As Riley lined the boat up for another drift, the Simrad sounder lit up with an impressive read of electric green squiggles all across the bottom. Trying to contain a confident grin, Laura dropped her colourful lump of lead that resembled an octopus into the deep. As the lure hit the bottom, Laura clicked her bail arm closed and was instantly hooked up. Feeling like a swordfish at an all you can eat seafood buffet, I wasn’t sure if I should grab a rod, or grab a camera… 


I grabbed the camera... 


With a sloppy swell and 15 knot breeze, the conditions were less than ideal for fishing, but they were perfect for testing Laura and Riley Tolmay’s 23’ Contender. I only had one day in fishing mecca, Coffs Harbour, and a tropical cyclone wouldn’t have kept me off the water. After filling up on slimies, we punched east to some pretty impressive canyons on the continental shelf. Riley told me it was a lucky dip down there and we could catch anything from snapper to black marlin and even cobia, cod and pearl perch - but most commonly, big kingfish – I was definitely excited. 


The boat ramp at first light.


As Laura continued to battle the first fish of the day, we were all curious to find out what species she had plucked from the deep – kinda’ like the excitement a parent has before learning the gender of their newborn baby. Finally the fish surfaced, and we were amazed to discover it was a jellybean yellowfin tuna – sweet bycatch! When I finally managed to put down the camera, Riley handed me a live baiting stick and instructed me to rig up a slimy. I did so, and after briefly err, getting my line tangled up in the propeller – sorry Riley – I had hooked up and landed a few rat kings and a tuna or two. Riley was up next, and he showed us how it was done by hauling in kingy after kingy like a catch and release commercial fishermen. 



Laura with a tasty yellowfin tuna - I hope she remembered the wasabi and soy sauce (left). Riley sends another jig to the depths (right).


It wouldn't be Coffs Harbour if we didn't catch a fat snapper!


The day continued with double hook-ups and a smorgasbord of different species, including nannygai, kingfish, amberjack, mack tuna, yellowfin tuna and a stonking snapper that Laura landed on a vertical jig! Although the hoodlum kings eluded us, I think it’s safe to say I’ll be heading back for a fish at Coffs Harbour quick smart.



"We're running out of jigs - send reinforcements!" 


Laura and Riley with a double up. 

The result.


Laura and Riley's Contender - coming soon to Trade-a-Boat Magazine.



Is there a fish you want me to attempt to catch? A location I should fish? A photographic challenge? You tell me. Either email or leave a comment below.


Until next week.


Jack Murphy



© JackMurphy Fishing and Photography



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