Fishing Reports - Diamond Islets Dec 2008

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Reef/s:

Months:

Diamond Islets

Dec 2008

Duration:

Trips:

3 weeks

Nomad Ultimate Adventure

Summary

We finished the 2008 season on a big high with the trips to Diamond Islets. The weather was spectacular for the entire month, and the fishing was simply awesome. Diamond Islets again produced dogtooth tuna fishing that was beyond belief, with some absolute monsters landed during our few weeks there. There were good numbers of black marlin up to 500lbs, and the general jigging for coral trout, red bass, Giant trevally, emperors and most other reef species was prolific on most days.

These trips were particularly exciting because we got to fish some new areas that we had never fished before. The one thing to remember about the Diamond Islets is that the reef plateau is HUGE. The reef extends nearly 60 nautical miles from East to West and is 34 nautical miles from north to south at its largest point. Added to this, there are only 2 good anchorages on the whole reef(except for calm weather) and the best anchorage is at the Eastern end of the reef. On this trip, the weather was so good that we were able to roam around the entire reef system and fish places that had probably never before seen a lure. The amazing part is that we’ve probably only explored about 40% of this reef system so far!!

After what we have experienced in the last few years at the Diamond Islets, it would be fair to say that the fishing for dogtooth tuna here is simply as good as anywhere in the world. We release all of the doggies we catch, and go to great lengths to ensure they survive after being caught, and it was wonderful this year to have 2 tagged dogtooth tuna recaptured in perfect condition.

Apart from the spectacular fishing available at this location, it has become a favourite with our crew and guests because it is just so incredibly beautiful. It has the largest sand cay, and best anchorage of anywhere we visit in the Coral Sea, and to be able to sit on the beach in the evening, watching the sunset over your own secluded little island, with turtles moving up onto the beach to lay eggs, and wonderful food laid on by our chef is something that stays a long time in the memory – maybe even longer than the fishing battles that were won and lost.

 

 

Glanville Heydenrich Trip Highlights:

Have just recently arrived back from the last trip for the year which consisted of Flinders reef and an atoll further out in the Coral Sea known as Diamond Islets or what I later referred to as the industrial area for Dogtooth tuna…this was possibly my best fishing experience I have been privileged to witness, we were on average catching 200 Dogtooth tuna a week with sizes ranging anything between 10kg with the biggest fish for the trip being a fish which would have weighed in at 80kg, oh and if that wasn’t enough we managed to catch 6 accidental Marlin between the Doggies so that went well as a cherry on the top, this is not to mention all the other species that made a meal of our jigs and lures, Maori wrasse, Wahoo, Yellowfin tuna, Gts, Red Bass, Emperors, Job Fish some beast Coral Trout and that’s just to mention a couple off the top of my head.

A particular day that stood out in my mind was the first day on arriving at Diamond Islets we detached the tow from the mother ship a couple miles out of the anchorage and after a quick breakfast started fishing our way around the North West end of the atoll and on arriving to the edge and being greeted by awesome current and a pack of hungry dogs that I’m pretty sure have never seen a boat before let alone a lure, so you can imagine what chaos was unleashed for the day and 2 weeks that followed, with the immediate scream of all 4 rods and white froth behind the boat as starving dogs smashed the lures on the surface, resulting in 2 Dogs being landed, a broken rod and an absolute demolishing it was a warm welcoming to the Dogtooth capital of the planet…the rest of the day turned out to be not much different and by lunch time I had barely had a chance to look up as it was a perpetual stand at the rigging station sorting out demolished tackle, we ended up finishing our tags in the tag pocket and lost count of fish but after tagging 20 doggies we safely decided that we boated over 35 fish.

One thing I learnt with the big Doggies is that if you think your drag is too tight, just tighten it up some more…we were fishing with 150lb braid 200lb wind on “top shots” and Tiagra 30W with the preset drag set so tight that free spool was no longer an option with a sunset drag setting being 30 odd kilos, yet there was still one occasion with a fish that i could safely guestimate at well over a 100kg, whilst the drag was on sunset and line peeling off like on free spool with a 24kg T-curve stand up rod bent from the reel and no plan of stopping the fish I thought I would be clever and palm it with my fingers on the spool which led to burnt hands, that’s not a worry i thought, grabbed some gloves and commenced palming only to further blister myself and burn holes in my gloves, eventually the whole ordeal ended after only 5 seconds with the guest angler lying on his back on the teak in absolute disbelief and a Dogtooth tuna with pride held high and some decoration to go a show off to his mates after wrapping the line around a coral bommy.

The power that these fish exert on their first run and there preferred behaviour of running into the reef is somewhat over whelming and personally wouldn’t allow guests to pursue them on tackle less than 100lbs with a serious attention to all knots and terminal tackle and if you think, well it might do the job, it probably won’t so upgrade….we had great success on 4oz soft plastic lures and jigs with a weight of up 300grams and one thing I can confidently say is that colour did help to an extent and noticed that the Doggies did prefer pink for some or other reason.

These fish have probably after this last excursion worked their way to the top of my list as far as challenging fish to catch…

 

Week 1

The Holmes group have been coming out with us for a long time, and this was their 4th trip out to the Coral Sea, having previously done Frederick, Kenn and Flinders Reefs. The first week started with the group flying into Flinders Reef, and the plan was to then move on to the Diamond Islets when weather permitted, sometime during the first week. The weather was perfect from day 1, and Saltaire and Nomad headed to northern end of Flinders Reef to check out a bommie that had produced very well the previous year. Nomad had a 40kg wahoo hooked up within 10 minutes of leaving the mothership, and it was a surprise to see such a big wahoo around at this time of year. We trolled to the northern end of the lagoon, and the jigging for a variety of species was excellent. There were big coral trout, red bass, dogtooth, wrasse and emperor on the chew. Both Nomad and Saltaire had massive dogtooth tuna hooked up, but unfortunately they both evaded capture. One of the doggies was well over 100kgs and was visible under the boat before it bit through the wire leader. It is very rare that wire gets bitten through, but it does happen very occasionally. Jason took our 25ft centre console down to south Flinders for the day, and had excellent jigging for big coral trout, and also some very good GT fishing

Our second day at Flinders reef was a beauty as well with Nomad headed to the western edge of the reef, and having a 250lb black marlin hooked up and lost trolling an Ulua 200 stickbait, Saltaire also had a 350lb marlin hooked up and dropped on a stickbait. The guys on the 36ft blackwatch watched a 50kg doggie eat a skipping mack tuna intended for a marlin, and then watched the doggie get demolished by a pack of sharks, all we got back was a head. The guys on “Good Tidings” our 25ft Noble Super Vee centre cab spent the day jigging and caught over 40 fish for the day. However the highlight of the day, and probably the week was happening on the sand cay where buried turtle eggs were being un covered at high tide by an uncharacteristic swell coming from the north, and the eggs were being washed into the ocean to a waiting pack of hungry GTs. There were literally 30-40 GTs of various sizes climbing over each other to eat the eggs as they were washed back into the sea by the rising tide. Of course, a few poppers thrown into the fray produced the goods, and the best GT landed from the sand cay was around 30kgs. It was truly amazing that the fish knew to gather at that exact location at high tide to feed on the eggs.

Our 3rd day at Flinders Reef was to be our last, the weather for that night looked simply perfect, with 0-5kn forecast, so we chose to move over to Diamond Islets that night. However, the fishing did not disappoint on our last day at Flinders Reef. The boys were keen to try for a marlin, and there had been plenty around, so we headed over to the eastern edge of the reef for a look. The story of the day was Kenny’s coral sea grand slam all achieved before 10am. Kenny started the day with a 25kg GT caught off the beach before breakfast, casting at the turtle egg GTs. This was his first ever GT landed. He was then onboard Nomad and landed a 20kg dogtooth tuna as we were crossing the lagoon on the way to the marlin area. To top that off, he then landed a 200lb black marlin, also a first to top off a GT, doggie and a black marlin all landed before 10am. The rest of the day produced consistent results jigging along the edge of the reef. The guys on Saltaire went for a scuba dive for the day, and with 35-40m visibility they said that the diving was stunning.

Our overnight trip to the Diamond Islets was just amazing. The sea was oily calm, and watching the sun set over an oily sea, with 2 boats in tow, on our way to one of the most remote reefs in the Coral Sea made us really appreciate our situation – life was good!

With the weather being so calm we anchored the mothership at 8am in the middle of the ocean and deployed the fishing boats to fish our way the 35 miles across to the anchorage, followed by the mothership. This was an exciting day as we were fishing an area of reef we had never before fished, and the fishing was exceptional. There was a lot of 30-40kg doggies landed, several black marlin, heaps of mixed reef fish on the jigs, and some monumental bustoffs. At one stage aboard the Nomad, a dogtooth tuna buried a deep diving minnow in the reef, and as we backed up to try and dislodge the lure, the lure came free from the coral, and as soon as it moved from the bottom, was nailed by another massive fish, which did a proper job of burying the lure in the coral. Straight after that bustoff, we put a stickbait back out and had a 200lb black marlin hooked up within 2 minutes. Every boat experienced truly epic action on this day, and everyone was exhausted by the time we got back to the anchorage. The biggest dogtooth landed for the day was around 50kgs, and the biggest GT was over 30kgs, with some massive 15kg coral trout also thrown in for good measure. Some nice sized 30kg yellowfin tuna and 20kg wahoo also topped of an amazing day at the Diamond Islets.

The remaining few days of the week were spent anchored at the eastern end of the reef, and while the fishing was still proving a highlight, the entire group was thoroughly impressed with the makeshift “resort” that Karl, Brett and Tara had established on the island. fishing would finish at around 4pm, and after a quick cleanup everyone headed over to the beach to relax in a deck chair with a cold beer, watch the sun set and eat some of Bret’s fabulous food for dinner. Karl even setup a battery powered light over the table for evening meals.

I can tell you that sitting around the table finishing dinner and a cold beer as the turtles moved up on the beach, only metres from us to lay eggs, the troubles of the world seemed a million miles away.

 

Week 2

Our second week consisted of a group of pretty hard core keen anglers from all over the world. We had a contingent from Thailand, a couple of guys from Sydney, and a couple of Americans. Stan, Toe, Tao, Ek and Jai were all from Thailand and it was a competition to see who could jig the longest during this week. I do not think we have ever had a more hardcore group of jig fishermen on the boat, and their dedication payed off, with many of the guys catching over 40 fish each in a day. Just watching them go was a tiring affair, all these guys were very fit, and must have spent a lot of time training for this event.

The first few days of this week produced solid, but not spectacular fishing. The current had changed direction, and we were looking around the reef to find where the doggies were hanging. The one thing with dogtooth tuna is that they always hang on the up current side of the reef, and when the current stops, or changes direction the fish either go off the bite, or move.

It took us a few days to find where they had moved to, but when we found them, it was dogtooth chaos. I think on the 3rd day there were 8 doggies over 60kgs landed between 2 boats, and Ek landed one around 85kgs, with several other 70-75kg monsters also landed. The jigging for coral trout, red bass and GTs was also excellent during this week, with a number of 20kg coral trout landed. There were many sessions jigging where you would go for hours and hours, all afternoon sometimes when every drop produced a fish of some description.

We did find a couple of times throughout this week that the doggies switched off the jigs, and would eat anything that was trolled over the spot, but would not eat a jig. All you had to do was troll a stickbait or a minnow over the spot and the fish went crazy for it. That was certainly a first for us, usually it works the other way around.

Due to the limited space I have here, I won’t carry on too much about the fishing, but suffice to say that the dogtooth tuna fishing we experienced during this 2nd week was simply as good as it gets. One of the scary thing was that everyone was using at least 130lb braid and very heavy drags, and most fish up to even 80kgs were a huge challenge, but were often manageable(if you call being dragged all over the deck and pulled into the transom manageable!) but the number fo fish that simply demolished anglers on this same heavy gear was frightening. I would love to know how big some of those fish are, but we must have hooked some doggies well over 130kgs.

One other memorable discovery in the 2nd week was a large area of uncharted shallow reef on the southern side of the reef. Up on the shallow area of this reef is was maybe 4-12m deep with large bommies and channels through the reef. We had not taken popper rods the day we found this reef, but instead we jigged the area with small jigs on heavy rods, and it was like fishing in an aquarium. We could see the fish swimming around in the channels, and we were catching trout up to 10kgs, doggies up to 20kgs, and a 40kg GT as well, all in crystal clear shallow reef on metal jigs. This session lasted for about 2 hours and by the end of it we were all standing around shaking our heads in disbelief at what we had just experienced. It was some of the best fishing we had ever experienced, and in a stunningly beautiful environment with flat calm seas – truly stunning.

One the southern end of this same patch of reef, we found another dog pound. This place was absolutely alive with big doggies and GTs. Eka landed a monster of a fish here, and Jai was blown away by a fish of well over 100kgs, which we got a good look at under the boat. The whole reef was alive, and this new area continued to produce fish all day.

Everyone on this week went home with a 100lb dogtooth tuna under their belt, some massive GTs were also caught, along with 3 very respectable black marlin in the 200-400lb range. It should be noted that these marlin were simply by catch of trolling for doggies, and had we actually been targeting marlin, who knows how many might have been caught.

 

Week 3

A group of mates from Sydney and Melbourne were on this week, and the group had been organised by Mike Hill, with help from Bryan Zekulich. These guys were all keen for some dogtooth tuna action, as well as some marlin fishing.

The 3rd week continued much as the first 2 weeks had gone. I won’t go into too much more detail here, but the fishing action did not decline, and we left the fish biting at the end of this week. We got to fish a few new areas, and discovered some more new dogtooth hangouts. We even resorted to trolling skipping mack tuna on our 150lb braid with locked drags in an effort to extract some of the larger beasties from the reef.

Aside from the prolific dogtooth tuna action, we had some amazing action on red bass and coral trout in the shallow lagoons. Casting mainly smaller lures on 30lb braid, we were often buried in the reef, but the red bass of 4-5kgs were in plague proportions, and with a few 5-10kg coral trout mixed in, this made for very exiting fishing with surface lures and stickbaits.

There was a 500lb marlin released to the guys on saltaire, and a massive doggie of over 70kgs caught on the same day. The jigging throughout the week for maori wrasse, red bass, jobfish, coral trout and GTs was exceptional. All of the fish we catch jigging get released with a release weight and we often use a stainless steel syringe as a deflating tool as well. It was heartening to see all the fish we released swimming off, and with visibility of more than 40m we would often watch what happened to the fish we released. Suffice to say that with care and a release weight, all the fish seemed to swim off quite happily when sent down on the release weight.

There were more evenings spent on the beach, more scuba diving with incredible visibility and amazing marine life on display, and plenty of great fishing action. The weather stayed perfectly calm for this last week, and we even had a flat calm trip back into port.

All up, the whole trip was a fabulous success in terms of fishing, weather, wonderful guests, and great memories. I really cannot wait to get back to the Diamond Islets next year.

 

Tackle Talk

We’re going to start discussing tackle each month to let you know what we saw, what worked and what did not.

We are still trying to figure out how to stop these massive doggies. We have now found that 150lb braid and 30kg of strike drag helps, but achieves little on the really big fish. Maybe we’ll try 200lb braid on a 50W game reel next year with 45kg of drag, then we just need someone to try and hold the rod?? Any takers?

The Shimano Lucanus jigs proved to be a huge success at the diamond Islets. Red Bass, Coral trout and wrasse absolutely love them. The GTs and doggies like something moving a bit more, but the Lucanus jigs just need to be sent down and left to bob around near the bottom and they catch a LOT of fish.

I am also now convinced that there is not a hook made, short of a 12/0 stainless game hook, that can hold up to 15olb braid and 30kgs of drag on a big doggie. Running such high drags we found ways to bend or completely straighten every major brand of heavy duty single hook available, and you can simply forget trebles for that kind of work, just a TOTAL waste of time.

The other amazing discovery was the ‘fly jig’ Glanville tied some fly material onto the head of some of our jigs, and they worked amazingly well on the dogtooth tuna, even better than soft plastics in fact. You can see some pics of them in the trip report.

The Ripple Fisher 5251 jig rod also proved itself again as a very useful weapon for everything from average red bass to 60kg doggies. This rod is incredible because it is light enough to enjoy catching small fish, but powerful enough to stop some serious doggies with 100lb braid.

 

Hope to see you all out there soon.

Best Regards,

Damon Olsen and the Nomad Crew.

 


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