Mid-West Fishing Trip March 2014
The following is a re-cap of an epic fishing adventure in late March 2014 when a handful of Get Fishing members got together for an annual fishing trip at a sleepy little town along WA’s mid-west coast.
The trip was set to be a 5-night stay for 5 blokes between the 24th-29th March. However, with the weather looking the goods a last minute decision was made on the morning of Saturday the 22nd for Jeffrey Ward and I to pack the Prado, hitch up the boat and be on our way by lunchtime. We were to arrive two days early and the rest of the boys would meet us up there on Monday 24th. After grabbing a few supplies along the way and enduring a sweltering 6 hour drive we arrived at our destination, Port Gregory. We were lucky enough to deploy the cray pots just before sunset and fix the boat to its mooring where it would reside for the following six days.
Sunrise at the jetty
Day 1 on the water started off in fine form with a feed of crays from the pots plus a couple of nice Coral Trout and Baldchin Groper being boated in what was almost too perfect conditions – flat seas and no wind. With the wind getting up that evening Jeff and I decided to call it quits for the day and return to our cabin at Port Gregory Caravan Park where we would spend the rest of the day tying rigs and devising a game plan for the following days.
A beautifully coloured Coral Trout to open the account on Day 1
Jeff being an eastern stater was wrapped with his first ever Baldchin Groper
Day 2 started in similar fashion to Day 1 with a few more crays from the pots, hardly enough to get excited about but enough for a delicious feed at the end of the day. From there we began fishing to the south-west of the lagoon about 4 mile offshore. We found a nice patch of ground to work and not too long into the first drift a bent rod and a few groans signified the first fish of the day was hooked and on it’s way to the surface. It turned out to be a reasonable Dhufish of about 4-5kg. By 9am we had landed a couple of Dhufish and a Baldchin Groper, when suddenly Jeff’s rod buckled over and line began to spew from the Saltiga 4500. Unfortunately for Jeff the fish turned out to be a hefty Painted Sweetlip, aka Sand Snapper of about 8kg. Apparently these fish are no good to eat so after a couple of quick pics it was released to fight another day.
Not a bad way to open the Dhuie account for the trip with this small specimen of about 4kg
Another nice Dhuie. Not a monster but still great fun at around 5kg
Talk about an anti-climax. This Painted Sweetlip had Jeff sweating bullets for a few minutes thinking he was hooked up to his first Dhuie. After a few pics this beauty was released to fight another day.
At approximately 9am the Caravan Park owners called, letting us know that the big cabin was ready for us to move into and that we had to move cabins by 10am. So we headed back to shore, completed the move in record-breaking time and headed back out to chase the schools of Tuna we had been watching all morning smacking baitfish in tight bait balls. Catching tuna on spin is easy when you have the method down pat. It was simply a matter of heading upwind of a school of fish, killing the outboard, belting a 60g metal or stickbait into the school, waiting a few seconds then cranking as fast as you possibly can. A few moments into our first approach we were in the thick of what was to be a 1.5 hour session of reel screaming, adrenalin injected fishing as we pinned striped and yellowfin tuna one after the other on 5-8kg spin sticks and 20lb braid. With a couple of jelly bean Yellowfin Tuna on ice and a few stripeys kept for bait it was almost time to head in. The wind was increasing, the seas were becoming unfavorable and with one final cast Jeff found himself on the receiving end of brutal surface strike and drag melting first run of what turned out to be a 14kg Yellowfin Tuna. Not huge by any means but on spin gear and 20lb line in those conditions it was a great effort. We were on a high and it was sashimi smiles all round. Upon returning to the cabin we were greeted by the rest of the crew; Paul Swart, Matty Fawcett and Allan ‘Greeny’ Green.
This Jelly Bean Yellowfin Tuna took a fast retrieved 60g Gillies Baitfish in glow
Jeff and his 14kg Yellowfin Tuna taken on a Maria Bull Chop on 20lb spin gear
Day 3 was a write off due to weather and engine difficulties. On the way back to shore the previous afternoon the outboard was playing up which turned out to be a dying spark plug. With none of the same type available in Kalbarri (yes, we couldn’t believe it either!) it was decided that all five of us would fish the remaining days on Matty’s 6.5m Coraline Plate Ally Boat ‘Son OF A Beach’.
Sunset at Port Gregory Beach
Day 4 was a day noone will ever forget. All five of us piled into the 6.5m Coraline and headed about 6mile offshore to a few lumps that hadn’t been touched in months due to the prevailing poor weather conditions. Within minutes of anchoring it was bent rods all round as we hooked up left right and center. It was either Coral Trout, Dhufish, Estuary Cod, Spangled Emperor or Snapper on the bottom or Spanish Mackerel on the floaters. Everything we touched turned to gold. This mayhem lasted for about an hour before we up anchored and moved to a nearby spot where we experienced a serious case of deja vous.
Another one of many small to medium sized Dhufish caught during the trip
Early on in the piece we reached our bag limit of 2 category 1 demersal fish per person plus a few Spanish Mackerel, which meant that most fish we caught had to be released. Due to the water depth being so shallow all but 1 of the fish were released successfully without the aid of a release weight. However, after about 2 hours of total mayhem we decided it was best to leave the fish alone and head to shore for lunch and a few coldies. The weather turned sour in the afternoon so we kicked back at the cabin once again to spin a few yarns and enjoy a feed of crays, chips, salad and YFT sashimi.
Most Coral Trout boated were red fish like this, among the other colours were brown and green
Look at those conditions! Perfect for pulling quality Coral Trout like the one Matty is showcasing here
Day 5 was basically an exact replica of day 4 except that the early morning wind was a little stronger. Nonetheless we punched out into the 10-15knot sou’easter, dropped the pick and were once again greeted by the locals…and needless to say they were hungry! By the end of the session we had reached saturation point. We had caught enough fish to sink a small ship and we all had a few kilos of fillets to take home to our families. After what was unanimously determined the best fishing trip ever we made the call to end the trip on a high and head home to Perth, one day early.
Jeff looking stoked with yet another first, this time a rather green coloured Coral Trout
By midday on Day 6 we were on the road, headed for the hustle and bustle of Metropolitan Perth. The morning consisted of pulling the pots for another half a dozen crays, retrieving the boat, packing the 4WD’s and saying our goodbyes. If you ever visit the region be sure to stay a night or two at the Port Gregory Caravan Park. The owners Tim, Sam and their two kids are a top young family that have done a great job making the park a perfect place to unwind after a big day on the water.
By Robbie Riches – Get Fishing Founder and Managing Director