88Nm In A 4.2m Punt! - Miles Tam 2017

Now many are probably thinking ‘is this bloke for real’? The short answer is ‘yes’, but there were many factors that allowed this to happen. Firstly I know this area better than my own backyard,

I’ve seen many changes in the elements that have stuck in my brain for life, because getting caught out with girls on board is a place I never want to be.

Over the years I educated myself to drive and navigate my way to the reef without the use of my GPS using only the sun and landmarks. It was purely something I thought I could do after years of driving out to the reef and staring at certain things and realising that I don’t need to rely on the GPS all the time. I understood the conditions well, and read the weather as best i could, and was confident I could take on this challenge head.

My partner in crime Jack Reid has fished with me for years in these waters and I knew he had 100% faith in what I had planned. Now this boat wasn’t just a punt, it was a creek lure casting vessel so I had to get everything right! I checked the weather, checked it again, then triple checked my safety gear making sure I had the EPIRB, flares, maps etc. Next was fuel range, but this little boat sports a 40hp Yammie 4 stroke and is super economical, we had plenty of fuel. The one thing we made sure we didn’t forget…. a raincoat!

As it turned out the run out was better than glamour, it was absolutely delightful! To say we were relieved was an understatement, we knew once we made it to the reef we would have ample protection and only had to worry about the run home.

Now the fishing! We were off Lucinda and we had a clear game plan for the day. We would start off and try to open the account with some Spanish mackerel, followed by a few hours chasing coral trout in the shallows, then hunt for some big reds!

As we approached the reef we deployed the trolling lures and Jack worked a stickbait. First run saw a double hook up with my hard body getting slammed followed by Jacks stickbait starting on the surface of the water, and ending up 20ft in the air with a mackerel in pursuit!

They were thick and we decided not to fill the esky with these guys as they occupy quite a lot of esky space! With 4 in the tub, we moved on to another of my favourite trout grounds.

The rule normally is once the first esky fish is boated we have a beer, but the fishing was far too hectic stop and enjoy a coldy! This next spot I fish for trout is fairly featureless, no bombies or heavy structure to contend with but still holds bulk trout. We both sent down an array of jigs and bait and between us in 3 drops we had 6 trout, in 15 mins we were only 3 shy of our bag limit for 2 anglers! It was here we turned up the tunes, popped the top off a couple of ales and absorbed what a cracking day we were having, amidst some memorable weather!

We moved out wider and by now we were about 42nm out and the oceanic swell was starting to roll in, and this is where my favourite red bottom lies. As we scrolled over looking at the sounder, the telltale shows of nannies and red emps began marking in 55m of water. This for me is what make me tick! I love the mystery of the deep, you never know what may surface out of the deep, it could be nannies, reds, gold bands, long nose and even coral trout!

We drifted across some likely bottom and Jack hooked up straight away, I soon followed with something a little smaller. As Jack was winding up, his fish got hit by something pulling hard, and we immediately assumed shark. But as he approached the surface the coral trout he caught seemed unscathed, if anything it had some rub marks on it.

I kept winding up my fish and as it got closer to the surface I could see that it was a small grass sweetlip. I watched it come up, out of nowhere a small black marlin whizzed through and pinned the poor bugger right through its body on its bill! It gave it a shake and darted around it all fired up! In that time jack picked up his stick bait and casted it around to see if it would co-operate, unfortunately no luck and we didn’t see the marlin again! Pretty cool though!

Next drop was a different story! I hooked something big, and I battled with it close to the bottom for a while before I finally got some leverage on it. I peered over the side and saw the colours of what turned out to be my PB red emperor weighing in at 9.5kg! I was more happy with that! We fished on and managed to pull a few nannies and more trout of the deeper shoal, by now we were chockas! The weight of the esky plus two anglers in the 4.2m was quite noticeable and we decided to head for home to give us some time up our sleeve if we needed to stop.

The run home was better than the run out, and we made great time heading back to the ramp. It takes a lot of planning to get this right, but the amount of time on the water in these waters gave me the extra confidence to do it. We were more than safe, we had all the boxes ticked and had one of the best days fishing ever.

We ventured around 88nm over the day and burnt around 34L of fuel. Now that’s a cheap day at the reef!

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