October 29, 2013: Amazing start on the first day of fishing
From Cooktown, we travel about 25 kilometers to the Inner Barrier Reef. Using light trolling gear, we catch baitfish: Spanish mackerel and ladyfish. The latter is one of the best baits for marlin. Soon, it becomes clear that dealing with baitfish can be quite hectic, as the reels start going off in succession, often with 2 or 3 bites simultaneously.
Once the baitfish are hooked, they are prepared as trolling baits and put into the cooler. Young Justin is very meticulous about this process. After watching him a few times, I still struggle to remember the workflow. For him, preparing a single baitfish trolling bait takes about ten minutes.
Then, it's time to start; the rods are set out. After ten minutes with baitfish on the system, I already catch my first marlin, a rather small one. Tim seems unusually small to him, but for me, it's an amazing fish. My first marlin, and that after 10 minutes!
The wound on the fish comes from tagging. The fish is tagged while still in the water with a marking tag that has a registration number. It looks worse than it is because the tagging tags don't go deep into the flesh.
In the evening, just before 6 p.m., I catch a 400-pound marlin on the Outer Ribbon Reef. An incredible experience! For the first time, I feel the strength and size of such a powerful and heavy fish.
The evenings are adventurous and romantic. Often, it's calm, and we anchor just before the Inner Reef in the lee of the waves, along with other boats. Sometimes, I also have great fishing opportunities in front of the anchored boat. As soon as the anchor light shines in the water, the baitfish gather and form a baitfish ball, attracting predators - much to my delight.
Snorkeling & Spearfishing
The underwater world at the Barrier Reef is naturally captivating, and the coral world is still intact. I'm also a diver, so I can't miss out on this. While we don't have diving equipment with us, snorkeling alone is fascinating. The reef is incredibly beautiful, and unlike other dive sites, there are large fish swimming everywhere here. A special experience is snorkeling with Justin and spearfishing for our dinner. We're getting the best of the best: coral trouts. They taste divine!
The hunt for coral trouts is thrilling. Once you've speared a fish, you have to get it to the surface and onto the boat as quickly as possible. The sharks immediately detect the blood and gather quickly. Usually, bringing in the speared fish takes a lot of effort, as the fish almost always swim into the nearest hole in a coral formation. Threading and pulling them out of the hole is not really my thing. I usually leave it to Justin, who has endless breath.
If there are too many sharks around, we have to abandon this endeavor.