22nd November – 3rd December 2009
Trip report posted at 11:26 am on the 3rd December, 2009
Bruce’s Salty Sailors and Superseamen once again made their 10 day pilgrimage to The Coral Sea. Here’s Bruce’s report:
Super Seamen and the ten day challenge – 22 November to 2 December 2009
Ten days in the Coral Sea always lead Super Seamen to speculate on the number and size of fish they will encounter. The ever growing masses of gear on the top deck of Kanimbla left no doubt that our anticipation had been in overdrive for the months prior to the trip. More than a few new rods and reels had been purchased to supplement the armoury of tackle that some had previously amassed.
At 1700 hours we left the confines of the marina in a 15 kt NE wind and received the mandatory safety briefing before a meal as we crossed the harbour prior to heading into the open ocean. The seas were kinder than we anticipated and it was easy to sleep into the night. Occasionally most of us woke as a slightly larger wave slapped between the hulls and when the sun rose lures were let out.
It was not till we reached Zenobia Rock [NW Saumarez Reef] on Monday 23 November that Gordon caught a small yellowfin tuna, and then Huy got a 8 kg wahoo, and TJ a 25 kg dogtooth tuna. As we headed over the contour lines towards the NE Cay, little of interest was hooked. It was a quiet day in paradise and the fish were on holiday. Fish of the day was clearly TJ’s doggie. Over the second night we continued east towards our destination of Frederick Reef.
Very early next morning the occupants of the front cabins were rudely awakened by the rattle of the anchor chain, but the rest of us awoke some hours later to see the lagoon at the southern end of Frederick Reef and in the distance the fabled Frederick Lighthouse – also known as the rocket ship. The wind was 15 kts from the E and after a short travel over breakfast Kanimbla was anchored west of the light. All dories went out with only a few going through the washing machine to troll east of the light. Dave caught a 28 kg yellowfin tuna, however it soon became apparent that the wahoo had departed for reefs to the south. On the western side of the reef we caught white lipper and green jobfish. Following lunch George hooked up to a 30.5 kg yellowfin with a pilchard off the back of Kanimbla and this was on what appeared to be a whiting outfit. On closer examination it was a 50 lb outfit in miniature form – a Saltiga Hiramasa 63S rod and a Shimano Stella 8000 reel with 24 kg braid. The fight was long and arduous with both sides tiring by its end. There was discussion whether George or the fin was most exhausted, however as George had not been gaffed, and the fin was bleeding it was consigned to the fish tub and George was allowed to recuperate. TJ then caught a 3.6 kg blue spot coral trout while various green jobfish were caught off Kanimbla. The night was spent near the light where we got numerous large jobbies, however the squid, while in residence, were very shy. Fish of the day was George’s fin
Wednesday 25 November saw a 15 kt SE wind and it was the day that Dave, after many trips, caught his first wahoo. It was only 7 kg, but after so many trips it earned him fish of the day. Rassie caught a lovely 9 kg jobbie, a number of fin were caught, and choppy seas with two dory sessions saw a number of exhausted seamen by 1700 hours.
Thursday saw reducing wind strength and a lot larger number of fin in the early session with numerous multiple hook-ups. Most dories unloaded their catches at about 9 am before going back to catch more. The back deck of Kanimbla was laden with lovely tuna. Those who remained on Kanimbla caught white lipper and jobbies. Gordon got fish of the day by almost beating George’s fish with a 29.9 kg fin.
Friday saw us heading to Calder Bank where only one wahoo was caught – a 14.7 kg fish by Paul. The wind was lighter however the fishing was not good as we got a few fin, and sharks tended to show up at inopportune times. Amongst the better sized fin was one of 30 kg which Gordon got by jigging. Later in the session Gordon was fighting a small fin which was consumed by a large shark, and this ended up providing one of the more epic struggles of the trip. With mediocre results we opted to return to Saumarez Reef. We had previously considered a trip to Wreck Reef however the weather forecast was not hopeful for that destination.
Saturday 28 November saw us at Zenobia Rock where Reg caught a 16 kg wahoo, Gordon a 10 kg jobbie, and one dory caught a 5 foot dorado – only to have it jump back out of the dory and swim away while it was being photographed. The weather was great as the ocean glassed out due to the donation of a Saltiga rod and reel to the weather gods – by a generous angler who should remain anonymous. Fish of the day was an excellent red emperor of 15 kg by Russel, with runners up being Josh and Daniel with a GT in excess of 20 kg. They had fought the fish for about an hour on fairly light gear and both taken turns with the rod.
Sunday saw us move to the SW Cay due to a return of the usual 15 kt wind. There were a few doggies to 15 kg caught off Kanimbla, and some jobbies. The afternoon was fairly quiet. Daniel got fish of the day with a 5.7 kg blue spot coral trout. We decided to leave for Swain Reefs for some better table fish and pulled the pick at 1 am.
Monday was spent at Hickson Reef where we fished shoal country. We got a good number of red throat emperor, parrot fish, and coral trout. Dave caught a 5.5 kg red emperor which became fish of the day.
Tuesday saw the wind at 15 kts from the NW with trout and lipper being the main catch. Todd got fish of the day with a lovely 2.8 kg red throat emperor. On a smooth sea we left the Swain Reefs at 1 pm and headed back to the mainland and the real world.
George was awarded the perpetual trophy for fish of the trip – his 30.5 kg yellowfin tuna. Fisherman of the trip was awarded to Gordon. , TJ caught the best dogtooth tuna of the trip at 25 kg. Gordon got the prize for the best green jobfish at 10 kg, Reg the best wahoo at 16 kg, and Russel the best ‘other fish species’ for his 15 kg red emperor. The Arnie Award for the greatest display of angling muscularity was awarded to Gordon for his battle with the shark at Calder Bank. Various other significant catches were made on the trip including a large number of ‘personal bests’.
We arrived at Gladstone Marina at 4 am, had breakfast divided the fish and left for home. We ended up with 57 packs each and a few whole fish. The trip had been good to us despite a lack of wahoo and billfish.
As usual the crew and captain were thanked for their unceasing efforts at making the trip most enjoyable, safe, and memorable. Kanimbla remains as the charter boat of choice amongst discerning fishermen.
Next year we plan to visit Wreck Reef and possibly Cato Island. That is, if the Pew Foundation don’t get their way and lock out all fishermen from 1 million square kilometres of the Coral Sea – read up about this and let the Federal Government know your views.