Please select your home edition
Edition
Make Fast Mooring

Exploring Flinders Reef

by Jarrod Day on 18 Sep 2013
In every direction you look the view is picturesque. Jarrod Day
Located some 200 kilometres North East of Townsville, Flinders Reef rises from the depths. A myriad of Coral Cays, Coral bommies and the most picturesque aqua blue water, it is a location anglers can only dream of fishing.

Northern Conquest Fishing Charters is a local charter company which regularly makes the 12 hour trek across the ocean so anglers can make that first cast into some of the most fish rich waters in the world.

Enlisting a good friend of mine, Rob Laspina from Rob Laspina sports fishing charters we began our journey late in the afternoon. The next morning we arrived at our destination for the next five days and greeting us was the most turquoise coloured water I had ever laid eyes on.

With a combination of 15 anglers and three boats, the ocean was ours to explore using a myriad of fishing techniques.

Working the reef:
Once we had everything in check and the use of three purpose built boats to fish the area, Rob’s 23’ Contender enabled us the opportunity to get within casting distance of the reef. Armed with a wide selection of surface poppers and stick baits, 8’ rods and reels leaded with 80lb braid we were set.


With crystal clear water in front of us and bommies surrounding the main reef, it was a matter of casting abroad to the bommies edge to work the popper or stick bait. If I can only advise that this style of fishing does require a level of fitness, it is an extremely effect technique designed to catch the attention of Giant trevally, Jobfish. Red bass and the odd coral trout. We’d worked our way along the reefs edge to no avail, 'were there any GT’s here' I was thinking after a solid four hour workout. Sure enough, we made our way to a smaller reef named Mid Reef. Excluded from the rest of the system, Mid Reef held a plethora of deep bommies, electric blue holes and to what the others lacked was current and bait. This was it, finally some life on the reef and within the first few casts a few small fish engulfed our poppers. At first, blue fin trevally made short work of our offerings but the further on we worked, the more fish came to the surface.


Dropping deep:
While surface work is an effective style of fishing for those wanting some mind blowing surface strikes, fishing the deep is also exceptional. The varying depths surround Flinders support a vast array of species. With the majority of the lagoon 50-60 meters deep, a mixture of coral reef and sandy path ways line the bottom harbouring coral trout, trevally, jobfish, red bass and a host of other reef dwellers. Out beyond the reef, the depth can hit amazing depths exceeding a kilometre but it is the 60-120 meter depth range that is most commonly fished. Here, giant trevally, jobfish and dogtooth tuna are the most common species caught, but you never know what you might hook.

Fishing the bottom can be done in a number of ways including general bottom bouncing with heavy 100lb paternoster rigs and 8/0 circle hooks while jigging with octopus type jigs and slim line jigs suits the sports fisho. We’d armed ourselves with a wide selection of jigs and while each of us had something different to send to the depths, I favoured a selection of Duel 150g Tamentai jigs, Yo-Zuri 200g Taguri Leads, Smith 300g Mejiyume jigs and Dogtooth 200g Saxon Jigs. Each had their own unique action allowing me to chop and change depending on the situation and depth.

I’d tied on a Mejiymue and sent it down after sounding some bait and larger marks that had the markings of big doogies. Drifting over the mark and re-setting the drift countless times, we’d all but given up until each of us hooked up. It was like someone hit the light switch and it was on. Coral trout, long nose emperor, jobfish and a nice sized dogtooth tuna came over the gunwhale. In awe of such variety, we each free spooled our jigs back to the depths to get tight again. Meanwhile, the older folk on board opted for a bait fishing approach and with a 'not what to expect attitude', hooked fish that dreams are made of. Glenn and Brett’s dad Jeff somehow managed to hook thumpers and on a few occasions Jeff passed over the rod to his son Brett to finish off the gruesome battle. Giant trevally of epic proportions, Dogtooth in excess of 40 kilos amongst a plethora of other bottom dwellers were all caught and released and with a handful of weary anglers, the other boats came back in from a hard days fishing.

Scratching the surface:
The variety of fishing that can be achieved while at Flinders never ceases to amaze me and while popping and jigging were the main techniques used, trolling between locations proved very effective. The outskirts of the reef are home to a large variety of pelagics including dolphin fish, yellow fin tuna, dogtooth tuna, cobia, wahoo, barracuda, blue and black marlin, sailfish and the list continues. When moving from location to location, a selection of lures were sent out the back, Yo-Zuri Hydro Magnum’s, skipping garfish and a scaly destined for a big marlin. Each day a range of species came aboard whether it be a doggie or cuda, tuna or dollie each of us took turns when a reel howled. Once the fish was released, the lures were once re-set and off again to our targeted location. After working a set of contour lines, we rounded the northern most tip of the reef and began to head south west along a steep drop-off where a significant current was working. Mick the deckie AKA Wurzel, quickly rigged another skip bait sending out just beyond the wash. Zig zagging along the contour lines, tony was next in line and considering it was his birthday, it was only fair he got to catch the next pelagic. While the boys sat back waiting for the bait to be engulfed, I was flicking the reef in the Contender with Glenn and Brett. Our stomachs began to growl, so we decided to head back to the mother ship for a spot of lunch.

Well known marlin angler and pioneer of marlin fishing around Cape Bowling Green in the mid eighties, Alan Zavodny or AZ as he is commonly known was at the helm calling us over the 27meg. 'Marlin on' was all we heard and instantly the throttle was at full noise. In the distance, I could see Tony at the transom, harnessed up and with rod loaded under the pressure of a big black marlin heading Deep South.


We’d done a few laps of the boat waiting for the fish to burst from the surface only to catch it in an aerobatic display but there was no prying it from the depths. By this time, it was 4-5 hours into battle and unfortunately something was wrong. There was no movement; no line peeling runs just a constant pressure from a fish that wouldn’t budge. Reelistic had also come over and with the power of twin thrusters and a 610 horse power Volvo Diesel along with Skipper Brad at the helm had come to an agreement to transfer tony onto the Riv in an attempt to bring the fish to the surface. In the middle of the Coral Sea and 15 knots with a two meter swell to add to the equation, the transfer was completed in two stages. Firstly the reel was backed off and passed aboard Reelistic followed by Tony and once again back in the harness it was full throttle bringing the fish to the surface. By this stage, we headed back to the reef and waited until later that day to find out the results of a hard days labour. Sure enough, the battle took a further two hours with the end result of a deceased 350lb black marlin coming aboard. Tony had been brought to his tether but being excited to boat such a magnificent fish on his birthday, the sad feelings from such a prestigious fish not being able to withstand such a battle on 50lb tackle was cast over us.


The day prior and once again on Reelistic, angler Brendan took his seat in the game chair to battle out another marlin. This time, the fish was an estimated 400lb blue and was successfully tagged and released at boat side. The battle was on heavy game tackle and took only 30 odd minutes to subdue but was worth ever second as Brendan had never caught a marlin before.

What was most amazing was the diversity of species in these waters and whether or not it was a marlin, wahoo, tuna or other pelagic species, each and every lure or bait that was put into the spread was engulfed without hesitation.


Flinders Reef may be a 12 hour journey from the Townsville coast but to experience fishing in the Coral Sea at such a remote location is an experience that will never be forgotten. Northern Conquest charters offers five day live aboard experiences to this remote location and if you’re looking for the next adventure for your bucket list, I highly recommend this place as one not to miss.




Pantaenius - Worldwide SupportBavaria R40 660x82GAC Pindar Freight

Related Articles

Lakes Entrance to celebrate food, fishing and tourism
Lakes Entrance celebrate/showcase wonderful array of Victorian seafood caught by commercial and recreational fishers Lakes Entrance will celebrate and showcase the wonderful array of Victorian seafood caught by commercial and recreational fishers and the beautiful places it comes from at the “Hooked on Lakes Entrance” event on March 12.
Posted on 23 Feb
See it first at the Gold Coast International Boat Show & Marine Expo
Boating enthusiasts will find everything they need to have fun on the water all in one place Boating enthusiasts will find everything they need to have fun on the water all in one place when the first major Australian boat show for 2017 gets underway on Queensland’s Gold Coast in just three weeks.
Posted on 23 Feb
Summer compliance blitz - Fish in protected zone and you'll get caught
Dedicated on-water and aerial patrols over the Christmas break resulted in 48 incidents of illegal recreational fishing Dedicated on-water and aerial patrols over the Christmas break resulted in 48 incidents of illegal recreational fishing in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, with these breaches threatening the health and resilience of the Reef.
Posted on 22 Feb
Honda Marine Introduces a bold new concept engine at Miami Boat Show
Honda Marine, a division of American Honda Motor Co., Ltd breaks the mould for marine engines Honda Marine, a division of American Honda Motor Co., Ltd breaks the mould for marine engines at the 2017 Miami International Boat Show with a bold new concept engine that could power the future of boating. With inspiration from across Honda’s line-up – including automotive, marine and aeronautical – the design concept engine is a blue sky vision for what future marine engines could look like.
Posted on 17 Feb
More marina space and exciting firsts for GC Boat Show and Marine Expo
More marina space and exciting additions to an impressive Fleet of Firsts have set scene for a colossal marine showcase More marina space and even more exciting additions to an already impressive Fleet of Firsts have set the scene for a colossal marine showcase both on water and on land on Queensland’s Gold Coast from 17-19 March.
Posted on 17 Feb
New Simrad S5100 Sonar Module
Simrad® S5100 High-Performance CHIRP Sonar Module is first sonar module to offer three fully-independent sonar channels Announced today, the Simrad® S5100 High-Performance CHIRP Sonar Module is the first sonar module to offer three fully-independent sonar channels to deliver high-resolution sonar across multiple depth ranges, making it a perfect fit for offshore sportfishing anglers
Posted on 17 Feb
New shellfish reefs is born in the bay
Andrews Labor Government is restoring shellfish reefs in Port Phillip Bay through a project, aims to improve bay health The Andrews Labor Government is restoring shellfish reefs in Port Phillip Bay through a project that aims to improve bay health, juvenile fish habitat and water quality.
Posted on 12 Feb
Club Marine Perth Intl Boat Show, a major event for WA Marine Industry
The Boating Industry Association of WA is announcing a major new event for the WA marine industry. The Boating Industry Association of WA is announcing a major new event for the WA marine industry. The Club Marine Perth International Boat Show will be launched in 2017 at the Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre and Elizabeth Quay.
Posted on 11 Feb
Sportfishing products at the Miami Boat Show
The Taco Marine® booth at next week’s Progressive® Insurance Miami Intl Boat Show will feature several products The Taco Marine® booth (Tent C, booth 254) at next week’s Progressive® Insurance Miami International Boat Show will feature several innovative and unique products in the company’s sportfishing range.
Posted on 10 Feb
GO9 XSE brings radar and SiriusXM® weather to XSE Series
GO9 XSE offers plug-and-play support for Simrad® Broadband Radar™ and Halo™ Pulse Compression Radar systems The perfect way to expand the capabilities of sportboats, cruisers, and smaller center consoles, the GO9 XSE offers plug-and-play support for Simrad® Broadband Radar™ and Halo™ Pulse Compression Radar systems
Posted on 8 Feb