A Mackerel Show at the Montebello Islands
This week’s blog is from one of our very loyal customers Jason:
This is my 12th trip to the Montebello Islands with Blue Lightning Charters and 9 consecutive years. This year I organised a new group made up of 3 others that have been before and 4 that had never been to the Montebello Islands. The relaxed atmosphere on the boat made for a great 8 day charter.
An 8 day charter
We find an 8 day charter perfect for our Melbourne crew as it is a long journey for us. It also helps if you get a few days blown out by the wind. The last 6 months we have been prepping for our sport fishing trip to the Montebello Islands. With jigging, popping and stick bait in mind we have all spent a lot of money at the tackle shops!!!!
Day 1- Keen Anglers
On our first day we were very keen anglers. We were ready for some excitement and we were in luck, there was plenty of top water action, with the Tuna and Mackerel everywhere. First we trolled until we hooked up and then we cast stickbaits into a school of Tuna and Mackerel. We caught a range of Tuna including Long Tail Tuna, Mack Tuna, Yellow Fin Tuna, and Blue Fin Tuna as well as a mix of Mackerel. Closer to the islands we had a chaotic jigging session, including multiple hook ups and bust offs which resulted in plenty of Rankin Cod, Coral Trout and Trevally.
Day 2- Winds
On the second day the wind was up 22-25kn SSE. Some of the crew went to land for a big hike around Trimoiulle Island looking at the weapons testing sites. Meanwhile the others took a trip on Heart Starter for a fish and then went to try their hand at land based fishing. The managed to catch Coral Trout, and Stripey Sea Perch. We all caught up for lunch on the pontoon (The Cod Cave) before spending the afternoon snorkeling. We saw Crayfish, Coral Trout, Rankin Cod and even swam through a giant school of bait. The resident Queensland Groper Kodak even showed up for a visit. The boys could not get over his size at 250-300kg.
Day 3- Mackerel galore
Damien started off the third day with a lovely size Rankin Cod off the mooring which was caught and released. We started off with some trolling in the shallows, it was a bit quiet although the guys did mange to get a few Shark Mackerel. Then we decided to anchor up in the shallows and we caught some Coral Trout, Spangled Emperor, and Spanish Flag. We followed up with a very productive jigging session where everyone caught something. The crew caught everything from Rankin Cod, to Broad Bar Mackerel, Coral Trout, Golden Trevally, and Gold Spot Trevally. Steve was fisherman of the day catching a 10kg Rankin Cod, which he certainly let everyone know whether on the boat or around the Montebello Islands!!!!
Day 4- Jigging
The fourth day we headed west to start the day off with some jigging. Damien caught the first fish of the day a 10kg Amber Jack. I caught a cobia on soft plastic. Before long Brody caught a nice sized Coronation Trout on soft plastic. We finished off the jigging and soft plastics session, with Coral Trout, Coronation Trout, multiple Rankin Cod and Spangled Emperor. It was decided it was time to do some Sport Fishing in the shallows and we definitely got a lot of the top water action we were after. We were targeting GT’s and we managed to land a couple in the 10kg range, while they were not the big ones we were after we still had some fun.
Some nice Spanish Mackerel
Whilst moving spots we came across a school of Wahoo, which made me grab my rod and stick bait and hook up, only to have a scintillating run and then bust off. I never heard the end of it from the boys, the one that got away. Stick baits and poppers were going everywhere which, made for an awesome afternoon as everyone was catching Spanish Mackerel in the 15-30kg size. They were putting on an amazing aerobatic show. We thought this afternoon could not get any better. Then while catching Spanish Mackerel we saw a couple of Sailfish all lit up cruising past the boat. We could not get them to take anything! It was still amazing to see them cruising past. Before long we saw a pod of dolphins and whales close by. The ocean was alive. There are not many places that one minute you can be catching a GT to casting for 15-30kg Mackerel, Sailfish swimming past, a pod of dolphins and whales cruising by. It was all happening, the guys really got to see how amazing the Montebello Islands can be.
Day 5- Jigging and Soft Plastics
I can’t believe it’s the fifth day already time is going way too fast. The morning was spent Jigging and using soft plastics. Stand out fisherman for this session was Dave. He even said he had a sensational day he caught a Chinaman, Blue Bone, Coronation Trout and Job Fish. Altogether we got a good array of fish including multiple Coral Trout, Rankin Cod, Chinaman, Spangled Emperor and Coronation Trout. Steve was a bit concerned he might loose his podium spot with a 10kg Rankin Cod to Dave, though to Steve’s relief it was only 7kg.
With the next session, we were in for a real treat, once again Sports fishing, trolling lures, casting poppers and stick baits. The guys tried their luck at GT’s. Damien lost a big GT, while John and Mick landed a GT each. There were an abundance of Mackerel, and once again they were putting on a spectacular show launching from the water. One was so close to Micks head, it was a bit too close for comfort.
The lads up the front on the bow had a 3 way hook up, and at the same time the guys on the back were also hooked up. You could say there was a bit chaos going on, with lines and lures going everywhere. We managed to land and release a good number of Spanish Mackerel. Although there were quite a few lures lost. Simon had a lucky day and caught a Shark Mackerel over the other side of the reef. At first he thought he was just stuck on a reef and didn’t realized he had a fish on until Chad advised there was fish just dangling off the reef. It was a really fun sight to see (see photo below). Before Simon could try and get the fish off, a shark came along and ate the fish. Somehow Simon was lucky enough to get his lure back. Soon, I got myself a really good sized Spanish Mackerel, unfortunately a shark decided he wanted it too and took a bite of his tail. This Spanish Mackerel would have easily been 30kg. What another amazing day at the Montebello’s this is my all-time favourite type of fishing.
Day 6- Island fishing
Our sixth day decided to blow from the SSE at 28kn. So it was a day of fishing around the islands. We spent some time fishing off Alpha island. The big highlight for all of us was seeing a Dugong who came so close to us, some of us had never seen one before. We managed to get a good number of squid, which made for a great entrée. In the afternoon once the wind calmed down a bit we slipped out the front for a quick jig and troll resulting in Coral Trout, Spanish Mackerel and Black Spot Trevally.
Day 7- Giant Trevally
The wind on the seventh day was still very strong in the morning at 25knSE. In the morning we split up to do some land based fishing. One group fished off the beach in the shallows where Steve caught a Golden Trevally off the beach on his second cast pure skill or was it a fluke??? The second group fished Champagne Bay with Brody catching a Chinaman off the rocks.
As soon as the wind subsided we made a dash out into the deep for a jigging session and for the first time this trip, a couple of the guys decided to use bait. We had to tease them about it!!! It was a hot little session, with the guys getting a good selection of fish including Coral Trout, Red Emperor, Robinson Sea Bream, Rankin Cod, Tomato Cod, Spangled Emperor and Chinaman. Dave got his Red Emperor on bait, and Simon got his Red Emperor on a soft plastic. Leah and I were on the bow of the boat, I was catching a Coral Trout and Leah was on a good sized Rankin Cod, then all of a sudden Leah shouted “there’s a Sailfish.” I looked down and it was lit up with its electric blue colours swimming past the boat. We changed over to trolling lures to try our luck to see if he was hungry. Luck was on our side as it came up in the spread. We switch baited, but unfortunately it did not hook up properly and it threw the hook.
Top Water Fishing
It was time for some top water action, and we definitely got some action. The Spanish Mackerel were on the bite and we were able to catch and release quite a few. The Sharks also decided they were hungry. John was fighting a Spanish Mackerel which turned into a shark. He was very determined to get the 2m shark to the boat and he did. He even got his lure back, you could say he was very buggered afterwards and definitely worked up a sweat. I swear these mackerel like flying. This week we have seen so many out of the water. We couldn’t have asked for a better afternoon, the wind calmed down to an absolute glass off and the fish were on the bite, it was a great way to finish another beautiful day out at the Montebello Islands. What a spectacular evening we had on the pontoon with Garfish going crazy on the surface jumping everywhere, and dolphins chasing them.
The final day
The day I do not look forward arrived way too soon, our very last day at the islands. The weather must have not wanted us to leave yet either, the wind was blowing 25kn E. The crew decided that we would leave after the wind calmed down, knowing that we would have to head straight into an Easterly all the way back to Dampier. We spent the morning on Alpha island fishing, where Damien caught a large Black Spot Cod weighing about 12kg. Not bad for land based fishing and on a stick bait. After releasing the Cod Damien got a hook through his finger needing pliers to take the treble out. I also caught 2 Coral Trout on stick baits which were released.
An Amazing trip comes to an end
Some of the days, the wind was not on our side, however we did not let that put a downer on our fishing trip we still had lots of fun. Our group loves Sport Fishing and we are happy to catch and release, which we did a lot of this trip. Everywhere we looked there were whales I have never seen so many out here before, what a display they put on for us. I can’t believe once again our 8 day charter is over for another year. We are already looking forward to our charter next year in October, or who knows might be back at the end of this year.
Until next time