A different take on long-range fishing. 21st may to 29th may.

monsoon

Newbie
Feb 15, 2010
52
22
Sydney
Name
Dan
Boat Name
18ft cc
I have been a member of this and other forums for many years. I don't come here much. This long range section was always an amazing place where I could sit and read about something so foreign to me. A slow boat to Mexico. Cows. Rods on the rail. I'm blessed with the ability to dream. I've been on many of these trips with you. Just not in person. While there is a section of the forum dedicated to trips from Australia and New Zealand, it's pretty dead (RIP forums of pre social media times). I thought perhaps this spot is better to post. My trip leaves on the 21st of May. I hope to journalise my thoughts and preparations for my first real fishing trip in a decade and give something back to a place on the internet where I spent countless hours. Bloody Decks.


I haven't been doing much fishing for the last few years or more. Time and its habit of getting away from us all. I have been in need of a holiday for a while now and the plan is a surf and dive trip to Indonesia. However, that is not until July. And it may have to be put back until November.

So I need a holiday. Not Byron Bay again. The furthest north I could travel during lock down when I couldn't even leave the state. Not a weekend down the coast. I can't go overseas until my passport is ready. And I have had my padi dive certification weekend cancelled 3 times due to Sydney's la nina summer and autumn. Some people like the rain. Come see what happens when the monsoon comes south. 2022, the year without a summer. Until I'm dive certified and passport in hand, I'm stuck here. Right.


I love fishing. I just don't do it much anymore. I'm pretty good at it, I think. I mean there's heaps I don't know and can't do, but I back myself when it comes to catching fish. I worked hard to become a proficient angler. I read and practiced and asked questions. I was lucky enough to have a boat on the harbour during my 20s. I was lucky enough to live 200 meters from it. I'm lucky to live near some awesome harbour land based spots . I've done a heap of charters. Caught fish of all species all over the country and even self guided myself through the Solomon Islands a decade ago. But recently i have been fishing land based about 10 times a year and a day or 2 of chartering a year.

I would come here to bloodydecks and other sites around the web and read and learn and dream about far flung destinations. The 2010s were not great for me financially. Dreams were all I could afford. Things have been better for a while now. But Covid killed all my dreams for a while. Being locked down in an Idyllic city like Sydney wasn't the worst thing in the world. As the lockdown lifted fully when the Omicron wave took over, my dreams started returning.

THere are so many amazing places to fish in this world. You probably follow a few dream lodges and boats on your socials. For me it is tuna in Puerto Vallarta, black bass in Papua New Guinea, tarpon in Central America, Salmon in Alaska, grander marlin in Kona and Cairns. . I love the idea of the search. Those far flung destinations so remote and pristine. The people who visited first, and now have opened them up to the intrepid traveller.

I have fished the amazing light tackle sport fishery on the west coast of Cape York, bottom bashed the reef off cairns and chased mackerel and oversize coral trout in Capricorn group at the very southern end of the barrier reef. But never have I been to the Coral Sea.

Nomad Sportfishing is a name you would all be familiar with. They turned these micro dot atolls 300 nautical miles off the central Queensland coast into some of the most fabled fishing grounds on earth. Cato, Kenn, Wreck and Sumarez reef. The audacity to fly a seaplane there. To let any who dare, travel to one of the worlds most far flung destinations in pursuit of sport and adventure.

Word spread around the globe. The Coral Sea was open. But getting a ride. That was the hard part.

Nomad wasn't the only operator to visit these spots. I was offered a spot to Sumarez reef back in the early 2000s. I put my name down as a possible for a trip incase there were any cancelations. A few months later I received a call saying there's a ride if u want it. Thankfully knowing what I do now, I didn't take it.

This is not a trip for the unprepared.

Sitting on my sofa in lockdown last year I found my self looking at the webpage of a charter called Big Cat Reality. A 25 meter catamaran who offered drive out adventures to the reefs of Cato, Wreck, Kenn, Fredrick and Sumarez. They have a rocket deal section where u could see if there was a place available. I made a mental note for 2022 to keep an eye on the availability as while not something I was absolutely dying to do at this stage of my life, it was something I was absolutely dying to do sometime in my life. (note there are a few spots avail for a trip leaving end of June if anyone wants to just jump a plane and get jiggy with it. There are no spots avail after that in 2022 and 2023)

A week or so ago I checked the website and saw there was a single place available. A 9 day trip to Sumarez reef. 24 hours travel each way. 7 days fishing in a small 4.3 meter tender. Battling oversized reef fish and Gt in the lagoon and protected area behind the reef and casting to packs of oversized wahoo and school yellowfin just outside the protection of the reef.

I really do need a holiday I thought to my self.....
 
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monsoon

Newbie
Feb 15, 2010
52
22
Sydney
Name
Dan
Boat Name
18ft cc
I really didn't know what to do. 21st may til 29th may. That's only one month away. The times not the issue. The activity is not the issue. The cost is fine. But I still found it hard to pull the trigger. Well not hard. But I needed 2 days to think about it.

My biggest fear is the gear. High grade gear designed to not die when repeatedly assaulted by some of the toughest fish on earth is not cheap. I remember when the Saltiga reel was released. 1000 odd dollars. Wow. I would look at it. I didn't know what sort of fishing it was used for and anything about that side of sport fishing at the time. I was still trying to become a proficient squid fisherman. The law of the harbour states "He who can catch squid will catch kingfish". The law of the Coral Sea states " he who fishes w inferior tackle shall have their arse handed to them and their tackle broken".

So I phoned the charter company.

Im not a tight arse by any stretch of the imagination and I have had various assortments of reels and quivers of rods over the last 20 years. I like nice tackle. But being boat less these days, I have moved off most of my equipment. Now I basically use 9 to 10 foot spin rods on 20lb braid to cast small stickballs to the packs of yellowtail kingfish that swim in packs of hundreds only a meter or 2 off the shore from my area parks. These rods are perfect for my surf trips down the coast where I can cast metal slices off the rocks and beyond the surf. I have one rod which 40lb for land based baits and bigger lures. That's it.

I enquired whether the charter company had gear to rent. Stellas or Saltigas on popper rods. Propper outfits for the style of fishing. If you break it , you bought it sort of deal. Yeh nah. That didn't go well. The sort of tackle that is required is prohibitively expensive. Its buy it for life stuff. While the cost of the trip is very reasonable, could I justify to my self spending 1 to 2 times the cost of the trip on the gear that is required to fish here. I slept on it.

Pe8 and Pe10 popper rods and stickball rods. Jig rods and a troller. Plus a light jig rod. Thats 5 outfits. 5 top shelf set ups. That's a lot of money. And that's only the rods and reels. Those massive poppers and stickbaits I see in the glass cabinets at my local tackle shop. Im not sure if u have them in your local shops but they are not cheap. To feed these to GT seems like Forrest Gump levels of stupidness. Who in their right mind would do that. GT fisherman. Insanity.

James questioned me about my fishing experience at the beginning of the phone call. He explained this is not Nomad. This is a self guided trip for experienced fisherman. BYO tackle. He questioned if this is the trip for me. The company runs trips to an area called the Swains when not out at the Coral Sea. Geared towards meat fishing , he felt this trip was more suitable to me. I explained a bit about my experience. I have caught wahoo, tuna and gt. I know that I don't have a clue what I'm getting my self into, but its the sport fishing. Its the big ones. Its the wahoo and tuna I was after.

I was directed to call the Local tackle world shop in Bundaberg. This is where the trip departs from. They could help me. Renting wasn't an option but if I wanted to go these guys would get me over the line.

Bring your own gear certainly means just that on these trips. I have seen the photos of the loading of your long range boats in San Diego. Cart after cart of rods and tackle. You can never have enough of it. I remember a thread on this site where someone arrived at the dock and brought an exercise bike. This trip takes it to the next level. People bring their own boats. WTF. I mean I guess if your boat is designed for lifting and theirs is designed for carrying. If it fits on the boat u can take it. Why not.

My style of fishing has been so minimalistic for the last 10 years. I just used a few small Plano boxes. One for squid jigs,one for metals, one for jig head and hooks and one for a few lures. I used nail clippers from the chemist to cut braid and generally chuck a pair of pliers, a knife and a leader roll into a bucket. I then wander down to the park to see if there are bust ups.

I needed a lot more gear.

By this stage I had been thinking about booking the trip for a good 24 hours. Im self employed. I have one employee. I have a dog. I have clients and I need to look after them all. I couldn't book this trip with out getting it all sorted. All were onboard. I was free to book if I wanted to.

Coronavirus. What a pain. I haven't had it but its going around hard in my area at the moment. What's the chance of this trip being cancelled because of it. What's the chance of me contacting it 3 days before hand. Australia was very lucky to not be severely affected by Covid for the first 18 months of the pandemic. Lock downs smashed it quickly and life continued. We were basically virus free and other than some restrictions on pubs, restaurants and crossing state lines things were fine (for me at least). Still as much as lockdowns and vaccinations managed to knock Delta over and allow life to return to normal, virus's are going to virus. Omicron came so quick. It happened here from basically zero covid to 30k odd confirmed cases a day in about a month. The cat was out of the bag. Booking this trip , am i just tempting fate?. Travel insurance is not something I have ever really used domestically. Shit, is travel insurance even an option if u come down with covid?. TBH I would never have booked this trip if I couldn't get insurance for covid. Thankfully buying travel insurance more than 21 days before the trip means that I was covid covered. Unfortunately getting insurance for an expensive trip where I'm going well offshore and driving a boat, and the fact that I have had a pulmonary embolism last July means that those dollar amounts keep on adding up.

I have a mate from Bundaberg, That's the town where there trip leaves from. I have not really been there. I have but I haven't. Bundy is the beginning of the real state of Queensland. Brisbane , the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast are the cosmopolitan centres south near the border. But Bundaberg is not south east Queensland. Its famous for its rum. That's how most Australians would know it. Bundy is a staple in the liquor cabinets around the country. Other than that and its obviously in sugar cane country. My mate says its boring. Lovely but boring. Fair enough. Its not somewhere where people flock. Getting a flight there. Yup its doable. Bit pricier than your average domestic flight but with a flight leaving Sydney on the early morning of the 21st and returning late on the 29th with a connection in Brisbane. All my ducks were lining up.
 
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jigsaurus

Member
  • May 13, 2010
    451
    212
    West sonoma
    Name
    Stephen
    Boat Name
    12' plastic cod killer
    Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiigghhttttttttttt. Uhhhhhhhhh, hope you get a bigg ol king fishy, mate!! Sweetazz. If you have some aussie bucks to burn you should check out farnorthsportfishing.com they fish the most remote queefs down under. They go way beyond the great barrier queef. To the likes of Bligh queef and lizard isle.
     
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    monsoon

    Newbie
    Feb 15, 2010
    52
    22
    Sydney
    Name
    Dan
    Boat Name
    18ft cc
    Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiigghhttttttttttt. Uhhhhhhhhh, hope you get a bigg ol king fishy, mate!! Sweetazz. If you have some aussie bucks to burn you should check out farnorthsportfishing.com they fish the most remote queefs down under. They go way beyond the great barrier queef. To the likes of Bligh queef and lizard isle.

    Lizard Island is inside the barrier reef. Just off Cooktown. Its about 12 mile run to the ribbon reefs. That's where the giant black marlin are.

    Bligh reef is way north in no mans land. Its also on the barrier reef. Half way between Cooktown and the top of Australia , very few have gone here.
     
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    CI_SeaWolf

    Member
  • Feb 13, 2006
    372
    513
    Camarillo, CA
    Name
    Tom Farrell
    Boat Name
    Wellcraft 22' W/A
    Dream trip for sure, I watch some of the YouTube videos of GT fishing in Northern Queensland. Would love to try some time.
     
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    monsoon

    Newbie
    Feb 15, 2010
    52
    22
    Sydney
    Name
    Dan
    Boat Name
    18ft cc
    PE10 Wilson Venom popper rod matched w a daiwa Saltiga 18000

    PE8 Wilson Venom popper rod matched with a daiwa Saltiga 14000

    These were the rods recommended to me. Buying rods off the internet is fraught with danger. I have had some bad experiences. A simple trip to the tackle shop to feel the balance of the rod and see if it is what I'm really after. I know nothing about popper rods. I know they are quite long so as to be able to cast long distances. I know they are light so as to be able to be cast for extended periods of time. I know they are stiff so as to be able to crank the lure over the top of the water easily. I know they are purpose designed and built to extract bodyboard sized and above GT from razor sharp coral reefs. A few google searches and i could see that these were very highly regarded rods.

    I'm sure you long rangers know the hurt that a big fish can put on your body. Cramped hands. Your fingers balled into a fist due to muscle spasm. Aching wrists and burning forearms. The constant rocking of the boat messing up your knees. And your back. I have never really had any serious back injury. Just a minor one. It hurt like nothing else. A week of dream fishing could easily turn into a nightmare. 24-30 hours steam to the nearest chiropractor or massage therapist.

    Reading a few blogs and old forum posts on tropical popping and jigging, one thing I read is going lighter at first doesn't hurt. This appeals to me. If you are a novice angler , lighter is better. Firstly, you're going to get beat up no matter what. Secondly that beating is going to come from both the tackle and the fish. Going lighter means more casts. You're going to put your body under less strain with the gear therefore extending your fishing time and chance of getting the fish of a lifetime. I have only caught a largeish gt one time. About 15kg. I caught it on a tld25 w 50 or 80lb, i can't remember. It was caught in 12meters of water on a gravel patch with nothing for it to cut me off on. It ate a cut bait fished right on the bottom beneath a ball sinker. It went hard. Like wow it went really really hard. Casting to feeding GT in a lagoon is entirely different.The fish are working bait in the currents ripping through the bombies and gaps in the reef. I assume landing a gt is going to be very much luck dependent. Drag settings on pe8 or pe10 lines are ridiculous. But that's what is required for gt and dogtooth tuna. The ability to actually hold a rod like this under load is probably beyond the ability of most people. I don't know if i can but i'm keen to try out.

    I have had a daily exercise routine for a while now. While I stopped gym for 6 months at the end of 2020 going into 2021, I have been pretty religious about my work out sessions. I'm not ripped by any means but I'm definitely in decent shape for a man of my age. My strength has really shot up the last 9 months. I'm deadlifting and squatting and doing weighted pull ups. I added a new exercise I found online today. Zottman Curl. It is an arm exercise that works to overload the forearm. I'm doing it with a slight variation where there is no thumb grip involved. Strengthen the grip, strengthen the forearm.

    To be honest. If I hadn't been working out there is no way I would be going to do this style of fishing. I'm going to need every bit of strength.
     
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    monsoon

    Newbie
    Feb 15, 2010
    52
    22
    Sydney
    Name
    Dan
    Boat Name
    18ft cc
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    Screen Shot 2022-04-23 at 6.18.09 am.png
     
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