Big baits on the banks – Stamati Batsinilas – 2015

On a previous trip out to the banks, the boys and myself came across a rock that held a fair bit of bait on the northern end of the banks. We stoped and gave it a hit with some fresh bait, but didn’t pluck anything special from it. However, we did not give up with the spot. We knew there were fish there, but they weren’t on the bite at this point in time.

Judging by the rock that was in the middle of no surrounding reef, we assumed these fish were reds or the possible Spangled Emperor. The fish weren’t taking anything we dropped, so we decided to give it a miss and come back another day, and do a night drift over the rock.

I gathered the boys together and we planed a night trip off the banks in glass out conditions. We knew this was going to be no esky filling trip. We were after that trophy fish, and by that we knew we needed big fresh baits and a lot of persistence.

The forecast was reading 5-10knot SW winds and 0.8m seas. We left Brisbane at 4pm and arrived at Mooloolaba at 5:30pm. As we were heading out to the banks a flying fish decided to come say hello by flying into my face as I was rigging up a couple of the rods. These fish are incredibly interesting when you can actually see the pattern and the wings on the fish up close. We hadn’t even dropped a line yet and fish were flying into the boat….. We just had to see if the same thing would happen when we actually fished.

With glass out conditions we made it out to the northern end of the banks in an hour and half. As we approached the spot we could see the identical show on the sounder as we saw the first time we found the spot. The rigs we were using were 3 hook, 7.0 gangs and a running 10ball Loomis sinker on 60lb leader. The bait we were using was whole mullet fillets and we began persisting for that trophy fish. The first drift we had one hit but no takes. On the second drift Peter and myself got monstered by some big fish and lost rigs on the reef. The third drift our baits wouldn’t last 3 seconds on the bottom without getting smacked by quality fish. Within seconds my venom was bent over and solid headshakes were being made. Although this fish wasn’t as big as the first couple we lost, it still came up being a 70cm spangled emperor. As my fish hit the deck of the boat, peter had also hooked a good fish. His fish came up being a 68cm reef jack. The fishing slowed up a little by the 5th drift, so we decided to drop the anchor just off the structure as the current was taking our lines where they needed to be. A couple of us went to sleep while the others fished through the night persisting for that trophy fish. Throughout the night the fishing wasn’t what we expected, but we still didn’t move. We had faith in this spot and maybe day break could have been the trick?

Our old man was fishing a two hook paternoster with 5.0 hooks and bringing up quality Tuskfish on strips of mullet. As this was tempting to change set ups, I still persisted with the big baits and heavy gear. Right on sunrise, I felt a couple of taps on the whole mullet fillet. Sometimes when the fishing has been slow it can be tempting to strike to early. In this case I kept my calm and waited for the hit. Just when I thought it was all over and beginning to give up, my rod bent down to its but. I was on!, and this was quality. With a cracker fight I finally brought up the fish 60m and saw the biggest spangled emperor I have seen. This fish measured to 85cm and was definitely worth the wait. Right after that, peter pulled up another 60cm Spangly but that was it after that. We couldn’t buy a bite after those two fish came up.

Once the sun was up we decided to go out a little wider and find livies. Once we were confident that we had 20 or so livies, we continued out a little wider to our 100m mark that holds big kings, Amberjack and the occasional Pearlie. This spot 9/10 your bait doesn’t make it to the bottom, especially this time of year, the Kingfish a ridiculously thick. We usually chase these monster fish with 80lb gear and anyone that has hooked one knows how hard it can be to turn the head of these fish. The thing that makes this spot that little bit more interesting, is that more than half the time you’re onto a solid fish… it gets sharked, which makes this spot that little bit frustrating. So to make it even more interesting Peter and myself decided to fish these fellas with 40lb and see who could get the biggest fish. With the both of us being so competitive, and myself already having one over him with the Spangled Emperor, he wasn’t prepared to lose this battle. We were both fishing the same gear, which was a Daiwa Saltist 20ld and a Majorcraft pe2 rated rod, spooled with pe2 Daiwa tournament braid. On the other end of the braid was 40lb leader to a single paternoster rig and a live yakka. Our baits hadn’t even made it to the bottom and we were both hooked up……… and both busted off. This continued for about 20minutes, until peter got one over me. These fish fight to the top but the first 10m are crucial. Usually we are fishing 80lb gear and you can lock up the drag just to turn the head of the fish. Fishing with the light gear we didn’t have that advantage. However, Peter managed to turn the head of a stonker kingie and brought it up to the boat, which was approximately 1.2m. This was going to be hard to beat, so I let him have it and we continued our day fishing the shallows for red throat and other reef species.

Overall our trip was more than worth it with the spangled emperor caught on sunrise and the 1.2m kingie on Pe 2 gear. These fish were the the stand outs for the trip. Our Grady-white sees the ocean at least once a week, and if its any bit of advice we can give its. Spend the extra bit of dollars in the quality of your electronics on your boat. It really makes a difference fishing offshore and I believe electronics are 50 percent of the trick. The other 50 percent is up to angler and skipper.