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Saturday, 29 September 2018

Tydeman Reef with East Coast Angling

Trip report, by John Cahill

A couple of weeks have passed since return with life and work returning to normal but this trip report is overdue, so enough with the excuses here it is.


It was with high anticipation 6 months ago we booked our Great Barrier Reef expedition with Nick and Megan Milford's East Coast Angling.  Whilst this business is a little over 18 months old at this time it is mature way beyond that timeline with Nick’s long-standing reputation as one of the very elite guides on the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea.  I’ve had the fortune to fish with Nick in Oman also and can vouch for his fun easy-going personality and fastidious approach to finding and catching tropical sportfish, the guy is a gun in all aspects, casting, jig and fly.   Feel free to visit the ECA website here or follow them on their social media accounts on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube where they have some dope videos that are well worth watching if you are planning a trip to the Great Barrier Reef or Coral Sea, regardless of who you choose to fish with, check them out.
Flying into stunning Lizard Island, the backyard of grander black marlin and rampaging geets
Initially we had planned to visit Osprey Reef but an assessment around the time of year dictated that this location was too risky with the often-windy September weather, history shows it was fortunate that this call was made.  Sadly with more Marine Park lockouts Osprey is now off the table for the forseable future, truly sad.  Tydeman Reef was Nick’s recommendation, and without much hesitation we agreed and assembled a likeminded crew of Ebb Tide friends including Daniel Xerri, Sean Farmer, Christian Georgopoulos, Seth Hartwick, Andy Smith and I.  The logistics of visiting the northern GBR must be overcome, and for us the plan was to fly into Lizard Island and meet up with the ECA crew and boats.  

The crew... including Nick, Jase and Kevvie, the decky with the most
This was relatively painless except for the challenge of a modest luggage capacity on a small aircraft, for our flight from Cairns to Lizard Island, everything can be overcome though with Nick and Megan’s cooperation and some planning ahead.  It must be said full credit to our airline, East Air, they did all they could to help, but it's a fact that 6 big rod tubes are not going to fit especially with other paying passengers on board.

After a night in the Lizard Island anchorage feeding the batfish and resident GT’s on our liveaboard come second fishing platform “Dyfken” a 51 foot Riviera, we departed early the next morning to fish our way north.  The fishing efforts that day were modest save for a couple of GT’s and late in the day the boys had a red-hot session on queenfish and smaller GT’s on the flats near Jewell Reef.  There were some really promising signs however with a small doggie ‘almost’ landed on PE 4, doggies seen busting up on top and plenty of decent trout coming in on the jig and the cast.  

First geet to greet us, a little scrapper on Adhek Ocean Dancer 2  
The next morning was a 4am start to complete our journey and get to the objective at Tydeman Reef.  To say the boys were keen would be a massive understatement, soon after breakfast and ‘Scutes’, ECA’s 32 foot Andros (a sportfishing weapon) was prepared, we were off.
Oportunities and razor sharp coral galore
Tydeman is an interesting and beautiful place, a vast area of shallow reef flats littered with channels, bommies, blue holes, sand cays, drop offs and at the right stages of the tide massive pressure points which become the hot spots for the congregation of bait, mostly fusiliers and then of course the GT's.  The opportunities are endless and it’s easy to get distracted, you could easily lose focus and chase your tail but that’s where a good guide and their experience come to play.  This trip Nick had his regular second skipper on team, Jason Preece who was running Scutes, while Nick skippered Dyfken which doubled as our second fishing platform. 

Day 1 trout on the Blaze Saththa 150
Onto the fishing!  Day 2 saw a mad jigging session with several monster cod caught and trout and epic bust offs for everyone.  Sean at one stage got half a doggie back and Cish was demolished on the drop and 2 men couldn’t manage to close the bail arm despite a lot of lost line and their best efforts!  The afternoon saw a tough topwater bite on the reef but we ended up with a yellowfin bonanza, a couple of GT’s with a few doggies hooked and lost mixed in.  The reef edges lit up as the tide ebbed off the flats created a simply insane bite with some real quality and variety coming in fast including trout, bass, jobfish and various emperors, a scenario made for PE5 casting tackle.
Mega trout on the jig - CB One XS

Massive YFT tuna schools roamed the deeper water, eager to eat and shaddowed by lots of sharks
Quite a few very big cod - this one falling to what would be the most consistent jig, CB One XS
Mega - trout.  This one falling for the CB One Z4 Vertical Motion
The 3rd day saw on the very first drop Andy nailed half way to the bottom on what turned out to be monster Spanish on slow pitch!!  The jig was very productive with fish were flying in, mostly trout but Sean pulled in a sweet napoleon wrasse.  
Now that's a lot of mackerel!  video will be live on YouTube tomorrow night.
CB One XS again - everyone want's a wrasse!
Surface action was starting to improve as the tides were getting bigger and the GT’s were starting to appear in numbers but kinda typical GBR sizes which is quite ok if your tackle suits, but then just when you are having fun on PE5 or 6 and you get demolished by a better one, this was the constant story of the trip happening to most of us totalling about 10 times!  If you are braze enough to cast right over the top of a bommie you can predict that is when you will get a bite and what is about to happen next.
Heru GT Mania - about the perfect popper for the GBR
Solid Coral Sea GT taken on the deep side of a school of fusiliers
A bit of anchorage fun, chinaman go rediculously hard
Green jobfish in shallow water on the Heru Wahoo
Day 4 was pretty rough going in the morning with the wind really starting to pick up which only built from this point sadly as the bite was improving markedly.  A heavy jigging session resulted in mackies, solid trout and XOS cod again and a few unstoppables.
Doubles on Amegari
Amegari Kaxu found loads of bites across a range of species
At times red bass were in plague proportions - Amegari Lingo
Amegari Urpekari in both sizes was just what the GT required
The arvo session was pretty interesting, casting drains along the open ocean side of the reef at low tide the crew caught a few trout and reefies on a pretty regular basis.  During this session, Andy spotted a big school of fish swimming along the reef ended coming towards us which turned out to be a school of about 30 or more massive hump head parrots all around 90cm long.  Dan fired a cast over the school and bringing his lure back towards the parrots and predictably the school split in two and at first it looks like because they were spooked by the lure but a moment later Dan’s lure was demolished by one of the biggest, blackest trout you will ever see which hightailed back home ripping GT drag untill Dan finally got a good hold on the spool and bang the hooks pull free! Devastation all round.  The days rounded out with more yellowfin tuna and the unfortunate sharks that accompany them.
Amegari Dzanga 195 Big Cup (prototype) pops way above it's pay scale
Doubles on Amegari Lingo and Jack Fin Pelagis 165S
Day 5 saw a return to Jewel as we made our way back south against a strong current which slowed our progress.  Once we got to the fishing it was on like Donkey Kong and in one word, epic!  Both boats enjoyed sensational sessions on top water mostly on smaller GT’s but also trout, red bass and Chinaman fish, it was fish a cast in some spots either hooking up, following or having a swipe, it was the perfect setting for some PE5 fishing and was a highlight session of the expedition.  Once the tide turned top water significantly slowed but the usual suspects were available on the jig but sadly the doggies continued to elude us, we had had our chances too.
Amegari Lingo v's Coronation trout
Reef  thug caught on Heru Wahoo
Cracker geet on Sea Falcon Real Saurie
Dino trout off the flats on a Jack Fin Pelagus 200F
Day 6 the wind was absolutely howling, you either needed to be up on the flats on the high tide sheltered from the significant swell or jigging the drop on the same side, you could not cast into the wind and working the outside of the reef was not on.  We still pulled some good fish despite the challenging conditions.  Early afternoon a call was made to finish fishing early and get back to the Lizard Island anchorage as the word was out that the Marlin Bar was open that night!  
It got rough, but Scutes eats that up!
Nice surprise up on the flats - a good sized tital triggerfish eating a Jack Fin Pelagus 165S
Doubles on ASWB SS40
This was a sensational weeks fishing and adventure, not least of all because of the awesome crew Nick has surrounded himself with, special mention needs to go Kevvie who tirelessly deckied for us all week, plans are afoot for the return with East Coast Angling to perhaps another reef system next year.  These trips are important for us to put our gear to use and of course some gear gets more use than other due to circumstances, the bite and sadly lure losses at times which can be high some days!  See each photo for specific comments on gear.  If you are interested in joining the list for potential future trips, drop us a line.