Crackerjack Amberjack And Collateral Mackerel

May 21, 2018

Crackerjack Amberjack And Collateral Mackerel

Last week I headed north with the boat in tow and some serious fishing planned. Before departing we converted the console to a tilt version to lower the profile and reduce wind resistance. You could notice the improvement in fuel consumption:

The Downrigger Shop boat out of the water and ready to head off

First stop South West Rocks, fishing solo. Helpful readers on the Facebook page had told me the inshore water was green, cool, and murky. Meaning the mackerel bite had shut down. No problem! I headed straight for the FAD. First cast scored this 110cm mahi:

A Dolphinfish landed early in the trip

Unfortunately, that was the only fish I saw for the next two hours. Pulled the pin early. Up to Wooli (east of Grafton) that afternoon and prepped for a dawn patrol the following day.

Not much luck with the boat ramp being closed

But the plan didn’t work so well. The reason being the tide was low and the ramp had a steep drop off at the concrete edge. The boat trailer is 8.5 metres long and if the back axle got over that ledge I would be in a world of hurt. Mainly because word had got out the mackerel were on. Meaning that if I blocked the ramp, and stopped boats from launching, there could be a Wooli necktie party. Thankfully local client and friend Rod invited me to join him and father-in-law Ron, on their boat. Soon after we dropped the pick on a reef two clicks offshore, and got the burley and live baits going. Strikes came thick and fast:

Tuna landed and the trip is picking up

Within a couple of hours we had five spotted mackerel on board:

Spotted Mackerel starting to be caught

On the road north again, heading for Hervey Bay in Queensland. Three mates from the old days were flying in for a week of fishing and camping, on the western side of Fraser Island. But the morning they arrived I’d been invited on a short offshore run by Greg Pearce, the owner/operator of Double Island Point Fishing Charters. No way was I going to pass that up:

Catching good sized Mackerel on a Charter

We had to be back in by nine so I could get to the airport. A quick and successful mackerel session then a run back along Rainbow Beach. Watching the bustups got me pumped so I asked Greg if we could stop for a cast.  Our 702 snapper combo gave me the distance needed to put a 40 gram jig right in the middle of the splashes:

Very happy to have caught a Queen Fish for something a little different

This outfit was one of the best fishing tools on the trip. Here’s Brendan from Vikings Fishing Club in Canberra. He ordered one just before I left:

Brendan from Vikings Fishing Club happy with the 7 foot spinner combo

"Hi Andy, Thanks for the quick delivery on the 7ft spinner combo. I took it to Mary River for the Vikings Fishing Clubs 2018 Mega trip to fish the wet run-out. My PB was this 82cm girl, which was released to make more. The biggest of the 16 club members was 1080mm and 1030mm. Looking forward to you presenting some deep dropping tips at the club in July."

I’m looking forward to it too! Raced back to Rainbow Beach and on to Hervey Bay airport with the boat in tow to pick up the lads. Straight down to the boat ramp and out into the bay, looking for tuna bust ups. We found them:

Catching Tuna in Hervey Bay

This outfit will cast 65 metres with a 40 gram jig, and that will put you right in the strike zone.  Note that we have upgraded the reel on the webpage to the Ryobi 4000. The drag on that one is super smooth:

 Like to know more?

Click here to buy the Snapper Combo

The trip had started extra well although our biggest hook up – a solid northern bluefin - ended up getting sharked. Then something bad happened. Our plan was to camp on the western side of Fraser Island, as I did with John Verano so successfully a few years ago:

But then we got hit with a cold snap, blowing from the south west. That meant 9 degree air would blow directly on to our camping beach. Even fuelling up the boat was freezing:

The Downrigger Shop boat with top up and ready to go

So instead we rented a house – at only $40 PP per night. Next day we launched at Rainbow Beach, figuring we could find some wind shelter from the high cliffs there. That worked. Here’s my 118cm PB amberjack, which went back over the side. Note our new black Phoenix reel, the star of the trip:

Andy's personal best Amberjack caught at Hervey Bay

But the temps kept going down and the wind kept going up. So we booked in with Greg. The thought being that we had to get out of the wind, the only place to do that was south of Rainbow Beach, but we didn’t have any marks for that area. It turned out to be one of the best calls we’d ever made:

Charter boat going out at Hervey Bay

The way Greg operated was to run the boat across pinnacles and bumps in the 40 to 50 metre depth range. When a good show was spotted, we would drop cut baits to the bottom, and run out live baits on the surface. Both methods delivered excellent results:

Great results fishing at Hervey Bay

Still catching at Hervey Bay

I was using every opportunity to test some new tackle. And the big winner of the trip was the new Phoenix overhead jigging reel.
 
Weight: 430 grams including line
6 bearings
Lever drag max 10 kilos
Line capacity 275 of 50-pound braid
Gear ratio 6:1
Stainless gears
Power knob
Price including rod, reel and full spool of 24 kilo CC braid: $345
Great ratchet! Which I found really helpful, when live baiting:

Haven’t been so taken with new tackle in a long time. The amberjack above was caught on this one. It performed very well on big mackerel too:

Mackerel caught on an overhead reel

Like to order one, or need more details? Send me an email. The fishing was so good we ended up putting 15 kilo mackerel back over the side:

Got back four days ago and still on a high from such a great trip. It’s an expressway pretty much the whole 1200 kilometres which makes trailering very easy. With the lads kicking in for car and boat fuel – plus the cheap accom Greg arranged for us – the trip wasn’t expensive. If you’ve got some mates and a trailerboat maybe consider something similar? It’s an adventure you’ll never forget. Thanks for reading,

Andrew Hestelow
Managing Director

https://www.downriggershop.com/
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