Big Red Emperor madness to 18kg – western breaksea spit Fraser Island Aug 2009

As we arrived into Bundaberg and made our way to Burnett heads the presence of thick fog was a sure indication that light winds were in order. A couple hours sleep and at 3am we were on our way towards the western side of the break sea spit well nw of Fraser Island. This would be an exploratory trip with high hopes of finding some great country and even better fishing. From Burnett heads it’s close to 90km to reach the shelf area on western side of the break sea spit area. A large portion of the break sea spit is Green zoned and a no fish area so basically you can only fish on the E/SE side or the W side of the break sea spit.  Having fished the E/SE side before and found loads of reef holding quality fish I have had some great interest in trying the W and NW side of the break sea to see what it might hold.

After hours of travelling in dead glass conditions it was soon apparent that the area running up to the break sea was extremely flat and any small show may produce fish. Not far from the destination we fished a small rubble patch area that showed some life but unfortunately these turned out to be Triggerfish although foxy hooked a nice Blue Maori Cod that started off the count nicely. I continued on and finally come across a small rise of about 3mtrs with a decent show of fish on it. The fish were aggressive but they were mostly Hussar so I thought I would persist to see if there were some better quality fish among them. This paid off with another nice Blue Maori Cod and a nice Red around 8kg going into the esky before the place shut down. We moved around with very little to be found and ended up close to the shelf area along the green zone of the break sea. I sounded and sounded covering a big area and to my surprise it was bloody flat and lifeless.


I headed NW up a long the top of shelf for 5km or so finding more flat bottom so I thought I would have a look over the top edge of the shelf. I found a small show in 80m of water and first drop we pulled 3 nice tusk fish and the following drift produced more big Blue Maori Cod and another nice tusk fish. Things went quiet pretty quickly after that and with the day getting on I moved in from the shelf a little to see if I could find some decent reef to anchor on for the night. Once again I sounded for a couple of hours and came across another small rubble reef with a small show of fish and bait on it. We caught another nice Blue Maori cod, Spangled Emperor and hussar but it was very quiet and more action coming from the whales playing close by to us.

I spotted another boat coming towards us and it turned out to be Jason Comino, Jay, and Glen all in Phil’s new sea storm platey. The boys spotted us in the distance and recognised the Riptide boat shape/colour and thought it could be us so they come over to say hello. The chance of running into each other in the middle of nowhere was pretty slim and the boys had also struggled to find any structure like us as well.

We headed off in different directions as we went back to where I had caught a red and Blue Maori Cod earlier in the day but it was very quiet so I sounded the area finding some rubble ground with good weed growth and pulled a Red, grassy sweetlip and hussar. I moved away looking for more country and a good 15km North ran into the Boys again and they still hadn’t found any decent ground either so I suggested we both go back to where I had caught a few fish on a couple of spots earlier. They took one spot while I fished the other not far away. Unfortunately we didn’t get anything decent while the boys on the other boat got a couple fish to keep them amused.


I moved around in the dark for a while before anchoring up for some sleep and then continued to go searching on dawn in hope of finding some fish. Once again more flat lifeless country and with a sloppy NW wind blowing I was ready to call it quits and head for home. I’m all about persistence but it was beginning to be a joke and my last hope of concentrating in a small area was fading when all of a sudden a nice rubble patch holding a big bait school and good fish filled the Furuno 585.

The first drift resulted in a Spangled Emperor and a Red and I knew with the show I could see on the sounder that the action was going to be good. The rods buckled with 3 and 4 way hooks and Reds started coming over the sides left right and centre. I could clearly see three distinct schools of reds feeding around the big bait schools with the 3rd school off the back being the bigger fish and 12 to13kg fish were hitting the deck one after another. I jumped on the VHF and let the boys know that we hit the jackpot and asked if they would like to come and join us in the action. They were a good half an hour back in and were also getting low on fuel but after reassuring them I had extra fuel and that I would tow them in if need be they were soon on there way.



They eventually arrived and we had the 350ltr esky filling fast and the size was getting better. Foxy hooked a big fish that had him working hard and what hit the surface was 18kg of solid Red Emperor soon followed by a few more mid to low 15kg fish by everyone else on board. Does it get much better? There were smiles all round and all the hard work had paid off.


Foxy then straightened the hooks on what looked like a much bigger fish then the 18 kg fish he had just caught. I also hooked a cracker fish which got the better of me eventually and also straightened one of my 8/0 7766 mustard hooks which was first for both of us and surprising as we weren’t going that hard on the fish. What was more amazing was that I had a set of 10/0 big gun hooks wrapped around my hooks. Knowing that we weren’t using them I asked the other lads who were drifting right beside us if they had been busted up. Glen yells out that he just got blown away from a big fish and was using those hooks. I told him it was a huge red that I had just pulled with his hooks in it and I think some choice words came screaming from that boat but I was quick to let him know I too had lost that fish which I’m sure was a huge relief for him. Just shows that big reds aren’t put off all that easily when they’re in a feeding frenzy.

The boys on the other boat were getting some nice fish also with Jason getting a ripper and a PB red that went around 15.8kg. We were using a combination of paternoster and floating style rigs (10 ball sinker) in 80lb mono and braid which all worked very well. Baits used were half and whole legal tailor along with mullet fillets and whole mullet cut in half.

The lads in the other boat were very appreciative and took us all out for dinner and drinks a couple weeks later. Thanks boys it’s always a pleasure having a yarn and a laugh with you all.

Greg Lamprecht