The trip when all the BIG ones got away!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
We left Gladstone right on 1600 hours and after a bumpy first night [ a lot better than the trip in for the previous group], especially for those in the front cabins such as myself. We started trolling at 0600 hours Sunday morning. Not one marlin or close relative across the voids between Swains Reef and Saumarez - completely different to last Novembers marlin infested trip.
As we entered the first passage of Saumarez two guys got onto a pair of Barracuda and just as they boated them I slid a big bibless bonito into the depths. After 2 or 3 seconds of retrieval a friend of the Collins Class variety was at top speed into the yonder. After a few minutes of diminishing line diameter I managed to slow it and it stopped dead. After five minutes of getting nowhere I said to the skipper that it had reefed me. his reply was that we were still moving at one knot and he was sure that the coral wouldn't be. After a few more minutes I had the denizen going up and down the side of the boat and ten minutes later had it ready for the gaff. I reminded myself that such a large fish should be kept in the water and let go after photographs. Unfortunately it rolled over as the gaff went into the water and the hook pulled out. It was with mixed feelings that i saw it swim away at a very slow speed. The skipper said he thought that the Dogtooth Tuna was about 150 pounds [sounds better than kilos]. Anyhow there would be more fish and the weather was improving. We fished from the dories [4 metre Webster Twin Fishers] and caught a handy load of coral trout and japanese sea bream [articulated emperor]. Next morning we headed to the more productive northern end of saumarez under conditions that were still improving. Not a bite along the way - first time it was so dead on this troll. We went after a variety of fish at the northern end and ended up with the bottom fish and some wahoo, to around 20 kg. The Brisbane based guys had a lot of experience with wahoo but were still being snipped off constantly. That night we anchored on a coral bombie about a mile from the reef edge and between 2000 hours and 2200 hours, caught a heap of fish - the JSB and job fish being the most common.
The next day I went wahoo trolling with a few others and got snipped off [with and without wire] a number of times. Over the time of the trip I lost four $50-00 lures (sob sob). It seemed that if one hooks a wahoo his mates get extremely excited and bite at anything in the water including the end of the wire trace/ beginning of the nylon. We eventually managed one wahoo from my boat but, it was another guys. That day the sea glassed out and we could very clearly see fish in 100 feet of water - it was just so perfect and beautiful. The day was hot but on the ocean it is usually tempered by the water temperature.
On Wednesday a mild change was forecast and we back to the Swains and, trolled up some yellowfin, mahi mahi and job fish along the way. I was fortunate to catch two nice red emperor and a variety of other fishes. We did not catch fish at the same rate as Saumarez but were more than content with the numbers we had accumulated. We averaged 50 packs and one or two whole fish each. It is always a downer when it is time to pack up and store the fishing gear at the end of the trip - where did the week go to??? I went back to Brisbane with a few of the guys and after a shower and beer was dropped off at the bus terminal just in time to catch the overnight bus to Port Macquarie.
Everyone on the trip said it was the best trip they had ever been on and that they would be back next year. Even the guys from Melbourne who had a long drive ahead of them were keen to drive up again next Easter.
Once again the Kanimbla and its crew came up as the best boat I have been on. I look forward to my next trip in October when those six wahoo and the big Dogtooth which escaped me on this trip will have another chance to add some expensive lures to their undersea collection. I wonder if they realise how much discussion and thought is going into sneaky ways to stop them biting off our lures?
By the way, the weather turned nasty as we arrived at the dock and the next fortnight was going to prove to be most unpleasant for those out at sea.