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Old 08-27-2020, 06:13 AM
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Default An overnight winter bottom bashing trip on the Great Barrier Reef.

I don’t typically post threads but I thought some of you might enjoy seeing this.

We moved over here a year and a half ago after eight and a half years of me rotating every four weeks. After finding a boat last December I began fishing pelagic’s on my time off amassing 300+ hours on my outboard between December and June.

When winter arrived back in June and my favourite fish moved north for a few months the logical choice was to take up hunting or start bottom fishing as the dimersal fish turn on when the water gets down around 21-22 deg. I can fish all of the bottom species in front of the house but I knew of lady Musgrave island and the bunker group from some of the guys I work with. They told me it’s one of those places the fishing is red hot and once you’ve gone once you’ll go as often as you can.

This is the southern most island on the Great Barrier Reef. The inner part of the reef collapsed and it’s now a lagoon that people anchor up in as it’s always protected.





It meant a 400km drive up to 1770 then a 70km run out to a chain of islands. I had a couple weeks off on the horizon and was planning on making a four day trip when I had good weather. Three days before I went on days off I was asked to project manage a new build rig and commission another rig for a new client, 5 days a week.
I work a 2/2 roster and enjoy my 14 days with the family so I wasn’t to interested in wrecking it with 6 months in the office lining this up. After I listed my demands they unfortunately agreed to them all so I was heading home for only a week. I told the boys the fishing trip was off and they were not very happy. The wife said I better go if the swell was favourable because we wouldn’t get another chance until next winter. Then work told me they needed me in meetings mid week so I only had four days off. I already regretted accepting the roll but looked at the swell and it was forecasting 0.3m seas and 5-10 knot winds so it was on for a quick trip.

I got home about 20:00 Wednesday night and had to he on the road before 9:00 the next morning so I could cross the bar at 1770 before 13:30 due to low tide at 15:00. I got up about 03:00 and started packing. Having never done an overnighted I knew I would forget a few things but had a good try at it anyway.

We got on the road at 07:00






It was a nice winter day and we made good time up the hwy.






We hit the boat ramp and got everything situated and headed out.





I sent the wife a message after we got across the bar and before we lost cell service. We were on our way off the grid for what was to be two nights and part of three days. Those are the islands on the right of the screen. The blue dot is us on our way.





70km to the lagoon entrance and fairly flat seas. I sat on 30 knots and we were out there in about an hour and fifteen minutes.




The island slowly came into sight.





Lady Musgrave was where we would sleep so I wanted to plot a course inside the lagoon at low tide so I could get back in while it was dark without issue.

Lining up on the entrance at low tide.





Inside there wasn’t a ripple on the surface.





There was nothing to worry about as most of it was around 10m deep. Looking down I could see the bottom in 10m of water like I was looking into a fish tank. We then hit a close reef for a quick fish before nightfall.








The five year old got into an epic fight. I couldn’t see any indication of a fish so I was quite sceptical and told him he better not be fighting the sinker. He assured me he had a big one and five minutes of grunting produced a piece of coral. We laughed pretty hard before sending it back to the bottom.





Most of the fish bite best at night but with a pair of youngsters and on the first trip out I didn’t plan on pulling the graveyard shift. We caught some fish, saw a couple turtles and maybe a doz whales then went back to the lagoon to have dinner and get some sleep. The youngest found the box of gloves I wear while handling lures and decided he needed to wear a pair while waiting for supper.






I then realised I forgot plates but were boys so who cares.






As the sun went down and I cleaned up the boys tried for some squid without any luck.
I told them we were the smallest boat in the lagoon that night. The five year old shot back “yea but were the fastest”. I couldn’t argue with him but I knew I would rather have a 50’er.


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Old 08-27-2020, 06:20 AM
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The night sky in the Southern Hemisphere has to be seen to be believed. The lack of noise pollution means the sky is absolutely ablaze with stars at night. It was the boys first time seeing it away from town and they were awestruck.





We then hit the hay for the first night on the boat.





The next morning I was up at the crack of dawn to a beautiful sunrise.





The boys woke up rested and told me they were ready to go.





I fired up the trusty Webber and cooked some breakfast before heading off to a reef.







Not having any marks I just chose ground based off the maps on my Sounders. Along the way we saw plenty of good ground and stopped to drop a line. We didn’t have any trouble catching fish anywhere we went although we didn’t catch any big ones.
























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Old 08-27-2020, 06:29 AM
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Around lunch on the tide change the bite stopped. We went island hopping and the boys did some snorkelling. We saw a few pods of dolphins and a ton of turtles then went back and fished a bit more.




































Towards 15:00 the swell increased to about the 1-1.5m mark and the wind was probably blowing 25 knots. I was getting nervous because I didn’t know if it was going to blow itself out quickly or blow up. The forecast was around 1.5m the next day around noon and this was about 24 hours early. I hadn’t heard a swell forecast on the marine radio all day and I was worried it would keep blowing up that night and we would be stuck until it calmed down. If it maintained the 1.5-2m swell I would run through it but 70km is a long way when you don’t know what the weather is doing and it’s big enough water that 5+m seas can come up quickly. So I decided we could run in and make it back across the bar on the incoming tide before dark.






About 5km in the oldest asked me to slow down because it was bumpy and I explained we had a long way to go and less then two hours to get there so no I couldn’t slow down. I held it on 20 knots and then as we got closer to shore it seemed to stop blowing and the seas calmed right down but the trip was over anyway and I wasn’t going to turn around and go fishing again.











I slipped the boat back on the trailer just after sunset and managed to get everything secured just as it got dark. Naturally the boys fell asleep and I got to drive home completely worn out.

Next time I’ll have a little more prep, I’ll run bigger baits and try a lot less weight to try and talk some of the bigger fish into biting. I know I have a lot to learn when it comes to bottom fishing. I didn’t take pics of anything I caught although the boys kept me pretty busy being a deck hand and I didn’t get much fishing to myself. We did manage a few better fish then what’s shown but nothing big and obviously I couldn’t take or post pics of everything caught.

It’s true though, that place is addictive and I’m looking forward to going back next winter after my marlin and wahoo leave next fall. This time for a few days and I will pull the night shift out on the reef.
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Old 08-27-2020, 07:13 AM
Kurt505 Kurt505 is offline
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Absolutely amazing, thanks for sharing!
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Old 08-27-2020, 07:20 AM
BC7stw BC7stw is offline
 
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Thx for posting, what an incredible experience.
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Old 08-27-2020, 08:05 AM
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Wow! Thanks for sharing.
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Old 08-27-2020, 08:18 AM
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That was a great read, and amazing pictures. Thanks for sharing! Looks like a lot of fun.
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Old 08-27-2020, 08:28 AM
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your boys are the luckiest kids in world . what a dream trip.
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Old 08-27-2020, 08:43 AM
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Great post! Amazing variety of fish..............thanks for the show.
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Old 08-27-2020, 09:02 AM
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This is the best thread I have had the privilidge of being part of...thanks for sharing...simply epic!
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Old 08-27-2020, 09:57 AM
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Now that is something those boys will remember the rest of their lives.
Great read and pictures, Thanks for sharing.
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Old 08-27-2020, 10:09 AM
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Wow
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Old 08-27-2020, 10:28 AM
Howard Hutchinson Howard Hutchinson is online now
 
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Stunning!! Everything you have shared here is that awesome. Beautiful world we live.

You're a wonderful Dad and person getting those boys out there like that. Love it and thank you for sharing.

Not too often a person finds themselves smiling picture after picture, yet you did it.
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Old 08-27-2020, 11:46 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Howard Hutchinson View Post
Stunning!! Everything you have shared here is that awesome. Beautiful world we live.

You're a wonderful Dad and person getting those boys out there like that. Love it and thank you for sharing.

Not too often a person finds themselves smiling picture after picture, yet you did it.
My thoughts exactly! Gotta step up my dad game and my fishing game!!

Awesome post OP
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Old 08-27-2020, 04:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 58thecat View Post
This is the best thread I have had the privilidge of being part of...thanks for sharing...simply epic!
I will second that!
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Old 08-27-2020, 05:26 PM
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World Class memories for the kids …………. something none of you will ever forget ………. awesome !!!!!!!!!!!!
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Old 08-27-2020, 05:59 PM
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Terrific.
Thanks for letting us tag along.

Osky
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Old 08-27-2020, 06:42 PM
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Looks like an awesome adventure!
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Old 08-27-2020, 07:24 PM
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Ok definitely jealous
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Old 08-27-2020, 09:53 PM
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What kind of fish is this? It doesn’t even look real, like a cartoon.
Thanks for sharing, looks fun.
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Old 08-27-2020, 10:06 PM
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Originally Posted by double gun View Post


What kind of fish is this? It doesn’t even look real, like a cartoon.
Thanks for sharing, looks fun.

Those are a tusk fish. Excellent eating with a very white sweet flesh. They’ve got those teeth to eat coral.
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Old 08-27-2020, 10:29 PM
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Those are some blessed kids!
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Old 08-27-2020, 11:01 PM
Howard Hutchinson Howard Hutchinson is online now
 
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Hi again. Living over there, how much truth is to what a person is hearing about the lock downs and such due to covid? I don't want to derail this wonderful thread though, please know this.

Thank you again for sharing. One day maybe yet I'd have to grow some big ones to venture out there. Especially with youngsters along.

Once again, great job Dad.
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Old 08-28-2020, 01:10 AM
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Originally Posted by pikergolf View Post
Those are some blessed kids!
Not wrong, they are but I would argue I’m the blessed one. They’re the best thing I’ve ever had and the time spent with them is what brings me the most joy in life. To see the world and experiences through their eyes and how it lights up their faces only enriches my life. If I’m not at work they’re typically with me doing everything and have been hunting and fishing with me since they were 1. My little girl is the same, she asked for her first rod “a pink one daddy” at the ripe age of two and has been fishing with it ever since.
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Old 08-28-2020, 01:29 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Howard Hutchinson View Post
Hi again. Living over there, how much truth is to what a person is hearing about the lock downs and such due to covid? I don't want to derail this wonderful thread though, please know this.

Thank you again for sharing. One day maybe yet I'd have to grow some big ones to venture out there. Especially with youngsters along.

Once again, great job Dad.


Im not sure what your hearing. For the most part here in Queensland there’s nothing out of the ordinary. Populations a bit over 5 million and we’ve had 1,113 total cases and 6 deaths. In the past week though we’ve gone from 2 active cases and zero community transmission for several months to about 20 active cases due to an outbreak at a detention centre. Fingers crossed they keep it contained but it’ll be an interesting week or two. Our kids have been back in school for months and only missed a couple weeks back in may or June. Restaurants and amusement parks, schools, etc are all open. It’s business as usual.

Now Victoria is another story. They had it under control for months but had private security firms doing the 14 day quarantine lockdown for people coming back from over seas. Some of the “guards” (wrong word but whatever) had some, um, relations with some of the quarantined women, some of them were partying with them etc. some of them had second jobs like Uber drivers. Either way they got it out in the community and it blew up. They locked down some of the old age homes, some subdivisions in Melbourne and implemented stage 4 restrictions with a list of reasons you could leave home like work, doctor, groceries, exercise etc. they’ve been driving the numbers down but it’s taken a month and they’ve done the worst job of any of the individual states. They’re going back to stage 3 restrictions in two weeks if the numbers continue to trend down as they are.
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Old 08-28-2020, 08:16 AM
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Amazing, thanks for taking the time to share this. Great pics, nothing better than taking kids fishing.
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Old 08-28-2020, 09:59 AM
Howard Hutchinson Howard Hutchinson is online now
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Coiloil37 View Post
Im not sure what your hearing. For the most part here in Queensland there’s nothing out of the ordinary. Populations a bit over 5 million and we’ve had 1,113 total cases and 6 deaths. In the past week though we’ve gone from 2 active cases and zero community transmission for several months to about 20 active cases due to an outbreak at a detention centre. Fingers crossed they keep it contained but it’ll be an interesting week or two. Our kids have been back in school for months and only missed a couple weeks back in may or June. Restaurants and amusement parks, schools, etc are all open. It’s business as usual.

Now Victoria is another story. They had it under control for months but had private security firms doing the 14 day quarantine lockdown for people coming back from over seas. Some of the “guards” (wrong word but whatever) had some, um, relations with some of the quarantined women, some of them were partying with them etc. some of them had second jobs like Uber drivers. Either way they got it out in the community and it blew up. They locked down some of the old age homes, some subdivisions in Melbourne and implemented stage 4 restrictions with a list of reasons you could leave home like work, doctor, groceries, exercise etc. they’ve been driving the numbers down but it’s taken a month and they’ve done the worst job of any of the individual states. They’re going back to stage 3 restrictions in two weeks if the numbers continue to trend down as they are.
>>

Thank you for the clarification. We heard the authorities were going door to door checking there were no sick individuals.. People being accosted and physically man-handled down to the ground in the streets if they were not wearing masks and being detained. I am not certain which area(s) of Australia though.

Thank you again and sorry for the derail.
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Old 08-28-2020, 10:39 AM
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All I can say is wow. What an adventure.
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Old 08-28-2020, 07:43 PM
OL_JR OL_JR is offline
 
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Really really cool I can imagine it's a steep learning curve to go from what amounts to basically gypsy farts here in Alberta to something like that. Awesome stuff thanks for sharing!
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Old 08-28-2020, 08:23 PM
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Thanks for posting, that looks like a great bunch of memories. I have been trying to talk the family in a move there. Can’t quite get everybody on board. Awesome that you guys were able to do it. Thanks again.
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