By sunrise we were on the water with all popping rods fully locked and loaded. The water was glassed out and anticipation built as we discussed success and failed attempts to land large GT’s. As we neared our destination, the water started to boil in front of our eyes, a bait ball was getting smashed from every direction. I immediately reached for my popping rod and threw the first cast for the day. I would generally throw a metal slice in this situation but I was hoping that if there was a big predator lurking below, he was looking for more than a snack. Mid retrieve and a Spanish mackerel appeared from nowhere and exploded through the terrorized bait to inhale my rooster popper. After a few minutes, the first fish of the day was on board. This was going to be a good day.
With our target species being giant trevally, we left the birds and bait for strong currents and reef drop offs. For the duration of the day, one of us would always be driving the boat so the other two could land the perfect casts, hard up to structure and be dragged out into deeper water if we hooked a size fish. As Boggsy landed his Sebile splasher exactly where he wanted it, he looked at me to make sure I noticed his perfect cast. Sometimes you just know. After two violent bloops and only a metre off the rocks he was hooked up to the first trevally of the day. It was a stressful fight in only 2 metres of water but there were high fives all round as soon as the big brassy hit the deck.
We continued along the island until we came across a reef that dropped from 6 metres to 15. We were surrounded by milkfish but they were getting no attention from us today. I was casting parallel to the drop off on the deeper edge feeling very confident. I dragged my popper over the same line 3 times in a row, which produced the most aggressive strike I have ever experienced. I was almost dragged from the boat as I held on trying to keep this fish from reaching the reef only metres below. Chris was backing up into deeper water within seconds and soon enough I stood a much better chance, battling this fish in the deep blue. A nice size GT shimmered in the sun as he sat on his side making his way up the water column. I was extremely happy and out of breath when I held this fish for a few quick photos then he was speared back into the water to fight another day.
Very content with our success already, I decided to drive the boat for the next few hours. The boys peppered the reef with casts and what happened next changed how I fish topwater lures. Switching to stickbaits and casting over reef produced coral trout one after the other. We had soon bagged out and were actually releasing legal trout! A few monsters took them deep into the reef and without our dive gear, we had to say goodbye to some paint stripped sticks.
With both the boys out of action, tying on new lures I thought it was a good time to have a cast. Literally my first cast, landing hard up to the rocks, a large grey shadow came from nowhere and engulfed my popper! I did not think I stood a chance against this fish as we had drifted deep into the reef were now in quite shallow water. I locked the drag and decided I was going to blow my line to pieces before this thing wound reach the bottom. The boat was in reverse as I struggled to keep the fish's head up and in the right direction. Somehow we made it to deep water and it was now just a matter of dragging this beast to the surface.
Many casts later, we decided to call it a day but not without trolling the reefs edge home of course. We had the one lure in the water, a Sebile deep diver. The bail arm was only dropped for a few seconds and another trout was fought to the boat. This was the first of the plethora of fish that we caught on the troll back. We eventually got to the point that we had to bring in the line or else we would never make it home. Such an amazing day on the water, time to buy some more topwater lures…