Coral reef ecosystems are amazing places to visit. Not only do they offer amazing snorkelling, the fish that inhabit these places are fantastic sport fishing options.
If you were to ask me the most exciting means of fishing the coral I would suggest you try casting surface lures over the edges and into the drop offs; or visa versa if you are walking the edges on low tide.
This is do or die fishing at it’s best. There are no second chances because you are fishing over razor sharp coral and lines are cut very very easily.
There aren’t any fish that come to you without a fight, and if you hook a coral trout, jobfish, red bass or sweetlip they will head straight for the coral. Trout are the known demons, but if you can halt the initial run, chances are much improved. Even decent sized sweetlip go hard and they tend to keep going hard.
Other species, namely GT’s, bluefin trevally and mackerel, swim hard and fast when hooked. They don’t tend to bury themselves in the bottom, but in shallow water they can cover so much ground, so quickly, that line is dragged across coral for the same result.
Therefore, tackle needs to be tough and the angler should be on the ball and ready to brawl. A 24kg outfit should halt most bottom dwellers as long as the drag of the reel is screwed down tightly. My favourite light (24kg) outfit is a 4500 Saltiga teamed with a Saltist Demon Blood DB 762X. For the smaller and more manageable fish this combination is ideal. Light enough to use all day, yet the grunt to turn all but the largest fish with ease.
If however, 20kg plus GT’s or dogtooth tuna are the target, I’ll pick up the big gun. A 6500 Saltiga and Saltist Demon Blood DB 82XH. Rated to P.E. 8, this is the 37kg-45kg beast that handles as much drag as you can comfortably handle. I’m a big bloke, and 15 kg of drag is as far as I’ve ever gone … and on a big doggie, that dragged me across the deck and against the gunwale. The hooks tore free before I saw it, but the drag that the 6500 Saltiga was handling was awesome.
As far as lures go, try XL poppers and stick baits for the big guys. A lure 300mm in length is ideal. For the smaller fish, try 150mm – 250mm; but be warned that smaller fish will hit big lures and visa versa. Once hooked, turn their head and keep them coming, and hopefully the guy on the motor can motor the boat out into deep water.
In classical literary terms, “I’ve saved the best till last”, in that with a good pair of polarised sunglasses, you’ll see the fish coming!