8 PICTURE ALBUM
Sunday, February 8
Steve: Today's moderate seas allowed for a full day of
activities, and we made the most of it. We started with a quick run south
from Lizard Island down to the High Rock area, where Pete said the trolling
is normally great. He was right! After about 20 minutes of quiet, both rods
suddenly bent over and the reels began screaming. Our first two fish were
a Shark Mackeral, and a Mackeral Tuna (a beautiful blue/silver color). From
there, things really heated up - within the next 25 minutes, we had caught
5 more fish including
two more large Spanish Mackeral. Basically, we'd just finish letting our lures
out when another fish would
hit. We would have kept fishing, but didn't want to take any more fish - the
problem with these fish is that they often hook themselves in a way where
they won't survive if thrown back. Pete freezes and gives the fish away, but
said we had already caught almost more than he could handle. This was fine
with us, and we all had fun replaying the excitement - what a blast! We can't
remember a time when we've fished with more action than this morning.
next stop was Ribbon Reef 7. The ribbon reefs are on the far outside of the
Great Barrier Reef, and form a chain that protects the inner islands and reefs
from the Pacific. The ribbon reefs are beautiful, with calm waters immediately
inside the barrier where the surf breaks as it slams in from the open waters.
There are a number of bommies inside the ribbon reefs, and we immediately
set out on a snorkel from the Ruben Jane to explore two that were located
After crossing through very deep water, we approached the first bommie and
immediately saw a large amount of fish life, including an elusive Coral Trout
that Pete wasn't able to catch up to. But probably our most interesting experience
was seeing a 5 foot White-tip Reef Shark that was slowly cruising all around
the bommie. We saw the shark several times, and once he swam directly under
us. Similar to my experience in seeing sharks when I was here in 2002, none
of us felt any fear at all from this shark. The thing that kept crossing my
mind was Katie's insistence over the past several months that she'd never
swim or snorkel in places where sharks lived.. Today, Katie was actually the
first person to see the shark, and her reaction was one of excitement. In
fact, she worked actively to spot the shark again so that I could get a good
photo! What a change
After we got back to the Ruben Jane, we tied a fish carcass to a rope in
the hope that we could attract the shark. Sure enough,
several minutes later the shark appeared and we had fun tugging the rope and
trying to wrestle the fish from the shark's mouth. The tug-of-war didn't last
long - the shark easily cut through the fish, leaving us only the tail.
lunch (which included sushi made with the tuna that we had caught), we cruised
to the site of a shipwreck for some more exploring. This is a very unique
shipwreck - the ship is almost all above ground, and is stuck on a reef. Ten
years ago this ship was being permanently kept and lived on at the marina
in Cairns, and had fallen into a state of severe disrepair and was deemed
unsafe. When the Cairns authorities insisted that the boat be fixed or removed,
the owner apparently drove it (intentionally) right into a reef. The hull
and deck of the ship remain in tact, but are very rusted. Underwater it was
great to see the propeller and miscellaneous items that came from the ship.
We were told that a lionfish (highly venomous) lives by the propeller, but
were unable to spot it.
Our final destination was Irene Reef, which has great fishing and offers
some protection from the wind. The activity for the evening was bottom fishing,
and we brought up several surprises including two sharks and a Giant Trevally.
The sharks put on quite a show, twisting and splashing until they chewed through
our lines. After dinner (rack of lamb!), Pete put a spotlight behind the boat
and we enjoyed watching all the fish feed and jump. We also threw a bunch
of bait overboard, and David and Katie did some more fishing. I'm starting
to call Katie our "fishing maniac" - she just can't stop, and is
very adept at baiting her own hook.
We also learned today that Paula will be rejoining us on Tuesday in Melbourne
as originally planned. This is terrific news, especially since it means that
Paula's father is well on his way to a successful recovery.
Tomorrow we plan to start with some fishing here at Irene Reef, and then
continue south back to Opal Reef for a snorkel before we need to begin the
final part of our journey back to Cairns.