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swoffing safari 2009

27/06/2009  On the water with Duckbill
Once I said goodbye to the folks, I was joined by a mate from Brisbane Queensland - David 'aka Duckbill' Reverdito. I was invited to fish with David in one of the tuna comps earlier in the year in Hervey Bay and he was also instrumental in helping me with the mods to the boat. David has the same boat and over the months of preparations was a fantastic help and sounding post. Naturally as fly fishing is all about sharing, I reciprocated by inviting him to join me on safari out West.

We headed out on the first afternoon and were immediately greeted by a dozen or so humpback whales that were on their journey North at this time of year.

David is a very experienced tuna-on-fly fisherman so it made sense to put some time in chasing the schools of striped tuna that were behind the reef. These little guys are the fastest of all the species and on light gear they are a lot of fun. Boat driving needs to be bang on the money to get the shot as these guys are complete bullets in the water, built for speed and super fussy to get the eat.

The weather was again rather average with overcast conditions and rain for a few of the days, however we were undeterred and continued chasing pelagics on the fly. While pursuing the tuna one day, we were greeted by an awesome sight ... a very large and very fast spanish mackerel that rocketed about 20ft into the air, ripping a hole straight through the middle of the school. Time to change tactics we thought so using a couple of tuna as berley (chumm), we positioned ourselves upwind from the schools, dropped anchor and with sinking lines, large flies and wire, started dredging for mackerel. It didn't take long before they arrived and after a few bust-offs, missed shots and the odd line burn, David connected to a very respectable shark mackerel.

You never know what might be attracted by the burley and one day it was very quiet indeed with no takes, no hits or no signs of anything behind the boat. It was then that we realised we were not alone ..

It was pretty cool seeing a 2.5m hammerhead that close behind the boat and after watching my fellow crazy countrymen fend off great whites in False Bay on the TV once, I was inspired to do the same and see if I could touch the shark !

Umm what !!! ...

Please do not attempt this unless you are stupid like me!

Moving along with all extremities in tact, we braved the weather and made the 24nm trip across the gulf to Wilderness Island were we spent the next 3 days. All food, drink and camping gear needs to be taken over.

Cold beers are always high on the priority list

On the way across the Gulf we came across some small schools of longtail tuna and without needing an invite, it wasn't long before we were blasting flies into the action.

A little further on towards our destination we found some more birds and bait being harrassed in shallow water ... out goes the fly, something eats it and screams off some line ... big splash and in comes half a fish

Being eco-swoffers it was decided to recycle the half tuna and use him as burley in search of spanish mackerel and it wasn't long before David landed his first mac and a new species for him

And a new species for me too, a bat fish!

It was great to see the species count being racked up, David added 15 new species to his tally taking him to a total of 95 species caught on the fly, a truly remarkable feat, well done mate!!

This mangrove jack adding another notch to his tally

However as with everything in life, if you play hard you run the risk of falling hard too and after the wind blew all night, it was that horrible sinking feeling that reared it's ugly head one morning when we woke to find my boat had come off one of the moorings and had been blown up against the rocks, spending the entire night and falling tide with the starboard side's chime slowly working it's way down the oyster encrusted rocks.

A very sorry sight for any boat owner ..

Considering my boat had spent the better part of 6 hours rubbing it's way down the rock face, the damage was relatively minimal and my trust in the toughness of these boats was further restored. Onward we go ...

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