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Diamond IsletsDecember 2009
3 weeksCoral Sea Lagoon Explorer
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After 2 days of churning up the ocean we were a long time past the Barrier Reef, well and truly into the Coral Sea approaching our destination, Diamond Islets. At about 5am I was woken to take my turn behind the wheel and I realized that we were only 50 miles away from the western edge of the atoll. There were three of us fishing savages in the game boat, Rod, Chris and myself, chugging away a 7.5 knots alongside the mothership, staring into near purple water, when the torture of not fishing became too much and we decided to prepare a pair of 80W with couple of larger skirts in hope of raising a Marlin on our journey up to the anchorage.
We had barely settled down before the reel starting screaming away with a 250lb Blue Marlin, the fish was released and we continued our journey, with excitement levels in the red by this stage and stories of the previous year’s Dogtooth action at full go – fish that were just impossible to stop before busting you up in the reef, smoke coming from reels and drags tightened up so tight that it was actually silly. Well it was all about to become a reality again….
All discussion finished as we noticed the first ball of bait appear on the sounder, which sent myself scrambling down the stairs to get a couple of jig rods ready for attack. Chris had not done massive amounts of jigging before this trip and was intrigued by some of the stories, which I could see he had trouble believing until….focus at this stage had turned to the sounder again as a fresh ball of bait appeared, we stopped the boat immediately and scrambled out of the fly bridge to drop a jig down amongst the bait fish.
Rod got to the bottom first and managed to get 2 jigs in before putting an abnormal bend into his jig rod, as my jig neared the bottom I clipped over my bail and was nearly sent straight into the ocean as the Dogtooth tuna charged my jig on the sink. At this stage we had a terrified shoal of Rainbow Runners , or otherwise known as Dogtooth chocolates, using the bottom of our boat as protection as the shadows of Doggies terrorized them endlessly. Rod managed to get 2 winds on his fish before it decided that it wasn’t at all happy with the situation and screamed off ridiculously into the reef.
This seemed to cause a magnetic effect on the fish that I was hooked into, that hadn’t stopped since the hook was lodged in his mouth, it thought it was in some sort of fish Olympics trying to break some speed record, the whole ordeal lasted about 10 seconds, before I was lying on my back on the deck with an empty reel and a broken ego. Frantically tying another leader and jig on I was back in the game, half way to the bottom, two jigs and instant bending, we had three rods folded over the gunwales and were in battle. “ WELCOME TO DIAMOND ISLETS GUYS!!!”, was the comment at this time, in the whole ten minutes of frenzy there was not a second that at least one of us weren’t in a battle stance, or hanging on for life, we only managed to land one fish of around 25kg, broke a rod, got busted off four times with bus fish and at this stage we put our tails between our legs and made a run for the hills, deciding to leave the carnage for the guests arriving the following day.
The first plane of guests were blessed with perfect conditions on arrival and after a lunch and safety briefing it was all out on dropping some jigs and catching a few fish. The first afternoon we got some serious fish hooked up but only managed to about five or so doggies and a massive wahoo that attacked a jig just under the boat.
We set out the next morning with serious intentions and, armed with a bunch of mad keen guys, we travelled over to one of the more favoured places. On arrival there was similar carnage to what we experienced on the trip over, the first three jigs down resulted in one fish hooked up, one lost and one missed. As I turned around noticed that Rod had two rods bending on his boat just 30 meters away, game on was in my mind as I boated the first fish that would have probably pushed the scales to 25kg, took a couple of quick pics and back she went as I heard the call from Rod on the radio that they just boated a fish of 40kg. The action continued for a while and all the boats managed to get fish consistently for an hour before the fish smelt a rat and got a little lock jaw. In that first session we probably lost four or five fish that unceremoniously destroyed the guys and their 130lb tackle… We slowly fished our way to another spot and the fishing seemed to slow down a little during the warmth of the day. A look in the shallower water left us finding some good action on the jigs with Red Bass, Jobfish, GTs and all sorts of other reef fish.
Over the next couple days the Doggies seemed to slow down and we were only getting patches of action, where it would go off its nut for short periods leaving the guys gasping for breath after which the fish seemed to get a bit of lock jaw then masses of sharks would appear. Some of the guys decided to take a rest and troll some lures around back towards the mothership where they planned to do some fly fishing off the island, it wasn’t long before there was a call on the radio that someone had just lost a Marlin and not long after that they raised a sailfish In the hour and a half it took them to troll back to the mother ship they managed to raise a fair few billfish that weren’t quite game to come up and charge the lures in the middle of the day.
Over a couple of drinks later that afternoon the decision was to move anchorages to see if we could go cover some unfished water and find some quality fish on jigs. We had 4 guys on this week who were just mad keen jiggers and they were on the water from 5am till 7pm every day. It wasn’t long before we noticed the routine with the Dogtooth tuna, early morning and late afternoon seemed to be the go and whilst the rest of the gang were hugging their pillows Stan and his group of enthusiasts hooked up on some solid fish, managing to land a few smaller fish around the 20kg mark and an awesome specimen that sadly had a chunk bitten out of it right at the boat. Besides this it pulled the scale to 60kg, and by the way Rod described how the reels screamed off on the missed fish the others made this 60kg model sound like a runt.
After breakfast we had guys having a little trouble deciding what fish to go hunt, beastly Dogtooth tuna or the billfish they had previously seen. Billfish was the call of the day and it was only 9am when we heard Damon shout some excitement as a 400lb black smashed a skipping mack tuna They managed to raise a pile of sailfish too during the morning but only managed to set the hooks in one fish that was brought to the boat for some pics. It’s quite difficult pulling lures for billfish when there are monstrous dogs out on the loose, as the hooks you would prefer to use on billfish like sails would straighten like pins in a heartbeat with the amount of pressure you need to put on the bigger doggies to prevent them from wrapping bows around the coral.
The jigging once again seemed to be very patchy, we had three pieces of action that were nothing short of electrifying but seemed to fade out after catching only a handful of fish. The most frustrating thing was that you could see the doggies swimming under the boat and on the sounder, which seemed to have smoke coming out the sides of it at times, but all we could get out of them was the odd bite and lots of follows right up to the side of the boat which kept the blood pumping through the veins.
It was later that evening in a discussion around dinner that we realized that there were far less turtles coming up the beach to lay eggs than there had been in previous years, which then got us talking about the late start of the heavy tackle marlin that occurs around Lizard and Cairns. It wasn’t until a couple of us went for a dive and a snorkel that we realized the currents seemed to be much colder than the previous years. This was noticeable when you dived down beneath the water below the surface that was warmed by the sun – the temperature would plummet to a fair few degrees cooler, which would have no doubt had a massive influence on the doggies’ appetite, giving us fair reason to believe this could be the reason the shoals of Rainbow Runners that we were seeing on a regular basis weren’t getting demolished by the hounds and likewise predators. Besides this we still had some really good action and there was an afternoon when we got a call from Tim saying he was hooking some quality fish and we all ended up joining him on a drop off that was holding some good bait showings. Every drift we managed to get some good quality fish out before the sharks made a meal of it as it got dark, and by this stage an ice cold beer was probably the order of the day as we set towards the anchorage.
A patch of weather left us with limited options, fishing close around the bommies at the anchorage catching Red Bass, Coral Trout, GTs and Bluefins in the shallow water and targeting bluefins and GTs off the beach. This turned out to be pretty successful and one of our fly anglers on the trip was consistently catching 2 or 3 GTs over the high tide period, the biggest was around 23kg.
The last week ended off leaving us feeling very insignificant with every dogtooth that we hook practically raping our tackle, fish up to 40kg seemed like mere toys in comparison. On one afternoon we hooked three of these creatures that left us staring at a rapidly emptying Tiagra 30W with 150lb braid that had a drag cranked up to sunset with nothing less than 30kg and yet our tackle still seemed like it was only suitable for whiting. By this stage we had a group of anglers keen to seek revenge on these specimens and over a couple of drinks we came with an attack plan… the following day we thought we would get a little aggressive and attached 2 rods to one lure that was nearly the size of a 2L coke bottle, we managed to get two bites but were unsuccessful in hooking up to one of the bigger creatures. I’m sitting here in the office today reminiscing about the trip and I can’t wait to get back there myself with a new and improved way of catching these critters.
Overall the fishing was great and some really awesome action was had at times, the afternoon drinks on a deserted island priceless. Once again I’m sitting here with all the other memorable occasions that I would like to explain but I would keep you guys busy for probably a week. Looking forward to fishing with you guys again sometime soon and I hope the new year is a very prosperous one for everyone.
All the best from the Nomad Team.
As I write this report, we’re heading back to Jewell for another couple of trips, so stand by for another report in a few weeks time.
See you out there.
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