Fishing Reports - Bugatti Reef April 2012 by Steve Smith

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Bugatti Reef – April 2012 Drive Out

By Steve Smith

Stardate – 19 April 2012 at 8.30 am, I was waiting for my flight in Melbourne airport with an air of nervousness and trepidation, as this was my second excursion with Nomad. Thoughts of the first trip filled my mind, not from the explosive action, but from the bad weather and lack of fish. As a well seasoned fisherman, I’m well aware of the joys of fishing, sometimes they bight and sometimes they don’t and with this in mind I booked the second trip with the hopes of seeing the barrier reef at its best.

The flight to Brisbane was uneventful, although at the airport I did see Damon talking with some other people who I assumed were on the trip with me, but in my usual shy way I chose to leave him be, at least for now, but felt this was a sign, the boss man was on this trip.

Arriving at Hamilton Island I gathered all my gear and after a bit of a wait finally got a taxi to the marina, were I relieved myself of the burden of equipment and began to explore the island.

I headed for the bakery and purchased some sandwiches and found a shady place to have lunch. Soon I was surrounded by several of the locals, cockies and while one pecked at my leg, its mate stole my sandwich to my dismay, well who is the sucker in this tale, duped by a bird.

Finally it was time and I made my way back to the marina offices to collect my gear and on reaching there met with several of the other guest. Names were exchanged, Scotty Hellier from Creek to Coast and his entourage, Chris, Fiona and Mark the cameraman, Troy, Mark, Nick, Jon and Laura, with everyone glowing with excitement.

Scooping up the gear we headed down to the dock and boarded Tightstick for the short trip out to Odyssey, which was anchored out in the deep channel. Once on board, Andy the captain of odyssey gave the usual introduction and safety talk before we sat back and enjoyed a few throffies and dinner as the ship was made ready for the overnight motor out to the reef.

The trip out to the reef was nice, as light winds meant calm seas, but I have to admit I was a little surprised that we hadn’t reached our destination by morning, but that wasn’t really a problem as it gave me some time to set up my rods and get ready for action.

With full belly of breakfast, the mother ship anchored and the dories off the roof, action was a foot as I looked of into the distance at clear blue skies and calm seas, with excitement flowing through my veins, the time had finally come.

I loaded all my gear onto blue dory, captained by the quiet achiever, Pete (Pedro), who was full of excitement and itching to get us into the action as quickly as possible. A short motor away from Odyssey and a moments break to set up the popper rods for Bret and Steve was all he needed as we headed for the first patch of reef, as thoughts of the previous trip filled my mind, was this one going to be the same. Pete gave the order, cast there and I sent the popper flying and worked it back as hard as I could, “again,” he said as we worked down the edge of a reef and I sent the popper flying and worked it again, only this time it exploded. My heart entered my throat as the battle commenced a fight that lasted 15 minutes and stretched me to my limits, as I finally won the battle against the sea monster and raised it from the depths. Unbelievable, it had taken only two casts to get the fish that had taken me three days to catch on the last trip, was this the beginning.

After a short rest, while watching Bret catch a nice floury cod I again began to cast, and eight casts later I hooked another beast, although not of the desirable kind, a forty kilo toothy or shark, which to my amusement even Pete was afraid of, or at least respectful of its gob full of teeth.

Another rest was required before again joining in on the fun and six casts later another explosion and another GT boated, I had now leveled the number of Gt’s I caught for the hole five days of the last trip and in the first hour of this one. Could it get any better, well apart from the cramping, yes, as Pete requested some more out of my already broken body, “just two more casts into the honey hole,” he said with his usual exuberance, well how could I resist. The first cast was tight as my body began to cramp, but with some urging I sent the second flying and landed it in the spot, with two rips of the popper a giant 40 kilo sea monster porpoises over my popper causing me to grip the rod with all my might as I waited for the line to load up. Fortunately it didn’t as cramping in both arms caused my fingers to lock and I spent the next half an hour trying to relieve the pain, a pain that I might add was a good pain as it was earned from previous battles.

Day two and with some stretching exercise to loosen up a tight old body, I boarded Contender, captained by Glanville. The day was the same, with clear blues skies and light winds, awesome. We headed out to remote spot, a part of the reef that hadn’t been fished before, at least by Nomad and began fishing. I must have been of my game today as it took eight casts to hook and boat my first GT of the day and after dropping another four I boated a second an hour later both around the 20 kilo’s, nice.

After this success a series of bust offs happened, firstly my line broke while casting sending the popper flying of into the ether. This didn’t matter to much as all I had to do was wait until Glanville was free and I would soon be back in business. As I waited Bret hooked into a nice GT and was fighting it to the boat only to see a pack of its mates following, Glanville leapt into action, grabbing a spare popper rod and splashing the lure to get the attention of the stray GT’s while working the popper through the surface, once, twice and thrice was all that was needed as an explosion and crater formed right next to the boat, “Here fight this,” he said while handing me the rod with a very angry and green GT on the end. As I fort the GT he began the same process and I watched as the deep sea monster got closer and closer until another explosion and crater formed, this was insane, the GT’s were lining up.

Well after this moment of craziness, we settled into lunch and Glanville fixed my GT popping rod ready for more action and after lunch it didn’t take long, in fact only one cast and I was hooked up again, but this fight was strange and the reason was soon revealed as the GT was beset on by a pack of sharks and devoured in front of me, there is always something bigger and that was popper two.

With popper three now attached, a river to sea dumbbell, I cast again and hooked up instantly, or as I now called it, dropping a hand grenade as the popper exploded on impact with the water. The lure was returned less its hook which had been ripped out of it by the force of the attack.

Popper four was now on, a Paul Worseling I fish special, one cast one fish and it was returned, well half of it, as the GT had bitten it in two and swallowed the rest like a lolly. Well I finally put an old faithful on, a Halco Rooster Popper and it lasted the rest of the day, landing four more sea monsters and being attacked by 20 others, another awesome day.

Day three was with Clinton on Tightstick, and the weather was the same, what a shame, I was so looking forward to squall’s and rain, but the light winds and blues skies would have to do. Clintons a hard but fare man, and pushes you to and beyond the limit. So with some friendly prodding I finally got into casting, although my body is now complaining. Eventually I manage to boat my first GT of the day and end up landing a further five and hooking, well lots, which were dropped from inexperience or bad luck.

One thing I did learn was, listen to your guide, as Clinton insisted I cast at a spot, which to me looked like all the rest, a blue sea with no visible difference. So with some where and there, I eventually sent the lure on its way only to watch it explode on impact with Clinton exclaiming I told you so and beaming his infectious smile.

Day four, I was again on tight stick with Clinton, and the day was the same, oh well. We motored a fare way this day, passing through green zones and protected parts of the reef, this was fine as it allowed me time to breathe in the fresh air and absorb the endless wilderness. With a short popper fish I managed to join in with a double hook up and land my only GT for the day, which was fine as they had already stretched me far enough, we then finished the day with light tackle and soft plastics, another skill I need to learn, but I did manage to land a nice size mauri wrase.

Day five, the last day, I was on blue dory again, with Pete as skipper, and I have to admit I was exhausted, but I pushed on and after ten or so casts hooked into what felt like the best GT of the trip, but like all sea monsters it beat me and fifteen minutes into the fight snapped the 80 pound varivas braid and escaped, after this we began reef fishing and drifting over the most beautiful patch of shallow reef I have ever seen, fishing bommies for coral trout, and to be honest the reef fishing hadn’t been kind to me, as I experience at least a dozen bust offs throughout the trip from quality fish, and found that the light rod I had purchased, while a good quality samurai 602, was perhaps a little light for this action and not stiff enough to force the beasts from their homes. Be this as it may, I did manage to pole a small keeper size coral trout from its home, as well as a nice mauri wrase before getting a large coral trout, which unfortunately made a last ditch effort to escape and succeeded.

Well its at this point I would like to apologize to Pete for the unnecessary sudden outburst of frustration I experienced, which clearly chopped the head of the day, with everyone on the boat falling instantly silent after it. It’s not something I’m proud off and I know that it can never be redeemed, but I do know it came from a building frustration with the reef fishing, which is quite frankly very hard, at least for me. Well the days frustrations didn’t end there as later I hooked into what I believe to be at least a 15 kilo long tail tuna only to have it bust of as well, at least I didn’t swear at that one, holding the words deep inside.

Unfortunately there are always stories of the one that got away, but on this trip plenty got caught, with at least 300 GT’s being boated along with countless other fish like, shark mackerel, mac tuna, long tail tuna, Spanish mackerel, rainbow runners, long tom, coral trout and mauri wrase just to name a few.

Wells its come to the part of this letter where I have to give my warmest thanks to all the nomad crew, from Pete the quiet achiever, a man of few words, who explodes when the action is on and Glanville the excitement machine who’s enthusiasm for fishing is awe inspiring and that unusual little laugh with an air of insanity that suits his personality perfectly and Clinton the hard yet fare man who pushed me far beyond my limits and Alex the son of Spartacus, who I unfortunately didn’t get to fish with on this trip, but did on the previous, all you guys need to be commended for your perseverance and skill at putting us in the right place to catch the sea monster of a life time and put up with frumpy grey haired old man like me. And to the crew of Odyssey, Captain Andy, Nicola, Chef, Damon and Grommy, thanks for the most unbelievable week.

I just have one last thing to anyone that reads this tale, if your thinking of doing a trip with these guy’s and you’re an unfit office worker like me, I suggest you commence training, weights, pushups, sit ups, bike, boxer size, mountain climb, cast practice and what ever you can to get fit, because the sea monsters these guy’s will find you will stretch you in ways you couldn’t possibly think off.
tight lines Steve.
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