Fishing Report October 2009

There is a place about 200km offshore from central Queensland that you only have to whisper in the ear of any reef fisherman and you can literally watch his eyes light up as you speak of it.

Due to the remote location, the Hardline Reefs that border the edge of the continental shelf on the outer Great Barrier Reef rarely get fished by those other than the pro trout and reef fishermen are home to some of the biggest, meanest, hardest fighting piscatorial critters that one can imagine.

So what does one think of when they start talking about the ultimate fishing adventure around the patio table over a few beers. The hardline is obviously the destination but what about the experience itself. I mean if you are going to spend a week 200km offshore you want to be comfortable, right?

Centurion Charters

So how about we organize Centurion – an 80 foot long, luxuriously appointed mothership, air conditioned cabins for up to 20 guests, 3 beautifully cooked meals everyday and a bridge deck that you could almost play a gamed of cricket on, this is the ultimate in Mackay Fishing Charters.

Sound nice?

Hows about we then take two fully optioned custom charter fishing vessels in tow, 3 dories and you are starting to get the idea of how we like to experience the hardline.

And so it began. Fueled up, provisioned to the gunwales and armed to the teeth with something like $20000 worth of rods, reels and tackle, we started the long steam to the hardline. As you looked back in the wake, Raptor II and Brute Strength cruise nicely along in tow.

The sun starts to set and the anticipation is boiling amongst all on board as we all settle in for the first night of the trip.

We will steam all night and when we wake in the morning, the hardline awaits us, as does a forecast for 5 – 10 knot variables for the next 7 days. It was almost like being a little kid again trying to get to sleep on Christmas eve knowing full well what the morning would bring.

This trip was also to be one to go down in television history. On board with us for the duration of the trip we had Jason Kennedy from Southern Cross and the Show “Fishin Trip”, John Bell from Pure Fishing Australia and their film crew. The aim for them was to get enough footage to shoot 2 full TV shows. So the pressure was on, for me anyway as GT’s were the target species for one of the shows and brute strength was the boat we would be chasing them on.

China Doll

Now when these guys go on a fishing trip, especially one as big as this one, they come prepared. Crates full of lures, boxes of soft plastic, kilos and kilos of jigheads and the latest and greatest in rods and reels including some test prototypes from Penn that I had been instructed to try and break.

The plan seemed fairly simple. Do what we normally do and put these guys on some fish while their cameraman films it all. For the rest of the guys on board, reef fishing was the plan for the week with trout and redthroat being square in the crosshairs.

Upon sunrise we arrived at our first destination. White tip reef is the marked entrance to Hydrographers passage and has some beautiful big lagoons for the mothership and some excellent pressure points and dropoffs for fishing. Raptor 2 set out for the blossom bank some 10 NM to the east of our location.

The dories headed out to the reef edge and we powered over to the weather face to throw some poppers for GTs. After about 5 minutes of casting Jason’s popper disappeared in an explosion of white water reminiscent of a depth charge going off. Camera camera camera he screamed as the beast peeled line from a seemingly impossible amount of drag pressure.

The fish ran away from the reef and headed for the deeper water and started its deep circles. The fish was slowly but surely coaxed to the surface where the lip grips were applied and the fish was bought aboard. At 25kg he was a great first fish and the film crew couldn’t be happier. We continued casting into the afternoon and boated a few more quality GTs before heading back to the mothership for dinner.

The “Fishin Trip” guys were blown away and heaps of footage, the GT Show was already shot!!.

Apparently the red throat had been fiercely on the bite with about a third of the boats bag limit being caught in the first day. A great start to a promising trip. Dinner was served, beer was drunk and good times were being had by all.

Red Throat

And so we moved on from white tip to a place known only as lipper lagoon. It was only something like 3NM across the channel to Bugatti reef, which is known for its large population of GTs. So with a forecast of 5-10 knots and glassout conditions, we planned to steam over and try for some Hot popper action.

On this particular reef there is a pressure point that seems to hold a lot of big trevally. In the past I have been there and seen fish over the 50kg mark and so it earned the name Bustoff bommie.

Upon hearing of this place the film crews eyes lit up and by 7am we were chucking poppers at it. What followed was one of the most aggressive pack attacks that I have ever seen. It was like these fish had never been fed. The poppers were worked back across the bommie and it was like a massive gunmetal grey bomb went off. The GTs were big and numerous.

At one stage there was about 10 big fish fighting over the popper. Eventually the fish became spooked and moved away but while they were on we had 8 massive surface strikes, 4 explosive hookups and 3 bust offs that just left you standing there with your jaw on the ground.

Out of all that we manage to land one decent fish of about 25kg. Apparently 80lb braid wasn’t quite up to the task – good thing the boys came prepared. After this session, our lures were destroyed. The poppers we had been using had very little paint left on them, bent hooks, wire eyelets ripped clean out of the lure body and upon closer inspection we even found a large GT tooth embedded in the timber lure. The footage we got was incredible. Nature at its best and most brutal. Battered and bruised we headed back to the mothership.

Now I don’t really have enough column space to write about every aspect of the trip for the whole 7 days so I will do my best to focus on the best bits. We experienced several more hot GT sessions during the course of the trip with the best one being 6 hookups and 4 fish landed in about half an hour. There were countless more bustoffs and strikes.

The biggest GT for the trip was actually caught off the back of the mothership at night. The massive fish arrived in the burly trail of lipper frames and couldn’t resist a floating pilly. A quick hookup resulted in a dogged fight for the next 20 min by Adam Shields and the end result was a Monster 32 kg fish.

Giant Trevally

The dories and Raptor II got stuck into the red throat during the week and the bag limit was achieved. Surprisingly the Spanish mackerel were marked in their absence with only 2 decent fish boated for the whole trip. Spanish were definitely on the film crews’ list of fish to catch but unfortunately they didn’t really play the game.

Guess you can’t always win on all fronts. Coral trout were also a little bit scarce with about 40 for the trip. Big tides are thought to be the reason for the lack of trout.

The trip home saw our last day anchored at Scawfell Island. Now I promised the fishin trip crew a mad hot plastics and bait fishing session to fill the content for their second show. We once again blasted away from the mothership at 7am and headed for one of my local day trip spots.

By this stage of the trip the tides had dropped off to a nice gentle run and allowed us to get the 1oz jigheads to the bottom in the 40 meters of water that we were fishing in. What followed changed my view on plastics forever. We were jigging the 7-inch Berkley gulps on one of my favorite rocks.

Now I have had customers bring these things out on charters before and never really done any good on them, but these guys live and breath plastic fishing and as we drifted over the shoal the result was instantaneous. The first drop was a 6-kilo nannygai and a 6-kilo fingermark. I couldn’t believe my eyes when that big golden hit the surface. Back we went for another drift and bang!! On again, the next drop seeing a 12-kilo cod and a 7 kilo fingermark. This was just too good to be true.


What an awesome TV show this one was going to be. I swear to god these fishing show blokes just bring the luck with them. We continued fishing in the glassed out conditions and 2 fishermen armed with light plastics gear managed to boat 12 nannies, 3 big cod, 2 fingermark and a partridge in a pear tree.

We thought we would then have another go at ticking the Spaniard box only to pick up another 2 impressive GTs. Terrible I know.

All in all the Hardline 2009 was a massive success. 2 full fishing shows shot, an impressive haul of reef fillet to take home, perfect weather for the entire 7 days and great company is enough to put a grin on the face of anybody who was lucky enough to experience it with us.

Look out for the program “fishin trip” with Jason Kennedy on Southern Cross Ten, with the GT Show on Sunday 6th December, and the bottom Bashing show Sunday 12th December, Mackay’s fishing at its best!! We are now taking bookings for next years Reefari Hardline adventure so get in early.

Once again everybody

Tight Lines

PS More great footage of the trip on our YouTube Reefari Channel