MEGA MACKS FROM THE QUOBBA COAST

The Quobba coastline is situated in the Gascoyne region along Western Australia’s mid north coast. This remote stretch of coastline is approximately 80kms long and contains some of the best ledges in Australia for targeting monster Spanish mackerel from the shore. The Quobba Coast is at the Southern end of the Ningaloo Reef System and these inshore reefs provide the perfect environment for these big bar-ees to hunt and thrive. Some of the well known mackerel hot- spots that are found along the Quobba Coast include The Boundary, The 2 Mile Reef, Cockatoo Point, South Wall, Whistling Rock, North Wall and Hell’s Gate.

THE BALLOONING SEASON

During the winter months I always make the annual pilgrimage to the West Coast to target the trophy Spaniards that the Quobba Coast are famous for. From May to August the cold easterly winds frequently blow offshore and this creates the perfect opportunity for land based anglers to skip out large baitfish under helium filled balloons. The technique is known as gas ballooning and it is definitely the number one technique for targeting monster mackerel. Spinning big metal lures from the rocks will also produce good numbers of mackerel, however the bigger 20kg plus fish seem to be a lot more attracted to a well presented skip bait.

2 MILE REEF

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The 2 Mile Reef can be found approximately 3kms north of the Quobba Station Homestead and this platform is commonly known as a big fish producer. The 2 Mile Reef protrudes a few hundred out to sea and forms a small bay which is perfect for gas ballooning in an easterly or south-easterly wind. This part of the coastline is extremely deep and the big Spaniards will often stack up in huge numbers along this reef. Over the year I have experienced plenty of epic ballooning sessions from this area and this was the perfect place to kick of the 2016 season.

I fished alongside fellow NSW based angler Luke Martyn and it wasn’t long before I had a huge surface strike under my balloon. I hooked a solid mackerel but during the final stages of the fight a shark grabbed the fish and tore a large section out of the tail. After paying the Quobba shark tax this mackerel still weighed in at 20.5kg. I quickly pumped out another large garfish under the helium filled balloon and also scored a 12kg cobra.

The next hook up came Luke’s way and it was a classic aerial strike, which is commonly known by gas ballooners as a Polaris. This was another big bar-ee and this acrobatic fish launched six foot in the air to grab Luke’s skip bait. The fish took a powerful 100m run and arched towards the northern side of the ledge.

With a heavy drag setting Lukeunspecified-2was able to quickly turn the fish and managed to steer it through some nasty reef structure to land a genuine 50-pounder that pulled the scales down to 26.5kgs.The 2 Mile reef also produced a big bar-ee for young Perth angler Liam Sweeney. Liam was gas ballooning from the tip of the 2 Mile Reef a few days later and was involved in a triple hook-up of monster fish. A big school of mackerel must have come through the bay and three rods went off at the same time. Unfortunately two of the fish were pack attacked by the resident sharks while Liam was able to out muscle a monster mack through the carnage of sharks. Liam’s fish weighed 26kgs and certainly made a great first time gas ballooning capture. The 2 Mile reef also produced a big bar-ee for young Perth angler Liam Sweeney. Liam was gas ballooning from the tip of the 2 Mile Reef a few days later and was involved in a triple hook-up of monster fish. A big school of mackerel must have come through the bay and three rods went off at the same time. Unfortunately two of the fish were pack attacked by the resident sharks while Liam was able to out muscle a monster mack through the carnage of sharks. Liam’s fish weighed 26kgs and certainly made a great first time gas ballooning capture.

COCKATOO POINT

Another well known gas ballooning platform is Cockatoo Rock which is situated approximately 10km north of the Quobba Homestead. This location fishes really well in an easterly or north easterly wind as you can skip your bait over a few sections of reef that hold plenty of mackerel. When I’m gas ballooning from Cockatoo Point I always work my skip bait by letting it out 50m past the reef and then I usually skip it back over the reef structure. By working your skip bait you can create a lot more surface activity by making the bait splash, like a distressed baitfish. This technique really gets the attention of Spanish mackerel and plenty of other pelagic predators.unspecified-3

When this ledge absolutely fires it is not uncommon to get more than twenty strikes a day. Joey Barbatano and Justin Anthony had some really productive sessions on Cockatoo Point during this season. The boys landed plenty of fish over 15kg and also landed two 20kg Spaniards during a spectacular double hook up. This section of coast also produced really good numbers of cobia this season. Usually these nomadic fish are more prevalent on the Quobba coast in the summer months. Most of the cobia encountered were between 10-15kg and these fish prefer a slower moving skip bait and are usually captured when the wind is blowing less than 10 knots. Large skip baits like mullet and tailor also work exceptionally well on cobra.

CAPE CUVIER REGION

After two weeks of excellent gas ballooning action a huge five metre swell hit the Quobba coast in late July and wiped out every ledge on the coastline making it unfishable for nearly a week. The big seas churned up the water badly and even when the swell dropped, the water was still very murky and green. This discoloured the water and was a big contrast to the inviting cobalt blue water we had experienced earlier in the trip, and the majority of mackerel seemed to move offshore.

With most of the keen ballooners heading home Joey Barbatano and Leon Harry decided to push further north looking for better looking water. The boys concentrated their efforts in the Cape Cuvier region which is a little more protected from the swell. These keen anglers were rewarded for going the extra mile when Leon hooked a real massive mackerel on a skipping garfish. After a smoking run Joey Barbatano sunk the gaff into a prehistoric looking Spaniard which ripped the scales down to 39.5kg. This superb capture is considered a fish of a lifetime and is one of the biggest Spanish mackerel captured from the Quobba Coast in the modern era.

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GEAR AND TACKLE

When you are gas ballooning from the Quobba Coast a heavy duty 24kg overhead outfit is considered the standard choice of tackle. Fishing from these rugged cliffs and the amount of resident sharks waiting to steal your catch makes it very difficult to fish with light tackle outfits. I run a Tiagra 30WLRSA with a series of 15-24kg Wilson Live Fibre Texalium and Venom rods. The big swells that frequent the Quobba Coast throughout the winter months can also make it reasonably difficult to land a good fish. When fishing from the high cliffs it is important to have a rope gaff to land your catch from ledges like Hell’s Gate, South Wall and North Wall. A good quality 3 piece pole gaff like the Busted Ultimate Gaff is also recommended. We commonly use the pole gaff as an additional assist gaff for pulling big fish up the cliff faces and for extracting fish from the lower ledges. In my opinion the Quobba Coast is the number one location in the world for targeting monster mackerel from the rocks. If you are after an action packed LBG adventure gas ballooning then this epic coastline always gets the adrenalin flowing.

Goshie

About Goshie

Goshie has been targeting large pelagic gamefish from the ocean rocks for over 16 years and is one of the most experienced LBG anglers in Australia. This keen rockhopper began his LBG career in the late nineties by chasing smaller pelagics such as bonito, rat kings and Aussie salmon from the sandstone ledges in his hometown of Sydney.

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