The trek to the Coast

It’s the 13th of January 2023, 4.30am and the trek to the Gold Coast has begun.

After a huge amount of planning, I’m on my way.

The thought of driving on my own, towing the boat over 2,200km alone was a bit daunting. Pacific Marine had checked the trailer over and given me a spare wheel, I was a bit nervous as on our last trip we lost a whole wheel and axle on the way home. Jordan owner of JD Auto at the Port had serviced the Landcruiser at no cost to help us out, everything had been done.

There was a lot of expectation for us as a crew, and this was going to be the start of something new for us – we had never even seen a Marlin – we catch Tuna. Now was the time to change what we do, to inspire others to follow their dreams even if they are crazy to others.

The first day was a long drive. Goondiwindi was the night stop. The roads had been a mess especially out along the Hay Plains from the floods that had come through, in some places it was down to 60km.

I hit the road early, it was so hot and sleeping in the boat was not pleasant, as the sun came up I saw a sign, Sydney 960km that was exciting!

I wanted to get to the other side of Sydney on day 2 then take my time to get up to the Coast – I had some Tassie Salmon oil on board and wanted to introduce it to the tackle shops on the way up.

The highlight was a stop at MO Tackle, OMG, what a shop! If you’re ever up that way make sure you call in, oh and have a free full day.

I loved the trip up the Coast, the scenery was amazing, the roads great. The only real problem was trying to get good coffee. The truck stops were terrible, and it was to hard to get a park for the car and boat at the little cafes along the way.

At the end of day 3, I pulled into Byron Bay at 5pm. Ren and Craig were there to meet me. We had a beer and food at the local pub, she then joined me on the last 100km into Queensland – I had a great sleep that night, as I had spent the last 2 sleeping in the boat.

The next day Ren and I hit the tackle shop where we spent most of the day, we were given a master class on how to rig Marlin Lures and walked away with a few $$$$$$ worth of hooks and wire to stiff rig our skirts and be ready for comp day. Tracy and Bec were arriving the next day and we wanted to be ready to have a bit of a rest day before the comp. We were launching on Friday night and mooring at Runaway Bay so we could get away nice and early.

The Comp

The brief was entertaining with lots of talk about the bar and how bad it had been lately.

The week before a Bar Crusher had come to grief, which had me worried, I’d never crossed a bar before and realised the importance of tides, etc.

The weather forecast for the first day wasn’t the best, but we are used to 2-3 meters of swell so were confident. Our Colorato lures had arrived, and we had some last-minute rigging to do.

Day 1

We woke up early and excited, we were ready to go, we had been advised that we needed to be across the bar by either 10.30am or 4 pm to be safe.

On the way out we got to the bar and sat there for a good 20 minutes watching, watching the break and other boats going out. It wasn’t nice, it was rough and there were easy 30 surfers on the breaks. Yep, I was freaking out, but if we didn’t go, we wouldn’t be fishing. We were also not going to give up so I waited for the perfect break and there was a gap, so we took it …. Fast. No one spoke until we got to the other side and breathed a sigh of relief. LOL.

Gear in the water we headed south down towards Surfers Paradise. About a half hour in a rod went off and Ren was on strike, she picked up the rod and went for it only to drop the fish after about 5 minutes. It didn’t jump and we don’t know what it was. But we were excited, we had our first hook up, but we were still quite a way off where we needed to be. The swell was getting worse and the wind was now about 25 knots.

The swell wasn’t like SA swell, it was strong, the Bar Crusher was being tossed around like a cork. We had a couple of waves come over the top, time was ticking on, it was 10am. We had to decide. After a team meeting it was decided we would go in, a couple of other boats had already pulled the pin, and now it was our turn, with a following sea we took off, got over the bar and breathed, LOL.

Back at the club rooms we listened to the scheds, there was a few fish being caught, we were missing out, but none of us wanted to head back out, we had lost our sandbar window and the wind was increasing – this was not the plan, we thought we would have hooked up to Marlin all day.

As the boats came in for weigh in and tag cards presented to the club we made our plan for the next day. We needed a full day on the water and we were given a heap of advice.

Day 2

Day 2 we headed north, there were a heap of spots in close, it was still rough in the morning with it dropping out by lunchtime, there were several boats up there with us, so we figured we were in the right spot

As the wind and swell dropped out, we ventured out deeper and found a couple of FADs to fish around, but we still hadn’t raised a fish. We hadn’t seen a Marlin; we hadn’t seen anyone else with a marlin, but the scheds said there were some caught so we didn’t give up.

We had to get across the bar by 4.30 pm and we headed back in, we were trying to weigh up the positives and were struggling, this is not how we thought our weekend would go.

It was time to think about past experience – it took a couple of months on the water before we started catching Tuna and we’d been chasing snapper for a year before we got our first one. We know its all about time on the water and we just needed to remember that. We had spent nearly $5,500 on petrol, entry fees, tackle and hadn’t seen a fish, so the disappointment was high.

The bar crossing going in was terrifying, the wind and sloppy swell had dropped off leaving a nice 2–3-metre break, there were surfers everywhere paddling across the bar in front of us, we had to catch one of these waves to come in, everyone was quiet. For the first time the boat started to go broadside, it’s just too light for these conditions. I lifted the motor up and went as quick as possible, we made it – whew!

We had no numbers, our end of comp was 0.0.0 nothing seen, nothing raised, and nothing caught.

Were we disappointed? Hell, yes, but we put on a brave face. We had learnt a lot and knew next time we would be closer. Bec had to fly out early the next day, but Tracy, Ren and Skip were going fishing.

Presentation night was great fun, there were so many prizes and awards for juniors with the highlight being the water taxi, a couple of kids, and a tender. For $5 a trip they take you back to your boat. They did a massive trade lol.

We were awarded a prize as the team that had travelled the furthest, a packet of lures from Peter Pakula himself. I’m sure he invented the category just for us.

We had made a heap of friends and now the comp was over the advice flowed freely – Redonkulous gave us a couple of live bait rigs they had left over and showed us were to go on the charts, the advice was invaluable. The food was great with some of the best meat we had ever eaten.

Learning Day

The next day we hit the water, no wind, hardly any swell its was perfect.

We went straight out to where Adam and the boys had caught their fish – yep, you guessed it, the opposite direction to us on Sunday. We found some bait, dropped in the boy’s rigs with a live and bang Tracy was on after about 15 minutes. We lost the fish, it was bitten off, so not a Marlin. Everyone had told us that a Marlin will usually jump pretty early in the fight, this fish didn’t jump.

We were drifting through the bait it was everywhere, bang, Ren was on. After an hour we had come to the conclusion it was a shark, she put some pressure on it, and snapped, not the line, she broke the bloody rod!

Again, it was time to leave and get over the bar safely, today was easy but sadly our last day fishing as Tracy was heading home in the morning. We were still at 0.0.0

On Tuesday night Ren and I took a trip out to see Adam from Redonkulous. We will be forever grateful for his time showing us rigs, set ups, videos, etc and allowing us to have some of his video footage to put into our TV show so there will be at least some marlin action. He also assured us that once we caught a few we would be away. He knew we were heading to Exmouth in March so gave as much info as he could.

With the drive home looming hubby Kev decided he would fly up and drive home with me. It would be great to have the company. The first stop when Kev arrived – you guessed it the Kiwi shop to gather treats to take home.

Why does the drive home always seem longer? We got back into SA in 2.5 days, we spent a heap of time at the border eating Mangoes I was not throwing them in the bin!

Even though we hadn’t caught any Marlin and our plans were in tatters, we were all glad we had made the trip. We had an agenda, and we were keeping it. So we left Queensland the same as we arrived; all 100 % Marlin virgins with a score of 0.0.0