Five Days in Paradise

Most people in Australia, never mind the UK, couldn’t tell you where Lord Howe Island is and very few have ever been to this little piece of paradise situated some 400 miles out in the Tasman Sea and containing the world’s most southerly coral reef.

LHI is just 11.5 kms long and 2kms wide and surrounds a pristine lagoon in cresent shape with Mounts Lidgbird and Gower at one end, the Admiralty Islands at the other and the remarkable Balls Pyramid some 13 nautical miles to the south. It was declared a World Heritage site in 1982 and is home to over 130 species of birds and 500 species of fish. Both the population of tourists and residents is strictly controlled and numbers of vehicles on the island are limited to protect this unique and stunningly beautiful environment. Natalie and I are lucky to have now been there twice and we probably regard Lord Howe as our favourite place on the planet.

You can find out more here  http://www.lordhoweisland.info/

or read about my first fishing adventures on the island in 2011 here http://www.fishingworldmag.com.au/news/the-last-paradise-lord-howe-island

We have just returned from five magical days in paradise where we stayed at the wonderful Pinetrees Lodge which has its own boatshed right on the lagoon shore. I had some great fishing with my friends Gary and Viv Crombie and both Natalie and I snorkeled the reef from several locations in the clearest water we’ve ever seen.  Here’s a few pictures to give you a taste of the place….

The lagoon at Lord Howe looking towards Mount Gower to the south.
The lagoon at Lord Howe looking towards Mounts Lidgbird and Gower to the south.
Looking north to the reef
Looking north and west to the reef
The impressive Ball's Pyramid, the largest 'ocean stack' in the world and home to some serious fishes !
The impressive Ball’s Pyramid, the largest ‘ocean stack’ in the world and home to some serious fishes !
Handing feeding the drummer at Ned's Beach - a sanctuary zone where no fishing is allowed, in case you were wondering !
Handing feeding the drummer at Ned’s Beach – a sanctuary zone where no fishing is allowed, in case you were wondering !

Be warned Lord Howe is not cheap but there are deals on offer and Qantas do offer a substantially discounted airfare for travelers flying into Oz from Europe or the US on their ‘walkabout ticket’. You also need to be fit enough to ride a bike as there are only a handful of hire cars allowed.

Bikes are the way to go on Lord Howe
Bikes are the way to go on Lord Howe
With the high cost of getting provisions to the island self catering is not necessarily the cheapest option and the excellent Pinetrees offers the best value full board accommodation in a perfect setting.
With the high cost of getting provisions to the island self catering is not necessarily the cheapest option and the excellent Pinetrees offers the best value full board accommodation in a perfect setting.

I fished two sessions with ‘Crom’ – the first with a fly rod on the shallow waters of the lagoon chasing silver drummer and trevally. Chumming the water with bread to draw the fish to the surface and away from the razor sharp corals may not appeal to the dry fly purists but it is hellish effective especially if followed up with a carefully presented bread fly on a lightish tippet. Crom specializes in light line sports fishing and there’s no one better to go out with on the island.

Although the big drummer elluded us on this occasion we had great fun with some of the smaller specimens and landed a lovely silver trevally after a dramatic fight which saw me twice have to stop searing runs for the rocks which took the line down to the backing.

A smallish but perfectly formed silver drummer on the bread fly
A smallish but perfectly formed silver drummer on the bread fly
Lord Howe fishing legend Gary Crombie helped me on to this personal best silver trevally on the fly
Lord Howe fishing legend Gary Crombie helped me on to this personal best silver trevally on the fly

Our second session was on day three of our holiday when the wind had died down to whisper rendering conditions perfect for my first ever trip to Ball’s Pyramid. Although the kingfish for which this legendary spot is famous were not in evidence that day we did find a shoal of large trevally holed up at the base of the rock stack in a sheltered corner. I quickly hooked two fish in succession on large soft plastics at mid water including a corker of around seven kilos, easily my biggest ever of the species. We began to berley up and soon the fish were swarming behind the boat. By fishing 50 lb leaders and a large cooked prawn on weightless tackle it was possible to avoid the drummer that had piled into the berley trail and specifically target the trevally.

Frustratingly we lost far too many fish that either made to the rocks below us or popped the leader knot as we tried to halt their screaming runs. Until now I had always contended that pound for pound yellow tailed kingfish were the hardest fighting fish in the sea. Now I’m not so sure !

Approaching Ball's Pyramid in ideal conditions
Approaching Ball’s Pyramid in ideal conditions
One of the big Trevs that didn't get away
One of the big Trevs that didn’t get away
Check out the gob on these critters !
Check out the gob on these critters !

It was with some sadness that we bade farewell to Lord Howe and its fishes this morning but we’ll be back for sure. If you ever get a chance to spend sometime in Australia make sure you get across to to the island. I can think of nowhere better to go to catch great fish in an absolutely pristine environment.

Lord Howe details

Info: www.lordhoweisland.info or www.visitnsw.com
Phone: 1800 240 937 or international 61 2 6563 2114

Travel
Oxley Travel: www.oxleytravel.com.au
Phone 1800 671 546

Accommodation
Pinetrees: www.pinetrees.com.au
Phone: (02) 9262 6585

Fishing
Oblivienne Sportsfishing with Gary Crombie:
www.fishinglordhoweisland.com.au
Phone: (02) 6563 2155 or (02) 6563 2185

Blue Billie:
bluebilliefishingcharters@gmail.com
Phone: (02) 6563 2305

Activities
Islander Cruises: Phone (02) 6563 2298

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