A day of many firsts
  |  First Published: February 2005

No matter how hard we try to plan our fishing trips the elements always hold the upper hand. Many a fishing trip has been canned thanks to Mother Nature.

But sometimes we get lucky, and this was the case on our recent trip to Cape Moreton. Being my first run there I was impressed with the way the day played out.

Cape Virgin

I fished the northern end of Moreton Island with my mate Nick Long, and his trusty Stacer Nomad Sports 460 was just the ticket to get us there and back safely. We left the Bribie Island boat ramp while the sparrows were still sleeping and used the GPS to set us on course.

Neither of us had fished the Cape before so we weren’t sure what to expect. We were pretty confident we could find a snapper or two, along with other reef species on the bottom and hopefully run across some pelagic action up top. We were armed with a couple of spin outfits for dropping plastics to the bottom and a couple of overhead rigs for trolling the surface for pelagics.

After a 45-minute run we had our first glimpse of the white cliffs of the Cape in the early morning light. As we approached the Cape I was amazed at how the wind and waves defined the area. With five knots of wind and a glassed out, gently rolling swell coming through, it was a perfect setting.

We started looking for fish or some fishy structure, and as luck would have it we stumbled across a substantial looking reefy stretch that had the bottom rising from 30m to about 10m over a short distance. A quick sound around confirmed this as a great starting point and we grabbed the spin rods and sent the plastics on their first mission to the bottom.

I was a little slow at this and had to watch as Nick’s rod buckled over and the drag started working double time as a solid fish took off for the bottom. With some astute rod work and some subtle drag manipulation, Nick guided a great snapper to the net. At 2kg it was a great start for an area we’d never been to before.

Over the side went the plastics again and I was into a fish that kept taking line until it was stopped by the reef. This is why we take a couple of outfits; having another rod ready to go can be priceless.

As I dropped the plastic rig on outfit number two over the side I was straight into another good fish that displayed none of the classic head shakes and runs of a snapper. Soon a fat sweetlip rolled around on the surface beside the boat. After some quick photos the sweetlip was released to grow a bit more and provide more fun to another angler at a later date.

As the sun rose higher we started to visually locate the shallower water and this gave us a good idea of where to concentrate our efforts. The wind and current were working in the same direction, pushing us along at a fair clip, so every time we were pushed out into deeper water we stopped fishing and motored back into position over the drop-off. With the drift figured out we continued to get strikes every time we made a presentation on the upcurrent side of the rise and worked them down the face of the drop-off.

This worked well while the sun was low but as it rose the fish spread out more. We were surprised to note the fish didn’t move into the deeper water as expected. Instead, they moved up onto the shallows and scattered over the flat. They also stopped biting with as much vigour, and we had plenty of short strikes and tails bitten off the plastics.

I tried downsizing and replaced my 4” plastic rig with a 1/2oz Team Daiwa jighead and 3” plastic. This was hugely successful in getting strikes, with three hook-ups in three casts, but the fish won every time. I’d make a long cast over the shallows, and on the drop the line would speed across the water as a fish nailed the plastic. A quick flip of the bail arm and a series of powerful runs was all it took to have me re-rigging my rods again.

Over the next hour we got busted up a dozen or more times, which made us wonder whether we should step it up a notch.

The gear we were using consisted of 8lb braid matched to 2500TD-A reels and 3-6kg rods. This gear is ample – usually. I did manage to hook what felt like the biggest snapper I had ever hooked but turned out to be an exceptional 5kg spangled emperor. This fish battled it out for a good 10 minutes before succumbing and it almost broke the net while we were landing it. After a quick photo the fish was placed over the side and swam off for the bottom like a rocket.

What a first

As the afternoon rolled around we gave the bottom fishing away and had a stint trolling.

We had set out two Lively Lures Blue Pilly Juniors and started trolling in around 7m of water about 50m from the shore. Almost immediately both rods hooked up briefly, but the fish missed. Wondering what had happened we grabbed the rods and started reeling the lures in for a quick check. Both of us hooked up and dropped the fish again. I couldn’t work out what was going on. It soon became obvious when a juvenile black marlin came crashing through the white water at the back of the boat. It took one of the Blue Pilly Juniors at the back of the boat and all hell broke loose. The black broke the surface and in a real cranky manner shook its head an beak all over the place trying to throw the lure for a few seconds. When it realised this wasn’t working the fish kicked into gear and headed for the horizon throwing the lure after a series of awesome tailwalking leaps away from the boat..

All in all that first trip to Cape Moreton was one to remember.

If you’d like any more info on the trip and how we went about it, drop in and have a chat at Captain Bligh’s at Tingalpa.

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