A day out with Ray, Dan, Rod and Andy - Or .... Horses on the Flats
Words by Dan Collins, pics by Dan and Rod
The winds had come down after the weekend as per usual and Monday was a great day to get out, pity I had to work. To my disbelief the winds were holding and looking like giving us a chance to get out on the coming weekend. A quick call to Rod found that he had Andy already booked in for a weekend fishing over the Great Palm Island group. It didn't take much effort to get Ray keen and plans were made at the first club tying night to make the trip over together.
We were greeted at the Taylors beach boat ramp with just enough water to launch the boats and an impressive water spout a few km's offshore. We had a good trip over and Tuna schools were spotted as we got closer to the Islands. Try as we might the Tuna were very quick and this was making shots at them very difficult. We chased them around for a couple of hours for no result. I have been raving to the boys about a beautiful flat that I have found over on one of the islands and was keen to show it off. There was constant cloud cover which made things hard, but we split the flat in half and went at it. Ray and I found a few schools of small Milk fish which were feeding on the bottom, no luck catching them but as I have noticed on previous trips there were one or two small Goldens swimming with them. Things were quiet not even the little Goldens were eating, as we neared the end of the flat we did start to find some small GT's cruising with some Shovelnose sharks, we managed two small GT's and were bitten off by a few Barracuda's. We met up again with Rod and Andy and decided to give the Tuna another hit as they found the flat to be very quiet!
We found a good bust up of Tuna not too far from the flat and after a two hook ups I managed to stay connected to a nice Mack Tuna at 76cm, thanks Ray for a nice tail grab! This school of fish went quiet and we were off again. We were now at the top end of the Islands and were surrounded by schools of busting up Tuna. The only problem was they were very small Striped Tuna and were not staying up for long enough to get a shot. We persisted for another hour or so and gave it away empty handed. One more flat to visit on the way home.
There are many shallow reef edges that are able to be sight fished on the Islands, as tempting as they are you need to make sure that they are not in a Green Zone.
Last chance to change the day! There were storms rumbling on the coast and these storms were also blocking out any sun that was remaining. The water was gin clear and as much as visibility was reduced, it was still worth the time. Ray and I found things to be quiet again with a few small GT's and reef fish being the only targets. The tide at this time was driving us off the flat, and as we started to hit the bottom with the boat we started to see some action. A school of at least 30 small Goldens came within range, I managed a hook up and shortly after Ray was on! It wasn't long into the double hook up that I lost my fish but the school was still within range, a quick shot and I was on again, only to pull the hooks again and be left empty handed. Ray had a nice clean fight with his first Goldie for a while and we both enjoyed his success. We took some photo's and then head off to find another. Things went quiet again and we ended up catching up with Rod and Andy at the end of the flat.
Rod had had an encounter with an oversized GT in the shallows on 12lb tipped, the fish was estimated at 50lb! From all accounts an entertaining five minutes was had chasing Rods backing as it was heading to the deep water at a hundred miles an hour! It was to no avail as the fish bit through the leader, still a great effort on 12lb to stay connected for as long as he did!
The day was at an end and a quick trip was in order to catch what was left of the tide to enable us to retrieve the boats. Thanks to the boys for the day, although we didn't catch a heap of fish, it was still great fun and we saw enough to encourage a return in the future.