Reefari Hardline Experience Day 3
The Vengeful Blossum
So, Sunday’s game plan involved running out past the Hardline to the Blossom Banks.
We switched the crews around for the morning, which meant we were on the Trigla and the hand-lining veterans, as we called them (not all of them were veterans and not all of them used handlines but there’s nothing like a good stereotype), charged out on Raptor II.
The highlights included some Sharky Mackerel and a bait bin destined Tuna which were taken on the troll with skirted lures (red, oily Tuna flesh is at the pinnacle of reef bait).
The Raptor II returned after lunch with a haul of 22 sizable Redthroat and a jovial crew. Our group was chomping at the bit to get in on the action, so gear was loaded aboard and everyone began to chatter with barely contained excitement.
The veterans were adding to our expectations with stories of mayhem and pandemonium yet, every now and then, someone would quietly mention that it was “rough, er… bloody rough” or “it was a sizeable swell”.
Well, of course, the afternoon sea breeze came howling back like a jaded lover and as the Raptor II breeched the safety of the reef the swell hit us and the Cat was hurled about viciously.
It was like playing on a see-saw with the incredible Hulk; one minute you were plunged into the bowels of the earth and the next you were flung skywards with jarring velocity.
As we arrived at the banks and set about rigging some trolling lines for the illustrious Sailfish it turned from rough to frightening. I tried to remember the old cure for seasickness which involved staring at the stationary horizon yet, there was no horizon; just walls of foaming blue angst towering above us!
Flying fish were showering in every direction, which I’m told is a good sign for Sails but nothing was interested in our skirted lures.
Greg our skipper was having the time of his life and was striding about the ship with all the bravado of an old sea dog but everyone else was starting to fade (except Jason who did his best to lighten the boat by emptying the beer esky).
One of the crew (identity withheld) was creating a burley trail while Neil had assumed a Zen like trance as he clung to a seat with white knuckle intensity and even the deck hand was as green as St Patrick’s Day.
After trolling we dropped a few baits and there were some fish biting but not enough to prevent a mutiny as the green gilled, white faced, staggering crew voted for a return to calmer waters.
The swell had grown to upwards of 3m and there was a unanimous sigh of relief as we returned to the protection of the reef.
Once back at the mothership we were greeted by a smorgasbord of activity. A roving pack of Volkswagen sized Giant Trevally were lurking behind Trigla.
They refused to touch lures or bait so the creative juices began to flow and a fish frame burley trail was introduced.
Each frame would float back and then get hammered by these evil looking giants. As they started to chomp their way up the trail we introduced three new frames which contained carefully hidden hooks. Jason had one, Neil another and I had the third.
What followed was reminiscent of downtown Bagdad; it was pure, unadulterated carnage.
Mine was the first to go off and it wasn’t exactly hard work; as I held the frame above the water a hulking black shape appeared beneath it and shadowed every rod movement. Then, as I lowered it to the surface, the water exploded like a depth charge going off and the line began to burn away from the TLD reel at a blistering rate of knots.
As I lifted the lever drag and set the hook I heard a cacophony of bewildered shouts echoing from around Neil. A narrow, silver rocket had stormed past the GTs and intercepted his fish frame. It was now steaming for the sunset like a bullet.
Meanwhile, I had my own problems; my GT (Golden Trevally) had changed direction and headed under the Trigla. I could feel line rubbing ominously so I began what resembled a circus balancing act as I passed the rod up and over Raptor II, tip-toed around the roof, passed the rod over, under, around and through every rope, beam and protrusion along Trigla’s side and finally emerged on Trigla’s bow.
My line was going straight down and as I hesitantly peered over the rail, my worst fears were realised. The GT swam just metres from me and was adding the last touches to a thousand turn Albright knot around the anchor rope.
Meanwhile, Jason had also hooked up to a GT, and his was fighting far less dirty. It had expelled a great deal of energy running straight and wide towards a reef edge that just wasn’t quite close enough. So, while he almost had his Trevally beaten, Neil had landed the biggest Barracuda I have ever seen. It had teeth straight out of Jurassic Park and took two people to hold.
While all this mayhem was afoot, Dave had added some comic relief by putting a lump of meat on the treble of a $39 lure. It was brand new and lasted all of three seconds as a big black monster smashed it off the surface and shredded the line like tissue paper, leaving Dave to stare open-mouthed at a hole in the water where his lure had just been.
Dave was somewhat of a quiet achiever who had earned the honorific of Redthroat king due to his ‘five in a row’ record that stood all trip. As you can imagine we didn’t let ‘the king’ forget about his lost lure quickly.
By now, my fish had swum off leaving me with a tied up plough anchor and Neil’s toothy critter had been landed and released. It was just up to Jason to land his big GT. Jason was our resident alcohol connoisseur and was rarely seen without a beverage yet to his credit his body soaked it up like Gatorade. He was a lean mean fish fighting machine and the GT was testing every bit of his resolve!
But, unlike yours truly, he landed his fish. It was the same size as him and must have weighed well over 80lb. As soon as someone fetched the exhausted battler a beer and he’d posed for some photos with his catch, it was released in a good state and swam away strongly.
From then on everyone was exhausted and at Nathan’s suggestion we spent the time before dinner hand feeding the resident Tawny sharks fish frames. They weren’t shy about taking the offered scraps and all fingers were accounted for, so we ticked the box marked “great end to an exciting day” and then hit the sack.
Reefari Hardline Day Four- Fast And Furious Barrier Reef Fishing Action
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