Fishing Down Under - Five Days in Paradise
In his final blog from Oz, before returning to the UK’s somewhat cooler climes, Martin Salter enjoys some spectacular scenery and some stunning fish.
Most people in Australia, never mind the UK, couldn't tell you where Lord Howe Island is and very few have ever been to this little piece of paradise situated 500 miles out in the Tasman Sea and containing the world's most southerly coral reef.
LHI is just 11.5km long and 2km wide and surrounds a pristine lagoon in crescent shape with Mount Gower at one end, the Admiralty Islands at the other and the remarkable Balls Pyramid some 13 nautical miles to the south.
It was declared a World Heritage site in 1982 and is home to over 130 species of birds and 500 species of fish. Both the population of tourists and residents is strictly controlled and numbers of vehicles on the island are limited to protect this unique and stunningly beautiful environment. Natalie and I are lucky to have now been there twice and we probably regard Lord Howe as our favourite place on the planet.
We have just returned from five magical days in paradise where we stayed at the wonderful Pinetrees Lodge, which has its own boatshed right on the lagoon shore. I had some great fishing with my friends Gary and Viv Crombie and both Natalie and I snorkelled the reef from several locations in the clearest water we've ever seen.
Be warned Lord Howe is not cheap but there are deals on offer and Qantas do offer a substantially discounted airfare for travellers flying into Oz from Europe or the US on their 'walkabout ticket'. You also need to be fit enough to ride a bike as there are only a handful of hire cars allowed.
I fished two sessions with 'Crom' - the first with a fly rod on the shallow waters of the lagoon chasing silver drummer and trevally. Chumming the water with bread to draw the fish to the surface and away from the razor sharp corals may not appeal to the dry fly purists but it is hellishly effective, especially if followed up with a carefully presented bread fly on a lightish tippet. Crom specializes in light line sports fishing and there's no one better to go out with on the island.
Although the big drummer eluded us on this occasion we had great fun with some of the smaller specimens and landed a lovely silver trevally after a dramatic fight which saw me twice have to stop searing runs for the rocks which took the line down to the backing.
Our second session was on day three of our holiday when the wind had died down to whisper, rendering conditions perfect for my first ever trip to Ball's Pyramid. Although the kingfish for which this legendary spot is famous were not in evidence that day we did find a shoal of large trevally holed up at the base of the rock stack in a sheltered corner.
I quickly hooked two fish in succession on large soft plastics in mid water, including a corker of around seven kilos, easily my biggest ever of the species. We began to burley up and soon the fish were swarming behind the boat. By fishing 50lb leaders and a large cooked prawn on weightless tackle it was possible to avoid the drummer that had piled into the burley trail and specifically target the trevally.
Frustratingly we lost far too many fish that either made to the rocks below us or popped the leader knot as we tried to halt their screaming runs. Until now I had always contended that pound for pound yellow tailed kingfish were the hardest fighting fish in the sea; now I'm not so sure!
It was with some sadness that we bade farewell to Lord Howe and its fishes on the final morning but we'll be back for sure. If you ever get a chance to spend some time in Australia make sure you get across to the island. I can think of nowhere better to go to catch great fish in an absolutely pristine environment.
This feature forms part of Martin’s Fighting for Fishing blog and is reproduced here on FishingMagic with his kind permission – but make sure you check out the site to keep up to date.
Oxley Travel: www.oxleytravel.com.au
Phone: 1800 671 546
Phone: (02) 9262 6585
Oblivienne Sportsfishing with Gary Crombie:
Phone: (02) 6563 2155 or (02) 6563 2185
Phone: (02) 6563 2305
Islander Cruises: Phone (02) 6563 2298