Well this weekend was an interesting one. Generally mixed all round, but still kick ass fun!

'Liberty' Cairns

We went out to Fitzroy Island on Laura’s folks catamaran ‘Liberty’, what started as an awesome fishing trip took a few undesired turns and some good fish were lost! Fitzroy Island is simply stunning and such a nice place to be – I could have just stayed and fished for a living – seriously, forever. It’s hard to fish these fringing reefs, finding nemo all the time. But someone has to do it…

Fitzroy Island

First cast was nailed in about 15 seconds and I was straight onto a Stripey, or Spanish Flag, or Lutjanus carponatus to be precise. Being a Lutjanus, they are fantastic eating and fight very well for a small fish. They are usually the first to take a bait, or lure on the reef and will usually be the first catch of the day. This is where it all went wrong for us. I assumed the bag limits and as usual over estimated with consequences, we could have kept at least 4 or 5 stripeys as I thought the limit was 30cm, WRONG, 25cm. Next time.

Spanish Flag, or Lutjanus carponatus
Grassy Sweetlip

We fished on and caught all manner of reef fish, a few photos were taken but we soon lost all interest in photos as the fish were coming in fast. Laura was having a lot of fun with her new outfit (the first fish on it below), a 3000 Fuego and a e21 carrot stick, getting a good share of fish and loving every second of it. I had a chance to try this outfit the next day and I’m impressed, for such a light rod, this thing has some guts and is a pleasure to use.

Redbreasted Maori Wrasse

I fished on through the late afternoon until dinner and just on dinner nailed a really good little Grassy Sweetlip, Grass Emperor, or Lethrinus laticaudis. These fish pull hard and usually surprise the angler when boated with their size (smaller rather than bigger!). I’m still using a light outfit 2-5kg and a c3000 sized reel, so this felt like a much better fish but I was happy at around 39cm, good eating size. So I got him in and bled it out in a bucket and kept fishing as the bite was on just after sunset. This is where it all started to turn for the worse…

I was blown away by some bigger fish, not even a chance to turn them (USPS hurray up with my new rod PLEASE!), Laura dropped my new pliers into the depths in a total FAIL moment! But wait it gets better… Then some FARKWIT, upon packing up for dinner – changes the water in the bucket containing breakfast (The Grassy Emperor) and just had to add that extra bit of fresh saltwater (to a perfectly good bucket of water already), the boat rocks and the fish gets flushed out the bucket into the ocean. FUCK! FUCK! FUCK! as I strip to my shorts in record time and dive in after it. It was mostly dark and I got two hands on it, it just slid out my hands as I flailed around under the boat in the dark thinking something was certainly watching me. FUCK! FUCK! FUCK! FUCK! FUCK! FUCK! Live and learn.

39cm Grassy Emperor

So what a calamity that turned out to be. I was gutted and still am. I wanted to bake that sucker and taste the fruits of my hard labour. I’ve caught so many little ones but never a good one. This is where even more fail enters the trip, legal limit is 30cm, not the 40cm I thought, thinking they were bloody Spangled Emperors (Lethrinus nebulosus)… Next time!!

Fitzroy Island

We fished the next day in the cute new little tender… I got smashed by something that took line like nothing I’ve ever encountered, then it jumped and was GONE. Got a quick look, but no idea what it was – in a hurray I assume… WE boated a heap of little reef fish, nothing of any consequence, maybe a few legals that we now might know of. But as usual on the reef it was a heap of fun! Yellow & blue back fusiliers, Redbreasted Maori wrasses, tuskfish, hussar, lots of parrot fishes, heaps of unknowns, baby fingermark or Black-spot snapper or Moses perch (another one to work out as Black-spot snapper legal size is 25cm, unlike the mightly fingermark – this is why I always say take a photo of each new fish, get carried away and forget!!).

Tender to Liberty

So hopefully next time, armed with new knowledge, pliers, some brains and some heavier gear we will get some fish for out dining pleasure. Not that is why we fish, but a man has to eat and a good feed of reef fish is always welcome in our house!

'Liberty' Cairns