Lettin’ ’em loose – John Boon April 2016

It just so happened it was that time of the year. The time of year when the moons all line up and I get to take my lovely wife out for an offshore fishin mission. With three young kiddies it’s very hard for both of us to hit the water at the same time but she loves chasing a red emperor so when we get a window of opportunity who am I to disagree with the minister of fun and finance.

The forecast was looking great for a wide run and I was really looking forward to getting back out to the reef after a few months of being limited to the estuaries. I then received a phone call out of the blue that my sister was dropping in on the very weekend we had planned to head offshore. What’s a bloke to do? I told the sister to saddle up as I wasn’t going to miss this opportunity for a prime red hunt and she was keen to sample some cap coast piscatorial action. It then dawned on me “what I had done?”. With so much estrogen on board it was going to be tough to try look after both the ladies and do all the skippering duties. Who would be silly enough to jump on board to give me a hand? In times of need good mates will step up to the challenge and Dan Baker did just that. The crew had now been sorted and it was time to giddy up.

We departed Rosslyn Bay at a ridiculous hour with the intention of starting off on the closer grounds and ending up out at the capricorn bunker group. The trip out was a bit lumpy but we just took it steady. The ladies were comfortable though. I had thrown in a couple of bean bags as we were going to be doing a fair bit of travel throughout the day as those pesky red buggers can be hard to locate at times. Both my wife and sister really made themselves at home. They were stretched out, headphones in and eyes closed. Talk about the good life.

After a steady two hours we were circling around our first mark some 50km east of Rosslyn Bay. We were on the bottom of the tide so I wasn’t expecting to much action for a while. The first couple of drifts confirmed our beliefs, well that was until my sister Cassandra’s rod doubled over. We were on the board and Cass had her first ever reef fish in the safety of the landing net which was a fairly hefty small mouth nannygai. That was the only joy for this area and it was time to move on to greener pastures.

The sun was now hitting the horizon and we made the decision to head towards Douglas Shoal to get the most out of the run in tide. The women had only just got comfy in their bean bags again when the Furuno 588 lit up with a fantastic show of bait hard on the bottom while we were travelling at speed. The new Furuno is definitely worth a mention. I haven’t had it that long but really love it. It has all the bells and whistles of the legendary 585/587 and the 588 also now supports whats called rezboost. In simple terms it makes the sounder shows crisper and cleaner and has heaps better target separation then previous models.

We took our time on this new spot trying to correctly pinpoint the structure that the bait and fish were hanging on. After about 10-15 minuets we had zeroed in on a small lump and it was time to see if anyone was home.

I got Dan and Cass to drop down to see what sort of interest they would get. It didn’t take long and Dan was hooked up solid. There’s nothing more satisfying then seeing the first red emperor of the trip materialise from the deep blue. We just swung Dan’s red into the boat when Cass hooked up proper. Big head shakes and surging runs had me rubbing the hands together. After a quick bit of coaching Cass settled into the fight well. I don’t think mentioning that this might be a trophy red did her any favours.

Just as the red was coming into view that dirty, stinking, mongrel brown smudge moved in from below and in the blink of an eye heartbreak hit everyone on board. There was Cass holding the head of a red emperor that would have been 12kg if not more. I’m not sure who was more frustrated. Not many people get to hook a fish like that on their very first reef trip but i guess that’s fishing. Hopefully we would get another chance during the day. These small isolated spots do shut down very quickly and with the men in grey suits patrolling heavily it was time to set sail.

I’m sure the girls rolled their eyes everytime I told them to hop off their bean bags. I’m lucky I had Dan to yarn to up the front as it would have been a bit lonely otherwise.

Right, it was now time. Time to get serious. We had reached our final destination where we would spend the rest of the day. No time for the faint hearted out in this area as we have caught many big reef dwelling species that would like to make your rig another reef ornament. I had both the ladies loaded up with some high quality tailor hooks and fly’s that are available from PE Tackle. Perfect for this sort of hardcore combat.

We were running a mixture of quality baits including fresh mullet fillets, yakkas, fresh flesh baits and the ever reliable Keppel Island squid heads (I do go the extra length to secure prime baits and this really does show in our results on most trips). Bait presentation is another tip to make sure is done correctly. What you don’t want is those baits to spin and look unnatural. The more stream line you can get them the more attractive they will look.

The Furuno was showing some great bait and larger fish present on a bommie in 60 meters of water. I lined up the drift and it was go time. The action was coming on at a steady pace which was great so us deckies could keep up. Cass had her hands full with a beautful spangled emperor and the wife was bouncing around like a mad man as I just netted her first red emperor for the trip.

I think this is about the time the heckling started from the women. Things like “are you blokes gonna do something or just stand their and look silly?” All in good fun of course. It did spark a rebuttal though with the blokes hitting back straight away with a couple of quality red emperor. That put the brakes on the one sided cheek being thrown across the deck.

The rest of the day was spent in pretty much the same fashion. We would pull a couple of quality reefies then move spots when things slowed.

During one of the drifts Cass hooked up solid on a good fish. I think I could hear her secretly praying as she pumped and winded the unknown to the surface. I was leaning over the side with the landing net and that sweet call of “red” was made. About 5 meters under the surface disaster struck with the hooks pulling. The red just floated to the surface and there it laid motionless. I had peeled off the shirt and was two steps away from launching in after it with the net before a booming voice behind me yelled “DON’T YOU EVEN DARE!!!!” There was the wife hands on hips and judging by her look my decision wasn’t a good one. I think all the shark action had her a bit worried. I was persuaded into backing down to the red instead with the boat. Just as it came within reach of the net it woke up and nose dived. With a flick of the tail Cassies prize was gone. I’ll give it to her, she took it quite well. I think anyone else may have been in tears.

With some fantastic capricorn coast fishing experience now under her belt Cass mentioned she had an absolute ball. The fairy tale red emperor ending wasn’t to be. Being from Moura in CQ there isn’t a lot of chances to get her out on the big blue but something tells me she may try a bit harder to get to the coast from now on. A big thanks to Dan for coming out and playing deckie. Without his help I would have been run off my feet I reckon.

These sorts of trips are a dime a dozen and we would like to see more good people getting out there and taking advantage of the fantastic fishing options available here on the capricorn coast. The wife and I have now got our business Extreme Fishing Solutions now setup and rolling out affordable fishing courses to suit your needs. We currently have a basics offshore/inshore course available and also the Estuary Essentials course. The advanced offshore course is still under construction and we hope to have that up and running by mid year. Feedback from clients who have participated has been really positive with their new skills already benefiting them while out on the water. If you would like to find out more or even ring for a chat our contact details are advertised in this fine publication. Cheers