Fishing Reports - Marion & Elusive Reef Sep 2008

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Ultimate Adventure Marion & Elusive Reef Sept 2008

By Nomad Crew: Browse crew >>



Marion & Elusive Reef

Sept 2008



3 weeks

Coral Sea Ultimate Adventure


Elusive Reef produced the best GT action we’ve ever seen. A few monster fish, but mostly 20-30kg GTs in huge numbers. We lost count after 300 GTs one week!!

As with our Frederick Reef block, this trip was one of the best we have ever done, with the weather being sensational for most of the time, and the fishing being even better. We moved around a bit on this block of trips, but every move produced excellent results. The variety of fish caught on this trip was also excellent, with some great catches of big red emperor on jigs, a species we usually don’t see much of. Over the 4 weeks of this trip, every group had some truly spectacular action, and had some awesome weather, so it doesn’t get much better than that..


Week 1

We started this block of trips at Bugatti Reef, moved out to Marion Reef, and then moved to Elusive Reef. We have never done so much moving on a set of trips, but the fishing at each location made it worthwhile.

We started at Bugatti Reef because the weather did not allow us to reach Marion Reef, so we stopped at Bugatti Reef and had a couple of awesome days GT fishing before the weather eased and allowed us to travel to Marion Reef. On the first day at Bugatti, the guys fishing in our new 25ft centre cab had 9 GTs landed in the first 3 hours fishing, with the biggest being a solid 34kg beast. The remainder of the first 2 days at Bugatti continued in the same fashion, with lots of great GT fishing on surface lures and some good fun trolling for spanish mackerel and tuna in the bigger 36ft vessels.

Once the weather eased, we were able to make our way out to Marion Reef on a 12hr overnight passage in a beautiful following sea. The anchorage at Marion was perfect upon arrival, and everyone was keen to get into the action and see if we could find a few dogtooth tuna to play with. The first day produced good results without being exceptional. Everyone caught a few smaller doggies, and a mixture of coral trout and small GTs on the jigs. There were even a few wahoo thrown into the mix.

The second day at Marion reef saw the guys on Saltaire have an absolute ripper of a day, with 65 fish landed on jigs for the day, including red emperor to 14kgs, coral trout to 20kgs, a 55kg GT and several dogtooth to 20kgs. Ben Zeitsman landed the 55kg GT, which was a personal best, and a damned monster of a GT on a jig. This was a really impressive effort, and the guys were exhausted at the end of the days jigging session. The next few days at Marion produced consistent, but not red hot action, with plenty more red bass, coral trout, GTs, dogtooth, wahoo and aven a few sailfish thrown into the mix. The first group had ended their trip at Marion Reef, and really had a ball from all reports.


Week 2

Our second group consisted of mainly fly fishermen, organised by Theo Baisi, and Gavin Platz, from Tienfly outfitters on the sunshine Coast of Queensland. This group were mad keen fly fishermen, and were intent on slowing down some of the critters that lurked around Marion Reef. The first few days saw some good fly captures with red bass, coral trout and green jobfish the main features, as well as some nice bluefin trevally from the sand cays. The dogtooth tuna were proving a little shy on the fly, but we had a few hookups and subsequent demolition jobs on the fly. Even a 20kg dogtooth is a formidable opponent on fly tackle, and many of this group found that out the hard way.

The fishing at Marion had slowed dramatically for some unknown reason after the first few days of this week, and It was decided that with the dogtooth tuna, and most other fish not playing the game, we would take an overnight 14hr steam to Elusive Reef to see if the GTs and spanish mackerel that haunt this area were willing to play with the wand wavers. This proved to be a great move, with everyone immediately getting connected to GTs at Elusive reef, and also having some great action in the shallows with coral trout and red bass on fly. The GTs were the main feature for the last few days of this trip, and with perfect weather, it made for some great flyfishing action. The best GT landed was around 16kgs on fly, with many larger critters proving too much of a handful on fly gear. The spanish and shark mackerel also proved great fun on the fly gear, with many of the group recording several first species on the trip.

The first few days of the 3rd week were spent doing some exploratory jigging out off the edge of the reef, and this proved to be extremely successful. We did see some rather large dogtooth tuna, and landed a few nice ones to about 25kgs, with a couple of monsters seen at the back of the boat and subsequently busted off. However the highlight out off the edge of the reef were a series of shoals coming out of 60-70m of water to be only 4-8 metres on top. The edges of these shoals had some incredible jigging for red emperor, chinaman fish, red bass, coral trout, a few doggies, spanish mackerel and of course heaps of GTs.

We landed red emperor to 18kgs, chinaman fish to 15kgs and coral trout to about 10kgs while jigging off the edge of the shoals. And if you got a little tired of the jigging, there were huge patches of fusiliers on top of the shoals, with heaps of hungry GTs around them. Everything was firing around these shoals. Light tackle trolling with smaller minnows produced lots of action, the popper action on top of the shoals was awesome, and the jigging around the edges of the shoals was also spectacular.

It was fair to say that after the first few days at Elusive Reef, all the guys were in cruise mode, a little bruised and battered from a few days of hot action. A couple of guys decided it might be nice to have a fish around the inner reef and lagoon area and see what was happening, thinking they might take a little break from the hectic action out off the edge of the reef.

It turned out that the GTs and spanish mackerel were just as hungry around the lagoon as they were outside, but the GTs inside the lagoon were consistently bigger than those outside the reef, averaging around 25kg, and the mackerel around 15kgs.


Week 3

Towards the end of the 3rd week, some of the guys decided they were more interested in jigging than GT fishing, and others decided they were dedicated GT fanatics and just wanted to cast poppers all day. Andrzej, who had come all the way from Poland to fish, turned out to be a mad keen popper fisherman, and on several days he didn’t even want to stop for lunch he was so busy catching GTs. The bruises all over his upper body told the story of utter joy by the end of the week. In fact Andrzej said that the last time he remembered being this exhausted and still being so enthusiastic about keeping on “playing” was when he was a boy playing soccer in Poland. I thought that was an appropriate way to describe the pure joy and exhilaration that GT fishing with poppers can provide. It does hurt sometimes, but it can be so much fun and so addictive that you just can’t stop.

The guys who had gone out jigging were also having a ball, with lots more coral trout, red bass and red emperor. The dogtooth had gone a little quiet here as well, and we figured it was most likely to do with lower water temps. The doggies seem to really like it above 26 degrees celcius, and we were getting constant 25 degree readings, which was warm enough to get some action on the doggies, but not warm enough for the type of red hot action we would have liked. Regardless of the slower than usual dogtooth action, all the other species were firing, and everyone was well entertained no matter what style of fishing they chose.

The 3rd week ended as it had begun with great weather and great action. The 4th week saw us hosting the Escape with ET fishing show for the week, and they were hoping to film a 1 hour special on the area to be aired in November 2008 on Channel 10 in Australia. The fishing turned out to be that good that the guys ended up with two 1 hour shows at the end of the week. One of the shows is a GTs on poppers special, and the other show is a mixture of jigging and trolling, showing the diversity of species available in the area.

We had a real multi cultural mixture of guests for this week, with Stewart and Matt from England, Thomas and Stefan from Germany, Stuart, John and Andrew from Sydney and a group of unruly blokes from Melbourne, Con, Dogan and Mo.

Without dragging this report on too much longer, the 4th week was an absolute stunner. There were some massive GTs landed, with the biggest a real monster at 50kgs going to Matt, who was by the way a first time GT angler! Dogan caught a 30kg black marlin on the troll, and we had a day where there were 78 GTs landed between the 4 boats, and that was with 2 boat spending only half the day GT fishing. We landed some really nice 25kg spanish mackerel during the week as well, but the sheer number and size of the GTs was just unbelievable.

One of the highlights of the week was the day when we landed the 78 GTs, but the end to that day was memorable. I was guiding the film crew and ET in a dory, and we had been mucking around filming all sorts of stuff throughout the day, and had even had to return to the mothership for half an hour to fix a radio. It got to 4:20pm in the afternoon, and I was having a friendly chat to Liam who was guiding the guys on the 25ft centre cab. He had landed a very healthy 18 GTs for the day at this point, and we were on a tally of 17 GTs. The challenge was set, 10 minutes of fishing to see who would take the prize for the day, fortunately we had a patch of fusiliers right in front of us, and were hooked up to fish #18 within minutes. We lost that fish and proceeded to lose #18 again, before ET finally got connected solidly to a nice GT and yelled at me to cast quickly to get #19 hooked up. In that last 10 minutes of fishing we had 5 hookups and landed 2 GTs to get us to 19 fish for the day when the mothership called stop fishing.

Liam was still on 18 for the day, and was not impressed. I can’t repeat his comments but that last 10 minutes of competition made for a great segment for the film crew, and even if it left Liam a little disappointed, it was a great way to finish an incredible day’s fishing.

We had a couple of days in that last week where it blew a good 35kn of SE wind, but we still managed to fish each day, even if it was a little difficult. The weather dropped off course on the last day and the guys flew out over calm seas and clear skies to finish the block of trips as we had started. All up this was a really exceptional block of trips, with variety and quantity of fish. Moving between the different reefs proved to be a great idea, with the results backing that decision.

We’ll be visiting Elusive Reef again of course in Aug/Sept 2009. There is already 1 week fully booked for this block, so if you are interested, please call us soon for more info.


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 had a few of our guests use the Ripple Fisher GT78PF and & 79R rods for GT fishing on this trip, and they were extremely impressed. Stuart from Sydney used the 79R to great effect on a couple of 35-40kg GTs and was seriously impressed.

We had a lot of breakage on our reels this month, with plenty of Stella and Saltiga reels going down. Mostly anti reverse bearings failing and handles being ripped off by over zealous brutes of anglers.

On top of this, we had a number of Jobu, Shout and Owner SJ-41 hooks straighten out during the month. We believe this happened because of the number of GTs around, and it was a common problem to have 2 GTs hooked onto the same lure, one on the front and one on the back hook. These hooks we are using are simply the strongest hooks made, and it is the first time we have ever seen any of them have a problem.

There were a few problems again with people using jigging braid for casting, and having random and unexplained bustoffs mid fight. Again, the break seemed to occur at the colour change in the jigging braid. Our suggestion is not to use jigging braid for casting, it just continually fails!

We tested the new Custom Craftco popper and it was an absolute winner. We sold out of these on the 3rd week of the trip they were that popular. The run really well with just a 7/0 assist hook on the belly.


Hope to see you all out there soon.

Best Regards,

Damon Olsen and the Nomad Crew.


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