Ken Bourke’s 7 day trip to the Swains Reef - 24th July – 3rd August 2013

The trip was fantastic as was the one we went on last year. The weather probably not as good but the fishing just as good, which is why we are there after all.

I must however compliment the crew on the boat. Greg, Kane, Josh and Swerve were fantastic. Greg’s knowledge of the sea and of fishing is second to none in my experience, Kane and Josh just couldn’t help each of us enough and Swerve’s cooking and companionship was also great. No-one that was on our trip has said anything negative about it but we have had plenty of good things said in the post mortem.

In particular, since I was the fool that injured myself by dropping a fish on my leg (do you believe it), I must thank the crew for helping me out in that circumstance. They simply dropped everything and made sure that the correct action was taken and as a result I have had no problem at all with the leg apart from leaving a few scars of course, which is not a bad thing because I told everyone I was bitten by a shark and have got a fair bit of mileage out of it.

Anyway, thanks again for the trip. We intend to be in touch with you about another trip next year so I will do some work on getting a team together.

Ken Bourke

Swains Reef - Awesome Time

Dear Kristy and the staff of the Booby Bird,

I just want to say what an awesome time all 16 of us had on our trip from the 10th-17th August 2013 aboard the “Bird” to Swains reef. Every one of us, aged between 19 through to 60+ said it was a trip of a life time. From the moment we stepped on the boat we knew we were in safe hands and that we were going to have some fun.

Our living quarters were extremely comfortable with good sized rooms and were all Air-conditioned, as us down south are not as used to your beautiful winter weather (sunburn in august – not heard of down here!!) To our crew Greg (the skipper), Swerve (the cook) and our two deckie’s Kane and Josh we would all like to thank you so much.

You all went out of your way to make our trip so memorable and enjoyable.

Greg always had us on the fish (whether we were fishing or not!!) and the food Swerve served up was awesome (no one complained of being hungry with whole trip). Our deckie’s Kane and Josh were always willing to help with rigs and advice and were diligent in keeping the boat clean and our fish filleted all with a laugh and a joke. Definitely our crew mad our trip.

So on behalf of all of us we thank you all so much and will be telling all our mates that
“The bird is the word” Thankyou staff of the Booby Bird.

(Oh p.s Swerve go the blues)

Thanks Luke

Spectacular Crew

Hi Guys,

I thought I would send a quick note through to you, following my recent trip on MV BoobyBird.
This has been the forth long range trip I have done and this one was by far the best trip I have ever done.
It is a credit to the crew on MV BoobyBird.
The Skipper was great and while being sociable is not over-bearing, but does keep the motivation up. Something which stared to become lack-lustre toward the end of the trip.
He kept encouraging us and reminding us that the next week we would not be in that spectacular place.
All credit to him on the return trip too which was fairly hairy by all accounts.
The Dickie's were extraordinary, they were always smiling and joking. Nothing was to much for them especially when we returned with loads of fish, they were busy filleting and being bombarded with dozens of requests from returning divers and Spiro's.
The Dickie's were always accommodating and nothing was ever too much for them.
Last but by no means least the chief, he kept us well fed and there was little change of losing weight on our trip. The food was great and there was more than enough.

Thank you for providing a great trip with a spectacular crew.

Sent in by:
Mark Kallman

A Trip To Remember 2010

Saturday 12th June 2010,

At 10.00am, the word was out,''get to the boat,''
if we leave early we can arrive at the
good fishing grounds nice and early Sunday morning.

The trip north was very smooth and with a couple of cold ones,
it made sleeping very easy.

The few that were still asleep on arrival awoke to the sound of the anchor,
upon reaching the deck they found a couple of the guys had already
dropped a line over and were on straight away,

Coral Trout the best flavour right off the bat!

The skipper.''Dean'' had a knack of setting the anchor
right on top of the fish every time, knowing this, some
of the older guys didn't even leave the
Booby Bird(mother ship)all week.

The night time fishing was well worth our while,
some finding it hard to drag themselves off to bed.

Friday 23rd June was glassed out,the real Queensland weather
''beautiful one day perfect the next'',
one more fishing session before we headed back to Gladstone.
We all knew we had to be back to the mother ship by 12 noon,
but it was extremely hard to leave the fish that were biting,
some guys could not stop!

The most fish caught were Coral Trout and Spanish Mackerel .

The weeks winners were:

  • Rod Curl with a 26.6kg Spanish Mackerel

  • Daniel Piercy with a 10.6kg Red Emperor & 1.8kg Parrot fish

  • Scott MC Kay with a 3.8kg Coral Trout

  • Tory Blay with a 2.9kg Sweet Lip

  • Rob Scrivener with a 2.88kg Spangled Emperor

  • Tim Blay with a 0.8kg Cod
Steadfast Structures donated a,''Champion Anglers Jacket''
which went to:
Tim Blay of Coff's Harbour with 156 points,
closely followed by Darren Piercy of Canberra with 144 points.
Young 12 year old Jacob Blay from Coff's Harbour came 6th with 110 points
(normally gives his dad Tim a good run for his money).

Steadfast Structures also donated the,''Heaviest Fish Jacket'' won by:
Rod Curl for his Spanish Mackerel.

The stand out fish for the week being Daniel Piercys
10.6kg Red Emperor and he got the,''Red Emperor perpetual Trophy''
donated by Bob & Sheryl Southwell.

We also had 3 speros,''Mick, Sav and Tory'' if they had entered their fish in our fun competition, it would have given the comp a good nudge, not to mention the feed of crayfish they supplied us with, that was cause for lots of thanks to the fella's!

The trip on board the Booby Bird was one to remember, Stuart & Bunny must be very proud of their crew, Dean(Skipper), Fabian(Cook), Derick & Rohan(Dickie's). These four guys are a credit to the boat and the owners, they made our trip a memorable week of fishing, also hooking the new guys with thoughts for next year.

Thank you to the Booby Bird owners and Crew, your help and efforts were truly remarkable.

Cheers for now,

Written by: Mick Toovey
Photos by : Mick Toovey

Swains Trip 2009

It was that time of the year again, our annual pilgrimage north to Gladstone to board the MV Booby Bird and embark on an epic week long adventure to Swains Reef,260km North East from land! The Swain Reef group has such a diversity of different reef fishing environments thatis a huge learning curve on how, when and where to fish at each stop off point.

Each reef may fish differently to the next and work at different ends or entrances at certain stages of the tide. That is why it is important to pick your skipper and deckhands brains prior to setting off each morning in you tinny.Try to follow the experienced angler in your group who has been fishing the same area before. Fishing from the big boat is great, but dory fishing is so much more flexible.

The Booby Bird has six Sea Jay 4.2m tinniesthat are your best friend over the six daysof solid morning and afternoon fishingsessions. You can anchor off the edge of the reef or driftfishdepending on the conditions and fish feeding activity. This year we fished the NW edge of the Swains, spending themajority of the trip at Herald's Prong Number2 reef which ended upbeing great fishing as the reef is very exposed.

The first two days saw us experiencing beautiful light winds,
so we fished the deeper waters which hadn't
already been hammered by Coral trout Pros's. Midway through the week the North Easterlies blew up to 20 plus knots, which when combined with the Strong currents due to the changing tides, makes for uncomfortable fishing. Wind swells kicked up also when the current and the wind were heading in opposite directions, meaning at times you felt as though the boat was surfing over hot fishing spots rather than drifting slowly over the bite zone.

My aim was to tick all the boxes and win the trifecta of Coral Trout, Mackerel and Red Emperor this year and it would be even better to get something really big! I also had to do my best to out fish, outwit and outlast the old man! The weather conditions at times tested me, but I was more than prepared for whatever the fish were going to put me through. Although there were a few quality fish caught at anchor, Dad and I preferred to drift around with a large sea anchor out to slow us down. While drifting we were able to cover much more water and never knew what we could stumble across.

We generally concentrated on the zones where the water was flowing off the reef as this same principle is used in estuary and local reef fishing to predict the best feeding areas. I trolled lures between each drift period which was a little repetitive and slow to take off but eventually I pulled in a one meter plus Spanish
Mackerel and several Sharky Mackerel. The lure producing the best results ended up being the Citer Metal Bibbed Wooden Minnow!

On the last day we decided to troll along the edge of the reef using Fire stick mungo baits and landed four beautiful Coral Trout, a number of Gold Spotted Trivially and I lost a massive GT which almost cost me my rod when it took off like a steamtrain towards the shallower reef.

By the time the final day had rolled and we were dividing out the catch, I realized I had actually won the Superfecta so to speak. If you pick the four horses that win a race, you win a Superfecta and I managed to do just that on this trip to the Swains with my Coral Trout, Red Emperor, Cobbia and Mackerel.

Just as a final note, I observed some passengers this trip take half a tackle shop on board with them and it surely took them as long to unpack as it took to drive hone from Gladstone.So detailed below is my essential tackle box and rod/reel combo recommendation for a 2010 trip!

  • 60LB and 80 LB sure catch leader - 100m of each
  • No.2,3,4 and 5 barrel sinkers -25 of each
  • 5/0 and 6/0 4200d mustad hooks -50 of each
  • Citer wooden minnows(metal bibbed)
  • Berkley fire stick mungo bait lures
    Slam bait 5 inch soft plastics in a variety of colours
  • Berkley 1/2 oz x 5/0 heavy duty jig heads
  • Wilson's silver texalium live fibre rod(6ft) in 10-15kg range coupled with an okuma MS45CS mag system reel and spooled with sure catch ecofibre 50LB PE braid in Hi Vis
Other things to consider taking include:

  • Boga grips to handle toothy fish
  • A multipurpose set of large pliers that can open and close hook eyes
  • A sharp knife
  • A pair of gloves to handle fish

Hopefully this gives anybody who is going to the Swains in the future a rough idea of what kind of gear you should need before heading out. I've only been back home since Saturday afternoon and my wife is going to cringe when she finds out that I'm already looking forward to next years trip!

Written by: Mark Planck - Swan Boat Hire, Maroochydore.

Bob's annual fishing trip

Just a little note on our annual fishing trip to the Swains Reefs in the Great Barrier Reef.

After travelling to the Port of Gladstone in Central Queensland, from the Sunshine Coast, We headed to sea on board the MV. Booby Bird, around 3pm Saturday afternoon the 1st of November. Our destination is a group of reefs on the outer edge of the GBR, 135 Nm. North-east of Gladstone, 21deg. 52’28,S. 152deg. 27’37.E. about 16 to 18 hours of over night steaming.

On clearing the harbour heads and turning north-east, into the open waters of the SW Coral Sea, we knew that we were going to have a comfortable trip. The wind was about 5-8 knots of afternoon sea breeze and the ocean had around 2 foot of wind slop on it. The forecast for the following week was for more of the same. The prediction of perfect weather, for the week, came true. We had 15 knots one night and that dropped out from daylight on. That was our “Bad Weather” for the week.

Daylight saw us entering the Swain Reefs and we keep travelling till around 9am. The skipper, Captain Dean Grose , decided that we should try a bit of deep water drift fishing, with the wind and swell being all most non-existent, the conditions were in our favour. We were hoping to find ourselves being stretched and getting braid burns of the thumb by a few big Red Emperor, Lutjanus Sebae or Coral Trout, Plectropomus Leopardus.

There is usually a bit of a competition between some of us, (Yeh, the ego’s don’t fade with age.) as to who lands the first and biggest Coral Trout for the trip. Mate, we had a ball. The big Reds were there, but the fish were too good for some of the boys. They found out all about their fishing gear in that first hour or two. The knots were not up to standard, that fishing reel, on special, was a heap of junk, it died on the first fish, and the excuses kept coming thick and fast. Some of the blokes hadn’t had a line in the water for many months and it takes a day or more to get tuned into the fishing on the Great Barrier Reef.

On the trip out I handed out a few Pre-Venters, to the Skipper and Deckhands, and to the other fellows on the trip. ( A Pre-venter is a tool that safely deflates the inflated abdominal cavity, swim bladder, of reef fish. The Pre-Vent Tools were sent to me from Jeff Strane from Team Marine in Tampa, Florida USA.

We went through the instructions and spoke about the benefits of venting fish prior to releasing the ones we did not want to add to the freezer. Some of us have been tagging and releasing fish for the last 20 odd years and can see the beliefs and theories to venting fish prior to releasing them. We have a boat policy on our trips that if you have to measure a fish, to see if it is of legal size, then it goes back. I like to see fish at least 50mm, longer than the minimum and I also like to release the larger of the species… These are the breeders, the future to our fishing enjoyment.

By day three, the Pre-Venters had been used by all of us fishing in the tinnies/dories or on the back deck of the Bird, and the remarks about the Pre-Venting Tools were similar. “You could see the stomach deflate, and hear it. ““The fish didn’t labour in their swimming action getting back to the safety of the reef. “ “The safety in the design of the Venter made it easy to use. No need to worry about sticking the bloody needle in your fingers or hand.”“After using the venters and watching the way the fish get back to the reef, it makes sense.”

One of our deckies …“It would be good to see all fishoes getting into venting, should be one in every tackle box.” All of the crew agreed that Venting will be part of the routine on future trips before releasing the undersized or not wanted fish. The charter boat crews and operators have a very good understanding of the need to protect and help in the sustainability of fish stocks on the GBR.

Out of the 3 models we used, no body had a preference as to which one that they wanted to use.My fishing mate, Bryan, and I did a few tests with a couple of the smaller Sweet-lip and other Reefies, that we caught at the same time. We vented only one, and then, let them both go together. The vented one was well on it’s way back to the reef, about 20 metres down, and it’s mate was still in mid water. With the visibility of the water, it was easy to watch the larger fish, we released, all the way to the bottom.

Well, the rest of the week went much the same, Good Weather, Good Fishing, Good Food, Good Crew, Good Laughs, Good Bunch of Blokes, Good Week… Where the Bloody Hell were U ??? Only one complaint for the trip, “ Bob, can’t you F*#~’n organize a couple of extra days in the week ? ” Guess there’s one whinger in every group, ah…

Sea U Mate…

Bob, Buderim, Sunshine Coast