What started out to be a difficult morning with green cold water and little current turned out to be one of those magic days or more specifically, one of those special moments in fishing.
Reece and I had been having a bit of a decent run when chasing snapper, starting with the Wooli catch and release competition (where we investing over 60 hours on the water), through to the the Dave Irvine Memorial Snapper Tournament we’d managed to bag a few reds and so with a heightened sense of confidence in the methods we were using to target snapper (soft plastics, live baits and skillfully presented dead baits) we expected to catch fish pretty much every time that we hit the water.
That was until we hit the water on this fateful day… Let’s just say that it felt like one of those days where the conditions said you were going to catch nothing, but you instinct said ‘there’s a big one here today, you may only get one shot at a fish, but it’ll be big’… And with that thought in mind Reece and I fired up the 115 Evinrude Etec and rocketed the Cruise Craft Reef Raider towards a patch of reef that a local pro divulged the secrets to over 1,000 schooners :).
Moving the Reef Raider into position well North of the said reef we began our drift in a SSW’erly direction, the drift speed was perfect, the reef began to rise under the boat and on the sounder 32m 30m 27m 22m, loaded with bait with arches marking under and around the bait it was all looking much more positive than the ugly green water had led us to believe… But, not strikes, nothing and the confidence that the bait and its assailants had provided dwindled away as quickly as they disappeared from the Lowrance HDS9 screen.
Another cast, though it was a flat cast with little or no enthusiasm so I cranked the 7inch Berkley Gulp back to the boat and put in a cast with more meaning and a ‘concentrate on what you’re doing’ attitude, the plastic dropped without an ounce of resistance, the Shimano Stella lay dormant in anticipation and yet still nothing… By now the Gulp would have been passing underneath the boat, so a quick twitch to mimic a fleeting bait fish and the plastic free fell again, that’s when it happened!
An unconventional take (for all other snapper outside of the XL), like a bucket has just been opened around your plastic and the ocean has slurped it in and with a subtle set of the 3/8 5/0 Berkely Nitro Jighead the Captain Black Beard Custom Snapper Slayer loaded up and went about what it has done best lately… Shorten up big reds!
It was an brutal encounter (as they are), though this one had a little more meaning than others… Our family had just endured the tragic passing of my little brother Jared Gilchrist and when this snapper came into clear view Reece exclaimed “brrrrrrruz you should see the knob on this thing!!!” and when I first saw this beautiful fish for the first time I was all but overwhelmed with emotion, as I genuinely thought “that’s my brother, if he was going to be a snapper that’d be him”, though the emotion was short lived and quickly replaced with a sense of ‘let’s get this fish back in the water!’.
Amazing things, even miracles can happen in sport and fishing is not different, I hope you enjoy this story and the pictures and the release video that compliment it. Keep the froth alive yewwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww!!!
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Name: Sam 'Poppy' Gilchrist. Born: Singleton NSW 1983. NRL Team: Newcastle Knights. Favourite Species: Pagrus Auratus - Snapper. Blurb; A lover of all things ocean. Whether it be wetting a line, holding my breath diving or paddling into a few waves the sea is my passion! Along...