With the weather good and some spare time up my sleeve I loaded the boat and headed for 1770. This was the first time we had fished out from 1770 so it was really looking like a lot of time would be needed to sound around and get a good feel of the place. I’m usually pretty prepared when it comes to fishing new areas as I like to check maps out and mark out areas of interest that I can start my search from. I only got a chance to quickly do this the night before we headed out but I worked out what I wanted and by mid morning the next day headed out in the direction of Lady Musgrave Island.
The conditions were less then perfect with about 15 knots of NNW blowing but still very manageable and a couple of hours later we were traveling in the area I intended to have a look at when I ran over some schools of bait and good shows of fish on some rubble flat bottom. We both dropped down some pilchards and got smashed before we even got to the bottom, which was a pleasant surprise but more to the point was it what we were after. The sight of red coming up from the depths soon confirmed that they were indeed Red Emperor and nice ones of around 10kg.
I sounded back over the area and with out a word of a lie found a school of Red Emperor that were five metres thick covering a large area which had to be seen to be believed. Even the surrounding area of several hundred of metres had Reds scatted all over the place so you really couldn’t miss a fish. We quickly stepped up bait size to large dead Yakkas on 80lb paternoster rigs with 25kg mono main lines. Once again the baits were smashed instantly as we reached the bottom and our rods buckled over leaving us hanging on waiting for the reds to wear a little before gaining some line back. Again these fish were a good size of 10-11kg so next drop I opted to have a crack at catching my first Red Emperor on a soft plastic and since Red Emperor are a very close to the bottom feeder I opted to use a large jig head of around 4 oz to keep the plastic working along the bottom through our fairly fast drift. The plastic of choice was a 6” Berkley Gulp Bait Swimmer “cigar minnow” and before long the plastic was in the water and heading down into the desired area. It didn’t take long before the plastic was smashed but it took four hook ups until I got a solid connection and the fun began. I was using 24kg setup and the fish still had me on the bottom for a good period before I managed to have him coming. When it popped the surface I was stoked to see that it was a very solid Red that went 13.5kg on the scales and an absolute fantastic way to start my soft plastic caught Red Emperor.
After that I decided we would go back and anchor on the spot and not long after deployed big dead Yakkas and whole mullet all around 30-35cm. When using baits that size its best to use bigger hooks around 10/0 and upwards which means you need a lot more drag pressure to sink the hooks so we both started using 80lb mono outfits with heavy drags to insure solid hook ups. My next drop resulted in the large Yakka being smashed and I found myself being slammed into the gunnels with a very solid fish giving me heaps and not giving an inch. That fish turned out to be 14.3kg and after some quick pic’s I quickly lowered another big bait and once again I was moaning and groaning with another big fish hooked up. By now I was a little buggered and I had the rod grip resting on the gunnel rail while this fish went bananas but he wore out and slowly started coming to the surface. Well bugger me they just kept getting bigger and that fish went 15.08kg so I was a happy man considering that I pulled 3 reds in a row in such a short period of time that went 13.5kg, 14.3kg and 15.08kg which was all caught on video camera.
My old man was also pulling good fish up to 13.2kg and we soon had out bag limit and the esky full. We caught a few more big Reds so I could capture some video footage of letting these great fish go which was kind of hard but still good to be in that situation. I couldn’t believe that we had such a good session in the middle of day on the first spot we found and with no sharks to give us grief. The Reds were so thick you could have sunk your boat with them but there was no point staying to catch anymore so we pulled the pick and headed around Lady Musgrave for a bit of site seeing which was a beautiful part of the world.
We headed back in and the following day returned to the same area where we got the reds the day before and pulled a few more nice Reds to make up the numbers which we had given away to some relatives at the caravan park the night before and just to see if the reds were still holding in the same area. We didn’t stay long at that spot before we headed to the shelf out from Lady Musgrave where I found plenty of big bombies in 85mtrs of water, which resulted in Red Throat Emperor and loads of hussar being caught. We soon got sick of the hussar and headed in from the shelf a bit where I managed to find more good looking ground in 60m but once again the Hussar were in droves so we headed back to Lady Musgrave for a nice sheltered sleep. In the morning we fished around Lady Musgrave and pulled some nice Trout before heading back to 1770.
I would have to say that my first trip to 1770 was a great success and I can’t wait to go back for another fish. A special thanks to Tony, Sandi and Josh at Agnes Water Bait & Tackle for letting me use their freezer space and if anyone is after anything fishing, boating and camping related then these guys are the people to see with a huge selection of goods and great service.