July epic week of fishing at the Montebello Islands
7 day live aboard charter
This week’s 7 day live aboard fishing charter to the Montebello Islands was organised by Jon from Compleat Angler Nedlands. The group was about 50% newbies who had never visited the Montebello Islands before. Even the crew who had visited the Monties before were not expecting the week we had ahead of us … It was simply EPIC!
The Weatherman gets it wrong
To kick off the charter the weatherman led us to believe we would have perfect conditions. Once again he got it wrong with winds blowing 16-17 knots from the east. Despite the weather we decided to make the most of our time steaming towards the Montebello Islands. Lines went in for the very first session of the trip and within seconds San was hooked. San put up a very good fight but unfortunately it wasn’t meant to be with the line snapping before we could see what he had hooked. It turned out to be a great session with the boys managing a couple of triple hook ups on Spanish Mackerel. Next on the rod was Ed catching his first ever Spanish Mackerel, which also turned out to be his personal best for largest fish.
We moved on to a bottom fishing session but after it was a little slow we decided to try our hands at trolling. It was a great move with the boys scoring a triple hook up of Mackerel, it was a great session to kick start the first day of the charter. As the afternoon rolled in we headed toward the Blue Lightning pontoon affectionately known as “The Cod Cave”. The boys were all very excited as we were greeted by our good friend Kodak the Queensland Groper. The crew also threw in line to catch themselves a squid or two for us to enjoy for dinner.
We woke on day 2 to the picturesque scenery that surrounds “The Cod Cave”. After a quick breakfast and a few deep breaths of clear Montebello Islands air we headed off for another magnificent day fishing at the Montebello Islands. The boys began by casting and popping as we made our way out of the islands with Hilton catching himself a Chinaman and Rodney landing himself a nice Montebello Islands Coral Trout.
Plastics and Jigs
For the first session of the day we decided to bring out the plastics and jigs for a session. The boys prepared for the first drop of the day and were immediately rewarded with Chris landing a Coral Trout on a jig. It was a fun little session with Jon managing to score himself a Rankin Cod on a jig. Mun scored his first ever Rankin Cod. It was a crazy hot session on Rankin Cod with some nice Coral Trout thrown in the mix.
Casting & Popping
For our next session of the day the boys tried their hand at casting and popping around the reefs. There was plenty of GT fun to be had. Jon kicked off the session landing the first GT of the trip, followed by Darda who scored his first EVER GT. The excitement on board was electric, the boys were living every fisherman’s dream, casting into the reefs at the Montebello Islands and fighting the mighty Giant Trevally. Everyone was determined to keep casting and get a Giant Trevally for themselves. Darda was beyond stoked to land his 1st ever GT. It was an amazing session, we could see the GT’s coming out from the reef. We had people casting at the bow and a few at the back so the excitement was spread across the entire boat with Captain Chad expertly manouvering around the reef to get the boys onto as many exciting GT’s as possible. Before long Hilton, Ning and San ALL landed a GT each. Darda fought a good fight against a nice sized Giant Trevally that unfortunately decided to reef him. Next up was Hilton catching himself a nice red bass, before Jon landed himself another GT. This session was proving to be what dreams are made of. The action continued with Hilton landing himself not one but two GT’s in a row. Rodney hooked a nice GT but unfortunately lost it to a shark. Next up was Jon landing himself yet another GT before Ning lost a GT.
Montebello Islands wildlife
As we wrapped up this amazing day at the Montebello Islands we were lucky enough to spot a manta ray cruising along, before arriving back at the Blue Lightning pontoon for a much needed rest and debrief session. It was a sensational evening with not a breath of wind, it was topped off by a dolphin chasing gardie around the pontoon. This crew will be raving about the marine life here at the Montebello Islands for a long time to come. Chad and I had smiles from ear to ear after being part of such a special day at the Montebello’s and it’s only day 2!
After such an exciting day 2 the boys were up bright and early on day 3 ready to get fishing. We decided to head out wide of the islands. It was raining out wide, but weren’t letting that stop us. These guys were more than keen to experience all the Montebello Islands have to offer. Rodney had the first catch of the day with a Gold Spot Trevally. Before long Darda landed himself a nice Crimson Sea Perch.
Trolling some lures
After a quick jigging session our expert Captain Chad took a look at the water colour and suggested it looked ripe and with a temp of 25.4 degrees Celsius he suggested conditions were looking good to troll some lures. It wasn’t long before the boys had added two Wahoo to their impressive tally for the trip. It didn’t take long before Darda was hooked onto something. We were all convinced that he had hooked another Wahoo but to our surprise Captain Chad yelled with great excitement, “you’ve hooked a Black Marlin”. Darda came on his first Montebello Islands fishing charter hoping to score himself an elusive GT he never thought he would score himself both a Black Marlin and a GT on the same trip. To say he was stoked would be a MASSIVE understatement. Darda’s marlin was caught on his mate Rodney’s father’s Marlin outfit. Rodney’s Dad had attempted to catch a Marlin on this outfit for 30 years and was never successful, so it was extremely special to see it help Darda catch his very first Marlin. The boys onboard (including Captain Chad) were livid with excitement and they didn’t have to wait long until it was Chris’ turn to reel in a nice Wahoo for himself.
The boys decided it was time we move on to the next session of the day and so prepared their plastics and jigs. Ed was first up catching himself a very nice Coronation Trout. It was a nice little session showcasing the amazing species that frequent the area with the boys landing themselves a few Coronation Trout as well as Spangled Emperor, some Rankin Cod, Long Nosed Emperor and Crimson Sea Perch.
Captain Chad suggested the boys put out the trolling gear while we moved to the next jigging and plastics spot. It was like he knew the fish were going to be on the bite. We never got to another plastic and jigging session. Things went crazy and it was absolute mayhem aboard Blue Lighting III. While we were trolling the guys were getting double and even triple hook ups. The energy onboard was electric. Hilton had something big on the line and before we knew it he was spooled. We continued along with some of the boys catching Mackerel and Wahoo on the troll. A few of the boys decided to try their hand at casting with Hilton catching himself a Yellow Fin Tuna, and San a Wahoo. Hilton didn’t have to wait long to catch his 1st ever Wahoo. Followed by Jon catching a Yellow Fin Tuna and a Wahoo. Ed and Mun both scored their first ever Wahoo, ticking another great species off their “must catch list”. The session was phenomenal with Rodney catching himself a Wahoo to add to the tally. Next thing we knew Captain Chad yelled “Sailfish!”. The energy onboard was immediately heightened. The boys were all keen to get in on the action. It was Hilton who was lucky enough to hook a Sailfish. After a good little battle Hilton caught his Sailfish on a Long Tom Dr Hook stick bait.
A switchbait lesson
Captain Chad had spent time throughout the day explaining to Jon the process of switch baiting a Sailfish. As there were a couple of Sailfish hanging around, Jon was lucky enough to have his chance to try and switch bait his first sailfish, it worked and he was on his own Sailfish. Jon was happy to catch his first ever Sailfish.
Trolling at the Monties 🙂
We started trolling again and within seconds the reel was screaming off once again, with the boys reeling in even more Wahoo. At the same time Ning had hooked another fish, we all assumed it was another Wahoo, but Captain Chad made all our days calling out “You have a Marlin on”. Ning landed his first ever Black Marlin weighing in at approximately 40kg, the best part, he caught it on a Kmart master class and he hooked it in a unique way, on top of it’s head!!!
In the meantime it was on for everyone with the rest of the crew catching more Wahoo. It was crazy to see how many Wahoo were around and in the mix were Sailfish and Marlin. The Wahoo were jumping higher than the boat, they were going crazy and we were loving every minute of it. Most of the fish caught today were catch and released.
We couldn’t believe it when the next thing that was reeled in was a solid GT by Hilton. Hilton suggested it was a “day to remember” at the Montebello Islands with the boys seeing everything from a Rankin Cod to a Marlin and everything in between, and I mean everything!
Day 3 highlights
Day 3 was filled with an incredible number of firsts.
- Rodney got his 1st Wahoo & 1st Coronation Trout
- Ed got his 1st Wahoo, 1st Coronation Trout, and his 1st Long Nose Emperor
- Chris got his 1st Wahoo and 1st Coronation Trout
- Jon got his 1st Sailfish
- Hilton 1st time spooled, 1st Rainbow Runner, 1st Sailfish on a stick bait, 1st Wahoo and his biggest Red Bass
- Darda caught his 1st Black Marlin, 1st Wahoo, & his 1st Coronation Trout
- Ning got his 1st Black Marlin & his 1st Wahoo
- Mun reeled in this 1st Wahoo, 1st Rankin Cod, 1st Long Nosed Emperor, 1st Coronation Trout and his 1st Red Bass
- San got his 1st Wahoo
What a day, with a total of 40 Wahoo hooked for the day a few of the lads suggested that day 3 at the Montebello Islands might just have been the best fishing session they had ever had.
After such a massive, long day of fishing on day 3 it was decided to have bit of a later start on day 4. After a nice break the guys were ready again to enjoy the days fishing and exploring around the islands aboard Heartstarter. To kickstart the day though Ed and Mun caught their 1st Squid off the Blue Lightning pontoon.
Heartstarter in her element
For the morning session Hilton, Jon, Darda, Chris, Captain Chad and myself went for a session on Heartstarter. The boys were casting stick baits and poppers for a catch and release session. Hilton caught himself a Chinaman, 4 Coral Trout, and a Spangled Emperor. Meanwhile Jon caught a Hilton, definitely not the species he was after. It wasn’t long before all 4 boys were hooked at the same time reeling in a Spangled Emperor each. Chris also caught a Coral Trout, and a Mangrove Jack in this session. While Darda caught a Spangled Emperor. I (Leah) even dropped an Abrolhos Tackle plastic in and scored myself a Coral Trout.
Montebello Islands fishing
Meanwhile the other group of boys (Ed, Rodney, San, Mun, Ning) who spent the morning on the island had a great time exploring and fishing from the beach. Rodney scored 3 squid. San landed 2 Trevally, 2 Queenys, 4 Long Toms and 1 squid to top off the session. While Mun and Ning managed to catch some Charlie Courts. Before we knew it, it was time for lunch back at the convenient Blue Lightning Pontoon. It was a nice break to regroup before the guys to swapped over from the boat to the island.
Exploring the Montebello Islands
For the afternoon island session Jon had an amazing time snorkeling, reporting that he saw a huge Coral Trout and big Blue Bone on his adventure. Meanwhile Darda had lots of fun catching squid and walking around the island. The landscapes here at the Montebello Islands have to be seen to be believed and Darda sure did appreciate them. Hilton spent his time on the island squiding for the first time, catching a massive squid and many other ones. Chris and Darda also tried their hand at squiding, while walking around the islands. Unfortunately for them they were lacking a key piece of equipment, a bucket but these clever fellas improvised successfully carrying their squid in their backpack.
Meanwhile on Heartstarter, Rodney caught himself 2 Coral Trout and 1 Estuary Cod. While Ed caught himself 1 Spangled Emperor and hooked a big island!!! Mun caught his 1st Barracuda. Ning also had a good session on Heartstarter scoring himself a Golden Trevally and a Barracuda. San rounded out the Heartstarter afternoon crew with a Golden Trevally. To top of another beautiful day at the incredible Montebello Islands a few of the boys went swimming in the cage on the Blue Lightning pontoon. The boys released every fish they caught in all sessions today, allowing them to swim another day J.
Another incredible day at the Montebello Islands had begun and we were all excited to kick off day 5 with a morning session on plastics and jigs. Chris was impressed to have caught himself a Red Emperor on a Z-Man White Plastic. While Hilton scored himself a Spangled Emperor. They finished the session off with Red Emperor, Spangled Emperor and Rankin Cod.
Shallow Water Trolling
It was time to try our hand at Trolling in the shallow water. It was looking particularly pristine with the water being incredibly clear, a fisherman’s dream. Darda was first in on the action with his 1st ever Coral Trout on a Rapala Magnum white and silver. Ed also landed his 1st Coral Trout, caught on a Rapala T18. Hilton also got himself a nice Coral Trout. Soon Ning and Mun caught a Coral Trout each, their 1st from trolling. Finally Rodney scored himself a sweet Montebello Islands Rankin Cod to finish off the session.
Casting and Popping
For our next sessions of the day it was time for some casting and popping. Darda was happy to land himself a Gold Spot Trevally on a Shimano Stick Bait, as well as a second Gold Spot Trevally on a Qantas stick bait. For the final session of the day the boys decided to pull out the plastics and jigs for a session. They had a nice little session catching quite a few Golden Trevally, before retiring to the pontoon for an absolutely beautiful evening at the Montebello Islands.
The boys decided to spend day 6 as an island day, exploring the islands from land again and utilising Heartstarter for what she is best at. Hilton, Chris and Darda spent the morning on the island. Hilton caught himself a Coral Trout and 2 Spangled Emperor from the beach. While Chris scored 2 Coral Trout and a Blue Bone. Darda also had a fun little session catching a Spangled Emperor and a Coral Trout. The moment of the day though was when Darda was trying to explain where they were over the radio to Captain Chad saying “the wind is behind us” we had a little giggle as they could have been anywhere. NB Captain Chad did find them;)
The crew on Heartstarter decided to do something a little different, using Heartstarter to take them to a stunning spot for a snorkeling session. They said they had an amazing time with Jon spotting a massive Coral Trout which then swam up super close to them. It is moments like these which remind us why the Montebello Islands are so special. Aside from the simply unbeatable fishing, the marine life and eco systems at the Montebello’s are simply breathtaking and both Chad and I cannot get enough of them.
Change of plans
With so much adventure we decided on a late lunch at the pontoon before we headed our way back to Dampier. Unfortunately for the crew we had some rough weather predicted and so Captain Chad made the call to depart on day 6 to avoid the strong Easterly. We decided to stop for a plastic and jigging session, and boy did that pay off, it was hot session. Darda scored a Scarlet Sea Perch, Coral Trout and a Rankin Cod. While Ning caught himself a Coral Trout and a couple of Rankin Cod. Chris was on fire this session scoring himself 3 Rankin Cod, and a Scarlet Sea Perch. Ed reeled in a Spangled Emperor, Rankin Cod, as well as a Scarlet Sea Perch, while Mun added a number of Rankin Cod to his tally. Jon caught a Coral Trout while Hilton reeled in a Coral Trout and a Rankin Cod. We had a boat filled with happy fisherman as we arrived into Dampier in the evening.
With the weather predicted to be pretty awful on day 7 we had planned to fish around the Dampier Archipelago, to make the most of the final day of the charter. The weather prediction was right with strong winds of up to 25kn E. We decided to cast poppers and stick baits. Hilton was a happy angler catching a GT on a Photo Type by Dr Hook. Jon put in a solid effort with over 200 casts! It was worth the wait, when he landed himself a nice GT on a Shimano Head Dip a great way to christen his new rod and reel. With plenty of bait around the Mackerel were putting on a great show jumping through the air. The boys were really seeing just how great the fishing in this area is. Decky Sam was stoked to have landed himself a 20kg Spanish Mackerel. While Chris and Ed both scored themselves a Mackerel to round out the trip.
Epic July week at the Montebello Islands
Despite our early return to Dampier this was a 7 day Montebello Islands charter that none of us will soon forget. To say it was an epic week of Monties fishing feels like an understatement. We absolutely loved sharing the excitement of the MANY firsts on board this week as well as an unbelievable array of species. From Marlin to Sailfish to GT, Coral Trout, Squid and even Wahoo, this week had it all. It is hard to put into words just how incredible the fishing, scenery and marine life at the Montebello Islands are. All I can say is, if you’ve never visited the Montebello Islands before what are you waiting for? This place will blow your mind!!!
Until next time, happy fishing
PS: Thanks to Jon from Compleat Angler Nedlands for organising the trip. Check Compleat Angler Nedlands out for all your fishing gear http://compleatanglernedlands.com.au/
PPS: The boys had plenty of luck this week with Dr Hook Lures check out their range at http://www.doctorhook.com.au/
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