Part 2 – Kenn Reef – Doggie Central with Wilson Fishing onboard Big Cat Reality Charters

In part 1 of my article to Kenn Reef we experience some crazy dog tooth tuna action on lures and jigs from the smaller boats before bad weather saw us fishing from the mother ship for a day in a half which produced an array species.

Day 4 we saw the conditions improve greatly and we all managed to get out in the smaller boats to explore. Myself and Dan Radosevic from Fisho’s Tackle World Hervey Bay teamed up for the day and both had the same mindset of searching for new ground and jigging all day.

We headed west of the Kenn Reef system and soon found plenty of pinnacles in 40 odd mtrs of water. Straight away the green jobfish were coming over the side one after another but they were becoming a bit of a pest which is not something you would normally find yourself thinking.

We kept persisting and before long something bigger nailed my jig close to the bottom and the venom pe 5-10 jig stick was well and truly loaded up.  After a great fight and a bit of huffing and puffing a nice GT hit the surface and was quickly release. Dane followed this up with another GT as well but we were keen to find some dog tooth tuna and decided to go exploring.

After a couple hours sounding we found a large shoal coming up from 55mtrs to 18mtrs over a fairly large area. This wasn’t highlighted on any maps so we were excited to find it and had high hopes of catching some good fish from it. The shoal was full of life and we quickly pulled a range of species including coronation trout, rainbow runners, GT’s and loads more green job fish. 

As we drifted off the large shoal we noticed some big fish on the sounder in 40mtrs of water so quickly dropped our jigs down. We only got a few winds on the reel before we both got smashed by quality fish and the venom rods buckled over. The initial first few runs were brutal and it seemed the more drag pressure you applied the harder they went. After a great battle we had a couple of nice Dog Tooth tuna around the 20kg to 30kg hit the surface and following them was more big doggies which was a cool thing to see.

After some quick pictures were taken the fish were released and we quickly went back for another drift. This time Dane dropped a plastic down while I stuck to the slow pitched jig and once again we were both smashed not far off the bottom. The sound of screaming drags is music to any fisherman’s ears and the grins on our faces said it all as more solid dog tooth tuna came over the side. For over an hour the mayhem continued with more quality dog tooth tuna before the fishing finally slowed up but to be honest it was a blessing as we were buggered from the brutal fight these fish put in.

We decided to go searching for more ground but unfortunately after a couple hours we didn’t find anything of interest so went back to the shoal we caught the doggies on to try our luck again. We found good shows of fish in front of the shoal this time and the jigs were soon smashed by big green jobfish and following them was 10 or so sharks. Unfortunately after that the sharks started eating both our fish and jigs so we called it a day and headed back to the mother ship late afternoon.

Day 5 the weather had improved greatly and this time I teamed up with Nigel Webster from the AFN fishing show to film the last two days of action before we headed home. The plan was to fish the northern part of Kenn reef which no one had been to yet because of the poor weather conditions. 

Most of the boats reached the northern end of the reef and started trolling, jigging, popping on a likely looking area that held good structure and ledges with current running over it. Our first troll over the area resulted in a nice coral trout that was bitten in half by a shark and not long after that a nice sized black trevally which was also sharked. We then experienced a run a bad luck with bite offs occurring even on the lures that were running both long or short wire traces which could have been packs of wahoo biting at the swivel which connected the main line to the wire trace. Between all the boats the overall fishing was fairly quiet and not what we had expected from the area which looked to have great potential.

Everyone started to explore and head further a field in all directions and it wasn’t long before we ran over a nice rock in 50mtrs of water so I got Nigel to drop his mustad bigeye bucktail jig down. A quick retrieve off the bottom a few meters followed by a short pause saw him get smashed 3 drops in a row and produced 2 big red bass and a monster coral trout. I had a quick drop with a slow pitched jig and got smashed close to the bottom which saw the fish go straight for cover and rub the 130lb leader off on the reef.

Dane and James had found a few wahoo away from the northern end of reef system and we soon found our back up there in hope the fishing would improve as the day progressed. The area looked promising and we decided to stick it out and hope the fishing improved with the tide change.

The next hour or so was extremely slow with no one reporting much action but as the tide changed things started to heat up. Dane & James had hooked a sailfish so we headed over and got some photos just as they were releasing it and to say they were stoked would be an understatement.

We kept trolling and it wasn’t long before we noticed one of the rod tips bounce a few times but failed to hook up. It was the only rod with a resin head skirted pusher lure on it so we thought it might be a sail fish having a go at it but we couldn’t see a bill swiping the lure. We had another 10 or so hits but the light gauge SL12s game hook just wouldn’t stick so I picked the rod up and straight away we hooked up and the 40lb braid peeled from the shimano Saragosa 8000 reel. A Sailfish jumped out but in doing so threw the hook straight away which was super frustrating.

As I started winding some line in the lure was getting belted left right and centre from what must have been a pack of sail fish.  We quickly put the boat into gear and after several more hits we finally had a solid connection and a beautiful big sail fish came shooting out of the water and put on an awesome aerial display. After some seriously bad luck that day I was really hoping we could land this fish and around the 15 minute mark we had it close to the boat before it took off again. I felt the line come loose for a split second but the weight came back on and the reason behind this would later be revealed. The fight continued on and after 45mins the sailfish had gone deep and was now in some strong current making it extremely hard to gain any line on. We tried driving away to get some angle on the line in hope this would raise the fish but every attempt failed. After an hour I made the call to put some huge pressure on the line and see if I could get it coming. I was using a 40-60lb venom stick bait rod which is one of the most versatile rods in its range and I was thankful I was using this rod as it has a reasonably light tip but heaps of power in the mid to lower part of the rod to budge big fish. Eventually I was slowly gaining some line bit by bit but the pressure I was putting on the tackle was very high I was very nervous about losing this fish. After an hour and fifteen minutes we finally had a beautiful sailfish boat side and we yahooed with joy.  It turns out the hook had come out of its mouth earlier in the fight and lodged into the base of sail behind its head making it extremely difficult to pull up. The fish was in good health and after some quick pics swam away strongly.

During the sailfish fight the other boats had reported crazy fishing with wahoo and some monster dog tooth tuna from the same area. The lads on the Wilson boat had caught a massive doggie around 80kg while trolling a Zerek pelagic Z hard body lure with 50lb line and 7foot PE2-5 venom rod.  We quickly went back to the area and started trolling again but by the time we got there the fishing had slowed up although we got a few hits resulting in the fish being sharked or bitten off which was once again frustrating.

Day 6 saw us once again fishing the northern part of the reef and again we continued our bad run of luck with bite offs and sharks. I even put some swim gar out but the barracuda and sharks were quick to nail them before anything else so we went back to lures. A few of the boats had reported the odd big dog tooth tuna on jigs with Gregg Chapman from Secret Spot Bait n Tackle in Yeppoon getting a monster which was a bucket list fish for him. Over all the fishing was slow that morning and the weather started to deteriorate so we made our way back down to the southern end of the kenn reef system for some site seeing. One of southern sand cays had a big yellow buoy washed up on it which turned out to be a NSW DPI fish attracting device that must have come a drift some time ago.

With time getting on we made our way back to the mothership so they could load the boats and start making the journey home. The weather on the way home the next day was magic and we managed to hook a nice blue marlin off the back of Big Cat which was a first for John Carmody and put a great end to a truly epic trip.

A special thanks to the Wilson team for organising such a memorable trip. The Mustad, Zerek & Venom products were amazing and to see that no rods were broken out of 100 taken was a true testament to these quality Australian built rods.

If you want to experience a trip of a lifetime then get in contact with Big Cat Reality Charters as James and his crew work tirelessly to look after you and make that dream come true.

Click the link for Part 1 of our wicked kenn reef trip

Kenn Reef highlights video