By Neville Haglund
Having just fished the Ribbon Reefs location I think it would be safe to say they could be renamed the “Variety Reefs”. The incredible variety of fish species had to be seen to be believed – and not only that, they were prolific! This would have to have been our best fishing experience yet and it all started at the Cairns Marina where we met the Nomad crew and the other guests in preparation for the drive-out.
[sws_picture_frame1 src=”http://nomadsportfishing.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/Neville-4.jpg” title=”” alt=”” align=”sws_frame_right” lightbox=”1″ album=”album” video=””] [/sws_picture_frame1] After a comprehensive safety briefing – which was appreciated – each guest was asked to introduce themselves and provide brief details on the species they wished to target. In the main people were looking for personal best Giant Trevally. My objective was to have fun and catch fish and this trip certainly ticked the boxes.
After a delicious 3 course dinner we then motored out of Cairns for the over night trip to our destination. We awoke at the Ribbon Reefs to glorious conditions – clear blue skies, flat sea, no wind and the aroma of bacon and eggs cooking. What more could anyone ask for? The allocations for tenders complete we were off, with all four tenders heading in different directions. It was time to get some fish on board for the bragging rights later!
Our first day out was with Matt. Talk about a dedicated guide. Up until then I had not had any experience catching Red Bass but I now realise they have to be a tackle shop owners best friend! As soon as they are hooked up they head straight for a coral cave and nothing – other than Matt with snorkel and fins – can shift them. We were blown away when he donned his diving gear to go and rescue the fish and retrieve my stick bait. Fortunately, the next fish to take the “saved” stick bait was a 20 kg Maori Wrasse – another new species for me.
[sws_picture_frame1 src=”http://nomadsportfishing.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/Neville-1.jpg” title=”” alt=”” align=”sws_frame_left” lightbox=”1″ album=”album” video=””] [/sws_picture_frame1]Day two conditions were identical with the only difference being a changed selection at breakfast. This day we were out with Pete and after a morning catching GT’s it was time for a break. Sea conditions were glassy to the extreme and the bait were on the surface in huge schools. Birds were working furiously. Pete decided it was perfect timing to put out some skirts for a Marlin which we did – on popper outfits.
We had plenty of interest and seeing that black bill come out of the water to whack the lure was something else. Getting a hook up on the rod on my side of the boat was like a dream come true. Who would ever have thought, when going on a GT fishing trip I would end landing my first Black Marlin. A baby at 30 kg yes, but a buzz nevertheless. I was more than happy to release the fish after several photos to record the moment. It was my shout at dinner and everyone enjoyed Oyster Bay NZ wine with their meal.
The third day was more of the same and by now, the guides were starting to comment on how lucky we were with conditions. This particular day we were with Clint and it was a day we will never forget. Within 500 metres of the Mothership we were landing our first GTs. Clint’s attention to detail is second to none. “Pop it to the boat, pop it to the boat” is still ringing in my ears.
[sws_picture_frame1 src=”http://nomadsportfishing.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/Neville-3.jpg” title=”” alt=”” align=”sws_frame_right” lightbox=”1″ album=”album” video=””] [/sws_picture_frame1]After an abundance of GT’s that Clint put us on we needed a breather so I decided to bring out some big stick baits. Prior to this I had no experience with using them and Clint was more than happy to offer advice and instruction on technique with practical demonstration for good measure. This proved invaluable later on in the trip and his “rip it, rip it” will be in the back of my mind every time I use a stick bait in future. Hopefully this method will work as well on NZ Kingies.
Our day out with Glanville was like a happy reunion having fished with him on a previous Nomad trip to Bugatti/Elusive in 2009. We initially went out wide however the tidal flow wasn’t ideal for GT’s so we decided to go hunting for a big one on the flats. Little did I know what would eventuate.
After a couple of casts “Mr Big” showed up and I was in awe! Having chased this species for 12 years I had never had a fish this size on a popper. With Glanville’s skilful manoeuvring of the boat and me working my butt off, we managed to get above the fish. The ideal situation in shallow water. After a considerable amount of huffing and puffing the leader was visible beside the boat.
[sws_picture_frame1 src=”http://nomadsportfishing.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/Neville-6.jpg” title=”” alt=”” align=”sws_frame_left” lightbox=”1″ album=”album” video=””] [/sws_picture_frame1]Normally, with smaller GT’s at that point they just float to the surface. To my utter disappointment I learnt that the big ones don’t! They save a last minute dash for freedom. This resulted in the 130 lb. main line snapping where it had been abraded on the coral. Glanville estimated the fish was in excess of 40 kg. Both guide and I were gutted – but that’s fishing. It was time to put the popper outfit away, and bring out the stick baits. Suddenly “rip it, rip it” came back to haunt me so that’s what I did. On the second cast I had my first ever hook-up on a big stick bait. Another species to add to my collection – a 26 lb. Coral Trout. What a day!
We finished our trip with Matt once again and this proved to be as entertaining as day one. Sea conditions were still perfect so we decided to deploy some large dead baits and lures to see what we could attract. It wasn’t long before a huge Spanish Mackerel came flying through the air and totally demolished the tuna but failed to hook up. Plan “B” was to redeploy a lure on a light weight outfit and sure enough a 10 kg Dolphin Fish nailed it and once again, the rod was on my side of the boat. Oh to have a Lotto outlet out there!! We finished the day chasing GT’s.
[sws_picture_frame1 src=”http://nomadsportfishing.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/Neville-5.jpg” title=”” alt=”” align=”sws_frame_right” lightbox=”1″ album=”album” video=””] [/sws_picture_frame1]What a trip. Aside from the fantastic fishing (and weather) the Mothership was like a home away from home with everything we could wish for. Meals were out of this world and the service from the on-board crew second to none. Nothing was ever too much trouble and skipper Andy went the extra mile to ensure a wonderful time was had by all, and we won’t dwell on the night dive he did when a certain South African guest dropped his spear gun overboard!!
In conclusion all that I can say is that I guess I’ll have to book another Nomad trip because I have certainly got some unfinished business with a big GT at the Ribbon Reefs.
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