Anglers dream of fishing pristine locations teeming with the opportunity to land the catch of a lifetime. The reality is this has never been easier for all anglers to experience world class fishing. ABT joined 2013 BASS PRO Grand Final winner Dean Silvester as he travelled with Nomad Sportfishing Adventures to experience Australian fishing at its best.
Hamilton Island provided the idyllic backdrop to the start of the Nomad trip. ABT arrived at Hamilton Island the day prior to departure and stayed overnight at the Reef View Hotel. The following morning we were picked up from the hotel and shuttled to our floatplane. After a quick safety briefing we were soon airborne and on our way to the Outer Great Barrier Reef for our 6 day adventure (Nomad do have shorter 3-4 day adventures starting in 2015 for those with less time).
A swift 50 minute flight saw us touching down a few hundred metres from our home for the next week, Nomad’s mothership Odyssey. This 80’ aluminium catamaran was purpose built for fishing charters and provided all the creature comforts required. The mothership is served by four tenders that ferry guests to the fishing locations each day. Once aboard we were introduced to Odyssey’s Captain and crew and briefed on safety and the ship’s facilities. When this was completed we acquainted ourselves with our fellow passengers and begun to prepare our tackle for the following day’s session.
Nomad provides rods and reels for all guests. These are top of the line Shimano outfits that will stand up to the rigors of the fishing. In the event of loss or breakage, the angler is responsible for replacement. This unfortunately does happen time to time (including on this trip) but it is a risk all guests accept. You can take your own rods and reels, but these do form part of your luggage allowance.
Guests are required to bring suitable lures for use, or purchase lures from the onboard tackle shop. For the uninitiated this may sound daunting (and expensive), but with the guidance of Nomad the process was fairly straightforward. For example most of the lures I researched and brought were suitable for use, but a number required larger or stronger terminal tackle (split rings/hooks) that I didn’t have so I purchased that on board (an on board running tab is used for purchases). The use of barbless single hooks is mandatory for all heavy tackle fishing, which makes releasing fish easier and ensures the welfare of the fish and the angler.
After getting our tackle ready we checked the board that indicated the guide and passenger allocation for the next day. Nomad works with all passengers to identify their preferred type of angling and then allocates boats to suit. Passengers are rotated throughout the range of vessels ensuring everyone has the opportunity to experience the different guides and tenders used. Our guide for the following day kindly rigged our chosen rods with the leader and lures required. The guide clearly explained the knots used, tackle and what we could expect in terms of target species. It was clear all the guides held a wealth of knowledge and were happy to share their insights and experiences.
Odyssey is divided into two levels; upper deck and lower deck. The upper deck provides a table area to sit around, area to store any tackle you may have brought and a clothesline to dry any washing or wet gear. The lower deck houses the ship’s accommodation, bathrooms, galley and dining area, on board shop and rear bar area. Access to the wheelhouse and motor room is strictly limited to crew. The area is well laid out, spacious and provides the opportunity to either mix with fellow guests or just enjoy some private time. Optional facilities (additional costs involved) included small clothes washing service, satellite phone and email. I would be lying if I didn’t point out that most people took the opportunity not to be contactable during their time on Odyssey.
All guests stay in either quad share bunkrooms or in twin share cabins (for an additional fee). There was plenty of storage space within the cabin for all occupants and all linen and towels were provided. The beds were spacious, comfortable and provided a well earned rest at the end of each day. Given that you may not have met your fellow guests I suggest taking all the necessary precautions to ensure a good night’s sleep including earplugs, face masks and any necessary sleeping aids.
All meals are provided during your journey and they quickly became a highlight of each day. A full hot or cold breakfast greeted us each morning. Lunch packs covered us throughout the day while fishing. Dinner was served at 7pm, which was comprised of a three course meal. At no time did anyone complain of hunger and were presented to a high standard. Two kegs of beer were provided free of charge ensuring no one went thirsty (the bar stocks a full range of beer, wine and spirits for purchase). Personal culinary highlights included the fresh fish guests caught served for dinner (including the freshest tuna sashimi I have ever tried), a first class crème brûlée and fresh squid sashimi prepared and served to guests within minutes of capture.
A day’s fishing would normally extend from 7:30am to 5pm including a half hour break for lunch. In this time we travelled around the various reef edges, bomboras, blue holes and flats that harboured the fish we were chasing. During each session we spent the majority of time casting for giant trevally punctuated with trolling between locations where possible. Schools of yellowfin tuna, shark mackerel and bludger trevally provided welcome moments of frenzied activity where triple hook-ups were not uncommon. During the session the environment provided the perfect backdrop with whales and dolphins popping up regularly and the tides and current showcasing the vast amount of water that moves through the reef area and shapes the reef system.
The crew was ably led by the Master of MV Odyssey, Andrew Caines. Caines, who has been in the role for three years, oversees a crew that includes guides, engineer, cook and host, and whose responsibilities include the safety of personal, seafaring, voyage planning and crew and guest management. Caines undoubtedly takes his role very seriously, but always remained friendly and approachable throughout the entire journey. When questioned it was the guest’s experiences that provided the greatest fulfilment within his role.
The guides work together throughout each day sharing information about where they are fishing and what conditions they are encountering. When questioned on what identifying features they are looking for on the water to the answers were not unfamiliar; bait activity, birds, current, wind and areas of pressure to name a few.
The guides provide guests with advice and direction on the lures to use, how to effectively work the lure and where to cast the lure to maximise opportunity. There is the expectation that anglers are familiar/experienced with using a rod and reel and are able to cast a lure. Regardless of your skill level it will take time getting used to casting large lures on heavier gear and it was a few days before I was able to regularly get the desired casting distance.
If guests were using lures that required a specific technique the guide would advise accordingly. For example while using a large popper I was informed that the retrieve needed to be more aggressive in order to work effectively. The guide illustrated how the popper should be worked, when to pause the lure and the correct action of lure and level of water displacement I should be looking for. There were no shortcuts to replicating this, but by alternating sides and using a gimble retrieve the exertion was manageable. Anyone who thinks that this type of fishing is easy on the body will quickly realise that endurance plays a pivotal role in the process. Crossfit training anyone?
Dean Silvester took to the experience like a fish to water. Despite not having fished for GT before, Dean’s focus and technique allowed him to adapt to the style of fishing and get results. The numerous giant trevally that he caught (and many more that managed to escape) were the result of persistence, skill and determination. Silvester was the first person to offer advice, share stories or assist fellow guests when asked and was always the first person ready to board the tender after breakfast each morning. Given that most guests had limited exposure to tournament fishing it was an ideal situation to have a great representative able to talk about the sport, share his experiences and showcase his obvious passion.
Each day on board Nomad was a unique experience. Between fishing there were many experiences to be had including swimming in blue holes (a cave or underwater sinkhole) located on the reef, seeing first hand hundreds of types of fish species inhabiting the coral reef and witnessing the kaleidoscope of vivid colours of the world’s largest coral reef. It really was up to the individual to determine how their day unfolded and ultimately gave each guest a blank canvas at the start of each day. To remember and share the experience a complimentary DVD of guest’s photographs was compiled at the end of the trip and provided as a memento of the journey. This DVD showcased the locations travelled to and large number and variety of fish caught throughout the trip, illustrating the adventure through the eyes of each guest.
I will leave the last quote to the Master of Odyssey Andrew Caines, “If you are a person seeking a unique adventure then Nomad Sportfishing Adventures will provide you with the opportunity of a lifetime. If you are an angler that is serious about your fishing then my advice would be to do training prior to arrival. Finally, if after the day’s adventures you can lie down and regardless of what transpired you are still smiling then we have done our job”.
Two weeks on since our return and the smile is still there when I go to sleep. I am already looking forward to my next adventure...
Need to bring
Appropriate sunsafe clothing including buff/headscarf
Wet weather gear – the best you can afford!
Polarised sunglasses – ideally two pairs in case of loss
There is a 20kg weight limit on the seaplane to the Coral Sea. This includes all rods, reels, tackle and carry-on that you may bring. Check with domestic carriers regarding weight limits and restrictions on the length of rod tubes allowed to be carried.
Guests are free to bring their own rods, reels and tackle as long as it comes under the weight restrictions for your particular trip and is of the standard required.
Cost of trip
Varies depending on trip location and duration. New to 2015 Nomad are offering 3 or 4 day packages for February and March 2015, fishing Escape Reef and the Ribbon Reefs, exiting Cairns. These new packages will allow guests to access some of the world’s best GT fishing plus casting, jigging and trolling for an incredible variety of species. These trips are quick, easy and great value for money, with no long overnight ocean passages, and same day access to the reefs exiting Brisbane/Sydney/Melbourne.
If you prefer an extended trip, Nomads 6-day Ultimate Adventures offer 6 days of fishing in some of the most remote fishing grounds available. There are 4 main destinations to choose from – Jewell Reef, Bligh Reef, the Claremont Isles and Ashmore Reefs, which are all accessed via Cairns.
Extended and Exploratory charters are also offered each year. Remember 30-40% of customers are repeat customers so make sure you book quickly to ensure your place on these once in a lifetime fishing adventures. The 3-4 day packages start from $3,100 PP excluding transfers. Check out www.nomadsportfishing.com.au/wordpress/ for further information.