Fishing’s battle of the sexes
This week we started a battle of the sexes between our mix and match group from near and far. It turned out to be an incredible week at the Monties including an awesome array of fish including plenty of Sailfish.
Day 1 saw us battling through 25kn winds on the way to the beautiful Montebello Islands. The wind didn’t stop the fish from biting with the crew pulling some nice size Spanish Mackerel on board. Rob also snagged a yummy Cobia. Over half of this group had never been to the Montebello Islands before and were in awe of her beauty and serenity. Once we finally made it to the Blue Lightning pontoon, Kodak was nowhere to be seen. The crew did not believe me that he existed.
Day 2- Alpha Island Exploring
Day 2 was another windy day, with 28-30kn winds. This provided the perfect day for the group to check out Alpha Island and to try some rock fishing. Our deck hand Brodie lead the group across to find some nice rocky ledges. Mo started the day off well for the girls with a huge Spangled Emperor. The boys were not far behind though with some nice Spangled Emperor, a few Rock Cod, and some Spanish Flag.
After lunch the group headed back to Alpha Islands to check out the famous Montebello Islands weapons testing site (see our blog on the anniversary of the weapons tests here) and were tasked with catching squid for tonight’s entrée. They didn’t disappoint!!! They caught a good amount of squid which made for a very nice entrée. Kodak finally made an appearance, and everyone was amazed at his size and beauty and now finally believed me J
Day 3- Shallow Water Fishing
The wind dropped slightly on day 3, so we took the opportunity to anchor up and do some shallow water fishing. The result was an array of fish caught by all including Stripey Sea Perch, Blue Line Emperor, Spangled Emperor and Coral Trout. After lunch the swell began to calm enough to get some trolling done. Rob hooked a coral trout for the boys. While on the troll Bree managed to foul hook a Rankin Cod in the back. The whales were out in full force and we were all amazed with their style and grace. Whales always prove to be a showstopper on our Blue Lightning Montebello Islands Charters, for good reason J
Day 4- The weather turns
We woke on Day 4 to much nicer weather. We headed out for the day and were all in awe when numerous whales began breaching and showing off. It was a beautiful show. We were even lucky enough to have a Minke Whale hang around to see how our fishing was going.
Luke’s mixed bag
Red Emperor were the dominant species for the morning. The crew also caught plenty of Spangled Emperor, Rankin Cod, Chinaman, Robinson Sea Bream, Crimson, and Long Nose Emperor. It was a very good day of fishing. Luke had a slow start with his jig but ended the day on fire, cranking in a Trevally, Spanish Mackerel, Crimson and even a Lizard Fish to add to our species list. Poor Muzza got sharked at least four times and had a tough day. His wife Julie made up for it though landing a nice assortment of fish.
Bree as usual wanted a shark and was hooked up for just under an hour, when the line broke and everyone was left guessing what was below!! The shark may have one won this round, but we were introduced to some new fishing techniques by Bree!!!! (check out the photos for new fishing techniques to try J)
Lucy won catch of the day with her big Red Emperor and helped the girls to win bragging rights over the boys with more fish for the day.
Day 5- Bottom Bouncing
With an awesome day of bottom bouncing behind us Skipper Chad decided to start day 5 with some trolling. His hunch paid off with a good number of lively Spanish mackerel and Mackerel Tuna thrown in for good measure. A couple of great bottom spots saw the group reel in some good sized Rankin Cod, Scarlet Sea Perch, Spangled Emperor, Coral Trout, Maroon and Red Emperor.
The afternoon of day 5 was a whirlwind of excitement as we chased the ever elusive billfish. With the water sitting at a very comfortable 25 degrees and sporting a very clear blue colour, we were in for a very good afternoon. Within seconds of the lures being in the water we had a sailfish on our tail. After a very quick switch bait by skipper Chad, we were hooked up and Luke was well on his way to catching and releasing his very first billfish.
With one sailfish neatly tucked away under our belts it was Rob’s turn to go for his first billfish. This turned out to be bit more of a waiting game with no action for 20 minutes.
The Billfish dance
Bree decided since the billfish are playing hard to get, that everyone should learn the billfish dance, to call the billies to the boat. It worked! Within 2 minutes of the crews dance we were on. After a steady fight Rob had his first ever catch and release sailfish on a pink and blue Williamson lure. Needless to say we had a couple of very happy fisherman.
Next up was Muzza, with ACDC playing in the background it didn’t take long for another sailfish to take a switch bait and Muzza was all go to get his fish to the boat. Bree had waited all afternoon for her chance and by now, time was running out. Soon a very stubborn sailfish took a switch bait. After some skilled maneuvering of Blue Lightning she managed to get the sailfish to the boat for another first catch and release. Mo was edging for her go but with light and water slowly abandoning us, she would have to wait for tomorrow for her shot.
Day 6- More Billfishing fun!
After a sensational end to fishing on day the crew was roaring to go as morning broke on day 6. We were in for another great day, as only moments after the lures went in we had a sailfish inquiry. Skipper Chad tried to switch bait but this stubborn Sailfish was not hungry and swam away. Mo was still waiting patiently. Soon enough our billfish dance was answered and Mo was hooked up to an energetic sailfish on switch bait. She was sure her arm was going to fall off due to the fight this very stubborn fish put up. This Sailfish did not want to come to the boat. She did well getting the sailfish to the boat for her first ever billfish.
Julie was up next and fought hard but unfortunately today was not her day. After a good solid fight, the Sailfish spat the hook and got away. Julie was a very understanding fisherman and was happy to have had the opportunity to fight one of the most sort after fish in the ocean.
A Sailfish double hook up
We pushed on and set the lures again. Mike was up next and we were in for a real treat. We had a rush of excitement as we had a double hook up. Mike was on his first ever billfish, and skipper Chad was furiously trying to stop the second sailfish over taking the boat. After a quick fight the second sailfish spat the hook however Mike was able to reel in his first ever billfish on Muzza’s home made green and blue lure.
The final Sailfish awaits.
We had one person left to hook a sailfish; and wasn’t Lucy excited. Lucy had come on the boat telling us she “wouldn’t be able to catch a big fish”. I think Chad took this as a personal challenge to ensure her Blue Lightning Charter was one to remember. After her efforts so far including a massive Red emperor, the biggest Golden Trevally and a good size Mackerel we all knew she had this in the bag.
Once again it was a bit of a wait. Even though the Billfish dance raised a Sailfish we couldn’t get one to hook up. In a rush of furious switch baiting and lure teasing we hooked a very acrobatic sailfish, that just kept on jumping. The fish put up a good fight but it was no match for our golden girl Lucy. Turns out you are never too old to catch your first billfish!
After all the excitement we needed to unwind and what better way than to go for a snorkel around beautiful Trimouille Island. With Mo and the boys searching for crayfish, myself (Leah) and Bree were convinced to go for a snorkel to the beach. We are so glad we did as we were lucky enough to see the amazing turtles that were just dwelling in the shallows. It was a very special moment I won’t soon forget.
Back at the mooring after our snorkel, we had a flurry of visitors consisting of Kodak, Fuji (The Queensland Groupers that live near the Blue Lightning pontoon), 3 lemon sharks, and finally some dolphins all coming for a visit. The wildlife really turned it on for this group’s final night at the islands. The hairdressing salon was setup of the back of Blue Lightning and Julie was madly snipping away while Lucy was fishing for squid. What better way to have a haircut than to fish at the same time!
Day 7- Trolling back to Dampier
So came day 7 the day that our latest group had to say farewell to the stunningly beautiful Montebello Islands. Just before we were ready to leave the “Cod Cave” a Hammer Head swam past causing a rush of excitement. The crew said their good byes to Kodak and Fuji and left the mooring for one last time. Once we were out in the deep blue again, the trolling lures were out and the group settled into see what they could pull up on the way home. Minutes turned into an hour and still unfortunately no billfish. Not even the Billfish dance could call them up today. Skipper Chad called time on trolling for Billfish, so we could swap over to trolling for Mackerel.
Suddenly, Skipper Chad stopped the boat and there were fish flying in all directions. We stopped right on a bait ball. We reeled the lures in and it was a mad scramble to get everyone’s lures and poppers in the water. There was a mix of Spanish Mackerel, Mack Tuna, and Trevally chasing our lures all the while jumping multiple feet in the air. Not only were the fish biting, we had some very hungry sharks in the water. The Sharks only added to the excitement and the fun as they made the fish jump in the air. Lucy got sharked once, but that didn’t deter our favourite golden girl, she put her lure back in the water and kept on going. Mike was also on fire, after a change of lure it seemed like there was not a fish in the ocean that was not chasing his line. We were amazed at how hungry the fish were and the agility of these fast and furious fish.
I was in my glory being able to take photos of the fish jumping (we had to cull some because I may have gone a little overboard). It was a great way to finish off what was a simply sensational week with great people, great fishing and all the amazing things we got to see this week whales, turtles, sea snakes and the list goes on.
Every week out here is different, in fact every day is different here. You never know what you are going to see or what you are going to do or catch. The variety and mystery is why we love the Montebello Islands so much.
Until next time, happy fishing
P.S the battle of the sexes week long rivalry went to the GIRLS