We compile all guests images onto a disc at the end of each week, and to give an idea of how many fish were caught, over 3 weeks fishing there were 13692 photos taken between guides and guests, and Mr Minami shot 27 hours of video in 5 days.
I know we seem to say this every month lately, but this was one of the best trips we have ever had, and probably the best trip we’ve done so far in 2009. The truth is that the fishing just gets better because we are now going to the right places at the right time of year and know more than ever about where to catch the fish and what techniques to use. It is worth keeping in mind that all the places we fish have pretty much never been fished before and we have to figure it all out as we go, which is a huge thrill for myself and the other guides, and means that when everything aligns in the right way, there can be major fishing fireworks, and that is what happened during this last trip – big-time piscatorial fireworks!!
The combination of flat calm weather, lots of big fish and great guests made this a trip to remember. We spent the first week at Frederick Reef as an Ultimate Adventure trip, and then the 2nd week was a split trip with half the days at Frederick, and then half the days at Elusive Reef, also as an Ultimate Adventure Trip, and then the last week was a Lagoon Explorer style trip at Elusive Reef.
There’s not enough room here to list a blow by blow account of what we caught, but there wasn’t a single slow days fishing in 3 weeks. Some of the highlights included releasing over 250 GTs at Elusive Reef in only 3 days between 3 boats!!! THAT IS SPECTACULAR FISHING. Frederick reef once again turned on huge numbers of big wahoo, marlin and yellowfin, but this time we targeted the yellowfin on poppers, and had some awesome action. Lots of yellowfin tuna between 15-40kgs were landed on poppers. The wahoo at Frederick were awesome fun and airborne wahoo hitting stickbaits was the order of the day. The wahoo were generally between 30-35kg. And there was also the day at Elusive where we landed 9 GTs between 40-50kgs in one day between three boats. One of the boats also caught 32 GTs in a single day, and with the average size of the GTs at 20-25kg, this is GT fishing as good as you’ll find anywhere in the world.
TRIP REPORT PART 1
Compiled and written by Damon Olsen
There’s no way we can give you a full blow by blow account of what happened over the 3 weeks of this trip, because it would fill a book. I’m going to have to just highlight a few of the memorable parts of the trip, but suffice to say the action was HOT on pretty much every single day of this trip.
We had 8 anglers for the first week at Frederick Reef, and this included a fly fisherman named Martin, who had a day on the 51ft Fascination, releasing 21 wahoo on fly in a single day, with the biggest wahoo around 34kgs on fly – an incredible effort. During the first week, the current was running hard from the north, and this caused the wahoo and yellowfin tuna to go crazy on the northern edges of the reef, and on the northern seamount. The first few days of this week saw us catching 40-60 wahoo and yellowfin per boat per day, but the increased current had caused the jigging to slow down a little.
There were that many wahoo and yellowfin that we’d pretty much stopped trolling minnows for them after the first day because we just caught too many fish. We started trolling teasers and maybe one minnow with a single barbless tail hook. As soon as we got the teasers or minnow hit, we’d stop the boat and cast surface lures at the wahoo, and the aerial leaps and hits were spectacular. Sometimes it was possible to drift for hours in the calm seas, with the motors off and just continually cast with wahoo and yellowfin around the boat. We found that the wahoo definitely preferred stickbaits, and the yellowin definitely preferred poppers.
We also found that there are a LOT of yellowfin in the 15-40kg class around this reef if you want to target them on poppers. We found the yellowfin popping up in the early morning and late afternoon around the 100m line, and even just drifting and blind casting poppers resulted in some awesome surface strikes.
There were also blue marlin and sailfish around during this week, but we didn’t target them that much, as the guys mainly wanted to cast lures and jig. The GTs and reef fish were on the bite in the shallows on the last day, and Rod’s boat had 11 GT bites in a few hours casting around the reef edge. There were some nice Coral Trout and red bass mixed in with the GTs as well.
Graham was out fishing with Tim on the last day, and landed a huge 60kg dogtooth tuna on a shimano Lucanus jig, and also christened his new 5215 custom Ripple Fisher Jig rod on the same fish. A very nice way to break in a new rod, and probably the best “first fish” story we’ve had in a while.
The second week was fully booked with 12 anglers and a cameraman on the trip. We had a real multi cultural affair this week, with Patrice bringing along 3 other French friends – Guy, Gabriel and Christian – as well as convincing the HOTS pro team to come out for a week and test their fishing products. We had a Japanese contingent of Chris Teng and Kai Hiramatsu as the pro anglers, and the HOTS boss, Mr Minami along as cameraman. There was also Graham and Ron Campbell, who were staying on for their second week, and Mark, Mark, Mike and Steve, all from Australia.
The week started in style for these guys, with wahoo and yellowfin chaos within 1 hour of getting off the plane. everyone was casting lures at high flying wahoo and yellowfin tuna, and there were a few 40kg plus fish landed on the first afternoon.
The next 2 days were spent at Frederick Reef catching huge numbers of wahoo, at will, and when we had played long enough with the wahoo, the yellowfin on poppers were a huge thrill. Kai landed the biggest yellowfin on a popper, estimated at between 45-50kg, but we caught a lot of 25-30kg yellowfin on poppers in the 2 days. I had nearly forgotten how much fun yellowfin on poppers can be-the surface hits are just extraordinary, and with most of the fish getting airborne and landing on the lure, and usually 2-4 fish in a pack, it makes for thrilling fishing. The long and incredibly fast runs also make for some really great fun.
We also managed to land a few GTs to around 30kgs in amongst the wahoo and yellowfin, as well as play with a few black marlin that followed the cast and retrieved stickbaits intended for wahoo. There were a LOT of marlin around the reef, and plenty could be seen free jumping in the 300-500m part of the drop off. The biggest free jumper I sighted would have been around 600-700lbs.
The jigging really fired up on the last day at Frederick, probably because the current slowed down a little bit. Chris teng was persistent and managed to land a 60kg dogtooth tuna on a jig, boated only 30 minutes before stop fishing on the last afternoon at Frederick. This was an awesome fish, and they were unlucky not to land a few more doggies. Rod was guiding and said that they were busted off on 8 bigger fish before they landed the “little” 60kg model!! Amazing stuff.
We headed off that night for Elusive Reef, but just to summarise – Frederick Reef produced silly numbers of wahoo, 2 dogtooth tuna over 60kgs landed, blue marlin, black marlin, sailfish, yellowfin tuna to 50kgs on poppers as well as GTs to 30kgs on poppers and some very nice coral trout, green jobfish and red bass in the shallows.
The trip to Elusive Reef was simply spectacular, a rising moon over a glass calm ocean and a hot lamb roast served whilst under way. It was over 100nm to Elusive Reef, and we arrived at around 7am in the morning to perfect weather, and a huge reef system we had never fished before. This was the sort of adventure and exploration that had the all the guides salivating. We were about to start fishing a reef we had never fished before and more than likely would be the first people to ever cast poppers and stickbaits over the Reef.
The fishing was as we had dreamed it would be, the first corner we pulled up to saw a triple hookup, and 3 nice GT’s landed. It took a little exploring to get the hang of where to fish, but by lunch time, all boats were reporting mad action with GTs, coral trout, red bass and spanish mackerel. We were on a schedule to meet the mothership 26 miles from where we began the day, and didn’t have much time to really fish each reef hard, but some of the shows of fish on the bottom that we wanted to stop and fish at had us nearly scared to drop a lure the fish looked so big. Mostly when we did drop a jig they were quickly snipped off by big spanish mackerel.
There was one point in the afternoon where all 3 of the smaller boats were on the radio all talking to each other about the crazy GT action, and all 3 boats had triple hookups on at the same time. This was the sort of action you dream about, just find a reef, find the current edge and it was game on!! 1 boat equalled the all time Nomad most GTs in a day record of 28 GTs landed in a day, and the other 2 smaller boats had 26 and 22 fish each, which is just incredible. The biggest GT for the day was around 38kgs, landed by Chris Teng, but the number of fish caught was just incredible. Calm weather, huge fish and lots of them.
The next day saw us all fishing another new area of reef, and we did not expect it to be as good as the previous day, for how could we ever top that? Well, it turned out to be even better, whatever I write here is simply not going to be able to convey how good the fishing was. We had sessions that lasted for hours where very cast would result in some kind of action, we had 30kg barracuda eating poppers sitting still at the side of the boat, GTs doing the same, airborne spanish mackerel. If you threw something in the water it got eaten.
The anglers fishing with myself were competing with Glanville’s anglers for the most fish in a day record, trying to beat the 28 fish from the previous day. We managed to release 32 GTs on this day, including 7 GTs over 30kgs, and 2 GTs over 40kgs. Glanville and his band of merry anglers released 27 GTs for the day, and Rod and Ed both had scores in the low 20’s as well. It really is hard to convey in words just how good the fishing was in these first few days at Elusive reef. There were obviously a lot of fish around these reefs, and we happened to be there at the right time with great weather, so everything lined up perfectly.
The rest of the trip at Elusive Reef continued in a similar vein to the first few days. The weather was perfect, except for 2 days where it blew 20kn from the southeast, and 15-20 GTs landed for the day was about the average most days. The fishing was really quite extraordinary, with good numbers of red bass, coral trout, GTs and spanish mackerel all coming from casting around the reef edges. The bite did slow down a little as we moved away from the moon, but not much. The bludger trevally up on the shallow reef flats were incredible fun on light tackle, and we also started to do some light jigging with small metal jigs. The light jigging with small metal jigs proved to be hugely successful around the drop offs of Elusive Reef. Small jigs ranging from 40-60 grams accounted for coral trout, sweetlip, emperor, spanish mackerel, small trevally, tuna, and many other species. On 20-30lb line and small 400-6000 size spin reels this was awesome fun.
The last week at Elusive Ref saw us filming a promotional DVD for Ripple Fisher rods, and Richard Foong had come out to join us for the week, along with Rob Citoucha and Sam Lee. Gabriel and Christian were also staying on for the last week to complete a 2 week GT fishing tour – quite a physical feat.
There were too many stand out moments to list during the last week, but one day when we were light jigging, Richard foul hooked a fusilier in the back and had it at the side of the boat with myself about to grab the leader and lift it in for a little on camera talk about what a fusilier looks like. Just as I was about to grab the leader the fusilier was demolished at the side of the boat, half out of the water by a 30kg GT. Richard was then hooked up to this brute of a fish on his PE2 jig rod, and the ensuing fight did actually end well for Richard after a long battle. We caught all this on film as well, but it goes to show how versatile the light jig rods from Ripple fisher can be.
Another particularly interesting moment involved a double hook-up with Gabriel and Christian on 45-50kg GTs. A pack of huge fish came right up to the boat in a little blue hole near the edge of the main reef and we watched both huge fish eat poppers. The only problem was that Gabriel’s fish ran straight up into the shallows, in maybe 50cm of water, back out of the water and all, and Christian’s fish ran the complete opposite direction straight back to the deep water. We could see Gabriel’s fish now about 200m away and resuming the fish in the next shallow blue hole, and Christian’s fish was about 100m out the back of the boat in deep water. Of course the current was running over the shallows at about 3kn, which kept things interesting. I tried to position the boat on the edge of the drop off and wait for Christian to get his fish close enough to the boat so that he could pull it up the drop off and then we could drift over the shallows and into the next hole to fight Gabriel’s fish, unfortunately, the current, and the pull of Gabriel’s fish washed us onto the shallows prematurely and Christian’s fish cut us off in the reef as we drifted over the shallows. It was that shallow that we had to trim the motor up and turn it off and just drift into the next hole – lucky it was a rising tide!! Gabriel’s fish was landed fortunately, and after measurements it weighed 46kg.
The final tale I should tell is of feeding GTs off the back of the mothership. After a light jigging session, we’d caught a heap of scad and small mackerel. We kept a few scad with the idea of enticing the big GTs around the back of the mothership into a feeding frenzy. This certainly worked, and the first scad to hit the water was inhaled by a very large fish. Richard was being very sporting and was testing out a new PE6 Ripple fisher casting rod on this fish. The little 10000SW Stella with 65lb braid had it’s work cut out indeed. The short story is that after circumnavigating the mothership, and attendant vessels, twice, he managed to land the GT and remove the hook and release it. We measured the fish and used the GT length and girth formula to get the weight, and then also checked this against a measured weight on our scales. This fish was 49kg on both the scales and the formula. Quite an impressive effort on a PE6 outfit, and Richard’s biggest GT by quite a way.
There are a huge number of stories we could recount from this trip, but there simply is not space. Suffice to say that this trip was quite close to the best we have ever experienced, and anyone interested in the mixed Frederick/Elusive Reef trip for 2010 had better call us pretty soon, as that week is already about half full at the time of writing. This trip also makes the Elusive Reef trips for 2010 look like a pretty good thing, and certainly myself and the rest of the crew cannot wait to get back out there.
Until next month when we give you the Bligh reef first trip report, tight lines and calm seas to everyone.
Damon and the Nomad Team
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