The Reefari Hardline Experience
Now, when people talk about offshore fishing, it can generally mean a range of things: there are the outer islands, the Shipping Channel, the inner reefs, the Hardline, The Continental Shelf and beyond.
Each progressive location presents new opportunities and a plethora of new and exciting conditions, challenges and species. Throw a boat full of guys from various fishing niches together and take them to the Hardline and suddenly you have sweet, beautiful chaos.
It’s like a dozen highly paid, specialist doctors all trying to diagnose a sick kitten. Yet, slowly the various skills and techniques blend and an untapped, piscatorial paradise suddenly become a fisherperson’s paradise.
This was something that became apparent on a recent mother ship operation involving the 80ft Trilga and the fast running 33ft Cougar Cat, Raptor II.
I was lucky enough to receive an invite and so attached myself to a crew containing some avid fishermen and unique characters.
The expedition was billed as a “Hardline Reefari” and was the brainchild of skippers, Greg Reynolds and Neil Dallman. Greg runs Reefari charters which is a day-tripping operation specializing in hardcore deepwater fishing throughout the shipping channel and inshore reefs. Neil, on the other hand has frequented the Hardline many times before in his vessel, Trigla.
Day 1 – Wherefore Art Thou Sea Legs?
We departed Mackay Marina on Friday afternoon with Raptor II in tow. As introductions were made amongst the ten fisho’s and the cold beers and tall stories began to flow, it became apparent that there were Barramundi masters, Red Emperor emperors, Coral Trout kings and Snapper legends but apart from the Trigla’s crew we were mostly Hardline virgins.
It was going to be a learning curve!
The Trigla got along at a respectable eight knots and so we made reasonable time. Once past the islands though, that phantom menace called the ‘afternoon sea breeze’ reared its ugly head and general rock and roll commenced, leaving a few of us (myself included) wishing our sea legs would hurry up and arrive.
I personally went and committed sea sickness suicide and hit a top bunk in a stuffy cabin while attempting to read a book. Yes, that lasted about as long as Amy Winehouse in rehab. It was straight up to the top deck to suck in some lung full’s of crisp clean sea air.
On arrival, everyone emerged from their cabins like zombies from the grave. Rods were in hand, cold tins were opened and bait emerged the action started. Jason Horton was the first in the water. Horto was a local who’d signed up for the expedition in order to see some country beyond the range of his own boat. He had that gleam in his eye that spoke of addiction. Yes, he’d been bitten by the fishing bug and badly!
We’d pulled up at Liff reef where we encountered a reasonable patch of Redthroat Emperor and other assorted small reef species. Fatigue set in quickly though, and Fishers began to fade away leaving only a few diehards.
Nathan, the deck hand aboard Raptor II had a drop just as the last of us were about to succumb to the call of the pillow. Sure enough, he hooked into a demon that was instantly recognised as a quality fish. He got the fish turned after a herculean effort and then began to recover line with startling efficiency.
Even as it came towards the surface, powerful headshakes were jarring the rod in Nathan’s hands. Horto and I dared to whisper the word “red”. Sure enough, a thumping great Red Emperor breeched the surface amongst whoops and whoo-hooos. The boys were on the board and the fishing gods were smiling.
Reefari Hardline Day Two- Fast And Furious Reef Fishing Action
No Fish Is Too Big For Reefari Hardline...
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We offer our fully customised 35 foot Cougar Cat with flybridge, with fast cruising speeds of 25 knots to ensure you fish longer and harder. Time is precious, why waste it travelling. Cougar cats are well known for their legendy Sea keeping ability, with comfortable ride and stability.