25 Oct – Scott & Ashmore Reef Exploratory Trip

25 October 2016

You would think that after travelling 240nm to a fishing destination that that is far enough. The problem is when you look on a chart and see reef systems and sea mounts rising from depths it is every fisherman’s desire to go check it out. The areas around Ashmore Reef looked awesome on the charts with all the ingredients for Dogtooth Tuna and GT’s similar to Scott Reef. So after the long steam to Scott we ventured that extra 120nm further north to do some exploring.

Ashmore Reef is a bird lover’s paradise but a fisherman’s true tease. The huge sand flats and coral reef system and islands provide a haven for all types of fish, including Bonefish but the area is totally protected. It was amazing to visit and witness the incredible number of birds around the area. Border Force are based their 24/7 to keep an eye on things and help protect this remote atoll. Being so close to Indonesia it would definitely be a target for their fishermen if not. They had 3 confiscated fishing vessels moored when we arrived.

Our aim was to explore some of the sea mounts, shoals and other reef systems in the area. Our trip north from Scott Reef started well with a hook up on a nice Striped Marlin. Andrew was in the chair and had a good fight on his hands. The fish came boatside with a mate so the other Andrew pitched out a stickbait, the fish hit it but unfortunately didn’t hook up. That would have been quite entertaining.

After this sadly we found not much at all, everything looked good but the larger fish just weren’t there. We did read that this area is strongly influenced by the Indonesian Flowthrough and that the warm currents do not carry the rich nutrients required to hold such fish. It did seem to be a nursery or breeding ground for smaller species. Loads of baitfish, tiny little tuna’s & flying fish were everywhere. We did catch a couple of GT’s and a few Bluefin Trevally at one of the reefs but nothing like we had expected.

Travelling this far north did open our eyes though to the number of international fishing vessels working close to our borders. They are installing fads out in 800mt of water then purse seining around these once established. We did see a number of these ourselves and to us they were in our waters but apparently it is a fine line and according to one of the Border Force crew there could be up to 700 of these fads in the area.

We headed back to Scott Reef for the remainder of our trip where we knew we would at least see a few fish. We would like to thank Doug, Andrew, Michael, Mason, Marty and Andrew for accepting to be our adventurers, it was not the outcome we were hoping for but we’re glad we gave it a go.

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