“From GTs off deep coral heads, to golden trevally off sand cays, longtail tuna in the wide open channel and some of the most mental spanish mackerel fishing I’ve ever seen! There were many double and triple hookups and total chaos that made this trip an epic adventure for me and a must for an adventure angler!”
On this trip the guys headed to a small group of islands just off Margaret Bay, one of the areas we visit on our Far Northern Explorer trips. Read the latest trip report from our fishing guide Jason Hedges and share in his excitement as he got to explore this area in detail for the first time; a testament to the vast ground we cover in our annual schedule, and how infrequently we visit each area.
I was pretty excited when I got the call from the office asking if I could help guide for a film trip that was coming up. The destination was the hardline off Portland Roads which is located off the far north coast of Queensland and has some amazing reefs such as Log, Lagoon, and Bligh which all hold some incredible fish. It is a remote area that I have been lucky enough to fish and explore over the past two years as a guide for Nomad and I have a lot of great memories of some amazing fishing that has gone down on these trips, so I jumped at the opportunity.
In all the excitement I had not even bothered to check the current forecast for the area yet and upon arriving I was met with some excited but long faces, with concerns about the wind forecast that lay ahead for the next 4 days… It was going to be blowing 20 to 25 knots every day! To be quite honest I didn’t really care all that much and clearly was a lot less concerned than some of the guests I met at the airport. I knew two things; one was that the wind wasn’t going to stop the fish from biting! In fact, some of my best days on the water were blowing 25 knots. The second was with the new Far Northern or Lagoon Explorer trips we are now fishing out of Portland Roads or Cooktown which has opened a lot more doors in finding new areas we can explore away from the hardline and fish out of the wind.
To give you a bit of an idea of how remote this trip is, it took a full day of travel from the Gold Coast. 3 plane trips and the always thrilling 2-hour long bus ride through north Queensland’s bush tracks and dirt roads where the washouts and various livestock suddenly emerge around every hidden corner.
Once arriving aboard Odyssey I met up with all the crew and went upstairs to find my bunk bed exactly as I left her and all the new Penn reels and Wilson Venom rods lined up and ready for action.
Before we briefed the new guests on the fishing plan for the next few days, myself, the other guides and Captain Tully assessed the weather forecast and discussed various possible fishing scenarios to give the guests the best possible experience. I’ll be the first to admit I’m a sucker for always wanting to go straight to the hardline and I must say I was pushing hard to get out there, but with the wind already blowing 20 knots, I soon realised this wasn’t going to be an option.
Now the beautiful part about having an operation set up like Odyssey, and being a part of Nomad Sportfishing Adventures, is that we have no destination – only a pickup and drop off point with a date to be back by. Odyssey is a means to fish and explore anywhere the conditions take us. There are few people in this world that have time to sit around for the perfect day to go fishing, and yet even with the perfect day it doesn’t mean that the fish are going to bite! So, we made the decision to head north and take shelter in an area we found on the charts; the Home Island group in Margaret Bay, approximately 40nm north of Portland Roads. We could see the area would still have plenty of tidal movement and would also offer protection from the strong winds whilst still being able to fish and explore a lot of really epic looking reef edges, shoals and islands.
Being a guide and being on the water more than 200 days a year makes you look at stuff a little differently. There are no textbooks to date that can tell you where the fish will be every day and so it becomes almost like a game of cat and mouse, or chess, as to where the fish will be sitting, on what tide and what part of the reef – as the large majority of fish will be moving with the tide back, forth and across each reef system.
For me, this has always been the most exciting part of being a guide; there are so many different trends as to what kind of fish and where they will be on the different tides and moons. The challenge is finding the areas which are going to be affected first by the different tidal effects, or what fish will be looking for and how the tide will affect their habits.
Arriving at Margaret Bay was a new area for me and I was so excited about getting on the water to explore! Just by looking at the chart I could see so many different types of areas we could fish. There were sand cays, bombies, shoals and big low tide reef edges. I could hardly sleep the night before just going through different scenarios in my head.
The next few days we got the chance to go explore every scenario possible, learn and uncover some amazing fishing while finding new ground that seemed never-ending.
I believe by changing the names of the trips this year from trips like Bligh or Jewell Reef trips which we know and would usually fish, to giving the trips a broader name like “Far Northern Explorer” was a really smart move by Nomad Sportfishing. It shows the bigger picture that Nomad is an adventure sportfishing holiday with no boundaries on fixed locations and it has the ability to go find fish in some of the most remote and beautiful areas of Australia in any conditions.
For me, Margaret Bay and the Home Island group was one of the funniest trips I’ve done due to the sheer amount of fish caught. From GTs off deep coral heads, to golden trevally off sand cays, longtail tuna in the wide open channel and some of the most mental spanish mackerel fishing I’ve ever seen! There were many double and triple hookups and total chaos that made this trip an epic adventure for me and a must for an adventure angler!