An Abrolhos Islands adventure for the Melbourne crew
This week’s crew came to us from Melbourne after being referred to us by a friend of a friend. This crew was made up of eight guys, all friends through their local hunting club, embarking on their first ever Abrolhos Island’s adventure together for 5 days.
Welcome to the Abrolhos Islands WA
We headed out of the marina on day 1 to be greeted by almost perfect weather, a beautiful calm sea and hardly a breath of wind. But before we left the marina Paul found a coin on the floor, straight away he picked it up saying ‘find a penny, pick it up, all day long you’ll have good luck!”. He then went to put it to the side when Leah exclaimed ‘You have to keep it on you for good luck’. We started the charter off with a trolling sessoion. The lucky coin worked its magic really quickly! The line went screaming off the reel. Unfortunately for Monkey he lost his fish soon after it hooked up, but as Paul was reeling his line back in, it was hit and the line went flying back off the reel. Within a couple of minutes Paul had his first ever Spanish Mackerel in the boat. How’s that for good luck!
3 way hook up
We decided to reset the lures and didn’t have to wait long for another hookup. This time we had a 3 way hook up with Dave, Lu and Steve pulling aboard a Striped Tuna each, this being Daves first ever. We trolled on and picked up a couple more Mackerel with Steve W getting a good sized Spanish Mackerel on a Halco Laser Pro. We trolled on to the shallows and both Will and Jason got a Coral Trout each, which was Will’ first ever Coral Trout.
Shallow water fishing
Captian Chad moored up in the shallow. We were just starting to think that perhaps the fish weren’t hungry when all of a sudden Steve W’s rod bent over. Beofre long he had his first ever Baldchin Groper in the boat. With the fishing being a bit on the quiet side in the shallows, Captain Chad headed out to some deeper water in search of some reef fish. It wasn’t too much of a wait when both Paul and Steve’s rods buckled over. Steve was able to pull his up quickly to reveal a Red Emperor, while Paul had a bit more of a fight for his good sized Rankin Cod. To get both these fish up on the first drop at the Abrolhos Islands is awesome. We normally see these species of fish further up north. The Blue Lightning crew are used to seeing these species at the Montebello Islands regularly but to see them down here at the Abrolhos Islands is a rare treat.
Abrolhos Islands speciese galore
Captain chad turned the boat back around to drift over the spot again. This time with Jason hauling aboard a fantastic sized Spangled Emperor. There was a range of fish being brought aboard including a couple of Red Throat Emporer, Honeycomb Cod and Spangled Emperors. The boys were already getting to see a great array of Abrolhos Islands fish species.
Exploring the reef
We headed off towards where we were anchoring for the night, knowing the boys were in for a treat with some awesome snorkeling in the area. We went for a dive with the Captain Chad getting some yummy Crayfish for dinner. The underwater life never ceases to amaze us with the abundance of fish life and beautiful coral reefs. It was awesome to see this crew experience this area for the first time. We anchored up for the night with a yummy feed of Crayfish and freshly caught fish from our first day.
Day 2 begins
While the wind picked up over night, we awoke to another beautiful day at the Abrolhos islands. The winds were only just touching the 6kn mark and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. We headed off with our lures set in the spread hoping for a Mackerel or possibly even a cheeky Coral Trout in the shallows. Try as we might the fish just weren’t there, maybe they were off enjoying the good weather! We got to a primo bottom ground in the 40m mark and had a drop. It was only moments before 3 reels went screaming off. Paul and Steve W were stoked to have both caught huge Dhu Fish on their newly acquired Abrolhos Tackle McPaddle tail soft plastics, recommended to them by the guys at Getaway Outdoors in Geraldton. Meanwhile Jason was equally impressed to haul on board another beautiful Dhu Fish also on a plastic. It was a very hot session on the deep dropping, with the plastics leading the way. The catch included Dhu Fish, Spangled Emperor, Red Throat Emperor, Honeycomb Cod and Baldchin Groper.
Billfishing tips from Captain Chad
After the guys had stretched their arms on some magnificent bottom fish, they decided it was time to see if they could stretch their arms a little further and chase some sneaky Billfish. We set up the big game rods and got our hottest Black Bart and Richter lures out in the spread. Captain Chad gave the crew some pointers on how to handle the rods and reels should we hook up on a very athletic Billfish and away we went, trolling the deep blue to try and entice a Marlin or two. The guys settled in for what turned out to be a long and fairly uneventful afternoon trolling. Even though everything was right for a Marlin to be hanging around: the water temp was good, the ocean was a beautiful shade of blue and there were plenty of baitfish around, the shy Marlin were no where to be seen. We pulled the gear in and headed for our anchorage for the night. We were staying at Pigeon island which meant the guys got the chance to visit the local pub.
Eager for day 3
The boys were eager to get day 3 underway, so eager in fact that they had a number of Squid on board before we had even had breakfast! We were in for some yummy entrée’s tonight! Not one to be outdone, Paul put his line out after being told that big Samson Fish often frequent the area. Both he and Decky Sam hooked up on some very fast, hard fighting Sambo’s. Decky Sam dropped his after getting snagged around our mooring lines, so all eyes were on Paul to bring the big fish in. He delivered and minutes later we had a Sambo at the back of the boat, with Captain Chad releasing the fish back into the water after we all had a good look at this very hardy fish.
Trolling and bottom fishing
We trolled the shallows on the way out of the anchorage, hopeful that today would be the day we saw some more Mackie action. We had a couple of hits but no luck getting a decent hookup so we turned to some bottom fish. The guys got a few Baldchin Groper, a couple of nice Spangled Emporer and a smaller Dhu Fish which was released. Before long we continued trolling, this time with a bit more luck. Dave, Steve and Jason all pulled in Mackerel each, with Monkey also hooking up but losing his to a Spinner Shark. Meanwhile Will was ecstatic to haul in his first ever Yellow Fin Tuna. The guys had been looking forward to Sashimi all week and Will had just delivered for them.
The wonders of the ocean
We placed the lures back into the spread but soon we were distracted by a beautiful Manta Ray that was just casually cruising around the depths of the ocean. Paul managed to get some good footage on his GoPro as the ray dove and swam away.
Perfect weather for a shipwreck?
Since it was such a beautiful calm day, Captain Chad suggested the guys might be interested in heading over for a dive on the Batavia shipwreck. The guys jumped at the opportunity, as this was something very rare to be able to do. Due to the area surrounding the wreck we can only get to the wreck in the calmest of weather. We geared the guys up with some snorkeling gear and waited at the back of the boat for Captain Chad’s instructions. Captain Chad skillfully reversed us as close as he could to the wreck and upon his instruction we all jumped in. The water was so warm and clear, we had a short swim to the wreck but the guys were amazed when we got there. We had a good look around and got some awesome footage on the GoPro. It’s amazing to think something so old and with such a history is just lying there at the bottom of the ocean for us to all be able to enjoy diving on. What a great experience!
We got back on board after we had had enough of a look around and headed off for another session of bottom fishing. The guys were getting bites but having trouble making them stick. That is everyone except for Paul who was having an absolute ripper day, pulling up his second Rankin Cod for this trip! It was time to head to our mooring for the night and get some dinner happening. Tonight on the menu was seasoned deep fried Squid and Captain Chad’s famous sashimi, both Spanish mackerel and yellow fin tuna and also cooked tuna pieces for entrée. Main course was a banquet of 4 different fish so the guys could taste the difference and could pick a favorite. Leah, as she always does, did an outstanding job in the kitchen preparing an awesome array of Rankin Cod, Pink Snapper, Baldchin Groper and Spanish Mackeral for the whole boat (which is no easy feat feeding 12 people all at one time out of one very tiny kitchen!- Bree). The guys tried everything put in front of them, with the verdict coming back: the Spanish Mackeral was still the favourite! It’s always interesting to see which fish is the favourite amongst our customers.
Day 4 kicks off
Day 4 came around and in typical Abrolhos Islands fashion the wind was starting to pick up. We started out with a troll, but the fickle fish just weren’t interested today. Due to the fish being on the quiet side the guys chose to head over to the Anemone Lump for some more snorkeling action. While the guys were getting their gear on, Captain Chad started feeding the fish and within seconds there were huge Spangled Emperor, Coral Trout and Yellowtail Kingfish circling around the back of the boat. A few of the guys jumped in for a look while the rest of the crew watched on from the back of the boat. We were all absolutely gob-smacked at the boldness and size of these hungry fish! After the guys had had enough of being swam at by huge Spangled Emperor they climbed on board and we headed out for another round of chasing fishing, this time chasing big Baldchin Gropers and the possibility of a Samson Fish or two.
Shallow water fishing
We anchored up in the shallows and Decky Sam had the awesome job of burlying up the water with the old cray heads. To say he was a little green after this experience would be an understatement haha! But it worked as the fish started biting. We had some nice Baldchin Groper come onboard before being released to fight another day and a few long runs and unfortunate snap offs that could have definitely been the Samson Fish that the guys were chasing.
Some deeper water
Once the action slowed down and the guys had caught and released their Baldchin Gropers it was time head into some deeper water as the guys were hoping for more Dhu Fish action. Jason was stoked to bring up his second Dhu Fish of the charter, along with a lot of the guys getting a good hookup rate of Honeycomb Cod and Red Throat Emperor. The day was getting on so we pulled the lines up and headed to our mooring for the last night of the trip.
Final day fun
Our last day was upon us and the guys were up early ready to make the most of their last day around these beautiful islands. We trolled our way out to some good-looking bottom grounds. We had a few hits on the hard body lures but the fish just seemed to be sneaky enough to get away without a hookup. Unfortunately the story was much the same with the bottom fishing, with the guys managing a few undersize Dhu Fish and a couple of Pink Snapper.
Unfortunately day 5 was already upon us and the charter had come to an end. It was a great trip introducing this bunch of blokes from Melbourne to wonders of Abrolhos Islands WA fishing. They are already talking about their next trip to the Montebello Islands and we are looking forward to welcoming them back.
Until next time, happy fishing
Leah (with a bit of help from Bree)
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