Liveaboard Fishing out of Port Lincoln

By Jamie Crawford

Liveaboard fishing trips are great. They allow you to fish as much, or as little, as you choose. When you rise from your cabin in the morning, you can start fishing while you’re having breakfast. And once you return to your sheltered overnight anchorage after fishing offshore for the day, you can continue fishing into the night… if you have the energy!

I just returned from a three day liveaboard trip out of my home town of Port Lincoln in South Australia with Why Not Fishing Charters. Why Not operate Crusader III, a 65ft Conquest purpose built for long range charter fishing. I have done several trips with Why Not in the past, mainly fishing around the offshore islands and reef systems wide of Coffin Bay and Elliston.

The main targets for these liveaboard trips are generally samsons, kings and Bluefin, but this time we were going to be fishing around the waters wide of Port Lincoln, with big King George whiting our main target. We had Bill Classon with his film crew from AFN on board, and they were keen to shoot some footage of some big whiting. This meant we would be hopping between islands and bay systems along a remote stretch of coast well-south of Port Lincoln.

We had pretty favourable weather for our three days at sea, and we were fishing fairly protected water for the majority of our time, so it was a lot kinder on the body than the usual deep water jigging. We did, of course, mix up the fishing a bit so we weren’t targeting whiting the whole time.

We had a couple of great sessions on the whiting with a few decent southern bluespot flathead thrown in too. The whiting in these remote bays are from deeper water, and while the quality of fish is superb, don’t expect cricket-score numbers of fish to hit the deck. The average size was in the 40 – 45cm bracket, but we managed quite a few larger fish, including three fish over the magic 50cm mark. At this size they’re up around a kilo; quite broad across the head and are a serious whiting.

I really enjoy catching big whiting; they fight really well on light tackle, great on the table and are a cool looking fish. My light outfit for chasing whiting on this trip was a Shimano TK3G at 2 - 5kg coupled with a Twin Power 2000 and 5lb power pro braid. A great outfit for targeting whiting; light and responsive. This combo also doubled as my squidding outfit. We got a few squid in these bays, and also in our night time anchorages.

We managed to slip in a couple of sessions out wide in between the whiting action. We steamed down to a reef system about 50km to the south west of where we were targeting whiting. There was no visible surface feeding or birds to indicate baitfish, so we trolled a couple of divers and eventually had a double hook-up on feisty southern Bluefin. When these fish neared the boat, we could see they had a swarm of friends following.

Our skipper David Clayfield was quick to throw some chopped pillies to these fish, and we soon had tuna darting around the back of the boat through the berley trail. An assortment of lures was quick to hit the water, with Bluefin being hooked, landed and released left, right and centre for over an hour. These were typical school Bluefin in the 15 to 20kg bracket – great fish on the right tackle.

I was casting a 100mm Squidgy Pro Range Shad in white lightening on a 28g jig head. Seeing a lit-up Bluefin streak through the trail and zero-in on the plastic was cool to watch. I was using a 5 – 10kg Anarchy 702SW rod with a Stradic FK 5000 reel and 20lb power pro braid. Awesome fun on these blueys. One fish in particular had me climbing around the side-rails, around the bow of the boat and back down the other side. Cool fun.

Underneath the tuna were swarms of silver trevally. These ranged in size from smaller fish of around 1kg up to some solid silvers of 4kg. If our plastics or jigs dropped below the tuna, the trevally were ready to pounce.

We spent each night in the lee side of an island; the first at Williams and the second at Thistle. One of the nights we set a berley trail as one of the guys was keen for some shark action. He set a bait under a balloon and clipped it off the outrigger. At 5am we were woken by the sound of his ratchet. After a solid fight of over an hour, he managed to get a solid bronze whaler boat-side, where it took another run and parted his line on the underside of the hull.

On our final day our skipper David took us to a couple of reef systems to the south of Thistle, where we managed to get a good feed of red snapper, queen snapper and a couple of pan sized snapper. It rounded out the trip well!