The first time I went to the Swains was in 1985 and the last was in 2011. In total I have been 15 times. I have been on numerous boats and, by far, the best would have to be the Night Crossing. Skipper and owner, Ray, has been chartering the Swains for 30 years. The Night Crossing is a 23 meter steel and aluminium haul - this boat, without a doubt, is definitely the best handling boat I've ever seen. If you think you will get sea sick for a week on the Swains forget it, I have been sick a few times going out and coming back until I found the right cure. If you do get sea sick find out first what will work for you. Always remeber you will not get sea sick while you are there.
Prepration Bait and Burly
I always try to take 10-15 kilo's of mullet fillets with me that I bag and freeze - about 4-6 fillets per bag works for me. Some of the boys take gar fish, driver whiting, grinners and squid. If you dont want to prepare bait it is also supplied on the boat.
Preparing your Burly can either be really painful or really easy. I usually keep my fish, crab and prawn scraps in the freezer. About a month before a trip I mince them all together, semi frozen, bag it up and then refreeze it, carefully making sure that the bags will fit into my burly bucket. On a few occasions I have not had time to make my burly bags so I have just taken a bag of chook pellets, which works just as well.
Hook and Sinkers
I always take at least 100-150 goood quality 5 o and 6 o hooks and 1 box of 3 o hooks. It seems like a lot of hooks, but trust me, you may need them all! I always take 2 squid jigs and 4 mackerel lures. You will need a good range of sinkers. I usually take a lot of round ball sinkers ranging from 1-6 balls and a good handful of 8-10.
Rods, Reels and Lines
I always take 2 Shimano rods, one 8 foot and one ten foot, 10-15 kg. On both rods I use 950 pen reels, making sure you use 40-5-Ibls lines on both reels. Don't forget to take extra line - you will need it! I take a hand line with 20-30 Ib on it to catch squid.
You will need to pack a raincoat, wet pants, dive boots, a good hat and sunglasses.
Fishing the Swain's
Every reef is completely diferent and you will generally go to 2 reefs a day. Don't panic if you have a windy week, it won't stop you from fishing the Dory.
Lagoon fishing can be so much fun, catching red throat and coral trout. As a general rule, you only fish the flooding tide, you don't want to get stuck there. Try to find the deep lagoons to fish in - sometimes the wind can dictate the ones you fish. Anchor on one side and start your burly immediately. Your casting distance sholud be between 20-40 feet. Cast onto the reef, winde back quickly to make sure your bait sinks close to the ledge. Do not have any slack on your line in the water. Always keep you drag as tight as you can get it, if you give any line back to the fish, you will lose it. If you don't catch a fish within 20 minutes think about moving to another lagoon.
Drop off Fishing
I like to fish in 40-50 feet of water, you would be surprised how steep some of the drops are. Start your burly immediatelty and don't cast a long way from the dory. The reason you don't cast is because you lose a lot of the line when it is lying all over the bottom. Use just enough lead to get you there, current prevailing. Don't be a scab on baiting up! When your bait is in tatters dont cut the skin off your hook. Same as always, keep your drag tight and dont give any line back at any time. Keep a squid jig set up on your hand line - squid sometimes attract to your burly trail. Move on if you havent caught anytime in 20 minutes. As soon as you start moving, throw out the lure because sometimes the mackerel hang around the burly trail. Always keep one rod set up in the dory for trolling.
I usually drift, but still leaving a burly trail - sometimes the wind and tide can make it hard. Keep an eye on the sounder when somebody gets a good bite, then try to stay in the same depth - it will help a lot.
Fishing the Main Boat
Sometimes you can do well on the main boat depending on where you are anchored. Night fishing is not really exciting; it can be a bit patchy. If you are catching hussar, keep a few for flesh bait for the next day. Usually a few big squid hang around the light off the main boat. Most of the boys are out there trying to catch one.
The Swains are like most fisheries, there are a lot less fish and they are definitely harder to catch. I hope I have given you some insight into fishing the Swains. Remeber fishing is not luck, you have to make you own luck happen! And even if you dont catch a heap of fish its still a fantastic holiday.
Mark Stringer R.C.A.A. (firstname.lastname@example.org).