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Deep Sea Fishing with Paul Burt

Deep Sea Fishing with Paul Burt

I’ve written a few articles on deep-sea dropping, talking about the so-called ‘last frontier’ and what it brings to anglers. In this edition, I’m writing about a recent trip I took off the Gold Coast. What we saw and caught were nothing short of jaw dropping.

It started out a few days earlier with my youngest, Caelan, and a mate of mine, Shane, planning a trip out wide. We wanted to target yellowfin tuna.

Our 80-wide Tiagra reels were spooled and ready to tow a bunch of Pakula and Black Magic skirted lures. The Saragosa 20000 spin reel outfits had large Nomad and Shimano Stick bait lures attached and the heavy duty gaffs were sharpened ready for that penetration of a 60plus-kilo yellowfin’s skin. As per our normal trips out wide, the night before was restless, always thinking, “What if we catch one? What do we do with it — sashimi, tuna steaks, seared ahi?” The beauty of these kinds of trips is that we expect the unexpected and that is what exactly happened.

With our 7m Surtees Offshore Gamefisher fully fueled, we knew we could travel more than 400k’s on her 325 litres of petrol under the floor. Our plan was to head north off Moreton Island some 110 km away and start fishing in around 1000 m of water. We left the dock pre-dawn and started the long arduous trip out. Conditions were spot on — light offshore breeze, no swell and a mirror-like ocean. The lures were out, and the day began.

We trolled around the first lot of birds. Small schools of tuna were busting the surface and we had hopes of a yellowfin to hit the lures. Unfortunately, no luck came our way, not even from a marlin. About an hour later, we noticed a few terns in the air, diving periodically. Nothing smashed the surface, but every now and then, the birds would come together up high then dive down quickly before fluttering across the top of the ocean. We trolled the area again; no luck. Caelan decided to cast a stick bait, which grabbed the attention of a massive mahi-mahi. But still, the fish would not commit. On the next loop past the birds, we decided to throw a pilchard. That did the job — a solid 20kg-plus dolphin fish. Unfortunately, with the current raging, we drifted away from the birds. About an hour later and back on the downhill run with the lures out the back, I noticed what looked like hundreds of flying fish shooting out of the water. I said to Shane and Caelan, “They’re squid!” Both boys replied, “No, they’re flying fish!” We trolled past literally thousands of them shooting out the water. Eventually we came close to them, and to our amazement, they were exactly what I thought — squid! Indeed, there is such a creature called “flying squid”. They shoot water out of their tubes and fly backwards, using the front of their hood with the wings to steer. The propulsion received from squirting out the water is enough to give them the necessary lift.

With our eyes gazing in awe, we continued to head south to a sea mountain some 70plus-km east of the Gold Coast. The winds were still light, and the current had slowed to the point you could bottom fish the top of this underwater mountain that rose 800 metres high from the sea floor 3000 m below. Imagine Springbrook and the Best of All Lookouts being sunk underwater. This is the kind of plateau we were about to send our baits down to. Fortunately, we had our two Shimano electric reels in the cabin. A Beastmaster and a Forcemaster both attached to Status deep-drop rods. We had a couple of sinkers stowed away each weighing 4 kilograms or 9 pounds and some mullet fillets.

By then, it was midday and right on the top of the tide. With a disco LED light attached to the top of our 3-hook 400lb bottom-drop rig, the reel was disengaged, and the rig was lowered into the water to start on its 5min-plus descent into the dark waters below. The Garmin sounders were reading the bottom, 3000m, 2000m, then 1200m, then 1000m, before hitting 800 metres. Finally the spools on the reel slowed down. We were there, and the baits had reached the bottom. Fish started coming across the monitors and instantly both rods buckled over.

First, I thought I had a snag, for at that depth even with little current, it is hard to tell. I flicked the switch and the electric Beastmaster started to do its job. Our other rod was also working hard, the rod tip was buckling and bending, the other two had a lighter drag set of 30kgs, while mine was 40kgs. After 30 minutes of drag being pulled and rod tips nearly kissing the top of the ocean, we started to see colour. This thing was big and ugly! The electric reel slowed and stopped, and we had to wind the last 30 m manually while leaning over the side of the boat trying to work out what the hell we had hooked. Eventually this thing broke the surface, and man, was it angry and big! It had teeth like a dogtooth tuna; its eyes were super large and it even had teeth down the centre of its jaw where its tongue should be. It had battle scars and cookie-cutter shark bites and even the scales on the fish had spikes coming out of them! This thing was a killer of the depths; and unfortunately, we had caught it.

Still not knowing what the hell it was, we summoned up all our strength to bring it onboard, all 70plus-kg of it, while it thrashed and banged and chopped at everything. We then noticed the fish had flicked the electric cabling out of the side flush mount plug and stopped the other reel from bringing up the fish we had hooked on the second rod. We had heard of a fish that had similar characteristics to the one lying on the floor of our boat, called an oilfish. The largest in the world was caught in Malaysia at just over 100 kilograms; ours was not far off it. Some of the stories told by anglers is that they have a laxative effect due to the wax esters within the flesh. Seems this fish not only rules the bottom of the ocean, but also rules if it gets to the top.

Watch Paul every weekend on 7Mate as they Step Outside. www.
















Published in print January-March 2022

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