A Bundaberg Wicked Fishing Adventure

By John Boon

On Location

It was so depressing sitting at home and looking out the window at the trees almost being blown over and touching the ground. The last few months had been absolutely atrocious weather here on the Capricorn coast with strong sou’ easters and the occasional showery day. A glimmer of hope appeared on the horizon with a drop in wind for the coming weekend.

I jumped on and checked what the tides would be doing and it would be leading up to the full moon with some good tidal movement. It was my idea of perfect tides to go out and chase those big red fish, but being boat-less, this begged the question of who would be in need of a deckie? My prayer was answered with one phone call, Greg Lamprecht who is the owner of Wicked Fishing rang me chasing a deckie, as all of his regulars couldn’t make it due to this being a last minute decision. I hung up the phone and was just gazing off into the distance when the wife interrupted my daydreaming with a question of “who was that?”I could only just manage to mumble the words of who it was and where he was heading and that magnificent wife of mine knew straight away that this would be an opportunity of a lifetime. “I’ll pack the clothes and the car; you just get your fishing gear organised.”(What a women!)  And with those words we packed all of our gear that we would need and set off for Bundaberg to meet up with Greg.

For anyone that doesn’t know who Greg Lamprecht is, he is the owner of Wicked Fishing and has made a DVD about targeting red emperor out off Double Island Point. He has been writing articles for about ten years on reef fishing and is pretty much a guru when it comes to chasing those big red fellas. I know a lot of blokes who would sacrifice body parts to get on the boat with him, so you could imagine how I was feeling on the trip down to Bundy (excited wouldn’t even come close).

We arrived in Bundy early and made our way to BCF to grab a few more things for the trip. My phone rang and it was Greg, the conversation went a bit like this:

Me: We are here mate and ready when you are.

Greg: Bad news mate, we have snapped a leaf spring.

Me: Good one buddy.

Greg: Nah, serious mate.

Me: (silence) Oh crap.

We made our way to Maryborough and there was Greg’s boat and trailer with the wheel off. We met up with Greg’s old man Terry and got the complete bad news story. Greg had gone into Hervey Bay to try and find a new spring, but it was going to be tough. It was midday on a Saturday and most businesses close at this time. I got hold of Jamie at Harvey Bay Trailers and he told us the leaf was an odd one and we wouldn’t be able to get one at this time. He said to bring the old one in and he would see what he could do. Greg made his way back to us late afternoon with a spring that had been pretty much put together from scratch. It took a bit of installing but we got there in the end and morale was now restored. Jamie had stayed behind after hours to help us out and then rang us when we were on our way to the Burnett Heads to make sure it had worked. It was overwhelming the support that we received from Jamie, so if you ever need trailer repairs then make sure you drop into Hervey Bay Trailers on Old Maryborough Road as the expert level of professionalism was nothing short of spectacular.

We went from doom and gloom to being able to finally get out on the water. I think all three of us breathed in a sigh of relief as we motored out past the last set of markers and we realised that we were very lucky to finally be on the water.

The trip out seemed very short, as I was daydreaming like there was no tomorrow. All I had were red emperor swimming around upstairs and it wasn’t until Greg said “Righto, drop ’em”that reality set back in. We were drifting a smallish isolated rock only a couple of metres high when we got a three-way hook-up. Terry was first to hit the surface with a nice red around the 10kg mark, I followed with a cod and Greg with a quality tusker. For only the second drift of the trip we had a red on board. I just took in the surroundings and thought to myself, now this is living!We added a couple more odds and sods before the bite completely shut down with the turn of the tide. It looked like we had only just caught the end of it.

This will sound probably a bit weird, but I’m glad we hit a quiet period. The fact is that I really wanted to see how Greg handles a shut down bite and what he does during this time. There was no special techniques or secret weapons, because when the fish shut down there is not much anyone can do about it. Greg went into search mode. He just spent the time productively sounding around and looking for new spots. We would have a few drifts on new spots and then move on to the next one. Something worth mentioning here is that just because your new spot doesn’t produce when you fish it, doesn’t mean it’s a bad spot; it just means you may have to revisit it at a different stage of the tide.

After a snooze and some down time for Terry and myself we were now recharged and ready to be added back to the run-on squad. I don’t know how Greg stays glued to the sounder with no rest – I think he may be half man, half machine or something. I guess this is why he gets the results he does; big effort and time searching for new ground will get the results.

After a number of hours with not much happening, the decision was made to revisit the original mark we pulled the first red off in the hope the evening bite would produce results.  Half way back to the mark Greg pulled the power off and swung the big riptide around to have a look at a bait school he’d just clipped on the sounder. A general sound around the area revealed two isolated rocks no more than a few hundred metres apart. We set up for a drift over rock number one and I was instantly rewarded with a solid hook-up. Some big headshakes had me calling red and I wasn’t disappointed with a cracker red emperor breaching the surface. Greg swung the big girl aboard and we later confirmed a new PB of 13.5kg for myself and I am still wearing the grin. The very next drift over the same mark produced a double hook-up for Terry and Greg on quality red emperor. The lads just lifted them over the side with no net and no worries, like they had done it a thousand times before.

Greg swung around for another drift and spirits were high, we were somewhat confused when we went back over the mark to find a baron rock. The next drift confirmed what we were seeing on the Furuno – the fish had moved on.

Greg idled over to the second rock only a few hundred metres away. Now these blokes have seen all sorts of shows on the sounder, but even Greg went, “Have a look at this!!”

I almost stumbled over myself getting to the front of the boat to get a look at the sounder. It was lit up like a Christmas tree. A massive ball of bait being attacked by arches at every different angle. Greg took a quick time out to give me his best ideas as to what species would be sitting where in the water column. Greg swung around, lined us up, and on his word we unleashed hell!

We hit the bottom with our baits and they were instantly smashed. It was like a scene from the movie 300 with the red emperor tearing our baits apart like Spartan warriors attacking the Persian army. The next couple of hours were absolute madness with double and triple hook-ups on red emperor. I do have to say that in the middle of this insanity came one of the weirdest bites I have ever encountered. I was letting down a mullet fillet and about half way down it picked up speed. I tried to set the hook but came up empty. I let more line out and the same thing happened with the same result. My bait finally hit the bottom and it felt like it was being sucked in and spat out and generally being played around with. Terry was on the other side of the boat experiencing the same phenomenon. I did manage to get the hooks into one and it behaved somewhat like a trevally, swimming sideways and swimming back up the line. I looked at Greg and said, “Mate, I’ve got no idea what this is,” and as we were both leaning over the side a great set of dentures materialised from the depths. I dived for the net to scoop up my prize. It was 82cm of prime mangrove jack and it was now on board. I still don’t know who had the bigger grin for the photo; maybe you can be the judge of that. Terry followed suit with another magnificent reef jack which also got the mandatory photo shoot.

By now we had more than enough fish for a great feed, so Greg decided to call a quits and leave them biting, but not before I begged to have another drift with some artificial fun. I tied on a big 96mm Sebile Flatt Shad and dropped it to the bottom. I gave it some violent retrieves and got nailed. I was disappointed when the hooks pulled not once, but twice. The following drift I went for a slow jig across the bottom with a solid hook-up. I was excited to add another species to the Flatt Shad with a cracker grassie sweetlip going 67cm. After this drift we called it a night and retired for some much earned rest.

The following day saw us head back to the same spot the night before had produced. Greg was keen to drop the underwater camera down to see what was in the general vicinity. It was absolute magic to see what was under the boat. Massive schools of reef jacks, scarlets, cod and some hefty looking red emperor were all in attendance. After Greg had enough of filming he brought out what I like to call “creek gear”. Laughable 15lb braid with 25lb leader and a Zerek prawn fed onto a jig head was sent down. I just laughed and wished him luck. It was great fun to watch Greg hook-up and play an unknown for what seemed like hours. I was leaning over the side and just laughed when up came a corker of a scarlet around the 10kg mark. High fives all round for such a remarkable capture on such light line. The rest of the morning was spent searching around for new ground for future trips and all I can say is the searching went extremely well.

A trip like this is worth its weight in gold. I took in every valuable piece of information that Greg and Terry shared to better my own fishing and, as the saying goes, “you will never know it all”. I would like to thank Greg and Terry for the opportunity of a lifetime to come aboard Double or Nothing and witness firsthand how the Wicked Fishing crew go about locating and catching trophy reef fish. Greg has released a DVD on just how to do this called Double Island Point and Beyond. At first I wasn’t so keen on purchasing the DVD, as this wasn’t specific to the area that I fish, but after watching it, the tips, techniques and information can be used just about anywhere. Seeing what Greg does on the boat is identical to what he does in his DVD’s, so if you are interested in improving your reef fishing and chasing that trophy fish then get onto www.wickedfishing.com.au and follow the prompts. We are all waiting for the release of the second edition titled Breaksea and Beyond and, after watching the trailer, I’m sure it’s not going to disappoint.