium of fish as shoals of Bludgers accompanied by GTs, Mack Tuna, China man and Mackerel fed on swarms of bait fish in water no deeper than 1 meter on top of the reef only half a mile away from the mothership.
At least 150 GTs were caught this week and a couple massive fish were hooked up, a guest angler Patrick Suthern who had previously worked with the team for a 6 month period for work experience had one of the most awesome takes I have yet to see as a GT of no less than 45-50kg got fully airborne about 10meters off the back of the boat as it swallowed his popper between a flickering shoal of ‘Fusies’, after some serious pressure we seemed to subdue the fish in deep water and it was just a matter of deciding how Pat was going to hold this creature for a picture when the hook ended up pulling out due to an opened up 9/0 Jobu which does not often happen.
The fishing week ended off with a glassy calm cruise into the sunset arriving back in Mackay at 6:30am
We were hosting Mr Andy Chua’s annual family trip this week, and we had the 51ft Riviera along to add a little extra comfort for the guests. This week we chose a different location on the reef as we had a family from Singapore who were keen on targeting a variety of species to the norm of GTs, Spaniards and Tuna the pelagics of the reef and it was out to the deeper eastern shoals where we did some soft plastic jigging targeting pretty much what ever decided to attach itself and the amount of fish we caught was proof that the Cyclone Hamish did not in fact disturb the reef fish much at all as countless amounts of Red Throat Emperor, Red Emperor, Green Jobfish, Chinaman, Spangled Emperor and coral trout were in very good numbers. The red emperor fishing was excellent for the entire week, and we caught some quality fish up to 8kgs.
Between the light tackle jigging it was decided to put some lures out in hope to catch the odd Spaniard to keep everyone busy, Shark Mackerel and Spanish Mackerel were in such numbers that the children on the trip couldn’t decide what type of fishing they would prefer. Damon managed to tame what he claimed to be one of the biggest Spanish Mackerel he has ever seen in his years of experience fish the Barrier reef and was scared to put a figure on it but said it wouldn’t have been less than 35kg. On noticing a isolated bommie coming up to about 20m from 60m, Ed operating from Facsination, managed to get 2 of the reels screaming in quick succession with a double hook up on Dog tooth Tuna they were lucky enough to land one fish good fish of around 40kg but the other already had its tail between its legs and b lined for the reef doing what they know best… needless to say but the line returned to the boat in broken up shreds…on returning after a photo session for some jigging on the spot, they hooked up with a good few others but only were able to boat a few smaller specimens as the other creatures that attached themselves were something that the anglers just weren’t fully prepared for.
The guys on the trip soon became tired of all the fish catching which soon lead into competition where 2 boats set out in search of the biggest Spaniard and the most GTs…some pretty good action was had and pretty entertaining sights as some of the GTs nearly got the better of the ladies.
The weather was awesome for the entire week, and this fish certainly played the game very well indeed. By the end of the week, everyone was visibly exhausted from catching so many fish, and the last day was spent relaxing on a sand cay and exploring the reef flats at low tide. Andy and his family are looking to come back to Diamond Islets, where they hope to have some more luck with the plagues of dogtooth tuna at this location.
Returning to the same part of the reef as on the first week we were sure the fish would have had ample time to get their jaws fixed up and be in for round 2…
Leaving port in 20-25knots made for an interesting journey out to the reef and a little later start than usual as we had to be fully in the lagoons sheltered waters to lift the dories off the roof but the fishing that was to be had on the following week would have to be some of the best action I have been privileged to witness and some decent fish of up to 40-42kg were landed.
Karl moved the mothership to an area a little further north and we made our way over fishing some fruitful spots in between and every boat returning back to the home with good results as the guys slowly weaned themselves on what was to come.
After an evening discussion between the crew and a critical assessment of our trusty Google maps we decided to move the mothership to a anchorage about 8 miles further North making us a little more centralised and giving the 4 boats, 2 dories and 2 centre consoles, a shot at an area we were yet to explore and was it ever a good decision…
The morning started off a cracker and first stop, first cast, double hook up thanks for coming…we had 9fish in the boat by 1pm as we pulled up 4 for lunch behind a piece of reef on the slack of the tide as not to waste any fishing time and whilst there guys got themselves stuck into the awesome rolls Brett had prepared for our packed lunches, I had a chance to page through my maps and on finding an area what looked to be a sure game time on the change of the tide, the decision was made to go for a little run and fish closer to our new anchorage, on arriving not having fished the area, took a quick look and found a spot that looked suitable, a shoal that ran between 2 reefs and formed a sort of horse shoe at the end where a small submerged bommie was feeling the effect of the change of the tide, the call was made and the guys made their casts, first, second pops and GTs came from everywhere as if the gates of a horse race were just opened, as the water turned to an immediate boil with raging fish I noticed that we already had 3 rods bending, that was easy, after a little moaning and groaning 3 quality size GTs were brought to the boat all around the 25+kg mark, quickly returning to the place of this chaotic happening. What I saw on the first cast was just unbelievable…2 GTs got fully airborne as one collided with the other in a hopeful attempt to snatch the lure from its mouth, an absolutely incredible sight that I’m pretty sure if I got on camera I wouldn’t be writing this report as I would be a millionaire… never mind that at this stage we had another 3 rods bent over the gunwales, as the radio call was made to Ed, who wasn’t far off “game is on here bro there is fish everywhere, JUST COME!!!!”, the pandemonium on the deck increased somewhat and the shouts for gimbal belts became more urgent as line was going in every direction making it impossible for me to drive on the fish…you on your own guys, and not very long after another 3 GTs were brought to the boat all between 25-30kg, 6 fish landed in about 5mins pretty good going, I thought as I looked over towards Ed who had by this stage just arrived and instantly an explosion on one of the lure resulting in a body being bent over the front of the cage as Ed backed the fish out off the reef , by this stage the radios were firing with excitement, “tight stick, over!!”, we managed to get another fish before my guys refused to cast another lure, leaving us with a total of 18 solid GTs in the boat, all the boats managed to get good numbers of fish in the boats and lets just say there was much banter around the dinner table as guys spoke about the events of the day.
After experiencing this new water it lead me and Damo further north into uncharted territory in hunt for another gold mine of GTs…. we never had to go too far.
The following day sent us off and the fish seemed to have a mild case of lock jaw but this did not stop us from seeing them…it was just ridiculous and every spot we pulled up at we saw packs of fish coming up, anything from 3-4 or 20-30 fish at a time all coming up and having a swipe at the lures we still managed to get 12 and 13 fish each for the day but I would say that we each saw no less than 100 fish, well that’s the amount that actually came up and swiped at the lures for a closer look, myself and Damo had a chat later that evening and it was decided that if the fish had have been feeding and actually eating our lures we would have ended up with 30 each for the day – and yes it is possible…
It was the event on one of the last days that probably burnt a hole in my memory, it was truly unbelievable…On our way over to a new set of reef managed to stumble upon a bommie on the eastern edge, in a bay that was getting a little bit of current and for some or other reason looked a somewhat sexy, we stopped for a few quick casts and wasn’t long before a GT was attached, whilst fighting it I heard some noise behind us and upon turning around and seeing bait fish 1m in the air and the backs of about 10 GTs going absolutely mental in a mad frenzy as if they had never seen food before, the poor angler at this stage was getting shouts from his mates and me too, “pull that thing harder, hurry up, are you a girl or something, do you want a skirt, harden up!” Were just a few of the comments that I can mention as we tried to hurry him up so we could ease close and get some lures in the mess…it all seemed to peter out by the time we got the fish to the boat which was no short of 30 kg, some quick pictures and I mean quick, as I the other 3 guys waited anxiously all ready to fire their lures out. Driving to the piece of reef closest to where I thought they would return to and the casts were flying out before the boat came to a stop…3 pops and I think the boat started frothing with excitement worse than the water, as it literally turned black with GTs as they lost their minds for the lures…it wasn’t long before even I grabbed a 50lb rod, (don’t know what I was thinking) and had a flick leaving us with complete and uncontrolled chaos as there were bending rods everywhere, all five of us on the boat were at this stage bent double and believe it or not we only managed to get 2 fish out of the chaos, 1 quality size Spanish Mackerel which ate the lure at the boat after one of the GTs spat it out and 1 GT which in actual fact was taken on the little 50lb rod…shall we just say that we needed to stop and have a drink of water just to calm the nerves down to a mild panic! The rest of the day continued with the same amount of panic and we were able to subdue only 18 fish, an interesting and exciting day never the less.
We ended that week off with some of the best GT fishing ever and I was lucky enough in my boat to catch 61 GTs in just 5 days of fishing, giving you a small idea on what the total for the trip was with all 4 boats combined and yes that’s only in 5 days of fishing.
I’m sitting here thinking of some of the other stories I would like to put on paper but I’m running out of space. Every time I return to the Barrier reef and this area in particular it just seems to get better and better and I, after fishing a couple different area in the world for these fish and a true GT enthusiast at heart really don’t see any point in going anywhere else in the world to catch these beasts and I happily put whatever I own on the fact that there is not as many GTs along one stretch of reef anywhere in the world…trust me they out there waiting to get your rods bent on one and we are looking forward to see you guys out there.
Glanville and the Nomad team.
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