With ever-increasing fuel prices and the related expenses of offshore boat ownership, an easy alternative is to book a spot on a charter boat. You simply turn up, hop on board and away you go. Several hours later you get off the boat with a few fresh fish for the dinner table and off you go, leaving all the hassles to the charter operator.
The Rocks Fishing Charters, run by Andrew Trappel at South West Rocks, is a service that caters for serious anglers, casual weekend fishos or anyone who just wants to sample good offshore fishing, regardless of their experience or skill level. I recently had the pleasure of a day out on Andrew’s vessel Sea Scout, along with three anglers from Sydney.
Howling north east winds hammered South West Rocks the night prior to the trip and kept blowing into the early hours so I must admit to feeling a little apprehensive at how the Macleay River bar would be in the morning. Luckily, the wind had dropped by the time I turned up to meet Andrew and the three Sydney amigos. Before departure Andrew gave us the rundown on safety procedures and what to expect weather- and fishing-wise.
As we headed towards the bar things felt much better and we crossed with ease and headed to sea. Andrew pulled up Sea Scout II over a patch of reef that was swarming with bait and passed us a bait-catching rod each. Catching a pile of yakkas and slimy mackerel was easy and a fun way to start the day.
Next up, we headed further out towards one of Andrew’s marks. The sky was filled with sea birds so we trolled high-speed lures on light game outfits in the hope of a yellowfin tuna. They didn’t want to play so after 20 minutes Andrew pulled up and it was time to drop our lines to the bottom. The action was instant with a few reds, morwong and some respectable flathead coming into the icebox.
By mid-morning, we had all caught fish and Andrew presented us with morning tea. The weather was cool and overcast so my coffee went down well. As we chatted, a pair of humpback whales put on a display not far from the boat. We kept spotting whales and dolphins for the most of the day so that was worth the trip alone.
We pulled up over a few different marks through the morning and most of them held numbers of snapper, morwong and a few other reef species. At one stage rain started to fall but Andrew was quick to bring out the raincoats. This bloke is well prepared for anything !
Eventually it was time to finish up and head back in. By now, the icebox held plenty of fresh fish to share around so if you combine the price of fish these days with the cost of a whale-watching tour, there’s no question that a day out on Sea Scout is very good value.
Andrew uses a range of good quality tackle, including Shimano TLD25 lever drags. His reels are spooled with braid so you can easily feel the bites even in deep water, which makes a break from deck winches filled with thick old mono that are found on a lot of other charter boats. All bait, hooks and gear are supplied but if you want to bring along your favourite outfit then Andrew is fine with that.
The Sea Scout is 11m long and powered by a 400hp Iveco turbo diesel. Morning tea and lunch are provided and in most cases you’ll be departing around 6am and heading back around 1pm. Prices work out around $100 each for four anglers, although the vessel can comfortably fish eight. Various package deals, some including accommodation can also be arranged. Andrew is friendly and very easy-going, so why not give him a call on 0412 074 147 to arrange your trip.Reads: 1997