We make sure every year we go up north to Exmouth for a fishing trip. This year was going to be no different but we just didn't know when. After waiting six weeks for a small pocket where the wind would allow us to get out, we pulled the trigger on a five-day trip. We packed our Nissan Patrol, hitched on our 23ft trail-craft and we were off again, eager for some big fish.
Day 1- We popped into our Scaly Mate Jacob Hill, who has been living in Coral Bay for the past three years. With a 25-knot westerly blowing, we decided to hit a few weed beds for some squid. On the first drift over the weed, the jigs were hit and we pulled in some massive squid. Keeping the heads and tentacles for Exmouth as bait would prove to be a success.
Day 2- We were up at 5am to finish off our journey to Exmouth. With 60 kilometres to go, our trailer decided to unhitch itself as we were going 110 kilometres per hour down the road. Luckily we dodged a bullet, hitching the boat back up with only a few scratches. Finally arriving in Exmouth, we headed to Tantabiddi boat ramp to head out behind the reef for a troll down to South Passage. With no luck, we went inside the reef while the wind was picking up, knowing it was dropping later. We spent a few hours inside the reef, catching some nice Red Throat and Sweet Lip Emperors, before a quick dive saw some nice Painted Crays hit the deck. The wind had dropped around 5pm and with only an hour and half of light left, we decided to find some water in the 16m behind the reed and anchor up. We floated some mulies behind the boat while bottom bouncing. Before we knew it the mulie rod starts screaming- we lost it. We sent another mulie straight out the back and within a minute we were on again. But after a few minutes of fighting, we lost it again. Nevertheless we kept persisting and we soon were on again. Jack landed a very nice 7-kilogram Spangled Emperor. With our excitement levels up and the fish biting, we decided on one more mulie before dark. Two minutes later, with the rod screaming and Yellow Fin Tuna jumping behind the boat, we were on. After spotting a few flicks of what looked to be a big shark tail, we decided we'd have some fun and try to pull him in. After a tense, ten-minute battle, a long narrow shadow appeared from the depths. With silver flickering off the body from the sun, we both realised it was a massive Spanish Mackerel. Lifting it onboard with the gaff on his first attempt, Jack pulled in the 25-kilogram Mackie. The boys were on!
Day 3- A light easterly wind all day saw a long day of fishing on day three. We thought we would hit up some lumps in the 40m range and, before we knew it, we had a lot of solid hook ups. As it happened, they were probably too solid, with a lot of good fish lost in the morning session. By midday we drifted over a six-metre lump with both Jack and I hooking up. I pulled on board a very nice Spangled Emperor, while Jack was fighting a double hook-up, which eventually gave way as we lost both fish. Devastated, we decided to anchor up behind the reef. There were some massive bottom-dwelling fish, which took us straight into the reef and then cut us off. I eventually pulled a big GT out of the reef but could only get it three metres from the boat before the shredded line gave way.
Day 4- The best weather of the trip arrived on day four. But something always goes wrong when driving up to Exmouth and this year was no different with the Nissan Patrols handbrake snapping. This made it too difficult to launch the boat. We decided to do some beach fishing instead, visiting a few secret reef ledges and pulling in some nice Queenies and Cods.
Day 5- The wind hit on our final day so we went to some land-based fishing spots in search for some Spangled Emperors and GT's. After missing a few big GT's and bringing in some big reef sharks, a four-metre long shadow started bee-lining towards us in waist deep water. Quickly back-pedaling, once we were in shallower water, we were able to have a better inspection of the shadow. It ended up being a large tiger shark. We decided to hit up another spot which again saw some Spangled Emps, Queenies, Cods and some massive (albeit lost) GT's being hooked.
With our esky full of fish fillets, we hit the road back to Fremantle. Exmouth had once again blessed us with a lot of great stories and challenges.
Until next time, Exmouth!