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REMOTE ISLAND ADVENTURE

By Sue Wells

Clear skies and calm seas, the perfect combination for the anticipation of the three day's adventure and fishing that lay ahead. Jerry cans, camping gear, rods and esky packed full of supplies and we seamlessly rolled down the boat ramp into the water.

We plotted our journey into the GPS; destination exploratory mission to the Marble Island Group. With the motor engaged at full throttle, the mainland shrunk behind us. As the islands in front start to grow, I always have a huge smile... leaving civilization with that simple feeling of complete freedom, no boat traffic or people in this part of the world.

The forecast for our three day window of weather opportunity was for 5-10 knot SSE conditions and as we passed Roundish Island, in these glassy variable winds, you could begin to appreciate how untouched and unexplored the Broadsound really is. In the distance I could spot our halfway destination, Wild Duck Island, on our 80 km journey.

I could definitely make out a stationery large shape on the surface, about 10km ahead and as we approached I couldn't believe a female humpback whale had recently given birth, her baby beside her and seemingly teaching the newborn to surface and breath. Wow! They stayed on the surface for a few candid photos for us, magic! We soon discovered that the Broadsound, with its sheltered islands and shallow waters, is quite a nursery for numerous whale pods.

Beautiful Wild Duck Island to our right, with spectacular long white sandy beaches and a tidal range of 7 metres from high to low, is a green zone. Our destination has deeper water which lies around the marble islands. Reef edges, coral bommies and deep drop offs, around 5-20 metres, with lots of water movement. Situated 30km from Stanage Bay, our camp spot became visible and with a hundred metre high ridge around the island, and a horseshoe stretch of sand below, it's protected from most winds. This made an ideal place to set up camp, as we motored into the crystal waters on half tide. We engaged wheels down, the sand looked firm and we exited the water, driving up the beach to a spot near a shady tree.

Mossy, Robbie and I unloaded quickly in anticipation of rigging up our weapons of choice, from 4000 to 8000s, with 20-50lb braid, rigged with a diverse array of tackle, ranging from large poppers and shads, to StreakZ and micro jigs. We wanted to fish half tide to low, just around the NW edge, where coral bommies in 3-6 metres of water intercepted the drop off zone and current line. This had to be a great starting point to explore close to camp.

Mossy began working the edge of the coral, casting hard up near the rocks, hopping through the water column and working back into the open water. Rob concentrated on throwing poppers into the current line and I dropped my TT Vector Jig, jigging the coral below.

Boom! Mossy nearly fell out of the boat, as line peeled at a screaming rate. He managed to steer the fish out of the danger zone as we drifted to more open water. His rod was seriously bent, giving the 4000 Stella and 20lb braid a good workout. Half an hour later, after a lengthy chase, 1km from where we began, Mossy retrieved most of his line and the fish was finally starting to tire. Success! Landing a cracking 20kg+ GT on a ZMan 5" StreakZ in Electric Chicken colour.

As the sun began to fade behind us Rob cast into the shallow coral bombies, retrieving a nice coral trout that would become dinner over the hot coals that night. There are such a diverse array of species here, from dart, coral trout and cod, to queenies, mackerel, barracuda and trevally. After a delicious dinner by the campfire, a few drinks later it was time to sleep under the stars and to dream of the day's fishing ahead.

As dawn arrived we were up cooking our usual bacon and egg burgers and a cuppa, now ready and fuelled to go further afield for a full day's fishing. Our main objective for this trip was to do some sounding and exploring of the grounds within a 10km radius of our base, as a reference for future trips with longer weather windows.

Approaching a steep rocky outcrop with surface action apparent, my first cast into the frenzy produced a mac tuna, caught on a 40g TT Vector jig, fast burning along the surface. With half tide waning we fished along the coral edges, mainly catching cod, trout and trevally. Luring them from their shallow lairs using an assortment of lures, from ZMan 5" StreakZ to ZMan 7" Scented Jerk ShadZ, even throwing in a 10" HeroZ.

As we were drifting off the northern side there was a distinct 3-12m ledge, with the current roaring around the tip. I started hopping 1 1/2oz TT HeadlockZ HD jighead and 5" Bubble Gum coloured StreakZ combo on the lee side. Three hops later, smashed I'm on! It was a solid hook up with some serious headshakes. About now I wished I had 40lb braid instead of 20lb. A few minutes of tug of war and I could see colour. Rob called it for a large queenie, but it ended up being my PB golden trevally and my turn to get fish of the day.

The next day we were up early and with a change in weather forecast we decided to leave on the high tide to fish a frequent stopover closer to home. We arrived with favourable tides, an hour up our sleeve to fish a rock bar and groin, masses of bait and an outgoing tide. This spot frequently produces barra and fingermark.

Armed with the go-to ZMan 4" SwimmerZ in Pearl and ZMan 3" Scented ShrimpZ in Glow, Rob's second cast landed an 80cm barra, a clear water headland fish full of chrome. Mossy and I managed a couple of nice fingermark and a small barra to top off the trip. As the tide started to drain off the rock bar, time was now of the essence and we started the final 35km leg of our trip.

Like all trips, time seemed to fly and we were already planning the next trip out there!

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FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 22, 2017