“The following days, combined with good tides and less wind and were nothing short of amazing. Hilly must have boated 150 fish in a couple of days just on the island alone. Ash and his crew turned back up on the third afternoon with one of the biggest nannygai I’ve ever seen, with some huge spanish mackerel and some nice coral trout for good measure.”
Sight casting from a sandy beach in one of the most remote areas of Far North Queensland is one of those experiences that many anglers dream about, and the guests on our recent Tydeman Reef to Bligh Reef Travel Trip were treated to a number of hot sessions casting for sizeable Queenfish. Our Fishing Guide Kelly Mills shares his trip report below:
Throwing the ropes and setting up to tow our contenders through the heads out of Cooktown around midnight, we could feel the wind blowing from the SE. Luckily we were heading north making the journey not too bad at all. Upon arrival at Tydeman Reef the tide was nearly dead high and with fresh SE winds still blowing, removing the smaller McKee Crafts from the roof was proving to be difficult, so we decided to head further north to another more sheltered anchorage. Much the same when we arrived and attempted several times to get the Odyssey stable enough to lift the boats off the roof safely, but it wasn’t meant to be, so we had a meeting with our clients over breakfast and made a group decision to head inshore 28nm to Morris Island, one of the most beautiful set-ups on the reef. We had visited the area late last year for a flyfishing trip and were all blown away by the fishing options. On arrival to Morris, staring at the island’s endless flats, all the guests were tripping over one another to get ready for the afternoon’s fishing. As the anchor was set and the contenders were tied up, we launched the skiff and made our separate ways; Hilly fished the island flats, Ash went out to some shoals and I made my way up north to a favourite sand cay. Upon arrival we pulled up and started deciding what style of fishing we were after. As I was tying on some small stickbaits for the boys I looked at the Simrad and the screen was so alive I thought it was playing up, but I looked over the edge and there was literally hundreds of big hungry Queenfish. It was as simple getting a lure in the water, every cast. As we ticked over some numbers they soon slowed down with sharks showing up, we then pushed right up to the edge of the reef and a few trout showed themselves before I watched a beast of a GT swim up onto the shallows and demolish Bruce’s madscad. We had some luck as we were only fishing light tackle and survived the blistering run off the edge into the deep. After 15 minutes of tug-o-war, Bruce finally won the battle and we lifted the thumper GT onboard for a happy snap before release. This was Bruce’s biggest fish ever and he didn’t know what to make of it. As we arrived back at the Odyssey at sunset the back deck was alive with stories from the other 2 boats also having an epic first taste of things to come.
The following days, combined with good tides and less wind and were nothing short of amazing. Hilly must have boated 150 fish in a couple of days just on the island alone. Ash and his crew turned back up on the third afternoon with one of the biggest nannygai I’ve ever seen, with some huge spanish mackerel and some nice coral trout for good measure.
On day 4 we all went our separate ways again with lots of exploring to do. I pushed further north than I have before, targeting isolated bombies and shoals near the shipping lane on the run-out tide. With bait already visible we were frothing to get the heavy rods out and get popping. It didn’t take long until an airborne spanish tackled a Chug Norris. After setting the hook, Trent then let out a cry of surprise as he came tight on a solid GT and within minutes we had a double on the deck. Not a bad start. We continued our pattern until the tide stopped with every one landing and missing some really solid fish. The incoming tide wasn’t as productive for us and with a beach BBQ on the cards we decided to head back to Morris. Before we could reach the sand a few guests ran up to me pleading to take them to the sand spit on the north side of the island after seeing the other boys bent on nearly every cast from the beach. They weren’t wrong with everyone sticking the hooks into GTs, Queenies, Goldens and bludger trevally. Great way to end the day with the BBQ awaiting our arrival.
Day 5 was to be our last at Morris before taking Odyssey further NW towards Lockhart River that evening. Hilly and Ash were on the hunt again exploring further and wider with the weather improving even more and didn’t disappoint with some cracking fish in the shallows. Ash decided to make a run out to some new ground that was previously too rough to get to. He had some amazing fishing once they found them and yep you could say they did! As they scouted around some bombies on the open side of the reefs he couldn’t believe it; mobile bombie! With bulk GTs all grouped up and swimming in a tight ball, the first stickbait hit the water and it was on! All anglers with doubles and triples before one of the boys was buckled over on a proper horse that Ash put at over 30kg. You beauty! On last year’s trip, one of our guides Tully had talked about an amazing session they had right in close on some shoals and islands, so that was the plan for the day for us. A quiet morning while we waited for some flow in the tide, we slowly made our way right inshore to some rocks and shoals. As the tide picked up so did the fishing and soon Brian, Bruce and Eddy were taking turns casting and landing a load of mid-range fish. Sometimes they aren’t where you would think to find them but on one particular edge of reef there they were! Some much bigger GTs and Queenies followed and after releasing a bunch we decided to take it all in and set up for lunch. On the way home we opted for the lighter gear, ticking off a range of species before beer o’clock and a few more casts off the beach. These guys couldn’t get enough!
Steaming overnight, we arrived back in our anchorage of Portland Roads for the following half-day of fishing before departure back to Cairns. Hilly fished close in comfort and nailed some nice fish on the surrounding islands and Ash and myself took the boys slowly into 15-20kts to reach the clear water of the inshore reefs. After both of our groups missing and landing some nice spanish we decided to head north to some shoals that would be catching some current. It didn’t take long until we boated some mid-sized geets and went to look elsewhere after the bite slowed. But with no luck we made the option to hit the same water on the way home that we previously fished. We turned up and noticed some fusiliers scared and rippling on the pressure edge, and kaboom! That was a better one, although missing the first one it was a great last half-hour with all the boys claiming some cracking last minute GTs before lunch and a shower to get ready to fly home. Washing down our boats back at the Odyssey, the boys and myself were saying how stoked we were with how the trip panned out, even if it was a frustrating start with the weather not playing the game.
The travel trips are great to find new ground and hidden gems, with a few extra days up our sleeves for comfort, for a great time exploring the GBR!