Its day 2 and there’s no time to muck around….
As I mentioned at the start this is truly what fishing dreams are all about. Before breakfast we had already put several XL sized coral trout in the bin as well as some ripper red throat emperor.
All of a sudden there was a shout from the back deck, ‘Red Emperor’ was the call, but unfortunately it was a couple of centimeters too small. This was followed by a 30 minute session of pulling in undersized reds one after the other, which even had Matt the Skipper scratching his head, unable to provide any explanation as to what was happening.
After a magnificent cooked breakfast, prepared by Lynn, crews were split for the first session of the trip. The lads from Newcastle were the first to venture out on Raptor II. Now one look around at these guys and you could see that they were keen fisherman. The quality and quantity of the gear they had shipped from Newcastle would leave any stand at a tackle show in the shade. I’m sure glad I was not paying for the excess baggage for this trip.
The game plan aboard Raptor was to troll the reef edges in the search of the large Spanish Mackerel and identify some reef points, which would be the home for Giant Trevally. Once these areas were located, the plan would than be to hurl massive poppers and stick baits, wind like a person possessed and wait for all hell to break loose, as these Volkswagen sized giants cut loose.
Those of us that were left to fish from the mothership were spoilt for options, so I decided to fish from one of the three dories with good mate and neighbour, Scott Allard. Scott is one of those characters who just can’t get enough of fishing, and the look of anticipation on his face was truly priceless. Once the tinny was loaded and we were aboard we looked around and started chuckling to ourselves.
‘Do we really need all seven rods?’ I asked. ‘Bloody oath mate,’ he replied. As Scott and I explored Trogibee reef by dory, the sounder was alive with bommies and fish life, and the only problem was, there were just too many options. It was then I remembered what Matt had said, ‘Just keep it simple Horto, go into the reef and drift out and as you drop off the different ledges the fish will come on the bite.’
He was not wrong; this technique proved to be dynamite on coral trout, tuskies and red throat emperor, as well as some quality grass sweetlip.
The next dory over was doing even better, but they had a secret weapon. Brett Machen, a local fisho from Mackay, was also an ace with the spear gun and, between him and Con Ruuso (another Mackayite), well and truly won bragging rights when we all returned to the mothership for lunch.
After lunch the crews changed and it was our chance to head out to the marks that Greg had discovered during his morning session. Onboard with me were Kevin and Jenny O’Donnell, from Canberra, Colin and Clayton Hoch from west of Emerald and Gerry Walter from Sydney. With trolling failing to raise any interest from the toothy critters, Greg pointed Raptor towards some deep water marks that he had fired during the morning and it was not long before we were drifting over the rubblely bottom in 49 meters of water.
It did not take long before the rods went off, first one then another then another, until everyone was hooked up. Clayton’s rod was showing the all the hallmarks of being attached to a serious fish, with the fish was stripping 50lb braid at will, and for each meter gained, a meter was lost.
After what seemed an eternity the first signs of colour could be seen, ‘Red’ was the call, ‘No hang on, change that, Huge Red, Massive Red’ went the call. Clayton had just caught himself the fish of a lifetime, and as I had the honor of pulling the fish aboard, I could see the look of jubilation written all over his face.
As 83 centimeters of red emperor hit the deck there were handshakes, pats on the back, and what seemed like a thousand photos taken, all this meant we had one very happy angler onboard.
Jerry was also on and after a titanic battle, another red rose to the surface and lifted on board. The afternoon session continued with the hot bite, more reds, and some sizable coral trout as well as a good bag of red throat emperor went into the esky.
On returning to the Centurion it was smiles all round. The boys in the dories had an awesome session, with Chad Busteed from Newcastle doing battle with a Barracuda of behemoth proportions before getting the obligatory photos and slipping it back into the water to live another day.
After our delicious evening meal, Greg organized a night session on Raptor as he was sure that those deep water marks would go ballistic after dark.
And he was right on the money. More reds, huge spangled emperor and red throats all made their way on board before the men in grey suits (sharks) appeared and the session come to a close.