Big Cat Charters are not new in the game, they have been operating for more than seven years. But what is new is their boat Big Cat, a foiled multi-hulled palace that will get you on the water in style and in a degree of comfort not usually reserved for charter boats. She was built locally at Winning Yachts in Caboolture.
Big Cat Charters runs charter trips from Raby Bay, just south of Brisbane and on the western shore of Moreton Bay. They offer a variety of services to those chartering the vessel from bottom bashing for snapper, trag jew, pearlies and all the other tasty bottom fish, right up to trolling for serious gamefish like marlin and other serious sportfish, and bouncing the bottom on the deep offshore reefs.
Our trip in early April was all about light game fishing and we were targeting those speedsters of the ocean: wahoo.
The beauty of Big Cat is that she is over 46ft long and a very beamy 17ft. For our intended pursuit, namely trolling jet head style lures, it meant we could very easily fish five rods in a spread without even remotely getting a cross over of lines, let alone a tangle while trolling. Add to the already impressive beam, an outrigger on each side and, in experienced hands, Big Cat could troll a spread of seven lures very easily.
Our day started at dawn as we carved our way across an oily smooth Moreton Bay to the Cape Moreton area.
Just before exiting the bay we stopped to collect some live bait from the beacons and it was here that we got the first taste of how good the skipper was on Big Cat.
Manoeuvring a 46ft boat around a pylon in 8-10 knots of current is no easy task, but the skipper had Big Cat almost glued to the pylon until the deckie signalled that we had enough bait. The bait was stored in two very impressive live bait tanks and was our back up plan if the lure trolling failed to produce.
A further 20 minutes of steaming had us just north of Hutchinson Shoals and the crew got to work setting out a spread of lures, one on each outrigger, two off the corners and one down the guts.
The gear we were using was not muck around gear either. The rods were all from the Shimano Backbone series and the reels were Shimano Tiagra 50s. This selection of top end gear showed how much importance the Big Cat Charters team place on customer service.
We started trolling in a searching pattern and it was unanimously approved that I would take first strike on account of my dodgy stomach. The sea was around a metre and even that little swell can have me saying hello to breakfast in record time. I said a quick thanks to everyone and kitted up with a gimbal belt and sat back waiting for the first strike.
It didn’t take long for the first bit of interest in the lures. Just as I was starting to remember why I am not a big fan of trolling, the left corner outfit started to peel off line at a rate only a mackerel or wahoo can peel line.
On the strike I was thrown into action while the other crew members retrieved the other lines to give me clear space.
I pushed the lever up to full strike and settled back into the fight. It was strange using stand up game gear as I haven’t used it for so long, but I quickly remembered to feed line onto the spool evenly with my thumb and the fish soon came into sight.
And what a sight – about 10kg of wahoo was angrily shaking its head off the starboard corner doing its best to avoid the gaff. Inevitably the fish came within range and with an experienced hand the skipper got the wahoo on board and we celebrated early success.
After a gentle love tap the fish was bled and popped in the oversized cooler for later cleaning and the rods were reset and the next angler kitted up with a gimbal belt.
The next strike didn’t take long either with two rods going off at once. It was clear these fish were not wahoo and a striped tuna and a mac tuna were quickly subdued on the 50lb outfits.
The lures were again reset and we continued our troll.
Interestingly the skipper had started to narrow down the active area and it was not long before another strike had a new angler tied into another mac tuna.
After this fish it became a bit quiet until a double hit on bigger fish was recorded. The fish on the right rigger rod failed to keep the hooks in its mouth, but the right corner rod continued to bleed line to a fast fish. Once the angler was settled the fish came quite easily and this new to gamefishing angler was ecstatic with his first wahoo somewhere around the 12kg mark.
Two more wahoo later and we looked back on three hours of pretty consistent trolling and a good bin of wahoo for the crew to divide up. We called it a day around midday and headed for home, stopping on the way at Tangalooma to dine on some of the most delicious food you’d ever eat.
It was a fantastic day that saw a number of fish caught and all customers having a shot at a fish on the troll. Now that is something worth remembering: every person on the boat had a chance to fight a fish, which can occasionally not be the case when you’re trolling.
Don’t hesitate to get in touch with Big Cat Charters if you are keen on spending some quality time with a bunch of mates having a fish in local waters. The team is professional, the boat is first class, the gear is as good as you’ll get and the service is a benchmark for service – that’s how good it is.
Log onto the website at www.bigcatcharters.com for more information and to start the booking process. It’s a trip you will love on a fantastic boat with a fantastic crew.
26m2 fishing space
46m2 deck space
Clean toilet and plenty of seating for everyone
Very safe and fast: 30 knots+ max speed
Cruising speed 20-25 knots
Latest Furuno NavNet 3D system with twin 17” monitors
Equipped with a defibrillator
Costs and Options
Reef, game or sport fishing is available.
Costs are: Monday to Thursday at $185 per person, Friday to Sun and Public Holidays at $195 per person. There is a minimum per charter of 14 persons and a maximum of 26.
Departure time for day trips is 5.45am. Please ensure you are at the boat 15 minutes prior to departure. If you are running late please call the skipper, on the phone number that will be given to you when you book. The boat starts back at 2pm and you will be returned back to port at approximately 3pm.
By arrangement only, special rates apply. This option would appeal to a specialist clientele that wants a particular experience.
Included in the price is the use of quality rods and spinning reels to handle any monster you might catch. Big Cat Charters uses gear from Shimano, Wilson Live Fibre, Shogun and ensure you are on the right spot with Furuno Navnet 3D electronics. Big Cat makes use of quality bait, plastics and lures but you are welcome to bring your own familiar fishing equipment or any lures you may like to try. All their equipment is in top condition and Big Cat carries spares in case something fails.
Food and soft drinks are included in the charter price, however feel free to bring anything else you may desire. The food is sensational, which is so in keeping with the whole operation’s standard of service. Special catering is also available. Alcohol is permitted in reasonable amounts only! Big Cat Charters will not tolerate excessive drinking. Patrons who are intoxicated before embarkation will not be allowed to board the vessel. There are no bottles allowed only cans.
A modern clean EPA approved toilet with a holding tank is installed on Big Cat. Hot water is also available and with 600L of freshwater onboard there is plenty of water for a hot shower if required. There are also a couple of quiet bunk areas where you can bed down if need be – something I took particular note of just in case!
Overall, Big Cat Charters presents a very professional and first class operation and standard of service and I can’t help but think users of this service will be pleased by day’s end.