Fishing Reports - Flinders Reef/Diamond Islets Dec 2007

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Ultimate Adventure Flinders Reef/Diamond Islets Dec 2007

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Flinders Reef/Diamond Islets

Dec 2007



4 weeks

Nomad Ultimate Adventure


I think the best way to describe these 4 weeks of fishing was ACTION packed, in every way. The video shown above tells the real story of this week, just look at the number of massive fish caught.

We visited Flinders Reef for 2 weeks and Diamond Islets for 2 weeks, and the fishing for dogtooth tuna, giant trevally, coral trout, black marlin, red bass, maori wrasse and a variety of other species was simply stunning. A couple of standouts were the numerous 70kg+ dogtooth tuna we released at Flinders Reef and the Diamond Islets, 8 species on fly from the beach in a couple of hours at the Diamond Islets, having a dogtooth tuna filleted by a marlin at Diamond Islets.

The summary from the Diamond Islets was that if you want to catch a big dogtooth tuna, then this location is the place to go to. The variety of species was quite good, and the prolific dogtooth tuna fishing was something that all onboard will remember for a long time.



Where to start is the real question, there was so much action, that I simply won’t have room to discuss it all.

The first week had Peter Holmes’ group starting at Holmes reef, just to the north of Flinders Reef. Within 2 hrs of the plane landing at Holmes Reef, we had Peter Casky hooked up to and releasing a 400lb black marlin within 2 miles of the back of the mothership. We also raised a sailfish that afternoon, and all was looking very good for a great week. We obviously thought this was a good sign, so hopes were high the next morning, but this proved to be the slowest day’s fishing we had yet experienced in the Coral Sea, 3 yellowfin all day!

Not surprisingly that night we relocated to Flinders Reef and set off the next morning with high hopes for a great day, and we weren’t disappointed. One of the shoals at Flinders Reef produced an exceptional day’s fishing, with over 50 fish landed from the 36ft blackwatch, and plenty more on the other vessels. Saltaire had some monster dogtooth hooked up, but were unable to stop them from getting into the reef. There were several 30kg+ GTs landed that day, and more 10kg+ Coral trout than anyone can remember. This was the sort of action we remembered from last year.

The rest of the week with the Holmes group produced more prolific action on dogtooth tuna, some great scuba diving was also experienced by Perry and Darryl, while Peter Casky continued to battle plenty of big fish that were unfortunate enough to get in his way. Peter Holmes, Hagar to his mates, landed a spectacular 60kg+ Maori wrasse that was quickly released. The number of big Maori Wrasse that we released at Flinders Reef was astonishing. Usually these are a very rare catch, but the use of some smaller soft plastics seems to have increased our success rate on these species.

The 2nd week had us hosting a group of 9 guys from SA and Victoria organised by Mike Tilley, a guy from WA named Vincent Keyser and a couple of Americans, John Malloy and Jon Kruger. Everyone was keen to target some black marlin this week, and they were off to a good start when Saltaire released 2 black marlin on the first day of fishing. Meanwhile in the dories, Jason and Dan had discovered a prolific coral trout and dogtooth tuna location on the southern end of the reef. John Malloy released a dogtooth over 100lbs followed up with a swag of 25lb coral trout. Jon Kruger and Tony in the other dory produced similar results this day, with numerous 100lb dogtooth tuna and massive coral trout. Of course the guys in the dories also got stuck into some very respectable GTs in the shallows for a bit of a change of scenery from the jigging. Some very nice fish to 30kgs were released.

The pattern for this week was that Saltaire would go and chase marlin all day, the Nomad was chasing dogtooth tuna and GTs and the dories were into everything. The marlin fishing at Flinders Reef was actually very good, given the very poor black marlin experienced along the rest of the coast. The biggest one that we saw for the week was around 600lbs, but we released 8 black marlin in 6 days fishing between the 2 gameboats, which considering that many boats fishing nearer the coast had gone weeks without a bite, was a very respectable result, and again showed that this location is well worth the effort for black marlin.

Of course, the black marlin are a seasonal fish, but the plagues of big dogtooth, GTs, red bass and coral trout kept most of the guys very busy for the week. We had numerous days where individual boats released over 40 fish for the day. John Malloy was very keen on a black marlin, and he was about the only one who wanted to catch a marlin that missed out. Mind you a 100lb dogtooth is a pretty good consolation prize, and when a doggy that big is a consolation prize, you know you’re in a pretty damned good spot!

Mike Tilley’s group of 9 had confirmed their dates for 2008 before departing the vessel, which along with Peter Holmes’ group rebooking, left us with a very satisfied bunch of guests after the first 2 weeks.

The third week of this expedition started at Flinders Reef, where the next group of 12 anglers flew into the reef, to be greeted by a slight swell, but generally glass calm conditions. With the Diamond Islets being an exploratory destination, we needed to see it from the water before we landed the planes, so it was a 120 mile overnight journey to get to the reef. This turned into a rather arduous sea voyage.

We were forced to tow the dories out to Diamond Islets because there was too much swell to load them at Flinders Reef. This didn’t seem an issue with a glass calm sea, and a great weather forecast. Of course the best laid plans never seem to hold together on exploratory trips, and the nights travel to Diamond Islets resulted in the first of many events which had us firmly believing by the end of the trip that we were in something like the Bermuda Triangle.

The weather turned nasty on that night to the Diamond Islets, and we broke the heavy duty tow line on our dories, resulting in a midnight search for boats, that proved frivolous. Fortunately we had a 3rd dory on the roof, so all was not lost from the fishing point of view. We did later recover the dories, after they drifted 250nm in the open ocean, and avoided hitting most of the Great Barrier Reef, amazing but true!! At least we know they are very seaworthy craft! We won’t bore you with the events that occurred in the Bermuda Triangle, but it was hard to believe what happened, fortunately however the fishing, and the spectacular anchorage made up for this on a grand scale.

The first few days fishing at a new location is always a case of discovering new places, and ways to fish, and this is how it was for us on the first 3 days at this new and wonderful location. We landed plenty of 30kg GTs, 10kg Coral trout and 40kg dogtooth, but none of the real monster doggies we had hoped to find. This all changed on our 3rd day at the Diamond Islets. Fishing in the 36ft blackwatch, we stumbled across a field of nervous looking rainbow runners on the surface at around 10:30am. The rest of this day is simply a blur as I write this, but a blur of screaming drags, triple hookups and monstrous fish landed, and busted off. We had found the dogtooth factory, and it was pumping out the goods today. We had simply never experienced action like this over such a long period of time. Usually with the doggies, they’ll wise up after an hour or so of hot action, and you’ll need to leave them alone for a while. Not the case here.

We had radioed the other boats after the first hour, and by 2pm everyone was in on the action, in a session that lasted all day. I really cannot remember how many fish we released that day, but looking at the photos, there must have been at least a dozen 100lb plus doggies released between everyone, and plenty more busted off and reefed. Some of the monsters were just unstoppable, and who knows how big they might have been. The biggest one landed for the day was around 70kgs by Ek from Thailand, a very nice fish.

It is interesting to note that we were also catching 6-8lb red bass and coral trout amongst the doggies whenever the jigs got too close to the bottom. The fishing we experienced that day will live long in the memory of the small group lucky enough to experience it. The chance of finding a spot like this and probably being the first to fish it was the reason for the guys doing this exploratory trip, and we hit a very big pay off on this day.

We left the dogtooth factory alone for a few days after that, but we found a few other spots which produced similar action on the right tides, which just astonished us. 40kg dogtooth tuna were becoming par for the course, and hardly raised an eyebrow by the end of the week. This of course is simply wrong, as these are true trophy fish, but such was the quality of action we experienced. Of course, the GT action on the jigs was also excellent, with many shallow 20m reefs producing incredible jigging action. The popper fishing for the GTs was a little slow, but when we found packs of them in the shallows, there were some very nice 35-40kg GTs landed. However it must be said that most of the GT action we saw, and there was plenty of it, occurred while jigging.

There were some amazing things that happened in the 2 weeks at the Diamond Islets, but space does not permit the telling of all these stories. David Kuhlmann had an 8kg dogtooth tuna filleted along the spine by a black marlin near the back of the boat, see the pics in the above video/slideshow. Jai and Ek from Thailand both had monstrous dogtooth (well over 100kgs) nearly to the surface only to have hooks break or pull. Daniel Caspar booked the trip with the aspiration of getting me (Damon) as excited as I get on those video clips we see all the time. He succeeded with a dogtooth of around 75kgs on the 3rd last day of the trip.

Some of the other highlights of the trip included exploring the massive sand island near the anchorage. This is the biggest island we have seen in the Coral Sea, and the fishing from the beaches was excellent, but the scenery and birdlife on the beaches was simply stunning, truly like nothing we had ever seen. Steve Cooper landing 8 different species of fish on fly from the beach in 2hrs was a real highlight, as was the diving around the incredible coral structures.

I could keep waffling on about this place forever, but I think the pictures do it more justice than my words will be able to. The simple summary of the Diamond Islets is that we have yet to experience anything else that comes close to this place for dogtooth tuna action. There may be other locations with a greater variety of fishing styles, but for dogtooth tuna action on jigs, I believe this place will be hard to better anywhere.

All up, this was a fabulously successful block of trips to a unique area. The fishing in this area, combined with the stunning scenery and diving is sure to make this a very popular location in future years. The bookings for 2008 to this area are already busy with repeat guests, so if you are interested in getting into some of the best sportfishing available anywhere, you’d better get busy looking at dates for 2008.


Can’t wait to get back there this year.

Damon Olsen and the Nomad Crew.


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