Recently I took part in a 7-day trip out to the Swains aboard the M.V. Carlo with 11 of the most colourful characters I have ever met. The service and experience of the Carlo crew is unsurpassed. During the 7-day period all of the guests were treated like absolute kings. Karl Kleimeyer, the ship’s owner and master, has more than 20 years’ experience in fishing the Swains region, therefore ensuring your fishing or diving trip is one you’ll always remember.
The Swain Reef system is located approximately 200km east of Yeppoon, and is home to some of the best fishing in QLD. Far out in the Coral Sea, way east of the Great Barrier Reef and out from the well-known Swain Reefs complex, is a series of isolated reef systems, most of which are a common topic of conversation among sportfishing groups. For many, visiting this large reef system is the fishing trip of a lifetime. Photos and words used to describe this place somehow never seem to do justice to the magic of the region.
After an exhausting 8-hour drive from Brisbane to Yeppoon, I was eager to get out there and get amongst some tropical brutes. Day one involved a 14-hour steam out to a small reef system by the name of Heralds Prong 2. With not a breath of wind, it was shaping up to be a good session filled with catches of great hauls of coral trout, red throat and trevally the trip was looking quite promising. Day two brought similar conditions. After a short steam to another reef (East Prong 2) the catches started to heat up, with almost double the amount of reefies than the previous day.
The scattered reef system of the Swains proved most unfriendly on the terminal tackle front. While drifting the depths, the sounder fluctuated with readings between 2m and 87m. This great difference in depth made for some nasty snags and break-offs. It was not uncommon to use a box of hooks or lose a few hundred dollars worth of lures in one session.
To help overcome the perils of such rough terrain, we used a variety of leaders in an attempt to stand a chance against the brutes. When trolling small skirts and tremblers for mackerel we used wire, as the mackerel were smashing lures and peeling line to the depths where most of the break-offs would occur. Although many believe wire is responsible for spooking or lowering catch rates, I experienced a better catch rate and less break-offs.
As most of us know, braided lines are all the go these days. It is now quite common to see large overhead reels spooled with braid, or braid incorporated into leaders. I found using braid on overhead reels to be quite a pain during this trip. This was due to the fact that the depth varied so much, and when drifting the smallest snag can result in a bust-off. Trying to pull 80lb braid by hand is not an easy task at the best of times and halfway through the trip I opted for monofilament, mainly on account of its simplicity.
The common consensus among the crew was that handlines were the go because of the shallowness of the water, and the ability to lift the reef dwellers from their home with ease. This came as quite a shock to me, given that this was the first time I had fished such a shallow reef system. After a few days using a TLD I opted for a handline. Although this was a new method of fishing for me, I found it to be quite effective in terms of strike rate.
I would like to thank Kerry and Bruce from Queensland Showerscreens and Wardrobes, for giving me the opportunity to take part in their trip this year. Moreover I would like to thank the skipper, Karl Kleimeyer and the deckies for all their assistance with the trip.
Lures: Pakula Mosquito (lumo, lilac, pinky), Halco Laser PRO 190 Crazy Deeps (redhead, baitfish, chrome gold), Halco Trembler 110 (bonito, chrome gold), Rapala CD 18 (redhead pattern)
Baits: WA IQF pillies, Californian squid; mullet, tuna and mackerel strip baits
Hooks: Mustad 4200D (6/0 7/0 ganged in threes), Mustad 34007 (8/0), Gamakatsu Live Bait HD (11/0), Gamakatsu Octopus (7/0), Tru Turn 711 (6/0)
Swivels: Arafura Tackle No.1 Black Crane (168lb), Shogun No.2 Black Crane
Wire Leader: Superflex 120lb (49 Strand), Mason 174lb (Single Strand)
Mono Leader: Berkley Vanish 80lb (fluorocarbon), Jinkai 60lb, Schneider 100lb
Sinkers: Ball sinkers in sizes 1/2/3/7/8/9
Spin: 7500 Penn Spinfisher spooled with 40lb Bionic Braid, Live Fibre ZWS 70XJ 15-24kg Boat Spin
Bottom Bashing: Shimano TLD 25 spooled with 50lb Fins PRT Braid (Hi-vis yellow), Live Fibre M10 (Gary Howard) 8-15kg
Trolling: Shimano TLD 25 spooled with 50lb Penn Pro Power Braid (yellow), Live Fibre 8-15kg (Gary Howard)
Floater: Penn International 30T spooled with 50lb Fins PRT Braid (Green), Custom Sabre Blank (Stroker) 15-25kg.