by Tiana Wilson
At around 5.30 pm, our good friend, Leki, had twisted our arms to head up North for an early-morning mission to try and track down the ever-elusive Big Red from a special honeypot kindly given to Leki by an awesome friend.
“After a couple of hours spent rigging the rods, a few last-minute repairs on the boat trailer, a quick plywood sheet duct-taped over the broken window, and a quick bite to eat saw us ready to leave at 11:30 pm.
“Three hours and a few good yarns later saw us arrive at the boat ramp at 2:30 am. Being the last-minute type of fishos we hadn’t sorted any accommodation. So paranoia set in and my hubby, Donny, and Leki decided to sleep in the boat under the stars fearing that some ratbags may take a liking to our gear in the boat. This meant I had the car all to myself for a good kip.
“When 5 am rolled around I was woken up by a spotlight in the face and told, ‘Right, we’re off!’ After checking out a few baitfish and John dory at the ramp and feeling so refreshed (not really), we hopped in the boat and set off.
“With Leki guiding us with the exact coordinates, a 3-5kt variable forecast, it was a sweet ride out to the spot and the first line was dropped in just before the change of light. Starting a bit slow, my hubby made the call to swap out the 1/4oz heads to 5/8oz and … bang! Within thirty minutes a few 6-12lb snappers were landed and an 80cm kingi.
“My husband also landed his first one over 20lb––a decent fight put up on his Thunnus 4000 with a Zman Nuclear Chicken Glow softbait. After that, we thought the mission was already a complete success and all were satisfied.
“After a slightly dull period, I decided to swap out for a Jerkshad 7” Zman Motoroil just for the heck of it. All morning my husband and Leki were telling me to chuck my rod and reel away as they thought it was rubbish and that it wouldn’t catch anything over my personal best.
“I said, ‘Whatever,’ and carried on. I flicked the bail arm on the trusty Shimano Baitrunner 12000oc (on a Shimano raider 10-15kg rod missing an eye) with 40lb braid and a short 25lb trace, dropped the line to the floor, clicked the arm back and then … whoomph! The reel started screaming and the rod bent like I had never seen before. Suddenly, all of us were alive, I started adjusting the drag and getting comfortable to play the fish. Hubby grabbed the phone for some footage, and Leki wound up his line to get it out of the way.
“After an initial decent run, and some side-to-side play, we couldn’t decide what species we were dealing with, as it didn’t have much of the typical snapper head-dives. After about two minutes of cat-and-mouse, the line just went heavy. It took all of about five minutes before we saw any colour.
“Net at the ready, I kept the tension on as it surfaced, Leki scooped it into the net first pop without missing (well, most of it anyway, tail hanging over the edge), bending the heck out of the hoop as he lifted it into the boat and we all burst out in pure joy and disbelief at what just happened!
“We put him straight on the scales and he weighed in at 15.5kg straight off the water! I didn’t really understand the significance of the weight at that stage but I was so stoked as 53cm was my PB snapper before this monster.
“All in all, this was probably the most memorable fishing trip we’ve had together (and we’ve had a few). It fulfilled a long-time goal of ours to get a 20lb+ snapper on our own gear and our own boat, not a charter boat. We dropped the fish off to be mounted that evening with Seamounts Fish Mounting and Bill Carving.”