By Lee Brake
Article reprinted with the permission of NQ Fish & Boat Magazine
It was one of those trips where you get everything right. It was the piscatorial equivalent of getting bumped up to first class only to find that it was the Brisbane Bronco’s Cheer Squad who hadn’t quite been able to fill the front of the plane and they were out of house Scotch so the Johnny Walker Blue Label would have to suffice.
Our regular crew of Jason ‘Horto’ Horton, Jamie ‘the comic relief’ Evans, the old man, Greg Reynolds and myself, plus first-timer Keith, got the 32-foot cat ready on Wednesday. There was no holding us back, and with a smooth hull (thanks to skipper Greg’s new air-dock) we leapt across the minuscule chop created from a mere ten knots of breeze.
A few coldies were cracked, jokes and assorted heckling flowed freely, and DJ Jamie Evens even cranked a few tunes from his co-pilot’s chair.
We arrived at – I’m sworn to secrecy – reef after sunset, and as we all hit the sack, we were pretty excited for what the following day would bring. We were not to be disappointed. Greg has a series of marks gained from years of experience, the generous contributions of the crew, and some from a database of net hang-ups kept by trawler operators, so we had no shortage of ground to explore.
Almost from the first mark, we realised we were in for a day to remember. Rods were doubled over; anglers were whooping left, right and centre and some true trophy specimens were rising from the deep.
Keith was a legal red emperor virgin, something I can commiserate with from my time in those shoes (especially amongst this crew), and he also hadn’t developed an appreciation for what big red fish – and sharks – can do to an angler in 50m-plus of water. Well, he soon got a healthy demonstration as the teeth of his reel’s gearing got chewed up like eucalypt in a wood chipper thanks to an average size bronze whaler shark.
He then decided to swap to a larger TLD 20 and proceeded to grunt and groan and draw plenty of mirth as he went for the gimbel belt after his second fish for the day. He was pulling up some nice large mouth, but every time we thought he might have cracked a big red it ended up being the devastating mottled orange of a big chinaman fish. Poor Keith.
But, elsewhere on the boat, the fun continued. The old man and I, both perched at our usual spot towards the back of the boat, found our baits getting intercepted on the drop. We feared that the man in a grey suit had struck again, yet we both stayed connected, and as we looked towards Greg’s awesome Furuno sounder, it was clear that there was a school operating at mid-water.
Sure enough, rather than sharks, the pair of mid-water highwaymen ended up being tasty black kings, or cobia as most of us know them.
Inspired by this, the old man and I decided that it was time to brake out the lures, so both of us rigged up with the retro-fitted Reidy’s Sea Bugs I’d written about back in April.
We were both using the 150g ‘Midgy’ model, but Dad’s was rigged with a twin hook, 3/0 Decoy wire assist rig while mine had a single 8/0 Gamakatsu Octopus Circle hook.
Both jigs headed towards the bottom and the old boy was locked up to something huge in an instant. I was getting plenty of powerful hits but in my excitement was pulling the hook away from the fish rather than letting it load up like you should when using circle hooks. Finally though, after a few false starts, I was on too.
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