Trip report posted at 11:09 am on the 31st October, 2009
1st timers to kanimbla under the great leadership of David had a brilliant week and we’re glad to have them return again next year.
Here’s Steve’s article from the charter as published in Bush N Beach fishinjg magazine:
The target species were red emperor, coral trout and sweet lip and there were plenty of them caught. The location was The Swain Reefs, a few hundred kilometres off Gladstone. It was a boys’ trip, with 17 guys in total. The mini bus road trip from Brisbane to Gladstone began just before 4am on the Saturday morning. We arrived in Gladstone about lunch time, before boarding the boat mid-afternoon. The vessel was the 25m Kanimbla. It had a crew of five. Dinner was served early, and we set off for The Swain Reefs about 5pm. It was a 16 hour boat trip to get to our destination. The weather conditions were favourable, so the skipper took the opportunity to travel a little farther than usual to try to put us in some good territory. In fact, it was great territory. Our first fishing session in the dories, was probably the best for the week.
The week-long trip comprised sessions fishing from the Mother ship, but most sessions were conducted in the six dories. So with two or three fishing in each dory, which were powered by 30hp Yamaha’s, we had the flexibility of fishing the shallow reefs or fishing the deep water adjacent to the reef shelves.
The fact that there was flexibility and we fished in different areas ensured a good variety of catch. Looking back on the week, the variety of fish species caught was one of the things I enjoyed the most. The largest fish caught was a 9kg cobia. John Torluccio actually brought the fish to the surface, but then lost it, and as it turned out, Jimmy Griffin had his bait going down at the same time and the cobia then took that, and finally, with John’s hooks & busted line still in the cobia’s mouth, the fish was landed. The cobia was filleted shortly after and some went straight to the chef who prepared some amazing sashimi.
There were a few good red emperor caught as well, with the largest weighing in at more than 8kg. It was caught by Carl Licastro. I had the good fortune of fishing with Carl in the dory for the week. Carl had done this trip 6 or 7 times previously and his experience was invaluable. I am sure that I would not have caught half the number of fish without Carl’s advice.
This trip was a first for everyone, except Carl, so there was other advice sought before the trip as well. The recommendation from others who had been before, to David our coordinator, was the Live Fibre rod, matched with the Shimano Bait Runner reel. The Live Fibre rods were great and when we were casting and catching big fish the rods stood up to the test. Using a Live Fibre rod, John Carmody had something monstrous on, most likely a big shark, which he was never going to land, but the rod stood up to the test. We’ll never know what was on the end of the line, but after the trip, John took his Shimano reel in for repair and found that it had actually melted the drag system. He had fun while it lasted though! The only alteration I would make to my gear would be to add a couple of overhead rods & reel combos to complement the couple of spinning rod & reels I took. The overheads have the added advantage of slowly lowering the bait and having the constant feel of the line on your fingertip. By using all Wilson, SureCatch, Mustad and Shimano gear, we knew we were using quality rods, reel, tackle and line. And at the end of the day, you look back on a trip like this and see the amount of fish caught, and the quality gear certainly does play a crucial role.
I had a couple of lures in my tackle box and when we were cruising around the reef system looking for a suitable area to fish, it provided the opportunity to troll these lures. Using the Halco Laser Pro 160, I picked up a Mac Tuna and Grey (Shark) Mackerel which was returned to the water. It didn’t take long for these shallow diving lures to be snapped up. I also caught fish on the SureCatch Crystal Ball Squid Jig and speaking of squid, some were caught on the squid jigs at the back of the boat. SureCatch have the SureSquid which has a luminous effect in the water. One night for dinner we started with calamari, followed by crayfish which had just been speared by Steve the chef and Neil who was in the fishing party, followed by coral trout which we had just caught and washed down with a Sauvignon Blanc from Liquor Legends, it was an amazing meal. In fact, it was a meal that started an amazing party…it was a long, fun night with plenty of singing and even a few moon walks thrown in!
The majority of fishing was done with bait. Pilchards, squid and flesh bait were used. We used a double gang of Mustad size 6/0 hooks on 40lb SureCatch Mono, with a 50lb or 80lb leader (the 50lb was much easier to tie) when fishing the reef areas and 50lb SureCatch braid when fishing the deeper water. Both rigs had the size 3, 70lb Crane Coastlock swivels. At the end of the day, I actually preferred using the braid over the mono, even though I got busted off on the coral a couple of times. I found I had a much better feel for the fish and I resorted to virtually no drag. It was a matter of keeping the fish away from the rough coral edges. The key element to the bait fishing was to fish as light as possible and use only enough lead to get to the bottom. This meant that mainly a three-ball to six-ball was being used. One advantage of fishing light was big fish would take the bait on the slow descend and there seemed to be less snags whilst drifting.
One morning I woke up early and cast a pilly at the back of the boat and picked up a good sized Spanish mackerel. I also caught red emperor, giant trevally, parrot fish, sweet lip and a couple of big Chinamen, which fought incredibly hard from deep water to the surface. As much as I enjoyed catching a variety of species, coral trout was the main target species for the group, and we caught them in deep water, around 25 -30m, and we caught them in a metre of water, as we coaxed them out from the bombies. A bombie is basically a patch of reef. Casting an unweighted pilchard close to the bombie saw coral trout come out from the reef protection to feed. It was a matter of having no drag and getting them away from the coral as quickly as possible. In the clear, crystal blue water, you could see your unweighted bait slow drifting down and then the fish would come out and hit it hard. It was great fun pulling in fish employing this technique. The different colour patterns of the trout were amazing. The ones pulled from the deep were a deep orange, but the ones pulled from the shallows were the light shade of blue/grey, which resembled the water colour. The largest coral trout of the trip was actually taken by a shark on the way up. Damo was the unlucky angler and at the start of the fight, his drag was a bit loose and the fish had plenty of run. In the end, Damo only pulled up the head, but the size of it indicated that it would have been a good 5kg trout. But the ones that get away are the ones that get you back!
Everyone on the trip was great company and there was plenty of fun had. There was also plenty of planning involved in this trip. A special mention must be made of David Cotelli from CJ’s Pasta in Fortitude Valley for coordinating the trip. He did an amazing job and everyone greatly appreciated his efforts. We also had a few sponsors on board too. A huge thank you to Liquor Legends, Corona, Pure Blonde, XXXX Gold, Bundaberg Rum and Coca-Cola. Also special thanks to L. Wilson & Co. and Shimano for the quality gear which was used on the trip.