Incredible Firsts at the Montebello Islands
This week’s 7 day Montebello Islands fishing charter group was put together by Ben from Compleat Angler Nedlands. This crew included anglers from as far a field as the Cocos Islands. This week proved to be a week of firsts. With this being the first live aboard charter for all the guys, except Ben who had been to the Montebello Islands before aboard Blue Lightning Charters. Brian and John were pretty excited and keen to get to the islands as they had never caught anything over 30cm.
Day 1- Jigging
We woke bright and early on day 1 to start our journey to the Montebello Islands. The fishing started out slow in the morning but picked up throughout the day with the guys trying out some of their new jigs. Brian had a ripper day catching a trio of firsts including a Brassy Trevally, Red Emperor and Cobia all on his first time ever using jigs. Simon landed his personal best Rankin Cod and his first ever Red Emperor both on jigs. Mark followed with first ever Rankin Cod on a jig. Meanwhile Ben was excited to catch his first ever Cobia on stick bait. Not to be out done Ibrahim caught his first ever Red Emperor using a Nomad Streaker jig. Gary was very excited to pull on board a Brassy Trevally also on a jig. We finished the jigging session with plenty of Rankin Cod, Red Emperor, Cobia, Maroon Sea Perch and Brassy Trevally.
We trolled skirts while moving between our bottom grounds. Simon was diligently manning the rods when all of sudden he shouted there’s a fish, and the reel went screaming off. Simon grabbed the rod and the Sailfish did some nice aerobatic jumps and unfortunately threw the hooks. Upon arriving at the Montebello Islands the guys were in awe of the beauty and the serenity. They were, of course also impressed by the fabulous Blue Lightning pontoon “The Cod Cave”. What a way to start our week but with a day of firsts and personal bests.
Day 2- Jigs and Soft Plastics
We woke on day 2 to pristine weather but unfortunately the water was not. The winds of the last couple of weeks had pushed the dirty green water towards the islands, making us work harder for our fish. The boys were excited none the less, as we found some bottom grounds to drop in some jigs and soft plastics. The boys came up with the goods, landing some nice Rankin Cod, Red Emperor, Spangled Emperor, and Long Nose Emperor.
For the afternoon session the boys tried the their best to lure out some GT’s from the shallows to no avail. So we tried our hand to trolling. Hooking some Shark Mackerel. We then headed home to the Cod Cave for a lovely relaxing evening.
Day 3- Trolling Fun
We started day 3 with a super hot session trolling with Gary bringing on his first ever Wahoo, which he caught on a Purple Xrap 30. Brian was over the moon to catch his biggest ever fish and his first ever Spanish Mackerel on Rapala Xrap. Then, Simon caught his personal best Spanish Mackerel while trolling. Simon also managed to land a Shark Mackerel and Yellow Fin Tuna on a Nomad Stick bait. Both Ibrahim and John were stoked to catch their first ever Mackerel’s. While Bree caught her personal best Spanish Mackerel on a well used old Rapala Xrap 30, complete with rusty hooks. Proving you don’t need brand new gear to catch quality fish.
Before long, Mark astounded everybody when he, not once, but twice pulled on board a pair of Rankin Cod using a Rapala Xrap while trolling in 25+ meters of water. The second Rankin Cod he caught actually started off being another fish which dropped off, seconds later he was hooked up again, being the rankin cod. We finished this exciting trolling session when Captain Chad put us on an awesome looking bottom ground.
It didn’t take long for everyone to be hooked up to some awesome fish including Long Nose Emperor, Robinson Sea Bream, Coral Trout, Maroon Sea Perch, Gold Spot Trevally, Cobia, and Rankin Cods. Simon stole the show when he dropped down his McCarthy Pink Paddle Tail 6inch with a Berkley Elevator 3 ounce jig head and the unexpected happened. The crew were happily fishing away when next minute there was a sailfish dancing across the water. It was only meters from the boat, when Captain Chad noticed there was something peculiar hanging from the Sailfish’s bill. He calmly asked who is hooked up to that? Only for Simon to turn around completely unaware about what was happening behind him, to realize that it was he who was being taken for a walk by this nosey billfish! What a rush we had on our hands! Skipper chad was back in the captains chair quicker then a Wahoo after a lure, Simon was awkwardly running to the front of the boat, and the Sailfish was trying its best to put on a good jumping show. Meanwhile everyone else was madly trying to scramble out of the way whilst getting their lines up. Captain chad maneuvered the boat brilliantly while deckie Brody talked Simon through the most exciting fight of the day. The Sailfish put up a good fight for Simons light jigging gear but with a steady hand on the reel, a great captain in the captains chair and a knowledgable deckie on hand to keep simon on track, we landed the Sailfish after about 25mins. It was a sight to see just as the sailfish was landed the hook fell from the bill and we all cheered.
The firsts for the day just kept coming. Brian got a bottom fishing first with his first ever Long Nose Trevally. Meanwhile Mark got his first Maroon Sea Perch, Coral Trout and a PB Rankin Cod. Simon also got a couple of firsts with a Gold Spot Trevally and Cobia. As the afternoon drew to a close we headed back to the Cod Cave for a well deserved rest.
Day 4- Trolling
With another awesome day’s weather in front of us we headed out trolling. We didn’t have to wait long for John to hook up his first ever Spanish Mackerel, with Ibrahim following close behind with a Mack Tuna on a Stick Bait. Ben was hooked up to a huge Mackerel when sadly it upgraded to a very toothy Shark. He put up a courageous effort, attempting to get his lure back but unfortunately that was one that was joining the jewelry shop at the bottom of the ocean. Simon was pleased to pull onboard a Spanish Mackerel which he caught on a stick bait.
With a few good fish onboard Captain Chad directed us to some nice bottom grounds which would prove to be the perfect spot for another list of firsts for this awesome crew. Ben started us off with one beautiful Coral Trout, and then another. Simon and Ibrahim both had screaming reels and arms on fire when they each landed massive Green Job Fish. Ibrahim caught his Green Job Fish on a Yakamito Zaitae Orange and White, while Simon lured his in with a Lamble Baits Haoli in silver. John reeled in a Maroon Sea Rerch and topped it off with his first ever Spangled Emporer which put up a good fight. Meanwhile, Gary was having a great day, ending up with a nice Rankin Cod and 2 Coral Trout, although one lost some body weight on the way up when a hungry preditor decided Coral Trout was on the menu for lunch. Blue Lightning’s all rounder and general funnyman Mick, rounded out the bottom session on a high with his first ever Coral Trout on a jig.
The Cod Cave
Heading back to the pontoon, we threw out a spread of lures and teasers looking for the ever elusive billfish. When the reels took off screaming halfway home. John and Brian were up on the deck and both were absolutely stoked to land their first ever Yellow Fin Tuna. We were very excited to have Sashimi for dinner!
Day 5- Heart Starter
The crew decided to make day 5 our Heart Starter day. The day everyone looks forward to some designated GT fishing and a day to get off the boat and check out some of the beaches. The AM sessions saw Ben, Ibrahim, Gary and Bree head out on Heartstarter with Captain Chad to chase down the bulldozers of the sea, the Giant Trevally, while Simon, Mark, John and Brian all headed over to one of the many island beaches to try out some beach and rock fishing.
Captain Chad dropped the island guys off at the beach and headed out to a nearby rocky point to start the search for the GT. After only a small look from one interested fish Captain Chad moved us over to a small rocky ledge, and it wasn’t long before the action started. Ibrahim was on the bow when out of nowhere there was a splash and his reel screamed. We had our first GT on the line! Ibrahim fought hard and landed the fish in expert fashion to claim the first GT of the trip. While Ibrahim was busy getting photos with his fish, Bree snuck up to the bow of the boat and stole Ibrahim’s prime spot. She may have regretted this later! Once the fish was back in the water, Captain Chad moved us to another small rock island where the hilarious tale of ‘Be careful what you wish for’ started. Bree had told everyone that a Giant Trevally was on her bucket list of fish to catch and she was excited to see what all the fuss was about. Bree was happily casting away at the rocks using a Vexed Red and Silver stick bait, when suddenly her cheery face fell to a shade of white when there was a splash, a dead stop in the water and then her reel went screaming. With a yell of “This wasn’t meant to happen!” and closely followed by “FFFIIIIIIISSSSHHHHHHH! What do I do???????!!!!!” to which Captain Chad replied ever so calmly “Wind it in?!”. Bree fought (and almost fell off the front of the boat!) while the fish was doing everything it could to try and get away (mostly because she was screaming at it like a lunatic!). While trying to get away the fish swum straight under the boat and with a thundery crack, Bree’s loaned rod snapped clean in two. With half a rod, only two eyelets and a voice hoarse from screaming so loudly, Bree got her first ever GT in the boat, all 20+kgs of it, to which capt Chad proclaimed (while holding the broken tip of the rod) “Would you like a tip Bree?”. With the photos out of the way and the fish happily swimming away, the boys loaded up their rods once more to see what other fish were lurking around the rocks. Ben was up next as a hungry GT was enticed out of his rock hole by Ben’s Napalm Purple Abolone Shell Popper. Ben held onto the fish well and reeled in another 20kg Giant Trevally, his personal best, he was all smiles. It wasn’t long before Ibrahim was chasing another GT around the boat, caught on his Doctor Hook stick bait. The cheapest lure on the boat was proving to be the most popular with the Giant Trevally. Gary had just switched over to a FCL CSP S110 sinking stickbait after having no luck with the poppers. This turned out to be a great decision, as after only 3 casts he was hooked up to his first ever GT. The fish fought hard but there was no way Gary was letting this little beauty get away, he reeled it in and was happy to tick the GT off his list of fish he had always wanted to catch. We headed back to the boat for lunch with stories of the morning’s fishing adventures. The second group couldn’t wait to get out after lunch. So Mark, Simon, John and Brian loaded up their gear and headed out on Heart Starter while the other 4 crew and myself headed to the beach.
John was first off the rank, hooked up to a huge GT on his Black and Red Rooster popper, but unfortunately the GT gave him a good run before it pulled the hooks. Simon managed to lure out a GT of his own using a Nomad Madscad stick bait, for the boys first landed fish of the session. Mark had a cracker of an afternoon hooking two GT’s on his Yambal BE-GIN popper. He landed his first which was a personal best, but unfortunately, the second GT was a monster size and managed to get away. Not to miss out on the action, Brian then hooked a Coral Trout using a Shimanno Squirter popper. It was his first ever Coral Trout and the excited expression said it all. He was super impressed. Simon also managed to hook a Coral Trout to round out a fantastic day aboard Heart Starter. There were many tales around the dinner table that night!
Day 6- More GT Please
After all the fun and tribulations of day 5, the guys decided to have another shot at the monstrous GT’s to begin day 6. While Ben, Gary and Ibrahim got loaded up for a morning of beach fishing, Bree and myself bundled into the boat to head over to Trimouille Ssland to see if we could see some of the beautiful turtles that come back to the Montebello islands each year to lay their eggs. We were so lucky to see 10-15 all resting in the shallows. We snorkeled for ages just taking in their beauty and grace. What an experience! Meanwhile the 3 guys were just up the beach hooking into some beautiful fish, including Blue Bone, Ibrahim’s first ever Spangled Emporer and Golden Trevally and a very toothy Long Tom thanks to Ben. The boys aboard Heart Starter were having a quiet morning with Simon pulling in a big Brassy Trevally and John capturing a Mackerel.
Beach fishing & GT
We all headed back to the Cod Cave for some lunch before swapping over for the afternoon session. Simon, Mark, John and Brian headed off to a nearby beach while Ben, Ibrahim, Gary and Bree all headed out on heartstarter to see if they could one up the boys from the morning. We had a few GT’s have a look at the lures but only Ibrahim had any luck hooking one. As he got it to the boat, the hooks pulled and the GT darted away back to the safety of its rocky ledge. This didn’t stop the boys as they headed to a new spot where Ben had a few big bites but got busted off. Gary nabbed a cheeky Coral Trout that came out to have a go at his FCL Stickbait. Gary had told us during the week that he really wanted to get a Coral Trout on a stick bait, we were glad to see he managed to cross that off his list. The other group of guys were having a blast, hooking into some huge GT’s from the rocks, not managing to land any due to their size but were enjoying their day nonetheless, John even managed to land a nice sized Remora.
Exploring Montebello Islands History
Once back to the boat, a few of the boys opted to go and check out the weapons testing site on Alpha Island. It’s a historal site we are lucky to be able to introduce people to out here, and what a fascinating history it is. It really is an amazing site and story to be able to share with our customer’s throughout the year. After 2 days of GT fishing the boys were feeling a little tired and sore, so it was a quiet night at the Cod Cave.
Day 7- Fishing Fun
Well as always, the time had come for this week’s crew to say goodbye to the Montebello Islands. The guys had a few casts for some GT’s on the way out of the islands. Some sneaky GT’s were cruising around casually under the boat and only Simon managed to hook a small GT. Captain Chad headed out toward some Mackerel grounds to see what we could troll up. Apparently the fish had a big night and just weren’t interested this morning so we pulled up the lures and headed for some good looking bottom grounds. This proved to be a good choice from the skipper with Ibrahim landing a nice Brassy Trevally. Before long all the trevally family were out in full force, with Brassy, Gold Spot and Bludger Trevally all making an appearance on board. John was on fire today, managing to pull a lovely Cobia onboard. We tried our luck once more with the trolling lures, and again this turned out to be a great idea. Simon landed a good sized Spanish Mackeral only to be outdone moments later by John landing a MASSIVE Spanish Mackeral. It was the biggest fish he had ever caught, to say he was over the moon would be an understatement. We headed for one last bottom ground before making the run back to Dampier. Bree was stoked to catch her first ever Cobia, after saying to John only moments before she would love to get one. We pulled up lines and headed for home, putting out a spread of lures incase any billfish were cruising around on our way home.
It was another sensational week at the Montebello Islands with this awesome crew enjoying their first ever live aboard charter and catching plenty of impressive fish. They certainly won’t be forgetting their trip to the Montebello Islands anytime soon.
Until next time… Happy Fishing
Each of the guys on board and the crew got asked what their highlights of the week were:
Ibrahim- The variety of fish able to be caught at the Montebello Islands and the numerous firsts for the whole crew was what impressed Ibrahim the most. His goal was to target as many species as possible and he was surprised at how many species he himself was able to get. He loved his GT fishing.
Ben- The GT fishing aboard Heartstarter was the best thing for Ben. He got his PB GT and had a great time watching everyone get his or her first GT’s.
Mark- GT Fishing and the Mackeral sessions was top of the list for Mark. He got his 1st GT and had a ball casting stick baits for the mackerel.
Gary- Gary was amazed by the Cod Cave. It came out of nowhere and he was amazed at how well it was done up. His Wahoo was top of the list and loved the Mackerel sessions. He was surprised to see Red Emperor be caught on Jigs. He noted watching Bree break a rod whilst catching her first GT as a funny experience on the trip.
Brian- Brian’s top of the list was his first Spanish Mackerel and the Yellow Fin Tuna he and John caught together.
Simon- Simons favorite thing was casting stickbaits for Mackerel. Although he noted that catching a Sailfish on a soft plastic was a great experience he’ll never forget.
John- The biggest spanish mackerel of the trip and the yellow fin tuna were the highlights for John. He can’t wait to get back and do it all again next year.
Bree- Watching people catch their first fish, and the excitement that people exude when they come out to the Montebello Islands is the best experience for Bree. Although her first ever GT and swimming with the turtles were the most memorable experience’s from the trip.
Brody- Brody’s crayfish redemption is his top highlight for this trip, and the GT action was a real blast.
Captain Chad- The awesome GT action was Captain Chad’s highlight. The schools of GT’s swimming around Heart Starter on day 5 are what makes the Montebello Islands so great for him.
Leah- How could I go past swimming with the turtles! It was one of my best experiences of all time. I love watching new customers catch fish for the first time and all the personal bests make this job so rewarding.
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