I woke and checked the time, hmmm… nearly six o’clock, time to get up and check the weather and see what sort of day it is going to be.
As I was still wiping the sleep from my eyes I could smell the fresh coffee wafting in the air, I made my way out the back. Upon stepping through the back door, I was witness to pandemonium; shouts of “I am On!” and “It’s Another Double Header!” filled the air.
There were bent rods everywhere, fish coming over rail two at a time and fish flapping around the deck and fish filling the bins.
This is where you usually try to prompt yourself to wake up because you know that scenes like these only exist in a dream. But it wasn’t a dream; it was a typical day aboard a mothership fishing adventure on the Outer Great Barrier Reef.
DAY 1 – Let the adventure begin
Ok let me take you back a day. 14 mad keen fishing nuts gathered at the Mackay Mariner for introductions, handshakes and to meet the crew that would hopefully be taking them on the fishing trip of a lifetime. Greg Reynolds, from Reefari Fishing Charters had put together this trip to the Outer Great Barrier Reef for five days, living aboard the 80 foot mothership, Centurion.
The weather forecast was looking OK for the first half of the trip but then deteriorating for the second half, with 20 to 25 knots from the Southeast.
Not ideal conditions in anyone’s book, but the beauty of being on such a large vessel on the Great Barrier Reef, is that you can sit in behind the reef in absolute comfort as the seas are dampened by the reef system.
Greg regularly organizes such trips to the outer reef and to the Hardline, to cater for the fisherman who wants to experience fishing like no other.
On previous trips we have headed out to the Hardline and beyond to chase this fishing Mecca, but on this occasion we would be steaming out investigate such reefs as Trogibee, Eaton, Denton and the reef area locally known as the Rats Tails which lay about 160km east of Mackay.
These reefs are well out of reach of the average trailer boat and are only lightly fished by the keenest of fisherman. Greg is always on the hunt for new and lightly fished areas as this gives his guests the best chance to catch that memorable fish of a life time.
Once the last of the guests arrived, it was time to make our way aboard the Centurion, to check out what would be our home for the next 5 days and nights, and oh, what a home. This 80 foot steel vessel is the home of Marcus and Lynn Kottakis, who operate Centurion Fishing Charters out of Mackay and are originally from Newcastle.
The operation is setup to cater for the fisherman who enjoys fishing in comfort and style. The vessel has all the comforts of home, with a roomy dinning room and well appointed cabins forward and aft. It also boasts 3 aluminum dories which are deployed from the upper decks once the vessel is safely behind the reef, to cater for the fisho that enjoys getting a bit closer to the reef itself.
Skipper on the Centurion was Matt Sutton, a mad keen fisherman himself who has many years of experience fishing these wide isolated reefs off Mackay. Matt had that glint in his eye; you could see that he just wanted to cast off and get going.
As the Mackay skyline started to slip beyond the horizon, the Centurion effortlessly made its way eastward with Greg’s 33 foot Cougar Cat, Raptor II, in tow. Raptor II can fish up to 8 guests with relative ease; however for this trip, the plan would be to keep the number to about 5 or 6 to increase our success rate for when the fishing goes off.
I have witnessed what can happen when there is an 8 way hookup and it usually results in pure pandemonium on deck.
Great fun but the end results can vary. Greg has recently upgraded the Cougar Cat with a pair of 300hp Suzuki outboards, which really makes it get up and boogie, which is essential when you move between far spread marks. As we broke up into smaller groups throughout the boat, tales of past fishing adventures and conquests flowed.
And as nightfall fell on the back deck fell, the tales got just slightly more animated for some reason.