Offshore fishing charters are probably the cheapest and easiest route to catching that fish of a lifetime.………
Conditions: Light south easterlies with minimal chop
Season: Late spring
Strategy: Trust the guide
Technique: Bottom bashing with circle hooks
Target: Red Emperor, Coral Trout and Large Mouth Nanigai
Gear Set Up: Zeikel 5”1’ Bloodline rods with Saragosa 8000 SW loaded with 80lb braid
Bait: Squid & Hussar fillets
Session Rating: 9/10
If you are looking for an Airlie Beach fishing charter then “Airlie Beach Fishing Charters” is definitely an option to consider if you are are up in the Whitsundays. Fishing charters not only provide the boat and fishing gear to get you fishing but most importantly; they come with a skipper who knows the area and how to best fish it in the prevailing conditions.
Airlie Beach Fishing Charters
I had heard great stories about Airlie Beach Fishing Charters from a friend a mine. The skipper was meant to be awesome and the fishing so epic that your arms turned to jelly from hauling in quality fish. That was just about all Micah (my mate from work) and I needed to hear. We called up them up and made our bookings that same day.
A week out from our charter date and the wind forecast looked terrible. As our day drew closer however the fishing gods smiled upon us and the wind dropped right back from gale-force down to a gently easterly. It was shaping up to be a perfect day.
Our full day charter kicked off at 8am. With a start time so late I was sure this was a typo and so was relieved to see the boat still in the dock when we arrived. We were joined at departure by Pete (Micah’s mate) and Alex from Adelaide who was up to experience what fishing in paradise was like.
Our skipper for the day was Wayne. He was a friendly bloke who clearly thought he had the best job in the world. After a brief safety talk, we set off for the two hour run out to the fishing grounds. The twin 150hp Mercury engines took us out at high speed as the boat handling the mild chop with relative ease.
Gear for our Airlie Beach Fishing Charter
The fishing gear for the day was of high quality and perfectly suited to the task at hand. The 5”1’Zeikel Bloodline jigging rods PE (4-8) are Australian made, tough as nails and surprisingly affordable if you check them out online http://zeikel.com.au/product-category/products/rods/.
The rods were matched with Saragosa SW8000 sealed reels loaded with 80lb braid and 80lb leader. It was a solid set-up with the power to pull big fish off reef quickly while also being able to take the daily punishment of a commercial charter operation. Wayne gave us a quick demonstration of baiting up our big 8/0 circle hooks and we let the lines go.
Reds on deck
It didn’t take long before we got into some small Hussar with Alex also scoring a Small Mouth Nannygai. This was followed shortly afterwards by Pete pulling up the fish I desperately wanted to catch; a legal size Red Emperor. With Micah and me not registering anything of note – the banter quickly started to flow our way. Wayne was kept busy the whole time by cutting up bait, setting up rigs and moving us back over new drift patterns.
Pete followed his Red Emperor with a beautiful Coral Trout. Pete was obviously pretty chuffed with his efforts and so the pressure on Micah and I mounted even more. Micah responded with his first keeper for the day; a lovely looking Crimson Perch. He then lost something very large which he never really stood a chance against. This was however to be the last action we saw for the morning. We could still see plenty of fish on the sounder but the bite had shut down completely.
The fishing goes from bad to worse
We completed drift after drift on a series of new locations without even the slightest nibble. I started to regret having already booked a second piece of luggage for my flight home the next day. I had planned to fill a Styrofoam box with fish fillets but I hadn’t even landed a single keeper!! Moral was sliding and I reckon my face must have looked as miserable as they come.
Wayne, who had been supremely confident all day of filling the huge esky, was finally starting show signs of nerves. To his credit though he refused to give in and kept his mind on the job with a singular focus.
We pulled up lines and started trolling along a usually productive stretch of water while we had lunch. The Tuna and Mackerel however were a no-show. We arrived at the next spot and continued with the same disappointing results. With the call to pull up lines – I was relieved to hear we still had one final spot to try before calling it a day.
Airlie Beach Fishing Charter comes good
After a 30 minute trip back in toward the islands, we pulled up at the final spot. Wayne let us know we were now targeting Large Mouth Nannygai in 60m of water. I baited my circle with a whole squid and the lines went down. Within seconds of our baits reaching the bottom, all four rods loaded up at the same time. This rod was finally getting the work out it was designed for!! My fish was the last to surface but it was worth the wait – 4 oversized Large Mouth Nannygais landed in the boat. We laughed and high fived each other with the sheer delight of our luck changing so dramatically. We had just gone from the jaws of a devastating defeat into a massive quadruple hook-up!
Hooks were re-baited and we set-up for the same drift again. This time Pete, Alex and I all brought in big Tea Leaf Trevallies. Micah was slacking off however and could not seem to get his fish to the boat. A full 5 minutes later, he finally boated his massive Nani. It went around 85cm long and was the biggest Wayne had ever seen. The action was as strenuous as it was hectic.
My big hook up
On the next drift the boys got more Trevally and Nannygai while my line loaded up on a really serious fish. It tore line of my locked drag and I was convinced I had hooked a shark. I kept working him hard though and soon had the huge shimmering fish swimming below me. I was astonished to see this 1.2m long Spanish Mackerel beside the boat. It weighed around 18kgs and was caught on a circle hook with no wire! To say I was stoked is a huge understatement.
While I was busy congratulating myself, the feeding frenzy continued. Pete hooked into something that made my Spaniard seem like an aquarium guppy as it bossed him around before finally getting bored and snapping him off. It had all the hall marks of a massive GT. I pulled in another couple of Trevally myself while Alex hauled up yet another big brute of a Nani.
The fishing had gone from desperately poor to having the esky overflowing with some of the finest quality fish the sea has to offer in less than 30 minutes. The change of the tide seemed to be the trigger for the amazing fishing we had just experienced.
And then back home
It was hard to leave a spot that was firing in such spectacular fashion but it was time to go. With our arms aching and our smiles fixed, we pulled up lines and completed the long ride back to the harbour.
Wayne then proceeded to clean and skin his way through the whole esky of fish as we divided up the bounty and enjoyed a couple of cold beers. Jake – the owner of Stryker Sport Fishing Charters came down and listened to our remarkable come-back story. He was suitably happy at seeing another group of happy customers singing the praises of his skipper. It turned out to be a great day and an example of how the right skipper can make a massive difference to your fortunes. We are all definitely planning to go back to Airlie Beach Fishing Charters http://www.airliebeachfishingcharters.com.au/ as soon as work and weather next permits.