Salt Magazine's On the Bite

This is an article written by Andrew Walkley for Salt Magazine. It was published in their winter 2006 issue.

The ocean blue and wide begs to be explored, but deep sea fishing is not to be entered into lightly.

Do it once and river fishing will seem like childs play. Go deep sea fishing and other fishing will never be the same.
   At 5.50am we are ready to board the Laguna Cat. Already many unseen preparations have taken place and when Mark and Pete from Noosa Laguna Charters welcome us aboard the ropes are cast and engines start.
   We creep away from the dock and tiptoe gingerly up the river.
   "We are very conscious of preserving the environment so we can continue to do what we love." Mark explains, pointing out the erosiuon that has taken place in the river due to vessels coming and going too fast.
    The journey up the river towards the ocean is picture perfect - mansions watch on and their flashy boats bob next to their private jetties. but the real treat is revealed as we hit open water.
To look up and see nothing on the horizon other than blue water and the rising sun is something I'm sure I could get used to.
   It goes without saying that all charter fishing groups take great pride in finding the best spots. Mark, the owner of Noosa Laguna Charters, and Pete, the skipper, are certainly no exception. They have pre-planned areas to try at certain times so that we have the best chance to get the best catch.
   On board are five other guests, and a regular known only as "The Phantom".
   Pulling up at the first spot, the serenity once the engines are switched off is extraordinary. With the depth sounder or fish finder as they are known showing a screen that Mark and Pete describe as a 'good show', we are ready to bait the hooks and get started.
    My normal fishing expeditions see me catch one fish at the end of a long day and normally one that is undersized, so I am a little nervous as to how I will go.
   No casting is needed for bottom fishing. I bait my hook and drop my line with a heavy sinker overboard and let it unwind to reach the 51-meter  depth. I feel bites straight away and immediately feel confident of a catch. Bang! My first fish is on the line - a good sized trevally - and after a short tussle, I bring my fish aboard. For the first time in my life I feel like I can truly fish.
   Over the next hour or so, everyone on board catches between three and ten fish each, including undersized red emperors that are put back and lots of good sized trevally. Sitting on the back of the boat The Phantom has quietly switched from bottom fishing and is now using a surface lure. His expertise and skill that has been learnt over years of practice is shinning through as he catches spotted Mackerel after spotted Mackerel, all of a good size. I realise that I have a lot to learn still and am intrigued as to what makes a good fisherman.
   Moving on to another one of the pre-planned spots, the bites are not so prevalent but again The Phantom comes to the fore, catching a good sized Pearl perch that makes for good eating. Lots of Yakka are also caught for bait as well as the dreaded grinner fish which, whilst they put up a good fight, are not really what we are after.
   After a solid morning fishing it is time to sit back and enjoy some lunch. Soft drinks, water and snacks have been provided all morning, but lunch is certainly no disappointment: a fresh pack from Sheraton Noosa that includes salmon and chicken wraps, fruit, and a muffin as well as some snack bars.
   Arriving at Secret Spot Seventy after lunch, we again see a 'good show' on the fish finder and get back to business. With the bite ratio belying what we had seen on the screen we catch fewer fish in the afternoon than the morning, a trend that Mark has experienced a lot of late. An undersized coral trout is caught and put back but makes for a great photo.
   Time to head back in and with the fish box full, a great day has been had by all. The view coming back to civilisation is fantastic: seeing beaches and sights from a different angle certainly adds to an already top day. We also have the added bonus of two dolphins surfing the wash off the boat.
   On docking we divide up the fish. The Phantom is gracious enough to let us all share in his Mackerel haul and after some advice from Mark on how to cook it, my household has a fantastic meal that night.

Noosa Laguna Charters, Sheraton Jetty, Noosa Heads, 0428 409 628,


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