With large swells causing havoc on the SE Queensland bars and the wind prediction also looking a little ordinary you start to feel a little disheartened but I was determined to have a fish and looking further up the coastline forecasts showed a quickly decreasing swell and light winds so a last minute decision was made to hook the boat up, pack some gear and head six and a half hours north to 1770.
We headed out from 1770 Saturday morning with flat seas and 10 knots of NW blowing which was hard to believe considering the prior weather we had experienced. The plans were to check the spots where we found the big schools of Red Emperor last trip which were located on the flat rubble grounds on the western areas of the outer reefs/Islands.
We arrived at the first spot and drifted over a rubble patch holding some bait and before long Foxy had hooked and raised a nice Large Mouth Nannygai. A few more drifts produced very little so we continued onto some other marks but unlike last trip the reds weren’t there so it looked like the fishing would be tough going. We dropped baits onto every little rubble patch in the area and this started accounting for some nice Reds, Maori Cod and Hussar using both paternoster and floating style rigs. The Hussar become a real pain and destroyed baits within seconds of reaching the bottom so fishing large baits and whole hussar become the only option in keeping baits down there for more then a few seconds to give a bigger fish a chance of finding it.
I continued sounding south, northwest, northeast before heading north about 10km before finally coming across more rubble ground with bait schools on them. These rubble spots were only the size of a couple cars and less then a mtr high so positioning the boat correctly for the drift is very important to ensure the baits are in the strike zone at all times. This spot produced Reds, Maori Cod, Estuary Cod, Hussar and one of the biggest Tomato Cod I had ever seen before going quiet so once again more hunting around was required and this soon become a trend of finding a spot, pulling a few fish and moving onto find another.
Often when you find reefs/rubble it pays to search around that area as most times there will be more structure close by and often one little spot will produce the better fish compared to the rest of the area. I marked out six little bumps and lumps in the area and pulled a few fish off each spot before I moved on looking for more ground further a field. After a fair amount of sounding towards some marks we had fished earlier I came across a big show of fish and bait on a reasonable sized rubble patch. It looked the better show of the day and lines were quickly deployed. Once again like everywhere else the Hussar picked at our baits but patience and persistence payed off when foxy hooked up on a nice Red of around 10kg.
We anchored up and found the hussar in mind blowing numbers which made for frustrating fishing and with time getting on and the afternoon closing in I moved further south to another little bait and rubble patch which we quickly anchored on in hope of a dusk bite period. Things were slow with only hussar continuing to drive us mad and with the light starting to dim I was getting worried if the fish would come on chew or should I make a quick move to another spot. Well just as I was about to make a decision Dad hooks up on a nice fish and a nice Red hits the deck. The bite period only lasted a short time with some nice Reds, Cod and Spangled Emperor making their way into the esky. I was struggling to pull a decent fish and soon resorted to taking video footage and taking pics of foxy and Dad pulling some nice fish and I soon called it the Foxy show as he was on fire although he was dirty when a fish blew him away during the bite period. A few fish were caught after dark with a shark taking half a red that foxy caught but apart from that it was dead quiet so we hit the sack for a sleep.
Well the idea was to sleep but choppy seas, flying fish hitting/landing in the boat and a Mutton Bird flapping around the boat all night made for a terrible sleep. Several times the bird climbed/flapped into the bunks with us which was extremely annoying when it’s jumping over your face and legs and at one stage Dad was patting it like a pet but soon as I went to give it a pat the mongrel bird just about took my finger off. Right about then I had lost all patience with this bird so on went the gloves and after a short chase around the boat I released it like a dove into the air (yeah righto a little more force may have been used) If we had more fuel I would have headed into the lagoon at Lady Musgrave Island for some protection and a decent night sleep but there’s always next time.
We got up just on sunrise and picked up an Estuary Cod but the Hussar was still a problem so we made our way back towards 1770 for the drive back home. It was a bit of a drive for a days fishing but still worth it with 12 reds and a good assortment of other species filling the esky.
The areas between 1770 and the outer reefs/Islands would have some of the most flat and barren country I have come across. With this in mind any reef/ rubble that is found will generally fish pretty well and more importantly this type of ground suits Red Emperor extremely well. For these reasons I have I concentrated most of my efforts in these areas trying to locate any form of structure and I’m yet to find any ground that would be over a 1m high so having a well set up sounder and paying attention to any small rises and bait shows could have you fishing spots that others never fish.