Day 3 - 8th April 1999
The next day produced one of the most spectacular sunrises I had ever seen. It had been a while where I could truly appreciate my surroundings, and relax. We were up at 5.30am, all excited about the prospects of what the day was going to bring.
The ambient temperature during the night was about 25°C, and the mosquitoes had been out in force. One of the most difficult aspects of being in the Northern Territory was becoming acclimatised to the hot, humid weather.
Breakfast was at 6.30am, and consisted of cereal, toast and coffee. Our rods, rigs and lures were already on the boat, so all that was left was for Mark, Coho, Chinook and I to hit the water, which we did at around 7.00am.
I would have to say that trolling is the most relaxing type of fishing around, where you allow the lure and the boat do all the work for you. Most of the fish we were targeting were of a predatory nature, waiting to ambush your lure as it innocently swims past the fish. Trolling through Waypoint 1 gave us a good opportunity to see how trolling works. A couple of hits were made and several "Dog Mackerel" were landed, and subsequently used for strip bait.
One of the key issues to successful trolling is the speed at which you are travelling. Any speed between 4 to 8 knots is fine, however we managed about 5 knots, at a brisk walking pace. We would occasionally vary the speed of the troll by either throttling the motor up or down, so as to not give any predictability to the lures that were being used.
We also kept the lures at about 3 to 8 boat lengths away from the boat. Any closer than 3 boat lengths, and your lures ends up in the props wake. Any further than 8 boat lengths, and it can be a struggle landing your fish, due to the amount of line that is out, especially if it is a large one.
Waypoint 2 produced better results in the quality of fish as both Chinook and I caught a Queenfish each, Coho landed a Barracuda and Mark hand-reeled in a Red Emperor. It also allowed us to cast, rather than troll our lures, as we were working fairly close to the reef. The trick was, to cast as close to, if not hit the edge of the rocks, let your lure settle in the water, then start reeling. The lures we were using were deep diving, and were Red/White in colour. This colour scheme had the most success given the current bright, sunny day and clear waters.
We came across two Mangrove Jacks entwined with each other on the surface. They either appeared to be mating, or were fighting over the same bait. We desperately tried to entice them with our lures by casting to them, but to no avail. They were clearly engrossed in their activities. We then the proceeded to troll to Pearce Island, along Waypoint 3, some 2 kilometres away, and this stretch of water gave rise to some uncomfortable choppy seas, while producing negative results. Circumnavigating Pearce Island (Waypoint 4) produced some results in Barracuda and Dog Mackerel and Coho had a nice run on a fish, but it never broke the surface.
Considering the choppy seas and our negative results from Waypoint 3, we decided to hightail it across Waypoint 5 and troll along Waypoint 6 and Waypoint 7.
There is a certain art to trolling, albeit and easy one. Once you have deployed your lure by simply dropping it over the side, wait till you are about 5 boat lengths away from the lure, to close the bail-arm of the reel. Your drag should already be set, and it's recommended that you set the drag as high as you can. The reason for this is that a hooked fish will usually dive straight down for the reef, and by having a high drag will allow you to "pump" your rod and bring the fish towards the surface, well before the fish has a chance to dive towards the safety of the reef.
Trying to adjust your drag midstream of reeling in a fish can and usually does result in losing your hookup. You can also tell if your lure is behaving normally in the water, just by looking at the action of the tip of your rod. If the tip shows a steady, quick, continuous flicker, chances are its doing the job its supposed to, and swimming nicely. If you see your rod occasionally jerk, chances are the lure has some weed attached to it, and due to loss of its water dynamics, the lure can rise and break the surface. This will usually force you reel in the lure, clean the weed off the treble hooks, and redeploy.
The afternoon's fishing session provided us all with some success along Waypoint 7, catching mainly Coral Trout, Dog Mackerel and Barracuda. All fish were released except for the Coral Trout. Our fishing schedule was from 7.00am till 12.30pm. Lunch is then served (fish), then an afternoon stint from 2.00pm till 6.45pm, as the sun sets.
That night for tea, entree consisted of sashimi and wasabi. Sashimi are slices of raw fish, and in this case, we used the Queenfish both Chinook and I had caught earlier that day. The raw fish is basically dipped in soy sauce ( shoyu). You may eat it with wasabi (a green and very hot kind of horseradish - some people tend to have trouble with this, especially Coho !). Because it's served raw, only the freshest fish is used for sashimi.
Mark and Jenny are firm believers in eating only the freshest of fish. Freezing fish meat is taboo for them, as there is a definite difference in taste between freshly cooked fish and cooked fish that has been thawed. Considering that their backyard is a large aquarium full of potential dinners, I don't blame them.
The main course consisted of battered Coral Trout, freshly tossed salad, a starlit clear night and the occasional amber fluid. Personally, Coral Trout would have to be the best fish I have ever tasted. When skinned, battered and fried, it traps all the moisture and flavour in the meat, and gives your taste buds the time of their lives ! Jenny outdid herself yet again.
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