Sportsfishing Innovators- Featuring Sensational Sailfish
This week’s blog is thanks to our wonderful friend and keen angler Audi. Thanks Audi.
The Blue Lightning team were thrilled to welcome back Jason Taylor’s Sportsfishing Innovators for a 9 day Montebello Islands fishing charter. This year marked Jason’s 10th consecutive year of coming to the Montebello Islands with us. Steve also clocked up 10 years since his first visit to the Monties. The whole team have been with us on previous trips with most having had multiple trips to the Montebello Islands and some also having joined us to experience the uniqueness of our other island home, the Abrolhos Islands. The group comprises of good mates who enjoy a range of angling activities from sportfishing, popping, casting and jigging. They certainly know how to make the most of the multitude of opportunities the Montebello Islands have to offer. The guys share their individual experiences with us below.
Day 1: Sportsfishing Innovators get started
Podium Winner: Damian M (currently known as Crazy Damo) so we’ll hand over to him….
“Arrrgh. Had a great day. Thanks Blue Lightning! [Come on Damo, you can do better than that!]
“Day 1 was one of the best day’s fishing I’ve had on the voyage across from Dampier to the Monties.[How did you become the Podium winner for the Day?] “I caught my PB Coral Trout, Rankin Cod and a Spanish Mackerel on a soft plastic having hooked it in the gill plate.” [So more arse than class hey Damo?] “The whole group caught a good range of varieties with heaps of Tealeaf, Brassy, Gold Spot and Golden Trevally with a few Bludgers giving us a three way hook up on skirts. We even had a nice little Black Marlin following at one stage.”
It’s been 10 years since Steve began coming to the Monties and he couldn’t help but get nostalgic which gave him cause to relive his two greatest captures…a Rankin Cod and a decent size Sailfish. Luckily for all of us, Steve had photos so we could all relive these two great moments without Steve making a big fuss over how humble he truly is.
Fish of the Day:
Good Damo for his Coral Trout
Day 2: Fishing action begins before we leave the pontoon
Damian B (aka Good Dam…or so he tells us.)
“Before we even had a chance to leave the pontoon, Gary (with one ‘r’ because apparently he’s too lazy to have two!) had captured several Spangled Emperor and a Mackerel. So literally, before the day began, he was already on the podium and off to a good start whilst the rest of the boys were still enjoying their bacon and eggs. Steve also set the bar high for the day in the fashion stakes by donning the earliest Blue Lightning shirt dating back to 2008 so generally speaking, the day was off to a good start.”
Damo’s first capture for the day came in the form of nice Maroon Sea Perch. His first ever. The first session saw some nice Rankin caught. Gary pulled in a massive 8kg Red Emperor on his jig ensuring he stayed fixed in first place on the podium. Amongst other captures, the guys raised some massive Mackerel, a couple of Shark Mackerel, Mack Tuna and Dirty Dave brought in a nice Chinaman whilst Simon caught a decent GT (Giant Trevally) on a jig.
The boys had a Sailfish following at one stage but it wasn’t interested in the switchbait and after a stray whale turned on a decent display of tail slapping the guys got back into jigging. A decent variety of fish were hauled in over the afternoon and the guys were again happy with their Montebello Islands haul.
Fish of the Day:
Gary’s Red Emperor
Day 3: An early rise
“Rough start to the day after being woken up by someone’s alarm and they still won’t admit to whose it is. The day improved from there. I cast of a Woodpecker stickbait after Mick told me there were no fish around. First cast & I hooked and released a 3kg Spangled Emperor.
“After breakfast we went out on Global Venture. I started casting a stickbait. I managed to get a nice Spanish Mackerel (18kg) and a Shark Mackerel. Got onto another good Spanish. Thought I got busted off and lost my trustworthy stick bait, in the end it was still there. Dammo B got a Shark Mackerel. Dave had a Big Eyed Trevally & a Shark Mackerel. Steve caught a Reef Shark with his Octo jig. Jason hooked a Spanish Mackerel which did some aerobatic jumps and landed straight into a Shark’s mouth.
Land based fishing in 2 groups:
Group 1 was the bulk of the group & hit the beach chasing Squid & Queenies. Mick caught 5 Trevally and 1 GT. Jules landed a Bonefish. The water was so pristine. A beautiful chance for a cool off.
Group 2 arrived at their first spot to find 6 GTs just hanging out. Gary hooked one and then shyed off. After a while, a bigger school appeared. Sam hooked a good size GT but unfortunately the hook snapped. Jason landed and released a few Spangled Emperor and Coral Trout.
Global Venture collected the guys and we enjoyed lunch on the boat. We Spent the arvo going around all the little bays casting for GTs. The boys caught a few Squid. Jason landed himself a small GT. We came around a known little area for GTs, there was bait everywhere. The boys casted towards it and GTs came out from everywhere, resulting in a 4 way hook up! Mick, Steve and Dave landed 3 Giant Trevally in the 8-15kg range.
Casting away, 4 guys, Jason, Dammo B, Mick and Dave landed their stick baits on the exact same rock. The rest of the guys jumped up to retrieve lures and while doing so found a plaque dating back to 1945 what a find, the history here is amazing….a great day had by all.
Highlight of the day:
Spanish Mackerel & managing to hook a good size Mackerel while land based, fighting it for awhile on really light gear before busted off made it lots of fun.
Thanks to Dave & his tasty Mackerel curry & a great day around the islands, everyone was quite exhausted which saw them in bed early. (Heaven help whoever’s alarm goes off tomorrow!)
Fish of the Day:
Day 4: A Montebello Islands mixed bag
We had a later start than usual (no alarm) and we had to wait for the tide to come up as it was extremely low. We spent the morning casting and popping ’til a Manta Ray came cruising around the boat. Steve caught a Rankin Cod (not as big as the ones he showed us in his PB Gallery of pics), 4 Trevally & a good looking Mack Tuna (as Steve doesn’t catch ugly fish!). To quote Steve…”It was a great day in paradise.”
Damo (Good Damo now called Angry Damo due to the following outcome) caught 2 Coral Trout and a Golden Trevally and finished the day with a spectacular frame fish which put up a great fight!! It occurred purely by accident as the guys were filleting and as the frame was ‘set free’ (not-so-angry) Damo’s lure picked it up in the spread. As you can imagine, (still-not-so-angry) Damo’s ratchet went off causing him to spring into action! (Elated) Damo yelled out “fish on” and the valiant fight began. The sly smile on the guys faces was a dead giveaway but who has ever been able to resist watching a mate battle a frame. (Soon-to-be-very-angry) Damo hauled in his catch as everyone erupted in laughter. It wasn’t quite enough to get (not-so-chuffed) Damo on the podium.
Gary caught the first fish of the day which was an impressive Trevally, and followed it up with a couple of smaller Trevally. Jules honed his skills capturing Trevally as well and even tried his luck taking on a Shark with his favourite green and gold Lukanis jig. Mick landed 4 Rankin Cod and one Trevally and got dusted numerous times. Simon had an awesome day and started off with a Mack Tuna, Trevally, Cod off the bottom, Spangled Emperor, Coral Trout and a good size Amberjack.
Jason sold a selection of 8 lures to his mates and lost 8 lures, catching half a Trevally, a whole Trevally and a Coral Trout. (The other) Damo caught the biggest rankin cod of the day (Steve’s sure it wasn’t as big as his historic capture), 4 Trevally, three Cod, including one in the tail, a Robinson Sea Bream & a School Cackie. Sam the Decky captured 3 Rankin Cod and an Estuary Cod. Dave managed 4 Trevally, a Spangled Emperor and a Rankin Cod.
The evening’s podium:
3rd Sam the Decky
Equal 2nd Dave and Simon
1st Damo (Crazy Damo aka not-angry Damo)
Fish of the Day:
Simon for his Amberjack
Day 5: Castin & Popping
Casting and popping at a few different locations with a few hits but no hookups. So we moved on to plastics and jigs resulting in:
Jason – Mackerel
Damo B – Trevally
Simon – Chinaman on a jig
Dave – Coral Trout and Spangled Emperor
Steve – Squid (the night prior putting him in the lead on the following day’s podium!)
Jason – (really hoping to succeed today) caught a Spanish Mackerel on a jig & a Trevally
We visited Jason’s favourite spot in the world to fish. The guys set about casting and popping. Damo B scored GT’s and nearly a Sail. Simon was smashed by Mackerel all day eventually losing his favourite lucky lure, the #mikrosbystrategicangler. That lure had seen more action in the previous days than any other. (I’m sure I could make out the glisten of a single tear in the corner of Simon’s eye as he caught the slack line in his left hand and wandered off to find another lure to dull the ache of a broken heart!). Jules again got onto the big Mackerels of which one was his biggest fish and 3 Shark Mackerel. His comment…”Loved the day!” Dave had a Shark Mackerel & got busted off by a big Mackerel. Gary caught a few very good size Mackerel. Steve lost his first ever lure for the trip when he caught a Mackie but soon upgraded to a Shark which swam off with his Mackie and his lure. Steve managed a few firsts for the trip and never one to shy away from a good laugh, he confessed to wrapping his lure around the game pole. His follow-up statement was even more of a pearler when he announced “I haven’t broken my record yet as on a previous trip I wrapped it 3 times!” Onya Steve! Mick couple of GT’s and lost a very good one to a straightened hook. Jason honed his casting skills which went something like cast…cast…cast….cast, whilst right by the side of him, Merciless Mick kept catching everything! Damo M got smoked on some good GT’s and still managed to smile.
The day wasn’t over yet. Upon returning to base, Jason, Sam & Damo M paddled over to the beach for an hour or so’s “redemption”. There was no water movement due to their being no tidal movement. 6 casts in Sam & Jason hooked up on GTs but unfortunately lost them both.
1st Mick for his GT’s
2nd Jules on his massive Mackerels
3rd Gary for his biggest Spanish Mackerel
Fish of the Day:
Jules for the biggest spanish mackerel
Squid of the Day:
Outrigger of the Day:
…Steve who also caught Jules!
Most Lures Lost in a Day:
Simon with 5 stick baits and poppers & 3 jigs.
Most Expensive Lure Lost for the Day:
Jason who lost a $150 stickbait…ouch!
Day 6: Global Venture, Island fishing
The boys jumped aboard Global Venture and headed out first up for a bit of snorkelling and fishing. We spent the bulk of the time casting in the shallows which the guys love, even more so since the introduction of Global Venture. Damo B caught a couple of Shark Mackerel, dropped a whole pile of Trevally, but listed his Mangrove Jack as his highlight. Dave got a Gold Spot Trevally, Coral Trout, Sea Perch & a Spangled Emperor. Damo M caught a Shark Mackerel, 4 Gold Spot Trevally. Once everyone was having a cast he scored a Golden Trevally, more Shark Mackerel, Spangled Emperor & a Coral Trout. Gary had a few bites. Mick’s first cast resulted in a double header of Mackerel and Trevally on ONE lure. He rounded his day off with a couple of Gold Spot and couple of Squid. Jason caught a Mack Tuna, 5 Shark Mackerel, a Golden and Gold Spot Trevally, finishing off with a good size Spanish Mackerel. Jules landed a Gold Spot Trevally, had a couple of follows, Mack Tuna, double header of Charlie Court & a Blue Bone. Simon caught a Mack Tuna, couple of Gold Spot, Golden Trevally, Shark Mackerel & School Mackerel.
Steve was certain he’d made it to at least third on the podium due to getting first catch of the day with a squid but had to admit that “from 9.30am it all went pear shape as I didn’t catch anything & I lost 2 lures!!!” (Your Day will come Stevo. They don’t call you the Hulsinator for no reason)
3rd Damo M
Fish of the Day: Damo B with mangrove jack
Catch of the Day: Dave for retrieving his reading glasses from the bottom of the ocean
Day 7: Sailfish Spectacle
The guys comments from the Day:
Damo.M: “So many fish came up, it was crazy!”
Simon: “Without a doubt, the best day’s fishing I’ve ever had.”
Sam: “Best day’s fishing- exhilarating!”
Mick: “Caught my first [sail] fish! Had plenty of attempts over the last 20 years. I’ve been trying to get a sailfish. I’ve lost a few over the years & never landed one. I thought it would never happen. It’s the pinnacle for me. Can’t thank the crew enough. Good to be involved in the team work. Overwhelming and emotional.”
Steve: “One of the greatest days I’ve ever had. You think you know it all ’til you have a day like this. A day in paradise.”
Dave: “I’d like to thank the crew. It was an awesome day. One of the best day’s of my life as well. I think Sam is beyond his years in his knowledge.”
Jason: “Amazing to be part of an awesome day. To catch Sailfish on a stick bait is the ultimate. Can’t thank the team and everyone involved for an amazing day. A day we will never forget.”
Jules: “Best fishing. Always thought one day I may catch one, never thought I’d catch 3 in one day!”
Gary: “Crew thanks heaps. Good to see Mick get that voodoo off his back. The last Sailfish I caught was on my own gear. Epic. Best day’s fishing I’ve ever had.”
Damo B: “To have switch baited Sailfish, using plastics and stickbaits, awesome.”
Leah: “Thank you for letting me have a go on the rod. Having you guys as a part of breaking that record is very special, and I feel so lucky to be apart of one amazing day.”
Chad: “Thank you to everyone. To have done it with such a great team was really special. We look forward to breaking the record again next year.”
NB: All Sailfish were caught and released
Day 8 – Sam’s Birthday!!
After surrounding Sam with more than a little birthday cheer, an abundance of pressies and drooling as he unwrapped his #shimanostella2000spinfishingreel the guys came to terms with what it’s like to have a ‘billfish hangover’. For those unacquainted with a massive day of fishing for billies, you literally feel like you’ve got a hangover, even if you haven’t celebrated with a few coldies afterwards. The Class of 39 (as they will forever be known) spent the morning reflecting on how much they loved the previous day’s fishing. Everyone was pretty exhausted & reflection was as much as they could muster for the morning.
Early in the arvo everyone rallied for a little Global Venture casting. Sam was the first to hook up (it was his birthday after all) & landed a Coral Trout on a stick bait. Next up, there was a double hook up of GTs for Mick and Jason. Unfortunately Mick lost his GT and Jason felt a tad of redemption from a few day’s prior, as he landed his. A few more casts around resulted in Sam catching another Coral Trout. The boys decided to go for a landbased fish. The boys had a 4 way hook up on GTs with Damo M being the only one to land his. The Hulsinator had a different view of Damo’s success & was heard mumbling something about ‘coming over the top’, ‘sabotage’ & ‘everyone parting like Moses & the Red Sea when Damo hooked up’ before consoling himself with a red wine. Damo M caught a Spanish Mackerel and a Shark that decided he was more hungry and ate half of the Mackerel right at his feet. He went on to drop another 2 GT’s.
Day 9: Return to Dampier 🙁
The day everyone dreads… heading back into port. As we made our way west, we hit a few jigging spots with an abundance of Rankin Cod making their way to the surface assisted by the guys lines. Mick scored the biggest Coral Trout of the trip at a decent 80cm, and Julian catching his first ever Red Emperor. To finish of the day off properly, we hit a sweet little Mackerel spot which really turned on with Trevally, Tuna and Mackerel going crazy. Jason had an interesting home-made ‘chicken’ lure which he managed to catch a Tuna and Trevally on proving that even though he may have had a slow start to the week, the fish whisperer was back on form. It was an awesome way to finish of another fantastic trip with these guys. What a week!
Jason caught his best fish ever on this trip but it was more about the way he caught not one but 2 sailfish on stickbait that , in his estimation, was absolutely at the top of his bucket list. It was yet another trip with lots of firsts and of course a day we will all never forget. We look forward to the guys coming back next year when we’ll happily attempt to beat the new Blue Lightning Charters Record of 39!! 😊
Happy fishing 🙂 Audi
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