It was my first experience with a monster GT, and I now understand why people spend tens of thousands of dollars on tackle and travel just to target these fish.
On this particular occasion however, we experienced some sensational GT fishing on a budget combo, only a stone’s throw from Australia’s third largest city.
The day’s plan was to chase some early morning snapper on the shallow reefs offshore from Brisbane, eventually moving to deeper waters as the day went on.
As well as chasing snapper I had planned to throw some poppers and stickbaits around first thing in the morning, hoping for a Spanish mackerel or GT.
As per my August article, the technique we employed for snapper was to float plastics out on 3/8 ounce jigheads as we drifted across the reef. I tied a 5" Zman Streakz in bubblegum, while my deckie Lochie Reed, went for a larger offering of a 7" Berkley Gulp Jerkshad in white. I should have learned from previous experiences, since there is not much in the ocean that won’t eat a wafting 7" white gulp.
The morning started off slowly, with little interest in my stickbait, and Lochie getting a fat spangled emperor that went back with a tag in it.
After 3-4 drifts of the reef, we began to discuss other options in the deep water, when suddenly Lochie’s rod buckled over in distress as line disappeared at a steady rate.
Straight away we knew it wasn’t our target species, but something much bigger with some serious weight.
The outfit was an ATC Valiant SW 4000on a Shimano Terez 15-30lb.
I knew the rod was up to standards; however, I wasn’t sure whether the little 4000 size ATC was up to the job to land this brute of a fish.
About 5 minutes into the fight we had thrown a few possibilities as to what it could be, both thinking it was one of the many large GTs that haunt this reef.
The beast slugged it out deep as I chased it around the reef with the electric motor to avoid being spooled.
The fish slowed, which enabled us to get the boat over it.
From then it was a tug of war as two metres of gain was quickly counteracted with another 5 metres of lost line.
The little ATC was performing faultlessly under the pressure of the beast and was slowly winning the battle.
After 20 minutes, we could see colour as the monster rolled onto its side, confirming its identify straight away as a rather large GT. The fish was buggered and so was Lochie, as I wrapped my hands around its tail to lift it into the boat.
Well, I tried to, as I kindly asked Lochie for some help. We lifted it aboard and plonked it on the casting deck. We were both in awe at the size of it as it lay motionless on the deck. We worked quickly to get it back in the water after putting a tag in it. It measured 128cm and conservatively weighed around the 30kg mark. I had never seen a big GT in the flesh before, so to say I was excited would be an understatement.
After a quick break, we started another drift over the reef. I continued to cast my stickbait, hoping to raise a similar fish from the depths. Half way through the drift, Lochie’s soft plastic 7" gulp was taken on the drop in similar fashion.
Here we go again, we laughed, as the fish took off with us chasing it down with the Minn Kota. There was no doubt this was another GT since the fish slugged it out in the deep.
After another 20-minute battle, up popped another very solid GT.
This one wasn’t quite as big as the last, but still would have been nudging the 25kg mark. Another tag went in and off it went.
Another couple of drifts and again no interest in my topwater offerings.
However, Lochie was soon into the action again and again. By the fourth 20kg+ GT the poor ATC was groaning a little, but was still well and truly up to the task. The fourth fish was the smallest of the day and Lochie could actually lift it to enjoy a cuddle before release.
What a day! Experiencing 4 large GTs in a few hours is a good day, but to enjoy this in SEQ is something very special. To see fish of this calibre caught almost within sight of Brisbane is a sport-fisherman’s dream.
A bit about ATC Valiant
It doesn’t matter the brand, a 4000 size reel isn’t designed to target and land 30kg of the toughest fish in the ocean. Not surprisingly, the drag was a little worse for wear after four epic battles, but the reel itself held up admirably. I was most impressed with the strength and durability of it, and most remarkably, how it turned and landed a GT in 20 minutes.
Though I must admit, before the trip I knew very little about ATC reels. However, after seeing the little ATC Valiant 4000 land four 20kg+ GTs in a morning, I had to know more.
Distributed by Wilson Fishing, ATC is a line of fishing gear marketed at a budget and built to Australian fishing conditions. Both rods and reels are available on the market at Mo Tackle and some other stores in SEQ. The recently released Valiant SW comes in sizes 2000 – 5000 and is priced from $200 - $250 and when comparing it on the market, that is good value.
Although I wouldn’t recommend to buy this reel to specifically target big GTs, I would certainly recommend it for snapper, mackerel, tuna in SEQ and inshore reef species, barra and plenty of others in the north.