Tags Sunday Times Column

Montes sunset over the Blue Lightning base

Montes sunset over the Blue Lightning base

The myth that I am cursed by the weather gods was put to the test on a trip to the Monte Bello Islands with Blue Lightning Charters.

Not only were we blessed with a following wind on the way to and from Dampier with Blue Lightning Charters, in between we enjoyed five days of flat calm conditions at the Montes, which isn’t what you normally expect in November in that part of the world.

The idyllic conditions were ideal for exploring the islands on kayaks from our home base with Blue Lightning in Cygnet Bay, towards the north end of the islands, in what was a very different type of Montes trip to the norm.

The area is renowned for its offshore and bluewater fishing, but our goal in my first trip to the area for several years was to explore the inshore waters around the islands.

The great weather meant we were able to roam far and wide in our fishing kayaks and the hardest decision each day was deciding where to try next, with so many fishy spots on offer.

That included the waters of the fringing reef on the west side of the Montes, with a few of us even nosing outside into the blue.

The fishing itself was quite challenging for the most part, perhaps due to the neap tides or even the glassy conditions in the shallows.

The highlight was some spectacular action on thumping spangled emperor, with one frenetic hour inside the reef when the wind briefly puffed up adding further weight to the theory that the weather might have been almost too good.

It was the windiest it got all week, but it fired the spangos right up and I had packs of them chasing down stickbaits, often with their backs out of the water.

In a metre or two of water they are an extremely challenging opponent and really use their brute strength to try to get back into the bottom structure.

We had a fabulous day down towards Barrow Island, with skipper Chad Mills putting five kayaks on the boat and taking us down there to try some different ground.

That day produced non-stop action on spangos, red-throat, coral trout and chinaman, while I had a big cobia swim right up to my kayak and also caught my first rankin cod from a kayak.

Trevally were thin on the ground, although I got done over by a big GT while shore fishing at Trimouille Island, where I was also able to check out a hut left over from the unfathomable nuclear testing of the 1950s.

A handful of goldens were caught, as were a couple Spanish mackerel, along with an assortment of the usual mix of northern reefy species including several species of cod.

The Blue Lightning set up is quite brilliant and our group of 10 kayakers were spread out across two boats over the week, with yours truly bunking on the 23m Sans Souci, while the pontoon in between the boats made for the perfect spot to hang out in the shade and eat meals in between our fishing adventures.

We were able to just tie our kayaks off the back of the boats at the end of each day, ready to go again the next morning.

Adding to the magic of our stay were some stunning sunsets and the regular visits by the resident massive Queensland groper, which is believed to have lived in the bay for at least 40 years.

It’s a special part of the world and there’s not many better ways to experience it than with Blue Lightning.

Caption: Paul Carroll with a Montes chinaman.

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