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.