Fishing the Bermuda Triangle and Other Tales
The Penn Clash proved its versatility during a testing/filming trip to the Northern Tip of Fraser island. Reef fishing, spinning, jigging, plastics, no matter what the technique the Clash was up to the task.
A leisurely 16 hour drive from Newcastle, followed by a 3 hour boat ride across Hervey Bay and we arrived at Rooney’s. Fraser Island’s northern most point was to be home base for the next 5 days. Talk on the way up was all about the reports of small Blacks in Hervey Bay. It seems that they had been plentiful but were on the way out.
A pre dawn start had the boat fully loaded with bait and tackle and heading out over the ‘spit’ at the 4 mile crossing in search of some arm stretching, rod bending reefies. Local lad Kev was showing us around and guided us through the 4 mile crossing, complete with dog leg middle section and out into the open sea. I can thoroughly recommend having a local show you around if you plan to head over the spit, it is far from straight forward. Think of the largest bar crossing you’ve ever been on and times it triple it! The breaksea spit is 20 plus miles of shallow sand bar and breaking waves.
Game plan was to hit Kevs marks, broken reef areas mainly, and drift through them with squid and other tasty morsels. The depth was around the 50 metre mark give or take a few metres. Rigs consisted of a sliding 2 hook rig complete with lumo beads, 100lb leader and a large lump of lead in the form of a ball sinker. The other rig employed was the ever reliable 2 dropper paternoster set up. Rigs were dropped over on Clash 8000 loaded with 80lb braid and Powercurve 24-37kg sticks.
Baiting up with squid baits and cuttlefish heads is a messy business and it wasn’t long before the vile slime and juices worked their magic and fish started coming over the side. The target species was the mighty Red Emperor. Stuff of local legend, Reds bring on hushed tones of respect and admiration from queensland fisho’s like no other species. To a southerner like myself, all the fish that come off the reef on a bottom bouncing session are an endless source of enjoyment and curiosity. Then you see a Red and you get what all the fuss is about. All the other species are awesome, but nothing can prepare you for how freakishly awesome a Red is… Majestic is a word that comes to mind, large, powerful, beautiful… next thing you know you sound like a Queensland reef fisho…
So back to the fishing, a fair few drifts later and local boy Kev was starting to sweat bullets. There had been a steady stream of fish over the side, tuskies, cod, nannies, sweetlip but nothing to get too excited about if you’re the local reef fishing legend. More to the point, no Reds. We were on Kev’s red hot Red marks but the Reds weren’t at home.
We had lost about an hour to a solid hook up that had Barney working up a sweat on a 50lb Clash outfit. We didn’t get whatever it was more than a metre off the bottom, we just followed it around for an hour hoping to get a glimpse of what was most probably a VW sized cod or QLD grouper before the leader wore through.
As we’d been following the big cod around we were way off our drift. A move into deeper water was called for. It proved to be the right decision with Barney hooking up on the first pass to a solid fish down deep. A head nodding, tail thumping, up and down fight followed that had Kev cautiously calling it for a Red. The sight of a Red Emperor spiralling up from the depths of a bright blue ocean is something I can thoroughly recommend. The net was slipped under a beautiful Red of around 7 kilos and we were as happy as kids in the candy store. They get a lot bigger with Kevs best being closer to 15kg but after a long day that fish was an absolute cracker and we were over the moon.
Dawn saw us cross the breaksea spit again in search of some shallow reef structure to cast stick shads and plastics . Heading north we came across what I would describe as a mini Bermuda triangle. Picture this, the shelf is 4 miles east, Hervey Bay is a vast tidal bay to the west and in the middle is the biggest sandbar you’ve ever seen at something like 18 miles long. The amount of water moving around this area has to be seen to be believed. We arrived in an area where open ocean currents hit large boulders in 10 metres of water. The water was purple and the pressure waves had to be seen to be believed. It was a real washing machine but it certainly looked fishy.
7 inch jerkshads on 1oz jigs were rigged on 30lb Clash/regiment outfits. Casts were made and jerkshads twitched back close to the bottom. It wasn’t long before Mick was into a hard fighting fish that turned out to be a beauty of a Spangled Emperor. A precession of weird and wonderful species started coming aboard. Some were familiar such as Emperors and trevally, others I had no idea.
Even though the fishing was great the conditions made it an easy decision to move on. The session finished with a solid tea leaf trevally that put up a great fight on the 30lb spin gear.
We moved about half a mile into open water and the difference in conditions was like chalk and cheese. Calm seas with the smallest of chop and hardly any current to speak of… Like I said, the Bermuda Triangle.
A little battered and bruised after the washing machine plastics session a spot of slow jigging was called for to calm the senses. An aptly Slomo was my slow jig of choice and off it went to the bottom some 50 metres below on the same 30lb outfit used for plastics.
On the second lift I felt a slight touch, followed by a series a savage hits as the Slomo free falled on the drop. Setting the hooks the rod came to life. After a spirited fight a small GT came onboard much to the surprise of Kev who hadn’t encountered them at this mark before bottom bouncing.
I’ll give you a tip, if you want to target hard fighting trevs in fairly deep water then get some slomo’s. The trevally action that followed was nothing short of sensational with GT’s, Big eye and tea leaf models on every drop with the best every bit of 20kg to Kev on 30lb tackle.
In fact the only thing that stopped us was the men in brown suits. Guesty hooked up what we assume was a GT the next model up size wise from Kev’s 20kg. After a ghood 20 minutes, just as the fight was swinging his way the sharks moved in, after that couldn’t get anything past them on the light tackle and had to move on. Cracking session, can thoroughly recommend slow jigging with Slomo’s.
There is not much in fishing I like more than casting lures at a surface feeding frenzy. I’m talking a feeding frenzy complete with diving birds, showering baitfish and surface explosions. Heading out around the northern tip of Fraser we were greeted with what seemed to be one giant feeding frenzy stretching as far as the eye could see. After suitably expressive words were used to describe the scene it became apparent that there was a myriad of separate feeding frenzies in close proximity to each other all going off simultaneously.
We approached the first frenzy and 3 metal slices arced out from the boat and into the melee. Heads down the cranking began… not a touch. I’m not a betting man but if ever there was a bet to be made while fishing that was it… and I still would have lost my money.
After more suitably expressive words were uttered a hasty re rig from a 60 gram metal down to a 40 gram saw us chasing the next frenzy to fire a cast into. I would’ve thought being at the tip of fraser, surface action all around and a stiff south easter providing plenty of cover in the form of chop it would be a simple matter of driving up to the action and firing a cast in. Apparently not, with schools sounding all around us as we slammed through the chop trying to get in front of the fast moving fish.
Through good luck more than good management I managed a cast right in the path of some feeding fish and bang! A visual strike as a fish peels away from the school like a heat-seeking missile and pins my metal slug as it skips across the surface. A blistering surface run as a solid mack tuna lights up the after burners on a 20 lb spin outfit. Stubborn fish the ole mack tuna with plenty of speed and stamina. After a few cracking runs he’s slugging it out down deep using the considerable current to his advantage when he goes on another blistering run. This show of bravado has us all singing the sporting attributes of Mack tuna when I felt the death rattle… sharked.
The noahs are clever around these parts, not only do they follow your boat around I reckon they may well call their mates to come get in on the action. I lost count but I can safely say the next 10 hook ups were sharked by some of the biggest bitey’s Ive seen. The closest we got to a fish was seeing a half mack tuna get pack attacked by dusky whalers at the side of the boat. It was a memorable session with plenty of hook ups and fishing the tackle to the limits trying to beat the sharks.
We came to Fraser’s northern most point in search of the small black marlin the area has become famous for. We didn’t see one, not a scale, but we did find the great variety of alternatives that Fraser island and surrounds has to offer and we didn’t even scratch the surface. If you’re looking for a great location to fish that has many fishing options, has a wild side and is full of hard fighting fish of all shapes and sizes I can thoroughly recommend the Bermuda triangle otherwise known as Fraser Island.
Penn Clash 8000 spooled with 80lb Spiderwire Code Red on 6′ Powercurve 24/37kg rods
Penn Clash 4000 spooled with 30lb Spiderwire Code Red on 7′ Regiment 10-15kg rods
Penn Clash 3000 spooled with 20lb Spiderwire Code Red on 7′ Regiment 6-10kg rods