11th – 18th April 2009





The Saturday afternoon of the departure day saw a large proportion of the group gather at the Sailing Club for lunch. No prizes for guessing that the main subject of discussion was the weather forecast. The veterans amongst us knew, of course, that the fatalistic approach is the only practical one – “what will be, will be’ – and so it was as we set out on yet another hopefully fishy adventure.


We arrived on the western edge of Swain Reefs, north of the “green zone”, on Sunday morning, to be greeted by a grey rainy day and winds from 20 to 30 knots from the east. The conditions were challenging to say the least but the hardier of us went forth in the dinghies to do battle. The trouble was, nobody had told the fish we were coming. We fished the depths between 15 and 40 metres because the recent ravages of cyclone Hamish had cleared the shallow lagoons of fish. The catch for Sunday would best be described as meagre.


The forecast had said that conditions would ease by Tuesday but that meant we still had Monday to contend with. Luckily, the wind eased slightly and more dinghies went out for both sessions. Khang L. and Rohan T. were persistent with their trolling and produced some small Spanish mackerel on Monday morning. They told stories of losing bigger mackerel. Meanwhile, the reef fish were still elusive so only a small number were brought in. Reef fish catches improved slightly on Monday afternoon augmented by a 15 kg Spanish mackerel from George C. and a small yellowfin tuna from Steve H. We watched with interest as Rohan T. fought a large fish which turned out to be a GT of about 35kgs. It was successfully released.


Tuesday and Wednesday proved to be the best days of the trip weatherwise. The reef fish returns improved considerably. Notably, the numbers of coral trout easily exceeded  the red throat emperor (sweetlip) and the average size was impressive. On previous trips, it’s been the other way around.


By Thursday, when the wind returned at 15 to 20 knots, another pattern was being being revealed. More Spanish mackerel were being caught on baits near the bottom than by any other means. Usually regarded as an incidental catch when caught this way, it happened often enough to make you wonder. Paul K. and his dinghy crew managed to fill a tub with reef fish on this day.


There was also a small number of cobia caught later in the week some of which reached 15 kgs. Other captures of interest include about half a dozen “Chinaman fish”, one of which easily exceeded 15kgs. This particular fish put up a terrific fight in 20 metres of water and took all of fifteen minutes to subdue. All were released unharmed. Congratulations to all those novices who made their first “big fish” captures on this trip.


The last session of the trip was south of the “Green Zone” and contributed greatly to the overall catch. We fished from Kanimbla and the catch featured more Spanish mackerel from the bottom as well as many quality reef fish.


Another feature of this trip was the abundance of large squid which were rapidly caught (6 in 6 minutes)  by World Champion and Master Squidder, Rassie B. He received the “Fish of the Trip” trophy for his efforts and will long be remembered for his contribution to the magnificent platters of calamari nibblies produced by the Kanimbla’s chef extraordinaire, Steve. Among Steve’s other great efforts were a great yellowfin tuna entrée and hand made chocolates on Wednesday evening.


Our thanks go to the Skipper Bruce, deckies Giles and Christy and Chef Steve for another memorable trip. The trip home was a magic carpet ride.


Steve Ho

21 April, 2009 






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