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March 05, 2010

5 Great Live-Aboard Adventures

Motherships and live-aboards provide the ticket to nonstop fishing action


2. Reel Teaser Charters
Mothership / Live-Aboard

Ports: Broome and Exmouth, Western Australia

Vessel name: Reel Teaser

Capacity: Up to six anglers

Length of trips: Up to 12 days

Contact info: Capt. Ross Newton and Tracey Rushford, 011-61-0438-930-319 (from the United States), www.reelteasercharters.com

Getting there: Expect more than 20 hours of flight time from Los Angeles to Perth, Sydney or Melbourne and on to Broome. An Australian visa or ETA (Electronic Travel Authority) authorization is required for U.S. citizens.

Vessel description: The Reel Teaser is a 65-foot Westcoaster fiberglass flybridge cruiser, customized to suit long-range fishing and cruising charters. The vessel is powered by twin Detroit diesel engines and features two generators.

The Teaser offers guest accommodations in two double/twin cabins and the forward V-berth. The vessel comes with two heads and two showers.

Interior space is fully air-conditioned. The galley adjoins the salon, which offers a large dining area with entertainment system (DVD, music, TV). The large back deck functions as an open game-fishing platform and doubles as an entertainment deck, featuring lounges, a built-in barbecue area, an ice machine and a drinks refrigerator.

At the bridge, the Reel Teaser is equipped with Raymarine navigation and fish-finder units. The mothership is used for trolling; two 16-foot aluminum dinghies powered by 60 hp Yamaha outboards are towed to fish inside the atolls and inshore.

Crew info: Skipper Ross Newton says he has been fishing since he was able to stand; he owned his first boat when he was 18. Newton has lived and fished in Broome since 1985 and pioneered the now internationally recognized sailfish grounds off Broome. Newton founded FAD Charters in 1996 and may have caught and tagged more sailfish than any other charter skipper in Australia. In 2005 he joined forces with skipper Kevin Blatchford to expand his charter operations.

Other crew members include a deckhand and a cook.

Location description: North-western Australia offers remote, beautiful wilderness, spectacular reef systems and deep-blue offshore canyons. The Reel Teaser runs out of Exmouth from February through April and out of Broome - 850 miles north - the rest of the year.

Exmouth, population about 2,000, is the doorstep to the Ningaloo Reef, which practically reaches the beach at several locations. Just two miles beyond the reef, the continental shelf drops off to dramatic canyons.

Broome, a historic pearling town, features white sand, crystalline waters and dramatic red cliffs. Broome is also the gateway to the Kimberley, a vast wilderness area with adjoining coastal and ocean waters that are sparsely fished.

The region's wet season runs November through April (summer in Australia), with average daily temperatures from 82 to 100 degrees and high humidity. The dry season, May through October, comes with average daily temperatures from 68 to 89 and cool evenings.

Fishing description: February through April, the Reel Teaser runs out of Exmouth to the continental shelf just two miles off the nearby Ningaloo Reef. The run from the marina takes two hours, but the vessel operates as a live-aboard, so the captain can anchor up inside the reef system and offer multi-day fishing opportunities.

All species of marlin in Australia may be caught off Ningaloo, the biggest being blue marlin to grander size. Small- to medium-sized blacks are here as well as striped marlin, sailfish, yellowfin tuna and wahoo. Expect a dozen or more marlin and sailfish strikes on a good day. On a calm night, you may also catch a broadbill swordfish.

In April, the boat leaves Exmouth for a 10-day charter to Broome, trolling lures all the way for big blues. Some of the best blue marlin areas, such as the Monte Bello islands and Ranking Bank, are found en route; then it's on to Rowley Shoals, following the shelf.

Trolling rigs include 80- and 130-pound line on 80W Tiagra reels and Black Magic Tackle stand-up harness systems. The vessel also stops to fish for other species using a variety of tackle.

From mid-April through October, the Reel Teaser often heads to Rowley Shoals, 300 miles off Broome, for five- to seven-day light-tackle trips on the outside of these remote atolls, using 20- to 50-pound Tiagra outfits. Target species include sails, yellowfin and dogtooth tuna, and wahoo. On the inside of the atolls, anglers can chase coral trout, giant trevally, bluefin trevally, humphead Maori wrasse, red bass and other reef species on Stella and Saltiga casting outfits spooled with braid.

If not at Rowley, the Teaser may head north into the wild Kimberley coast - one of the least populated areas of the world. The vessel travels overnight from Broome and arrives at the southern end of the Kimberley the following morning.

Anglers fish from tenders/skiffs in some great barramundi country and also target mangrove jack and fingermark bream (both coastal snappers), mud crabs and black-lipped oysters. The best part about barra fishing, the operator says, comes from seeing the surrounding scenery. Wildlife includes crocodiles, sea eagles and other birds, dugongs, whales, dolphins and turtles.

The northwestern Australia coast also features big tides - up to 42 feet twice a day - the second-biggest tides in the world!

In September and October, the Teaser also travels to Scott Reef, a large, remote reef system that lies 275 miles north of Broome. Captains carry light and heavy tackle for sails, marlin, yellowfin, wahoo and loads of dogtooth tuna. Dogtooth estimated in excess of 220 pounds have been hooked here on jigs and poppers, but the largest fish landed weighed 154.

Numbers of giant trevally also roam this area. Scott Reef comes up out of 1,000 to 1,300 feet of water on one side; one corner drops to 3,300 feet.

October through December, the Teaser usually fishes Rowley Shoals again. Marlin begin to congregate there as the water warms.

Besides trolling lures for billfish and pelagics, and casting jigs and poppers for trevally and dogtooth tuna, the Reel Teaser also uses some dead baitfish to bait-and-switch for sails as well as squid for swordies.

Tackle info: Reel Teaser Charters advises clients to bring their own gear, including lures, if they choose. However, the operation also carries the following tackle aboard:

•Four 80W Tiagra reels on custom-built rods
•Four 50W Tiagra rod-reel combos
•Four 20 Tiagra reels on custom-built rods
•Two Stella 20000 spinning reels on heavy jig rods
•Six Stella 10000 spinning reels on 200 spin rods
•Six 400 Calcutta rod-reel combos
•Six Curado rod-reel combos
•Five rod-reel combos for reef fishing
•One Penn 13-weight fly rod and reel

Cost in U.S. dollars: Trips are priced by a boat rate per day. Cost for 2010 is $5,000 per boat per day for up to six anglers. Price includes accommodations, meals, snacks, soft drinks and use of tackle while on board; it does not include gratuities or alcoholic beverages.