When I see a forecast of 5-10 knots I must admit get excited like a kid on Christmas day and I’m sure many of you know the feeling before a trip. What’s even better is when the weather is actually what the BOM has predicted and a recent trip out from the wide bay bar was exactly that.
We headed east of the bar in light winds, calm seas and all very excited to get among some great fish. First stop was some flat country about 50km from the bar which holds good bait schools and some cracking pearl perch.
It’s hard to understand why some areas which have next to no structure can hold so much bait and it does pay to fish any of these bait schools you come across as larger fish maybe feeding on them. Be patient when fishing these bait schools as many of them won’t produce any decent fish but it only takes one spot to pull good quality fish off and make your trip.
We arrived in the desired area and sounded out various bait schools before dropping a selection of baits into them. It wasn’t long before we had some good pearlies up to 4kg coming aboard but after half a dozen drifts the fishing went dead. We collected a heap of slimies and dropped a few back down but we couldn’t tempt another fish so it was time to go chase some reds in an area not far away.
I was using a paternoster rig with a dead slimy while the other guys were using a sliding 10 ball rig with live slimies. On the second drift of the new spot I felt that gentle tug of a red emperor eating the bait and I waited a few seconds for the bait to be sucked down before sinking the hooks. The rod buckled over with the fish putting in a solid fight but it came to the surface pretty quickly and a red around 9kg was safely netted. We persisted in the same area with a mixture of livies, dead slimies, mullet and hussar fillets but we couldn’t get past the hussar so we moved on.
The next spot had a massive show on it but once again the hussar were so thick and drove us crazy. I dropped the underwater camera down to reveal hundreds of hussar swarming the camera as well moses perch and a coronation trout. There was no way we were staying there to fish so I moved on to another nice rock 5km away.
This also had an impressive show of fish on it but these were larger fish and exactly what I was after. By now everyone was using a paternoster rig and baits were dropped right beside the rock. Soon as the baits hit the bottom we were all slammed and drags were screaming with big fish. I was first to see colour and a red around 10kg hit the surface while Dad and Rob had their hands full on much larger fish. Rob had line screaming off the stella and big head shakes indicated he was on a cracking fish but was it the red colour we were all hoping for? Dad was next to get his fish up and it was stonker red of 13.5kg so we had high hopes for Rob’s fish. We caught a glimpse of colour down deep and the call of “it’s a red” was made before a beautiful red of 16.9kg hit the surface and safely pulled on board. To say Rob was happy would be an understatement and the joy on his face and his words of “I so needed that” was more exciting for me than catching it.
I went back to the spot and made the hard decision of putting the underwater camera down instead of fishing it. It’s not easy getting underwater footage of good fish like reds so I was very keen to see what footage we could capture. After having the camera down and going through a few heart in mouth moments after the camera got caught up on the rock I managed to pull it free and bring it to the surface. I connected the camera up to the laptop and viewed some awesome footage of many large surgeon fish sitting hard against the rock with reds mixed among them. The rock has a large overhang and half a dozen reds were sitting under it along with some big mangrove jack. Some big reds were just off the side of the rock while amberjack and yellowtail kingfish were swimming quickly around the rock as well. It was awesome footage to view and I was eager to head back and drop another line on it.
Just as I started making my way back to the rock I spotted a couple boats heading straight towards us so instead of risking the chance of getting pinged and losing the spot I quickly moved on and headed north up along Fraser to a different area. We fished many marks along the way and pulled a variety of reef fish before heading to some rough reefy country to target some red throat emperor. By now the seas were a glass out and it wasn’t long before we started catching some nice red throat. Dad hooked a bigger fish on one spot and raised a cracking red throat of 67cm which was great catch.
Over the next couple hours we fished many spots but the fishing had gone very quiet so with the sun disappearing over the horizon I headed back to the spot we pulled the reds off earlier in the day. We arrived well after dark and unfortunately the sounder didn’t show as many fish on it but I positioned the boat and had our first drop. We had drifted about 30 meters past the rock when my mullet fillet got hit and I sunk the hooks into a reasonable sized fish. Not long after Dad also got slammed and we both fought our fish without the worry of being bricked on the rock as we were a considerable distance away from it. I had a snapper around 5kg in the boat pretty quickly and Dad followed with a good Red around 10kg so it was well worth the drive back to this spot.
There was a little bit of current so I ran back to the rock and had another drop. Once again about 30mtrs from the rock Rob had line peeling off his reel and was fighting another decent fish. I grabbed the camera and began filming while Dad also hooks up and braid begins to whiz through the rod guides. Robs leans over and pulls a solid red around 12kg over the side and into the camera lens and Dad follows with a smaller model around 8kg.
After that the action went dead so I moved in about 5km to avoid the current and also to avoid the risk of someone pinging me during the night. I’m glad I did this as a boat came within 10 mtrs of us 4.30am in the morning and if you’re that person reading this I hope you enjoy the million hussar that will drive you nuts on that spot.
Just before sunrise I moved to another rock hoping to get an early morning bite. First drift Rob was smashed and taken back into the rock in a matter of seconds. I was a little more lucky and pulled a snapper around 6kg while Dad pulls another red of around 7kg. Several drifts later resulted in many bust offs on the reef but dad managed to get one free and they turned out to be amberjack which we figured might have been the culprits.
After persisting on the spot Rob managed the best Snapper of the trip and once again this snapper fell to a paternoster rig which we commonly find when the snapper are feeding on the flat ground around and away from the main rock. With the morning getting on we fished many other reefs in the area and found some good red throat sweetlip with one fish I caught going just over 5kg. Unfortunately the sharks found us pretty quickly so instead of wasting good fish I started making my in while fishing various new and old spots along the way before making our way home.
The weather during this trip was magic and the fishing was also fantastic with some great quality coming over the side. I covered almost 400km, used 10kg of mullet fillets, 3kg of squid, 6kg of pilchards and dozens of hussar which we filleted for bait as well. We were using paternoster rigs mostly with 80 leader and 80lb braid main line. Until next month tight lines.